Dan's Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Racing News - December 2001

  • (12/28) - Emerson Fitipaldi was in a bicycle accident in Miami that resulted in his breaking his collarbone and wrist. Emmo won both the Indy 500 and the F1 World Championship twice. He suffered career-ending injuries while racing in CART in 1996.
  • (12/21) - The IRL has added 25 laps to the race at Pikes Peak, as it had been getting over with too soon. The race will now be 225 miles long.
  • (12/21) - A new IRL race team is forming, called 310 Racing. Don Culver is president and Mark Laidler is the owner. Their race shop will be in Indianapolis. It looks like their driver will be championship karter, George Mack. George is 30 and an African-American. The team still needs to get a car and George will have to pass the IRL driver tests.
  • (12/21) - Hemelgarn Racing was testing the new Chevy V8 at California Speedway this week. Buddy Lazier logged 300 laps of the 2-mile oval and got the car up to 225.15mph lap average.

    "In my entire racing career, I've never seen a brand-new motor run so well right out of the box," said Lazier. "The Chevy engine exceeded all of my expectations. The motor feels lighter and that helps the car handle better, but it's the power that is really impressive."

  • (12/20) - Sam Schmidt Motorsports has signed former Toyota Atlantic champion Anthony Lazarro to drive the team's IRL car in 2002. Lazarro, who has two career IRL starts, signed a multiyear contract.
  • (12/20) - CART, as suspected, has hired Chris Pook as its new leader. Chris was the organizer for CART's street race in Long Beach. These CART teamowners seem to think this 60 y/o Californian is going to get more viewers for CART. While he may be successful in California, I don't see any evidence that he knows anything about the traditional open-wheel fans who reside in the midwest and northeast. His effort at getting CART into St. Louis didn't last long. Then again, CART seems to have abandoned these fans anyway, having moved all their oval races to other countries.
  • (12/18) - Toyota displayed their new entry into Formula One.
    Toyota 2002
    Toyota's F1 operation is the only team apart from Ferrari to produce its own chassis and engine under one roof, and is the first new entrant to do so since 1979. Their 2002 drivers will be Mika Salo and Allan McNish.
  • (12/18) - 21 y/o Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia has been signed as an official test driver for the BMW-Williams F1 team.
  • (12/18) - The F1 team, BAR, unveiled its new car, including its new Honda engine, the RA002E. BAR has also replaced Craig Pollock with David Richards as team principal. Honda announced they signed a 3-year technical partnership with BAR to supply engines as well as stepping up its commitment to chassis development.

    It has been questioned if Honda would leave BAR since the other team they provide engines for (Jordan) has hired a Japanese driver. But, since Jordan hired BAR's Japanese tester, BAR just went out and hired another. 22-year-old Ryo Fukuda won the 2001 Formula Three Championship and is BAR's new test pilot.

    BAR also picked up a new sponsor - Brunotti, a sportswear manufacturer. The deal includes livery branding.

  • (12/17) - Just a day before BAR launches its 2002 car, Team Principal Craig Pollock has announced he is resigning! He successfully wrestled control for BAR from Adrian Reynard. He's had Villeneuve in his pocket since Jacques was a kid. It seems to me that Pollock owes his whole career to the talented Mr. Villeneuve. Jacques has re-signed with BAR. They have Honda Works engines. Why in the world would Pollock leave?!
  • (12/14) - It appears that Cunningham Racing will be on its own this year in the IRL. They teamed with Treadway/Vertex and driver Shigeaki Hattori in 2001. They are planning to field a car for rookie, Rocky Moran, Jr. in 2002. Rocky recently fell off the back of a motorcycle and fractured a vertebrae though. This event forced Cunningham Racing to cancel testing at Homestead this week. Moran supposedly will be ready to go in a month.
  • (12/14) - According to a report by the Indianapolis Star, CART could field as few as 19 cars next season. CART is teetering on a big problem. Some contracts with tracks require the series to bring 18 cars. At least two call for 20. CART is facing its third decline in field size in four years after peaking at 27.9 cars in 1998. Meanwhile, the IRL is looking like they may have 30 cars in 2002. F1 has had 22 for years, but may be 24 for 2002.
  • (12/13) - Cheever Indy Racing, Bradley Motorsports, Mo Nunn Racing, and Penske Racing showed up to test at Homestead today. Felipe Giaffone, the 2001 IRL Rookie of the Year, had the fastest time, 27.22 on the 1.5-mile oval. Cheever's team also gave a test to IndyLights driver, Dan Wheldon.
  • (12/13) - Robbie Buhl, IRL racer since '96, will be testing the new cars for the new feeder series for the IRL- the Infinity Pro Series. Buhl says he was also the tester for the development of the Reynard Barber Dodge series car.

