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2002

  • (12/1) - Jason Priestley recently returned to his home in California for the first time since his accident in August. Priestley continues a rigorous rehabilitation routine but otherwise has recovered from the injuries.
  • (11/18) - Sam Schmidt Motorsports will be running three cars next season. He has filled one seat with Tom Wood, 45, from Calgary, Alberta. He had further driver tests in Vegas last week:
    * David Weiringa, age 22, Toyota Atlantics
    * George Mack's brother -- Lloyd, age 21, karts
    * Ross Fonferko, Toyota Atlantics
    * Mishael Abbott, female, age 21, midgets
    * Jeff Groff, SCCA
    * Matt Jaskol, age 18, karts
  • (10/31) - A.J. Foyt IV, 2002 IPS Champ, passed the IRL rookie test in Texas and currently plans on moving up to the big leagues and race on his grandfather's IRL team next year.
  • (10/30) - Marty Roth passed the speed part of his IRL test on Monday at Kentucky Speedway.
  • (10/3) - Sam Schmidt Motorsports tested several new drivers in the Infiniti Pro Series cars at Kentucky:
    * Toyota Atlantic driver David Weiringa
    * NAMARS MidgetCar points leader Aaron Pierce
    * Stockcars' Buddy Davis
    * Formula 2000's John Renda
    * USAC Sprint's Jeff Gardner
    * Formula 2000's Stephen Davidson.
  • (10/3) - Arie Luyendyk, Jr. passed his IRL rookie test at Kentucky Speedway, although Arie plans to continue racing in the IPS next year.

    Luyendyk praised the Infiniti Pro Series as an important stepping-stone to the Indy Racing League.

    "I think the Infiniti Pro Series did a great job in developing me into the driver I am to move up to the Indy car and complete my test as easily as I did today," said Luyendyk. "I've gotten used to the speed in the Pro Series car, and it was interesting to go a little faster. I was surprised at how easy the jump was from the Pro Series car to the Indy car.

    "The cars are very similar. The major difference is just getting used to the speed and the G forces of the Indy car. You're pulling a lot more G's in the corner. It's just a little bit more physical, but as far as drivability, they're pretty similar. I think that it was great for me to run this year in the Pro Series to learn about that car. I could really apply a lot of the things I learned to this car."

    Luyendyk's father, a two-time Indianapolis 500 champion, agreed.

    "He obviously learned a lot about driving an oval, like how to be smooth with the steering and with the gas," said Luyendyk. "He's applied that to the Indy car, and it worked out fine for him. It goes to show you that the Infiniti Pro Series is a good series to run for the guys who want to go on to the IRL."

  • (10/1) - A.J. Foyt IV took some laps in an IRL car down at Phoenix Raceway.
  • (9/17) - A.J. Foyt IV won the inaugural Infiniti Pro Series championship in dramatic style by leading 66 of 67 laps in the BG Products 100 en route to his fourth victory of the season.

    Foyt, 18, from Hockley, Texas, defeated Cory Witherill by .0379 of second and won the series championship by defeating Arie Luyendyk Jr., 290-236.

    "It was a close race, but everyone drove clean, and I'm just really happy that it turned out like it did," Foyt said. "To win the championship in the inaugural season of the Infiniti Pro Series will never be forgotten, and I'm glad that I'm the one who won it. To win in Texas, where I had a lot of family and friends come out to see this race and to be able to win it in front of them just tops off a great season."

  • (9/8) - Jason Priestley continues healing and doctors expect him to make a complete recovery.

    On Friday, Priestley's doctors removed stabilizing hardware from his feet to allow increased bone density as his feet continue the healing process. New casts were applied following the simple outpatient procedure to remove the hardware. It is anticipated these casts will be removed in approximately three weeks and replaced with removal casts that will allow him to begin weight-bearing therapy.

  • (9/8) - Joliet, Ill. - Hemelgarn/Johnson Motorsports driver Aaron Fike secured his first Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series victory in front of a hometown crowd Sunday afternoon, winning the Chicagoland 100 at Chicagoland Speedway.

