Archives for Autosport Radio PR

Autosportradio.com guests for April 4, 2017 are: Bill Simpson and Steve Wittich

The Autosportradio.com 2017 Show presented by Honda HPD will stream live on Tuesday, April 4th 2017, live from McGilvery’s Speedway at 3009 North High School Road, beginning at 7PM ET.

The program can be seen/heard by logging onto www.autosportradio.com and the program streamed live on YouTube will be on the home page.

When the program concludes you will find the archive available on Don Kay’s YouTube channel. 

Scheduled Guests are:

Bill Simpson

When 18-year-old Bill Simpson crashed his dragster in 1958, it may have been the most fortuitous wreck in the history of automobile racing.

That incident left Simpson in a California hospital bed with two badly broken arms, assorted bruises and plenty of recovery time to daydream.

“Until then, I was like most drivers,” Simpson recalls. “The only time I thought about safety was after I’d been hurt. This time, I was hurt bad enough to do a lot of thinking.”

That was when auto racing got lucky.

A handful of drag racers had experimented with war-surplus parachutes as a means of slowing their cars. Simpson went further, researching fabrics and designing some of the sport’s first purpose-built parachutes. He hung out his shingle as Simpson Drag Chutes.

NHRA legend Tom McEwen says, “I remember Bill in that garage, sitting at his sewing machine. I didn’t know if he was going to be successful, but I was hoping really hard that he was going to keep going, because we needed a guy like him who was interested in safety.”

Simpson kept going. Over time he diversified his line, making everything from gloves and shoes to helmets and restraint systems. Perhaps his biggest contribution came in 1967 when, through NASA astronaut and racing buff Pete Conrad, he was introduced to a temperature-resistant DuPont fabric called Nomex. Simpson used it to produce what became racings first true “fire suit,” and that May he took a prototype example to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where it was an instant sensation.

“Come race day,” he says, “there were something like 30 Nomex suits on the grid, and they all said ‘Simpson’ on the sleeve. I was pretty proud of that. Still am.”

Since that time, he has been a leading light maybe the leading light in the racing safety business, marketing his products for decades under an eponymous label the last being Impact Racing.

For much of that time he lived a dual life, developing safety equipment while continuing to race in a variety of categories: dragsters gave way to SCCA formula cars, and by the end of the ’60s Simpson was a fixture on the Indy car circuit. In 1974 he experienced “the highlight of my race-driving life” when he qualified for his only Indianapolis 500 (he started 20th, finished 13th). But his driving days came to an end in 1977, on an Indy practice lap, when he found himself “thinking about a phone call I was supposed to make, and about some material I needed to purchase.” The lapse in concentration so unnerved Simpson that he climbed from the cockpit and announced, “You will never see me sit in one of these things again.”

Although Simpson has had many honors bestowed on him over the years, the endorsements he treasures most come from the racers he has known and helped, and they surely number in the thousands. Says three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford, “If there was ever a humanitarian award for all of motorsports, Simpson would certainly be one of the recipients.”

His devotion to racing safety may have started with a sudden thump, but Bill Simpson’s impact on motorsports will last forever.

In 2003, he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in the “at large” category. The time and effort Bill has spent a lifetime developing and researching has saved more lives and kept many drivers from serious burns and other injuries with driving suits and safety belts.
Now he’s working to fight the needless deaths occurring that should not happen and he is campaigning to get series to make simple changes in rules that will protect drivers and save their lives.

Steve Wittich

Steve writes for Tracksideonline.com covering IndyCar but reports on the Mazda Road To Indy ladder program. The 2017 season looks to be one of the better in some years with another very talented group in all 3 series.
The coming of the new cars joining the series it will make it even better for those that move up the ladder with the ultimate goal of entering the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Steve will have the latest on the health and competition for the MRTI.

Autosportradio.com guests for March 21, 2017 are: Bruce Walkup and Steve “Bopper” Stapp

The Autosportradio.com 2017 Show presented by Honda HPD will stream live on Tuesday, March 21 2017, live from McGilvery’s Speedway at 3009 North High School Road, beginning at 7PM ET.

The program can be seen/heard by logging onto www.autosportradio.com and the program streamed live on YouTube will be on the home page.

When the program concludes you will find the archive available on Don Kay’s YouTube channel. 

Scheduled Guests are:

Bruce Walkup

Bruce (born in Downey, California) is a retired American racecar driver.

Bruce raced in the USAC Championship Car series in the 1967-1971 seasons, with 35 career starts, including the 1969 and 1970 Indianapolis 500 races. He finished in the top ten 11 times, with his best finish in 4th position in 1969 at Sacramento.

Bruce was formerly the president of the Indiana State Fair board and the National Bank in Terra Haute.

CAREER STATS
14 USAC national sprint car wins.
2 career Indianapolis 500 starts (1969, 1970).
3rd in 1966 CRA points.
1965 CRA most improved driver.
1 CRA win.
2 USAC national midget wins.


Steve “Bopper” Stapp

In the winter of 1973 Steve Stapp was building sprint cars for numerous customers coast to coast, he built one for himself to campaign for the 1974 United States Auto Club (USAC) national sprint car season. His driver for that year would be second generation open wheel standout Duane “Pancho” Carter jr. The state of the art construction for midgets and sprint cars of that era, was the four bar cross torsion space frame design. A few builders would stay with the lighter, but older design of using cross torsion on the rear, but using the old “cross spring”, or “buggy spring” front suspension. Stapp’s choice was to use the old “springer” front suspension. With Indiana Chevrolet dealer, “Dobbins Chevrolet” on board as sponsor, Stapp and Carter set out on the USAC trail, and what a combination it turned out to be. As one of only 2 drivers to complete all 31 USAC sprint races that season (2nd place in points Tom Bigelow was the other) Carter won 7 features in a dominatint performance and won the 1974 USAC National sprint car championship. In 1975 the Stapp/Carter team used the same car, although not as successful, due to Carter missing some sprint shows due to his Indy car career starting. They finished 4th in points in 1975. The old “springer” front car was replaced for 1976 with a brand new 4 bar car, which they really spanked the competition with, winning 12 features out of 36 and the 1976 USAC national sprint car championship. Here’s a look at a beautiful car from a time when one car was used on dirt and pavement, regardless of track length, and cars that were crafted to last.
And this is only a small part of the Steve Stapp story. Tuesday we’ll get deeper into his career.

See you Tuesday evening at McGilvery’s Speedway…

Autosportradio.com guests for June 28, 2016 are: Bob Jenkins, Marty Reid, and Scott “Chicago’s Own” Jasek

 

The Autosportradio.com 2016 Show presented by Honda HPD will stream live on June 28th, 2016, live from McGilvery’s Speedway.. 3009 North High School Road, beginning at 7PM ET.