    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 IRL events, with every Infiniti Pro Series race distance set at 100 miles.

  • (12/13) - Toyota is making solid strides in development of a 3.5-liter engine for the 2003 IRL season. Brian Barnhart said the Japanese manufacturer expects to put its first prototype engine on the test dyno in February and make its initial track assessments in June.
  • (12/13) - IRL rule changes for 2002 consist mainly of refinements, with a continued emphasis on safety. The $40,000 update kits are being readied for delivery to the teams in January.
  • (12/13) - The IRL is on the verge of limiting the maximum number of tires a team can use in private testing. Currently, the only testing restriction in the Indy Racing League Rule Book is a limit of two days per team at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from January to May
  • (12/11) - PDM Racing completed rookie tests for USAC stars, A.J. and Aaron Fike at Atlanta Motorspeedway. After completing 92 laps of the 1.5 mile oval and reaching 209mph, A.J commented on the IRL cars, "It?s kind of like a big, laid back go-kart. Everything is really responsive. The faster I went, the better it felt." PDM plans on giving Scott Mayer a test at Homestead next week.
  • (12/10) Panther Racing will play host to its fifth annual Christmas party for inner-city children Dec. 15 at its southwest Indianapolis shop. Jonathan Byrd is providing the lunch and the Speedway giftshop and team sponsors are providing some gifts for the kids.
  • (12/8) - Starting on Dec. 4, the Olympic torch will be on the road for 65 days and will travel 13,500 miles on its journey before entering Salt Lake City on Feb. 8 for the XIX Winter Olympic Games. Cheever and Hornish will participate in the torch relay as torchbearers, taking the torch for a ceremonial lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Jan. 8, 2002.
  • (12/7) - As expected, Penske Racing announced that they and their Marlboro sponsorship are jumping from CART to the IRL in 2002. Penske Racing has won the Indy 500 a record 11 times. This team won the CART championship the past two years as well as the 2001 Indy 500. Their drivers are Brazilian Helio Castroneves and Frenchman-raised-Brazilian Gil de Ferran. Penske Racing also competes in Nascar Winston Cup.

    Regarding the loss of Penske, CART's Bobby Rahal says "One man doesn't make a series". In response to Penske Marlboro Racing deep pockets, IRL's A.J. Foyt said, "They didn't show that much at Phoenix (last year) for all the testing they did. And at Indy, they weren't really that fast; they were just steady. They will not come in here and run away with it, I'll assure you."

    On a related note, Team Kool Green was thinking of following Penske, but is going to remain in CART next year.

  • (12/6) - CART has fired their president - Joe Heitzler, who has served a year at the helm of the publicly traded company. He follows in the wake of Bobby Rahal and Andrew Craig.
  • (12/3) - Panther Racing tested the new GM engine at Phoenix this weekend. The new engine replaces the Oldsmobile engine that has been dominant in the IRL. This Chevy engine is smaller and lighter. Sam Hornish, Jr. said that it felt like it had a little more power. The engine ran great for 450 miles right out of the box, so that was impressive as well. Chevy last powered an Indycar in 1993.
  • (12/3) - CART sued their Swiss marketing company, ISL, for $48 million and have driven ISL to bankruptcy court. ISL had the responsibility of seeking sponsorship for CART and was obligated by contract to guarantee a pre-determined amount of income to CART on an annual basis. The lawsuit, filed in February and settled Wednesday, alleged that ISL failed to pay CART more than $6 million with respect to the 2000 guarantee.
  • (12/1) - Penske Racing will be running two cars in Winston Cup next year instead of 3, putting Mike Wallace out of a job.
  • (12/01) - Hemelgarn Racing announced plans to run a car in the Infiniti Pro Series, the IRL's new feeder series. The first race for the series will be on July 8, 2002, at Kansas Speedway.