    Fike, of Galesburg, Ill., led the remaining 18 laps to take the checkered flag .0755 of a second ahead of runner up Arie Luyendyk Jr. Teammate Cory Witherill finished a disappointing 13th despite a strong performance during the first half of the 67-lap event.

    "This race was phenomenal," said a pumped up Fike. "Any of the top six guys could have won the race. Arie and me were lucky enough to be up front there. I was definitely worried about him. I was looking in my mirror the whole time."

    Fike, 19, wisely utilized the draft to propel his No. 91 Hemelgarn Racing/Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone toward the front of the field. With Witherill tucked up behind him, Aaron initially led four laps before being shuffled to fifth. He fought to regain his position prior to the only caution flag of the day, brought out by Ryan Hampton. It was on the restart that Fike, a USAC standout, screamed past the competition and never looked back.

    "The week I've had is just incredible. This victory is just really, really sweet."

    In addition to moving up to fifth in the series points standings, Fike was crowned the Badger Midget Series champion last weekend at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wisc.

    Navajo Witherill gave his usual consistent effort, running in the top-five for the first half of the race. But as his engine power faded so did Witherill's track position. Finally, Cory retired his No. 92 WSA Healthcare entry with two laps remaining. For the second consecutive event, the former off-road champion suffered engine misfortunes.

    "It started off to be a pretty good race for us," Witherill said. "We were going back between fourth and third. I just tried to stay with the group. Aaron and I hooked up, and we just started drafting together and pushing each other up. Then shortly after that, my engine just started falling down and I couldn't stay up with Aaron. In the last few laps, it finally went away, and I just couldn't keep going."

    Despite three podium finishes, including his Nashville win, Cory just has not been able to withstand a backset of three DNF's (did not finish). Currently, Witherill is fourth in points.

  • (8/26) - Jason Priestley has left Methodist hospital and moved to a private rehab place.
  • (8/25) - Ryan Hampton led every lap to win at Gateway. Series points leader A.J. Foyt IV and his closest pursuer, Cory Witherill, both dropped out due to engine problems. Fike, Peterson and Turco all had contact with the wall today but were all unhurt. Curtis Francois has joined the series as a driver and finished 5th today.
  • (8/19) - Jason Priestley had surgery on his broken nose and has moved from the ECU to a private room at Methodist Hospital.

    Get well wishes can be sent to:
    Kelley Racing
    6803 Coffman
    Indianapolis, IN 46268

  • (8/16) - Kelley Racing, after experiencing big problems with their 3-car IRL team as well as their IPS car driven by Jason Priestly, announced they are dropping out of the IPS for the remainder of the year.
  • (8/15) - Arie Luyendyk Jr. was released from St. Louis University Hospital after suffering a bruised left shoulder and right heel in a crash during testing Aug. 13 at Gateway International Raceway.
  • (8/15) - Jason Priestley is listed in guarded condition. He had surgery on his back and feet.
  • (8/13) - Jason Priestly has been moved to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. He has suffered a fracture of his 9th vertebrae and also has some scars to his face. He is off the ventilator, in serious but stable condition.
  • jp's wreck (8/11) - A.J. Foyt IV started on the pole and went on to win the race at Kentucky Speedway. Jason Priestly crashed and had to go to the hospital for a concussion, broken feet and a compressed spine. Originally listed in critical condition, he's now stable but serious and responding to instructions. He was practicing and hit some oil-dry material that was on the track. His car glanced into the outside wall, and then shot head-on into the inside wall.
  • (7/28) - Rain came and shortened the race at Michigan International Speedway by 20 laps. A.J. Foyt IV recaptured the points lead by winning his second IPS race
  • (7/21) - Cory Witherill took the points lead from Foyt by winning the Nashville race.
  • (7/15) - Matthew Halliday, 23, suffered bruised lungs, a concussion, a broken left wrist and a fractured right ankle after a crash during the inaugural Infiniti Pro Series race July 7 at Kansas Speedway. He drives for Bowles Fast. He was released from the hospital today.
  • (7/7) - A.J. Foyt IV dominated practice and the race to capture the first Infiniti Pro Series race! He was followed by Ronnie Johncox, Jason Priestley, Aaron Fike and Ed Carpenter.
  • (7/6) - A.J. Foyt IV won the pole for the first Infiniti Pro Series race. He circled Kansas City Speedway at over 180 mph!
  • (6/22) - Hemelgarn racing will be performing tests at Gateway International Speedway in St. Louis with their two drivers Cory Witherill and Aaron Fike.
  • (5/16) - Jeff Horton has been named technical director of the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series and director of engineering for the Indy Racing League. Manager to the Chevy Indy program in 93, he went on to being in charge of engine electronics in Indy Lights and CART.

