Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Paul Tracy Close To Becoming A Bricklayer In IndyCar

Paul Tracy during a time he thought a three-race agreement with KV Racing Technologies announced at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach might lead to a full ride in 2011 ... it was not to be. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2010)

Paul Tracy Close To Becoming A Bricklayer In IndyCar

Paul Tracy is looking to have a full year secured ride in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series ... and he is close to getting his deal.

In a conversation at the 50th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona with the media in attendance, Tracy shared that he is nearing an agreement on driving for a full season with Michael Shank Racing, a team partially owned by AJ Allmendinger, co-driving winner of the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona held this past weekend.

In looking to find additional information on the progress of these developments, this posting at Twitter this morning from Paul Tracy speaks volumes:

paul tracy
When it comes to getting things done, we need fewer architects and more brick layers ................

For a little understanding of what frustration Las Vegas resident the "Thrill From West Hill" is talking about, one needs to know what may be standing in the way of finalizing a Michael Shank Racing DW12 effort to deliver a full season ride for Paul Tracy.

This excerpted and edited from The Sault Star -

Tracy's last ride: Racer close to 1-year deal

It was Tracy who spotted a then-teenaged Allmendinger at a go-kart race in Arizona more than a dozen years ago and decided to help the youngster with his racing career.

Tracy even introduced Allmendinger to some high-powered ChampCar World Series team owners that resulted in Allmendinger winning the Atlantic Series championship in 2003. But after only three seasons in ChampCar, Allmendinger defected to NASCAR, a move that Tracy was highly critical of at the time.

Time, however, seems to have healed those wounds because in an interview with Associated Press motor sports writer Jenna Fryer at Daytona where Tracy was driving the No. 77 Doran Racing Riley Ford, he said there are only some finishing touches that need to be made to get him in an MSR Dallara DW12 come March 25 for the opening IndyCar race at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

"We have a car, we have a sponsor, but we need to put an engine package together," Tracy said of the contract talks.

That may be a sticking point as MSR had been reported to be in line of one of the new Lotus engine packages that will debut in the IndyCar series this season.

Tracy has a long term relationship with rival Honda, which has backed the Canadian driver for the past four seasons as he attempted to get his open-wheel racing career back on track.

The 43-year-old native of Toronto has not had a season-long contract since ChampCar folded in 2007.
"What I think what has hampered me most over the last few years is really only being in a car three, four, five times a year," he said. "When you are not out there testing all the time with the likes of Dario (Franchitti) or Scott Dixon and all these guys, they are in the car all the time.

"When you are out of the car, you get rusty. It didn't affect me as bad in '07 when ... I jumped back in and I could get going right away. And I can still get going pretty well, but it's so competitive now that you just can't be out of a car for that long."

Tracy said most teams in the IndyCar Series are at a competitive disadvantage at the best of times going up against the financial might of Chip Ganassi Racing and Penske Racing.

"It's very, very difficult to get in top notch, top level IndyCar equipment because it's so expensive and Penske and Ganassi really have a handle on that," he said.
[Reference Here]

The 2012 season provides a unique opportunity for a new team to be competitive right away due to the fact this is the first year of a new formula. All teams are starting out with a new chassis, with a choice of one of three new turbo-charged power plants - Honda, Chevrolet, and Lotus.

This scenario just might be what the doctor ordered for a new team, that has a winning tradition behind it, with a driver who has the skill, experience, and heart to be a bricklayer in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

... notes from The EDJE

- Article first published as Paul Tracy Close To Becoming A Bricklayer In Indycar on Technorati -

Sunday, January 29, 2012

First Grand-Am Races of 2012 in the record books.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (January 29, 2012) - Roush Yates Engines powered Ford Daytona Prototype series entries to a 1-2-3 "podium finish" in Sunday's 50th Running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The 761-lap endurance race was green flagged yesterday afternoon.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star AJ Allmendinger drove the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Ford / Riley Daytona Prototype entry to the win. It was an epic battle over the final two hours between three Ford DP entries in one of the most competitive Rolex 24 events in recent memory.
Allmendinger traded the lead with Michael Shank Racing teammate Felipe Nasr (No. 6) and pole sitter Ryan Dalziel (No. 8) in the Starworks Motorsport Ford / Riley over the final hours - even in the light of being placed in the car for a stout 3-hour stint to anchor the No. 60's driving chores to the checkered flag finish.

Dalziel finished second while Nasr took third in clearly the greatest day of sports car/road racing performance history at Roush Yates. Allmendinger's margin of victory was 5.198 seconds over Dalziel. 

