1999 RACING NEWS

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    December

    • It appears that FORD and Mercedes has put enough pressure on CART, so that most of the CART teams that were going to come over and race in the Indy 500, are not. So all you CART fans out there who have been dying to see CART back in the 500, can start sending Ford emails and let them know what you think of them. Chip Ganassi, owner of the last four CART championships, is still planning on bringing 1999 CART champ, Juan Pablo Montoya and 1996 CART champ,Jimmy Vasser to the Indy 500 next year!
    • A state-of-the-art AMB TranX Pro timing and scoring system will be permanently installed at IMS and ready for the 2000 Indy 500. The fully digital system allows data to be tracked at various points around the track and is accurate to 3/10,000ths of a second.
    • PPG pulls sponsorship from CART. They will still sponsor pole awards at the Indy 500 however.
    • Pep Boys pulls sponsorship from IRL. A reported contractual dispute boils down to Pep Boys shakey financial situation.
    • Jonathan Byrd and Dennis McCormack, two of the IRL's original competitors, are joining forces for the 2000 IRL season, forming Byrd/McCormack Motorsports. They have chosen a rookie driver, Jon Herb, 25.


    November

    1999 Indy 500 Champion, Kenny Brack, has left the IRL and A.J. Foyt's team. He is replacing Bryan Herta at Bobby Rahal's racing team in CART. He still hopes to return to Indy in May and defend his title! We'll sure miss watching him race at the other IRL events, but he's got a lot of talent and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in F1 one day soon.

    Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Jr. was cut from Team Penske at the end of the CART season after a losing streak. He is joining Galles Racing and will run the entire 2000 IRL schedule. Valvoline will be a partial sponsor. Valvoline has apparently pulled out of their sponsorship of Walker Racing's CART team (Walker reportedly will run IRL as well this year). We haven't seen Valvoline at Indy in a few years. So it looks kind of like an old reunion for Little Al. He'll also be racing against two of his cousins who are currently in the IRL: Johnny Unser and Robbie Unser. Yikes! Have we ever had 3 Unsers in the same 500? Click here for the answer!

    • (11/17) - Two Retirements announced - The IRL's executive director, Leo Mehl and CART's cheif steward, Wally Dallenbach.
    • Robbie Gordon announces he is shelving his CART team and moving to the Nascar Winston Cup series. He expects to run in the Indy 500 still, driving for Team Menard.
    • (11/14) - Dale Jarrett wins 1999 Winston Cup Championship.
    • (11/03) CART schedule open between opening week at IMS till June 4
      2.) IRL engine and chassis builders receiving inquiries and orders from CART teams.
      What does this spell? Leo Mehl suggests that CART teams are gearing up to make a run at Indy.
      Rumor has it that 14 CART teams and up to 22 cars are expected to enter Indy
      But they'll do so under IRL rules. They also will have to pay for different cars and Oldsmobile Aurora or Nissan Infiniti engines -- a cost estimated at about $1 million per entry.
      Ford, who supplies engines to CART, doesn't like this developement. I say too bad, why don't you shell out a couple bucks to support the oldest and greatest American race? You have not seemed to have much trouble shelling out 100 million per year for racing in Europe! Its hard to believe Ford is an American company.
    • Jeff Gordon's pit crew has deserted him for Dale Jarrett's team.
    • (11/01) - A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Craig Breedlove, Nelson Piquet, Don Prudhomme and the late Ayrton Senna will be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame on April 13, 2000.

    October 10, 1999The CART Hawaiian SuperPrix, yet another attempt to compete with the Indy 500, has been cancelled due to lack of money and interest.

    October 6, 1999 - Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Jr. will jump from CART to the Indy Racing League next season to rejoin car owner Rick Galles. Valvoline to return as partial sponsor.

    September 28, 1999 - Charlotte decides not to renew IRL contract after spectator deaths last spring. Sarah Fisher, 18, second woman to pass IRL test (other was Lynn St. James), may make the last race of season in Texas.

    September 26 - After spending months trying to work out a open-wheel reunification, CART is told "No" by Tony George. CART stock plummets.

    September 16 - It looks like the new Race facility in Covington Kentucky will land an IRL race in 2000. Black race car driver, Willy T Ribbs, returning to Indycar racing at Las Vegas Race.

    August 28 - Chief mechanic Steve Fried, critically injured in a pit accident during the Indianapolis 500, returned to work on a limited basis Saturday.

    June 28 - Herbie Horsepower, long time engine guru, died after traffic accident in May. He had just been inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum's Hall Of Fame, but the accident occurred before the ceremony. He was 84 years old and had came back into action to help the IRL the past few years.