    "I believe in training-level series," Horton said. "This formula with the Infiniti Pro Series gives us the step we need to train guys properly for the IRL. It's a good car, and it's going to be an exciting series. Roger (Bailey) and I have been friends for the last 16 years, and obviously, hanging around open-wheel racing for all these years, there's a familiar face on almost every team here. It's going to be fun."

  • (4/24) - IRL driver Robby McGehee ran more tests on the new IPS car today at Texas Motor Speedway. After 50 miles of testing, he ran the car non-stop for 100 miles, the race distance for the Pro Series! So looks like the package is going to be reliable!

    The IPS director Roger Bailey said, "Many times in tests like this, you get 10-lap runs, and everything is fine. Then you put it all together in a long run with the gradual heat buildup, the wheel bearings start to get hot, and the gearbox starts to malfunction. To get a 100-mile race distance out of the way was well worth the test. It was almost the most extreme conditions we could find with the temperature and the wind change, but we are very happy with it. We have some fine tuning to do, some bits and pieces that we think we can improve on, but the basic car ? the uprights, drive shafts and everything ? ran flawlessly. I don?t think we can ask any more of it."

  • (4/16) - Wow, this league is shaping up to have some interesting drivers! Kelley Racing just announced that they would be putting Jason Priestley in a car! Jason was in the tv show, 90210. Jason has had some racing experience prior to his tenure with ABC broadcasting in 2001 for the IRL races. He says that having Kelley's IRL drivers around (Scott Sharp and Al Unser Jr) will be a big help.
  • (4/14) - Bowes Seal Fast LLC will be fielding two cars in the 2002 Infiniti Pro Series. They have announced one driver so far, sprint car driver Mark Koss.

    One of the first companies to sponsor an Indy car, Bowes Seal Fast has participated in the Indianapolis 500 since 1930. Louis Schneider drove a Bowes-sponsored car to victory at the 1931 Indianapolis 500, while racing legend A.J. Foyt earned the first of his four Indianapolis 500 wins in a Bowes Seal Fast entry in 1961.

    Drivers who have raced under the Bowes banner include Jackie Stewart, Troy Ruttman and Louis Meyer!

  • (4/12) - Luyendyk Racing LLC will be competing in the IPS. They have purchased an IPS car and will operate out of the Treadway Racing shop in Indianapolis. They will be running Arie's 20 y/o son, Arie Luyendyk, Jr.
    Junior began his racing career in karts; then moved on to FF1600, Barber Dodge, FF1800 Dutch Series, Pro Ford 2000, and FF2000.
  • Robby (4/9) - Robby McGehee finished the first day of testing for the new IPS car. The one-day session generated initial on-track data regarding several unique elements of the car, including a longitudinally mounted monoshock front suspension unit, a front-loading, six-speed sequential Ricardo gearbox and a stepped underbody.

    Robby ran over 100 miles in the car and said it had a lot of downforce, felt great and was fun to drive. Its nice to see that everything held up long enough on the first car out of the box to last a race distance!

    I asked Robby, the 1999 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, a few questions:

    Q: How did the power feel compared to an IRL car?
    A: The car felt much slower than the IRL car, but that was expected.

    Q: Could you just hammer it all the way around the Disney World Track?
    A: It was not flat out at all, mostly due to the poor track conditions, very green.

    Q: How fast of laps were you turning?
    A: I am not sure what the speeds were, the times were in the high 25's low 26 seconds. I think if they were racing there, they would be in the 24s with some good rubber on the track.

    Q: Bailey said there were some minor things that broke; like what?
    A: There were some oil cooling issues, I think the cooler cracked and was spitting oil out.

