No. 987
March 13, 2019
 

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JANUARY 23, 2019

(Photo courtesy of )
Christopher Bell became just the second driver in Chili Bowl history to win the prestigious dirt Midget race in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for three consecutive years (2017, 2018, 2019). Bell, who drives for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, didn’t lead the 24-car A-Main championship race until the final turn of the final lap. Bell jumped on leader Kyle Larson, who got stuck in traffic, then beat the full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver to the line in a scintillating last-lap finish. Larson was bitterly disappointed again for the second consecutive year. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver was leading late in last year’s race, too, when engine issues forced him to retire with 10 laps to go. 
(Volkswagen)
Volkswagen will take its record-breaking fully-electric ID. R to the Nürburgring-Nordschleife, for another record attempt. “After the record on Pikes Peak, the fastest time for electric cars on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife is the next big challenge for the ID. R,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. The ID. R is powered by two electric engines with a system capacity of 670HP and weighs less than 2,500 pounds, including the driver. “Above all, we will modify the aerodynamics of the ID. R, in order to cope with the conditions on the Nordschleife, which differ greatly from those on Pikes Peak,” says François-Xavier Demaison, Technical Director at Volkswagen Motorsport (in other words, that massive rear wing will get trimmed considerably). Unlike Pikes Peak, which starts at an altitude of more than 9,000 feet and ends at 14,115 feet, the Nordschleife winds its way through the Eifel region at between 1,050 and 2,024 feet above sea level. The iconic German circuit has a very unique characteristic, not least thanks to the long Döttinger Höhe straight. “As part of our meticulous preparations for the record attempt, we will put the ID. R through an intense test and development program at various racetracks in the spring,” Demaison adds. The record attempt is planned for the summer. Romain Dumas will be at the wheel again for the record attempt. He won the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with the ID. R Pikes Peak in June 2018 and, with a time of 7:57.148 minutes, becoming the first driver in over 100 years of the iconic race to go under eight minutes. The Frenchman also has four victories in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring to his name. “The thought of driving the ID. R on the Nordschleife is already enough to give me goosebumps. I know the track very well, but the ID. R will be a completely different challenge, with its extreme acceleration and huge cornering speeds,” says Dumas. “I can hardly wait for the first tests. Breaking the existing electric record will certainly not be a stroll in the park.” The current record for fully-electric vehicles stands at 6:45.90 minutes—at an average speed of almost 115 mph—and was set in 2017 by Britain’s Peter Dumbreck in a NIO EP9. A comparatively narrow track—13 miles long, with no fewer than 75 corners, and regularly climbing or descending through the Eifel forests—the Nordschleife, which was opened in 1927, is one of a kind and continues to serve as the ultimate test environment for the automobile industry. Former Formula 1 world champion, Jackie Stewart, once respectfully called the circuit the “Green Hell.” Despite the iconic circuit being subjected to repeated modifications, it has not hosted Formula 1 since 1978. 

