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Indycar and IMS Loses It's Greatest Leader
July 1 - Tony George has resigned from his position as CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and of the Indy Racing League (IRL). He will
continue to run his Vision Indycar racing team. George will be replaced at the Speedway by Jeff Belskus, a Terre Haute native who has been with
the company since 1987. He formerly was the chief financial officer of the Hulman-George companies.
IndyCar Series presidents Brian Barnhart (competition division) and Terry
Angstadt (commercial), along with IMS President Joie Chitwood and IMS
Productions President Charlie Morgan, will report to Belskus.
George began running the speedway in 1990. He brought in NASCAR and
created the Brickyard 400 race in 1994. He created the IRL in 1996. He
wrangled a deal to bring Formula One to America, and to Indianapolis. This
required him to create a road course inside the Indy Speedway and a row of
F1 garages and suites along the front straight away. The aging control tower
was torn down and replaced with a larger, more attractive pagoda style tower
at the same time. Also a new Media Center and ticket office was built.
George also oversaw changes in the policing of the speedway, turning the
event into a more family friendly enterprise. But not forgetting the wilder fans,
he saw the formation of the very popular Carb Day Concert.
His vision, with the IRL, has saved open-wheel racing in America. His drive
has helped transform an aging speedway into a modern facility. His dreams
have brought NASCAR, Formula One and MotoGP to Indianapolis. His grit
has allowed him to deal with the toughest, richest men in the world and not get
pushed around. It is a sad day for American motorsports.
Dale Coyne Racing Breaks Through
Jul 5 - Indycar driver Justin Wilson won the roadcourse race at Watkins
Glen NY today. He won the IRL street race at Detroit last year for
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. Wilson drove in Formula One before
going to Champcar, where he won 4 races between 2005-2007. At 6'3",
he's the tallest driver in the league.
Perhaps the biggest story of the race is about whom Wilson drives for.
This year he is driving for the small Dale Coyne team, headquartered in
Plainfield Illinois. For Coyne, the victory marked his first in some 25
years of race ownership. And the win came in his 558th attempt as either
an owner or a driver-owner combination. He turns 55 on Wednesday.
Coyne said it's an inspirational message for any team trying to compete
with the Penske and Ganassi teams that had won all eight races this
season, 10 in a row over two years and 15 of the past 16 since Ryan
Hunter-Reay won here last year for Rahal Letterman Racing.
"It shows you can come (to the IRL), get the pieces you need, get the
drivers you need, and do the job," Coyne said. "Like we have."
Tony George Statement
July 10 - "Nearly 20 years ago, I was asked by my family to
represent our business as President and Chief Executive Officer.
Since accepting that position, I have served at the pleasure of the
board and, in doing so, I enthusiastically agreed to commit myself to
stewardship of a great institution. While my service as CEO has now
ended, I consider my stewardship to be a life-long appointment.
At a board meeting a little over a month ago, the Board of Directors
of Hulman & Co. and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway asked me to
propose a management reorganization that would focus my duties
exclusively upon the operation, promotion, and development of the
Indy Racing League, which I founded in 1994 and have overseen
the development of since 1996.
At a board meeting last week, I was asked to continue as CEO of the
Indy Racing League, reporting to a new President and CEO of IMS.
In my view, this would have created an unnecessary bureaucratic
layer between the people in the operations of the IRL and the CEO
of IMS that had not previously existed. From the perspective of my
experience as President and CEO of the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway, I am acutely aware that the interests of IndyCar racing as
a sport, the IRL as a league, and the most important motorsports
race in the world, are mutually dependant and inter-connected, both
now and in the future. I did not feel that a subordinate position as
"CEO of the IRL" was a management vehicle which would allow me
to accomplish the objectives that the family and the board requested
me to pursue. I declined that position.
Since our May board meeting, as requested, I have offered my
advice to the board on management reorganization, but also and
perhaps more importantly, a reorganization of our board,
which would provide a structure for better governance for
generations to come. It is my belief that, with the recent unification of
open-wheel racing, the focus should be on the future rather than the
I am encouraged that in recent conversations with my mother and
Chairman of the Board, Mari George, I learned that she also sees
the wisdom of taking a forward-looking approach which will provide
consistent and coordinated leadership. In the near future, I will be
providing a proposal for the board to evaluate. I have been assured
by the Chairman that the board will engage in appropriate dialogue,
with constructive give and take.
