1. Dixon, Kanaan Taking on Ironman 70.3 Miami
2. Arrow Electronics Extends Sponsorship with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
3. Newgarden’s Story Being Told in Children’s Book
4. Team USA Scholarship Pair Ready for Formula Ford Festival
5. Wilson Auction Proceeds Top $550,000 and Counting
6. Of Note
1. Dixon, Kanaan Taking on Ironman 70.3 Miami: Already teammates with Chip Ganassi Racing, two Verizon IndyCar Series champions are teaming again this weekend for another grueling athletic endeavor. Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan will compete Oct. 25 in the Ironman 70.3 Miami.
A 70.3 is named such because it features a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run (totaling 70.3 miles) – each of the distances half of that in a full Ironman competition. Kanaan is an avid triathlete who has competed in the Miami event near his South Florida home four times. Dixon hasn’t attempted one in several years, and worked his preparations this year around media and team obligations after he won his fourth Verizon IndyCar Series title in August.
“It’s really hard to tell how it’s going to go; I’m just kind of going for the experience,” said Dixon. “I’ve not had a lot of time to prep, but still I forgot how much I missed putting in the time and trying to get a little more out of all three disciplines and that kind of training. It will be fun to get back into a half-Ironman distance and next year maybe do a few more.”
Kanaan, who completed the full Ironman World Championship in Hawaii in 2011, was back in the Aloha State two weeks ago to train while this year’s Ironman competition took place. The native Brazilian put in miles on the new, high-tech Trek bike that he and Dixon will ride in Miami and picked up some tips from pros that he knows.
“The bike is very advanced and we have a lot more bike than we have legs for it,” the 2004 Verizon IndyCar Series champ said with a laugh. “It’s like going to the Indy 500 and people give you a Ganassi car to race. It is futuristic and aerodynamic, which is similar to the race car.”
Kanaan and Dixon are iron men on the racetrack, too. Kanaan, 40, is the all-time Indy car leader with 249 consecutive race starts – a streak that began in 2001 and is still intact. Dixon, 35, has made 191 consecutive starts, which is second on the active list.
Both drivers incorporate the triathlon disciplines into their year-round workout regimens, though Dixon hasn’t tied them together in a competitive environment in quite a few years. His trainer, Jim Leo of Indianapolis-based PitFit Training, said Dixon is a natural.
“I can’t really tell you what his best sport is,” said Leo, who will also compete in the Miami 70.3. “He’s a phenomenal runner; he’s a really good swimmer. He’s fast on the bike and aerobically a robot. He could be an athlete in any sport. It will be fun to watch them race.”
Former Indy car drivers Vitor Meira and Antonio Pizzonia also are among the participants.
2. Arrow Electronics Extends Sponsorship with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports: Arrow Electronics, the primary sponsor of the No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season, has extended its partnership with the team through 2018.
Headquartered in Centennial, Colo., Arrow Electronics is a global provider of products, services and solutions to industrial and commercial users of electronic components and enterprise computing solutions.
Team co-owner Sam Schmidt, whose crash in 2000 during an Indy car test left him a quadriplegic, initially collaborated with Arrow on machine-to-machine technologies in 2014. The project enabled him to drive a modified 2014 Corvette known as the Arrow Semi-Autonomous Motorcar (SAM).
“Ever since I received that phone call from Arrow to drive the SAM car, our lives, both on and off the track, have changed dramatically,” Schmidt said. “The vehicle became a message that has inspired thousands worldwide while B2B and B2C relationships have blossomed. Arrow will assist our nonprofit, Conquer Paralysis Now, to accomplish its goal of curing paralysis and greatly improving the day-to-day life of those with disabilities.”
The team will continue to run the No. 5 car to spread the word about Arrow’s Five Years Out initiative.
“Arrow’s collaboration with Sam Schmidt and SPM is a natural fit. We are both committed to guiding innovation forward to help improve people’s lives,” said Michael Long, Arrow’s chairman, president and CEO.