  • Racing News - November 2001

  • (11/18) - Jeff Gordon wraps up his 4th Nascar Winston Cup championship. more...
  • (11/17) - Dorkboys Bobby Rahal and David Letterman held a news conference at the Speedway to announce that they want to hold on to their sponsor.. Er, I mean, now wish to return to the big race.

    When Tony George didn't show up, Letterman said, "Just why the hell isn't Tony here? I got up at 5 to be here."

    Rahal's team had a switch of drivers with Chip Ganassi - Kenny Brack for Jimmy Vasser.

  • (11/16) - Its rumored that Kool cigarettes is thinking of switching from CART to IRL now. This is the sponsor for Barry Green's team, so Team Green may show up at Indy next year too.
  • (11/16) - Unlike these tobacco companys that are seeing the value in being at Indy, Budweiser does not seem to be interested in competing against Miller and Coors at Indy. Galles Racing was counting on their sponsorship for 2002. Rick says that if he doesn't have a main sponsor in 2 weeks, then he is closing up shop and going back to Albuquerque and then Al Unser, Jr. will be looking for a team.
  • (11/15) - Three drivers from the IRL are signed up to compete in IROC in 2002 - Sam Hornish Jr.,Buddy Lazier and Scott Sharp. Apparently, the reigning Indy 500 Champ, Helio Castroneves, is planning on competing in IROC as he has been practicing at Daytona for the first race. However, the CART schedule conflicts once again with IROC's. How is Helio going to compete in IROC if he is in CART? Either he'll have to miss a race (not likely) or Penske Racing must be be planning to run Helio in the IRL next year instead of CART.
  • (11/13) - IMS is getting its SW Vista and part of the South Vista refurbished this winter.
  • (11/13) - The Forsythe Hilliard CART Team has to shutdown due to lack of sponsors, which will put Bryan Herta out of a ride.
  • (11/12) - Interesting rumor: RED BULL which is beginning to sponsor Cheever Indy Racing and has been sponsoring Sauber over in Formula One, but has backed off and started to fund the Arrows team; is said to be trying to talk GM into developing an F1 engine with the goal of turning Arrows into an all-American F1 team.
  • (11/12) - The Formula One drivers auctioned off parts of their racing suits from the U.S. Grand Prix this past week on eBay. The profits are to aid the children of parents who were killed by the Muslim terrorists on September 11. Michael Schumacher's helmet brought the biggest bid - $55,000!
  • (11/12) - Christian Fittipaldi, in addition to running in CART, has begun to dip into Nascar's Busch series. Casey Mears is expected to follow.
  • (11/8) - Greg Ray will be driving in the 24 Hours of Daytona in an older Ferrari 333SP.
  • (11/2) - IRL driver, Davey Hamilton, has begun rehab.
  • (11/2) - Michael Andretti has been voted CART's most popular driver by its fans, the series announced Thursday. I wonder what fans these are - the American fans? Since the series is mainly Brazilians and I think Andretti is currently the only American, it isn't too surprising.
  • (11/2) - The Star reports that CART teams have been calling Brian Barnhart in recent weeks to discuss participation in the 2002 Indianapolis 500. Asked who has called, Brian said, "It would be a shorter list if I said who hasn't called."
  • (11/1) - It had looked like Foyt Racing had him, but Kelley Racing announced today that they signed ex-Menard driver,Greg Ray. He'll join Scott Sharp as a driver for the team next year. No mention of Mark Dismore, so you can figure he's been let go. He's getting old, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him get another ride somewhere. He and Sharp had been teammates longer than anyone else in the IRL.
  • >


    WHAT ENGINES WILL CART HAVE IN 2003 ?

    CART currently has 3 engine manufactures: HONDA, FORD, TOYOTA.
    Toyota announced they were going to build engines for the IRL in 2002 and would not be making CART turbo engines in 2003.
    CART then announced that they would switch their engine formulas in 2003 to align with the IRL. Toyota said they would then provide engines for CART in 2003 if there was competition, but Honda and Ford will not make non-turbo engines. Honda said they are leaving the series. Ford offered to build turbo engines for everybody.