    SO, it sounds like he had average speeds of 139 mph on the 1-mile tri-oval. The IRL cars used to hit in the upper 160's when they raced there a few years ago.

    The car is being shipped back to Indy from Orlando for some tweaking, and then further tests will be ran at tracks yet to be determined. I'll add some pictures to the picture page to show the new car!

  • (4/1) - Brian Stewart Racing will be competing in the IPS this year with driver Marty Roth. Brian Stewart Racing has won 2 Indy Lights championships. Although they have not gotten their new Pro Series racer, they have been down at the Kentucky Speedway practicing in last year's Indy Lights car.
  • (4/2) - The new Dallara chassis has arrived from Italy. IRL driver, Robbie Buhl was lined up to test it April 8th in Florida. However he suffered a concussion in Fontana and is not going to be able to make that date. Consequently, IRL driver Robby McGehee is going to do the testing so that the IPS stay on schedule.
  • (3/28) - New pictures of how the chassis is coming along posted on pictures page!
  • (3/28) - Robbie Buhl suffered a concussion after wrecking during IRL qualifying at Fontana. He was scheduled to begin testing of the new IPS car and that may be delayed.
  • (3/23) - Hemelgarn has hired a second driver: 30 y/o Cory Witherill. Cory has raced in Indy Lights and also ran some IRL races last year, even racing in the Indy 500 where he finished 19th.
  • (3/17) - Hemelarn has hired 19 y/o Aaron Fike to drive in the Infiniti Pro Series this year. Fike graduated the go-kart ranks and moved to Midgets by age 15. This rising star from Galesburg, Ill. is steadily climbing the ranks of the USAC Midget and Silver Crown series. The 2000 USAC Midget Rookie of the Year has built a notable resume, winning races in both Midgets and Silver Crown.
  • (3/6) - ESPN2 will be televising 1/2-hour shows on all of the Infiniti Pro races this year. Days and times will be announced on main page when available.
  • (2/12) - A Indy Lights team, Roquin Motorsports has announced their two car effort in the Pro Series.
  • (2/6) - Indy Racing League officials held a press conference in California where Brian Barnhard mentioned some things about the new Pro Series. He said is was the next great thing to come on board for the IRL and is a much needed step toward training drivers, mechanics and owners, to bridge the gap between the IRL and midgets, sprints, silver crowns, go carts, etc.

    He said that there seems to be a step missing for a driver who is coming from one of those other forms of racing, where he may not be used to racing on pavement, used to a car with aerodynamics.

    "We'll provide a plan for drivers to learn a mid-range horsepower car and aerodynamic chassis to get used to the effects of running in a draft and with wings, a car with underwings and the transition from a front engine sprint car with 700 horsepower to midlevel rear engine with aerodynamics' experience.

    And finally he mentiond the TELEVISION PACKAGE! All of the races for 2004 will be televised by ESPN networks!

  • (1/6) - The IRL also has distributed more than 180 information packets to prospective teams for its new Infiniti Pro Series. Roger Bailey said anything fewer than 20 cars will be a disappointment.
  • (1/30) - The Official IPS Logo has been designed:
  • (1/26) - Sinden Racing has signed a driver - Ed Carpenter, a 20 year-old who raced sprint cars in 2001. Ed has been on the fast path with help from sponsorship from Menards, who continue his sponsorship into IPS. Other sponsors announced include Futaba and the Jack K. Elrod Company.
  • (1/23) - Hemelgarn Racing has ordered their 2002 Dallara IPS Chassis.
  • (1/18) - Longtime Indy Racing League entrant and motorsports equipment supplier Sinden Racing Service will field a car in the 2002 Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series, team owner Jeff Sinden announced.

    Sinden racing is based out of Indianapolis and have already purchased their IPS Dalara chassis.

    Sinden Racing Service provides innovative, high-quality products and services to the racing industry and in 2002 will operate the Indy Racing League?s two-seat Indy car program, the ?Indy Racing Experience.?

    Sinden Racing has fielded Indy cars for Davey Hamilton, Robbie Buhl, Jeff Ward, Steve Kinser and J.J. Yeley since the IRL began in 1996.