The success of any organization relies on strong leadership from
management to execute strategies that focus on achieving results,
and a board whose vision is focused on owner and stakeholder
There have been many questions raised in the industry and
in the media about whether any of these recent changes
reflect a reduction in the commitment of our family or the IMS
to the IRL or the sport of IndyCar. I have been assured by my
mother that no such reduction of support or commitment is
intended or anticipated. I can assure teams, sponsors, media
and fans that our family is sincere in its commitment to the
Indianapolis 500, the League and the sport."
Franchitti Now Points Leader
July 12 - Dario Franchitti held off Ryan Briscoe to claim his third
win of the season at the Indycar Toronto street race.
Franchitti beat Briscoe to the checkered flag by 1.6745 seconds.
Will Power, making his first start since the Indianapolis 500 in May,
finished third. Franchitti's teammate, Scott Dixon, was fourth
followed by Watkins Glen race winner Justin Wilson.
In an 85-lap race that included something for everyone - passing,
crashing, cheers and jeers - favorite son Paul Tracy was in
contention early but retired after colliding with the No. 3 Team
Penske car driven by Helio Castroneves with 18 laps left. It
looked like Castroneves drove Tracy into the wall on purpose, but
apparently not as both drivers denied that. None the less,
Castroneves got booed so bad, even Jeff Gordon would have
Quebec native Alex Tagliani led laps for the first time in the IndyCar
Series. Tomas Scheckter threw his gloves at Tagliani's car
following a Lap 75 incident that knocked him out. Danica Patrick
advanced 12 positions to finish sixth.
Franchitti, who gained three bonus points for winning the PEAK
Performance Pole Award and leading the most laps, regained the
championship points lead by two over Dixon through 10 of 17
events. Franchitti passed Castroneves for the lead in Turn 2 of Lap
65 and held off multiple challenges and two restarts.
|Dejected Helio Castroneves
Indycar May Race in Brazil
Jul 17 - Indycar racing officials are in Brazil looking at
some possible street races for 2010. Helio
Castroneve's hometown of Ribeirao Preto is one
possibility. Rio de Janeiro and Campinas are two
The IRL hopes to announce its schedule Aug. 1 at
Indycar and Indy Lights Party
Jul 19 - The stars of the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights will cap
off the 2009 season by celebrating at one of South Beach's newest hot
spots and most exclusive resorts, W Hotel South Beach. The 2009
Championship Celebration will take place Oct. 11 following the season
championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway Oct. 10.
The championship festivities at the W South Beach, which held its grand
opening earlier this month, will be held beachside under the stars at Grove,
the hotel's expansive lush outdoor garden and WET, the location of two
dramatic pools overlooking the ocean. The 2009 Championship
Celebration's theme is casual beach flair, inspired by the style of trendy
South Beach. The evening will be highlighted by the presentation of the
IndyCar Series Championship Cup and $1 million bonus to the IndyCar
Series championship-winning team and driver as well as the
championship-winning Firestone Indy Lights team and driver.
"W South Beach is a first-class resort and will be an outstanding venue to
celebrate our champions," said Terry Angstadt, president of the
commercial division of the Indy Racing League. "The spectacular resort's
style and location in the heart of South Beach will set the perfect scene to
reflect back on our exciting 2009 IndyCar Series season."
Drivers, teams and sponsors who will enjoy the beautiful beachside scenery
offered by W South Beach can follow the celebration by a visit to Wall, W
South Beach's exclusive nightclub, pioneered by the nightclub giants who
own celebrity hang-out Mokai, SET, Mansion and Opium, among others.
Sounds like fun!
Another Shakeup at IMS
Jul 20 - President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Joie Chitwood, announced he is quitting
and moving back to Florida to become vice president of business operations for the International
Chitwood joined the IMS staff as senior vice president, business affairs Oct. 1, 2002. In
December 2004, he was promoted to president and chief operating officer of IMS and oversees
daily operations for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including the Hall of Fame Museum and
Brickyard Crossing Golf Course.
Chitwood was one of the first staff members of the Indy Racing League, as the liaison to its
teams, and in 2002 he had the honor of serving as Pace Car driver for the Indianapolis 500 Mile
Race. His family connection to IMS dates to the late 1930s when his grandfather began
competing in the Indianapolis 500.
CEO of IMS corp, Jeff Belskus will assume the daily responsibilities of managing the Speedway.
It has not been determined if Chitwood will be replaced.
