Barber notes: Team Penske adds Fitzgerald as sponsor

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Team Penske announced today that Fitzgerald Glider Kits, North America’s leading truck glider kit assembler, is building on its partnership with the team to become a primary sponsor for three Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2017, including this weekend’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First.

Josef Newgarden is driving the No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevrolet on the Barber Motorsports Park road course. Fitzgerald will also be the primary sponsor for Juan Pablo Montoya in the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, on the No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet for both the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the road course and the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

Today’s announcement coincides with the official unveiling of the No. 2 Fitzgerald entry that Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski will drive in two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events later this season.

“Team Penske is proud to work with Fitzgerald and to have the company build on its partnership with us in NASCAR to now expand to INDYCAR, it certainly shows their commitment to motorsports and to our organization,” said team owner Roger Penske. “This is a great opportunity for our team and Fitzgerald to team up for the greatest motorsport event in the world – the Indianapolis 500. With a two-time Indy 500 winner and proven champion in Juan Pablo Montoya behind the wheel, it definitely could be a special month of May at Indianapolis for Fitzgerald and our other partners.”

Tommy Fitzgerald Sr., the founder of Fitzgerald Glider Kits, is excited about the exposure his opportunity his company will receive with Newgarden this weekend and with two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Montoya next month.

“To be a part of the Indianapolis 500, and to do it with Team Penske, is going to be so exciting for our employees and customers,” Fitzgerald said. “What makes it even more special is getting a chance to work with a driver like Juan who, has such an incredible resume and track record at Indy. We are really excited to showcase the Fitzgerald brand to the fans of INDYCAR while still being a big part of Team Penske’s NASCAR operation. We’re looking forward to building on this momentum for the rest of the year.”

Hinchcliffe makes TV acting debut on ‘Private Eyes’

He’s flashed his dance moves on “Dancing with the Stars” and shared his wit and knowledge on “Celebrity Family Feud.” Now the world gets to see if Verizon IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe can act.

The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver recently taped a guest star role on “Private Eyes,” the Toronto-based crime drama starring Jason Priestley, the former Indy Lights driver. The episode involving Hinchcliffe, who plays himself, is the season premiere for the second season and will air in May.

The driver of the No. 5 Arrow Honda, who won the most recent Verizon IndyCar Series race April 9, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, is leaving it to others to critique his acting performance.

“It went pretty well, I guess,” Hinchcliffe said today prior to qualifying for the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First. “We’ll see the finished product. It was tough because I’m ‘playing myself,’ but Jason kind of set up the scene so that his character and me had a little bit of friction.

“So I had to be a bit of a jerk and it’s not naturally what I would default to. We’ll see how my jerk comes across.”

“Private Eyes” airs on Global TV in Canada and on ION Television in the United States.

Franchitti accepts Barber museum donation to Jim Clark Trust

Dario Franchitti, retired three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion, accepted a donation of 10,000 British pounds (approximately $12,800 U.S.) to the trust for fellow Scottish racing great Jim Clark from the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum.

George Barber, owner of the museum and the Barber Motorsports Park racetrack, made the check presentation today. Franchitti said the donation will be used to help fund a new, larger museum in Scotland to display memorabilia and artifacts from Clark’s stellar career.

The Jim Clark Trust was started by his parents a decade after Clark lost his life in a racing accident in Hockenheim, Germany. Clark won 25 F1 races and the 1965 Indy 500. Much of Clark’s racing success came in Lotus cars developed by Colin Chapman. The Barber museum hosts the largest Lotus collection in the world.

“Jim Clark was a true champion in every sense,” George Barber said. “Throughout his career, he raced and earned wins in Lotus and was a dear friend of Colin Chapman, the innovator behind the Lotus marque. The Barber museum has enjoyed an enduring friendship with the Chapman family. We feel that supporting the Jim Clark Trust is a way to honor not only Jim Clark’s memory and Lotus history, but also the large family of motorsports fans around the world.”

Indy Lights trio visits students at Birmingham autism center

Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires drivers Shelby Blackstock, Nico Jamin and Dalton Kellett made a special visit Thursday to the Glenwood Autism and Behavioral Health Center in Birmingham, Alabama as part of Racing for Kids’ initiative in every INDYCAR race market.

The drivers entertained nearly 100 children at the facility with stories of their racing feats, as well as signing autographs and posing for photographs. The visit came in conjunction with National Autism Awareness Month.

"Our students really appreciate the attention they get from these Racing for Kids drivers," said Linda Baker, chief operating officer for the center.

"They really enjoy the special attention they get from these drivers.”

“I don’t really think you can qualify a race car and you can’t race a qualifying car here. You’ve got to really have kind of two different setups. It’s going to test everybody.”

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