IPS: Sears Point: Sam Schmidt Motorsports preview

Sam Schmidt Motorsports Ready for Infineon Debut Pepperdine/SCCA Alum Schmidt Has Full Week in Bay Area Sam Schmidt, a graduate of Malibu, California's Pepperdine University and a former SCCA and IndyCar racer, is bringing his three-car ...

Sam Schmidt Motorsports Ready for Infineon Debut
Pepperdine/SCCA Alum Schmidt Has Full Week in Bay Area

Sam Schmidt, a graduate of Malibu, California's Pepperdine University and a former SCCA and IndyCar racer, is bringing his three-car Menards Infiniti Pro Series race team to Infineon for the series debut, hoping his rookie drivers love the track as much as he does.

Schmidt has become one of the best known figures in open wheel racing, partly in response to the success of Sam Schmidt Motorsports in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series and partly because of his own success as a winning driver prior to his devastating crash five-and-a-half years ago, but mostly because of the way he overcame tragedy in the development of the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, which has become a leader in representation of those suffering from spinal cord injuries.

In addition, Schmidt has three of the top names in the Infiniti Pro Series, the IRL development series for top young open-wheel racers.

Travis Gregg, 27, from Camden, Ohio, drives Schmidt's #7 Lucas Oil Special. Gregg, who has a long-standing tradition of doing backflips in celebration of his race wins, has five pole positions (Miami, Phoenix, Texas, Kentucky), three victories (Miami, Texas, Kentucky) and has led 221 laps in the MIPS this season, the most of all the series drivers. Gregg is second in the championship battle with 350 points.

Jaime Camara, 24, a Brazilian native residing in Miami, Fla. He is third in the standings with 311 points. Driving Schmidt's #1 CELG, Goias entry, Camara has three pole positions (Indianapolis, Nashville, Milwaukee), three outside pole positions (Homestead, Phoenix, Kentucky), two wins (Indianapolis, Nashville). Camara secured the team's qualifying efforts on the two road course races this season (fifth at St. Petersburg and IMS road course).

Chris Festa, 19, of Atlanta, Ga, the youngest of Schmidt's drivers, is sixth in the series standings with 274 points. Festa led his first MIPS lap at Texas, where he qualified second. He holds the team's best finish on a road course this season, grabbing a podium finish at the series' debut on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course in June, finishing third. Festa has another third place finish at Texas, and his best finish of the season is second at Phoenix. The teenager drives Schmidt's #19 SpacePak, CareCentric entry and resumes classes at Florida State University following this weekend's race.

Sam Schmidt Motorsports is also a means of promoting and publicizing the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. The Foundation was created by Schmidt to help individuals overcome spinal cord injuries and other neurological disorders. Schmidt is currently recovering from serious upper spinal cord injuries suffered in a testing accident on January 6, 2000 while practicing for the season-opening Indy Racing League event at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla. Further information is available at www.samschmidt.org or (317) 236-9999.

Here are some thoughts from the drivers and owner heading into the Infineon Raceway debut:

SAM SCHMIDT, Owner, Sam Schmidt Motorsports:

"We are very excited to be going to Infineon Raceway for the inaugural Menards Infiniti Pro Series event. The Bay area is known for its concentration of high tech companies. The high speed of the Indy Cars and Infiniti Pro Series and the incredible technology behind them is a natural fit with the area.

"Also, growing up in California, I raced at Sears Point several times in the 90's and I think the track is incredible from a driver's standpoint. I know the team and the drivers have been working extremely hard to improve our road course performance. Hopefully we will see some positive results from that effort and the drivers will all leave Infineon with the same appreciation for the track as I have."

TRAVIS GREGG, #7 Lucas Oil Special, Sam Schmidt Motorsports Entry:

"Infineon Raceway is a very challenging track. It has elevation changes, off camber turns and blind corners. The track looks like it should be a lot of fun in our Menards Infiniti Pro Series race cars. I'm hoping it's what I need to really step up my road course performances so I can stay in the points chase.

"It's awesome that we'll be racing in California's wine country, but it's going to be kind of bittersweet. We'll get to enjoy the scenery but no fruits of labor from any of the vineyards since drinking and racing probably isn't the best combination -- though I have to admit, champagne in Victory Lane is incredible. I'll have to save the rest of the sampling for another trip."

JAIME CAMARA, #1 CELG, Goias, Sam Schmidt Motorsports Entry:

"Infineon is a new track for everybody (in our series), so whoever works the fastest, and the best, in finding the best setup is going to be the one to beat. It's very important to start on the front row there because it's a track that is hard to pass. I have visited Infineon Raceway and I learned some tricky things about the track that can help me at the race weekend. Most importantly, we've got to get the Sam Schmidt Motorsports cars all up front on the starting grid since track position will be so critical."

CHRIS FESTA, #19 SpacePak, CareCentric, Sam Schmidt Motorsports Entry:

"If people are watching our race at Infineon and they have only ever seen the track when NASCAR races there, they'll notice they are seeing a different racing circuit. Our cars have much better turning capabilities, so we will take a few different corners than the stock cars take.

"I think the race at Infineon is going to be great. The track is a very good road course with a lot of different elevation changes, different turns - there are high-speed and low-speed turns. I'm looking forward to the race, I think our Menards Infiniti Pro Series cars should work very well there, providing some great racing action for the Sonoma-area race fans."

-ssm-

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Sam Schmidt , Chris Festa , Travis Gregg , Jaime Camara