Indy

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Indy Racing League, or IRL, is a sanctioning body for open-wheel auto racing in America. Best known for the popular Indianapolis 500, the IRL endorses the IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and, as of 2010, the U.S. F2000 National Championship.

Tony George was responsible for the establishment of the IRL back in 1994, with racing beginning in 1996. George’s goal was to found a lower-cost alternative to CART, which was only accessible to wealthy teams who could afford the expensive technology. As of 2008 Champ Car racing (previously CART) was merged into the IRL.

IndyCar vehicles look similar to open-wheeled formula racing cars, featuring wings and large airboxes. The cars have strict specifications, with all cars using the same parts. Every three years, the chassis and engine manufacturers are reviewed. Originally built just for oval racing, the new generation of IndyCar machines are made to deal with road racing too.

The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, or Indy 500, takes place each Memorial Day weekend at America’s Indianapolis Motor Speedway. One of the oldest motorsport races, the Indy 500 draws large crowds each year. It is an event avid racing fans would not want to miss. Winners of the Indianapolis 500 have included Dario Franchitti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Rick Mears, Helio Castroneves, Dan Wheldon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sam Hornish, Jr. Scott Dixon, and others.

IndyCar Series Official Website

Watkins Glen International

February 9, 2009 by  
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Watkins Glen International is situated near Watkins Glen, New York. Over the years Watkins Glen has been host to a variety of different races, including a lot of the IMSA series, SCCA series, Formula One, NASCAR and Indycar.

Watkins Glen Schedule is made up of a couple of SCCA National races, quite a number of SCCA regionals take part on the track throughout the year as well as many Club Dates put on by BMW Car Club of America and Porsche Club of America. Pro races only make up a small percentage of the Watkins schedule.

In 1948 road racing was introduced to Watkins Glen through Cameron Argetsinger, an Ohio resident but who often stayed at his father’s summerhouse on the Seneca Lake. Argersinger was one of the early members of the SCCA, he proposed to the Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce an amateur Road Race to be called “Watkins Glen Grand Prix.” The proposal was happily accepted, and soon Argetsinger had arranged a 6.6 mile course, which used dirt, gravel and paved roads. He also had to arrange for permission to close one New York City track and any roads needed.

The first race to ever take place there was held mid-day on the second of October 1948. All competitors had to complete a 4 lap-qualifying race with a standing start. That day 15 cars took part and completed the 8 laps or 52.8 mile Grand Prix with ten finishing the entire race. Frank Griswold from Wayne, Pennsylvania won the race. The following year Miles Collier won the Grand Prix, just beating Briggs Cunningham. The 1950 Grand Prix saw its first fatal tragedy when Sam Collier was killed, from that day on his brother Miles never took part in a race again. That was not the only incident; another car left the track, injuring two spectators and a fireman.

The Watkins Glen International speedway was changed a couple of times over the years. Due to tragic events occurring again in 1952 a law was put in place preventing any racing on state highways and that led to the circuit being moved to the town of Dix. The fourth course that was completed is the one we still have today and is similar in outline to the third course.

Jacques Villeneuve

February 9, 2009 by  
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Jacques Joseph Charles Villeneuve was born in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada on the 9th of April 1971. At the tender age of eleven years, Jacques Villeneuve lost his well-loved and much respected father, Gilles Villeneuve, a Formula One driver, during a qualifying round at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1982. Jacques Villeneuve followed his father’s footsteps in his career choice and is currently a successful Canadian automobile racing driver having won the Formula One World Championship in 1997, the Champ Car Championship in 1995, as well as the Indianapolis 500. This makes Villeneuve one of only three drivers to ever have accomplished all three feats, the other two drivers being Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi.

Jacques‘ uncle also named Jacques, was also into racing and was moderately successful at it, even winning one IndyCar race. Villeneuve began his racing career with kart racing, quickly moving up the ranks. He went to various racing schools and his talent was clearly recognizable. He took part in the Italian Formula Three series between 1989 and 1991, then the Japanese Formula Three series in 1992.

In 1993, Villeneuve moved to the North American Toyota Atlantic racing series, where he successfully finished his debut season ranked third due to the five races he had won. The following year he moved to Champ Car Racing where he found himself Rookie of the Year. He then drove the new Reynard chasis with a Ford Cosworth engine for expatriate Australian Barry Green’s team, helping him finish second in the Indianapolis 500. Jacques’ strong performances and his family name brought him to the attention of Frank Williams, who wasted no time in signing him up into his Formula One team. This led to Villeneuve testing the Williams F1 car once the IndyCar season had ended.

The year 1996 saw Jacques Villeneuve put on a spectacular performance by becoming the second Formula One driver to ever achieve pole position as well as podium position on his maiden grand prix. That year he won four races with a total of 78 points, having reached the podium 11 times, all of which are rookie records.