    What might happen:
    1. CART could change their mind and retain turbos and then CART would become a Ford spec series. Or,
    2. The IRL manufacturers, Chevy, and Infinity, and Toyota could supply engines to CART. Some other company could come in and participate too.

    CART's current engine size: 2.65-liter turbo-V6 engine
    IRL's current engine size : 3.5-liter V8 engine
    IRL's 2001 engine suppliers: INFINITY, OLDSMOBILE
    IRL's 2002 engine suppliers: INFINITY, TOYOTA, CHEVROLET


    Everyone is talking like Penske Racing is switching series. But no official word.

    Rumors are flying. Fur instance, that Marlboro wants to be in the Indy 500; which means racing in the IRL and not in CART. So Penske Racing, who has the Marlboro sponsorhship, would have to switch series. At the end of an article in the Star recently, discussing Penske, we get some comments from some of CART's management that makes it easy to see they have some problems:

    McGee said "We need to get a little WWF going here."

    But for the next several months, at least, the only wrestling in CART is going to be done in the boardroom. The possibility even exists of a stockholder revolt fueled by disgruntled owner Jerry Forsythe.

    Walker, for one, wonders if perhaps that would be for the best because of the unifying effect it could have on the owners. Perhaps all they need is a common enemy.

    "Hit us with a stick," Walker said, "and you might see these bees turn into wasps that will sting you."

    Is he saying he wants the stockholders of CART as the team owner's common enemy?!
    Also, is he saying bees don't sting? Is he saying bees can turn into wasps?! And how hard is it to hit a bee with a stick? ;-)



    Racing News - October 2001

  • (10/30) - The FIA has reversed its decision and given Jarno Trulli back his 4th place finish in the U.S. Grand Prix! Evidently a steward didn't show up for the hearing, so it was thrown out.
  • (10/30) - Alex Zanardi was released from the hospital today, 6 weeks since the CART race in Europe where he lost his legs. His doctor said it most likely would be a year or two before Zanardi can walk again using artificial legs. Alex will return home to Italy to live with his wife and child.
  • (10/28) - Gil de Ferran won the 2001 CART Championship. He won it last year too.
  • (10/26) - PDM Racing (driver- Jeret Schroeder) has picked up a new associate sponsor for 2002, AMVETS (American Veterans). This is the organization that comes by my house a few times a year and picks up clothes and stuff, kind of like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. If you'd like to help AMVETS and maybe win some tickets to the 500, go check out their new racing merchandise! Just go to Amvets Racing.
  • (10/25) - Arie Luyendyk will return again to the Indy 500 in 2002! Arie retired in 1999, but returned to the 500 this year.

    Indiana got hit with severe weather yesterday afternoon. But before it hit, Arie and Buzz Calkins ran some test laps before the weather got too bad.

    And the Speedway had a surprise visit from Dick Harroun and his wife. Dick is the son of the first Indy 500 winner, Ray Harroun (1911). Dick is 86 now. He visited the pits and got to watch Calkins practicing! Dick lives in Florida.

  • (10/25) - Cheever Indy Racing has secured a new sponsor - Red Bull! This is a energy drink popular(?) in Europe that they have been selling recently in the U.S. Red Bull have been sponsors in Formula One. I tried one of the drinks not too long ago. It cost $2 for a little can and was too sweet. It contained some chemical I'd never heard of. I suppose that and the sugar is the energy part. Cheever recently lost their main sponsor, so its great for them to get another before the start of next season.

  • (10/22) - Many NASCAR Winston Cup drivers have been complaining about restrictor plate racing. After the last lap pile-up at Talledega yesterday, Sterling Marlin said, "It ain't the drivers, it's NASCAR. You run all day, you're going to wreck. Every driver has been telling them (that). They wanted it to happen," after his car was demolished along with about 15 other cars.

    Tony Stewart, who made it through to finish 2nd said, "But when you come off of turn two after the checkered flag and see your teammate's car upside down, it scares you to death. There is no reason that we, as drivers, should be put in that position."

  • (10/19) - Mo Nunn Racing, a CART team, announced they are starting an IRL team for 2002. One of their main sponsors is Hollywood, a tobacco company in Brazil. Hollywood also sponsors Felipe Giaffone in the IRL. Hollywood's marketing director stated, "We value our eight years in CART, but we feel the timing is right to focus on the IRL for the future."

