IMSA Wire: ‘Old Friend’ Aids No. 60 Meyer Shank DPi Run toward Front

‘Old Friend’ Aids No. 60 Meyer Shank DPi Run toward Front
Cameron, Montoya at Home Driving Same Chassis with New Team

Jan. 28, 2021
By Mark Robinson
IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya moved to a new home for the 2021 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, and they brought along an old and trusted friend.

The 2019 series champions looked on contentedly Thursday afternoon as teammate AJ Allmendinger posted the fastest practice lap during Thursday afternoon’s practice in preparations for the 59th Rolex 24 At Daytona. Allmendinger powered around the Daytona International Speedway road course in 1 minute, 34.287 seconds (135.925 mph) driving the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05 DPi.

Thing is, that No. 60 is the same car that Cameron and Montoya used for much of last season, when it was the No. 6 Acura Team Penske. In this case, familiarity didn’t breed contempt. It brought speed.

“AJ was quickest there, and Juan was good on his running in that last session, so we’ve been making some good progress,” Cameron said. “We were a bit off in the morning and kind of pounding the racetrack. The guys were pretty flat out in the gap in between (sessions) to make some changes. We’re still learning quite a bit about the car. We seemed to find a decent spot there.”

Montoya agreed, saying the Acura enjoys the cooler conditions presented Thursday.

“I felt we were a little lost this morning and we made some good changes,” the two-time Indy 500 and three-time Rolex 24 winner said. “And in the last practice the car seemed to find some good speed. Normally when it’s cold conditions, the car seems to like that, so we’ll see what it brings. We’ve still got to execute the race and see what it brings.”

Cameron and Montoya brought their knowledge of the Acura from three seasons in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) machine with Team Penske to Meyer Shank this year. Cameron will pair with Olivier Pla for all WeatherTech Championship races in the No. 60. Montoya will join them for the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup events, with Allmendinger on board for the Rolex 24.

Having been down this road before in the Acura’s development, Cameron said he and Montoya serve as a sounding board for the team’s engineers on what has and hasn’t worked in the past.

“Really, for Juan and (me), it’s been more of trying to guide them,” Cameron said, “and letting them know if the feeling is right, the feeling is wrong and just keep them pointed in the right direction.”

Pla, who drove a prototype for Meyer Shank in 2016 when the team won the Motul Petit Le Mans, has been absorbing as much information as he can take in from the experienced Acura duo.

“Both of them have been great with me, helping me to learn the car, to understand the car,” Pla said. “They have got so much experience with this car, so I rely a lot on them, actually.”

The No. 60 Acura’s afternoon lap was edged for overall honors by Renger van der Zande during Thursday’s night practice. The two-time defending Rolex 24 overall winner pushed the No. 01 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi around the circuit in 1:34.146, just 0.141 seconds better than Allmendinger’s afternoon run.

Other class leaders after the three sessions were:
· In Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), Mikkel Jensen in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07, at 1:35.979;
· In Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3), Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 91 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320, at 1:42.416;
· In GT Le Mans (GTLM), Nick Tandy in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, at 1:42.586;
· In GT Daytona (GTD), Marco Mapelli in the No. 111 GRT Grasser Race Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3, at 1:45.593.

A final one-hour session starts at 11:20 a.m. ET Friday. The starting grid was determined last Sunday in the Motul Pole Award 100 qualifying race, won by the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi to earn the overall pole position in the 49-car field.

Live coverage of the Rolex 24 begins at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on NBC and carries overnight on other NBC Sports platforms including NBCSN, TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold and the NBC Sports App. The broadcast returns to NBC at 2 p.m. Sunday for the race conclusion. Flag-to-flag IMSA Radio coverage is also available on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com.

Tickets for the Rolex 24 At Daytona are available HERE.

Hardwick Sidelined from Rolex 24 Following Pilot Challenge Crash

Wright Motorsports driver Ryan Hardwick will miss the Rolex 24 with a concussion sustained Wednesday in a crash during IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice. He will be replaced in the No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3R lineup by Trent Hindman, the 2019 WeatherTech Championship GTD champion.

“It’s unfortunate that I won’t be able to join the team for the big race,” said Hardwick, who was hospitalized overnight for observation. “I wish I was driving with them, but sadly that won’t be possible.