(INDYCAR)
INDYCAR announced that global information technology and communications leader NTT has signed a multi-year agreement to become the IndyCar Series title partner. In addition, NTT becomes the official technology partner of INDYCAR, the IndyCar Series, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR's Brickyard 400 beginning in 2019. The announcement was made at the Detroit Auto Show. INDYCAR will partner with NTT to deliver digital innovations that enhance the fan experience. These innovations include the evolution of INDYCAR's mobile application and adoption of NTT's proprietary Smart Platform to support the sport and its venues in delivering better insights into the racing series. "NTT is proud to be associated with INDYCAR and accelerate the future of smart racing. Technological innovations have the potential to change the sport and fan experience drastically," said Jun Sawada, president and CEO of NTT. "NTT, along with our partners, aims to bring the Smart World to life as we have done for Smart City, Smart Entertainment, Smart Mobility and Smart Manufacturing. Based on our lengthy and successful experience, including work in mobile applications, analytics and user experience, we will help INDYCAR create the next generation of fans globally who aspire to enjoy racing through a more digital experience." "Having a strong technology partner is critically important to INDYCAR's continued growth, so we are thrilled to welcome NTT as our new title sponsor. INDYCAR's rise in popularity is a testament to the fact that we've made the sport as accessible as possible to our fans and we plan to continue in that mission," said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "We have a history with NTT through NTT DATA's involvement in the sport with Chip Ganassi Racing. We know this partnership will help us attract the next generation of fans to what remains the most competitive racing program on the planet." Editor-in-Chief's Note: I appreciate the fact that landing a racing sponsor these days - anysponsor - is growing more and more difficult. And landing a series sponsor is even more of a challenge, so congratulations to INDYCAR and NTT on their new partnership. I must say, however, that the series logo is one of the worst I've seen in years. Dull and uninspired, it looks like all of five minutes was spent on it. I would hope that the powers that be involved would take another look at the design and rethink the logo, because it does nothing for the series or the partnership. -PMD
(Indianapolis Motor Speedway)
Will Power and team owner Roger Penske were honored Wednesday night in Detroit for winning the 102nd Indianapolis 500 last May. Both were presented with “Baby Borg” trophies, miniature replicas of the famous Borg-Warner Trophy that boasts the sterling silver likeness of every Indianapolis 500 winner. It was Power's first win in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." For Penske it was his seventeenth, extending his dominance as the most successful team owner in Indianapolis 500 history. “In all of the world, there is nothing like the Borg-Warner Trophy,” Penske said. Power plans to put his Baby Borg next to the Astor Cup replica that he earned by winning the 2014 NTT IndyCar Series championship. He has a wealth of other trophies in his basement from 35 career Indy car wins (tied for seventh all time), 54 pole positions (second all time) and 70 podium finishes. But the Baby Borg and Astor Cup replicas will be displayed in a special area at Power’s house in North Carolina – the crown jewels of Power’s outstanding career. The 103rd Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 26 and will air live on NBC. Tickets are available at .  

 

(Porsche)
The Porsche Motorsport GT Team unveiled a special livery created to commemorate both Brumos Racing and IMSA’s 50th Anniversary season at the Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 26-27. The Nos. 911 and 912 will carry the blue and red stripes and “sweeps” made famous by the Jacksonville, Florida-based team in the first two rounds of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, including here this weekend at Daytona International Speedway as well as in the 67th edition of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 16. The livery, designed in-house at Porsche, pulls directly from decades of Brumos Racing competition. The blue and red stripes running from nose-to-tail are easily spotted from a distance but, upon closer examination, reveal the familiar solid stripes are actually comprised of a closely laid grid of the number 59. The “sweeps” down the sides from headlight to taillight, draw directly from the team’s historic livery. A white windshield banner and rear wing mark the No. 911 shared by Patrick Pilet (France), Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Frédéric Makowiecki (France) as does a blue line across the rocker panel on the side. The No. 912 team car of Earl Bamber (New Zealand), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) and Mathieu Jaminet (France) will have a black windshield banner, rear wing and red stripe below the doors. The livery was a natural fit for the two endurance classics – known collectively as the “Florida 36” – to celebrate not only the Jacksonville-based race team but also the 50th Anniversary of the Daytona Beach-headquartered International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). Brumos was a founding stakeholder in IMSA, winning the first five of six races in the inaugural IMSA sports car season of 1971 with team and dealership owner Peter Gregg and a young Hurley Haywood sharing a Porsche 914/6. Since, the Brumos banner has flown over 48 IMSA victories and 15 IMSA Championships. 


NBC Sports coverage from Daytona:

Thursday, January 24

  • 2-3 p.m. ET: 2019 Preview Show, NBCSN
  • 3-5 p.m. ET: Qualifying, NBCSN

Saturday, January 26 and Sunday, January 27

  • 2-5 p.m. ET: Race, NBCSN
  • 5-9 p.m. ET: Race, NBC Sports App
  • 9 p.m.-3 a.m. ET: Race, NBCSN
  • 3-6 a.m. ET: Race, NBC Sports App
  • 6 a.m.-3 p.m. ET: Race, NBCSN

 

(Photo by Brian Cleary - RRDC)
Bobby Rahal and David Hobbs.

