Saturday, March 31, 2007

Saturday, 3/31/2007, from St. Petersburg

Dan Wheldon crashed his car in practice for IndyCar qualifying later this's the second hard whack he has taken in successive weeks. Wheldon's OK, not so the car. Dario Franchitti hit in Turn 8...he's also OK.

The GT American LeMans series cars are louder than the LeMans, Sebring and 2006 LeMans Prototype 1 championship winning 12 cylinder Audi R10 TDi diesel powered LMP1 car. No diesel clatter, smoke or anything like the stereotypical truck diesel from the tailpipe of either Audi.

We'll add a picture or two from our travels later on.

Paul Kaminski

11:34 am

Add Tony Kanaan to the crashers...he was the fastest IndyCar qualifier, crashed in the Fast Six session to decide the pole. Kanaan's time was scratched because he brought out the yellow; defending winner Helio Castroneves from Team Penske (above, after post qualifying news conference) sets a track record of 105.052 miles an hour to win the pole. Marco Andretti starts 2nd.
3:44 pm

Friday, March 30, 2007

Pictures from the Pit & Paddock at St. Petersburg's Honda Indy Grand Prix and Acura Sports Car Challenge

Top--The Andretti-Green Racing Acura ARX-01a (LeMans Prototype 2 winner at Sebring) driven by Bryan Herta, and Marino Franchitti (Dario's brother). The car will start 5th in Saturday's American LeMans Series street debut for 2007. Penske Racing's Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard start their Porsche RS Spyder on the pole (102.794 miles per hour).

Middle--The Audi R10 TDi diesel (LeMans Prototype 1 winner at Sebring), driven by Rinaldo Capello, Alan McNish and the ace of LeMans (24 Hours), 4 time winner Tom Kristensen. The car will start 3rd overall (102.184 miles per hour). McNish qualified the car, but crashed during qualifying.

Bottom--Tony Kanaan's 7-11 Dallara Honda after the first practice session.

IndyCar Top 2 in Combined Qualifying--Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan were 1-2. The 2 time Indy 500 winner clocked in with a 105.192 mile per hour lap; Kanaan a tick slower at 105.043 mph.

That's it for Friday; Saturday is pole day for the IndyCars and race day for the American Le Mans cars.

Paul Kaminski


Greetings from St. Petersburg, FL--Round 2 of the IndyCar Series for 2007

Indy cars and LeMans prototypes from the American LeMans series share the temporary street course that winds around the Al Lang Field parking lot and the Albert Whitted Airport. The visuals are at least as striking as Long Beach...a radio talk show host here in St. Pete called Monaco (in a display of sycophantry unrivaled any where) the "St. Petersburg of Europe". Enough of the butt kissing already!

The 3.5 liter Honda Indy V8 (powered by 100% fuel grade ethanol) makes a lot of torque (pulling power), which can give crews some head-scratching moments during set up.

So too, the Audi R10 LMP diesel (yes, diesel like the 18 wheelers). Could this mean that the LMP2 Acura from Andretti-Green Racing, driven by their former IndyCar pilot, Bryan Herta, and Dario Franchitti's brother, Marino, could win overall honors?

Technology has made our lives safer and easier, and in the long run, helped us to do more with fewer resources. So I can't get worked up about a "Car of Tomorrow" which (with the exception of the brakes) is essentially the best 1974 technology 2007 money can buy.

We'll post some photos from this weekend's festivities later.

Paul Kaminski

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More on Eric Medlen Condolences

Thanks to Dave Densmore, who usually has one of drag racing's dream jobs--media relations for John Force Racing. Since March 19th, it has been rough because of the Eric Medlen accident.
"BP/Castrol, which established a special e-mail address for get well messages while Eric Medlen was fighting for his life, has set up a new address at which fans and friends can offer condolences to the family of the professional race car driver, who succumbed to his injuries last Friday. Fans can leave their messages at _goodbyeeric@castrol.com_ . Those messages will be assembled, printed and placed in a scrapbook that will be presented to the family."
Houston will be rough this weekend. The Racers for Christ crew will be working overtime, and could use a prayer of their own on Palm Sunday.
Paul Kaminski
Update--John Force Racing won't be racing at Houston this weekend. The team is studying their setups and the data from Medlen's accident. They hope to be back in Las Vegas on April 13-15.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Race Winner Dan Wheldon signs autographs after dominating the first points race of the 2007 Indy Car season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Wheldon led 179 of the 200 laps, won by 6.4993 seconds over Chip Ganassi Racing Teammate Scott Dixon, and becomes the first driver to win a points race in a car fueled by fuel grade ethanol...the IndyCar series will run all its races fueled by fuel grade ethanol from now on.
Paul Kaminski

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Gil de Ferran visiting Homestead, Penske Racing

Gil de Ferran is the Sporting Director for Honda's Formula One Grand Prix team. He won the Indianapolis 500 for Roger Penske in 2003; he and his family are visiting before the Malaysian Grand Prix.

He was asked by a veteran tracksider whether Marco Andretti (yes, 3rd generation Andretti) was going to get another test in a Honda Formula One machine. de Ferran was non-committal, but praised Marco's accomplishments.
Methinks family Andretti would like to see Marco follow in his grandfather's footsteps, and avoid the mis-steps and overall bad situation which arose when Michael went to the McLaren F1 team in 1993.
de Ferran enjoys the job...though it has a lot of pressure...and said he didn't have any desire to get back behind the wheel.
Paul Kaminski

Matthew Alhadeff & Bill Auberlen, Overall Winners at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Grand Prix of Miami for Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes

Max Angelelli/Wayne Taylor/Jan Magnussen finished 2nd; Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas 3rd...Pruett maintains the series lead.