“When I first learned I wouldn’t be able to drive, Trent was immediately one of the first drivers I thought of to step in. I want the team to continue and our 1st Phorm car to be on track to compete in this event. I’ve followed Trent’s career for the last few years, and I think he’ll be a good fit.”

Hindman joins a No. 16 lineup that includes Patrick Long, Jan Heylen and Klaus Bachler for the Rolex 24. Hardwick and Long finished second in the final 2020 GTD standings and, with Heylen, won the season finale, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.

“First and foremost, what’s most important is that Ryan is OK,” said Hindman, 25, who will make his fifth Rolex 24 start. “Filling in for the Rolex 24 under these circumstances is never ideal, but I am grateful to John (Wright), Ryan and the Wright Motorsports team for trusting me with this opportunity. The No. 16 Porsche looks to be a strong contender for victory come Sunday, and I certainly look forward to doing everything I can to make it happen.”

Following the incident, Wright Motorsports withdrew its Pilot Challenge entry from competing in Friday’s BMW Endurance Challenge At Daytona.

No. 3 Corvette Drivers Itching for Return to Rolex 24 Victory Lane

By Holly Cain

With a year under their belt steering the high-profile No. 3 Corvette Racing C8.R and earning the 2020 championship trophy for their mantel, Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia showed up in Daytona feeling optimistic that they – along with co-driver Nicky Catsburg – should now be considered favorites to earn Corvette’s first GTLM class Rolex 24 win in five years.

That was in 2016, a thrilling battle between the make’s two team cars. The No. 4 Corvette nipped the No. 3 Corvette by a mere 0.034 seconds, battling door-to-door throughout the twice-around-the-clock season opener. It was an amazing 1-2 finish for the Corvette C7.R and second straight win in the Rolex 24.

Garcia, 40, was driving the No. 3 Corvette that missed the win by a blink of an eye. This year he has great faith in the Corvette C8.R, the mid-engine car starting its second season of competition, to be best in class.

“We just need to focus on our program, what we do and trying to learn the car and I think we should be prepared for Saturday,’’ said Garcia, who has won three of the last four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTLM titles.

The Garcia/Taylor Corvette won five races in 2020 but notably finished fourth (Rolex 24), fifth (TireRack.com Grand Prix), runner-up (Motul Petit Le Mans) and fifth (Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts) in the endurance races. The team is boldly optimistic in this weekend’s second Rolex 24 try with the C8.R – hoping to put an end to BMW Team RLL’s two-year winning streak.

The No. 4 Corvette, with drivers Tandy and Alexander Sims, won the GTLM pole position with its victory in Sunday’s Motul Pole Award 100 in the car they share with Tommy Milner. The No. 3 will start second in class.

“I think we’re definitely going in with some good momentum after last year, winning five races and the championship,’’ said Taylor, who has a pair of DPi and overall wins in the Rolex 24. “Just such a strong showing for the C8.R (last year), so coming back to Daytona and having a year under our belt with this car, a lot of development and winning the sprint race here last year gives us some confidence.

“But I think this year, especially with all the new cars and new classes, it’s definitely going to change the game a bit with how much you will have to be careful and cautious through the night with some new drivers and some new cars.

“I think at the end of the day it’s the same style of racing where you’re going to have to survive until the end, but I think it’s a little bit extra this year making sure you get to the end of the race with a strong car and a fast car.”

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Joao Barbosa Seeks Fifth Rolex 24 Victory with New Team in 2021

The latest news: Sean Creech Motorsports
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Joao Barbosa Seeks Fifth Rolex 24 Victory with New Team in 2021

Sean Creech Motorsport makes LMP3 debut in 59th Daytona classic

ec33e24c-eba7-4053-9a36-f210275e03ab.jpgDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (26 January 2021) – Joao Barbosa will return to the Rolex 24 At Daytona for the 19th time in 2021, racing a new car with a new team in an all-new class. However, the Portuguese driver will bring the same approach he’s carried throughout his career when he drives the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Exelixis Ligier JS P320 Nissan in the LMP3 class in America’s premier endurance race.

The event (January 30, NBC, 3:30 PM) will mark the first-ever inclusion of the global LMP3 platform into the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship category.

“Every time I go to the Rolex 24, it’s with the same mentality,” said Barbosa, who will co-drive with Wayne Boyd, Yann Clairay and Dr. Lance Willsey. “I try to do the best job I can, and come home with the watch. Winning a fifth Rolex would be very, very special, after a really tough year in 2020.”