When the media seemingly and rightfully tagged the BMWs and Corvettes as the teams to beat in the 14-car DP division, Ford /Riley and a team of engineers, technicians, and assemblers at Roush Yates Engines were able to shed Ford's "underdog" moniker as soon as all six Ford DP entries touched the Daytona pavement early last week. They were fast and it proved no fluke once the top starting spot was earned by Dalziel.

"It just doesn't get any better in road racing than winning the 50th Running of the Rolex 24 - such a prestigious event," said Doug Yates, Roush Yates CEO. "This was just an amazing accomplishment from everyone at Roush Yates, who had a hand in making these engines perform flawlessly, to the teams and drivers who put their talent on the line and trusted our technology. This is the 10th year that we have had engines in the Rolex 24, and Roush Yates has stayed committed to making this program better each year. This was truly our year."

In addition to Allmendinger, the winning No. 60 driver roster consisted of IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, John Pew, and Ozz Negri as the team took home the coveted Rolex watches and trophy.

A tired and sweating Allmendinger in victory lane said: "I want to thank everyone at Roush Yates and (DP program manager John) Maddox. Wow, I am so worn out right now ... but this Roush Yates motor was a rocket ship. Michael puts together great race cars and we owe this to him. Ford 1-2-3 on the podium ... wow that is absolutely amazing."

John Maddox, Roush Yates Engines' Daytona Prototype/Road Racing program manager commented: "This was our 10th attempt to win this thing overall. Finally! In these past 10 years we have been really good down here ... and had tragedy strike (our engines). Now it all came together. We had a few practice and qualifying struggles, and even an early race concern. But the professionalism of every person down here connected to these Ford teams enabled this great outcome. We are definitely connected with the right partners in Michael Shank Racing and Starworks."
BMW Performance 200 (Friday)

DAYTONA BEACH, FL (January 27, 2012) - A Roush Yates-built Ford Boss 302R engine sat on the pole with driver Shelby Blackstock for Friday's BMW Performance 200 Grand Am Continental Tire Series race here; and it a Roush Yates-built Boss 302R that won - but with a different driver / car than the polesitter.

Jack Roush Jr. and co-driver Billy Johnson, who started from the outside pole, won Friday's season-opening Grand Am Continental Tire Series event in their No. 61 Ford Mustang.
Prior to Friday's win at Daytona, and over the past two seasons (since Miller Motorsports Park in 2009), Johnson and Roush Jr. have earned 6 wins, 14 podiums, and 17 top five finishes.
Johnson led the final 18 laps to win Friday's Grand Sport division race.

His victory with teammate Roush Jr., in the No. 61 Roush Performance Products/Gary Yeomans Ford Mustang powered by the Roush Yates-tuned Boss 302R, gave Roush's father, team owner Jack Roush, a first Grand Am victory at the Daytona International Speedway.

The margin of victory over second-place Charles Espenlaub in the No. 48 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 was 1.061 seconds. Espenlaub's teammate Bryan Sellers was third in the No. 46 BMW.
Polesitter Blackstock and co-driver Jade Buford finished a respectable 10th in the No. 51 Roush-Yates-powered Mustang. Twenty-five of the race's 58 laps were run under a total of six caution flags.

"I think pretty much the first hour and a half was a close moment," Roush Jr. said of the racing. "There're opportunities to have incidents at any moment in time, especially at the beginning of the race, it was really sketchy." The race began on a wet surface, which dried as proceedings progressed. And in the end, things played in the Roush team's favor.

"It's great to finish this race first, especially after not being able to finish in the last two years," Johnson said. "To come back and have a strong finish and start off the season on a good note rather than a hole with zero points is huge."

(Portions of this article were courtesy of Grand Am media)

Special Note of Congratulations to all our friends who raced at Daytona this weekend. Scott Pruett, A.J. Allmendinger, Michael McDowell, Andy Lally, Anthony Lazzaro, John Edwards, Darren Law, Patrick Dempsey, Memo Gidley, Joe Foster, Jonathan Bomarito, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Joey Hand, Randy Pobst, James Sofronas, David Donohue, Dario Franchitti, Owen Trinkler, Terry Borcheller, Eric Curren, Boris Said, Charles Espenlaub, Bill Auberlen, Jeff Westphal, James Clay, Patrick Long, Mark and Mathew Pombo. See you all at the races this year. Cheers, Dicken

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Indianapolis: Dallaras In NFL Livery For Super Bowl Welcoming Display

11 rows of cars 3-wide just as with the starting grid of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing", the Indianapolis 500. This image “Super Cars at Monument Circle” is a High Dynamic Range image shot just after the cars were unloaded on Friday, January 27th at about 5:00 am. It is comprised of 5 images put together in Photoshop to bring out the best detail and lighting possible [ctrl-click image for image purchase information]. Image Credit: Jason Lavengood via IZOD IndyCar Series

Indianapolis: Dallaras In NFL Livery For Super Bowl Welcoming Display

In an "I'm ready for my close-up" moment that will greet the attendees to the NFL's big show which ends every season, the IZOD IndyCar Series found a way to co-promote two of America's pastimes for Super Bowl XLVI ... that's 46 for those who are not into the fine points of being in the Roman way.

