|Sun, 03/25/12||Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg||Streets of St. Petersburg|
|Sun, 04/01/12||Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama||Barber Motorsports Park|
|Sun, 04/15/12||Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach||Streets of Long Beach, CA|
|Sun, 04/29/12||Sao Paulo Indy 300||Streets of Sao Paulo|
|Sun, 05/27/12||Indianapolis 500||Indianapolis Motor Speedway|
|Sun, 06/03/12||Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix||Belle Isle|
|Sat, 06/09/12||TBA||Texas Motor Speedway|
|Sat, 06/23/12||Iowa Corn Indy 250||Iowa Speedway|
|Sun, 07/08/12||Honda Indy Toronto||Exhibition Place|
|Sun, 07/22/12||Edmonton Indy||Edmonton City Centre Airport|
|Sun, 08/05/12||Honda 200||Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course|
|Sun, 08/19/12||TBA||Streets of Qingdao|
|Sun, 08/26/12||Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma||Infineon Raceway|
|Sun, 09/02/12||Baltimore Grand Prix||Streets of Baltimore|
|Sat, 09/15/12||TBA||Auto Club Speedway|
INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011) – A diverse calendar featuring 12 races divided among ovals, temporary street circuits and permanent road courses highlights the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights schedule announced today by INDYCAR officials.
“Our goal is to prepare Firestone Indy Lights drivers to become successful IZOD IndyCar Series drivers,” said Tony George Jr., manager of business development for Firestone Indy Lights. “We’ve seen how this has worked recently with drivers having success after graduating from the series. The 2012 schedule continues to help us reach that goal by helping our current drivers gain experience and succeed on all types of racing circuits.”
Firestone Indy Lights teams will race at the Raceway at Belle Isle for the first time under INDYCAR sanction on the weekend of June 2-3 as part of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. The CART-sanctioned Indy Lights raced at Belle Isle from 1992-2000 with drivers such as Tony Kanaan, Robbie Buhl and Eric Bachelart among the race winners. The series’ return to the 2-mile oval at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Sept. 15 will be the first Firestone Indy Lights race at the track since 2005.
Eight venues that hosted Firestone Indy Lights races in 2011 return and will be run in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series and have additional support from the Mazda Road to Indy. Firestone Indy Lights returns as the headline event at the Grand Prix of Trois Rivieres on the streets of Trois Rivieres, Quebec. An additional event will be announced at a later date.
For the 10th consecutive year, the Firestone Indy Lights season will begin competition in the state of Florida, with a race on the streets of St. Petersburg on March 24-25. The series will then return to the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park on March 31-April 1 before heading to the streets of Long Beach, Calif., for the fourth time on April 14-15.
The first oval of the season will be the series’ premier event – the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 25, two days before the Indianapolis 500.
“The opportunity to compete on Carb Day at Indianapolis is an experience that is second to none for our drivers, teams and sponsors and the highlight of the schedule each year,” George said. “We feel like our schedule demands the ability of both drivers and teams to master a variety of venues with the end result of a champion that is fully prepared to be an IZOD IndyCar Series driver.”
The Belle Isle race and the oval event at Iowa Speedway precede the Canadian stretch, which features races on the streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Place, Edmonton City Centre Airport and Trois Rivieres. A return to the streets of Baltimore will lead into the race at Auto Club Speedway.
Firestone Indy Lights is the premier ladder series for drivers and teams striving to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. The top series in the Mazda Road to Indy development system, teams compete for more than $3 million in prize money in cars that are second in speed only to the IZOD IndyCar Series at most tracks they visit. Graduates of this fast and cost-effective series include Marco Andretti, Ana Beatriz, Ed Carpenter, Wade Cunningham, Jay Howard, James Hinchcliffe, JR Hildebrand, Alex Lloyd, Charlie Kimball and Raphael Matos.
The complete 2012 Firestone Indy Lights schedule:
March 24-25 Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.