Paul Kaminski


A. J. Foyt's car above the fray at Homestead

Danica Patrick's Motorola #7 car unloading for
the first ever major American race where all the cars will run on 100% fuel grade ethanol. Ethanol is made from renewable crops like corn, sugar cane, etc. and is biodegradeable.

Target Chip Ganassi crew making final tweaks before the XM Satellite Radio Indy 300

Like all blogs, this is a work-in-progress. Thanks for your patience while we learn on the job.

Paul Kaminski


Honda Accord Hybrid Safety Car for the IRL IndyCar Series. It can run on unleaded pump gas or a blend of 90/10 pump gas to ethanol. It gets extra power from the on-board batteries and electric motors.

The pole winning car of Jan Magnussen/Wayne Taylor and Max 'The Ax' Angelelli going through a final check during Grand-Am Tech Inspection:
Some Pictures from the Homestead-Miami Speedway Garages
Paul Kaminski

Friday, March 23, 2007

Dan Wheldon & Sam Hornish Qualify 1-2 @ Homestead Miami Speedway for the IndyCar opener

Dan Wheldon--214.322 mph
Sam Hornish--214.298 mph (28/1000ths of a second slower)
Sarah Fisher starts 9th--212.501 mph
Danica Patrick, 14th--211.431 mph
Ethanol not a issue...better fuel mileage allows for smaller tanks 22 gallons vs. 35 last year.
We'll have more tomorrow once we get some sleep.
Paul Kaminski
Eric Medlen, NHRA Funny Car Driver, Dies From Injuries After a Testing Accident in Gainesville, FL

Sad news for the straight-line warriors of the NHRA...the details courtesy of John Force Racing:

"The talented Funny Car driver never regained consciousness. After being treated at the track, Eric was transported by ShandsCair helicopter to Shands at the University of Florida medical center where medical staff treated him for four days for a severe closed head injury. “Eric suffered from severe traumatic brain injury with diffuse axonal injury, or DAI,” said Dr. Joseph Layon, Professor of Anesthesiology, Surgery and Medicine and the Chief of Critical Care Medicine at UF. “Survival rates associated with DAI are low. “On Tuesday, UF and Shands neurosurgery team performed a cranjectomy and removed the front portion of the skull to relieve pressure and attempt to improve blood flow to the brain,” Dr. Layon explained. “Despite receiving the most aggressive treatment, Eric continued to have uncontrollable intracranial pressure. His body lost the ability to manage its salt and water levels and he began displaying the complicating factors associated with DAI. “That is when Eric’s family elected to honor Eric’s wishes and remove him from the artificial life support systems. Our hearts go out to Eric’s loved ones.”"

Eric drove for John Force Racing's 4 Funny Car team. His crew chief was his dad, and drag race veteran, John Medlen. We'll link to a site or two where you can express sympathies in a comment.

Paul Kaminski
Jan Magnussen on pole for Grand-Am Rolex Series Race
Magnussen, who drives for series stalwart Wayne Taylor, lapped the 2.3 mile Homestead road course with a qualifying speed of 111.409 miles an hour. The series leading prototype of Chip Ganassi, driven by Memo Rojas and leader Scott Pruett, starts 7th (110.322 miles an hour). Milka Duno, who has two wins here at Homestead, and earlier announced her move to the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series, will take the green from 16th in a 45 car field.
Duno will get extra practice
IndyCar Series President Brian Barnhart says Milka Duno will get extra practice in this rookie season. Barnhart says the testing rules which limit testing won't apply to her--just like the situation with IRL Rookie of the Year Marco Andretti in 2006.
IRL Pole Stuff Later.
Paul Kaminski
Greetings from a "Green Racetrack"
The first of our four race in a five and 1/2 week eastern/western swing is at Homestead-Miami Speedway...where the Grand-Am/Rolex/Crown Royal sportscars share the weekend with the Indy Racing League sanctioned IndyCar series. After two Grand-Am events...Ganassi Racing's Scott Pruett has a 3 point lead over Max "The Ax" Angelelli with an average of a 2.5 finish.
The greening of Homestead has nothing to do with irrigation (despite a lack of rain) and everything to do with renewable fuels. Each of the 20 IndyCars will be powered by ethanol (which is the chemical term for what Junior Johnson called 'corn squeezins'). The ethanol used by the series is treated with 2% gasoline so it can co-exist with the yards of plumbing in a race car fuel system. Teams and tracks alike have to adjust--fuelers and firemen have been finding out what the fuel will do in crashes and when the cars are cruising at 200+ miles an hour.
Another lady joins the IRL...Endurance driver Milka Duno will race in at least 10 races for the SAMAX team, backed by Venezuelan owned energy company CITGO. Ms. Duno is a Venezuelan. When she won her first of three Grand-Am races in February, 2004 here, she dedicated the win to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The Saturday ticket at Homestead is a bargain for those who enjoy a smorgasbord of racing...a true day-night double header. We'll let you know who won the poles for both the Grand-Am and IRL events...and maybe post a hi-res photo or two.
Paul Kaminski