With this year’s auto racing season at an end, the auto racing industry will be looking forward to 2012, and making plans to promote this exciting sport despite the gloomy outlook for the U.S. economy. The recent ceremonial ground-breaking for the new Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing headquarters to be built on Speedway’s main street, can be seen as a vote of confidence that auto racing will maintain its place as one of the country’s most popular sports. With a budget of $2.5 million, the new headquarters is a collaborative effort with the Speedway Redevelopment Commission (SRC) and will feature shop and office space for the race team, gathering all the aspects of running a winning team – such as engineering, machine shop, service, paint and composites – under one roof.
The new SFHR headquarters has the IndyCar construction company, Dallara Automobili, as its neighbor – taking delivery of their new race cars will not present any challenges. Engineer Gian Paolo Dallara was recently presented the John Bolster Award for his achievements in the sport of auto racing, and his company will be supplying their new DW12 to fifteen IndyCar teams, including SFHR.
Sarah Fisher made a name for herself in US motorsport by becoming the first, and only, female team owner, as well as being the youngest owner in the IZOD IndyCar Series. She was also the first female team owner to win a race in the IZOD IndyCar Series. At the age of 19, Sarah made history by becoming the youngest female to compete in the Indianapolis 500, making her the third female ever to compete in the iconic race. In that same year, 2000, her third place finish at the Kentucky Speedway made her the first female to stand on the podium. By taking second place at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Sarah became the first female to finish as a runner-up in a major-league open-wheel race. These are just some of the accomplishments of this talented driver who has made auto racing her career. The new headquarters for her joint venture with Willis “Wink” Hartman, is the fulfillment of another of Sarah Fisher’s goals.
The 38,000 square foot building will include a home-style kitchen and a retail gift shop, with the latter featuring an area for fans where they will have the opportunity to interact with members of the SFHR team. Conference facilities will provide a convenient venue for meetings with sponsors, while a state-of-the art gym will ensure that the team has what it needs for each member to be in peak physical condition, with the added advantage of having the Indianapolis Motor Speedway just a five minute walk away.
The streets of Baltimore were transformed into a high speed raceway over the weekend of 2 September to 4 September 2011 for the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix. The new race now forms part of both the American Le Mans Series and the IndyCar Series. A multi-year contract was signed between IndyCar and Baltimore Racing Development to secure the future of this event. The circuit was laid out past the Inner Harbor and through Baltimore’s downtown area. The course is 3.28 kilometers in length with the Pratt Street intersection being the start and finish line of the event. The first person to win the Baltimore Grand Prix was Will Power.
Last weekend Will Power was able to capture the IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma, and this past weekend he was able to grab another victory on this new course. This talented Australian race car driver seemed extremely confident as he negotiated his car around the hairpin turns and the parts of the course that were a little bumpy, and did not make one mistake while taking on the Baltimore Grand Prix. During the practice sessions, which took place on Friday, 2 September 2011, Power was able to secure the best times through the course and when race day arrived, he was able to lead for seventy of the seventy-five laps of the race. Power was extremely happy with what he called a “championship run”, but said that he was exhausted. The competition is most definitely heating up, as Power is now a mere five points behind Dario Franchitti, who is the current points leader, but could only manage a fourth position during the Baltimore Grand Prix.
Oriol Servia from Spain finished in second position, followed by Brazil’s Tony Kanaan. Fifth position was taken by Scott Dixon, with Danica Patrick in sixth, who will be moving over to NASCAR in three races time. The massive bottle of champagne that was sprayed out in victory was a crowning moment for Will Power, and he is looking forward to trying to deliver another spectacular performance in the next IndyCar event, which will be another road course at the Indy Japan 300 on 18 September 2011.
The Milwaukee Mile is a historical racing track that dates back to 1903. On Sunday, 19 June 2011, the track was filled with cars fighting to win an IndyCar Series race. The Milwaukee 225 was a nail-biting event, with it becoming a race between three drivers, namely Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan. But, as misfortune fell upon his rivals, Franchitti’s road to victory was cleared, giving him his third event victory for this season.
