Series news and notes 2010-09-09

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines: 1. Honda to sponsor Barber race in 2011 2. IZOD IndyCar Series teams load up for Japan 3. Penske Racing hosts employee appreciation activities 1. Honda to sponsor ...

Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Honda to sponsor Barber race in 2011
2. IZOD IndyCar Series teams load up for Japan
3. Penske Racing hosts employee appreciation activities

1. Honda to sponsor Barber race in 2011: American Honda Motor Company announced Sept. 9 that it will be the title sponsor of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy Credit Union on April 8-10, 2011, and through 2013.

The agreement adds the 2.38-mile Barber Motorsports Park road course to Honda-titled IZOD IndyCar Series events that includes the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

"Barber Motorsports Park will be a great addition to the Honda family of IndyCar events," said Steve Center, vice president of national marketing operations for American Honda. "The Barber facility is incredible; it's state-of-the-art and very spectator-friendly. It has already developed a large and enthusiastic fan base, and many associates at our nearby Alabama auto assembly plant are a regular part of that audience."

Located in nearby Lincoln, Ala., the 3.5 million-square-foot Honda Manufacturing of Alabama facility employs more than 4,000 associates at its vehicle and engine operation. The plant began production in November 2001 and produces the Odyssey minivan, Pilot SUV, Ridgeline pickup, Accord V-6 Sedan and V-6 engines. Last week, the facility reached a production milestone with the completion of the 2 millionth Honda vehicle and engine (2011 Pilot EXL Touring).

Honda Manufacturing of Alabama has been a longtime supporter of the Barber Motorsports Park and its events.

"Honda has made a huge economic impact in the state of Alabama and this is a continuation of a great relationship," said Gene Hallman, president of event promoter ZOOM Motorsports. "We're excited to have them as our title sponsor, and we look forward to expanding the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama together over the next several seasons."

For the fifth consecutive year, Honda is the sole engine supplier to the IZOD IndyCar Series, and its record of reliability is unmatched in motorsport. In May, the Honda Indy V-8 powered the entire 33-car starting field for the Indianapolis 500, and for a record-extending fifth consecutive year - the only five times in Indy 500 history - there was not a single engine failure.

The entitlement corresponds to a one-year sanctioning extension by the Indy Racing League.

"The fact that Honda has stepped in with its manufacturing facilities around there is just a perfect fit," said Terry Angstadt, the Indy Racing League's commercial division president. "In our opinion, it really completes the broad-based support of that event that should ensure its success for many years.

"Fans throughout the South enthusiastically turned out for our first event in Alabama and continue to embrace our sport."

The event -- the only IZOD IndyCar Series race in the Deep South - had spectators from 43 states and nine countries, and showcased the state via the VERSUS and indycar.com broadcasts.

Team Penske's Helio Castroneves won the inaugural event April 11, holding off Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing by 0.5703 of a second over the 90-lap race. It was Castroneves' first road/street course victory since August 2008 at Infineon Raceway. He also denied teammate Will Power's bid for a series-record third consecutive victory to start the season.

Tickets go on sale in October at www.hondayindygpofalabama.com or visit the Barber Motorsports Park site at www.barbermotorsportspark.com.

***

2. IZOD IndyCar Series teams load up for Japan: By land, sea and air, the IZOD IndyCar Series is en route to Japan for the Sept. 19 Indy Japan 300.

The 13,000-mile round-trip adventure for the 25 IZOD IndyCar Series entrants making the trip begins at the Indianapolis International Airport, where they unload their cars and equipment from their transporters onto metal car racks and place it a staging area on airport tarmac, where the cars and the team's equipment will be swallowed by two behemoth Nippon Cargo Air 747-400B airplanes.

The IZOD IndyCar Series' shipment isn't the heaviest (both planes can total up to 450,000 takeoff weight) that Nippon Cargo Air deals with, but is among the highest in volume. Forty-five race cars, pit and garage equipment and consumable items are meticulously packaged, arranged on a pallet and wrapped in plastic by teams for the trip.

The three Holmatro Safety Team trucks and the Honda Accord Safety Car take a separate scheduled flight, while Honda engines and Firestone tires were shipped across the Pacific Ocean on a freighter.

"It was as smooth as it could have gone," said Bill Van de Sandt, the director of operations for the Indy Racing League, who oversees the move on both sides of the journey. "All the entities involved, from the IRL officials here, to the ground crew to the teams have been working great together. It made things very easy and we finished about two hours before we had planned."

Upon arrival at Narita International Airport near Tokyo, the freight is transferred to trucks to continue the journey to Twin Ring Motegi. Manifests are checked and spot customs inspections are conducted at the track in time for team personnel to unpack Sept. 17 and begin preparations for the race weekend.

Before the champagne is uncorked in Victory Circle, packing is underway for the return trip.

"It's a difficult process, but it's very well-organized," van de Sandt said. "The cooperation of the governments, the freight forwarder and the airlines works very well. It's a process that is very effective and efficient."

***

3. Penske Racing hosts employee appreciation activities: Penske Racing took some time on Sept. 7 to show appreciation for all its employees as the organization's teams prepare for the stretch run of a remarkable racing season.

Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe and Verizon Team Penske driver Will Power were on hand as Penske Racing hosted a special lunch for all of its 400-plus employees at Penske Racing headquarters in Mooresville, N.C.

Penske Racing President Tim Cindric welcomed the employees and Roger Penske recognized all of the accomplishments that the teams have achieved so far this season. Through Sept. 6, Penske Racing teams have produced an impressive 16 wins (including a victory at the NASCAR All-Star race in May) and 20 pole positions in 2010.

As Penske Racing battles for championships in all three series where it competes this season, the organization took time to thank its employees while keeping in mind the hard work that lies ahead to reach its goals.

"This was a great opportunity to recognize the efforts of all our employees this season and a way to say thanks for the work that they do," said Cindric. "We are in a unique position to compete for three championships over the next few weeks and we know how much hard work it's taken to get to this point. We have a lot left to accomplish this season, but with the help of our great partners, we were able to enjoy a special afternoon and have a little bit of fun."

***

The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Indy Japan 300 on Sept. 19 at Twin Ring Motegi. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 11 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS on Sept. 18. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season concludes with the Miami 100 on Oct. 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

-source: irl

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Ryan Briscoe , Chip Ganassi , Will Power
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Team Penske