By: Spencer Neff
November 9, 2018 | 8:00 AM
The 2019 season opener in St. Petersburg remains four months away but the offseason news cycle continues to spin across the IndyCar world.
This week, Andersen Promotions unveiled plans for the Road to Indy Scholarship. The scholarships included at all three tiers (USF2000, Pro Mazda and IndyLights) were of particular interest given Mazda’s departure from the Road to Indy.
Tragically, the racing world lost an iconic figure last week. Mari Hulman Geroge passed away at age 83.
Catch up on the latest developments in the IndyCar paddock in the latest IndyCar Roundup.
Mari Hulman George passes away at the age of 83
On Saturday, Mari Hulman George passed away at age 83, surrounded by her family.
Hulman George served as Chairwoman at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 1988 to 2015.
During this time, the speedway would expand its racing portfolio to include Formula 1, MotoGP and several other series. The former two series raced on an infield road course completed in 2000.
Mari also gave the command her father and Wilbur Shaw pioneered. Hulman George uttered “(Ladies and) Gentlemen, Start Your Engines,” at the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 from 1997 to 2015.
In 2016, Mari would be joined on the victory podium by the rest of the Hulman George family to give the command before the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
In the mid-1950s, Mari befriended Elmer George and the couple had four children together: daughters Nancy, Mary Josephine and Katherine Marie, as well as son Anton “Tony” Hulman George.
In May of 1976, Mari would file for divorce from George, and on the day of the 1976 Indianapolis 500, George was killed at the family’s ranch in Terre Haute.
The Hulman George Family has requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) or to the charity of the giver’s choice.
Open-Wheels offers its condolences to the Hulman George family in this difficult time and thanks Mari for her contributions to the sport of auto racing. Read More
Road to Indy to award over $2 million in scholarships for 2019
The Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires enters its 10th season in 2019. The Road to Indy has become a vital path to IndyCar for several drivers in the series.
When Mazda announced its withdrawal from the program prior to season’s end, RTI’s future was uncertain.
On Monday, Andersen Promotions unveiled the scholarship plans for the 2019 season.
The 2019 IndyLights Champion will receive a $1.1-million scholarship for three 2020 IndyCar races, including the 104th Indianapolis 500.
For Pro Mazda, the champion’s purse is valued at $596,700, which includes a $500,000 scholarship to advance to Indy Lights the following year and $96,700 in Cooper tires and entry fees towards the champion’s next step on the ladder.
For its 30th season, ill provide its 2019 champion with a prize package valued at $305,600, which includes a $250,000 scholarship to graduate to Pro Mazda and $55,600 in Cooper tires and entry fees for the following season.
The full per-race and end-of-season prize money and awards list structure for all three series is being finalized and will be publicized in the coming weeks. Read More
Reports: Brazil to host IndyCar in 2020
The IndyCar Series will return to South America in 2020 with a street race in Brazil, the Associated Press reports.
Rio de Janeiro mayor Marcelo Crivella has stated the city has reached an agreement with INDYCAR and its organizers to host a race.
Conversely, IndyCar executives Mark Miles (CEO & president of Hulman & Company) and Jay Frye (president of competition and operations for INDYCAR) have denied claims that such a deal is complete.
The last time the IndyCar Series raced in Brazil was 2013. The race was held on the streets of São Paulo and was remembered for an exciting finish that saw James Hinchcliffe overtake Takuma Sato in the race’s waning moments.
In 2020, the race is expected to be held on the streets of Rio de Janeiro with the city’s iconic Sambadrome serving as an eye-popping part of the circuit. The large grandstand can accommodate nearly 120,000 spectators and creates a festival-like gathering place for race weekend. Read More
“INDYCAR Media” created for IndyCar Series to oversee international television rights
With the IndyCar Series increasing in popularity worldwide, Hulman & Company announced that it will form INDYCAR Media. This branch of the company will become the “in-house global distribution arm of INDYCAR’s international media rights.”
“The IndyCar Series is experiencing a resurgence outside the U.S.,” said Mark Miles, the CEO of Hulman & Company. “For that reason, now is a particularly good time to do this. Controlling video content and media rights are essential to growth.”
Miles was certainly a leader in the efforts to create this devoted media branch for the American open-wheel racing series. His time spent with the ATP Tour in men’s professional tennis included the implementation of a similar program for which INDYCAR will follow as a blueprint moving forward.
In this updated arrangement, IMS Productions will continue to produce the world feed’s telecasts while INDYCAR Media will utilize IMS Productions to “facilitate technical aspects of the programming and use IMSP’s first-class production facilities and personnel to offer customized video content to the various international broadcasters for the first time.”
By having the flexibility to do all promotional material and tailor telecasts in-house, the partnership of INDYCAR Media and IMS Productions with foreign licensees will allow for broadcasts that suit their intended audiences. Read More
Neff and Watkins revisit 2018 preseason predictions
Now that the dust has settled and we have had a little time to breathe, November presents a great opportunity for Open-Wheels’ senior writers Spencer Neff and Tanner Watkins to go back and take a look at their preseason predictions!
Below we will revisit each category and the predictions made by both Spencer and Tanner, coupled with brief summarizations of how their predictions played out over the 2018 season. If you’re interested, you can check out the full preseason roundtable we had by clicking here.
Some were right, some were wrong and some were floating in between… So sit back and re-live the 2018 season with us! Read More
WATKINS: Now or never for Tony Stewart and the Indianapolis 500
In recent months the IndyCar faithful have eagerly awaited commitments from two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso and three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart to race in the Indianapolis 500, either in 2019 or 2020.
During the United States Grand Prix in October, McLaren boss Zak Brown ruled his team out for a full-season IndyCar Series program in 2019, though Alonso’s Indianapolis 500 plans still remained in limbo.
The Spaniard has piqued the interest of many in the racing industry by testing an Andretti Autosport machine at Barber Motorsports Park over the summer, dropping cryptic tweets here and there about interest in IndyCar racing, and of course, his eye-opening run at Indianapolis in 2017 remains fresh in many minds.
Alonso has kept his cards close to the vest, and while a decision on Indianapolis was always most realistic following the conclusion of this year’s Formula One campaign, the anticipation dance is getting a little old. In Stewart’s case, much of the same feelings are bubbling to the surface.
The NASCAR team owner spent his summer nights racing sprint cars in 2018, revitalizing the confidence in his own driving ability. In August, Stewart put the racing world on notice by mentioning that a drive at the Indianapolis 500 was “not out of the question.”
At the same time, Stewart stated that he would want to run an IndyCar race before returning to Indianapolis, and he later vowed that such an effort would not to be a “sideshow like Danica (Patrick).” Unfortunately, all that has followed has been wild speculation, somewhat been fueled by Stewart himself. Read More
Header image courtesy of the Tribune Star.