    Mo Nunn Racing is hiring Giaffone and will create a new IRL team for him and retain Hollywood sponsorship. Giaffone is the 2001 IRL Rookie of the Year

    Mo Nunn Racing will still field a car in the CART series for Brazilian, Tony Kanaan. We may get to see Tony racing in the Indy 500 this May.

    Mo Nunn Racing was formed in December of 1999 by a group led by championship engineer Morris Nunn. The team is based in Indianapolis. Nunn is one of the best-known and most successful engineers in Indy car racing history. While serving as chief engineer for Alex Zanardi in 1996, 1997 and 1998, he helped guide Zanardi to Rookie of the Year honors (1996) and back-to-back CART FedEx Series Championships (1997-98). In 1999, Nunn teamed with current Formula One star Juan Montoya to win that year's CART FedEx Series Championship. Nunn also guided Emerson Fittipaldi to an Indy car championship and an Indy 500 victory in 1989.

  • (10/18) - During private testing at the track today, three Indy 500 champions drove -Helio Castroneves, Buddy Lazier, and Eddie Cheever. Also out on the track were Chriss Menninga, Rick Treadway, Jon Herb, Brandon Erwin, and Johnny Herbert. Jacques Lazier was once again the fastest. Testing should continue tomorrow.
  • (10/17) - NASCAR ordered the immediate use of a HANS or Hutchens device (head-and-neck restraints) for the Winston Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck series, trying to improve safety after a string of fatal crashes in the past 17 months.
  • (10/17) - CART has finally settled the suit with Texas Motor Speedway. Neither is saying how many millions of dollars CART coughed up to reimburse the speedway. CART cancelled their first race there last April two hours before showtime. They said their drivers had experienced dizziness there in testing. Texas Motorspeedway reimbursed some 60,000 people. CART didn't return the 2.5 million the speedway had paid them, let alone reimbursed them for all their trouble. Until now that is. CART doesn't plan on racing there next year, but may race at their sister track in Vegas.
  • (10/17) - IRL cars were out on the track testing today. Jaques Lazier had the fastest speed of the day at 225 mph. Sam Hornish, Jr. reached a speed of 223 mph before smacking the turn 1 wall. He broke his left foot. Doh! Former F1 driver, Johnny Herbert turned some laps and hit 218 mph. He raced on the road course in the U.S.G.P. last year for Jaguar. Also testing were Buddy Lazier, Jeff Ward, Rick Treadway, and Brandon Erwin. Helio Castroneves is scheduled to test tomorrow.
  • (10/16) - A rumor is that the IRL is going to raise the appearance money for the teams from $22k to $65k per race.
  • (10/15) - Ricky Craven won his first Winston Cup race today in Martinsville.
  • (10/15) - Oriol Servia was released Sunday night from the hospital after his CART wreck. He sustained only bumps and bruises after his spectacular crash with Gugelmin, which sent his car high into the air where it flipped over twice before before landing right side up in the sand.
  • (10/14) - In the CART race at Laguna Seca, there were 8 cautions, a high number for a road course. Can you imagine 8 cautions in an F1 race? Unthinkable. Why is this? It reminds me of when I go to the gokart track and race against impatient beginners, who will plow right into you in the turns. Paul Tracy has been fined and put on probabtion again.
  • (10/14) - Schumy won the Japan G.P.
  • (10/13) - WOW! Michael Schumacher has captured his 11th pole position of the year at Japan - the last and 15th race of the season. He had the THREE fastest laps of the qualifying session! If he wins tomorrow, he'll become the all-time points leader in F1. We are fortunate to be witnessing the best racing career in history.
  • (10/12) - Safari Associates Inc. (OTCBB:SAFR) of Amsterdam, New York, has developed a new "softwall" compound for use on cushioning the blows race cars take when they hit the wall. They call the substance "Molecuthane"(TM). They tested it at the Indianapolis Speedrome yesterday with a NASCAR Craftsman truck and claimed great success. Unlike the "softwall" experiment used at IMS during the BY400 a few years ago, this compound does not get torn away from the wall and require 1/2 hour to repair. Instead, it returns to its original shape! They claim it reduces a 20g crash to 5g's. The test driver, Brian Van Deman, president of Indianapolis' No Limit Racing Adventure, also used the new substance on his racing harness and said that it prevented him from injuries.