Barbosa is seeking his fifth victory in the event, adding to his collection of Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watches, which is the elusive first-place prize for drivers in the event. After winning the GTS class in 2003 – co-driving with legend Andy Wallace in a Mosler MT900R – he joined Action Express Racing for overall triumphs in 2010 and 2014 in a Corvette DP, and in 2018 in a Cadillac DPi.

Barbosa earned back-to-back podium finishes at Daytona International Speedway in 2020. He finished third in both the Rolex 24 and the Daytona 240 – IMSA’s July 4 return following more than a five-month shutdown due to the pandemic – co-driving with Sebastien Bourdais for JDC-Miller Motorsports.

After running in the lead class in the Rolex GRAND-AM Series from 2006 through 2013, and then in the WeatherTech Championship since 2014, Barbosa and Willsey will be running for the championship in LMP3, the newest class in IMSA’s premier series.

d29f6948-54fc-4851-acc0-e1ce453e8797.jpg“It’s a new team, a new car, a new class – a lot of ‘new,’” Barbosa said. “It’s going to be very different. There’s a lot to figure out, and I’m pretty excited about the opportunity to race for Sean (Creech) and drive with Lance, Wayne and Yann. That’s why we go there – we want to go there and win our class, and have the best possible result. While Daytona doesn’t count for the points in the season championship, it’s a great way to start the season. The Rolex 24 is always my favorite race of the year.”

Barbosa has tested twice at Daytona with Sean Creech Motorsport, once with last year’s Prototype Challenge car and once with the brand-new Ligier machine.

“The car had just arrived for our test, so there is still a lot to figure out and fine tune,” Barbosa said. “But the team is on it, and is doing a great job preparing it the best way possible. They’re putting together all the tools and everything they need to be part of the WeatherTech Series. It’s a step up for them as well. It’s pretty exciting to start almost from zero and help them build a great WeatherTech team.”

Driving-wise, Barbosa feels it will be a smooth transition from the DPi to the new LMP3.

b5f19961-10bb-4db3-b55d-e75628128d4d.jpg“This car is definitely different [from the DPi],” he said. “There’s definitely a lot less horsepower, and it has steel brakes instead of carbon fiber. And the performance is a little slower. But that’s about it. The car feels really nice to drive and is a lot of fun.

“I think this is a great class for IMSA, and I’m super happy that they decided to make it part of the WeatherTech [Championship],” Barbosa continued. “It’s an entry point to the series, at a financially reasonable rate, with great cars that are really fun to drive. It’s going to make great racing, because there’s no BOP, it’s going to be up to the teams and the drivers to make the difference. It will be really exciting for the fans to watch.”

Official practice for the 59th Rolex 24 At Daytona will begin on the following Thursday, Jan. 28.

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Kevin Doran Looks for More Daytona Success

The latest news: Sean Creech Motorsports
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Kevin Doran Looks for More Daytona Success

Sean Creech Motorsport moves to WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021

2d6d5837-8396-49d4-875b-74ec5510ccb4.jpgDAYTONA BEACH, FL (27 January 2021) – Kevin Doran will be looking to add to his impressive resume in the Rolex 24 At Daytona when he returns to the opening IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race of 2021 in a brand-new role.

Doran will be engineering the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Exelixis/iMonza Ligier JS P320 Nissan driven by João Barbosa, Lance Willsey, Wayne Boyd and Yann Clairay.

Based in Lebanon, Ohio, Doran has built one of the top car preparation and management organizations in the country. Doran’s accomplishments are legendary in endurance sports car racing.

Doran won the Rolex 24 five times in various roles. Coming to the event for the first time in 1985 as a crewman for Holbert Racing, he helped guide Al Holbert, Derek Bell and Al Unser Jr. to back-to-back Daytona victories in 1986 and 1987. He won as team owner/crew chief for Gianpiero Moretti in 1998 and Fredy Leinhard in 2002. An original Daytona Prototype constructor, Doran became the first DP car builder to win the Rolex 24 overall in 2004.

92882eb9-237f-4ec2-8d5f-147ad5c18241.jpg“This is such a huge event,” Doran said. “I was so young when I came here for the first time with Al Holbert, I was amazed by the status of the event, and how it’s continued to grow over the years. It goes well beyond a race. It’s a mega-event, and in the end, those are the races I like: the Rolex 24, Sebring, Le Mans, Indy 500. I’ve done them all; they’re the top four events. The energy from the crowd and all the excitement of the international gathering. Hopefully, it will have all of that this year despite all this COVID mess!”