March 31- April 1 Barber Motorsports Park
April 14-15 Streets of Long Beach, Calif.
May 25 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
June 2-3 Raceway at Belle Isle Park
June 22- 23 Iowa Speedway
July 7-8 Streets of Toronto
July 21-22 Edmonton City Centre Airport
Aug. 5 Streets of Trois Rivieres, Quebec
Sept. 1-2 Streets of Baltimore
Sept. 15 Auto Club Speedway
FORCE FACES GITTIN JR IN TOURNAMENT OF OVALS SEMIS ON DEC 23rd
YORBA LINDA, CA (December 23, 2011) — Ford Racing is keeping the pedal to the metal in the off-season with the inaugural Tournament of Ovals on Facebook. Fans have been voting for their favorite Ford Racing driver in bracket eliminations and 15-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force has emerged as the drag racing champion and will face drifting champion Vaughn Gittin Jr. in the semi-final round. Voting will be conducted one day only; today December 23rd.
Force defeated Pro Stock driver Larry Morgan in this first round before upending family friend and competitor Bob Tasca III in the second round. Force faced one of his toughest match-up in round three versus Evan Smith. It took a late rally to move Force to the semis where he will face Gittin Jr.
Fans can vote through their Facebook account at this website: http://www.facebook.com/OfficialFordRacing?v=app_213889628641298
If Force advances he would face either NASCAR’s Matt Kenseth or Sport Car racer Billy Johnson in the over-all Tournament of Ovals finals.
Three-time champion tuner VanDoorn to lead JEGS.com stock car team
DELAWARE, Ohio (Dec. 23) — Ben “Butch” VanDoorn, winner of three consecutive CRA championships by the young age of 19, has been named crew chief for JEGS.com Chevrolet driver Cody Coughlin for the 2012 season.
VanDoorn won the JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour championship as crew chief for Erik Jones in 2011, and tuned his brother John to back-to-back titles in the ARCA/CRA Super Series Championship in 2009-10.
Now, VanDoorn returns to the JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour with defending Howie Lettow Rookie of the Year winner Coughlin racing for the overall series championship.
“I’d like to continue this streak with Cody,” VanDoorn said. “We’ve got the equipment and everything lined up. I’d like to get some poles, some top-fives, some solid finishes every race and finish every lap to win that championship.”
That’s Coughlin’s goal, too.
“We’ll have a shot at the championship, for sure,” Coughlin said. “I think we’ll have a shot at a lot of wins. I’m just really, really excited. He’s a great guy. My family likes him, I like him. He’s an honest guy, and I’m really excited to work with him.”
The pairing of Coughlin and VanDoorn brings together two rising stars in the sport at a young age, as Coughlin turned 16 on December 11.
“I think he’s the best,” Coughlin said. “He’s really close to my age, so I’ll work well with him. His resume at 19 years old is already better than most, so I’m super excited.”
Said VanDoorn, “I’ve always worked with younger drivers, and it’s always worked really well because with the technology in the sport, we think the same way. We’re so close in age we can relate to each other. Even if you combine our ages, we’re younger than most of the drivers out there.
“I can help him out, not only in racing situations but also life situations. I can be his coach, his mentor, his crew chief. It’s going to be pretty special.”
Coughlin had a solid first season in the JEGS CRA All-Stars Tour, generating four top-five and seven top-10 finishes in the series’ 11 races. He and VanDoorn hope for more in 2012.
“He’s got a lot of potential,” VanDoorn said. “He comes from a racing family, though it was drag racing, so the bar is set high for him. Last year being his first year in a car, he did real well. He’s impressed me at a lot of different tracks.”
VanDoorn, of Coopersville, Mich., will make the move to Ohio to work with the JEGS.com race team beginning in January.
IZOD INDYCAR SERIES ANNOUNCES 2012 SCHEDULE
INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011) – A first-ever event in China and two venues that return after multi-year absences highlight the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule for 2012 announced today.