    "Our soft wall is ready. We're prepared to begin manufacturing tomorrow," said Craig Walls, Director of Product Development for Safari Associates. "We have a working soft wall solution that can save lives and help prevent serious injuries. We'll be talking with track owners around the country to determine the best way to begin implementing Molecuthane soft walls at their tracks. Certainly our technology will improve, but we have a working solution today that could very well prevent another tragic death.

  • (10/12) - As you may recall, Robby McGehee was seriously injured in a crash at Texas on June 9. He had 10 breaks in his leg, dislocated his shoulder, had a concussion and cracked his ribs. He had a preliminatry surgery the next day and a month later, was hobbling out to his race car on crutches to return to racing - talk about the courage of a champion! Now that the IRL season is over, he returned to the hospital to finish his surgeries. It was announced that the doctors' jobs were successful and Robby will recuperate at his home in St. Louis.
  • (10/10) - The Jordan F1 team has hired the Japanese driver Takuma Sato to replace Jean Alesi, who is retiring. Sato won the 2001 British Formula 3 Championship, taking a record 12 race wins in 13 championship rounds! Sato was also a test driver at BAR this year. BAR and Jordan are both running Honda engines and it is likely that one team will lose that factory sponsor. A Japanese driver could make the difference in the decision if Honda decides to support just BAR or Jordan.
  • (10/8) - The IRL Championship Banquet was held in Texas. Tony George presented series champion Sam Hornish, Jr. and Panther Racing with the IRL Trophy and a bonus check for $1 million. Hornish also won the EMCO Gears Out Front Award for leading the most laps. This award came with $10,000.
    Felipe Giaffone was the Chevy Rookie of the Year Award winner and he received a bonus check of $50,000.
    Simon Morley from Panther Racing, won the Pennzoil Chief Mechanic of the Year Award and recieved a $25,000 bonus.
    Greg Ray won the MBNA Season Pole Award for winning the most pole positions, and he recieved $20,000.
    The IRL Crew voted Sarah Fisher the most popular driver.
  • (10/7) - Another racing venue has been added to the 2002 IRL schedule. The California Speedway in Fontana California has been inserted between the Phoenix and Nazareth races. This will add more exposure to the L.A. marked for IRL sponsors.

    California Speedway President Bill Mille said, "California Speedway will be one of the most multi-faceted facilities in the world. There is a strong motorsports tradition here in the west, and we are proud to be able to offer a variety of events to the fans. We are now further aligned with two of the most prestigious events in the world, the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500."

    CART also added a new race to their schedule for next year, Colorado.

  • (10/06) - Sam Hornish, Jr., wraps up his IRL Championship season by winning in Fort Worth Texas in a incredible 3-wide run for the checkered flag.
  • The Close Finish
    Sam Hornish, Scott Sharp and Robbie Buhl together at the Finish Line!

  • (10/06) - General Motors, which Friday announced that the Panther and Hemelgarn teams will be its lead Chevrolet teams in 2002. The two Indianapolis-based teams will finish 1-2 in the championship when the IRL season ends today with the Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
  • (10/05) - CART gives up the fight with the IRL and decides to drop the turbo for 2003 and conform to the 3.5 liter V8 engine style that the IRL uses. This comes on the heel of Toyota, a CART engine supplier, announcing plans to move into the IRL. Now we must wonder if Ford and Honda, the two remaining CART engine suppliers, will drop out of racing open wheel in America, or will they conform.
  • Jeff Gordon Wins
    2001 Winston Cup
    Championship!!

    Gordon grabs fourth Winston Cup championship

    By Marty Smith, Turner Sports Interactive
    November 18, 2001
    6:53 PM EST (2353 GMT)

    HAMPTON, Ga. -- Skeptics galore presently stand united in embarrassment, having been proved wrong by Jeff Gordon, Robbie Loomis and the rest of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports contingent.

    Throughout the past two NASCAR Winston Cup Series seasons, such cynics denounced the Gordon regime, assuming the dynasty built at Hendrick Motorsports had been a fluke: A product of Ray Evernham?s genius, a rare collaboration of elite talent assembled to make Gordon appear more capable than he really was.