Doran has accumulated a warehouse full of memories from his Daytona experiences.

“The first victory had special meaning with Holbert,” Doran said. “We led for around 21 hours in 1985 but finished second to Preston Henn. To come back and flip the tables in ’86 was something. Henn’s guys led a lot of that one, and we came from behind to win.”

The following year, Holbert took over the role of team manager and added Chip Robinson as driver. With the drivers suffering from overheating issues due to fumes in the cockpit, Holbert drove a critical stint to preserve the second-consecutive victory for the No. 14 Löwenbräu Special Porsche 962.

22ae6ed5-0e15-493a-8d17-d6aa194d3085.jpgIn 1989, Doran prepared a former Holbert 962 as a second entry for Jim Busby, driven by IndyCar legends Mario and Michael Andretti.

Doran made his debut as a car owner in the 1993 Rolex 24, entering a Nissan NRTI-90 for a driver lineup including Gianpiero Moretti, Derek Bell and John Paul Jr. Coming back from a 32-lap deficit, the team was leading by two laps when the engine let go with less than two hours remaining.

Doran and Moretti moved to the new Ferrari 333SP in 1995. After coming close many times, the veteran Italian finally broke through in 1998 with a popular victory shared with Mauro Baldi, Didier Theys and Arie Luyendyk.

“Probably the most fun and exciting one was when Gianpiero won in ’98,” Doran recalled. “He tried so long and so hard to win that race, to be able to go to victory lane with him was really memorable.”

d4b64735-4a1c-4a0a-b04c-7509fbd1e130.jpgDoran won with Leinhard, Theys, Baldi and Papis in 2002 in a Judd-powered Dallara. Two years later, Bell Motorsports took the Doran-manufactured Pontiac Doran to victory with Christian Fittipaldi, Terry Borcheller, Andy Pilgrim and Forest Barber.

“I’ve run this race with everybody,” Doran said. “I’ve had such a cool history at the Rolex 24, through the heyday of sports car racing. I got to race with a lot of my heroes.”

Next weekend, Doran is looking to add to that history when he returns to the Rolex 24 in a new role with Sean Creech Motorsport.

“Sean’s put together a stellar lineup,” Doran said. “João is a super-star on my list since the early 2000s. I remember him at Le Mans, driving by the Audis in a privateer Dallara-Judd that was similar to the one we won with at Daytona. I was super-impressed, and he’s someone I’ve always wanted to work with.

“I worked with Yann three years ago in LMP3 with the Extreme Speed team, and he helped us win the championship with Kris Wright. He’s a great driver, and super familiar with the LMP3. Everybody on the team is on top of it; it’s a stacked group, and it would be super-cool to win it one more time.”

Official practice for the 59th Rolex 24 At Daytona will begin Thursday, Jan. 28, with the twice-round-the-clock classic taking the green flag at 3:40 p.m. on Saturday.

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Rebel Rock Brings Well-tested Camaro to Daytona Season Opener

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Rebel Rock Brings Well-tested Camaro to Daytona Season Opener

1d3312a9-631d-4f95-aded-ac9ea75ce8cf.jpgDAYTONA BEACH, Fla (27 January 2021) – Rebel Rock Racing wrapped up a three-day Roar Before the Rolex 24 test session at Daytona International Speedway right on plan, putting the final touches on preparation for the No. 71 Urban Grid Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R for Friday’s BMW Endurance Challenge, the opening round of the 2021 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

Frank DePew and Robin Liddell logged six hours of practice during the test, with a best lap of 1:55.538-seconds. Liddell was fifth-fastest in Saturday morning’s rainy session.

“I feel like we’ve had a successful test,” DePew said. “The car has been slowed down quite a bit [by a significant off-season Balance of Performance adjustment], so I’m not sure how competitive we’ll be, but we’re going to do the best we can.”

The team led the Grand Sport class with two victories in 2019 – its first full season – and won a four-hour event at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta last season.

“I certainly think we’ve got a good package and we can have a good race, even though we won’t have the speed that this car is capable of,” Liddell said. “Then we’ll just have to see what everybody else does and how we can move forward.”