The 2012 season, which will feature the return of engine manufacturer competition and a new universal chassis produced by Dallara Automobili, kicks off Sunday, March 25, with the eighth Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
The IZOD IndyCar Series again presents the most diverse schedule in motorsports with the challenges of races on temporary street circuits, permanent road courses, superspeedways and short ovals in four countries.
“To be crowned IZOD IndyCar Series champion, the driver must be able to master a diversified race schedule that truly challenges the best in the world,” said Randy Bernard, CEO, INDYCAR. “The 2012 schedule offers our drivers and teams the test of conquering both ovals and road and street races. Adding to the diversity of the season, we’re excited with the launch of three engine manufacturers vying for the Manufacturers Trophy.”
The scenic Belle Isle park circuit will be the site of the recently announced Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix on Sunday, June 3. The IZOD IndyCar Series had competed at the Raceway at Belle Isle in 2007 and ’08. Also returning to the schedule is the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval in Fontana, Calif., for a race under the lights Saturday, Sept. 15. INDYCAR sanctioned four races at Auto Club Speedway between 2002 and ’05, while CART hosted events at the track from 1997 to 2002.
Night races also will be held at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, June 9, and the .875-mile Iowa Speedway on Saturday, June 23.
The Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 27, with Pole Day on Saturday, May 19.
The IZOD IndyCar Series returns to Barber Motorsports Park for the third consecutive year on Sunday, April 1, and the 38th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be held Sunday, April 15. Also, the series will compete on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, for the third time on Sunday, April 29, as the lead-in to Indianapolis 500 activities.
Back-to-back races in Canada highlight July – on the streets of Exhibition Place in Toronto on Sunday, July 8, and on the exciting City Centre Airport circuit in Edmonton, Alberta, on Sunday, July 22.
The permanent road courses of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Sunday, Aug. 5) and Infineon Raceway (Sunday, Aug. 26) also retain their traditional dates. On Sunday, Sept. 2, the IZOD IndyCar Series will electrify the streets of downtown Baltimore for the second consecutive year.
“INDYCAR is excited about the confirmed races announced today,” said Bernard. ”With the new car and engine manufacturer competition, we believe they will be tremendous events that will help INDYCAR grow.
“We are exploring adding additional events to the 2012 schedule. We’re in the process of confirming a 16th event, while also considering adding a 17th race to the calendar.”
In addition to the race schedule, the series’ annual preseason Open Test will be held at Sebring International Raceway on March 5-8.
The television lineup and event start times will be announced soon. Also, the 2012 Indy Lights schedule will be announced soon.
INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 15, 2011) – A comprehensive review of the racing accident that claimed the life of Dan Wheldon is complete, INDYCAR announced Dec. 15.
Wheldon, the 2005 IZOD IndyCar Series champion and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, suffered a non-survivable head injury Oct. 16 in a 15-car crash in Turn 2 of Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the final race of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
“There are multiple factors that are not uncommon to racing that came together in a way that claimed Dan’s life,” said Brian Barnhart, President of Operations, INDYCAR. “It is a tragedy. Our thoughts and support will always be with Dan’s family.”
The accident review revealed that Wheldon’s path on the lower portion of the racetrack was blocked by the multi-car crash he was approaching. The No. 77 car became airborne and ultimately impacted a vertical post of the track fencing. The pole intruded the cockpit, and the impact with the driver’s helmeted head produced non-survivable blunt force trauma.
The response to the scene by INDYCAR’s Holmatro Safety Team was rapid and decisive, according to the review.
INDYCAR analyzed data from the accident data recorders carried on board each race car involved in the crash, the on-board data acquisition system from teams, timing and scoring data, video, still photographs, physical evidence and eyewitness reports from participants. Third-party experts with Indianapolis-based Wolf Technical Services provided independent assurance that the investigation protocol, evidence examined and reviewed, and the conclusions reached are consistent and appropriate to standard scientific and engineering investigation methods.