    This year served as proof otherwise

    At Atlanta on Sunday, Gordon finished sixth to clinch his fourth NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship in seven years.

    Gordon now moves past Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson and Lee Petty into sole possession of third place all-time in Winston Cup championships won.

    With his fourth title, Gordon joins Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt as the only drivers in Winston Cup history to win more than three championships in a career.

    "It's starting to sink in a little bit," Gordon said. "I think it's going to take a little while for that number -- four -- to sink in. I look at who had three, who had two, who had one, and then who had seven. It's an unbelievable league of company to be with." Heading into Friday's season finale at New Hampshire, Gordon has six victories, 18 top-fives and 24 top-10s, pushing his lead over second-place Tony Stewart to an insurmountable 376 points, enabling him to clinch the title. Gordon took the lead for good on July 29 with an eighth-place finish at Pocono.

    At that time, he held a 45-point advantage over Ricky Rudd. After a win the following week in the Brickyard 400, Gordon extended that advantage to 160 points over Dale Jarrett and 179 points over Rudd.

    After yet another victory the next week at Watkins Glen International, Gordon was up 194 points on Rudd. From there, his advantage never dipped below 212 points.

    "This is too good to be true," he said. "Without the perseverance God gives us, we wouldn't have been able to get from last year to this year the way we did. These guys are just awesome, the way they came together.

    "I don't know how (Petty and Earnhardt won seven championships). There's just so much into being a champion. It takes so much out of you. I don't think we're ready to think about seven. Maybe we?ll just start out thinking about five."

    Gordon's last championship came in 1998, when Evernham was at the helm of the 24 team and Hendrick Motorsports was in the midst of four-consecutive championship seasons.

    Midway through the 1999 season, however, Evernham departed the Hendrick organization to head up Dodge's return to the Winston Cup Series.

    Despite winning a series-high seven races, Gordon finished sixth in the standings.

    Then, after the season, the Rainbow Warriors jumped ship to join Dale Jarrett's championship-winning No. 88 team at Robert Yates Racing. With an entirely new crew, including Loomis, Gordon won three times in 2000 and finished eighth in the standings -- his worst finish since he was a rookie in 1993.

    Many assumed Gordon had been exposed. They assumed the reeling No. 24 team was proof that Evernham's guidance was the source that had produced three titles in four years, not Gordon's talent.

    Now, he has won championships with two entirely different teams and the skeptics stand silent.

    "A championship in anything is hard to come by, and to do it multiple times is amazing," car owner Rick Hendrick said. "We had three in (four years), then we stumbled. We had lost our pit crew, head fabricator.

    "Then we had to start all over, and to come back to the top of the mountain after being knocked off is awfully sweet."

    Gordon's title marks Hendrick's fifth as an owner. He also won the 1996 title with driver Terry Labonte. Moreover, Hendrick won the 2001 Craftsman Truck Series championship with Jack Sprague at the wheel, and has eight major NASCAR championships overall.

    "You start this series and you never think you?ll win (a championship)," Hendrick said. "When you win the first one, you never think you?ll win again. To win the fifth, it's just unbelievable."

    While Hendrick has multiple titles at his disposal, this is the first for Loomis, who faced his own skeptics when he was hired at the outset of the 2000 campaign.

    "It feels great, man," Loomis said. "It's all about these guys down here. So many people sacrificed to make this happen. I told Jeff this is his championship. I think he let the cat outta the bag this year. He's a pretty good driver."

    Most certainly, the skeptics now concur. Their silence is deafening.

    Hornish Wins
    2001 Indy Racing Northern Lights
    Series Championship!!

    Panther Racing began in 1996 when Indianapolis Colt's star quarterback, Jeff Harbaugh joined forces with Indianapolis businessman Gary Pedigo among others. Their bright yellow Pennzoil car has been seen at every IRL race since. Driver Scott Goodyear raced for them throughout the majority of the IRL's life. 22 y/o Sam Hornish, Jr. replaced retiring Goodyear at the beginning of this year. While Scott had won the last race of 2000 for Panther, Sam won the first two races of 2001 for them.

    Sam and Panther's consistent performance since has enabled them to beat reigning champion Buddy Lazier and Hemelgarn Racing in the Championship even though Lazier won 4 races in 2001.

