1. Wheldon Memorial Pro-Am Draws Stars of INDYCAR
2. Racing For Cancer Offering Special Race School Experience
3. Mazda Road to Indy Hands out $2.3 Million at Celebration
4. Road America Paddock Open to Fans for Sept. 22 Test
5. Grand Prix of Boston Adds Local Partners
1. Wheldon Memorial Pro-Am Draws Stars of INDYCAR: Josef Newgarden knows the pressure is on. He has big shoes to fill.
A two-time Verizon IndyCar Series race winner in 2015, Newgarden was hand-selected by Scott and Mark Borchetta of Big Machine Records to be their team’s professional driver for the third annual Dan Wheldon Memorial Pro-Am Karting Race Honoring Justin Wilson on Sept. 19
“The pressure is definitely on,” Newgarden said. “It’s big pressure. (Big Machine Records has) won Indy 500s and series championships. They’ve won this race two years in a row (with Marino Franchitti as the pro driver in 2013 and Tony Kanaan in 2014), and they called me and said, ‘We expect to win a third time.'”
Newgarden will join some of INDYCAR’s biggest stars for the race, which honors the memories of a pair of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers in Wheldon and Wilson. The event at New Castle (Ind.) Motorsports Park will raise money for the Dan Wheldon Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association and Wilson Children’s Fund.
Also among the pro drivers entered in the event are: 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon and 2014 champion Will Power, fellow Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Marco Andretti, Ryan Briscoe, Ed Carpenter, Gabby Chaves, James Hinchcliffe and Sage Karam, former driver and current team co-owner Sarah Fisher and newly crowned Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot.
Each pro driver is paired with three amateurs to form kart teams sponsored by the likes of American Honda, Firestone, Target, Comfort Revolution and Indianapolis Motor Speedway/INDYCAR. Admission is free and gates open at 7 a.m. ET, with practice and qualifying leading up to the 1-hour, 45-minute race at 12:45 p.m. There will also be an autograph session featuring the pro drivers from 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
The event has raised more than $165,000 to establish The Sue Wheldon Fund, which has supported a New Investigator Research Grant and early stage programs of the Greater Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association as well as the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter’s care and support programs.
Carpenter, Karam, Newgarden and Pigot are also among those entered for the Robo-Pong 200 endurance kart race Sept. 20 at the same track.
“I’m hoping we get a lot of people out to New Castle Motorsports Park,” added Newgarden. “It’s such a cool event, even though I’ve lost the last two years. You’ll see a lot of INDYCAR stars racing on Saturday and we do this every year to honor Dan, but this year we’re also honoring Justin and helping his family, so I hope everyone comes out.”
2. Racing For Cancer Offering Special Race School Experience: Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe will serve as special guest instructors for an exclusive racing school experience Dec. 7-9 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with proceeds benefiting Racing For Cancer.
The event on the Monterey Peninsula in California consists of two full days of on-track activity, including hot laps in Porsche 911s, and instruction from Hunter-Reay and Hinchcliffe as well as the Skip Barber Racing School instructors. Hunter-Reay and Hinchcliffe will host a welcome cocktail reception and exclusive private dinners with the participants and their guests, where they will experience Monterey Bay and Carmel cuisine.
Options include staying at the renowned Inn at Spanish Bay overlooking the Pacific Ocean and playing a full round of golf with Hunter-Reay and Hinchcliffe at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course.
The event benefits Racing For Cancer, the non-profit founded in 2012 by Hunter-Reay to support cancer initiatives that focus on early detection and prevention and childhood cancer. Hunter-Reay’s mother, Lydia, died of cancer in 2009. For more information, visit www.RacingForCancer.org.
3. Mazda Road to Indy Hands out $2.3 Million at Celebration: Scholarship prizes and awards totaling more than $2.3 million were distributed during the Mazda Road to Indy Championship Celebration on Sept. 14 in Monterey, Calif.
The Mazda Road to Indy offers scholarships enabling drivers to progress from karting and racing schools through the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires to the Verizon IndyCar Series.
“We have some incredible talent in all three series and it was a pleasure to honor them and provide the scholarships that will enable our champions to take the next step in their careers,” said Dan Andersen, owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions, which oversees operations of the three series under sanction of INDYCAR.
Spencer Pigot, 21, from Orlando, Fla., received a $1 million scholarship for winning the Indy Lights championship that will be used for a 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series race program that includes the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Pigot, driving for Juncos Racing, earned several additional awards, including a $25,000 cash award from Cosworth, $15,000 for being the series’ Rookie of the Year, a champion’s ring from Jostens and an original artwork piece by Jim Swintal to commemorate his success.
Santiago Urrutia, 19, of Uruguay, driving for Team Pelfrey, secured the Pro Mazda title and a scholarship for $590,300 to assist in his graduation to Indy Lights in 2016. He also won $7,500 for being the BBS Rookie of the Year, a Jostens ring and original Swintal artwork.
USF2000 champion Nico Jamin, 19, from Rouen, France, earned a Mazda scholarship $381,100 to allow him to graduate to Pro Mazda in 2016, along with a Jostens ring and original Swintal artwork.
In addition, six former champion drivers were inducted into the Mazda Road to Indy Hall of Fame: Jonathan Bomarito and Lawson Aschenbach in USF2000, Guy Cosmo and Conor Daly in Pro Mazda and Paul Tracy and Josef Newgarden in Indy Lights.
4. Road America Paddock Open to Fans for Sept. 22 Test: Race fans will be allowed in the paddock for the Sept. 22 Verizon IndyCar Series test session at Road America. Indy car racing returns to the historic Wisconsin road course for the Road America Grand Prix in June 2016.
Admission to the test is $20, with half of every ticket sold going to the Wilson Children’s Fund to benefit the family of the late Justin Wilson. Fans will also have the option to make additional contributions on site. Road America season pass holders will be admitted with a $10 donation to the Wilson Children’s Fund.
The test session will run from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. Teams scheduled to participate include: CFH Racing (driver Josef Newgarden), Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball), Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Graham Rahal), Team Penske (Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power) and AJ Foyt Racing (driver to be determined). To purchase tickets for the test, visit www.roadamerica.com or call (800) 365-7223.
5. Grand Prix of Boston Adds Local Partners: The Grand Prix of Boston, which makes its debut on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule on Labor Day weekend 2016, announced a partnership with three Boston-area companies: The Herb Chambers Companies, New England’s largest automobile dealership group with 55 locations; Polar Beverages, the nation’s largest soft drink bottler; and the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, which will serve as the event headquarters and an official hotel.
“We’re excited to begin to share our partnerships for this inaugural event, and it’s only fitting that our first three are local companies with deep ties to the community,” said Mark Perrone, Grand Prix of Boston president and CEO. “We made a commitment early in this process to support local businesses, and we place enormous value in their support and participation. This is a huge endorsement for the grand prix and, for them, this is a great opportunity to showcase their brands to the event attendees and the larger television audience.”
Grand Prix of Boston tickets go on sale in November. The inaugural event will be held Sept. 2-4, 2016, in the South Boston Waterfront area. For more information, visit indycarboston.com.