Examination of video of the incident demonstrates normal “pack racing” that is common on high-banked ovals. However, there was almost unlimited movement on the track surface under race conditions not previously experienced that is attributed to track geometry beyond banking. Such freedom of movement outside of normal racing grooves not only increased the probability for car-to-car contact, but made it more difficult for drivers to predict the movement of other drivers. As a result, the opportunity for this incident was increased.
While this incident could have occurred at any track at any time, the dynamic of the current car and the overall track geometry at Las Vegas Motor Speedway under race conditions appears to have been one of the contributing factors in this incident.
The 34-car starting field was determined to be acceptable based on factors such as length and width of the racetrack and pit space capability. This incident and its consequences could have occurred with any size starting field at any track.
“INDYCAR’s commitment to safety was enhanced by Dan Wheldon’s testing throughout 2011 of the new car to be used by INDYCAR in 2012,” said Randy Bernard, CEO, INDYCAR. “The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season ushers in an era of a new race car and the opportunity for continued safety advancements. Dan Wheldon was instrumental in the testing and development of this new car and the safety innovations that it represents. We are thankful for his efforts and commitment to racing.”
The 2012 Dallara Automobili chassis enhances safety components such as side intrusion panels and wheel tethers. The cockpit is longer and wider than the decommissioned monocoque, which allows for additional padding underneath and behind the driver. Also, a “floating headrest” works in conjunction with the mandatory FHR (Frontal Head Restraint) attached to the helmet. Driver positioning allows for better sightlines
Nitro Jam announces 2012 schedule
Season to include stops all across U.S. and Canada
NORWALK, Ohio (December 16, 2011) – After another successful year of racing on the Nitro Jam tour, Feld Motor Sports and the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) are pleased to announce an exciting 2012 schedule that includes stops at many of the most fan-friendly motorsports facilities in the country.
Beginning on the west coast for the first time ever, the 2012 Nitro Jam schedule will take America’s premier drag racing entertainment show from the deserts of Arizona to the hills of Michigan and everywhere in between on an eight-event tour of North America.
Nitro Jam will be returning to San Antonio in 2012, one of the most popular stops on the tour
“Over the past two years we have taken Nitro Jam from an event struggling to find an identity to one of the most exciting shows in the country,” said Nitro Jam President Aaron Polburn. “We have a very strong schedule for 2012 that is designed to build off of the momentum of last year. We had a very successful year in 2011 traveling to some exciting new markets and we are thrilled to be returning to many of those same locations while continuing the success at many of our other top facilities.”
In addition to an exciting schedule, the 2012 Nitro Jam lineup will continue in the tradition of providing high-speed, nitro-powered drag racing action featuring everything from Pro Fuel Dragsters and Prostalgia™ Nitro Funny Cars to Nitro Harleys, Fuel Altereds and more. The entertainment portion of the evening will once again include a performance by the legendary Grave Digger monster truck and many of the top exhibition acts in the country.
Nitro Jam will welcome a revamped Prostalgia™ NFC class featuring many of the nation’s top talents
“Last year was all about putting more variety into the schedule and we hope to continue that trend again this year,” Polburn said. “Each event will have a unique menu of nitro classes and exhibition acts, but all will feature the same excitement and ‘I can’t believe I just saw that’ action that fans have come to expect from Nitro Jam.”
Nitro Jam will also keep its “race only” format for professional classes while continuing to feature and grow sportsman competition through new and exciting programs. Professional categories will also continue to have invitation only fields with a new Nitro Jam champion being named at the conclusion of each day of racing.
Check back with NitroJam.com throughout the year for a full lineup of professional and sportsman classes and exciting extras at all Nitro Jam events in 2012.
Kicking off the 2012 Nitro Jam season will be a stop in Tucson, Ariz. in late March at one of the most unique stops on the tour.