The program can be seen/heard by logging onto www.autosportradio.com and the program streamed live on YouTube will be on the home page.

When the program concludes you will find the archive available on Don Kay’s YouTube channel. 

Scheduled Guests are:

Bob Jenkins

Bob is the most recognizable voice in motorsports and the most respected in the media. He is still; apart of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway PA team for their events.

Bob was born in Richmond, Indiana, and grew up in the nearby town of Liberty. He graduated from Short High School in 1965 and Indiana University in 1969. He was one of the original cornerstone anchors on ESPN when it debuted in 1979, working there as one of the most senior members of the network until 2003. His primary duty was anchoring NASCAR on ESPN from 1979 to 2000 with Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons. The trio was one of the most popular announcing crews in NASCAR. By the early 1990s, the crew (sans Jarrett, who was contracted with CBS) would also cover races on ABC Sports. During the 1980s, Jenkins also occasionally called CART races on ESPN, prior to the arrival of veteran Paul Page.

Jenkins hosted the weekly racing magazine show SpeedWeek during most of his tenure at ESPN. Jenkins was the television announcer of the Brickyard 400 on ABC from 1994 to 2000.

Concurrent to his work on ESPN & ABC, from 1979 to 1998, Jenkins worked on the IMS Radio Network. He reported various positions, including the backstretch, turn four, and served as chief announcer of the Indy 500 from 1990 to 1998.

By 1999, Jenkins quit the radio crew to focus on television full-time. The ongoing IRL/CART split forced changes in the announcing crews at ESPN/ABC. In addition, ESPN/ABC would be losing NASCAR rights at the end of the season. Paul Page was assigned to the CART Series broadcasts, and Jenkins was moved exclusively to the chief announcing position of the IRL and Indianapolis 500 broadcasts. The arrangement would continue through 2001.

For 2002, with CART floundering, Page was moved back to the IRL, and Jenkins was shifted to the lesser host position. The arrangement created a “crowded” booth with two veteran announcers. In 2003, on Bump Day at the Indy 500 on ESPN, Jenkins made an impassioned commentary, defending the event from media detractors. Many were ridiculing the race and the IRL for struggling to fill the field to the traditional 33 cars.

Marty Reid

Marty is an American television sportscaster who worked for ESPN from 1982 to 2013, covering motorsports for the network. Marty was the network’s lead voice for both the IndyCar Series and , and also called the Indianapolis 500.

Marty began his career at WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio in 1975. Among his duties were announcing Ohio State University hockey and Columbus Clippers telecasts. In 1998, he started Marty Reid Enterprises, a video production company. He founded the short course off-road racing series Championship Off-Road Racing (CORR) in 1997 and sold it to Jim Baldwin in 2005.[1]

Reid was the lead TV announcer for the NHRA on ESPN from 2001 to 2006, when he took over for Todd Harris as the lap-by-lap commentator of the IndyCar series; this was the same position that he took over for ESPN’s coverage of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series from 1998 to 2000.

 Scott “Chicago’s Own” Jasek

Founded in 2001, the Indy Racing Experience provides fans the ultimate opportunity of a lifetime by experiencing the high speeds of IndyCar racing with our driving and 2-seater programs. While casually talking one afternoon in a small garage on Gasoline Alley in Indianapolis, Scott Jasek, Joe Kennedy and Jeff Sinden imagined stretching out a regular IndyCar Series car to allow for a passenger to sit behind the driver and truly experience the speed and pressure that comes with IndyCar racing. Nearly a decade later, the Indy Racing Experience has evolved into a one-of-a-kind experience for race fans and car enthusiasts.

In addition to taking a ride in the 2-seater driven by an Indy Racing League driver around any of the tracks on the IndyCar Series schedule, fans also have the opportunity to drive these IndyCar machines, which competed in the Indianapolis 500. Thrill seekers have traveled the world to drive these cars at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In November 2008, the Indy Racing Experience expanded its operations to the Walt Disney World® Speedway near Orlando, Fla., and offers daily ride and drive opportunities at the former home of the IndyCar Series’ season opener.

To date, the Indy Racing Experience has given more than 12,000 rides to celebrities, media, race fans and car enthusiasts over the past eight years. However, the history of the company and its owners extends back more than 20 years.

Jeff Sinden and Joe Kennedy started Sinden Racing Service in 1987 out of a small garage on Gasoline Alley. Simply known as “Jeff and Joe” in the racing industry, the pair met while working at Cotter Racing in the mid-1980s. Prior to that they worked individually with several different race teams and drivers. Throughout their early years of racing they experienced the ups and downs of the business with some of open-wheel racing’s largest teams, such as Hemelgarn Racing, Galles Racing and Team Cotter.

Jeff and Joe continued to rise through the ranks while working with legendary drivers Al Unser, Johnny Rutherford, Tom Sneva and Gary Bettenhausen. While at Team Cotter, Jeff and Joe played an integral role in Roberto Guerrero’s second, third, and fourth-place finishes in the Indianapolis 500.

Sinden Racing Service quickly became the one-stop shop for all things racing. Whether IndyCar Series teams needed car parts or pit equipment, either newly fabricated or repaired, SRS was the company to which every team knew to come.

In 2000, Jeff and Joe joined with Scott Jasek, a former executive with Budget Car and Truck Rental, to create the Indy Racing Experience and IndyCar show car program.

The three partners launched its third company, Indy Parts, in 2006. Indy Parts provides quality parts and service to teams in the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Light series, and is the sole North American distributor for Dallara – a worldwide chassis manufacturer for a number of premier motorsport series.

In the fall of 2008, Sinden Racing Service was formally re-branded Experiential Marketing Incorporated – a first-class marketing company dedicated to providing clients innovative marketing units designed to enhance brand identity. Through its show car program, interactive marketing trailers and simulators, as well as its quality custom fabrication shop, EMI has expanded its client base to include some of the top organizations affiliated with the IndyCar Series, NASCAR, NBA and NFL.

Autosportradio.com guests for June 21, 2016 are: Mike Hull & Spencer Bayston

The Autosportradio.com 2016 Show presented by Honda HPD will stream live on June 21st, 2016, live from McGilvery’s Speedway.. 3009 North High School Road, beginning at 7PM ET.

The program can be seen/heard by logging onto www.autosportradio.com and the program streamed live on YouTube will be on the home page.

When the program concludes you will find the archive available on Don Kay’s YouTube channel. 

Scheduled Guests are:

Mike Hull

Mike Hull oversees Chip Ganassi Racing’s Indianapolis-based racing programs as the team’s Managing Director. He is the race strategist for the No. 9 Target Chevrolet driven by three-time and reigning IndyCar Series Champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 Winner Scott Dixon.

