INDYCAR completed an NBA takeover at two Midwest arenas March 29, to the enjoyment of fans and the drivers attending games with playoff implications.
Verizon IndyCar Series veteran James Hinchcliffe was joined by series rookies Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi in Indianapolis as the Indiana Pacers took on the Chicago Bulls. Meanwhile, in Auburn Hills, Mich., Tony Kanaan and the Borg-Warner Trophy were on hand as the Detroit Pistons hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Hinchcliffe, Daly and Rossi met with Pacers players Glenn Robinson III, Ty Lawson and Lavoy Allen for a pregame swap of race helmets for autographed basketballs (pictured above) to commemorate Indianapolis Motor Speedway Night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. During a timeout in the game, the drivers participated in a tricycle race on the court with a controversial finish reminiscent of the 1981 Indianapolis 500.
Hinchcliffe and Daly were each paired with a youngster from the crowd for the two-lap race around cones, with the drivers competing in the anchor leg. Daly’s teammate fell far behind due to his trike’s lack of grip – it definitely could’ve used a set of Firestone tires – so when Daly hopped on, he used one foot to propel him as if riding a scooter. The driver of the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing/Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda quickly passed the furiously pedaling Hinchcliffe and accepted the checkered flag waved by flagman Rossi.
The result didn’t settle well with Hinchcliffe.
“I always love coming to Pacers games, especially on IMS Night, and get to partake in some of the festivities,” said Hinchcliffe, who pilots the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda on the racetrack. “I went up against a dirty rotten cheater in the trike race, but I think that the No. 5 Arrow three-wheeler did an admirable job.
“My teammate and I would have easily taken the win if Race Control had been paying attention. But that’s fine, it’s all for a good cause, all for the kids. Just happy to be here to spread awareness for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.”
In true driver form, Daly claimed innocence of tricycle wrongdoing.
“When you go into a competition, you do whatever it takes to win,” Daly said. “I saw a severe flaw in our machinery. A young, 80-pound child was struggling to pedal it, so a 190-pound fella with red hair wasn’t going to do much better. I was not going to deal with the insufficient equipment so I did what I could. I still stayed on the trike and had all three wheels on the ground at all times and was victorious.”
As flagman, Rossi – named to drive the No. 98 Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Honda less than a month before the 2016 season started – should have been the arbiter, but had none of it.
“I think both guys did a very good job and, as James said, it’s all for the kids,” Rossi said. “I’m just disappointed my ‘machine’ wasn’t up and running today, but it was a late start to my program. I mean, I wasn’t in Phoenix for the (February open) test, either, so I am kind of used to it now.”
Kanaan, meanwhile, was the guest of honor at Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Night. The Chip Ganassi Racing Teams driver and 2013 Indy 500 champion had a busy night.
He met with media on the court before the game to talk about the upcoming 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 in May and the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans in June, signed autographs for fans, was presented a Pistons jersey and delivered the ceremonial ball for tipoff before the game. During the Pistons win, he was recognized with a special video and introduction in the first quarter and joined Pistons mascot Hooper during a second-quarter timeout to shoot foam balls into the crowd.
Kanaan also posed for photos with the Borg-Warner Trophy, the iconic sterling silver prize featuring the likenesses of every Indianapolis 500 winner.
"It was a fun evening with the Detroit Pistons for Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Night,” Kanaan said. “The fans in Detroit are great and it was cool to get a Pistons jersey, to deliver the game ball and shoot the ball gun to have some fun. The best part was the Pistons won and hopefully we got everyone excited about coming to the Chevy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans at Belle Isle in a few weeks."
Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indiana Pacers have launched a Boom & Zoom Sweepstakes where fans can win four suite tickets to the 100th Indy 500, four first-row courtside seats to a 2016-17 Pacers home game, a ride in the INDYCAR Experience two-seater and the opportunity to play P-A-C-E-R-S, the Indiana version of H-O-R-S-E, with a Pacers player.
To enter, visit https://indiana-pacers.apps.umbel.com/a05/boom-and-zoom-key-bank/.
KVSH Racing transporter damaged in fire
KVSH Racing confirmed that its transporter carrying the No. 11 Team Hydroxycut Chevrolet driven by Sebastien Bourdais was damaged by a fire while en route to Phoenix International Raceway from Indianapolis. The fire occurred in Peoria, Ariz, approximately 25 miles from the end of the 1,450-mile trip.
The fire occurred and was confined to the rear axle area of the transporter. The vehicle sustained substantial damage, however, due to the quick actions of the two team members driving the transporter, the help of other racing team transport drivers and local Fire and Police officials, the contents of the transporter were undamaged.
“First and foremost, the good news is that both of our team members, Phil Davis and Eric “Stu” Stewart were uninjured. Secondarily, the cars and equipment are undamaged,” said KVSH General Manager Steve Moore. “We are very fortunate to have to highly skilled and experienced transportation professionals who took quick and decisive action. Without them this situation could have been a lot worse. KVSH Racing would also like to thank the members of other teams and local Fire and Police responders for their assistance.”
The team is currently working on alternative logistics to support this weekend’s effort as they literally attempt to rise from the ashes and capture this weekend’s Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix.
Kanaan to sport GE LED colors at Phoenix
Tony Kanaan will sport a different shade of blue in this weekend's Verizon IndyCar Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.
Kanaan's No. 10 Chevrolet will feature the branding of the recently introduced GE LIGHT LED as part of an extension of the longtime partnership between GE, America's most trusted lighting brand, and Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
“I can’t get wait to get back to Phoenix this weekend, and I’m excited that I’ll be representing GE for the first time at the historic oval," said Kanaan, who has a pair of wins in three previous starts at the desert mile.
"I’ve had a pretty good track record at Phoenix with two wins and another podium-finish, so hopefully I can bring GE a win. I love keeping up on all of the new technology, so it’s great to continue to have a partner on the No. 10 Chevrolet that appreciates and understands the constantly evolving world of technology.”
Long Beach Walk of Fame to induct Team Penske, announcer Flanders
Two legendary names with proud histories at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – Team Penske and Bruce Flanders – will be inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame on April 14 at the city’s convention center along the race route.
"Team Penske and Bruce Flanders have made legendary contributions to the field of motorsports and they have truly earned their place on the Motorsports Walk of Fame," said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who will present medallions to the honorees. “These two honorees have delighted race fans for years, here in Long Beach and around the world."
Penske Racing, Inc. is the most successful Indy car racing team in history and has five victories at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. In 2016, Penske Racing, Inc. is celebrating its 50th anniversary season.
Flanders, known as “The Voice of the Grand Prix,” has been the public address announcer at every Long Beach race since 1978. A former motorcycle racer, Flanders began his announcing career in 1969 at the Orange County Fairgrounds, and his deep baritone voice has boomed across the loudspeakers at Irwindale Speedway, Laguna Seca Raceway, the Caesars Place Grand Prix, Watkins Glen, Wembley Stadium in England, Auto Club Speedway and more.
The induction ceremony kicks off Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend. For more information on the race, visit www.gplb.com or call (888) 827-7333.