Southwestern International Raceway will host the season opener for the first time ever the weekend of March 23-24 with an event featuring one of the biggest funny car races of the season.
Grave Digger will return to Nitro Jam competition in 2012 against some unique competition
SIR will be followed by a trip to San Antonio Raceway in Texas the weekend of March 30-April 1. After last year’s event broke attendance records, Nitro Jam is thrilled to be returning to this incredible facility for another Texas-sized show in 2012.
Following the event in Texas, the Nitro Jam series will head to one of the most unique races on the schedule at State Capitol Raceway in Baton Rouge, La. Featuring the party atmosphere of Mardi Gras, this event always draws a crowd as the series returns the weekend of May 4-6.
June will feature two big races at Pittsburgh Raceway Park in Pittsburgh, Pa. and Rocky Mountain Raceways in Salt Lake City, Utah. Both events are popular stops for racers and fans as Nitro Jam travels to the Steel City the weekend of June 1-2 and Salt Lake City the weekend of June 29-30 to kick off the west coast swing.
Sportsman racing will continue to be a featured attraction at Nitro Jam events
In July the Nitro Jam series will shift to the Canadian portion of the tour with stops at the two biggest events of the year at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton, Alb. and Grand Bend Motorplex in Grand Bend, Ont. Nitro Jam will venture to Edmonton for the only three-day Nitro Jam the weekend of July 6-8, followed by a trip to Grand Bend July 21-22 to wrap up the Canadian schedule.
The 2012 Nitro Jam series will wrap up championships for the professional categories at the most spectacular facility on the Nitro Jam tour at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Mich. the weekend of August 10-11.
In addition to a thrilling professional show, sportsman racing will also be featured at all of the Nitro Jam events on the schedule culminating with the sportsman-only IHRA World Finals at Memphis International Raceway in October. More details coming soon at IHRA.com.
For more information on the 2012 Nitro Jam series and a complete listing of events, visit http://www.nitrojam.com.
2012 NITRO JAM SCHEDULE
DATE VENUE CITY
March 23-24 Southwestern International Raceway Tucson, Ariz.
March 30-31 San Antonio Raceway San Antonio, Texas
May 4-5 State Capitol Raceway Baton Rouge, La.
June 1-2 Pittsburgh Raceway Park Pittsburgh, Pa.
June 29-30 Rocky Mountain Raceways Salt Lake City, Utah
July 6-8 Castrol Raceway Edmonton, Alb.
July 21-22 Grand Bend Motorplex Grand Bend, Ont.
August 10-11 U.S. 131 Motorsports Park Martin, Mich.
Accident report cites ‘perfect storm’
By Dave Lewandowski – INDYCAR.COM
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Dan Wheldon’s non-survivable injury Oct. 16 during a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway involved circumstances of location, direction and orientation that were the chance result of previous car contact, an investigation report released Dec. 15 concluded.
“There are multiple factors that are not uncommon to racing that came together in a way that claimed Dan’s life,” said INDYCAR President of Operations Brian Barnhart, who was involved in the investigation. ”It is a tragedy. Our thoughts and support will always be with Dan’s family.”
Wheldon, who started from the rear of the 34-car field, was running 24th on Lap 11 when the accident that involved 15 cars occurred between Turns 1-2.
The combined data from various technical resources provided INDYCAR officials insight into what transpired during the multi-car incident, including what happened to the No. 77 car during the accident.
“INDYCAR’s commitment to safety was enhanced by Dan Wheldon’s testing throughout 2011 of the new car to be used by INDYCAR in 2012,” INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard said during a news conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that was streamed live on indycar.com.
“The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season ushers in an era of a new race car and the opportunity for continued safety advancements. Dan Wheldon was instrumental in the testing and development of this new car and the safety innovations that it represents. We are thankful for his efforts and commitment to racing.
“These observations will be part of a continuous process to improve racing so it’s both competitive and as safe as possible.”