Dario Franchitti did dominate for most of the race, but as the laps increased, so did the progress of Castroneves and Kanaan, becoming serious rivals for Franchitti. Castrovenes did so well that he eventually took the lead, but it was not to be for him. As a rear tire began to go flat, he was forced to decrease speed on Lap 167. Castrovenes did not leave the track, as he was patiently waiting for the caution flag to come out, but when it eventually did, with only thirty-one laps left of the race, Kanaan had an unfortunate incident that saw him spin out. After Castronoves made a pit stop for his tire and rejoined the race, he came back in tenth position. Franchitti was therefore able to widen the gap between him and the other contenders and won the Milwaukee 225 comfortably. Due to Franchitti being able to steer clear of trouble, he was able to secure another victory followed home by Graham Rahal in second place, Oriol Servia in third, Will Power in fourth and Danica Patrick finished fifth. Castroneves was only able to move into ninth position after returning from the pits.
Even though Kanaan and Castroneves were ripped from their positions due to misfortunes, all the drivers commented that they had a good race and that the competition was fierce, making it an exciting and fun event for all involved. It was the twenty-ninth time that Franchitti has found victory during his career, and he said that he was absolutely delighted by his victory. Both Franchitti and Will Power now have 271 points in the series, and both have three victories. It is beginning to be a very exciting series and fans will be looking forward to the next meeting with great enthusiasm.
The IndyCar community was upset when the news came through that Bridgestone Firestone were not going to renew their contract once the contract ended in 2011. IndyCar has been supplied with tires from Firestone since 1996. Negotiations to reach an agreement that both parties were satisfied with took place over a period of a week and a new contract has been finalized that will see Firestone continue to be the tire supplier for IndyCar until 2013.
The thought of bringing in a new tire supplier while trying to launch new cars into the IndyCar racing circuit was a daunting task that was too much to bear for most team owners. They therefore got together as a unit and ask IndyCar to renegotiate with Bridgestone Firestone to see if an agreement could not be reached. Fortunately Firestone was open to discussion and a contract to suit both parties was drawn up.
The new contract will still see Firestone withdraw as a financial sponsor from the IndyCar circuit when the contract expires, and there will be an increase in the price of tires. Al Speyer, the Executive Director of Racing for Bridgestone Firestone, commented: “This was not a negotiation tactic; last Friday, we were done, and I was devastated. But when Randy Bernard called back this week to say the team owners wanted to work something out, we went back to a proposal that had been pre-approved in a way. That made it easier. All we had to do was fine-tune it.”
CEO if IndyCar, Randy Bernard said: “At the end of last week, we had reached the deadline where both organizations had to make a decision regarding the future to prepare our individual operations for the long term. This is one of those decisions that it is imperative that you have the team owners 100 percent behind you. Early this week we called a meeting to walk the team owners through the process and hear their input. I’m happy to say we walk as one with Firestone.”
Firestone agreeing to remain the tire supplier until 2013 will give IndyCar the needed time to look for a suitable replacement and to ensure that the transition will take place smoothly. Even though Firestone is withdrawing from IndyCar, Al Speyer is an avid IndyCar supporter and will remain a fan of the sport.
Each year IndyCar enthusiasts wait anxiously for the schedule of the upcoming racing action to be announced and fortunately, IndyCar has allowed a sneak preview of what is to come. Exact dates have not yet been revealed, but the order of racing events and the selected venues have been made available. A few changes to the schedule have been made, but most IndyCar fans have been expecting new venues to be added. The new 2010 IndyCar Schedule will therefore consist of the following changes and venues.
There will still be seventeen IndyCar events on the schedule, as the number of race meetings remains unchanged. Of the seventeen racing venues, there will now be eight road races, with the other events being held at oval tracks. Rio de Janeiro is one of the new street circuits to have been added to the schedule and the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be hosted in April at the Barber Motorsports Park. One venue that has been omitted from the new schedule and that has been the mainstay of the series and known as the home of NASCAR is the Richmond Speedway. The other venue that has been dropped from the 2010 IndyCar Schedule has been hosting IndyCar since 1933. The Milwaukee Mile will not be on the racing schedule for next year and that might come as a shock to some racing fans.
The order of racing listed on the 2010 IndyCar calendar kicks off with Rio de Janeiro, followed by St. Pete, Birmingham, Long Beach, Kansas, Indianapolis, Texas, Iowa, Watkins Glen, Toronto, Edmonton, Mid-Ohio, Sonoma, Chicago, Kentucky, Montegi (Japan) and Homestead will bring the IndyCar season to a close. The venue order sees Kansas City being moved to the first weekend in the month of May and the Kentucky Speedway will now fall on Labor Day weekend. July also brings change, with Edmonton and Toronto hosting their events consecutively. It is expected that the final dates for the 2010 IndyCar calendar will be released shortly, enabling IndyCar fans to organize any traveling plans they might have to attend some the events and be a part of the live racing action.