Notes: 'Prix View' offers Phoenix fans chance to watch open test

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Fans are once again invited to attend “Prix View” on the second day of the Verizon IndyCar Series open test at Phoenix International Raceway, featuring virtually the entire field on track Feb. 10-11 in preparation for the 2017 season.

Gates will be open from noon-7 p.m. MT Feb. 11, with free admission and parking to watch the on-track testing sessions from 1-4 and 6-9 p.m. An all-driver autograph session is also scheduled from 4:45-5:30 p.m. Fans may obtain wristbands for the autograph session at the PIR booth on the track’s fan midway beginning at noon while supplies last. The track will not be open to the public for the first day of the open test on Feb. 10.

“The Prix View is an important testing opportunity for all the teams of the Verizon IndyCar Series to refine their approach to the championship before the season begins,” said Bryan Sperber, PIR president. “We are pleased to be able to open the track so fans can see firsthand the critical adjustments the teams are making in preparation for the Phoenix Grand Prix and the entire 2017 season schedule.”

The Phoenix Grand Prix on the historic 1-mile PIR oval will be the fourth race of the 2017 season, with race weekend set for April 28-29. Tickets are on sale now, with prices ranging from $35-70, $10 for children discounts for active-duty military and veterans. Fans can get the ultimate experience with a garage and pit pass for $50. For ticket information, visit phoenixraceway.com or call (866) 408-RACE (7223). 

Parnelli Jones documentary Q&A on Barrett-Jackson docket

A number of people involved with the documentary film “Behind the Indianapolis 500 with Parnelli Jones” will participate in a question-and-answer session Saturday during the annual famous Barrett-Jackson auto auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.

PJ Jones, the son of the film’s namesake, executive producer Michael Walker and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk will partake in the discussion that begins at noon MT at the Shell Pioneering Performance tent adjacent to the auction staging area. Longtime automotive program host Alan Taylor will moderate.

The panelists will discuss the documentary that explores the rich history and tradition of the Indianapolis 500 through the eyes of Parnelli Jones, the 1963 winner who annually returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the iconic event. Other greats interviewed for the film were Mario Andretti, Rick Mears, Bobby Unser, Bobby Rahal and Al Unser Jr.

The film may be purchased on DVD for $14.99 or instant streaming for $12.99 at Amazon.com.

Parnelli Jones, the oldest-living winner of the Indianapolis 500, has teamed with designer Troy Lee to produce 33 helmets, each signed by 19 Indianapolis 500 winners, including Andretti, Al Unser, Bobby Unser, Mears and Johnny Rutherford as well as current Verizon IndyCar Series stars Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves.

Jones has also authorized the sale of 30 replica helmets from his own racing days. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of both helmets (which can purchased be for $8,500 for one or $15,000 for a pair (one of each) by contacting info@carbarnproductions.com) benefits the Page Jones Head Injury Foundation.

Thompson joins Canadian team for USF2000 season

Parker Thompson will return for another season in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda as part of an all-Canadian effort from first-year entrant Exclusive Autosport in the lowest rung of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder.

Thompson, who finished second in the USF2000 driver’s championship in 2016, will return to the team that helped launch his racing career in race cars piloting Exclusive Autosport’s No. 30 Mazda-powered Tatuus US-17.

“It has been a long time coming, signing Parker to a full-season program with Exclusive Autosport,” team co-owner Michael Duncalfe said. “I am especially excited that he will be one of our drivers, a series veteran, leading the EA program in our inaugural season in the USF2000 championship/MRTI. I have the utmost respect for not only Parker's race craft, but also his work ethic on and off the track.  I have never seen a driver work as hard as he does off the track on his racing program.”

Thompson, an 18-year-old from Red Deer, Alberta, last raced for the team in Formula Tour F1600 in 2015, sweeping a weekend of racing at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, Quebec. Thompson drove in USF2000 for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing in 2016, winning four races and finishing second to teammate Anthony Martin in the championship.

"This was easily one of the hardest offseasons I have had in my motorsport career, thus far,” said Thompson. “I honestly didn't know if I was going to get behind the wheel of a race car in 2017, so when the opportunity arose to become a part of the EA organization, I was ecstatic.

“This is a dream team fit for myself, in a number of different ways. I met Michael when I was just 11 years old racing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, at the Western Canadian Karting Championships. It just goes to show you what relationship-building can do for your career down the road.”

From the fans