    Felipe Giaffone is the Rookie of the Year!
    Felipe Giaffone

    Felipe hasn't won a race, but has been very consistent. He did finish 2nd in June at the Texas race and has had ten top-10 finishes so far with one more race to go.


    (10/8) - The IRL Championship Banquet was held in Texas. Tony George presented series champion Sam Hornish, Jr. and Panther Racing with the IRL Trophy and a bonus check for $1 million. Hornish also won the EMCO Gears Out Front Award for leading the most laps. This award came with $10,000.
    Felipe Giaffone was the Chevy Rookie of the Year Award winner and he received a bonus check of $50,000.
    Simon Morley from Panther Racing, won the Pennzoil Chief Mechanic of the Year Award and recieved a $25,000 bonus.
    Greg Ray won the MBNA Season Pole Award for winning the most pole positions, and he recieved $20,000.
    The IRL Crew voted Sarah Fisher the most popular driver.




    Last IRL Race of 2001

    After an 80,000 sell out in Illinois, the Indy Racing League returns to the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Originally scheduled for the weekend of September 16th, the racing was postponed until the weekend of October 6th.

    NEWS:
    Saturday, Oct 6 - The IRL had perhaps their best race to date! There was side by side racing throughout and the front runners were separated only by feet. The engine attrition was high and no serious accidents occurred. By the end, 3 cars dueled side by side for the win. Scott Sharp had led the last dozen laps, running low in the groove. Sam Hornish, Jr. and Robbie Buhl right on his tail. Sam waited until the last turn and manages to put his nose in front by the finish line. This had to be the closest 1-2-3 finish ever.

    Consistantly EXCITING racing like this, coupled with CART's inability to even run at Texas, makes one understand their decision to start changing their formula to come more into line as the IRL. [CART is moving to 3.5 liter normally aspirated engines in 2003.] It not only creates a better racing environment for the fans, it brings the ultra-high costs down for the sponsors and teams.

    Sam Hornish, Jr. in his first year racing for Panther Racing, finished every race of 2001 and won the 1st two races as well as the last! In the process he has won the 2001 INDY RACING LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP!!

    CONGRATULATIONS TO SAM HORNISH AND
    THE PANTHER RACING TEAM!!!


    CHEVY 500 Results
    1. Sam Hornish, Jr.
    2. Scott Sharp
    3. Robbie Buhl
    4. Eliseo Salizar
    5. Rick Treadway
    6. Al Unser, Jr.
    7. Airton Dare
    8. Greg Ray
    9. Jon Herb
    10. Buzz Calkins

    Note: Buzz Calkins has been given the honor of carrying the Olympic Torch in the next Olympics.


    Saturday, Oct 6 - Rain forced the IRL to cancel practice and qualifying Friday. The 25 drivers, including seven rookies, will be given a 2-hour practice this morning and start the race based on series points.

    Greg Ray returns to the IRL after a 2 race hiatus. He joins A.J. Foyt and will be driving an INFINITY-powered car. Similarly, Heritage Motors is going to add an INFINITY-powered car to their stable for the Texas race. They too have a new driver - 37 y/o Johnny Herbert who had a 12-year career racing in Formula One. This brings the total up to four teams who are now using the Infinity v-8 engines.

    The track has also just received a new paving. "The new surface is excellent," said Johnny Rutherford, head of special projects for the Indy Racing League who was observing the test session. "It is so smooth, the competition should be even better than past Texas races."


    Schumey Michael Schumacher earned $80 million in 2001, easily making him the highest paid driver in the world. Schumacher, arguably the best race car driver of all time, broke many records in Formula One in 2001. He clinched his 4th World Drivers Championship by August and he kept on winning.
    He surpassed Ayrton Senna for the highest number of laps lead in a lifetime. He surpassed Alain Prost for the most number of career victories. He tied Nigel Mansell's record for the most wins in a season. Michael won 11 poles and 9 races in the 16-race 2001 season, and he finished 2nd five times. He now has a total of 53 career wins.
    Yet, there are still some records for Michael to shoot for. Juan Fangio won 5 F1 Championships and Ayrton Senna won 65 pole positions.

    Older news pages

  • Last Month - September 2001 Racing News
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  • 1999 Indy Car Racing News
  • 1998 Indy Car Racing News
  • 1997 Indy Car Racing News


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