IRL: Weekly notebook 2000-11-16

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2000 - Indy Racing Northern Light Series standout Robbie Buhl will serve as the grand marshal of the Field's Jingle Elf Parade on Thanksgiving Day in downtown Chicago, one of the largest holiday parades in the ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2000 - Indy Racing Northern Light Series standout Robbie Buhl will serve as the grand marshal of the Field's Jingle Elf Parade on Thanksgiving Day in downtown Chicago, one of the largest holiday parades in the country. More than 300,000 spectators are expected to line the streets of Chicago to watch the parade, which starts at 8:30 a.m. (CST). The parade is televised live for 2 ½ hours by the ABC affiliate in Chicago.

Buhl is being honored for his longtime work as national spokesperson for "Racing For Kids," a charity group that helps children through motorsports. Buhl finished eighth in the 2000 Northern Light Cup point standings with one victory in his Team Purex Dreyer & Reinbold Racing G Force/Infiniti/Firestone.

Other celebrities marching in the parade include Emmy-award winning actor Dennis Franz from the television show "NYPD Blue," soap-opera stars Nancy Lee Grahn and John York, The Harlem Globetrotters basketball team and Grammy-nominated rapper Skee-Lo.

Chicagoland Speedway, which will play host to its inaugural Indy Racing event Sept. 2, 2001, is sponsoring a huge inflatable race car driver float in the parade. ***

TeamXtreme planning for 2001: TeamXtreme continues to make plans for the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series season, one week after it announced a seven-figure associate sponsorship with 1-800-BAR NONE, a leading automotive financial corporation that assists people in financing their next automobile.

TeamXtreme will return in 2001 with 2000 Indy Racing Rookie of the Year Airton Dare, engineer Mark Weida and general manager John Lopes, but the team is being reworked considerably to improve efficiency at the track and in the team's Rockwall, Texas, shop.

"Our pit stops were good this year, but in the whole preparation of the cars, we lacked there a little this year," said Lopes. "Airton drove like a champion all year, and but for a couple mechanical failures, he might have finished in the top five in points, certainly the top 10. We've left the season very proud, having won Rookie of the Year, but we certainly are not satisfied with our performance overall. There is a huge sense of urgency and purpose in taking our team to the next level in 2001." The team will use Oldsmobile engines prepared by Tempe, Ariz.-based RPM Engineering in 2001. The team analyzed the engine programs of RPM and several other engine builders during 2000, and decided RPM is most capable of providing the team with priority service, reliability and horsepower.

***

Penske tests again at Speedway: Team Penske returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Nov. 15-16 for its second test session in less than a month in preparation for a possible return to the Indianapolis 500 next May.

Helio Castroneves tested a Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone in chilly temperatures on Nov. 15-16. His teammate, 2000 CART champion Gil de Ferran, turned laps Oct. 22-23 at the Speedway.

"We tried to come here a couple of weeks ago, but after Helio crashed at Fontana, he spent a couple of weeks out, just as a precautionary measure," said Tim Cindric, president of Penske Racing. "We tested a G-Force with Helio back in July, but we wanted to get him some experience in the Dallara before the end of the year in case everything comes together for next year.

"We want to make sure everything fits. The conditions aren't great, but we're keeping the tire warmers on the car, and we'll see what we can learn." ***

Cheever crew honored: Six members of the #51 Excite@Home Indy Race Team received Championship Association of Mechanics (CAM) awards for their work during the 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series season. Transporter driver Rob Channell and data acquisition specialist Brent Harvey claimed top individual honors, and #51 Excite@Home teammates David Bishop, Dick Caron, Dane Harte, and Owen Snyder were named to the Indy Car All Star Team. The #51 Excite@Home crew -- which along with driver Eddie Cheever Jr. finished third overall in the 2000 Indy Racing championship - took home one-third of all CAM awards presented this season, twice as many as any other team. CAM members cast their ballots to determine which of their peers will receive CAM laurels at the end of each racing season. #51 Excite@Home crew members earned top honors in the following categories: @Rob Channell: Featherlite/CAM Transport Driver of the Year @Brent Harvey: Pi Research/CAM Data Acquisition Specialist of the Year @David Bishop: Snap-on/CAM IRL All Star Team Gearbox Specialist @Dick Caron: Snap-on/CAM IRL All Star Team Team Manager @Dane Harte: Snap-on/CAM IRL All Star Team Shock Specialist 2Owen Snyder III: Snap-on/CAM IRL All Star Team Chief Mechanic

***

Cody Unser to be honored at 'Turkey Night' race: Cody Unser's national effort to find a cure for paralysis and transverse myelitis will come to Southern California on Thanksgiving for "Cody Unser Night" at the annual "Turkey Night" USAC MCI WorldCom National Midget race at Irwindale Speedway. The inaugural "Racers Care!" fundraiser for 13-year-old Cody's First Step Foundation will be part of the festivities for the Home Depot "Turkey Night Grand Prix," a short-track classic that started in 1934. The race will be taped Thanksgiving night for telecast on ESPN2 Thunder Sunday at 9:30 p.m. (EST) Nov. 26.

Cody Unser, daughter of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr., was stricken by transverse myelitis, a virus that causes paralysis, in 1999. The Cody Unser First Step Foundation was formed shortly thereafter to promote awareness, medical cooperation and research for the condition. The "Racers Care!" fundraiser at Irwindale will include fans, racers and ESPN2 "Thunder" broadcasters Bob Jenkins, Gary Lee, Larry Rice and Amy East.

*** Karting challenge to start: Indianapolis-area Indy-car teams will compete against each other for 10 weeks in the "IlikeRacing.com Karting Challenge" starting Dec. 4 at the Stefan Johansson Karting Center in Indianapolis. Teams from the Indy Racing Northern Light Series and CART will race for points, prizes and a championship to be awarded in February. Teams will be comprised of crew members and possibly race drivers. The public is invited to attend these weekly karting events. Admission is $1, with all proceeds going to the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Fans also will be eligible to win prizes in weekly raffles.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Robbie Buhl , Airton Daré , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran
Teams Team Penske , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing , Team Penske