From the RRDC Press Release: Bobby Rahal, Indy 500 winner, driver, team owner, businessman and President of the Road Racing Drivers Club, was honored by the RRDC with the 2019 Phil Hill Award. The 2018 award recipient, David Hobbs (above), made the presentation at the annual RRDC members' dinner on January 23 prior to the running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. 

The Phil Hill Award has been presented annually since 1993 to the person who the RRDC feels has rendered outstanding service to road racing. The recipient may be a driver, entrant or outstanding member of a sanctioning body.
It is named in honor of America's first Formula 1 World Champion (in 1961), and is not only a tribute to his masterful accomplishments on the race track, it also recognizes his contributions as a great ambassador for the sport. Hill passed away in 2008.
Robert "Bobby" Woodward Rahal was born in Medina, Ohio, in 1953, and started in SCCA's Formula Atlantic Series and then European Formula Two. In an 18-year career spanning F1, Can-Am, Le Mans/IMSA, and CART, Rahal notched three CART championships, including the 1986 Indy 500 win, and wins at the 1981 24 Hours of Daytona and the 1987 12 Hours of Sebring.
In open-wheel racing, Rahal started 264 races for five teams and scored 18 poles and 24 wins. He collected back-to-back CART championships in 1986 and '87, and picked up his third in 1992. When Buddy Rice won the 2004 Indy 500, Rahal became only one of a handful of individuals to win the Indy 500 as both a driver and a team owner.
After retiring from driving in 1998, he joined Jaguar's F1 effort and later became the interim boss of CART. 
Along with David Letterman and businessman Michael Lanigan, he is a principal in Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and has developed some of the top young talent in open-wheel racing, including Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato, Buddy Rice, Danica Patrick, and many others. He also brought Honda into North American open-wheel racing in the early '90s, that has produced for Honda 16 driver crowns and more than 237 victories including 12 Indy 500 wins.

His team won the 2010 GT team and manufacturers titles in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) with BMW and swept the top two spots in the 2011 12 Hours of Sebring, earning the 2011 ALMS GT drivers championships for Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller. In 2012, the team earned back-to-back Sebring wins and was second in the Team Championship and third in the Manufacturer Championship. In 2013 BMW Team RLL earned two wins, seven podium finishes and four poles en route to second place in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championships. In 2014, the team joined the United Sports Car Series (USCC), later renamed the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Since 2014, BMW Team RLL has totaled 17 wins, 23 poles and 68 podiums and second place in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships in 2015 and 2017. In 2018, the team brought BMW its first victory with the all-new M8 GTE and followed up with back-to-back wins, six podiums and three poles over the two-car program. in 2018, the team also entered the world's first production-based electric vehicle race series - the Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY - with a two-car effort.

Along with his leadership of Team RLL Racing, he operates Bobby Rahal Automotive Group, a string of car dealerships in Pennsylvania, is President of the RRDC, former Chairman of the International Motor Racing Research Center Governing Council at Watkins Glen and is active in the community through the Bobby Rahal Foundation. He is past Chairman of the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Foundation.

"Winning the Indy 500 changed my life personally and professionally," said Rahal. "I don't know of any other sporting events out there in the world that do that. Maybe the British Open in golf or Wimbledon or the U.S. Open in tennis. 
"When I won Indy the one thing that was super special to me was winning it for my team owner Jim Trueman, who passed away 10 days after we won Indy. He was the guy who really gave me my chance. He was with me year after year in some way, shape or form. To win the race and achieve something that he wanted so much really meant a lot to the team and me. We never really got to celebrate the win, but it has a lot of meaning for all of us who were involved with our team at that time."
On winning the award, "It means everything to me," said Rahal. "Phil Hill was such an amazing guy, not just as a driver and as an ambassador, but a driver who has won in multiple disciplines. He was a very educated guy who had a lot to say and had a lot to do with things in the automotive world. This award named after him has got to be one of my favorite trophies."

