IPS: Homestead: Arie Luyendyk Jr preview

2004 Menards Infiniti Pro Series 5 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara / Infiniti / Firestone Driver: Arie Luyendyk Jr. (teammate to ...

2004 Menards Infiniti Pro Series 5 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara / Infiniti / Firestone
Driver: Arie Luyendyk Jr. (teammate to #11 Thiago Medeiros)
Owner: Sam Schmidt
Team Manager: Michael Crawford
Crew Chief: Chris Griffis
Chief Mechanic: Scott Fehr
Engineer: Blair Perschbacher

TEAM HISTORY: This is the first race for Arie Jr. running for the Sam Schmidt Motorsports organization, teaming with 21-year-old Brazilian Thiago Medeiros for 2004. Arie Jr. ran for the Sinden Racing Service team in 2003, and started in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series in 2002 with Luyendyk Racing, an entry fielded by his father, two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk.

PREVIOUS HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY EXPERIENCE: Arie Luyendyk Jr. raced at the Homestead Miami Speedway in the event that kicked off the 2003 IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series season, qualifying 5th and finishing 4th in the race.

NEXT RACE: "Phoenix 100" at Arie Jr.'s home track, the Phoenix (AZ) International Raceway, Saturday, March 20th. "Phoenix 100" televised on March 25th at 3:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.

PRE-RACE QUOTES

Arie Luyendyk Jr. on running with Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2004:

"I am really happy to have the opportunity to race for Sam this year. I know he's got good equipment, good personnel and an all-around good team, so I should be able to do very well there and hopefully win a race or two. Of course, we are still working on an IndyCar Series program for this year, and hope to have something in place soon. But I need to be in a race car as much as possible, and this ride is giving me the opportunity to do that and stay sharp as the 2004 season starts. I want to thank Sam for this ride - I hope I can reward him by landing in Victory Circle."

Sam Schmidt , car owner

"Arie Luyendyk Sr. and I were teammates on Fred Treadway's IndyCar team in '99 at Indy, and I still have that in my memory as one of my absolute best experiences as an IndyCar Series driver. He was a phenomenal teammate. Either one of us should have won (the Indy 500) in that year. So to be able to put this deal together to run Arie Jr. is great for everybody. I'm pleased to be running Junior. I think he has a great personality and I think he's got a lot of talent - hopefully our team can help show that."

Luyendyk Jr

You are going to Homestead-Miami Speedway with no testing on the reconfigured track. Are you approaching this race any different than you did in 2003?

"No, not really. The track got modified this year, but I've heard that it's somewhat easier than last year. My new teammate Thiago (Medeiros) was the fastest guy there during the recent Open Test, so our team will at least have some good data to study. I am really looking forward to racing on the new high-banked surface. I've been to so many race tracks that I'm approaching this as just another 1 1/2-mile track. I'll turn left there just like I do at other tracks."

You tested recently with your new Sam Schmidt Motorsports team at Phoenix International Raceway and got to work with Thiago Medeiros as a teammate. Did you get along as teammates and share information well?

"Thiago and I are good friends, and we always have fun together. But I didn't get as much track time as Thiago did because of various mechanical issues with my car so, obviously, he was able to make more changes than I could throughout the day. At the end of the day of testing the cars were so different because of how much more time he had to work on his car that it was difficult to compare times or share any significant information. Remember that I never worked with that particular crew or team before that day, and if you look at the actual time sheet, we weren't all that far off in lap times. The good news is we got this first day of testing out of the way and I think we'll be able to get up to speed pretty quickly the next time we're on track in Homestead."

What have you done in the off-season, and what are your 2004 plans?