    Rumor has it that Little Al told Robbie Gordon that he will not be missing the Indy 500 again. Also it is rumored Al Unser JR is working on a deal with Treadway Racing to run in Indy.

    May 30 - Kenny Brack and the Power Team won the 1999 Indy 500. McGehee finished 5th and was named rookie of the year.

    May 22 - Arie Luyendyk wins the pole position at over 225 mph average 4 lap speed (10 miles)

    May 15 - All the new giant screen tv's are set up and working wonderfully. Also the temporary bleachers were completed in time for opening day.

    May 10 - A date has been set for the F1 Grand Prix race to be held at IMS - September 24, 2000!!

    April 14 - Veterans got to come out and test this week. Greg Ray had fastest lap time with a 227.072 Monday.

    There are 84 cars entered for the 500 this year.

    April 8 - Rookie orientation begins. There are nine rookies. Nick Firestone,33, the great grandson of Harvey Firestone, is trying to make the field this year. He will be driving for McCormack Motorsports. Buddy Lazier's little brother, Jacque will be trying out this year too. The other rookies are: Mike Borkowski, Ronnie Johncox, John Hollansworth Jr., Dave Steele, Robby McGehee and Jeret Schroeder. Of those, only Steele, Hollansworth and Schroeder have driven in IRL races at other tracks.

    Al Unser and Johnny Rutherford are overseeing the rookie tests.

    Veterans will get to practice this weekend.

    April 2 - Work is started for "500" parade. The world's largest motor-racing parade was shortened last year because of a thunderstorm; and two years ago, most of the floats were demolished in a fire. Every Wednesday until May 12, the public can come help with the floats from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the ExpoDesign building. This year, 97 of the 158 living Medal of Honor recipients will lead the parade this May 29th.

    March 28 - The Power Team, Kelley Racing, and Team Cheever were practicing at the Goodyear test session. 220 MPH FIRST SPEEDS OF THE YEAR!

    Feb 12, 1999 - The new 1999 INDY PACE CAR is announced!


    Use mouse to move spotlight, click mouse to view entire car.

    Jay Leno will be the driver.

    Feb 9, 1999 - Good news for local racers: you can now buy race gas at the speedway.
    But first call Jim Reynolds at (317) 484-6420 and ask him if you bad e'nuff.

    Jan. 14, 1999 - Tom Binford died in Indianapolis. Tom was one of the important people in IndyCar racing since the 1950's. He was Indy 500 Chief Steward from 1974 to 1995. He was also a community leader in Indianapolis.


    Dale Jarrett wins the 6th Brickyard 400!

    August 7th, 1999

    Dale Jarrett put to rest the ghosts of last year's Brickyard 400 heartbreak and extended his NASCAR Winston Cup points lead with a dominating victory Saturday in the sixth Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    In 1998, Jarrett dominated the early stages of the Brickyard 400, but was knocked out of contention when his Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Ford Taurus ran out of gas midway through the race. Jarrett coasted to the pits and lost four laps to the leaders, finishing 16th.

    This year was a different story, as Jarrett led six times for 117 of the event's 160 laps. He led the last 43 laps of the race, keeping the lead after a two-tire-and-gas pit stop on Lap 143 during the final caution period.

    Jarrett, from Conover, N.C., pulled away on the restart and beat Bobby Labonte to the finish line by 3.351 seconds, averaging 148.228 mph. Defending NASCAR Winston Cup and event champion Jeff Gordon finished third.

    "It was hard work," said Jarrett. "The car was really good. But after last year, you're out there and you wonder what's going to happen now. Todd (Parrott, Jarrett's crew chief) had already told me we were good on fuel. Then the caution came out and I said, 'Here we go again.' We agreed to come in and take two tires. We had no idea what it would do to the car. But really, it was the best it was all day.

    "The engine was so good today. I could beat anybody on the straightaways." Jarrett earned $712,240 for the win and expanded his Winston Cup points lead to 274 points over Mark Martin, who finished fourth today.

    Jarrett became the second two-time winner of the Brickyard 400, joining Gordon. Jarrett's other Brickyard win came in 1996. This was the fourth victory of the season for Jarrett, tying Jeff Burton and Gordon.

    Labonte was a victim of the last of three caution periods of the race. Dave Marcis suffered engine failure on Lap 143, and nearly every car on track entered the pits for fuel and tires. Labonte, running fourth at the time, had enough gas to finish without the caution. Martin and Burton, running second and third, couldn't have gone the distance. It would have been close for Jarrett, who admitted after the race that he would have needed to soft-pedal the gas pedal over the closing laps to finish without another fuel stop.