  • December 2001

  • (12/21) - First Equity Group, Inc. announced today that it has acquired the assets of Skip Barber Racing School, Inc., of Lakeville, Connecticut from Sports Capital Partners. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
  • (12/21) - Now that CART's Indy Lights series is no more, I asked James Hyneman of Dorricott Racing about their 2002 plans.

    "Dorricott Raing will compete in the Toyota Atlantic Championship in 2002. Our 2003 plans have not been determined. Until the IRL/Infiniti Pro Series includes two or three road races, we will not consider it. However, if or when the IRL decides to add road racing, the cross-over from CART will be significant. Chris Pook is aware of this so major changes in CART's favor could be in the winds too."

    Since IPS is a support series for the all-oval IRL, I do not envision IPS adding road races. Not unless the IRL does.

    One of the founding principles for the IRL is to race on ovals. Another principle is controlling costs.

    Not running on road courses can also be seen as controlling costs. I know it costs the teams more money to have to setup their operation to run both kinds of courses. They have to have different equipment for the car for one thing - such as different front and rear wings, different gearings, different tires, etc; and they'd have to pay for more testing as well.

    The Infiniti Pro Series share the IRL's founding principles.

  • Founding Philosophy of the IRL:

    1. Affordability based on controlled price engines and chassis.
    2. Accessibility of equipment to any team.
    3. Opportunity for drivers interested in competing in open wheel cars on oval tracks.
    4. Close, competitive racing in new markets for open wheel racing.

  • (12/21) - Genoa Racing, which has fielded lower-level cars for Jimmy Vasser, Greg Ray and others, is the first team to order a Dallara for the Infiniti Pro Series. They last raced in Indy Lights.
  • (12/21) - McCormack Motorsports is still pursuing an IRL program in 2002, team owner Dennis McCormack said, but he admitted it's more likely he will field at least one and maybe two Pro Series cars. He has talked to Tony Ave, Derek Higgins and Derek Davidson about rides.
  • The Infiniti Pro Series will debut on July 8, 2002, at Kansas Speedway. The Kansas race will be the first of seven anticipated Infiniti Pro Series events in 2002. Races will take place at the same track and on the same day as Indy Racing Leage events, with every Infiniti Pro Series race distance set at 100 miles. There should be around 12 races in 2003.
  • Robbie Buhl is an Indy Racing League driver. He has been selected to test the first complete Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series car on April 8, 2002, at Walt Disney World Speedway.
  • Ron Hemelgarn, the 2000 Indy Racing League championship team owner, announced plans in December for his Indianapolis-based Hemelgarn Racing to field an entry for the 2002 Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series.

    Hemelgarn has requested the No. 91 for his Infiniti Pro Series car -- the same number on his title-winning IRL car driven by 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier. Hemelgarn's team will work from a shop on the grounds of his IRL team. He will partner with Roger Johnson, who fields a USAC Silver Crown car.

    R.H. 11/29,2001 "I'm excited about doing it," Hemelgarn said. "It is an opportunity to bring a young driver into the series. It is also an opportunity for Roger Johnson to move into the Indy Racing League and get his feet wet."

    "The Pro Series will produce future champions," Hemelgarn said. "It is a great opportunity for guys or girls to move into a rear-engine chassis before the IRL. It is a great steppingstone that we have been lacking in the Indy Racing League. We are going to worry about that (a driver) after the first of the year.

    "By Roger Johnson getting involved, it creates another car owner (in the IRL). This is a great steppingstone for many car owners, also. It's not only for drivers, but it's also an affordable steppingstone for car owners. So, I think it's two-fold."

  • Roger Roger Bailey, the executive director of the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series, discusses the new league, "The Infiniti Pro Series will create many opportunities for drivers who want to reach the pinnacle of open-wheel, oval-track racing in America, the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. A new era of affordable, competitive open-wheel racing for young drivers will start at Kansas, which is only fitting since the inaugural Northern Light Series race at the track in July was one of the most thrilling of the 2001 season."

    Roger was the president of CART's Indy Lights. He began building cars in 1959 and spent five years as technical director for the International Motor Sports Association.

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