The Los Angeles, California native has the unique distinction of playing a part in each of Target’s 10 Indy car championships, four Indianapolis 500 victories and 93 Indy car wins.

Mike just returned from Le Mans where the Chip Ganassi Team brought Ford a win 50 years after their fantastic win. They also finished 3rd and 4th in the GTE Pro division.
Mike started his career with the team in 1992 and resides in Indianapolis.

Spencer Bayston

Current USAC National Midget Championship point leader by 10 points over Bryan Clauson.  Won his first career USAC National Midget feature at the Gas City (Ind.) I-69 Speedway during “Indiana Midget Week” on June 1, 2016. Finished 2nd at Kokomo and 2nd in the Indiana Midget Week points behind Clauson.
2015: Won 2015 USAC National Midget “Rookie of the Year” honors, making 16 starts, collecting 3 top-five finishes and 11 top-ten finishes resulting in a 5th place finish in the final series points in his first full season. First USAC National Midget “Rookie of the Year” from the state of Indiana since Bryan Clauson in 2006.  Scored his best career USAC finish of 3rd at Gas City (Ind.) I-69 Speedway in June during “Indiana Midget Week.” He also scored a pair of 4th place finishes at Solomon Valley Raceway in Beloit, Kans. in July and Path Valley Speedway Park in Spring Run, Penn. in August.  22 career USAC National Midget starts prior to the start of the 2016 season.

Autosportradio.com guests for May 17, 2016 are: Dick Simon, Eliseo Salazar & Rodger Ward Jr.

The Autosportradio.com 2016 Show presented by Honda HPD will stream live on May 17th, 2016, live from McGilvery’s Speedway.. 3009 North High School Road, beginning at 7PM ET.

The program can be seen/heard by logging onto www.autosportradio.com and the program streamed live on YouTube will be on the home page.

When the program concludes you will find the archive available on Don Kay’s YouTube channel. 

Scheduled Guests are:

Dick Simon

The team was founded in 1983 when Simon decided to bring his sponsorship from Vermont American to a new team of his own creation. He saw an immediate boost in performance as he qualified for the Indianapolis 500 for the first time since 1980 and was noticeably more competitive than he was with the Leader Card team. In 1985 Simon brought in Brazilian Raul Boesel to drive full-time as he scaled back his own racing to a part-time schedule, occasionallyning Boesel in a second car. Simon only competed in four races in 1986 as Boesel drove the team’s primary car to 17th in points and was competitive in nearly every race. A number of other drivers made part-time appearances in Simon’s other entry as Dick Simon Racing became one of the premier teams for pay drivers. This trend continued in 1988 which would be Simon’s final year of racing as Arie Luyendyk replaced Boesel in the team’s full-time entry. In 1989 Scott Brayton joined Luyendyk as the team fielded a pair of full-time fully funded entries for the first time. Luyendyk finished 10th in points while Brayton finished 15th. Luyendyk left the team for 1990 and was replaced by Japanese rookie Hiro Matsushita while Brayton again finished 15th. Matsushita took his Panasonic funding elsewhere for 1991, leaving Brayton to drive a single Simon entry to a respectable 12th place points finish. Brayton, Matsushita, and Boesel returned to the team in 1992 and Boesel finished 9th in the championship while Brayton finished 15th again. The team also fielded a car in the Indy 500 for female rookie Lyn St. James who became the second woman to compete in the race. St. James returned for a partial schedule in 1993 while Brayton and Boesel drove the full-time cars to 15th and 5th place points finishes respectively, with Boesel capturing 3 runner-up finishes. In 1994 Matsushita again returned to the team as Boesel continued in the other car, this time finishing 7th in points. In 1995 the team signed Dean Hall and Formula One veteran Eliseo Salazar to drive the team’s two cars and they were joined in April by rookie Carlos Guerrero. Hall left the team after failing to qualify for the Indy 500 while Salazar and Guerrero managed 21st and 30th place points finishes respectively.

The team finished its years in CART without winning a race, but captured two poles, both by Boesel at the Milwaukee Mile in 1993 and 1994.

As an owner, Simon had a stellar record of his rookie drivers successfully qualifying for the Indy 500. As a tradition, Simon cars frequently made the effort to be “first car(s) on the track” at Indy on the opening day of practice, a popular ceremonial honor.

In 1996 Dick Simon sold much of the team’s cars and assets to Team Scandia founder Andy Evans and Simon was listed on many of the team’s entries in the new Indy Racing League as Simon/Scandia Racing. It was during that year that Scandia set a race record by having 7 of their cars qualify for the Indianapolis 500.

Dick Simon returned to the IRL in 1999 with Stephan Gregoire who competed in a full schedule but failed to qualify for the Indy 500 and finished 15th in points. Gregoire returned in 2000 and finished 14th in points and was joined in the Indianapolis 500 by Lyn St. James who began her IndyCar career with Simon 8 years earlier. Both cars made the race and while St. James wrecked early in the race, Gregoire finished 8th. Gregoire was set to return for a full season in 2001, but after the team again failed to qualify for the Indy 500, the team shut down in May of that year.

When his own team failed to qualify at the 2001 Indy 500, on race day Simon was hired to be the team strategist for Robby Gordon at A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

Then there is Dick Simon Marine that lead to Dick Simon.Yachts. Everything around Dick Simon seems to be perpetually in motion. There’s an audible hum that surrounds the man, a palpable, vibrating energy that screams possibility. Who else but a guy whose enthusiasm is so contagious would even think of buying and reviving a boat brokerage business in the middle of the worst economy of our lifetimes – and be excited about it? But in May of 2009, Dick and his wife Dianne, moved back to Dana Point, California and started Dick Simon Yachts, today a busy brokerage with a half dozen agents and a reputation for superior service that could only have come from someone larger than life.

Eliseo Salazar

After racing in the British F1 Championship in 1980 with a Williams FW07, and winning in Silverstone, he moved to Formula One in 1981, with March. He switched midseason to Ensign, and finished 6th in the Dutch Grand Prix. In 1982 he drove for ATS, and finished 5th in the San Marino Grand Prix, a race where only 7 teams entered due to the FISA-FOCA war. His most noted career moment in Formula One came when he collided with the overtaking race leader Nelson Piquet in the 1982 German Grand Prix. After both drivers got out of their stricken cars, the angry Piquet started to punch and kick Salazar. Salazar did not respond to the assault due to the friendship with the Brazilian driver, who helped him in his first European experiences as a driver. Months later Piquet apologised to Salazar over the phone, after being told by a BMW mechanic that the engine in his car was about to expire anyway, and that Salazar avoided BMW the embarrassment of an engine failure at their home race. (BMW officials were in attendance).[1] In 1983 he entered six races with RAM Racing, but the car was very slow and he only managed to qualify twice. He finished 14th in Jacarepuaga and retired in Long Beach with gearbox failure.