At four hours in duration, Daytona joins Watkins Glen as the lone endurance events on the 10-race schedule. This year, the team will use a two-driver lineup for the long races as DePew continues to accelerate his progress in the IMSA ranks.

95b57556-d27b-47b2-8735-43e6892d1eef.jpg“We’ve made a decision that Frank’s going to do more driving,” Liddell said. “He’s at the point where he has been progressing at this level and getting quicker, and having the extra time in the car in the race is ultimately a good thing. It gives me a lot of driving to do, but I think overall it will be quite interesting to see how it all works out.”

DePew is up to the challenge of opening the race with a double-stint of approximately 90 minutes.

“This will probably be the first time that I’ve raced more than an hour and a half or more straight,” DePew said. “I’m looking forward to spending more time in the car.”

While slowed by the BOP adjustment, Rebel Rock is looking to capitalize on the durability and reliability of its Camaro to build a foundation for its full-season campaign.

“I think we’ve got a well-gelled team now,” Liddell said. “We rolled off the trailer with a very good setup. The car was good from the beginning – balance and handling wise – and that’s testimony to some of the work Pratt & Miller is doing away from the race track. Charlie (Ping) our engineer is a good strategist and the guys are doing a really good job in the pits, so I think with all of that we can execute very well. If we’re in the hunt at the end, that’s really where we will find out if we’ve got a car that can compete or not.

f87feb7e-05df-4fb0-986e-d1884c168a26.jpg“Our main goal is to maximize the points, and bigger-picture wise, try to smooth out some of these peaks and troughs we’ve had in the past. If we can just smooth that out and be more consistent with our results, hopefully we can find ourselves in a good spot at the end of the year.”

Practice for the BMW Endurance Challenge begins with a one-hour practice beginning at 1:45 p.m. (all times ET) on Wednesday. Thursday will have a 45-minute session at 9:45 a.m., followed by GS qualifying at 2:45 p.m. Friday opens with a 20-minute warm-up at 9:10 a.m. The BMW Endurance Championship gets the 2021 season underway at 1:10 p.m., and will be televised live on the IMSA TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

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IMSA Wire: New Mazda MX-5 Cup Era Begins under IMSA Sanctioning

New Mazda MX-5 Cup Era Begins under IMSA Sanctioning
Entry-Level Series Will Host Seven Doubleheader Rounds in 2021

Jan. 27, 2021
By John Oreovicz
IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Mazda MX-5 quickly became an international bestseller when it was launched in 1989. Since then, it’s also been developed into the world’s most popular racing car.

Mazda Motorsports seized upon the MX-5’s sporty appeal and created an aggressive contingency program that benefits both grassroots and professional racers. The first unified national pro championship for the MX-5 was staged in 2006, and the Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BF Goodrich Tires is now firmly established as the top tier of the Mazda Road to 24 (#MRT24) scholarship program that offers young racers a path to professional sports car and endurance racing.

That is why it’s appropriate that, starting in 2021, the MX-5 Cup is sanctioned by IMSA. Six of the seven doubleheader weekends that comprise the 14-race championship will be staged in conjunction with IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events, starting with the MX-5 Cup’s first-ever appearance at Daytona International Speedway this week.

Every competitor is chasing $250,000 in support on offer for the series champion from Mazda Motorsports.

A field of 27 identical cars is expected, led by defending MX-5 Cup champion Michael Carter in the No. 08 car prepared by Carter Racing Enterprises. Carter, 21, is a junior at Georgia Tech University who balances his racing with the pursuit of a degree in finance.

“Returning to the series as the defending champion for my third MX-5 Cup season is allowing me to have a more relaxed approach,” Carter said. “I get to just go out there and have fun, and I think that’s a great position to be in.

“I’ve been racing at Daytona since 2014, and I’m really looking forward to getting back on the track,” he added. “The racing will be absolutely insane, and I can’t wait for the green flag to drop for Race 1 on Thursday.”

2019 MX-5 Cup champion Bryan Ortiz is also slated to compete in the No. 4 entry from Copeland Motorsports, which is also joining the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge full time this season.

The most prominent newcomer to the MX-5 Cup is Louisiana native Aaron Jeansome, 22, who secured a $110,000 scholarship to the series by outperforming eight other hopefuls in the MX-5 Cup Shootout, staged in November at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. He is driving the No. 24 Provision Motorsports MX-5.

