INDYCAR News and Notes – Jan. 29, 2016
1. Ganassi heads Indy car list of Hall of Fame selections
2. Ed Carpenter Racing returning to the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock
3. Wilson adds solar energy partner in bid for 100th Indy 500
4. Telitz lands drive with Team Pelfrey in Pro Mazda
5. Chastain Motorsports planning two-car USF2000 entry
1. Ganassi heads Indy car list of Hall of Fame selections: As a young aspiring racer, Chip Ganassi enjoyed any form of motorsports. Years later, as one of the most successful team owners who dabbles in multiple forms of the sport, it is fitting that Ganassi is a 2016 inductee into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
Ganassi was announced Jan. 29 as one of seven honorees in the Motorsports Hall’s 28th class. Among those joining the longtime Indy car team owner are 1955 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner Bob Sweikert, former Indy car driver and TV commentator Sam Posey and successful NASCAR team owner Richard Childress.
Ganassi was named in the Open Wheel category, appropriate since he has achieved most of his success as an Indy car team owner. Following a short driving career that saw him named Indianapolis 500 rookie of the year in 1982, Chip Ganassi Racing began with a one-car effort in 1990. Since then, his drivers have won 100 races, including four Indianapolis 500s, and 11 season championships – most recently with Scott Dixon in 2015.
He has since branched into NASCAR, sports car and rallycross ownership, with a Daytona 500 win, a record six Rolex 24 At Daytona victories and seven sports car season championships. Ganassi also pulled off the “Chip Slam” when his teams won, in order, the 2010 Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 and 2011 Rolex 24 in a one-year span.
When introduced today in a news conference in Daytona Beach, Fla., the Pittsburgh native admitted he’d “never been humbled like this before.” It wasn’t lost on the 57-year-old that the Motorsports Hall, which is building a new facility on the Daytona International Speedway grounds, includes a wide array of motorsports greats from the genres of motorcycles, airplanes, sports cars, off road, open wheel, stock cars and more.
“I always liked motorsports and I always appreciated the different forms of it,” Ganassi said. “I started out in go-karts and snowmobiles and dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles. So I always enjoyed different kinds of motorsports and I always appreciated the winners and champions in all those different forms.
“Just the fact that they’re on a motorcycle versus an Indy car or a snowmobile instead of a Cup car, they’re still champions and the competition is just as fierce at every level. That’s why I’ve always enjoyed the different forms of the sport.”
Ganassi gave full credit for his induction to the many people who have worked for him over the years. “No team owner, no team representative can do it on their own,” he said. “It takes a team and I’ve been lucky to work with some great people over the years.”
Sweikert was selected in the Historic category. The Los Angeles native had the ultimate year in 1955, winning the Indy 500, AAA national championship and Midwest sprint car championship – becoming the first driver to sweep all three honors in a season.
Unfortunately, Sweikert died a year later at the age of 30 in a sprint car crash at Salem (Ind.) Speedway. He was inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame in 1994.
Posey, 71, was a standout sports car racer who drove alongside Mark Donohue for owner Roger Penske in 1968 Trans Am competition. He also drove in Can Am, started 10 times in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, made 13 career Indy car starts including the 1972 Indianapolis 500, two Formula One starts and one NASCAR Cup race appearance.
Following his retirement as a driver, Posey moved to the television booth and was part of ABC’s Indianapolis 500 broadcast team for nearly two decades.
2. Ed Carpenter Racing is returning to the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock: Team officials announced Jan. 28 that the organization that operated as CFH Racing in 2015 will be known as Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR). The team remains headquartered in its current location on Main Street in Speedway, Ind., and is co-owned by Ed Carpenter, Tony George and Stuart Reed.
“After competing for a year as CFH Racing, we will be returning to ECR for 2016 and beyond,” Carpenter said. “While we had a great year as CFH Racing, we have had some partnership changes within the organization and it makes the most sense to return to ECR. I am proud of what we have accomplished as a team since we started in 2012 and look forward to building upon that success for another exciting Verizon IndyCar Series season.”
ECR and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) combined single-car teams in late 2014 to create CFH Racing. CFH won two races in 2015 with driver Josef Newgarden, collected an additional three podium finishes and earned one Verizon P1 Award pole position. Sarah Fisher and Wink Hartman, who formed SFHR and became co-owners in CFH, have decided to focus on other business interests, though Fisher will continue to assist ECR with sponsorship development and work with existing team partners.
