Notes: Champion Pagenaud guests on 'Star Wars Show'

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“The Force” was definitely with Simon Pagenaud throughout the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season and the recently crowned champion showed it during the season finale at Sonoma Raceway – on and off the track.

Pagenaud won the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 18 to clinch his first title. During the race weekend, he was also interviewed by hosts Andi Gutierrez and Peter Townley for a Verizon-sponsored segment of “The Star Wars Show,” a regular YouTube program covering everything to do with the popular film franchise.

In addition to talking to Pagenaud, the hosts were tested to a high-speed version of “Star Wars” trivia, answering racing-related questions from the films while riding at speed in INDYCAR Experience two-seat Indy cars driven by Gabby Chaves and Zach Veach around the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway road circuit.

Watch the nine-minute show below. The INDYCAR segment begins shortly after the five-minute mark.

Sonoma weekend raises $151,000 for local youth groups

Charitable programs combined to raise more than $151,000 for Sonoma County, Calif., youth groups during the Verizon IndyCar Series GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma weekend at Sonoma Raceway, Sept. 16-18.

Proceeds from the majority of events will benefit Sonoma County youth organizations through the Sonoma Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities (SCC), the charitable arm of the raceway, which has distributed more than $5.1 million to local youth-serving non-profit groups since 2001.

SCC partnered with the Michael Andretti Foundation to host the IndyCar Grand Prix Salute at Andretti Winery in Napa on Sept. 16. Andretti Autosport drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz, Alexander Rossi and Marco Andretti attended, along with Marco’s father Michael and grandfather Mario. The event that included a reception, dinner and silent and live auction raised more than $35,000 for SCC.

Levy Restaurants, the official caterer of Sonoma Raceway, had seven local non-profit groups work track concession stands over the race weekend to earn funds for their organizations that totaled more than $110,000.

Still time to join Race to Beat Cancer with Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe

Racing For Cancer, the non-profit organization founded by Verizon IndyCar Series driver Ryab Hunter-Reay following his mother's death from cancer in 2009, is still accepting reservations for its second annual Race to Beat Cancer racing instruction and competition event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., from Dec. 1-4.

Hunter-Reay and fellow Verizon IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe will assist Skip Barber Racing School coaches with participants’ instruction at the scenic 2.238-mile permanent road course. Four levels of participation are available for beginners and advanced drivers, ranging from a one-race program to a three-day race program that also includes a round of golf at the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links.

All participation levels include exclusive dinners and receptions in the beautiful Monterey area, hot laps in a Porsche 911 and reduced rates at The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach. For more information or to reserve a spot, click here or visit RacingForCancer.org.

Racing notes

Renewal tickets for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the opening event on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule set for March 10-12, are now available and include a new Champions Club program that adds more value.

The Champions Club program offers exclusive benefits including Verizon IndyCar Series paddock passes, access to the pre-race grid walk and an opportunity to win a ride in the INDYCAR Experience two-seater. Renewal tickets are available to customers who purchased weekend grandstand tickets in 2016. General public ticket sales start Nov. 8.

For full ticket pricing and event information, visit gpstpete.com or call (877) 725-8849.

From the fans