"I've been pretty busy with a lot of appearances and, more than anything, working on sponsorship programs for a 2004 Indy Car deal. Even before the Pro Series season ended last year, we were working on trying to find dollars to move me up into the IndyCar Series, and got pretty close to some really good deals that would have accomplished that. But, just like everyone has seen before, they didn't materialize like planned. So it was really an up-and-down, roller-coaster experience getting excited about the possibility of racing Indy Cars, only to find out that we had to start from scratch. But I've got a lot of people working on different programs, and every day there seems to be at least a bit of good news along with a few dead ends - that's just part of the business. We have had quite a bit of interest from both sponsors and teams, and have a few things going, so I feel pretty confident that we'll be able to put something together for at least a partial program in 2004. But for now, I am really happy to have this opportunity with Sam's team, and will focus all of my efforts on giving myself as well as Sam Schmidt Motorsports our first win."

After two years in the IPS, what was the biggest thing you learned or took away from that experience?

"I basically took a lot from the Pro Series. I learned to race on ovals -- I had not done that too much in the past. The main reason for choosing the Pro Series was to gain experience on ovals. I learned when to be patient and when to be aggressive. I learned that when you have a car that can't win, to not push it because it can bite you."

Tell me how much it would mean to you to run in the IRL IndyCar Series and, in particular, the Indy 500 in 2004?

"It would be great because it is something I have been striving for since I was 10 years old. It's my ultimate goal and something I am working very hard to accomplish. I look forward to Indy 500 because it is where my father has had so much success. It would be such a rewarding experience for me."

DRIVER PROFILE

Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Age: 22
Residence: Scottsdale, AZ
Birthplace: Den-Bosch, Netherlands
Height/Weight: 6' 2", 175 lbs.
Marital: Status Single
Website: www.ArieLuyendykJr.com

2003 HIGHLIGHTS
* Named the IRL Crew's "Most Popular Driver Award" winner for the Infiniti Pro Series
* Finished 7th overall in the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series,
* 2nd in IPS laps completed;
* 5 top-5 finishes;
* Tied with Ed Carpenter for IPS all-time consecutive starts with 19;
* Most consecutive IPS top-10 finishes with 11;
* Won pole position during the "dreamerscandles.com 100" at Texas Motor Speedway, and also the "Michigan 100" at the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway in August (the second year in a row for this accomplishment at that track).

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
* Participated in the 2004 Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance race at Daytona International Speedway, and was the fastest driver on the track before mechanical troubles sidelined car;
* Finished second overall in the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series in 2002, with four second-place finishes in seven events;
* Won the SCCA F2000 SoPAC National Championships on the strength of four victories in 2001;
* Finished third at the FF1800 Marlboro Masters event in front of home crowd in Zandvoort, Netherlands, in 2001;
* Wins in SCCA Regional and National races;
* Wins in Skip Barber Formula Dodge Series;
* Top-5 finishes in US FF2000 Series;
* Wins in SCCA FF2000 National Series;
* 5th in US FF2000 Oval Crown Championship (2001);
* 3rd in SCCA FF2000 Valvoline Runoffs (2001);
* Began racing karts in 1992.

NOTES

Next Race: Arie Jr. will be participating in a limited schedule in the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series in 2004, racing in Homestead (2/29), Phoenix (3/20) and Indianapolis (5/22) while pursuing an opportunity in the IndyCar Series.

Gone Fishin': Arie Jr. took time away from preparing for the 2004 racing season to take part in an expedition to the Caribbean island of Grenada February 13-15 to explore issues related to the conservation of the ocean and its big bill fish. The outing was organized by the Oceanic Conservation Organization (OCO) in an attempt to educate and raise awareness for the plight of big bill fish and the efforts to conserve them and their environment. Invited by fellow driver Greg Ray, who with the OCO promoted this trip to Grenada, Arie Jr. had the opportunity to see first-hand the effects the fishing industry has had on big bill fish, and what is actively being done to preserve these creatures and their ocean environment.

24-Hour Marathon: Arie Jr. participated in the Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance sportscar race for the SpeedSource team on January 29-Feb. 1, 2004, competing in a powerful Daytona Prototype machine, the fastest on the circuit. The team's results were not as good as anyone expected due to lingering mechanical difficulties throughout the event that eliminated their efforts just short of 300 laps. But during one of two stints Arie Jr. was on the track, he set the quickest time of any driver on the course in some of the worst conditions experienced in this marathon race at any time in the history of the event (monsoon-like rain).