Henry Surtees Killed in Racing Accident
July 19 - The son of 1964 F1 Champ, John Surtees, died today
during a F2 race at England's Brand Hatch circuit.
Henry Surtees joined the newly formed Formula Two series driving
for Williams. Yesterday, he became the first Briton to scored a
podium finish in the series. He finished third in Saturday's race one.
His single-seater career started in 2007 in the Formula BMW
European series. His first Formula Renault 2.0 ride was in th same
year. Last year, Surtees contested two British Formula 3 National
class events where he had one win and one other podium finish.
While entering a corner today, another driver hit the wall and that
ripped his wheel away which then flew over and hit Surtees in the
head, knocking him out. He died later that evening. He was 18
4-Time CART Champ Booted From F1
July 16 - Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais, 30, after almost two
seasons driving for team Toro Rosso, is being replaced by 19
year-old Jaime Alguersuari, a champion of British Formula Three.
Bourdais has been out-performed by his teammates since entering
the series that he was so anxious to enter.
Jul 22 - Apparently Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti have no
intention of joining the new U.S. Formula One team - USF1. This
team said they would have American drivers, but rumor has it that
perhaps Canada's Jacques Villeneuve will be piloting one of their
cars. Villeneuve, now 38, won the Driver's Championship in 1997.
The cars are being designed and built in Charlotte, North Carolina
and should be ready for testing this October.
"I've had opportunities to take it a step further with Formula One,
and I don't want to lead anyone down a path. It's not in my heart to
go there," Danica Patrick said.
She moved to England in the late 1990s to advance her formative
career in open wheelers, but for several years has settled on the
"I've explored Europe before," Patrick said in Los Angeles. "I
particularly like to be here and I like my family and I like my friends
and I like my creature comforts of my home country."
New Venue for Indycar
Jul 26 - An April Indycar race at Barber Motorsports Park in
Birmingham, Ala., has been confirmed for 2010. It will be held in
conjunction with the Grand Am Series.
Renault F1 Suspended 1 Race
Jul 26 - In today's Hungarian Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso lost a
wheel off his Renault, which then flew into the barriers. A loose
wheel cover was spotted at his pit stop and nothing was done about
it. Alonso was not informed and he lost his wheel on the first lap out.
The FIA says the loose cover indicated that the wheel may not have
been secured and have charged the Renault team with being in
breach of Article 23.1.i and Article 3.2 of the 2009 FIA Formula One
Sporting Regulations. The FIA suspended the Renault Team from
participating in the next Formula One race.
Allstate Not In Good Hands
Jul 27 - Allstate announced today it would not renew its title
sponsorship of the speedway's NASCAR race, which ran for the fifth
time Sunday as the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
Allstate refused to pay an advertising premium required by
ABC/ESPN and so its name was not used during Sunday’s telecast.
The network struck a separate naming rights deal with a restaurant
chain and billed the race as the “Brickyard 400 presented by Golden
Attendance Sunday was estimated at 180,000, off about 20 percent
from last year, but in a statement Allstate officials said their decision
wasn’t based on that.
Massa Injured, Schumacher Filling In At Ferrari
Jul 29 - During qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, a 800 gram
(2 lb.) damper spring broke off of Ruben Barrichello's Brawn F1
car. It hit Felipe Massa in the helmet as he followed in his car.
Part of the spring got through the visor and gashed him by his left
eye. The Ferrari driver underwent surgery Saturday after suffering
head and eye injuries. He is recovering and expected to leave the
hospital next week. However, he is out for the rest of the season.
Michael Schumacher will return to the F1 driver's seat and fill in
for Massa. He will reportedly be paid one million Euros per race,
with another million if he wins.
Felipe Massa out for the season
Enhancements For IndyCars
Jul 29 - To help create better racing, some modifications are being
made to IndyCar racers.
Mandatory removal of the wicker bill will provide faster speeds and
less turbulance for the car behind.
A Honda overtake assist button is being added which will incorporate
a 200 RPM increase (to 10,500) and a 5-20 horsepower gain based
on fuel setting for a duration and frequency determined by Honda
Performance Development for each venue.
The more fuel a driver is saving at that time, the more boost the
engine will provide.
Over the course of a race, drivers will have 20 opportunities to use
the 12-second blast, and the electronic regulator will not allow more
than 240 total seconds.
There will be a 10-second recharge blackout after each use, which
means it can't be used continuously late in the race.