The accident review revealed that Wheldon’s path on the lower portion of the racetrack was blocked by the multi-car crash he was approaching. About 2.4 seconds prior to contact with the left-rear tire of the No. 83 car, Wheldon reduced throttle to 55 percent and applied the brakes to decelerate from 224 mph on the front straightaway to 165 mph in Turn 1. A second later, the throttle was reduced to less than 10 percent.
After striking the No. 83 car’s tire, the No. 77 car became airborne and began to roll to the right. The right rear of the car made contact with the racing surface and the chassis traveled rearward first toward the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier. The chassis then rotated so it was traveling in race direction parallel to the fencing along the top of the permanent wall behind the SAFER Barrier, with the cockpit open toward the fencing.
The chassis impacted a vertical post along the right side of the tub that – as the car passed by — created significant damage extending from the pedal bulkhead, through the cockpit and shearing off the roll hoop. As the pole intruded the cockpit, the impact with the driver’s helmeted head produced non-survivable blunt force trauma.
The side intrusion panels, which were added to IZOD IndyCar Series cars in 2008, along with the driver’s restraints performed as designed, according to review of physical evidence.
The fencing, including post, cables and fabric at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, was found to have performed to expectations in retaining a race car from leaving the track. In the report, INDYCAR stated its preference for the fabric being on the inside of the track instead of its present configuration.
The response to the scene by INDYCAR’s Holmatro Safety Team was rapid and decisive, according to the review, and there was no evidence of vehicle mechanical or structural issues contributing to the accident.
INDYCAR analyzed data from the accident data recorders carried on board each race car involved in the crash, the on-board data acquisition system from teams, timing and scoring data, video, still photographs and the physical evidence. Additionally, reports were filed by track safety personnel, technical personnel, race control personnel and medical personnel, and information was provided by the chief medical officer of Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the Clark County Coroner.
Wolf Technical Services provided independent assurance that the investigation protocol, evidence examined and reviewed, and the conclusions reached are consistent and appropriate to standard scientific and engineering investigation methods.
Examination of video of the incident demonstrates normal “pack racing” that is common on high-banked ovals. However, there was almost unlimited movement on the track surface under race conditions not previously experienced that is attributed to track geometry beyond banking. Such freedom of movement outside of normal racing grooves not only increased the probability for car-to-car contact, but made it more difficult for drivers to predict the movement of other drivers.
“It wasn’t a challenge to these highly-talented drivers,” Barnhart said, noting that the now decommissioned chassis ran more that 2 million miles in its eight years with one fatality. “You don’t want to get to the limitless racing capabilities that we had at Vegas so we’ll try to identify an aerodynamic package (through testing) that makes it more challenging for the drivers. We have to create through extensive testing is a limit. They have to know there is a line that they can’t cross, and I think that will make the racing better as we look at new venues.”
The 34-car starting field was determined to be acceptable based on factors such as length and width of the racetrack and pit space capability, and review of the incident supports the conclusion. Similar consequences could have occurred with any size starting field at any track.
As is customary protocol, INDYCAR conducts a series of on-site inspections and an on-track test to confirm the compatibility of its race cars to new or reconfigured racetracks. The inspections of Las Vegas Motor Speedway included a two-day compatibility and performance test on Nov. 15, 2010, by drivers Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske. Private testing by IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights teams followed.
Following the incident, INDYCAR assembled a technical committee of sanctioning body personnel, team engineers and Dallara representatives to focus on the aerodynamics and mechanical considerations of IZOD IndyCar Series cars competing on high-banked 1.5-mile ovals. It determined that each high-banked oval has unique characteristics, and each should be considered individually.
INDYCAR will not sanction a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2012 as was announced in October, but will conduct testing at the facility with the next-generation car to determine compatibility and performance for a potential return in 2013.