"Display Only". Image Credit: IZOD IndyCar Series

In a stroke of PR brilliance, the IZOD IndyCar Series painted and displayed Dallara IndyCars in the colors and team logos of the 32 clubs that are the National Football League.

Ahhhh, open-wheel cars. Image Credit: IZOD IndyCar Series

One Dallara each for the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars ...

If one were into numerology, the math of this display project works out perfectly ... the Indianapolis 500 race field is restricted to 33 cars and with the 32 teams in the NFL, just place one car promoting the IZOD IndyCar Series in the middle of the first row between the Super Bowl contending NY Giants and the New England Patriots and presto - 11 rows of cars 3-wide. Image Credit: IZOD IndyCar Series

... Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Redskins.

Drivers, Start Your Engines! Let the games begin. Image Credit: IZOD IndyCar Series

All hail IZOD IndyCar Series for being able to get just a little more life out of a long-in-the-tooth IR7, IR8, IR9, IR-02, and IR-03 Dallara chassis. This is a beautiful display that marks the end of an era ... the IRL era. Next stop ... historic racing car series events throughout North America and beyond!

... notes from The EDJE

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Virginia Is For American Le Mans Series Sports Car Racing Lovers

Picturesque and challenging Virginia International Raceway. Image Credit:American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron

Virginia Is For American Le Mans Series Sports Car Racing Lovers

Today, the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron announced the addition of the 4.1-mile Grand Course at Virginia International Raceway (VIR) to the 2012 season schedule. The four classes of the ALMS will contest their prowess ... on a course that Car and Driver magazine described as the closest thing in America to a lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife ... on Saturday, September 15 with the race to be televised on ESPN2.

The 4.1-mile Grand Course at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Image Credit:American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron

The event weekend will have as its headline a four-hour enduro with the ALMS elite sport cars, with the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama, Cooper Tires Prototype Lites powered by Mazda, USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda and the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy MX5 Cup as its supporting cast events.

Track speed records will fall at the hands of the world’s most exotic prototype sports cars and premier production-based GT cars at VIR. Image Credit:American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron

This excerpted and edited from the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón -

Series' debut race at Virginia circuit will be on 4.1-mile Grand Course

The first ALMS race at VIR – located in Danville, Va. – also will mark the first competition on the track’s impressive 4.1-mile, 31-turn Grand Course. It’s a safe bet that track speed records will fall at the hands of the world’s most exotic prototype sports cars and premier production-based GT cars.

“For years we have received numerous inquiries from fans and competitors on when we would race at VIR, I’m proud to say that time is now,” said Scott Atherton, ALMS President and CEO.

“Virginia International Raceway is an excellent addition to what no doubt will be a fantastic 2012 season for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón. Given VIR’s history and acclaim as a world-class road racing facility, this is a natural fit. We look forward to working closely with the VIR team to introduce their fans and lots of new ones to the fastest, toughest and most entertaining competition VIR has witnessed.”

Arial view of the 4.1-mile Grand Course at Virginia International Raceway (VIR). Image Credit:American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron

The history book at VIR is ripe with the biggest names in North American road racing. Built in 1957, the track played host to its first race in August of that year – an SCCA event that attracted the likes of Carroll Shelby, Bob Holbert, Carl Haas and more. VIR also played host to the first IMSA GT race in 1971 – Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg drove a Porsche 914-6 to a victory over Dave Heinz’s Corvette. Gregg and Haywood also won in the 1972 IMSA GT race at VIR.

Competitors over the years have heaped praise on the circuit. Paul Newman once opined that “if there’s a heaven on Earth, it’s VIR.” Car and Driver named it one of the six best road courses in the U.S..

“The list of drivers and manufacturers who have achieved success at VIR is a storied one,” Atherton said. “We are thrilled at the prospect of ushering in a new era of competition at VIR as the first series to run its Grand Course. The sights and sounds of our prototype and GT cars racing at high speeds around such a demanding and picturesque layout will create a spectacle no one should miss.”

The track closed in 1974 but reopened in 2000 after New York real estate developer and vintage racer Harvey Siegel acquired the track property in 1998. In addition to a repaving and widening of the circuit, VIR added resort facilities that include three hotel and multiple dining options. The track plays host to numerous events during the course of a season including sports cars, motorcycles and karting.
[Reference Here]

Tickets for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón race at VIR on Sept. 15 will be available at VIRnow.com beginning Feb. 1.