To commemorate the 15th year of the shootout, Mazda awarded a $75,000 scholarship to Chris Nunes (No. 32 JTR Motorsports Engineering) and another $75,000 to Savanna Little, the top female finisher in the competition.

Little joins Hixon Motor Sports, where she will be part of a seven-car lineup that includes fellow promising women drivers Hannah Gresham, Sabre Cook and Loni Unser. The team is managed by respected female racer Shea Holbrook.

Since the start of 2020, new cars entering the MX-5 Cup have been constructed by Flis Performance in Daytona Beach. A turnkey MX-5 Cup racing car costs $80,000.

Production MX-5s built in Hiroshima, Japan, are stripped down, equipped with an FIA- and IMSA-standard roll cage, and fitted with more than 250 dedicated racing components, including a six-speed sequential gearbox. Key components, including the 2.0-liter Mazda SKYACTIVE engine, are sealed to ensure even competition and keep the series cost-effective.

This week’s MX-5 Cup schedule calls for practices on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, ahead of qualifying at 12:25 p.m. ET Thursday. The first race starts at 5 p.m. Thursday, with the second at 10:15 a.m. Friday. All races are 45 minutes in length and will stream live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

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Sunday Group Management Blog: Virtual Racing from the Other Side of the Screen

Sunday Group Management Blog: Virtual Racing from the Other Side of the Screen

Amy Greenway manages the media relations and social media programming for Sunday Group Management client Trans Am presented by Pirelli, and has some recent first hand experience to share about the dramatic recent growth of online racing.

31 March 2020- In my household, everyone is a gamer. My daughter hosts her own Twitch channel, my husband was a finalist in the inaugural NBA 2k league tryouts and Overwatch time for me serves as a peaceful solitude where I can mindlessly capture a point in team play.

But, over the last week, I’ve quickly learned being on the other side of the controller is so much more difficult than I had ever imagined.

During the furloughed racing shutdown, I’ve taken part in three live online racing events hosted on the iRacing and rFactor 2 simulation platforms, with each series proving more difficult and more complex than the last.

In a platform that I’ve only watched Twitch streams of, Conor Daly being my favorite, hosting a league was my first direct experience with iRacing.

I immediately found out that there’s no dipping your toe in the waters; it’s jump in, swim upstream or drown trying. The virtual racing platform is unforgiving and the programming is much more than just- ‘download the software and go racing.’

As a league organizer, I had to recruit drivers, manage the schedule, decide on a proper setup- including the type of chassis, download multiple pieces of software that are required to properly run the game, update the announcer on each driver participating, host the stream, produce the stream for YouTube, Twitch and Facebook, promote the event to the media, cultivate prizes, and oh yeah, did I mention keep sponsors happy along the way?!?

All this in seven days’ time, while reading the iRacing manual from cover to cover, supported by how-to YouTube videos and hours spent on the phone with a couple of drivers who were willing to give me a crash course in items I was having trouble with.

And, the minute I had a bit of confidence about my progress, a new technical issue would emerge, which meant hitting up YouTube for more videos, chatting with iRacing support and more late-night tutorials via FaceTime with drivers.

Working through all the trials and tribulations and with fingers that had no nails left to chew, it was time to push the GO LIVE button…

I can hear the announcer, minimal echo=great!
There’s cars on the track=awesome!
No drivers have messaged me saying they can’t join=sigh…
The stream is a bit choppy=make a note.
The winning driver didn’t join discord for his interview=we will do better next time.
Negative comments=nominal.
The flood of positive feedback of fans who were just happy to watch some sort of racing=worth it!

I read on a Motorsport Prospect blog that “plain and simple- racing is about people, and not technology.” After this experience, I could not agree with that statement more.

I set my expectations to having to respond to the massive amounts of online gaming and racing trolls who feast on tears of the weak, but what I got instead was an overwhelming support of community. Fans who overlooked the minor tech glitches and were appreciative that we were actually trying to showcase drivers and racing in this unprecedented time.

Gaming and motorsport have long run in separate niche lanes, but combining the two markets with real-life race car drivers competing against fans and other series drivers will solidify the existing base while attracting new fans and potentially new drivers. The iRacing and rFactor 2 simulation allowed for fans or drivers who otherwise don’t have the budget, to race alongside the drivers they’ve followed their entire careers. The drivers were in to it, the fans enjoyed it, the media was engaged, the social media response was noteworthy and the sponsors were happy about the deliverables.