Over the years, Villeneuve has taken part in and continues to take part in a variety of Motor Sports, including NASCAR, Le Mans, Speedcar and Top Race V6.

Mario Andretti

February 9, 2009 by  
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Mario Andretti – a name spoken with respect in auto racing circles. A master on the Formula One and NASCAR track, Mario Adretti has certainly left a major mark on the history of auto racing. Andretti, an Italian-American, has had a remarkable driving career with 4 IndyCar title wins and numerous F1 victories.

Mario Gabriele Andretti, along with his twin brother Aldo, was born on 28 February 1940 in Italy. In 1948 due to the occupation of his homeland by Yugoslavia, his family promptly departed, finally coming to reside in Nazareth of Pennsylvania, USA. Andretti’s racing career began in 1959 as he raced around a dirt track in a Hudson. His first year of racing saw Mario Andretti coming in 3rd place at the Indianapolis 500. 1964 was the year Andretti began racing in the USAC series. He also took part in a variety of forms of auto racing such as drag racing.

Mario Andretti also had a keen interest in Formula One. His first race was at Watkins Glen in 1968 and his first win for Ferrari was in 1971. Andretti’s focus really shifted to F1 driving in the mid-1970s. He began driving for the Parnelli team. He took the Lotus to its limit, developing a fantastic racing car that took an amazing full lap lead at Mount Fuji track. 1978 was a remarkable season with 6 wins in his brilliantly designed Lotus 79. Unfortunately after his previous grand successes as a Formula 1 driver, Andretti failed to gain victory from 1979 onwards. However his career in F1 reminded all why he was a champion as he competed with Ferrari in 1982. Andretti continued racing IndyCars during the ’80s.

Through his racing days Mario Andretti received much recognition, along with many awards and titles. Amongst these are the 1978 F1 World Champion, Inductee of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2000 and Inductee of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1996. He was even named “Driver of the Century” in 2000 by Associated Press and RACER magazine. Andretti was honored by the Italian government in 2006, by being awarded the Commendatore dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana.

Today Mario Andretti is a successful business man. He has set up the Andretti Winery in Napa Valley and has business interests in car dealerships, petroleum, the Mario Andretti Racing School as well as the Andretti Indoor Karting and Games center. However, Mario Andretti will always be remembered as one of the greatest race car drivers ever.

Swede Savage

February 9, 2009 by  
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David Earl Savage Jr, was born in San Bernardino, in California, on 26 August 1946. He was an all American NASCAR driver that started his career in Soap Box Derbies at the tender age of five years old. Soon he was racing Quarter Midget cars, and by the age of twelve, he had moved up to Go-Kart racing. Swede Savage took a keen interest in motorcycle racing in his late teens, and started driving a Lola in the late 1960s, in the Can-Am Racing Series. A few NASCAR drivers and events saw the introduction of this talented driver during the years 1968 and 1969. Swede Savage was forced out of the Daytona 500 in 1969, after his car’s wheel fell of on the 124th lap, and he crashed out. The undeterred Savage was driving an identical sponsored Plymouth Barracudas as his teammate Dan Gurney in the 1970 Trans-Am Series.

Swede Savage took home the “Phoenix Bobby Ball 150” title in 1970, behind the wheel of an Indycar. He also raced in the Indianapolis 500 twice, with a 32nd place finish in 1972, after being forced to drop out of the race due to mechanical problems. In 1973, Swede Savage lead the Indianapolis 500 for a total of twelve laps, but was unfortunately passed on the 55th lap, by Al Unser. It was on the 58th lap, that tragedy struck. Savage’s car had brushed along side the wall at the turn four exit and his car went sliding across the track sideways. Swede Savage then impacted violently, at a very oblique angle, against the track wall. The car disintegrated on impact and erupted in a ball of flames, with the trans axle and engine tumbling continuously until it reached the entrance to the pit lane. Swede Savage was still strapped in his racing seat, and the force had thrown him across the circuit, where on this hand and knees, he came to rest at the outer retaining wall. He was completely exposed. The tragedy did not end there. Crewmembers, Armando Teran and Graham McRae, ran blindly to their injured driver. Their concern and worry for his condition caused them not to see the fire truck that was approaching the scene, driving in the opposite direction of pit lane travel, that struck and killed Armando Teran. Teran was one of the youngest members of the team.

Thirty three days after his horrific accident, David Earl “Swede” Savage, died from his injuries. Savage had inhaled racing fuel vapors during his ordeal, that had led to severe respiratory failure. Swede Savage was laid to rest in Mt View Cemetery in San Bernardino, and left behind a wife, a six year old daughter and an unborn baby. The loss of this wonderful driver, and the tragedy that befell his family, friends and fans, is evident in the fan sites and kind words that are still expressed today.

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