After the Chilean economic crisis in the early years of the 80’s, Salazar had to leave F1, and competed with little success at the Formula 3000 championship and the South American Formula Three Championship in some races. He began to race rally in Chile, becoming the champion of the 1985 hill-climbing season in Chile in a Toyota Corolla XT.

After years with no competition, working as a co-host in the TV show “Video Loco” (America’s Funniest Video’s Chilean version, broadcast in Canal 13), Salazar received an opportunity to join the Ferrari-Momo factory team for the 1994 IMSA Sport Prototype championship in the WSC (World Sport Car) series, with the Italian Gianpiero Moretti. He raced at the Exxon World Sports Car Championship in 1994 and 1995 with several races won and podiums with the Ferrari 333 SP. Those results were good enough to pull him to the Indy Car World Series.

He signed a contract with the Dick Simpon Racing in 1995 to race in the CART Indy Car World Series, with a strong debut at the Indy 500. With a Lola-Cosworth, he started 33rd and finished 4th in the Cristal-Copec-Mobil 1 No.7.

When the IRL and CART split in 1996, Salazar chose to compete in the new series. He became a regular top driver at Indy 500 with four Top 10 results. His best result at Indianapolis was in 2000, when he started and finished on 3rd place, at the wheel of a G-Force-Oldsmobile Aurora for A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

In 1997, Salazar earned his first and only victory in IRL racing, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, racing for Team Scandia. That year, he also made his only start at a NASCAR sanctioned race, finishing 17th on the Watkins Glen International road course, in the Craftsman Truck Series.

2000 and 2001 were the best years in the IRL for Salazar, finishing 4th and 5th in those championships, with five top 5 results in 2000. In 2002, he suffered a serious accident testing at Indianapolis, and was forced miss several races. After much consideration Salazar decided to retire from Indy Car racing and focus on Sports Cars.

Salazar later joined the American Le Mans Series, where he raced in a Porsche 911 GT3 and a Ferrari 360.

Rodger Ward, Jr. 

Rodger was born to a winner, but Rodger Ward Jr. has succeeded in his own way.

The man whom he’s named after won the Indianapolis 500 in 1959 and ‘62. During his 15-year 500 career, Rodger Ward also had six top-five finishes and seven in the top 10.

Junior was 17 the first time his father won the big race.

“It was a highlight,” Rodger Ward Jr. said. “(My brother and I) thought we were so cool.”

Looking back, Ward says being the son of an Indianapolis 500 champion afforded him the opportunity to meet many famous people. He talked football with Johnny Unitas and had dinner with Apollo astronauts. People like Roger Penske and Tony George could pick him out in a crowd.

But that stature also helped fuel his already self-destructive irresponsibility.

“I was way too impressed with myself for not having accomplished anything,” Ward said of his youth. “‘What did you do?’ Well, I was his son. That doesn’t cut much grass.”

That mindset partly explains why Ward didn’t follow in his father’s footsteps.

“My racing career is so limited that you had to read the small print,” he said.

Ward was a motorcross champion in his native Southern California and did a little Go Kart racing here. But he was never willing to pay his dues to be a race car driver.

“I wasn’t truly focused and responsible enough — when I was at the age to develop the talent — to do it,” Ward said. “People with the attention span of a gnat don’t belong in a race car.”

He was owner of a tire store in SoCal with his father when a friend offered him a job selling printed circuit boards. Ward ameliorated that into his own business as an electronics distributor. He moved that here in 1990.

“When I first moved to Indiana, I’m going up (State Road) 136 and a couple kids are crossing the road,” Ward said. “One of them is carrying a gas can. He sets it down, pulls a candy bar out of his pocket and starts splitting it with whomever he was with, picked up the gas can, and started going again. We had to slow down and almost stop to avoid hitting them. There were two or three cars that had to do that. Nobody honked and yelled and screamed.

“Right away I realized there was something different about here than there. I’m much impressed. I really like Indiana.”

But it’s the church, of all things you’d expect with this guy, that Ward considers his passion. About 10 years ago, the district superintendent of the Methodist Church called asking him to be a pastor.

“I’m pretty crusty, so it didn’t really occur to me that that call would ever come,” Ward said. “People always talk about ‘The Calling.’ I said I’d do it. Next thing you know they send you to four weekends of school, pat you on the butt, and out you go.”

Ward now leads the Methodist churches at Mace and New Ross in Montgomery County. The Calling, he’s found, is equally fun and challenging. But most of all, it’s rewarding.

Sure, Ward’s met many famous people. But he’s become comparably enamored with the woman of modest means, with four young children, who recently finished school to become a registered nurse. And with the 90-year-old man who still sleeps in the room he was born in. And with the four generations in one family that gather every year at the 4-H fair.

“Who’s the richest man in the place? The guy watching all this happen,” Ward said. “Those are values you don’t learn to appreciate in Southern California without someone browbeating you. Those are the values I really like about Indiana.”

As much as Ward is removed from his past, he’s still a regular at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Up until three years ago, he had a radio program on WKLU called “Auto Sport Radio.” He still goes to the race every year too. Unlike before, though, he doesn’t have a favorite in the field.

“I just want to see a good car race,” he said.

And even though Ward never followed his father into the winner’s circle, or even onto the track, he has no regrets.

“Will Rogers said you find a job you like, you’ll never work another day in your life,” Ward said. “That’s me. I’ve never had a job I didn’t like.”

 

Autosportradio.com guests for May 17, 2016 are: Gil de Ferran, Conor Daly, Andy Hallbery, Jeff Olson, and Will Marotti

The Autosportradio.com 2016 Show presented by Honda HPD will stream live on May 17th, 2016, live from McGilvery’s Speedway.. 3009 North High School Road, beginning at 7PM ET.

The program can be seen/heard by logging onto www.autosportradio.com and the program streamed live on YouTube will be on the home page.

When the program concludes you will find the archive available on Don Kay’s YouTube channel. 

Scheduled Guests are:

Gil de Ferran

Gil de Ferran is a French-born Brazilian professional racing driver and team owner. Gil was the 2000 and 2001 Champ Car champion driving for the Penske Honda Team and the winner of the 2003 Indianapolis 500.

Inspired by the success of fellow Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi Gil began his career in kart racing in the early 1980s. He graduated to Formula Ford level in 1987 and Formula Three in 1991. Driving for Edenbridge Racing, De Ferran finished the 1991 British Formula Three season in third, only behind Rubens Barrichello and David Coulthard. For the 1992 season, De Ferran moved to Paul Stewart Racing and won the title, scoring seven wins in the process.

