Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
- 1. INDYCAR sets field for first Mazda Road To Indy scouting combine
- 2. Companies join sponsor lineup of Baltimore Grand Prix
- 3. Long Beach to honor Vasser, Target Chip Ganassi Racing
- 4. Kellogg's to serve as Franchitti sponsor
1. INDYCAR sets field for first Mazda Road To Indy scouting combine: The field has been set for the first Mazda Road to Indy Scouting Combine as INDYCAR has identified the six regional karting series that will send a representative to the three-day driver evaluation program later this year.
The Mazda Road to Indy's goal is to develop formula car drivers, and forming a link to karting is essential in achieving that.
One driver each from the SKUSA Central States Challenge, Florida Karting Championship Series, TAG - World Championships, Eastern Canada Karting Championship and Cal State Karting Championship Series will join The Heartland Sprint Series as part of the combine.
"The response was overwhelming," said Jason Penix, manager of grassroots marketing for INDYCAR, the sanctioning body for the IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy. "We filled the grid in less than 72 hours and received inquiries from many of the top regional series in North America. We are already looking at ways to expand the program for next year."
Earlier this month, INDYCAR announced that it would host the first Mazda Road to Indy Scouting Combine with the winner having a chance to race in the Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship in 2012.
The Mazda Road to Indy Scouting Combine will be held on November 28-30 at Andersen Race Park in Palmetto, Fla., and will give a top driver from grassroots racing series such the World Karting Association, Superkarts! USA, International Karting Federation, Rotax Max Challenge United States, United States Auto Club and the Rock Island Grand Prix the opportunity to test a USF2000 car.
One driver will be selected and given an entry to race in the St. Petersburg rounds of the USF2000 National Championship in 2012.
"The Mazda Road to Indy's goal is to develop formula car drivers, and forming a link to karting is essential in achieving that," Penix said. "Karting plays such an important role in the career of a young driver, and the Scouting Combine will give someone the chance to make the step into cars. Hopefully, we will find several young drivers ready to make the Mazda Road to Indy their next racing home."
2. Companies join sponsor lineup of Baltimore Grand Prix: Ten sponsors have joined the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix on Sept. 2-4.
Philadelphia-based transportation fuels provider Sunoco will be the official fuel partner and the official pit lane sponsor for the Baltimore Grand Prix.
"As a leading manufacturer of race fuels for more than 40 years, Sunoco is proud to be a part of the Baltimore Grand Prix," said Bob Owens, Sunoco's senior vice president of marketing. "It promises to be a challenging race for the drivers and a thrilling race for the fans. We are pleased that our fuel will power every car on the course."
These companies understand the value of being involved in local communities...
Maryland- based GEICO is one of the nation's leading auto insurers, insuring more than 16 million vehicles and employing 24,000 associates across the country.
Serving as the official airline of the race is Air Tran, a Fortune 1000 airline that has been ranked the No. 1 low cost carrier for the last three years in the Airline Quality Rating study.
Fans at the BGP will enjoy a wide variety of leading spirits, including, Tequila Patron, Bacardi Rums, Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey, Grey Goose Vodkas and Jagermeister.
Other event partners include: Transamerica/AEGON, Greenspring Energy, Enoch Office Products, HVM Racing, Baltimore's Marriott Hotel, Hilton Hotel, Sheraton Hotel, Harbor Court Hotel and Hyatt Hotel.
"Our sponsors are an integral part of this event," said Jay Davidson, president and CEO of the Baltimore Grand Prix. "These companies understand the value of being involved in local communities and supporting events that will generate revenues for the businesses in those areas."
The racetrack encompasses a two-mile temporary street circuit, traveling through the heart of downtown, past the scenic Inner Harbor and racing around Camden Yards.
3. Long Beach to honor Vasser, Target Chip Ganassi Racing: The City of Long Beach and the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach will honor Jimmy Vasser and Target Chip Ganassi Racing at the sixth Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame induction ceremony April 14.
Both honorees have won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach during their careers.
"Jimmy Vasser and the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team have made legendary contributions to the field of motorsports, and I am delighted that they are being honored in the Motorsports Walk of Fame," said Mayor Bob Foster, who will be presenting the medallions to the honorees. "Every year the Walk of Fame ceremony kicks off a great week of Grand Prix events that bring thousands to Long Beach."
The event is part of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend, featuring the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights races.
Vasser won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in 1996, which helped him earn the CART PPG Cup Championship that year. In 2010, he took another checkered flag in Long Beach when he won the Pro category of the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. He also holds the record for most consecutive starts - 211 - and finished in the top 10 in 136 of his 238 starts.
Overall, he has 10 wins, 33 podiums and nine poles. He is currently co-owner of the KV Racing Technology - Lotus team in the IZOD IndyCar Series.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing has five wins at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2009) and a total of 81 Indy car victories, including three Indianapolis 500 wins (2000, 2008, 2010). Its most recent victory was in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this past weekend.
Team owner Chip Ganassi is the only owner to win the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 and Rolex 24 at Daytona within a 12-month period. Vasser is among one of his former drivers.
The Walk of Fame medallions include renditions of the racers' cars and their major achievements in motorsports. For more information, visit www.lbmotorsportswof.com.
4. Kellogg's to serve as Franchitti sponsor: Target Chip Ganassi Racing has partnered with Kellogg Company to become a primary sponsor on the No. 10 IZOD IndyCar Series car driven by Dario Franchitti this season.
The No. 10 Kellogg's car will be on the track for the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle (May 1 on VERSUS), and for the Baltimore Grand Prix (Sept. 4 on VERSUS).
"Kellogg Company has been involved with motorsports on a number of levels through the years, but this is our first foray into an IZOD IndyCar Series program," said Melissa Pawlowicz, senior director of Consumer Promotions. "Dario is a tremendous talent and we look forward to him and the team representing us on and off the track in 2011. We're excited about what the Ganassi organization offers and look forward to continuing the momentum we've seen with INDYCAR recently."
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series continues with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 10 at Barber Motorsports Park. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 212 and www.indycar.com. The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season continues April 10 at Barber Motorsports Park with the Barber 100. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at Noon. (ET) by VERSUS.