LONG BEACH, Calif. – The journey came full circle for Theodore Racing on April 14.
At the venue that team founder Teddy Yip Sr. helped launch more than four decades ago, son Teddy Yip Jr. announced that the Theodore Racing name will return to Indy car racing for the first time since 1985 as a partner with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for three races.
The team’s foray into the Verizon IndyCar Series for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil is the latest chapter in second incarnation of Theodore Racing.
Yip Sr. founded the team in 1973 and competed in many series, including Formula One and Indy cars. Tom Sneva drove to victory in the 1983 Indy 500 in a Theodore entry. Yip Sr. was also instrumental in getting the Grand Prix of Long Beach off the ground in 1975 with promoter Chris Pook.
Yip Jr. resurrected the team name in 2013 when he entered a car in and won the F3 Macau Grand Prix. The team has also raced in GP2 and GP3 in recent years under the Status Racing banner. The Verizon IndyCar Series partnership means that driver Graham Rahal’s No. 15 Honda will be entered in the three races as Rahal Letterman Lanigan with Theodore Racing.
“I’m very excited about bringing the Theodore Racing name to North American motorsport,” Yip Jr. said. “My father founded Theodore Racing purely for his love of motorsport and the people associated with it. He worked with some great names and made some lifelong friends along the way.
“It’s a great pleasure to partner with RLL, particularly with the 30th anniversary of Bobby (Rahal’s) Indy 500 win.”
Penske, Flanders inducted into Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame
Team owner Roger Penske and longtime track announcer Bruce Flanders were immortalized in Grand Prix of Long Beach history April 14 when inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame.
In its illustrious 50-year history, Team Penske has claimed five Indy car wins at Long Beach with drivers Paul Tracy, Al Unser Jr., Helio Castroneves and Will Power. It’s part of the team’s legacy that totals a record 178 wins in Indy car racing, 13 season championships and 16 Indianapolis 500 victories.
“California is something special to me because I had some of my great racing success at Riverside,” Penske said. “We first raced here in 1976 in Formula One and we’ve had 60 starts with five wins and 10 poles. We love coming here.
“California and Long Beach is very special to our team,” said Penske (pictured at right). “I think it’s important when you think about Long Beach, we’ve had great success and a lot of failures. The great thing is the fact that we can come here every year and we have the opportunity to compete on this great circuit.”
Flanders is synonymous with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, having announced every event since 1978. The former motorcycle speed record holder was humbled by the induction.
“This is such an honor,” said Flanders. “You go down that row (of Walk of Fame inductees), there is some heavy names, not one announcer.
“I did the math and just at this venue I have talked to over five million people.”
Past winners share memories of Long Beach triumphs
The list of Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach winners is a who’s who of some of the greats of Indy car racing. Juan Pablo Montoya, Sebastien Bourdais, Takuma Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay shared their memories of winning at Long Beach with at the April 14 media luncheon for this year’s event.
Team Penske’s Montoya scored his first Indy car win of any kind at Long Beach in 1999. He would go on to win six more races in the CART season and take the series championship while driving for Chip Ganassi.
“It was a long time ago!” Montoya said. “It was a lot of good memories. It was a different track layout back then, but since then the track has improved a lot. It is still a fun place.”
Bourdais won three straight at Long Beach from 2005-07. In those three wins, the Frenchman never qualified worse than fourth place and took two pole positions in a row (2006-07).
“The first one was probably the most satisfying because we had to go get it from fourth,” said Bourdais. “It’s not the easiest thing to do here. After that, it was from pole both times. It’s always been a great experience in the Champ Car days just really having to push yourself very hard here and to commit very deep. It’s a pretty high-speed street course and every time we’ve gone on to win this event, it was by throwing it down and steering it real well.”
Sato’s win in 2013 was the first in the Verizon IndyCar Series for a Japanese driver and the first for AJ Foyt Racing since 2002. The only thing missing from the weekend was team owner Foyt, who was home in Texas recovering from surgery. Sato also brought some happiness to his home country as Japan had just suffered through a devastating tsunami.
“Memories, never forgettable,” said Sato. “Not only was it my biggest personal achievement, but also being able to put the A.J. Foyt No. 14 car in the winner’s circle was such an unbelievable feeling. We wished A.J. was there physically that day.
“Still, we talked over the phone and he was really happy. Japan was suffering and I was really happy to bring happy news to Japan.”
Hunter-Reay’s win at Long Beach set the stage for his career at Andretti Autosport. He entered the race fresh off a second place at Sao Paulo, in what was initially a three-race deal for the team.
“I had a ride on the line,” said Hunter-Reay. “Our sponsor was IZOD, all the IZOD people were here. It was a big race for us being in the L.A. market. To go out and win it, that really started my career at Andretti Autosport. Going into my seventh year now (with the team), it’s been a really good run and the team is now family.”
KVSH Racing forms partnership with California Baptist University
KVSH Racing has formed an innovative partnership with California Baptist University for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season that will see the Riverside, Calif., institution as primary sponsor of Bourdais’ No. 11 Chevrolet at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
CBU will be an associate partner for the remainder of the 2016 season and its college of engineering students will collaborate with the KVSH engineering team throughout the 2016 season, including the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500.
“The time has come for us to focus intently on the next wave of engineering talent for the (Verizon) IndyCar Series,” said KVSH co-owner James “Sulli” Sullivan. “This program gives California Baptist University an opportunity to give its engineering students a hands-on education into the world of high-performance vehicles and what makes them tick. These CBU students are some of the brightest we have seen and we’re all looking forward to having them as part of the KVSH Racing team.”
The program will enable 20 CBU engineering students access to KVSH Racing so they can observe and learn the intricacies of engineering high-performance Indy cars during at Long Beach. During the month of May, selected students will be embedded with the team for the Indianapolis 500.