1993 and 1994 were spent driving for Paul Stewart Racing in International Formula 3000. Gil finished fourth in the series in 1993 and then took the championship down to the wire in 1994, ultimately finishing third. In 1993, De Ferran tested for a day the Footwork Arrows Formula One team along with Dutch racer Jos Verstappen. His day was seriously compromised after he bumped his head while walking nearby the motorhome. He times also compared poorly to Verstappen’s.

At the end of 1994, de Ferran was invited to test a Cart car by Hall/VDS Racing. Despite the worries of the team’s sponsor Pennzoil that de Ferran was not famous enough name for their car, the team was sufficiently impressed to offer de Ferran a drive for 1995. With no top-line Formula One drive available de Ferran took up the offer to drive in America.

De Ferran won the rookie of the year award in 1995 by finishing 14th. He scored his first Cart win in the last race of the year at Laguna Seca Raceway.

In 1996, de Ferran was a consistent challenger but only scored one win, at Cleveland. This win was the last for veteran car owner and driver Jim Hall who retired from the sport at the end of 1996. Hall’s retirement also spelled the end of the Pennzoil Hall team. Despite rumours that he would be a driver for the new Stewart Grand Prix Formula One team, de Ferran stayed in America for 1997, joining Walker Racing.

Gil finished 1997 as runner-up to Alex Zanardi with ten top-ten finishes but failed to score a single victory. He looked on course to win the season opener at homestead but was knocked out of the lead by a lapped driver, Dennis vitolo. At the Grand Prix of Portland Gil lost out to PacWest Racing’s Mark Blundell in the closest finish in CART history.

The expected championship challenge never materialized in 1998. Unreliability, driver errors and the inferior performance of the Goodyear tires compared to the Firestone tires all combined to leave de Ferran 12th in the standings, again with no wins in the year.

In 1999 the breakthrough finally came as de Ferran beat Juan Montoya at Portland to take his first win since mid-1996 and the Walker team’s first since early-1995. However that victory would be the end of an era as Goodyear and Valvoline both left CART racing at the end of 1999. Toward the end of that season, de Ferran and Greg Moore were signed to Marlboro Team Penske to replace Al Unser, Jr. and the rotating arrangement of drivers employed after Andre Ribeiro retired. However, Moore was killed in a crash in the season finale and de Ferran’s fellow countryman Helio Castroneves joined him.

On October 28, 2000, during CART qualifying at Auto Club Speedway, de Ferran set the track record for fastest lap at 241.428 mph (388.541 km/h). As of March 2012, this stands as the fastest lap speed ever recorded at an official race meeting.

The Penske years saw de Ferran finally fulfil the promise of his earlier career with two Cart titles and an Indy 500 victory. His analytical approach earned him comparisons with Penske’s first driver, Mark Donohue. He also garnered praise for his politeness and integrity: when Penske switched to the Indy Racing League in 2002, he did not criticize the move even though it meant he could not defend his Champ Car title.

Following his Indianapolis triumph de Ferran decided to retire at the end of 2003. He won his final race, although the moment was soured by a terrifying crash during the race that left fellow Indy winner Kenny Brack seriously injured.

In 2005, he moved to the BAR-Honda Formula One team as their Sports Director. He resigned from this position in July 2007 after becoming “increasingly uncomfortable” with the team.

In January 29, 2008 Gil announced that he will return to the cockpit and field a factory-backed LMP2 class Acura ARX-01b prototype in the American Le Mans Series, under the team name de Ferran Motorsports. The team began competing around the mid-way point of the 2008 season, with de Ferran running the team and sharing driving duties with Simon Pagenaud.

Success again was immediate and de Ferran Motorsports took four front row grid positions, led six races and scored three podium finishes in just eight starts.

2009 saw another challenge when de Ferran Motorsports was chosen by Honda to develop the Acura ARX-02a for competition in the LMP1 division of the American Le Mans Series. The team scored five outright wins, seven poles, seven fastest laps and finished runners up in the ALMS LMP1 Championship.

Half way through 2009 de Ferran announced his decision to retire from the cockpit at the end of the racing season, expressing his intention to concentrate all his resources on expanding his team, making public his desire to return to IndyCar racing as a front running team owner. Prior to the start of the 2010 IZOD IndyCar season, de Ferran merged his team with Luczo Dragon Racing, a team started by Jay Penske, the son of de Ferran’s former boss Roger Penske, and Steve Luczo, a successful technology leader and racing enthusiast. The new team was named de Ferran Dragon Racing and is the realization of de Ferran’s ambition to return to IndyCar.

De Ferran Dragon Racing, with driver Raphael Matos, earned four Top Ten finishes in its debut campaign and led 15 laps during the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In 2010, IndyCar also began planning for a completely new car concept, to debut during the 2012 season. Due to his technical knowledge, motorsports experience across different series and roles, as well as the widespread respect he holds within the racing industry, de Ferran was chosen by his team owner peers to represent their interests in the development of the future IndyCar. As part of the ICONIC committee, who created the concept for the future of IndyCar Racing.

In 2011 de Ferran Dragon racing closed its doors due to lack of funding, having attempted to stay operational for the new season.

In July 2013, Autosport magazine named Gil one of the 50 greatest drivers to have never raced in Formula One.

Conor Daly

In his first attempt at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the road course Conor showed that his previous experiences had taught him how to be a real racecar driver. On Saturday he showed his is a contender leading the race driving for Dale Coyne Racing. Conor finished 6th and got rave reviews from his fellow competitors.

Next up for Conor will be the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Andy Hallbery and Jeff Olson, “Lionheart – Remembering Dan Wheldon”

As the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season gets underway in his adopted hometown, news comes of a new book paying tribute to two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon.

Written and produced by Andy Hallbery and Jeff Olson, “Lionheart – Remembering Dan Wheldon” is a high-quality 216-page book chronicling Wheldon’s life, as told by the people who knew him best: his family, friends, teammates, crew members and fellow competitors.

“The response has been truly incredible,” said Susie Wheldon, Dan’s widow. “It shows just how many people’s lives Dan touched and is a wonderful legacy for our two boys, Sebastian and Oliver. I want to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everybody involved for their dedication to creating this book, and to everyone who contributed, too.”

The book covers Wheldon’s career from karting all the way to his Indianapolis 500 wins in 2005 and 2011 and his 2005 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. It is filled with stories – some funny, some touching, but all truly captivating. Featured contributions from legendary names within the Verizon IndyCar Series and beyond, including lifelong friend and teammate Dario Franchitti, Formula One champion and childhood karting rival Jenson Button, NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, and many more from across the motorsports world.

he coffee-table book will be available to pre-order soon, priced at $74.99. A portion of the proceeds benefits two charities close the British driver’s heart – the Alzheimer’s Association and the DCW Foundation, created to continue the wide-reaching charitable work Wheldon started.