3. Newgarden’s Story Being Told in Children’s Book: Josef Newgarden, who experienced a breakout Verizon IndyCar Series season in 2015 with two race wins and a seventh-place finish in the championship, is the subject of a children’s book expected to be released in time for the 2016 season.
“Josef, The IndyCar Driver” is a collaborative effort between Newgarden and author/illustrator Chris Workman, whose Apex Legends is self-publishing the project. An Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign has been launched to finance the first printing.
“A book like this is a great way to get kids excited about racing and I am honored that my personal story will be featured in the project,” said Newgarden, 25, from Hendersonville, Tenn. “Thinking bigger picture, this is also an inspiration story that teaches kids that they can accomplish whatever they set their mind to.”
The Indiegogo campaign ( igg.me/at/josef-indycar) runs through Nov. 22 and offers contributors the opportunity to pre-order the book and add perks such as posters, autographed copies of the book and more.
“While this book will definitely appeal to IndyCar Series fans,” said Workman, “a big goal for this program is to spread the open-wheel racing message to a much broader audience. The more funding we are able to raise through Indiegogo, the more people we will be able to reach with the book.”
4. Team USA Scholarship Pair Ready for Formula Ford Festival: Many drivers know a successful run in Britain’s famed Formula Ford Festival can translate into a successful racing career in the United States or Europe.
Young American racers Dakota Armstrong, 18, and Michai Stephens, 23, will try to emulate the success of drivers such as Mark Webber, Jenson Button and Dan Wheldon when the Team USA Scholarship duo races Oct. 24-25 on the Brands Hatch road circuit as part of Cliff Dempsey Racing’s effort.
Only one American has ever reached the top step of the podium at the festival, when current Verizon IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden won the Kent Class in 2008. Danica Patrick first gained prominence when she finished second to future Formula One and sports car racer Anthony Davidson in 2000. Wheldon finished second to Button in 1998, the year before he came to the United States to race in a career that would take him to the 2005 Verizon IndyCar Series championship and a pair of Indianapolis 500 triumphs.
Armstrong and Stephens will also compete for Cliff Dempsey Racing in the prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy event at Silverstone on Oct. 31-Nov. 1.
For 25 years, the Team USA Scholarship has provided opportunities for promising American race car drivers. Past recipients include Indy car drivers Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Buddy Rice, Josef Newgarden, JR Hildebrand and Conor Daly.
5. Wilson Auction Proceeds Top $550,000 and Counting: More than $556,000 has been raised to date for the Wilson Children’s Fund through auctions of racing, sports and other memorabilia and experiences, with proceeds benefiting the family of late Verizon IndyCar Series driver Justin Wilson.
An ongoing eBay online auction has generated $482,144 in bids through the first month, with an additional $74,000 coming through private auctions for racing helmets donated by fellow drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal.
Items are still available for bid on the eBay auction ( http://stores.ebay.com/Celebrity-Charity-Auctions/Justin-Wilson-Memorial ) over the next two weeks until it closes. Among those currently up for bid are two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk’s racing helmet signed by a total of 19 Indy 500 winners, an autographed Dale Earnhardt Jr. firesuit and an opportunity to tour the McLaren Technical Centre in England.
The final batch of items for bid will be added at approximately 9 p.m. ET Oct. 26 and include a race-worn Wilson firesuit and driving shoes – all autographed by Wilson – from the personal collection of Jeremy Dale, a close friend and former team manager of Wilson.
6. Of Note: The #Riding4JWill team raised $8,700 in The Dempsey Challenge charity bike ride Oct. 17-18 in Maine. Riding in honor of late Verizon IndyCar Series driver Justin Wilson were his wife Julia, brother Stefan, family friend Barry Waddell and Dempsey Racing executive Jim Jordan. The event raises funds for The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing in Lewiston, Maine, and was a cause Justin Wilson took up through his friendship with the actor and racer. … Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya will test a Porsche 919 Hybrid on Nov. 22 in Bahrain – the day after the final race of the FIA World Endurance Challenge season. He had a seat fitting this week.