INDYCAR News and Notes — Sept. 23, 2015

1. Drivers at Test Say There’s ‘Nothing Like’ Road America
2. Bevy of New Items Added to eBay Auction Benefiting Wilson Fund
3. INDYCAR Film Selected for Jalopnik Film Festival
4. Will Power’s Brother Damien Brings Comedic Wit to IndyCar.com Video Series
5. Of Note

1. Drivers at Test Say There’s ‘Nothing Like’ Road America: Scott Dixon joked that driving an Indy car at Road America was like riding a bicycle – just a completely different bicycle than the last one he rode there.

Dixon, the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion, was back at work a few weeks after winning his fourth series title at Sonoma Raceway. He joined nine other drivers for a team test Sept. 22 in preparation for the Verizon IndyCar Series race weekend June 23-26, 2016, at the famed road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis. Road America, which held its first race in 1955, hosted Indy car races from 1982-2007.

“It’s good to be back here, but quite strange coming back to such a large track,” said Dixon, who last drove at Road America in 2002 in CART. “It’s nice to be back in this area and see so many fans out today, especially for a test day for the first time. The race itself should be pretty good and racing here is the heart of American road racing.”

Joining Dixon were Chip Ganassi Racing Teams teammates Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball, Team Penske’s Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud, Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Takuma Sato of AJ Foyt Racing and Josef Newgarden of CFH Racing.

(To take a lap around Road America with Newgarden, click HERE).

“The last time I was here was 12 years ago, but Road America is always on my list of favorite tracks,” Kanaan said. “Coming back here today was a blast. It’s a fast track and such a long course that it’s awesome. I’ve enjoyed it, but not being here for 12 years, the first few laps this morning were really cool.”

For Sato, Newgarden and Kimball, it was their first experience driving an Indy car on the 4.048-mile road course, though Newgarden drove the track in the Skip Barber National Series and Kimball drove the track in a Formula Ford 2000 early in their careers.

“There’s nothing like it on the calendar before,” said Sato. “In terms of downforce, it could be one of the lowest downforce we use, but the layout of the track is completely different. It’s a very classic track that’s narrow and bumpy. There are a lot of high-speed corners and some 90-degree corners as well.”

Rahal, who finished third in his only Indy car start at the track in 2007, was most impressed by the cornering speeds the current Verizon IndyCar Series’ package produced on the track.

“You forget how fast it is and in these cars, it’s very quick,” Rahal said. “Today I’ve been surprised at the way the car pulled down the straights. I thought that was going to be the weak link. Our best lap time versus (when I was here in) 2007, we’re not that far off.”

Spectator areas and the paddock were open to the public to watch the on-track action on the final day of summer and get a few autographs and photos. Admission was $20, with $10 of each ticket sold donated to the Wilson Children’s Fund to benefit the family of the late Justin Wilson.

2. Bevy of New Items Added to eBay Auction Benefiting Wilson Fund: A wealth of racing and other memorabilia has been added to the eBay online auction benefiting the Wilson Children’s Fund. Items now available for bid include donations from Formula One, NASCAR, sports car and Global Rallycross drivers and teams, the USA Soccer men’s national team, National Football League players and the entertainment world, as well as additional items submitted by Verizon IndyCar Series drivers and teams.

To view the current list of items for bid, click HERE.

All proceeds from the auction go to the fund for the family of Verizon IndyCar Series driver Justin Wilson, who died Aug. 24 after suffering a head injury in a race the day before. The first group of auction items consisted of signed racing helmets donated by 19 Verizon IndyCar Series drivers and racing legend Mario Andretti. The helmet worn by 2015 series champion Scott Dixon went for more than $18,000 when its auction concluded Sept. 22. The remaining helmets are available for bidding through approximately 9 p.m. ET Sept. 24.

The new group of auction items, 78 items in all, is available for bidding through the evening of Sept. 28. Among the highlight items, by category, are:

  • Verizon IndyCar Series: the racing helmet used by Stefan Wilson when he drove as a teammate to brother Justin at Baltimore in 2013; helmets worn by Will Power, Pippa Mann, Tristan Vautier, Sarah Fisher, Stefano Coletti and Carlos Huertas; a Marco Andretti race-worn firesuit; one-of-a-kind, signed San Francisco Giants baseball jerseys with the last names and car numbers of 2015 championship contenders Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Graham Rahal, Helio Castroneves and Josef Newgarden embroidered on the back; and a Giants baseball jersey with “Wilson” and “25” on the back to represent Justin’s car number, signed by all the drivers who competed in the season-ending GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma;
  • Formula One: Fernando Alonzo’s race-worn firesuit, shoes and gloves from the 2015 Austrian Grand Prix, Jenson Button’s race-worn helmet and Daniel Ricciardo’s race-worn firesuit;
  • NASCAR: autographed firesuits, hats, gloves, visors and more from the likes of Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Michael Waltrip and many others;
  • Sports cars: the firesuit worn by race winner Jordan Taylor at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans;
  • USA Soccer: jerseys signed by recently retired Landon Donovan, goalkeeper Brad Guzan and one signed by the entire men’s national team;
  • NFL: footballs signed by Hall of Famer Walter Payton and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, and a jersey signed by Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten;
  • Entertainment: a Roger Daltrey-autographed microphone used at The Who’s concert this year at the Glastonbury Festival; a framed 1982 Hall & Oates “Private Eyes” Australian gold record, signed by John Oates; and a 14-by-11 “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” movie reprint photo signed by the late Paul Newman.