The 2012 American Le Mans Series season gets underway with the 60th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida on March 17. It also will mark the first race of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship. Visit sebringraceway.com for details on tickets and accommodations.

The annual Sebring Winter Test is scheduled for Feb. 8-9 at Sebring International Raceway. Tickets are $10 with no paddock access granted.

... notes from The EDJE

-Article first seen as Virginia Is For American Le Mans Sports Car Racing Lovers at Technorati-

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Stairway To Heaven Begins With Background In ChampCar

IMSA/ALMS 2011 Race Director Beaux Barfield, left, with IMSA/ALMS 2011 Clerk of the Course, Paul Walter looking on.Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

Stairway To Heaven Begins With Background In ChampCar

In American professional exotic automobile racing, the path to on-track race management begins with an extensive history associated with ChampCar.

Announced this week were the appointments of two long time alums of ChampCar to top series race control and management - Beaux Barfield to IZOD IndyCar Series open-wheel racing and Paul Walter moving up to replace Beaux at the IMSA helm for American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón class-based sports car racing.

Last year, we had the pleasure of meeting both men at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the race control center on the North side of the Start/Finish line when the ALMS showed up for its annual six-hour race. The tour of the IMSA operation and staff was very eye-opening and left us with these insights after interviewing Beaux Barfield for a feature posting. Read Beaux Barfield interview here (9-21-2011): http://motorsportsunplugged.com/f1/?p=801

Beaux Barfield in the Race Control tower with the Mazda Raceway Laguna Raceway front straight behind him. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

This excerpted and edited from YouTube (Edmund Jenks) -

Beaux Barfield & The ALMS/IMSA Race Control Team At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

September 17, 2011 - Video and Description by Edmund Jenks

If the IZOD IndyCar Series needed to update its approach to Race Control, they could not do any better than to adopt the approach used by Beaux Barfield and the ALMS/IMSA Race Control team.

The 2012 season with its introduction of the new Dallara (renamed the DW12 in honor of Dan Wheldon upon untimely his passing) requires a Race Control template that can deal with technology dynamics that will present themselves on the track.

The ALMS has four classes, running at various speeds and handling capabilities, on the track for many hours at a time. The new Dallara (DW12) will have three engines and the potential of many different body aero-package set-ups so a Beaux Barfield understanding, experience, and type of team approach might be just what the doctor would order for the future of the IZOD IndyCar Series Race Control management template.
[Reference Here]

In the YouTube referenced above, one could clearly see Paul Walte working shoulder-to-shoulder with Beaux Barfield in the Race Control tower above the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca track.

Walter is the perfect choice with an equally strong background in open-wheel racing through ChampCar and its evolution.

Here, Paul Walter flips through a technical information catalog just before the ALMS cars get the Green Flag to race. Notice the display at the bottom of the photo - the race car transponders show the field just going through turn five at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

This excerpted and edited from American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón news release -

From: American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón

A new season for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón also will see a new Race Director. Sanctioning body IMSA announced today that Paul Walter will take over as the lead official for the ALMS, starting with the 2012 opener at Sebring.

Walter – from Columbus, Ohio – has been an IMSA official since 2005, with his most recent duty as Clerk of the Course. In his new role, Walter will be responsible for all officiating during ALMS races, qualifying and practice sessions. He also will conduct driver and team manager meetings on event weekends.
In addition to his duties in IMSA race control, Walter also serves as Race Director for the Cooper Tires presents the USF2000 National Championship powered by Mazda.

His background includes a variety of top-level motorsports championships including CART and Champ Car, Formula BMW and the North American Touring Car Championship. Walter also was involved on the team level at CART as team manager for Tasman Motorsports Group.
“Paul was the obvious choice to take over race control,” said Scot Elkins, COO of IMSA. “Our competitors know him very well as he has been the de-facto Assistant Race Director for the last three years. His knowledge of the series and the ALMS rulebook is better than anyone, and the consistency he brings to Race Control will help us continue building on what was a fantastic 2011 season.

“We’re extremely proud of the group we have at IMSA and glad to have Paul taking this leadership role within Race Control,” Elkins added. “We appreciate the time Beaux Barfield spent with us and are very proud that IndyCar recognized the level of talent we have within IMSA. We see that as a compliment to our organization and our approach. We wish Beaux the best and look forward to moving into the future with Paul.”

The 2012 American Le Mans Series season gets underway with the 60th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh from Florida on March 17.
[Reference Here]

Score a one, two punch for ChampCar racing culture and competition in American professional exotic automobile racing! Congratulations to both Beaux Barfield and Paul Walter ... long may they rein.

... notes from The EDJE

<Article first seen as Stairway To Heaven Begins With Background In ChampCar at Technorati>