INDYCAR NEWS AND NOTES – Aug. 22, 2013

Today’s IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:

1. Challenge of Indy car racing intrigues Luhr

2. INDYCAR forms partnership with International Soap Box Derby

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1. Challenge of Indy car racing intrigues Luhr: Lucas Luhr said there is one thing about his No. 97 RW Motorsports/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Indy car that is  particularly noticeable.

 

 “It’s nice to see your front wheels again,” said Luhr, a five-time American Le Mans Series champion, who will make his IZOD IndyCar Series debut this weekend in the 85-lap GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.

 

Luhr logged a few reconnaissance laps Aug. 13 on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn road course during a manufacturer/team test, and got extended track time during an Aug. 21 Open Test to prepare for the race weekend.

 

He totaled 44 laps with a best lap time that was less than 2 seconds off front-running Dario Franchitti (1 minute, 18.2945 seconds). It’s not where he’s used to running, but he’s not concerned.

 

“The whole car has a different feel. Pretty much everything is new,” said Luhr, who last competed at Sonoma in a GT sports car in 2000. “With a new track and new car, everything is challenging. But we’re getting there. Coming in as the new guy is not going to be easy, but that’s why I’m doing it. If it was easy everyone would do it.”

 

The challenge intrigues and drives Luhr, 34, which in a roundabout way led him to this event as Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing expands to a two-car team through a partnership with RW Motorsports. While with Penske Racing in 2006, driving the RS Spyder in ALMS, he accepted Roger Penske’s invitation to watch the Indianapolis 500 in person.

 

“That really made me interested in the series,” he said. “There’s been a few times where ALMS and INDYCAR race during the same weekend, so I followed it and would stay an extra day to watch the race,” he said. “I was always interested in it and followed it, but on the other hand I never really pushed to get in it or have a chance at trying it. Now that this opportunity is here, it’s even better.”

 

The series will be linked next week at Baltimore, where Luhr and co-driver Klaus Graf will seek their sixth consecutive victory in the Muscle Milk car in the two-hour race Aug. 31 on the 2-mile street circuit. The IZOD IndyCar Series’ Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT is Sept. 1.

 

This weekend, Luhr has lesser expectations. The prospect of additional races in 2014, which would carry higher expectations, is being explored.

 

“Because the competition in INDYCAR is so tight, it doesn’t necessarily mean if you don’t have a good result in terms of numbers that you didn’t do a good job,” he said. “I just want to do the best job that I possibly can for the team and we will see how it goes.”

 

2. INDYCAR forms partnership with International Soap Box Derby: Racing greats such as Tom Sneva, Cale Yarborough, Denny Zimmerman, George Snider and Eldon Rasmussen started their journey to the Indianapolis 500 and Indy car racing behind the wheel of a Soap Box Derby racer. 

 

Now a new generation of future Indy car racers will have a chance to follow their tire tracks.

 

INDYCAR has formed a partnership with International Soap Box Derby, which will bring the excitement of Indy car racing to the thousands of young people who participate in Soap Box Derby events across the country.

 

“This is an opportunity for INDYCAR to connect with thousands of youth across the country as they follow their racing passion,” said Jason Penix, director of grassroots initiatives, INDYCAR. “As INDYCAR looks to grow its fan base, we see this as a chance for young people to see our sport and learn about all the careers that are available in open-wheel racing.”

 

International Soap Box Derby is the recognized governing body of Soap Box Derby racing and includes the FirstEnergy All-American Soap Box Derby and the Gravity Racing Challenge.

 

The partnership will create cross-promotion and marketing opportunities for both organizations. The Derby will become part of INDYCAR’s grassroots initiative while INDYCAR drivers will be featured prominently in All-American Soap Box Derby promotions and marketing initiatives.

 

INDYCAR branding was featured on all participants’ Soap Box Derby racers during this year’s FirstEnergy All-America Soap Box Derby in July in Akron, Ohio.

 

“This relationship will bring together two of the country’s great racing organizations,” said Derby President & CEO Joe Mazur. “We host more than 600 races around the world annually and look forward to growing our brand through our relationship with INDYCAR.”

 

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The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 25 at Sonoma Raceway. The race will be televised live at 4 p.m. (ET) by NBC Sports Network and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network, including on Sirius and XM Channels 211, www.indycar.com and the INDYCAR 13 App for most smartphones and tablets. The next Firestone Indy Lights race is the Baltimore 100 on Sept. 1 on the streets of Baltimore. The race will be televised by NBC Sports Network at 1 p.m.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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