“We’ve had a great response for the first batch of items,” said Rahal, who has spearheaded the auction effort through eBay, Auction Cause and the Graham Rahal Foundation. “The helmets all went through the roof and we had a great bunch of new items go up Monday night. … There’s a lot of ball caps and items from The Who, UFC, footballs, hockey stuff. People need to take another look and see what they can find.

“It’s going good. I’m proud of the effort that everybody has put in and can’t thank everyone enough for getting us this far down the road.”

Fans can sell their own Wilson-related items on eBay and designate the Graham Rahal Foundation as their chosen charity, with proceeds also donated to the Wilson Children’s Fund. Additionally, a limited edition reproduction of 50 signed and numbered prints of noted artist Bill Patterson’s original work depicting Wilson’s final Indy car victory at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012 – painted live Aug. 31 at the Verizon IndyCar Series Championship Celebration – are available at Patterson’s WEBSITE, with $100 of each print sold contributed to the fund. Tribute T-shirts and other Wilson memorabilia are available at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway  ONLINE STORE, with proceeds also directed to the fund.

Contributions can be made directly to the fund HERE or by mail to: Wilson Children’s Fund, c/o Forum Credit Union, PO Box 50738, Indianapolis, IN 46250-0738.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host “Celebrating the Life of Justin Wilson,” to honor Wilson’s memory, from 4-6 p.m. ET Sept. 29. The event is open only to members of the racing community and invited media, but fans can watch via live streaming on IndyCar.com.

3. INDYCAR Film Selected for Jalopnik Film Festival: The short film “Indianapolis” will be screened Sept. 26 at the Jalopnik Film Festival in Los Angeles.

The stop-motion film, created by INDYCAR photographer Shawn Gritzmacher from approximately 3,000 still photos taken over the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, chronicles the 2015 Indianapolis 500 and highlights how current Verizon IndyCar Series drivers carry on the traditions and greater history of the “500.”

Films for the third-year Jalopnik event were screened and selected by Jeff ZwartSpike Feresten , Los Angeles Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson and comedian/producer Adam Carolla, whose documentary titled “Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman” will also be featured at the festival.

4. Will Power’s Brother Damien Brings Comedic Wit to IndyCar.com Video Series:Damien Power’s insights, energy and comedic delivery entertain audiences around the world. In a video series debuting Sept. 26 exclusively on IndyCar.com, the brother of Verizon IndyCar Series driver Will Power elicits some guffaws and strange looks from his subjects – drivers and series officials.

The series was taped last month during the Verizon IndyCar Series championship-deciding race week at Sonoma Raceway. In one episode, Damien goes toe to toe with his brother – 2014 champion Will – who occasionally is part of his set on stage.

Nominated for the Best Newcomer Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and for Best Comedy at the Sydney Fringe Festival for his solo show Monkeys in Space, Damien’s reputation for clever routines and characters is growing.

“I’m not so much a small observational kind of comedian,” he said. “A lot of my material is about culture and society and politics, so much of it comes from interactions with people. It’s interesting to me how people in different parts of the world behave and perceive the world, and the big tour I’ve done through Europe and Asia has taught me a lot.”

5. Of Note: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Josef Newgarden and James Hinchcliffe will be featured Sept. 24 on Spike’s newest “Playbook 360” episode. Wrapped around the cable TV network’s Movie of the Night, “Playbook 360” takes viewers inside different sports, as seen through the eyes of host and former NFL player Dhani Jones. During several breaks throughout the showing of the feature film “Star Trek” beginning at 9:07 p.m. ET, viewers will follow Jones as he visits IMS, takes a ride in a two-seat Indy car and interviews Newgarden and Hinchcliffe. … Dalton Kellett, who has completed two seasons in each of the first two rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy developmental ladder, will move up to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in 2016. Kellett, 22, will drive the No. 28 K-Line Insulators USA entry for Andretti Autosport – the team he drove for this season in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. “2015 marked my first year with the team in the Pro Mazda Championship,” Kellett said. “Having the opportunity to grow that relationship in the upcoming season is an immense honor.”