Mazda Road to Indy Holds Second Annual Oval Clinic
This first Friday in the month of May events around the Indianapolis 500, the drivers involved in the MAZDA Road To Indy traveled to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) for the second annual MAZDA Road to Indy Oval Clinic, joining their fellow competitors in all three MAZDA ladder system series – the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear and Firestone Indy Lights.
Hosted by INDYCAR’s Director of Grassroots Initiatives Jason Penix and led by multiple driving champion and USF2000 driving coach Gerardo Bonilla, the clinic covers all aspects of oval racing with the intricacies supported by video footage exhibits.
Oval veterans participating in this year’s panel of experts included Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team owner / former Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, INDYCAR President of Competition Beaux Barfield, Performance Advisor / spokesman Johnny Unser, IZOD IndyCar Series driver / team owner Ed Carpenter, and former Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year / Elite Engines owner Steve Knapp. The participants receive training on the basics of oval racing, best practices of oval testing, working with spotters, how to prepare themselves physically for an oval race, safety, and how to approach oval event practice, qualifying and race day.
The drivers from all three open-wheel disciplines will have the opportunity to put these lessons to practice the very next day during a test at nearby Lucas Oil Raceway on Saturday, May 5. These young competitors, many of whom will be turning their first laps on an oval course, will have a combined five hours of testing on the short 0.686-mile track.
The Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and Star Mazda Championship Presented by Goodyear drivers will be in serious preparation for the popular “Night Before the 500 races″ to be held on May 26 – 2012 Round 5 for both USF2000 competition (the only oval event on the series calendar) and Star Mazda Championship.
At the end of the month of May, all of these future Indianapolis 500 competitors will be honored at the inaugural Mazda Road to Indy Victory Celebration on May 27 at Sensu Restaurant and Nightclub in downtown Indianapolis.
Podium finishers of the Firestone Freedom 100 (Firestone Indy Lights race run at IMS) and “Night Before the 500 races” at Lucas Oil Raceway (USF2000/Star Mazda) will be recognized for their accomplishments at the event that follows the 96th Indianapolis 500. Roger Bailey, former executive director of Firestone Indy Lights, will be the guest of honor.
“The Victory Celebration will cap the exciting Month of May for the Mazda Road to Indy program, which includes the races and events surrounding the Indianapolis 500,” said Tony George Jr., director of Firestone Indy Lights. “It also allows everyone to congratulate Roger and reflect on his 50-plus-year career in motorsports.”
A painting of 2011 Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon, which motorsports artist Bill Patterson will produce during the event, will be auctioned – along with several prints – at the conclusion of the event.
… notes from The EDJE
** Article first published as Mazda Road to Indy Holds Second Annual Oval Clinic on Technorati **