With a week in line with the busyness this offseason, the IndyCar world continued to roll along since our last Round-Up on January 5. While there were some exciting announcements and events to watch with IndyCar testing kicking off last Tuesday and an announcement that Harding Racing would join the series full-time in 2018, the motorsport world is hurting as Dan Gurney passed away at the age of 86.
Check out this week’s Round-Up, including those stories and more, below.
Motorsports legend, Dan Gurney, passes away at 86
On Sunday, January 18, 2018, the auto racing world lost one of its pioneers as Dan Gurney passed away at the age of 86.
Revered by the racing community, Dan Gurney’s impact can be felt throughout the IndyCar community as well as several other racing disciplines. His contributions to motorsport cannot be measured, and if they could, it is likely he has done more to revolutionize the way race cars are built than anyone else.
As a driver, resume included wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1959, a win in the inaugural running of what is now the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona (1962) and a historic win at Le Mans in 1967 with A.J. Foyt, where the two Ford drivers scored a surprise victory and celebrated with what has become a famous spraying of champagne.
He won races in IndyCar, Formula One, NASCAR and sports cars. At Spa-Francorchamps in 1967, he won the Belgian Grand Prix in an American chassis that he built, the first and only time an American driver won in an American car.
In an ownership capacity, Gurney achieved success that equaled – and in many ways surpassed – his driving career. Drivers from his All-American Racers group won 78 races, which included the 1975 Indianapolis 500 with Bobby Unser, as well as eight championships across multiple disciplines of motorsport.
As a team owner, one of Gurney’s most famous contributions to the sport was his famous 1978 open memo to his fellow owners in USAC, which became known as “The White Papers”.
Gurney called for a series with more control by the owners, and in 1979, Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) was formed.
Read more about Spencer Neff’s wonderful tribute to the career and life of Gurney here.
Harding Racing confirms full-time entry for 2018
After months of anticipation, the Indianapolis-based Harding Racing finally confirmed what had been expected by announcing their intentions to compete full-time in the Verizon IndyCar Series on January 12.
he team made its debut at the Indianapolis 500 last May, rounding up an impressive ninth-place finish in the “Greatest Spectacle.” In Harding’s two other appearances in 2017 – both on ovals – the group notched an even-better fifth-place result at Texas Motor Speedway before finishing their season off with a fifteenth-place result at Pocono Raceway.
The team is organized by Mike Harding, the owner and CEO of Harding Group, a concrete and asphalt paving company based in Indianapolis. The company has conducted business in the Midwest since 1960 and Pavement Magazine has ranked Harding Group’s asphalt division in the top ten of asphalt paving companies in the United States.
“After the success we had in our three races of 2017, the next logical step was to take the team to a full season.” said Harding. “During the off-season we have continued to build Harding Racing by adding key people to key positions to become a strong contender in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”
Read more about the teams plans and intentions for 2018, and hear from driver Gabby Chaves and manager Larry Curry.
IndyCar teams wrap up first week of testing at Sebring
With the start of a new preseason testing period kicking off this week at Sebring International Raceway, excitement was in the south Florida air as Verizon IndyCar Series teams flocked to the historic road course for two days of on-track activity.
The anticipation to see cars on-track is heightened this January as opposed to previous preseason test days, with the new universal aero kit providing fresh eye candy for the IndyCar faithful. Andretti Autosport featured each of its full-time drivers in the test this past week and revealed liveries for Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi and Zach Veach while Marco Andretti sported a carbon fiber testing look.
Chip Ganassi Racing brought Scott Dixon in an all-white testing scheme while the team still searches for a primary sponsor for the No. 9 car, while newcomer Ed Jones featured a striking blue NTT Data scheme with chrome accents. For Dale Coyne Racing, Sebastien Bourdais drove a carbon fiber testing car as well.
The only thing to top the paint schemes for the mid-week test were the cars themselves in action. Open-Wheels media partner Brian Wayne was on-site for the Wednesday testing session and grabbed some intense footage of the teams while putting the brand new UAK-18 through its paces. The video displays the violent nature of these cars and their tendency to step the rear end out.
Check out the video below and look for more of Brian’s work on Open-Wheels outlets this season. You can subscribe to his content channel by clicking here.
Firestone’s Cara Adams opens up about 2018 tire plans
As the sole tire provider for the Verizon IndyCar Series, Firestone has the task of working on a new tire that both they and IndyCar hope will mesh well with the new universal aero kits to be introduced in 2018.
The main challenge for the two parties is handling the reduction of downforce that the new aero kit has brought.
“The challenge for all the teams is that with a heavy reduction in aero downforce, they will be looking to increase mechanical grip, and that’s where we come in,” Cara Adams, Firestone’s chief engineer and manager of race tire development, explained in an interview with Motorsport.com’s David Malsher.
Adams also emphasized the need for an appropriate amount of drop-off, stating “we (Firestone) need to come up with a tire that is softer in both construction and compound appropriate for out new car.”
Hear more from the Firestone executive regarding the manufacturer’s plans for this coming season in her interview here.
Chaves eager for full-time opportunity in 2018
With the announcement of Harding Racing’s confirmed full-time presence on the Verizon IndyCar Series grid for 2018, Colombian driver Gabby Chaves will enjoy his second full-time IndyCar campaign next season.
Chaves, 24, burst onto the scene in 2012 as a Mazda Road to Indy driver competing in the Pro Mazda championship. He would win the Indy Lights championship in 2014 and competed full-time in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2015 with Brian Herta Autosport. It would be his last full-season opportunity, until Harding’s announcement this past week made him a mainstay on the grid once again.
With the comfort of a full-time program already in place, Chaves can begin to settle in and prepare for the 2018 season by relying on some lessons learned in the three years since his last full-time gig.
“When I came into my rookie year, obviously as a rookie and without any teammates to bounce any ideas or to learn from, I think that was a pretty big undertaking for a young guy then,” stated Chaves.
“But over the last two seasons, I’ve been able to do some races here and there, share data with other guys, kind of understand the car – the technical side of it, the engineering side of it, and the mechanical side of it a lot more in depth than I did my first year.
Hear the full interview with Chaves and why he thinks 2018 will be different than his last full-time gig in 2015.
ISM Raceway in Phoenix schedules third-annual “Prix View” in February
Last week, the newly re-branded ISM (formerly Phoenix) Raceway announced the return of the popular “Prix View” for next month’s February test session. The event, which is book-ended by two IndyCar test sessions, will be free for all fans to attend.
Gates will open at noon, with the test sessions scheduled from 1-4 p.m. and the second session scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
Between the two sessions, an autograph session will be held. Fans will have the opportunity to obtain wristbands for access to the autograph session. ISM Raceway’s February test will not only be the first open test of the year, but also the first test of 2018 for the universal aero kit on an oval.
Open-Wheels testing guide for 2018 preseason
As the new year is upon us, so is a fresh season of IndyCar racing. Monday, January 8 has finally arrived and that signals the start of a new testing period for teams in the Verizon IndyCar Series, with operations making the trek south to Sebring International Raceway often through the next month.
With the help of IndyCar’s newly released testing schedule, we will take a look at the teams scheduled to test over the next three months and where to find them. With only team and open series tests listed at this time, the schedule omits manufacturer testing dates that will certainly be utilized between now and the close of the offseason testing program on March 29, 2018.
Starting with visits to Sebring and Homestead-Miami Speedway in January, check out the upcoming testing dates on the Verizon IndyCar Series calendar by viewing out Open-Wheels testing guide for the preseason period.
Images courtesy of IndyCar and All-American Racers.