    "We had a good car all ! day long," said Labonte. "But we couldn't run with the 88 (Jarrett). We were developing a miss. After that, we didn't have a good race car. I didn't think we were going to have to pit at the end. I guess you are never happy with second."

    August 6, 1999 - Mark Martin wins the IROC race. Earnhardt captures 1999 IROC title.

    August 5, 1999 - Jeff Gordon, 94 & 98 winner, got the pole position.



    1999 IRL & Driver News

    Nov 10 - 1999 Indy 500 Champion, Kenny Brack, is replacing Bryan Herta at Bobby Rahal's racing team in CART.

    Oct 17 - Texan Greg Ray and Team Menard won the 1999 IRL/Pep Boys championship, which came down to the last race of the year in Texas. Scott Harrington made rookie of the year.

    Oct 17 - Mark Dismore won his first IRL race in Texas.

    July 1999 - REYNARD, a great race car builder, bought out another Indy Car builder in May: Riley & Scott. While G-Force and Dalara supplied chassis after the rules change in '97, R&S didn't arrive until later. Due perhaps to the fates of sponsors, R&S wound up with only 1 car in the 1999 field. With Renard, their cars should improve and become more competitive. They are going with experienced Brazilian driver, Raul Boesel.

    June 30th - CART raised their rates from 1.6 million to 2 million for the Cleveland Grand Prix. Cleveland is not going to pay it, consequently, they are parting ways. Cleveland is going to turn the event into a flat oval IRL event. A.J. seems unconcerned and said he'll just use the race setup he uses at Milwaukee.

    June 15th - Steve Fried, the chief mechanic for McGehee, was the pit crew member who was hit and injured in the pits during the Indy 500. Fried was released from the hospital today. ( McGehee presented him with his Rookie of the Year trophy a day or two after the race.)

    June 12th - Wild race in Texas which Scott Goodyear won, saw many Goodyear tires blistering, the pace car, driven by Johnny Rutherford, hit Beechler's Indy Car and the right side got airborn, and Robby Unser's left rear wheel came off while coming out of the pits!

    May 27th - Leo Mehl announced that once again, engine revs will be reduced to slow the cars down. This time the limit will be 10,000 rpm. It will be implemented at the next race, Texas.

    May 25th - Leo Mehl, executive director of the IRL, announced that restraints intended to prevent debris -- including wheels -- from breaking loose from the cars will be installed on all of the cars running in Sunday's 500-Mile Race.

    May 22 - Arie got the pole at 225 mph. 1999 Starting Grid Lineup

    May 16th - Practice opened at the Speedway on Saturday. Top speeds of 225 were ran by Arie Luyendyk (in his farewell race) and by Menard's new driver, Greg Ray.
    Billy Boat crashed his brand-new Dalara after turning 212.
    The following drivers hit 222 mph this weekend:
    Tony Steward
    Scott Goodyear
    Scott Sharp
    Kenny Brack

    Also, the IRL and CART announce they will look into tethering their wheels to the chassis with Kevlar, like F1 does, to try and prevent tires from getting punted into the stands after an accident, as happened in Charlotte two weeks ago. The tricky part is to prevent the wheel from swinging back and hitting the driver!

    May 15th - As a follow up to the article below about Jason Leffler - I was right. Penske has put Tarso Marques into their second car instead of Jason. Little Al still has the 1st car. So Jason's gambit of leaving the IRL didn't pay off. I guess its back to midgets for him. (June 19 - Yep, watched him at 16th Street Speedway in a Midget National, he dnf'd.)

    May 1st - During the Visionaire 500 at Charlotte, a car hit the wall and a tire flew off into the stands killing 3 spectators and injuring 8. This is the first time such a tragedy has happened in the IRL or at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The race was canceled, and the ticket prices refunded to the more than 50,000 spectators. 80% of those ticketholders asked to have the money put into a trust fund. Ticket holders who want their refunds contributed to The Care Fund should send the speedway their ticket stubs along with their name, address and a brief note stating their wishes. Other Trust fund contributions can be sent to Lowe's Motor Speedway, P.O. Box 600, Concord, N.C., 28026, ATTN: The Care Fund. Questions can be directed to 704-455-3200. The fencing at Charlotte had been raised to 15 feet 2 years ago. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has the highest fencing of any track in the nation, at 20 feet.

    April 24 - Team Menard is causing another ruckus. This time they've tried to sue Tony Stewart for breach of contract. Tony had driven in the IRL for Menard in 96-98 and then switched to a Winston Cup team. His new team is sponsored by Home Depot, a direct competitor of Menards. However, Tony wants to come back and race in the Indy 500 this year. Menard claims Tony couldn't drive for his Nascar team in the Indy 500. A judge has determined otherwise.

