INDY 500 VET SALAZAR, VANCE PARTNER TO PURCHASE NEW GENERATION SILVER CROWN CAR FROM RILEY INDIANAPOLIS -- Six-time Indianapolis 500 starter Eliseo Salazar of Santiago, Chile and longtime USAC participant Johnny Vance of Dayton, Ohio will...
INDY 500 VET SALAZAR, VANCE PARTNER TO PURCHASE NEW GENERATION SILVER CROWN CAR FROM RILEY
INDIANAPOLIS -- Six-time Indianapolis 500 starter Eliseo Salazar of Santiago, Chile and longtime USAC participant Johnny Vance of Dayton, Ohio will co-own a new generation USAC Silver Crown Series car for the 2006 season after confirming Thursday the purchase of a chassis from Riley Technologies of Speedway, Ind.
Salazar and Vance are the first to announce a joint ownership and third overall to confirm their intentions of competing in the Silver Crown Series next season. The car is the first to be sold by Riley Technologies, the developer of the prototype. The most recently designed car was tested Sept. 20 at Kansas Speedway, circling the track for 48 laps with Star Mazda driver Pablo Donoso of Santiago and Jason McCord of Anderson, Ind. behind the wheel. Donoso has been named the driver of the car.
"We're really happy to see our first production car is going to a team made up of old and new," said Ron McMahon, Vice President and General Manager of Riley Technologies. "Johnny Vance has been a longtime owner in USAC, and Eliseo and Pablo are obviously very new to the series. I'm just ecstatic about having this car sold, and hope this carries over in getting more people involved.
"In recognition of this purchase, we plan on the production of 10 more cars, effective immediately," added McMahon.
Vance, who has been around racing since his childhood, is no stranger to the USAC facade, having been involved in the organization in each of the last five decades. He served as the USAC Sprint Car Series Supervisor in the early 1970s, and His officiating expertise eventually led him to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he became a steward.
In 1981, with the urging and advice of USAC official Russ Clendenen, Vance became a car owner, fielding a Silver Crown car for Rich Vogler. The team went on to win two races with Vogler, who suffered season-ending injuries in a late-season Midget race accident. Legendary Sprint car driver Steve Kinser added a victory for Vance in the season finale at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, and Vance was crowned the car owner champion.
Most recently, Vance has fielded Silver Crown and Sprint cars on a limited basis. Among his recent hotshoes have been NASCAR Nextel Cup Series veteran and 1999 Silver Crown Series champion Ryan Newman, the late Kenny Irwin Jr. and recently crowned and defending Silver Crown titlist Dave Steele. Overall, Vance has 50 career USAC victories as a car owner -- 44 in Sprints and six in the Silver Crown cars. Vance was also the mastermind behind the "4-Crown Nationals," which began in 1981.
"We're very excited about this partnership, both with the team and Riley," Vance said. "We hope to bring Pablo along and further this career, in addition to furthering the future of our team and Silver Crown racing."
A veteran of Formula 1 and Indy-style racing dating back to the early 1980s, Salazar will be making his first USAC appearances since 1997 as a car owner or driver. The Chilean made 44 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series starts, winning once -- at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway in 1997. His best series points finish came in 2000, when he finished fourth for A.J. Foyt Racing.
Salazar's other racing endeavors have come in road rally, sports car and Formula 3 and 4 races. Expected to be among Salazar's sponsors is Cristal, the Chilean beer which served as his primary sponsor for the 1996 and 96/97 seasons.
A veteran of formula-style cars and go-karts, Donoso is currently sixth in the Star Mazda points standings. He has three podium finishes, winning at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. The rookie also has three poles.
Donoso made his first career appearance on ovals July 3 at Pikes Peak International Raceway, and only his second appearance on ovals during last week's test, in which he circled the 1.5-mile track for 19 laps. While his experience on the superspeedways -- and ovals in general -- is limited, Donoso looks forward to the challenges ahead.
"The formula cars I am used to have a lot of downforce, but these don't," said Donoso, who is also expected to compete in the USAC front-engine, open-wheel cars on dirt. "But I'm willing to learn and look forward to driving these cars."
More information on USAC's new generation Silver Crown Series car will be available soon.