INDIANAPOLIS – Sage Karam has been a busy host of racers from other disciplines the past two days.
One day after greeting sprint-car legend Steve Kinser to the Dreyer & Reinbold – Kingdom Racing garage, Karam welcomed NHRA drag racers Shawn Langdon, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Leah Pritchett to Gasoline Alley at Indianapolis Motor Speedway prior to today’s practice session for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
All three enjoyed taking a turn stepping into Karam’s No. 24 Gas Monkey Garage Chevrolet in the garage and learning more about the intricacies of the car, especially the steering wheel. Pritchett, a Top Fuel winner earlier this year at Phoenix who drove Formula Fords as a youngster, said she would relish an opportunity to drive an Indy car.
“I have a huge amount of respect for speed and other people's equipment,” she said, “but I would definitely entertain that possibility, especially since I grew a love for it with the small amount of road-course racing I have done.
“I definitely don't suck, but I'm definitely no professional at it. I think if I had the opportunity to hone some skills that I would be OK, but these are true professionals out here who have dedicated their lives to this and I don't think I could hold a candle to them by any means. But it'd be fun, there's no doubt about it. For now, I'm just going to look on and watch and cheer for Sage this month.”
Karam, the 21-year-old looking to drive in his third consecutive Indy 500, enjoyed meeting his fellow racers.
“It is way different, what they drive, compared to what I drive, but at the same time there are a lot of similarities and it's cool hearing what they have to say,” Karam said “I've never sat in an NHRA car before, but I would like to. Hopefully I can get down to Englishtown (N.J.) and see these guys race there, get to experience what NHRA racing is all about and get to see all those similarities and differences in my own eyes.”
Ilmor Engineering celebrates Indy car win No. 300
In this history-making year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, longtime engine builder Ilmor Engineering has already made some history this month.
When Simon Pagenaud won the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the IMS road course May 14, it marked the 300th victory in Indy car competition for Ilmor, which produces the 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engines with partner Chevrolet.
The company was founded in the United Kingdom in 1983 by engineers Mario Illien and Paul Morgan, along with Verizon IndyCar Series team owner Roger Penske. Ilmor’s first Indy car race win came at Long Beach in 1987 with Mario Andretti at the wheel and its victory list includes 19 triumphs at the Indianapolis 500.
Chevrolet and Ilmor have teamed to win four consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series manufacturers’ championships.
“When Paul Morgan, Roger Penske and I started Ilmor, we all had high ambitions and the will and drive to win, but we could not imagine at the time we would reach the success we have,” Illien said. “I am very proud of the many Ilmor employees who have contributed to this achievement. It is an indication and reflection of hard work, consistency and talent.”
Co-founder Penske has been a major beneficiary of Ilmor’s success. Team Penske has collected 114 of its 181 Indy car wins and nine of its 16 Indianapolis 500 victories in Ilmor-produced engines.
“Team Penske is proud to be associated with Ilmor and the legacy of success that the company continues to build in motorsports,” Penske said. "This achievement is certainly a credit to the hard work and dedication of all the employees, the leadership of Steve Miller, Steve O’Connor, Paul Ray and their teams and the vision created by Mario Illien and Paul Morgan back in 1983 when Ilmor was first formed.”
Fans have much to enjoy when arriving early for 100th Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials are encouraging fans to arrive earlier than in previous years for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 29 due the expected surge in attendance for the epic event. An expanded program of prerace entertainment is planned for ticket holders coming early.
Gates at IMS open at 6 a.m. ET following the traditional cannon blast. All fans are encouraged to arrive by 8 a.m. or at least two hours earlier than their normal arrival time.
Among the entertainment opportunities available to fans: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum opens at 6 a.m. and features a special “50 Years of Team Penske in Racing” exhibit; the enhanced fan midway opens at 6 a.m.; Prairie Farms and the Indiana chapter of the American Dairy Association will distribute 100,000 milk bottles to fans on race day for an epic milk toast with the winner of the 100th running; ESPN’s “SportsCenter on the Road” will tape episodes at Pagoda Plaza; and the Borg-Warner Trophy will begin an epic “march” from the IMS Museum to the start-finish line’s yard of bricks at 8 a.m., escorted by the Gordon Pipers.
All of that is in addition to the traditional flyovers, military tributes, “Back Home Again in Indiana” sung by Josh Kaufman and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, the national anthem from Darius Rucker, balloon release, marching bands and more.
“This race day, we’re celebrating with our largest crowd in decades,” said Allison Melangton, Hulman Motorsports senior vice president of events. “To avoid unnecessary delays and to have the best experience possible, plan to get here in the early morning hours or at least two hours earlier than usual.”
Tickets on sale for INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen
Tickets are now available for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to Watkins Glen International. The INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen will take place Sept. 1-4 on the iconic 3.4-mile permanent road course in Watkins Glen, N.Y.
To order tickets, call (866) 461-7223 or click here.