    April 22 - Greg Barnhart has taken his money and joined up with the existing team of Rick Galles to form the new team "Barnhart-Galles Motorsports". Davey Hamilton will now have two cars. They will attempt to make the field in Charlotte May 1st and run the entire IRL season.

    April 3 - Rachel's potato chips are going to be an associate sponsor instead of a main sponsor for Team Cheever. It looks like Eddie will switch to Infinity power because of sponsorship money.

    March 27th - The IRL is sponsoring a championship run in F2000 for all the races that they run as support races at IRL events. It will be called the Oval Crown. U.S. F2000 cars are winged single seater open-wheeled racers capable of 150 mph. Greg Ray and a few other IRL drivers used to race in the series.

    April 1st - I saw Little Al on RPM Tonight. He's here in town for his broken ankle. He was in great spirits and getting a lot of therapy. He broke that ankle once before. It looked like a big scrape on the side of his foot. Oww! Anyway he's going to have to miss some races, maybe three. Oh! On his cast, he had the same IMS sticker that I have on my car :-)

    Speaking of Unsers...

    Johnny Unser signed with Ron Hemelgarn to become Buddy Lazier's teammate. I think Johnny's father was Jerry Unser, brother of Al and Bobbie (2 Indy 500 winners). Bobbie's son Robbie races in the IRL too.

    Here's a few new hookups:
    Steve Knapp signed with ISM Racing
    Davey Hamilton signed with Greg Barnhart
    Roberto Moreno signed with Truscelli Team Racing

    Also, looks like some bad news already for Jason Leffler. As reported below, he had just left the IRL and signed with Penske. Penske was testing another driver today. The guy impressed Rick Mears with his technical feedback and speed. He is a Brazilian named Tarso Marques. He had NO OVAL TRACK EXPERIENCE, but F3, F3000, and at least one F1 race under his belt. The guy ends up wrecking the car into the wall. Then Jason, 3-time USAC champ, shows up and finds there is no car to practice with. Penske decides to then run Tarso in place of injured little Al. Still, Jason wasn't planning on driving for Al jr. He's hoping to fill the number two car that may one day reappear. Looks like he has some new competition.

    March 28 - Scott Goodyear and Team Panther win the Phoenix 200 in an exciting race!

    March 28 - Young USAC driver, Jason Leffler was recently hired by Treadway Racing, Arie's Team, to be a test driver. I hear he logged 1000 miles testing in Atlanta. Anyway, Treadway had not secured any funding for him and when Roger Penske offered him a CART ride, Treadway let him go. I hope he does well and maybe we'll see him back one day.

    Feb 12, 1999 - The first IROC race of the year ended with Dale Earnhardt winning. Kenny Brack, 1999 IRL champion finished in fourth place in his first IROC start, ahead of the two CART racers. Eddie Cheever, also in his first IROC race, was knocked out by an out of control Dale Earnhardt JUNIOR who, according to Speedworld, uttered these immortal words at the end:
    ``I got wrecked, Daddy. Those guys were wrecking all over the place out there,''
    Suddenly, scenes from "Smokey and the Bandit" with Jackie Gleason and son come to mind....

    Feb. 1999 - The head of NASCAR and the head of IndyCar has gotten permission in their joint effort to build a fantastic 1.5 mile oval near Chicago. The cost: $100 million. It will seat 75,000 people. This track should get a NASCAR race, an IRL race, a Busch race, and a Craftsman Truck race. Great news for the Chicago area race fans!

    Feb 7, 1999 - Pep Boys Indy Racing League young guns Brian Tyler and Jason Leffler returned to their USAC roots to win the Coors Light Silver Bullet Series and MCI WorldCom Midget features, respectively, at the U.S. Tobacco Co. Copper World Classic at Phoenix International Raceway. Good job guys!

    Feb 1999 - Eddie Cheever and Kenny Brack will be participating in the IROC series for the first time each. Last year, the IRL was represented by Arie Luyendyk and Tony Stewart in IROC. Two-time IROC champion, Al Unser, Jr., is unable to participate this year due to one his children's illnesses. Arie is retiring from racing, however he will run the Indianapolis 500 this year. Tony Stewart decided to race in Nascar this year although he is wanting to be back for the Indy 500 even though he's running in the Coke 600. Although Tony is new to NASCAR and is with a new team, he is starting from the 2nd position for the Daytona 500, his first NASCAR race! Jeff Gordon knocked him off of the Pole Position. Too bad ol #24 didn't switch to the IRL this year. Speaking of running the Indy 500, Robby Gordon, who is racing in CART this year, is planning on trying to qualify for Indy too.

