Reigning Indianapolis 500 winner and Verizon IndyCar Series rookie of the year Alexander Rossi will join his first karting coach, Matt Jaskol, to race for Italian team Factory CRG in this year's SKUSA SuperNationals karting event next month in Las Vegas.
Jaskol, who met Rossi nearly 15 years ago and coached him in karts for a year before Rossi graduated to single-seaters, made five starts in Indy Lights in 2007. The two reconnected this May when Rossi won the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. The pair will each race in the KZ Pro and S1 classes.
"This is where it all began and for me to give back to the foundation and roots of my profession is something I really look forward to," said Rossi, driver of the No. 98 Andretti-Herta Autosport Honda in the Verizon IndyCar Series. "Matt was and is an inspiration to me and a really big part of the reason I took the next step in racing. He's an incredible go-kart driver and champion and it's a huge honor to finally be racing with him and I'm very thankful we have the support of the World Champion Factory CRG team."
Conor Daly, who battled Rossi all season long for top rookie honors, is also scheduled to compete in the SuperNationals.
Penske honored with PVA’s Humanitarian Award
Roger Penske, whose teams have won more championships (14), Indianapolis 500s (16) and overall race wins (187) than anyone in Indy car history, was named recipient of the Humanitarian Award by the Paralyzed Veterans of America at its Mission: Able 2016 Awards event.
Penske’s NASCAR team offered a stock car to a Barrett-Jackson charity auction in 2012 than generated more than $600,000 in donations that went to PVA. Penske Truck Rental has also encouraged one-way truck renters to donate $1 to the Mission” Able campaign, with the company matching each dollar donated. Over the past five years, Penske businesses have raised more than $3 million to aid paralyzed veterans.
Team USA drivers fare well at Formula Ford Festival
Team USA Scholarship drivers Oliver Askew and Kyle Kirkwood performed well in the prestigious Formula Ford Festival at the Brands Hatch circuit in England over the weekend. In Sunday’s final race, Kirkwood charged from 16th on the starting grid to finish seventh. Askew started the final in the fourth spot and ran as high as third before his day ended early by a punctured tire.
The Team USA program has been assisting talented young American open-wheel drivers since 1990. Among past scholarship recipients have been Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Buddy Rice, Charlie Kimball, Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly and Spencer Pigot.
Askew, 19, and Kirkwood, 17, were named this year’s scholarship winners from a group of 11 candidates who were interviewed by a panel of auto racing professionals that included Kimball, Newgarden and Pigot. Six finalists progressed to a one-day shootout last month at Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida, with Askew and Kirkwood chosen as the winners by a committee that included 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran.
The scholarship included participation in the Formula Ford Festival and the upcoming Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone, driving identical Ray GR15 Formula Ford 1600 cars prepared by Cliff Dempsey Racing. Newgarden, who finished fourth in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship, became the first American to win the Formula Ford Festival in 2008, also in a Dempsey-prepared car.
Parker Thompson, who finished second this year in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda, also drove for the Dempsey outfit as part of Team Canada. The 18-year-old qualified on pole for his first Formula Ford Festival heat race and advanced to the semifinals, but was taken out by another car on the opening lap.
Verizon IndyCar Series driver Pippa Mann is hosting Karting for a Cure from 6-9 p.m. ET Thursday at Fastimes Indoor Karting in Indianapolis (3455 Harper Rd., Indianapolis, Ind. 46240). Participants may participate in karting on the 900-foot, bi-level track and enjoy food, a silent auction, raffle prizes and more to assist in the fight against breast cancer. The event is open to those ages 18 and above. To order a voucher at a discounted price of $25, visit http://www.getmyperks.com/deal/indianapolis/karting-for-a-cure?a2_cs_key=1522482. … “Reengineering Sam,” a documentary detailing the collaboration between Verizon IndyCar Series team owner and paraplegic Sam Schmidt and Arrow Electronics to develop a car he can drive using his head and breathing, debuted Sunday at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis. The documentary will have three more film festival screenings: at 8 p.m. ET today (AMC Showplace Traders Points 12, 5920 W. 86th St., Indianapolis, Ind. 46278), 12:45 p.m. ET Tuesday (AMC Castleton Square 14, 6020 E. 82nd St., Indianapolis, Ind. 46250) and 10:45 a.m. Saturday (AMC Castleton Square 14). Tickets are available online for $9 at heartlandfilmfestival.org or for $12 at the theater box offices.