Will Marotti

In a move that emphasizes experience, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced Saturday its plans to field an entry in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil for Indy car veteran Oriol Servia.

The Catalonian driver joins the team in a partnership with Marotti Racing which will field its entry under the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports banner. The entry serves as Servia’s first race since the 2015 season finale at Sonoma Raceway.

“This year’s Indianapolis 500, the 100th Running, will be the most special in our era, maybe of all time, and I wanted to make sure I was in a team that can give me a program to contend for the win,” Servia said. “I have no doubt that together with SPM and Honda, we will at least do that.”

“We’ve competed against Oriol for several years now and have always looked for an opportunity to get him in one of our SPM entries,” said Sam Schmidt, co-owner of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. “He is a true professional and is highly respected within the motorsports community. Interestingly enough, we shared the front row with him in 2011 and know that he can get the job done for all of our team partners.”

Marotti Racing owner Will Marotti, while new to IndyCar, is hardly new to motorsports. Marotti competed in SCCA events and has attended every Indianapolis 500 since 1969, although this year will be his first entry into the race.

“We are thankful and excited beyond measure to be able to participate in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 with a team of the quality and caliber of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports,” said Marotti.

“This is the fulfillment of a 47-year-old personal dream, and we hope just the first of many years that Marotti Racing will be in the paddock and part of the IndyCar community.”

Marotti, Schmidt, and Servia all feel optimistic about their chances heading into the month of May.

“The whole team, including James (Hinchcliffe), my teammate in 2011, and Mikhail (Aleshin), are ultimate professionals,” Servia added. “I can’t wait to start doing laps at the most special track in the world in preparation for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Servia and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Marotti Racing will take the green flag for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on Sunday, May 29.

Autosportradio.com guests for May 10, 2016 are: Davey Hamilton and Heather Carpenter

The Autosportradio.com 2016 Show presented by Honda HPD will stream live on Tuesday April 26th, live from McGilvery’s Speedway.. 3009 North High School Road, beginning at 7PM ET.

The program can be seen/heard by logging onto www.autosportradio.com and the program streamed live on YouTube will be on the home page.

When the program concludes you will find the archive available on Don Kay’s YouTube channel. 

Scheduled Guests are:

 Davey Hamilton

David “Davey” Jay Hamilton is a race car driver in the IndyCar Series. He has made 56 series starts and while never winning a race, finished second 3 times. He placed second in series points in the 1996, 1997 and again in the 1998 season.

Hamilton had been proficient in supermodified racing, as a frequent winner in various supermodified races, usually held in the northern areas of the United States.

Hamilton became the color commentator for Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network broadcasts. He later began driving the 2-seater IndyCar, which gives rides to VIPs and celebrities at IndyCar Series races.

In 2005, Hamilton started courting sponsors and perusing the paddock in an effort to return to racing. After settling several personal and business issues, he landed a ride for the 2007 Indianapolis 500, driving for Vision Racing. Qualifying 20th, Hamilton placed 9th after the race was ended early on lap 166 due to rain. For 2008, Hamilton re-signed with Vision Racing. He finished 14th in the 2008 Indianapolis 500. For the 2009 season, Davey drove for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, and was the only one of the team’s four drivers to qualify during the first weekend of qualifications. However he crashed out of the race on lap 79.

In 2010, Hamilton competed in the 2010 Indianapolis 500 for de Ferran Dragon Racing. He was involved in an incident with Tomas Scheckter on the first lap of the race, and was classified in 33rd, last place.

Hamilton’s final season of races would be 2011. He finished 24th in the 2011 Indianapolis 500. He also raced in the Twin 275’s at Texas for unfinished business. His final start would be at the tragic 2011 IZOD IndyCar World Championship at Las Vegas. Hamilton was fortunate enough to escape the major accident on lap 11 that killed Dan Wheldon, but the race was abandoned, and the results were scratched from official record. When the new chassis and engine package was introduced for the 2012 season, Hamilton was unable to secure a car for the 2012 Indianapolis 500 due to a lack of available rides.


 

Heather Carpenter

The Benevolent Fund of Motor sports, Inc., d.b.a. Indy Family Foundation, Inc. began as a 501 c 3 entity on October 1, 1996. The mission of the fund is to aid those in the motor sports community (regardless of the sanctioning body), who find themselves in financial need due to hardship caused by illness, injury or death. Their assistance is available to not only race car drivers, but to all licensed participants in racing, including crew members, course workers, support and administrative personnel, public relations and media representatives and team owners, as well as, their immediate family members.

The Benevolent Fund of Motor sports is operated solely by volunteers who delegate all money raised to the fund except for a small portion for administrative fees that allow the fund to stay in operation. In 2007, the Indy Family Foundation, Inc. was formed, allowing individuals to volunteer as “friends of the foundation” and participate in the social and developmental activities of the fund.

With the help of the community and racing family since 2001 thru 2012, they were able to successfully raise funds to personally help numerous members of the racing community. Since that date over $350,000 have has been paid out to Benevolent recipients.

Autosportradio.com guests for April 26, 2016 are: Shelby Blackstock and Susannah Stapp

The Autosportradio.com 2016 Show presented by Honda HPD will stream live on Tuesday April 26th, live from McGilvery’s Speedway.. 3009 North High School Road, beginning at 7PM ET.

The program can be seen/heard by logging onto www.autosportradio.com and the program streamed live on YouTube will be on the home page.

When the program concludes you will find the archive available on Don Kay’s YouTube channel. 

Scheduled Guests are:

Shelby Blackstock

Shelby’s dream of being a professional driver truly began to take shape in January 2010 when he attended the highly touted Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Racing, quickly turning heads during the four days of classes. A few months later Shelby attended the Skip Barber Racing School before making his official racing debut on Aug. 28, 2010 at the Mustang Challenge Miller Cup. The start of 2011 saw Blackstock at legendary Daytona in the Continental Tire Challenge Grand-Am 200.

So far in his Mazda Road to Indy Career he has 3 poles and one win.

Shelby is the son of country legend Reba McIntire. Away from the track, he enjoys golf, working out, rock climbing, and, when time permits, returning home to Nashville and hanging out with friends.

Hobbies: Golf, working out, rock climbing, hanging out with friends, working on cars (street and race cars)

Racing goal: To be a successful race car driver, make it up the Mazda Road to Indy ladder and become an Indianapolis 500 winner/IndyCar Champion

Racing heroes: Ayrton Senna, Dan Wheldon, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen

My fitness routine includes: I work out six days a week doing a mix of interval training, TRX, rock climbing, cycling and karting.

An interesting note about me: I worked on the road since I was 14 putting up stages for professional entertainers.