“It’s important for INDYCAR to have strong entries on the grid and this team needs to be two of them, so I will do what I can to help them with business developments and continue with solutions for our current partners,” Fisher said. “I am lucky to have been an owner in this series for eight years, having incredible memories along the way. Lastly, I am extremely thankful to Wink and Libba Hartman for everything they’ve done to help us get to where we are today.”
Newgarden will drive the No. 21 Chevrolet for ECR in 2016, featuring a special Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka scheme for the first four events. Carpenter will remain driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet for the five oval races on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. ECR continues working toward filling the No. 20 seat for the road and street course events.
“I’m extremely excited about 2016 with Ed Carpenter Racing,” said Newgarden, the 2011 Indy Lights champion before he joined SFHR in 2012. “I enjoy working with Ed Carpenter so much, as both a teammate and a team owner. I look forward to putting 100 percent into the season and trying to achieve greater and bigger results.
“With the entire ECR team and the Chevy partnership we have, I feel there is absolutely nothing that can stand in our way from topping our very promising season in 2015.”
3. Wilson adds solar energy partner in bid for 100th Indy 500: Stefan Wilson is a step closer to realizing his dream of competing in the historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race with a renewable energy twist.
The American Solar Energy Society announced that it will sponsor Wilson in his attempt to race in the 100th Indy 500 on May 29. Wilson’s goal is for his entry to feature the first solar-powered pit crew and introduce Verizon IndyCar Series teams and fans to the benefits of solar energy through his #ThinkSolar campaign.
“This endorsement by ASES is a really exciting development and validation of the #ThinkSolar campaign’s vision,” Wilson said. “They’ve helped shape an industry that’s committed to solving many of the energy challenges we face today. Together, we’ll strive to invigorate conversations around commonplace solar applications as well as the design and engineering innovations that will drive the future of renewable energy for this sport and the world.”
Aligning with Wilson’s #ThinkSolar campaign is ASES’ attempt to further its mission to “inspire an era of energy innovation and speed the transition to a sustainable energy economy.” Among the ideas under consideration in the Verizon IndyCar Series are solar-powered timing stands in pit lane, lighting and charging stations.
“We think Stefan’s #ThinkSolar campaign is a great way to get solar in front of people in a new way,” said Carly Rixham, ASES’ executive director. “There is already some solar in the race car industry. In fact, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a nine megawatt solar farm nearby with 39,312 solar panels. Now, bringing solar onto the track will increase the visibility of the technology with a diverse audience. It’s an honor to support Stefan and his earnest interest to reduce environmental impact.”
Wilson, 26 and a native of Sheffield, England, has competed in one Verizon IndyCar Series race. At Baltimore in 2013, he teamed with his late brother, Justin, for Dale Coyne Racing. He finished third in the 2011 Indy Lights championship with two race wins.
4. Telitz lands drive with Team Pelfrey in Pro Mazda: Rising American standout Aaron Telitz will join Team Pelfrey for the 2016 season in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
The 24-year-old native of Birchwood, Wis., graduates to Pro Mazda after competing in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda for the last two seasons. Telitz finished third in the 2015 championship standings for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, on the strength of 11 podium finishes, including a win in Race One at Barber Motorsports Park.
“Joining Team Pelfrey for 2016 is a big leap in my racing career,” Telitz said. “I’ve moved up to Pro Mazda and have joined a big powerhouse team. I can’t wait to get to work. It’s easy to just say that Team Pelfrey is the reigning Pro Mazda Champions and that makes them a favorite, but there’s more to it than that. They put an insane amount of effort into all the small details both on and away from the track. In a business that is measured to the ten thousandth of a second the small details can make all the difference.”
Telitz, a former recipient of the Team USA Scholarship, will drive the No. 82 Rice Lake Weighing Systems-sponsored Team Pelfrey Mazda when the season commences in St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 11. Santiago Urrutia claimed the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires title with Team Pelfrey.
5. Chastain Motorsports planning two-car USF2000 entry: Chastain Motorsports will field two cars in the 2016 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda. Team driver Sam Chastain will drive the No. 77 Van Diemen/Mazda and be joined by at least one teammate for the season.
Chastain Motorsports, based in Noblesville, Ind., has a history in the Verizon IndyCar Series, competing in the 1997, 1998 and 2007 Indianapolis 500 Mile Races, as well as other events in the 1997 and ’98 seasons. More recently, the team has fielded a multi-car effort that produced F1600 Formula F race wins in 2014 and 2015.