Popular Arie: Arie won the IRL Crew's 2003 "Most Popular Driver Award" for the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series, copying the feat his famous father achieved by winning that same award the first year it was given for an IRL driver. Arie Jr. led the polling for this award at every track the Pro Series visited in 2003, finishing with a remarkable four times the amount of votes than his second-place pursuer, Aaron Fike. Arie was honored for winning the "Most Popular Driver Award" at the IRL Crew's yearly banquet in Indianapolis on November 8, 2003.

Arie's New Fan Club: Appropriately, Arie introduced a new Fan Club at the IRL Crew banquet! Membership benefits include: Official Certificate of Membership; 2003-04 Publicity Card Signed by Arie; Official Race Schedule; Appearance Schedule Select Track Ticket Discounts; Access to Special Members-Only Section on Arie's Website; Invitation to Members-Only Fan Club Parties; Special One-On-One Photo Opportunities with Arie; Merchandise Discounts; Official Laminated Membership Card / Assigned Membership Number; Monthly Newsletter With Exclusive News Written by Arie to His Fans Inclusion on Arie's VIP E-mail List To Receive Regular Insider Updates; VIP Access To Special Events; Sponsor Decal Giveaways; Product and Service Discounts, and much more! Individual memberships are $10.00, while family memberships (for up to four family members) are $25.00. For more information or to join, please call Janie Vogel at (440) 808-1813 or e-mail ilikeracing@comcast.net.

Busy Off-Season: In preparation for a possible 2004 IRL campaign, Arie Jr. has been working every day on sponsorship and promotional programs to set himself up for the proper funding to run in the IRL. Other activities that have kept Arie Jr. busy have included spending time in the Los Angeles area pursuing some modeling opportunities, as well as being utilized as a teacher/expert in various "ride and drive" programs for corporate clients. The IRL even sent a photographer to the Phoenix area to spend the day with Arie Jr. taking various lifestyle photos of him for use in 2004 sales, marketing and public relations materials. Arie Jr. and Sr. both attended the massive SEMA automotive trade show in Las Vegas in November, and Arie Jr. attended the PRI Trade Show in Indianapolis. In between official functions and meetings, Arie has been getting into his full off-season training routine, including weight lifting and running, in preparation for not only the 2004 IRL season, but possibly participating in a few half-marathons throughout the year

A Model Driver: Arie recently signed a contract with the world-famous Ford Robert Black Modeling Agency in Scottsdale, Ariz. and the Ford Modeling Agency in Los Angeles, Calif. Look for Arie's pretty face on a billboard near you...

Cataloging Arie's Career: 22-year-old Arie was featured in the Fall "Back To School" issue of the widely read Abercrombie & Fitch catalog, with a full page Q&A interview accompanied by a stunning full-page, full-color photograph. To view a portion of the A & F layout, visit Arie's website at www.ArieLuyendykJr.com, and click on the "media" link.

European Flair: Scottsdale resident Arie is making waves in Europe, as the Italian version of Vogue Magazine tapped this rising star to feature in their recent July issue, with four pictures (two full-page color shots). To view a portion of the Vogue layout, visit Arie's website at www.arieluyendykjr.com, and click on the "media" link.

Media Magnet: Arie's accumulated an impressive list of major media appearances in 2003, including: Italian Vogue (July, feature article and full-page, color photo); Abercrombie & Fitch Fall catalog (feature article and full-page color photo); Stuff Magazine (February, 2004); USA Today; Autosport; Racer Magazine; RPM2Nite (ESPN2); Spike TV - "Super 2nr"; USAToday; ABC Radio and the SPEED Channel.

-jv-

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Greg Ray , Arie Luyendyk , Sam Schmidt , Skip Barber , Aaron Fike , Ed Carpenter , Thiago Medeiros , Arie Luyendyk Jr.
Teams SpeedSource