 

 Susannah Stapp

I’m a Chuy lovin’, Hoosier Tire workin’, Colts Cheerin’, Gary Allan admirin’, iPhon. In addition Sausannah will host Fundraising Dinner, on Thursday May 5, in conjunction with the Racers At Rest Project and The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum to raise money for a marker for the grave of Indy 500 winning Riding Mechanic, Lawson Harris who was killed in a tire test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, while testing with my grandfather, Babe Stapp. Doors open at 6pm with Dinner at 6:30 and program to follow. Susannah will have tickets for the event with her. They are $20 so take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy a fun evening at the 500 Legion.

Famed Race Driver, Pancho Carter and my father, driver, mechanic, car builder, Steve Stapp, will tell stories and share photos and take questions from the audience.

 

Autosportradio.com guests for April 19, 2016 are: Matthew Brabham, Brett “Crusher” Murray and Mark Sibla

The Autosportradio.com 2016 Show presented by Honda HPD will stream live on Tuesday April 19th, live from McGilvery’s Speedway.. 3009 North High School Road, beginning at 7PM ET.

The program can be seen/heard by logging onto www.autosportradio.com and the program streamed live on YouTube will be on the home page.

When the program concludes you will find the archive available on Don Kay’s YouTube channel. 

Scheduled Guests are:

Matthew Brabham

PIRTEK Team Murray’s driver is Matt Brabham – who will become just the third third generation driver to be part of the Indianapolis 500 in its rich 100-year history.

Matt is the Grandson of global racing icon and motorsport innovator, three-time World Formula One Champion, Sir Jack. His father Geoff has competed in 10 Indianapolis 500s with a best result of fourth. Immensely talent ed and successful, Matt has shown the ability to forge his own wheel tracks and carry on the peerless Brabham name.

His decision to become a professional racing car driver was born around the dinner table, listening to stories from his Grandfather, father Geoff and Uncles Gary and David. Geoff and David both won the classic Le Mans 24 hour race.

Matt was born in Florida, USA in 1994, but grew up in Australia and holds dual citizenship in both countries. He started Karting when he was 7 years old in Australia for fun, but quickly started to win races.

After a stint in Formula Ford in Australia post-karting, Matt headed for the USA in 2012 and won the USF2000 Mazda Road to Indy Championship in his rookie year. Moving up to the next rung of the Mazda Road to Indy in 2013, and driving for Andretti Autosport, he smashed all records for most wins (13), most poles and laps led, to convincingly win his second championship in a row.

In 2014, Matt moved up to Indy Lights and scored a win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, and went on to finish fourth in the Championship. Later that year, he would become the youngest driver in the all-electric FIA Formula E Championship, making two event starts. 2015 saw Matt partake in a number of drives from Indy Lights, to asphalt Late Model stockcars, Stadium Super Trucks and he tested a Verizon IndyCar Series machine on numerous occasions.

Matt’s dream is to win the Indianapolis 500 and to become a Formula One World Champion. He is well on his way and is prepared to sacrifice everything to achieve his goals.


Brett “Crusher” Murray

PIRTEK Team Murray was founded by Brett “Crusher” Murray with the sole purpose of creating an entry in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 for young Australian driver, Matthew Brabham.

A leading provider of media, management, marketing, activation, hospitality and content through his BAM Group of companies, Murray had a boyhood desire to have his own team in the world’s greatest motorsport event and his passion has never waned.

He was also the founder of Speedcafe.com which has become one of the world’s leading motorsport news websites.

During his professional life he has worked with some of the biggest names and had the responsibility of building and protecting some of the world’s biggest brands and events.

Murray comes from humble beginnings where he left school and home at the age of 16 to pursue a career in journalism at the Wagga Daily Advertiser in regional NSW, Australia.

He moved back to his home town of Albury to continue his newspaper career before a life-changing move to Queensland’s Gold Coast in 1989.

In between, he joined the Australian American Football squad for a world tour as a 19 year-old rookie and after a training camp in Carson in Los Angeles under former LA Rams Super Bowl coach Ray Malavasi, forced his way into the starting line-up as a defensive lineman.

It was during this tour that he earned his universal nickname of “Crusher” after some bigger than normal hits on some opposition players. Despite talks of trials for a college scholarship, Murray decided to stick with his chosen profession of journalism.

Within a couple of years of being on the Gold Coast he had established his own PR company, which became heavily involved in the running and organisation of the Surfers Paradise CART/Champ Car race which he helped become the most successful open wheel race in the world outside of the Indy 500.

It was in 1993 that he was provided with an opportunity to attend the Indy 500 for the first time and he was instantly “hooked” by its enormity and history.

He moved to the US in 2000 to manage the media and marketing requirements of Bruce McCaw’s PacWest CART team, where he looked after former F1 drivers Mauricio Gugelmin and Mark Blundell as well as young Kiwi Scott Dixon who went on to win the Indy Lights Championship that year.

PacWest did not compete at the 500 that season because of the existing split in US Open Wheel racing, but Murray attended the race as a guest of Juan Pablo Montoya, who subsequently won the race as a rookie.

Opportunities were taken whenever they presented themselves to attend the race, but became an annual pilgrimage about 10 years ago.

He was with his mate Dan Wheldon when he won the race in 2011 before he was tragically killed in Las Vegas at the end of the season.

The next year he proudly stood on the row of bricks with his great friend Dario Franchitti after he won his third 500 – the two wearing white-rimmed glasses in honor of their mate Wheldon.

A year later he cheered his buddy Tony Kanaan, who collected his first win in the 500 for Australian Kevin Kalkhoven.

Murray moved back to the US and established BAM North America in 2008 to be involved with Marcos Ambrose and his continuing NASCAR career which he had been involved with on many levels.

He was was the Communications Manager at Stone Brothers Racing when Ambrose won this V8 Supercar titles in 2003 and 2004 and when Russell Ingall achieved his crown in 2005.

Through this period he was also associated with the development of the Team Australia Champ Car team and provided some foundation for the career of fellow Australian Will Power – he travelled to the US in 2014 for the final two rounds of the IndyCar Series to witness Power clinch his first championship.

BAM Tours was created in 2007 to develop boutique tours which could take advantage of Murray’s contacts and experience and give guests experiences they could not get with any other tour business. BAM will have a group of 50 guests at the 2016 Indy 500.

Speedcafe.com was launched in 2009 and now has more than 30 million page views a year placing it among the leading motorsport news sites in the world.

Murray has continued to develop his public relations and marketing arms while at the same time creating BAM Vision, which is the group’s TV and video production asset, which continues to grow on a daily basis.

All of the BAM Group’s assets will be used in the development, promotion and activation of PIRTEK Team Murray.