(Photo by Brian Cleary/RRDC)
From left: Bobby Akin, Jeff Zwart, Judy Stropus and Bobby Rahal. 
From the RRDC Press Release: Jeff Zwart, an American commercial film director, racer, photographer, cameraman and author, was named the 2018 recipient of the RRDC Bob Akin Award. He was presented the award at the annual Road Racing Drivers Club members' dinner on January 23, prior to the running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the season opener of the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. 
Each recipient of this honor, considered the top award in motorsports for amateur, vintage/historic or semi-professional drivers, is selected by Akin's son Bobby, RRDC members Brian Redman and Judy Stropus, and approved by RRDC president Bobby Rahal.
The distinctive trophy was conceived by the RRDC in 2003 to honor the memory of longtime RRDC member and past president Bob Akin, who lost his life in a racing accident in 2002.
It was designed by Steuben Glass in Corning, N.Y., and is given to a driver who best exemplifies the extraordinary qualities and characteristics that Akin represented, including a passion for motorsports and automobiles, a high level of sportsmanship and fair play, and who has contributed to the sport of motor racing and the community at large.
The primary award, etched with the names of the recipients, is displayed at the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Each honoree receives a smaller replica.
Zwart, of Corona del Mar, Calif., is an eight-time Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Champion who has won in five different classes and has competed in 16 years of this historic event. Driving primarily Porsches, he currently holds three different records on the mountain. 
He started racing Formula Fords on the West Coast in the early 1980s, went on to the U.S. Pro Rally Championship, was Open Class National Champion in 1990, and earned a class win at the Baja 1000 in 2004. He also co-founded RACER Magazine with Paul Pfanner.

Zwart is currently running select vintage races and continuing his efforts at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. 
He was presented the Bob Akin Award by Bobby Akin, Stropus and Rahal.
"Jeff Zwart started his racing like many in this room, in a Formula Ford," said Akin. "He has competed here at Daytona and other classic road racing locations. However, Jeff tended to be most successful when there was a little dirt involved. After his first rally he was hooked. Then the mythic Pikes Peak got his attention and over the years he has amassed eight class wins at this legendary event. He also had a class win at the Baja 1000 and second overall in the Trans-Siberia Rally. No easy task.
"He is an avid historic car collector and driver," Akin added. "His collection includes a Gmund Porsche 914-6, several important 911s, but, maybe, my favorite is his 906, because he has been known to drive it from L.A. to Laguna Seca, race it, and drive it home again. No trailers required. Cars are meant to be driven - a trait he shares with my father.
"The other qualities an award winner needs to have is to be successful in his non-racing business and be a good person. Our winner has both covered.
"Jeff is arguably the most sought-after commercial director on the planet. Producing over 800 national commercials, he has won multiple Cannes and Cleo Advertising awards and his specialty - I know, shocking - is automotive. The latest project is working with Patrick Dempsey as the second unit director for the upcoming feature film, "The Art of Racing in the Rain."
"This was a total honor and a total surprise when Bobby came to me a few months ago and said that I would be a part of this award," said Zwart. "It's actually a bit of a full circle moment. My parents - and probably a lot of people were inspired by the same thing - took me to the movie "LeMans."  And seeing that movie, I thought, No. 1, I want to race, No. 2, this road racing thing is so cool. And, No. 3, maybe some day I could actually film something like that."
As it turned out, Zwart earned that opportunity. "It was something that was really special in the early '80s when Road & Track came to me and asked me to do a story on LeMans," he said. "The tricky part was I was going to travel to LeMans with a team owner and a driver and he was going to write the article and I was going to photograph it. And that person was Bob Akin.
"Those were my first moments at LeMans that I had only dreamed about. Basically, the curtain was pulled back by Bob Akin who showed me everything he knew about that track and even allowed me to put my camera in the car. This was not a Go-Pro era and it was a big old camera."
Zwart had only brought two cameras and one was in the car, which had stopped on the Mulsanne Straight. In his attempt to retrieve the camera he hiked for an hour until he found the car, convinced the French organizers that he needed to get to the car, and collected it.
"The whole experience was so special to me, and the fact that Bob had trusted me to put a camera inside his car, he really did pull back the curtain and I ended up going another year with him for Road & Track. We really had a good time and I loved the fact that I was getting to see a view that I only dreamed of as a kid in the movie theater with my family.
"Motorsport has given me so much and so many people in this room have been involved on some level in the things that I shoot. Not only has motorsport given me a great career on my film side, it's motivated me to race and somehow be a part of this great room and to enjoy this evening."

 

 

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