    Jan. 24, 1999 - Eddie Cheever wins the Indy 200 in Orlando by passing Raul Boesel and Scott Goodyear in the final laps of the race. Eddie had lost radio communcation 60 laps prior to the end and had not known he won the race. Scott Goodyear, battling pneumonia all month, was 5 seconds behind. 27 cars started the race and 20 cars finished the race.

    Jan. 16, 1999 - Kenny Brack is one of the twelve people named to the All American Auto Racing Team.

    Dec 28, 1998 - All IRL races will be broadcast by the FOX sports network in 1999, except for the Indy 500 and the Disneyworld 200.

    Nov 17, 1998 - The IRL announced their engine rules for 1999.
    CART has been postponing their rule announcement in anticipation of what the IRL was going to do. In the hope of participating in the Indy 500, CART had stated they would get rid of their turbo-chargers if the IRL would not insist that the engine manufacturers must sell the engines to the teams.
    The IRL announced today that they would not allow manufacturers to just lease engines. Engine suppliers must sell engines and parts to any team desiring them. This allows individual teams to own and work on their own engines. So....looks like CART will either have to back down or stay out.

    There was two rule changes.
    1. The IRL said that V8 engines will be reduced in size from 4 liters to 3.5.
    2. They no longer have to be production based engines.
    Olds and Infinity both agreed to that. Upgrading current engines to conform to the new rules will cost $10,000. (Which is cheap by race car standards.)




    Kenny Brack Wins The 1999 Indy 500!

    This was my favorite race since '92. There were not a lot of wrecks and no spectacular explosions, but it was a fast competitive race. I didn't know who to pick before the race started, Arie and Greg Ray had very quick cars, Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon are hot shoes, Scott Goodyear has a good team and is due, and of course A.J.'s 3 drivers, Brack, Boat and Buhl (the 3 B's) could count on some good teamwork and cars. Jeff Ward, ex-champion motorcyclist and an up and coming Indy Car star was a possibility too. I didn't expect much from Cheever since he switched engines. But Buddy Lazier could prove to be an important factor. Many also considered Team Kelly (Dismore & Sharp) as contenders.

    Arie began the race on the pole and led for many laps, but he hit the turn 3 wall and was out about lap 117. Greg Ray and Kenny Brack led many laps of the race. We even saw Sam Schmidt and Eddie Cheever lead a few laps as well as Jeff Ward.

    Greg Ray made a huge mistake pulling out of his pits and hit Dismore's car, thus ending his day. John Menard, Ray's owner, must have been fuming. He has tried for 21 years to win this race. Fortunately for him, Robby Gordon, was driving one of his cars and took the lead on lap 171. That sure made him happy...

    At least for awhile. With less than two laps to go, Robby Gordon ran out of fuel!! Kenny Brack took over the lead with Jeff Ward on his tail, followed by Billy Boat. Robby got a splash of fuel and finished 4th. John Menard bravely said he still had a fun day.

    A.J. Foyt's Power Team placed 1st, 3rd, and 6th! Kenny Brack collected $1,465,190.00 in prize money.

    After the race, A.J. was being interviewed and was asked how he felt. He was so excited and at a loss for words that all he could gush was "I'm so wonderful!" Ha ha!! Of course he meant to say he "felt" wonderful. None the less, at the 500 Awards ceremony the next night, everyone jokingly referred to him as "Mr. Wonderful"!




    Congratulations A.J. !

    Here are some interesting facts from this years Indy 500:

    • 3 drivers drive in two series during Memorial Weekend -
      • Robbie Gordon crashed out of the CART race in Illinois near the start of their race. He then finished 4th at Indy.
      • Roberto Moreno also ran the CART race in Illinois, finishing 4th. He then ran Indy but had transmission trouble on lap 122.
      • Tony Stewart ran the Indy 500 finishing 9th. That evening he ran in the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 and finished 4th.

    • The following Indy 500 drivers finished where they started:
      • Billy Boat - 3rd place
      • Robby Gordon - 4th place
      • Hideshi Matsuda - 10th place
      • Davey Hamilton - 11th place
      • Dr. Jack Miller - 31st place

    • Over 9 million dollars in prize money was awarded this year
    • 4 drivers finished on the lead lap, all driving Dallara/Auroras
    • The race took 3 hours and 16 minutes to run.
    • Greg Ray ran the fastest lap - 218.882 mph
    • The average speed (includes yellows) was 153 mph. At lap 54, the green light average was 208 mph.



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