“Las Vegas is a great city, a resort destination. Our fans, our sponsors and everyone likes Las Vegas and it’s a great place for the race,” Bernard said. “But I don’t want to go back there if the conditions aren’t right and it’s not safe for our race cars.”
The 2012 Dallara Automobili chassis enhances safety components such as side intrusion panels and wheel tethers. The cockpit is longer and wider than the decommissioned monocoque, which allows for additional padding underneath and behind the driver. Also, a “floating headrest” works in conjunction with the mandatory FHR (Frontal Head Restraint) attached to the helmet. Additionally, driver positioning provides enhanced sightlines.
Reduction of wheel-to-wheel contact also has been incorporated into the new car as well as a standardized location on the steering wheel for the yellow light (on-track caution) warning system and improvement of the head surround latch system to make driver extrication easier and quicker.
“When you have a tragedy like this, it’s disappointing that the only good thing that comes out of it is improvement in the future,” Barnhart said. “The best thingt we can do is take this situation, learn from it and move forward. Safety is an evolutionary process. The 2012 car has been under design for about 18 months and many components of the IR3 (chassis) have carried over into the 2012 car design as well as several areas of improvement that we’re looking for as the continuation of that safety.
“One of the big things will be extensive testing to do our best to replicate race conditions to identify the overall track geometry of any track we’re looking to run IndyCars to try to come up with the best understanding of the aerodynamic package, the technical specifications to allow us to race there as well as we possibly can.”
zMAX Dragway Releases Action-Packed 2012 Schedule
The 2012 schedule will feature twelve nights of grassroots Drag & Brag racing in addition to open test and tunes and Mayhem at the MAX.
CONCORD, N.C. (Dec. 15, 2011) – Officials at zMAX Dragway have released their most ambitious season schedule to date. With more than 25 events over the course of eight months during 2012, there’s something for competitors and drag racing fans of all kinds.
The Palace of Speed opens the season on March 3 with a series of four Spring Meltdown open test and tunes on consecutive Saturdays. All cars are welcome as racers prepare their cars for a summer of speed.
The highlight of the spring schedule is the third-annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, April 13-15. The greatest spectacle in drag racing features a 32,000 horsepower assault on the world’s only four-lane drag strip as Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock categories race four wide all weekend long.
Following the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, the popular run-what-you-brung Drag & Brag series moves to Friday nights, with a total of twelve events from April through August, culminating with a series finale that will showcase some of the best racers from the season.
New in 2012, zMAX Dragway officials are introducing Mayhem at the MAX, which consists of bracket racing for amateur racers, junior dragsters and street cars over a series of six Saturday events from April to August. Points will be tallied and champions in various categories will be crowned.
The Faith, Family and Freedom concert presented by New Life 91.9 FM returns June 23 and features contemporary concert acts and a fantastic family-friendly fireworks show. Last year’s show sold out well before the event, so fans should plan to reserve their tickets in advance.
Another addition to the 2012 schedule is the American Drag Racing League (ADRL), which will visit zMAX Dragway for the first time Aug. 3-4. The ADRL is the premier eighth-mile drag racing sanctioning body and features categories including Extreme Pro Stock, Pro Extreme Motorcycle, Extreme 10.5, Pro Nitrous and Pro Extreme.
Nitro fans can round out the summer at zMAX Dragway with the fifth-annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, held Sept. 14-16. This second NHRA stop at the Palace of Speed features traditional two-wide racing and marks the kick-off for the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship for all four professional categories.
The final event of the year, held Oct. 5-7, is the return of the Charlotte Diesel Super Show, which showcases big rigs taking on the famous concrete quarter-mile as well as equipment demonstrations and everything the diesel enthusiast’s heart could desire.
