INDYCAR News and Notes – Oct. 13, 2015

1. iRacing League to Pit INDYCAR Pros, Amateurs in Virtual Season
2. New Wilson Auction Items Include Rare Bo Jackson Signed Photo
3. Mann Headlines Karting for the Cure Event
4. Driver-Athletes Tackle Lengthy Challenges
5. Of Note

1. iRacing League to Pit INDYCAR Pros, Amateurs in Virtual Season: Racers can never get enough racing. That’s the impetus behind the new Verizon IndyCar Series simulated racing league, a collaborative effort among INDYCAR, iRacing and RACER magazine to establish a top-notch online racing game with professionals from the Verizon IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy competing alongside invited standout amateur virtual racers.

The weekly league – aptly named the “16th Street Racing League” in honor of where Indianapolis Motor Speedway is located – debuts Oct. 13. All races will be telecast live on IndyCar.com, complete with commentators and race stewards. Professionals expected to compete include Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Sage Karam and Sebastian Saavedra – each looking at the opportunity to keep their driving skills honed until the 2016 “real” season arrives.

“INDYCAR has quite a long offseason and you have to find ways to stay sharp,” said Pagenaud, who just completed his sixth Indy car season and first with Team Penske. “iRacing is a great way to do that. It’s amazing how detailed the cars and tracks are on the sim. I’m looking forward to running some races in the 16th Street Racing League during the winter months. I’m sure there will be a lot of healthy competition amongst the drivers.”

The 11-event schedule features an array of current and historic Indy car tracks, with a mix of ovals and permanent road circuits. Each race begins at 8 p.m. ET, with the first stop on the schedule the 1-mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway. Other tracks on the virtual calendar are: Barber Motorsports Park (Oct. 20), Iowa Speedway (Oct. 27), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Nov. 3), The Milwaukee Mile (Nov. 10), Road America (Nov. 17), Pocono Raceway (Nov. 24), Sonoma Raceway (Dec. 1), Texas Motor Speedway (Dec. 8), Watkins Glen International (Dec. 15) and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Dec. 21-22 oval qualifications and Dec. 29 race).

Karam, the 2013 Indy Lights champion who has competed in 13 Verizon IndyCar Series races over the past two seasons, is a long-time iRacing participant and proponent.

“iRacing isn’t just for entertainment, I consider it a serious training tool,” said Karam, 20. “I found iRacing at a trade show when I was 13 years old and they were just launching the company. They made me a beta tester and I used it to train for the Skip Barber Shootout at Sebring. I trained 100 laps a night on iRacing for two weeks straight. I showed up at Sebring and never physically drove the track before (arriving). I went on to win the shootout over the largest class ever (52 competitors).

“I still go on iRacing with many other INDYCAR drivers on a regular basis,” Karam added. “My sim setup has come a long way from a lawn chair and a steering setup clamped to the kitchen table, though!”

2. New Wilson Auction Items Include Rare Bo Jackson Signed Photo: While serving as grand marshal of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama in 2013, multi-sport star Bo Jackson had the chance to meet Verizon IndyCar Series driver Justin Wilson on a visit to the Dale Coyne Racing compound. A rare framed photo of the meeting, signed by the pro baseball and football all-star, is among the featured items added this week to the online eBay auction benefiting the Wilson Children’s Fund.

Wilson succumbed Aug. 24 to a head injury sustained in a race the previous day. The auction of racing, other sports and entertainment memorabilia and items – including 2016 race and golf tournament VIP packages – runs through Oct. 26 and benefits his widow and two daughters.

To view and bid on unique items this week, including helmets signed by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and four-time Indy car champion Dario Franchitti, and a helmet worn by 2009 Formula One champion Jenson Button, visit http://stores.ebay.com/Celebrity-Charity-Auctions/Justin-Wilson-Memorial.

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 are available at http://billpatterson.com/justin-wilson-memorial-print with $100 of each print sold contributed to the fund.

Wilson tribute T-shirts and decals are available at http://shop.ims.com/indycar, with proceeds also directed to the fund.

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

3. Mann Headlines Karting for the Cure Event: Verizon IndyCar Series driver Pippa Mann headlines a night of karting, fine food and silent auction items to raise money for Susan G. Komen of Central Indiana in the fight against breast cancer, part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Karting for a Cure will take place from 6-10 p.m. ET Oct. 23 at Fastimes Indoor Karting in Indianapolis. For $50, participants will be able to drive karts on the Fastimes track, win prizes, enjoy provided food and bid on silent auction items. Those wanting to be part of the event but not race can do so for $25.

For more information and to register, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/karting-for-a-cure-with-indycar-driver-pippa-mann-tickets-18980222356. Fastimes is located at 3455 Harper Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46240.

4. Driver-Athletes Tackle Lengthy Challenges: Two-time Indy car champion Alex Zanardi knocked nearly 7 minutes off his 2014 time in completing the Ironman World Championship presented by GoPro (consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run) on Oct. 10 in Hawaii.

Zanardi, 48, who lost both legs in a crash at Lausitzring in Germany in 2001, won a cycling gold medal at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. He uses a handbike for the cycling portion and an Olympic wheelchair for the running section.

Meanwhile, Andretti Autosport driver Marco Andretti has been training for the Runner’s World Half Marathon on Oct. 18 in Bethlehem, Pa., while Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan have been preparing to take on the Ironman 70.3 Miami on Oct. 25.

5. Of Note: Four-time Indy car champion Sebastien Bourdais and co-driver Lee Holdsworth finished ninth in the V8 Supercars Bathurst 1000 in Australia on Oct. 11. They qualified fourth. Verizon IndyCar Series veteran Simona de Silvestro and co-driver Renee Gracie placed 21st. … Andretti Autosport driver Carlos Munoz, the 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the Verizon IndyCar Series, was among the attendees Oct. 10 of the Diamond Ball – Miami Children’s Health System’s signature fundraising event. … August sales of the Graham Rahal Shake at 60 Steak ‘n Shake locations in Ohio led to a donation of $8,500 to the Graham Rahal Foundation to fight Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). The donation will also aid in SMA research efforts conducted by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, one of the largest and most comprehensive pediatric hospitals and research institutes in the United States.