Murray continues to live on the Gold Coast with his wife of 19 years, Trudi, and their 15 year-old son Maximilian, who will enjoy his first Indy 500 in 2016.


Mark Sibla

Mark graduated with a BS in business Management, film from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2000. Then in 2005 he got his MBA in Marketing Management from THE Ohio State. From 2000 – 2008 the Senior Sponsor Advisor for TruSports at Mid-Ohio. In 2008 Mark came to IndyCar as manager of Team Business Development. In 2011 became Director of Client Services then in 2012 he was promoted to VP of IndyCar Client Strategy. Next move was to  VP of Partner Strategy for IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he currently has his desk.

Some awards and honors Mark earned:

Graduated Cum Laude
Honor Societies: Phi Kappa Phi, Beta Gamma Sigma, Omicron Delta Kappa
NCAA Team Academic All-American 1996
Successfully completed “Total Quality Facilitator” (TQM) and Professional Selling Skills® certification

Autosportradio.com guests for April 11, 2016 are: Mark Miles and Laura Steele

The Autosportradio.com 2016 Show presented by Honda HPD will stream live on Tuesday April 5th, live from McGilvery’s Speedway.. 3009 North High School Road, beginning at 7PM ET.

The program can be seen/heard by logging onto www.autosportradio.com and the program streamed live on YouTube will be on the home page.

When the program concludes you will find the archive available on Don Kay’s YouTube channel. 

Scheduled Guests are:

Mark Miles

Mark often has lunch at a restaurant not far from his office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He says he is often stopped by race fans who tell him what the Indianapolis 500 means to them. The race, for many, is still a deeply cherished tradition.

Many major sporting events move from site to site, so fans do not tend to go to them every year. But they do for the Indy 500, which has been contested since 1911 on the same two-and-a-half-mile paved oval on the northwest side of Indianapolis.

Not long ago, a woman walked up to Miles, pointed to her husband, and asked Miles to guess how many consecutive Indy 500s her husband had attended. Answer: 73.

“There’s nothing like that for a Super Bowl or a Final Four,” said Miles, the chief executive for Hulman & Company, the parent company of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series.

Because six races were not held during World Wars I and II, this year’s Indy 500, on May 29, will be the 100th. Miles predicted that all of the estimated 230,000 reserved seats to the race would sell. But then what?

About 6.71 million watched the 100th-anniversary race on TV in 2011, but viewership sagged to 5.74 million two years later, only to rebound to 6.39 million last year — the first time in 10 years the Indy 500 drew more viewers than Nascar’s Coca-Cola 600, later on the same day.

The 16-race season begins Sunday, March 13th, on a street course in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Will Power won the pole Saturday as Team Penske swept the top four spots in qualifying. As the season unfolds, Miles has a goal: avoiding a drop in interest in the Indy 500 and the series in 2017. He said the series had the venues and the schedule to lure, and keep, ticket-buyers and viewers.

Miles, 62, grew up on the north side of Indianapolis. His father was an executive at Eli Lilly and was, Miles said, “the tightest person I’ve ever met.” So Miles listened to the race on the radio until he was a teenager, when he got in free by hiding in the trunk of a friend’s car.

He said of his hometown: “I didn’t want it to be a redneck motor-head place. That was an unfair way to look at it then. But I kind of did.”

He gravitated to other sports, serving as chief executive of the Association for Tennis Professionals for 15 years, often catching Indy 500 telecasts while at the French Open in Paris. He also oversaw two large events in Indianapolis: the 1987 Pan-American Games and the 2012 Super Bowl. He became chief executive at Hulman & Company in December 2012.

In the last 20 years, IndyCar races have often been trampled by Nascar races in TV viewership. In 2013, nine IndyCar events covering 23 hours of programming overlapped Nascar events, but those numbers have been pared to four events covering only seven hours.

In another concession to the ratings reality, Miles wanted to wrap up the series schedule by Labor Day, when he said viewership of IndyCar races, as a rule, drops 30 percent, largely because of football. Only one race will be held after Labor Day: the season-ending Sept. 18 race in Sonoma, Calif., which starts at 7:37 p.m. Eastern, between N.F.L. afternoon games and the well-watched Sunday night game.

“We could race in October, and there are some places that would like to have us in October,” he said, “but I don’t see that being the right call.”

 After 11 years, the series will return to Phoenix for a race next month, and on Labor Day weekend, the first Grand Prix of Boston will be held on a temporary street course near the South Boston waterfront.

Of a long-discussed race on the streets of Manhattan, Miles said: “We haven’t had anybody really working on it. There are some other cities where we thought we could see more of a right direction. Point us in the right direction, and we’ll see.”

Miles has enough on his plate. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, also known as the Brickyard, used to be the province of IndyCars, a hub in May but relatively quiet the other 11 months. Much has been added in the last 25 years, including Nascar, Formula One and motorcycle races.

Formula One and MotoGP have departed, but the 400-mile stock-car race remains, with a road-course race added two years ago for IndyCars and a Red Bull air race to have its debut in October. The Rolling Stones played at the speedway’s first stand-alone concert last July.

The Brickyard has become more than just a place for watching fast cars. Carburetion Day for the 500, on May 27, the last practice before the race, includes a Journey concert, with Blake Shelton featured in a concert the day before the race.

Another concert is scheduled on race day in the area known as the Snake Pit, where 30,000 people, mostly college students, are expected to buy general-admission tickets, even though they will be able to see most of the race on video boards only.

They will come for the music and the experience. The experience is what drew Mark Miles to the speedway more than 40 years ago. The college students might not go to 73 in a row, but the 100th race, then the 101st in 2017, would be a good start for Miles.

“For me, it’s good enough that these college kids want to get up early and be out at I.M.S. that day,” he said. “That’s what it means to them all.”

Laura Steele

Local radio veteran Laura Steele has joined the 24-Hour News 8 team as an Indianapolis 500 correspondent. Steele recently wrapped up a successful 15-year run at Q95. Her voice has also been heard in Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas and Milwaukee. Steele is no stranger to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, having been part of events there for 12 years. She was the track’s first female public address announcer.

“Discovering intriguing stories at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has always been a joy. I consider myself a fan first and foremost. The tales in the rich history of the Indy 500 amaze me each year,” Steele said.

“To work alongside the WISH-TV race team as we celebrate 100 years of the 500 is going to be a blast. I’m ready for the ride!”

In her contributing role, Steele joins longtime WISH-TV racing analyst Derek Daly and sports director Anthony Calhoun in shaping the station’s coverage of this historic year at IMS. 2016 marks the 100th running of the race.

“I can’t think of anyone more connected to the Indy 500 in terms of what news is buzzing on and off the track,” added WISH-TV’s Calhoun. “We are so fortunate to have Laura as part of our historic month of May coverage.”

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