The complete 2012 zMAX Dragway schedule is as follows:
March 3 Spring Meltdown Open Test & Tune
March 10 Spring Meltdown Open Test & Tune
March 17 Spring Meltdown Open Test & Tune
March 24 Spring Meltdown Open Test & Tune
April 13-15 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
April 27 Drag & Brag
April 28 Mayhem at the MAX Round 1
May 4 Drag & Brag
May 5 Mayhem at the MAX Round 2
June 8 Drag & Brag
June 9 Mayhem at the MAX Round 3
June 15 Drag & Brag
June 23 Faith, Family & Freedom Concert
June 29 Drag & Brag
June 30 Mayhem at the MAX Round 4
July 6 Drag & Brag
July 13 Drag & Brag
July 20 Drag & Brag
July 21 Mayhem at the MAX Round 5
July 27 Drag & Brag
August 3-4 ADRL Drag Racing
August 10 Drag & Brag
August 17 Drag & Brag
August 18 Mayhem at the MAX Round 6
August 24 Drag & Brag Finals
September 14-16 O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals
October 5-7 Charlotte Diesel Super Show
Schedule subject to change.
Tickets for all 2012 events at zMAX Dragway are available by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267). Interest-free payment plans are available.
Pagenaud joins Schmidt for 2012 season:
Frenchman Simon Pagenaud will be the driver of the Sam Schmidt Motorsports Honda-powered Dallara in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series, team owner Sam Schmidt announced Dec.8 during a press conference in Indianapolis.
SSM team manager Rob Edwards and Pagenaud joined Schmidt at the press conference in the Indiana Convention Center during the International Motorsports Industry Show.
Pagenaud, 27, brings a wealth of experience driving several types of high-horsepower cars in his career. In 2011 alone, he was a factory Honda driver in the 12 Hours of Sebring and a factory Peugeot driver in the 24 Hours of Le Mans 24, finishing second in both events. In addition to the sports car racing, Pagenaud also raced V8 Supercars, Rally cars and had three IndyCar Series starts in 2011 filling in for injured drivers Ana Beatriz (Barber Motorsports Park), Justin Wilson (Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course) and Simona de Silvestro (Infineon Raceway).
2012 car back on the track:Tony Kanaan was back behind the wheel of the Chevrolet-powered DW12 chassis Dec. 7 on the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval.
JR Hildebrand, who recently signed an extension through 2012 with Panther Racing, got his first opportunity to drive the car Dec. 8 as engine manufacturers continue their development program.
Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing drove the Honda-powered Dallara car both days.
The manufacturer program continues the following week at Sebring International Raceway. No commercial parts failure has been reported through almost 5,000 miles of testing.
Webb joins Schmidt for Firestone Indy Lights:Twenty-year-old Oliver Webb has signed with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, the reigning Firestone Indy Lights entrant champion, for the 2012 season.
The Knutsford, England, native comes to the Firestone Indy Lights series after competing in the World Series by Renault in 2011 for Pons Racing. He also made four Firestone Indy Lights starts throughout the 2011 season with Jensen MotorSport, scoring his first podium in Edmonton when he finished third in his series debut.
“The decision to move to the U.S. for Indy Lights was a tough one to make,” Webb said. “However, the efforts of Sam Schmidt and the team made it much easier. We have been in contact with Sam for a couple of years now, and after securing a podium in my Indy Lights debut, I was keen to have a full test program with Sam and the guys. I completed a two-day test and very quickly decided it was the right move for my career toward the top end of motorsport. I look forward to challenging for the 2012 title with SSM.”
After winning its fourth driver’s championship in sixth seasons with Josef Newgarden, the team has drawn much attention from interested drivers. Webb joins a multi-car lineup that already includes 2011 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear champion Tristan Vautier.
“I have been waiting for this day for quite some time,” Schmidt said. “I invited Oli and his father to the Toronto race in 2009 and have been trying to get him into the series ever since. He is extremely dedicated, focused and has raced in some very competitive European series. He proved he can drive an Indy Lights car when he finished third in his first outing this past season. With his four Indy Lights starts in 2011, we look for him to be at the front of the grid in St. Pete and a championship contender all season.