The shutdown has taught me that it takes innovation to survive, striking back to engage fans, drivers and sponsors. The word CHANGE in motorsport can sometimes bring the crowds to their knees hyperventilating into paper bags. But the ability to adapt to big change brought bigger opportunities.

Literally, not two minutes after the first stream ended, I had a sponsor text me how they could get more involved. Now, because of their investment, we were able to hire a streaming company that can deliver a better product to our fans- just because we were willing to CHANGE.

The hours of heartache trying to figure out something new, was worth it, and we will continue to explore this unprecedented path far after we are back to “normal.”

SiriusXM expanding INDYCAR coverage

INDIANAPOLIS (March 10, 2020) — SiriusXM, the Official Satellite Radio Partner of INDYCAR, the sanctioning body for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, is expanding its coverage for the 2020 season. In addition to delivering live flag-to-flag broadcasts of every race all season long, SiriusXM will debut a new weekly show featuring current and former INDYCAR drivers.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES season begins with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, run through the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET). SiriusXM listeners will have access to the live call of this race and every one of the 17 events on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES calendar, from the green flag through the finish, including the world-famous Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 24. SiriusXM listeners will also get coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying sessions.

SiriusXM’s INDYCAR race coverage will be available to subscribers nationwide on the SiriusXM radios in their vehicles (Sirius channel 211, XM channel 205), and outside the car on the SiriusXM app for connected devices and speakers. For a schedule of races go to:SiriusXM/IndySeries.

In addition to airing live coverage of every race, SiriusXM will debut a new show dedicated to INDYCAR that will air weekly throughout the season. Brick by Brick will debut Wednesday and air each Wednesday (6-7 p.m. ET) on SiriusXM’s exclusive Dan Patrick Radio channel (SiriusXM channel 211). The show will be hosted by former NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver AJ Allmendinger and veteran motorsports broadcaster Jack Arute.

On the season premiere, Allmendinger and Arute will be joined by two-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Josef Newgarden and other drivers to preview the season opener.

On Thursday, Tony Kanaan, the 2004 series champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner, will host a special edition of Brick by Brick alongside Arute live (7-9 p.m. ET) from St. Petersburg. Kanaan, who has announced that this season will be his last as a primary driver, will be a host on Brick by Brick multiple times this season.

In addition to NTT INDYCAR SERIES races, SiriusXM will also air Indy Lights races throughout the course of the season. Indy Lights is the final step in the Road to Indy driver development series, which features some of the world’s best young open-wheel drivers and has produced many of today’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES stars.

2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Team Preview: Meyer Shank Racing

INDIANAPOLIS (March 10, 2020) – This is the 10th of a 12-part series of comprehensive team previews as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES prepares for the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg set for March 13-15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

The preview series features each of the full-time teams as well as teams running a partial schedule that includes the season-opening race. Today’s featured organization: Meyer Shank Racing.

Coming Wednesday: Team Penske.

The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday, March 15. The pre-race show begins at 2:30 p.m. ET with the green flag scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Starting Lineup: Jack Harvey (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda).

2019 Recap: The team increased its season schedule to 10 races last season after competing in a partial, six-race season in 2018. The highlight of 2019 was Harvey’s and Meyer Shank Racing’s first-ever NTT INDYCAR SERIES podium at the INDYCAR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after starting third. Harvey’s second-best qualifying effort in 2019 was at Portland International Raceway, starting fourth; he also finished 10th in three other races.

What’s New for 2020: Meyer Shank Racing will embark on its first full season of NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition in 2020 and a technical partnership with Andretti Technologies. The Ohio-based team will be competing full time in both the NTT INDYCAR SERIES as well as returning to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship to defends its 2019 championship title. The growth of MSR also means that both the INDYCAR and sports car programs will have their own personnel; only team owner Michael Shank and team manager Jason Givens will cross over between both race series.

Keep An Eye On This: One thing will be how quickly MSR adapts to several new changes, including working alongside the Andretti Technologies program. Racing full time will allow for the team to get up to speed quicker with more track time than the team was used to in the past. It also will be the first time that MSR and Harvey compete at several of the oval circuits on the schedule.

Season Outlook: Harvey has every reason to be excited about his first full season in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The team has stuck to its growth plan and improved results have come. Interestingly, Harvey has competed in 19 series races but has yet to drive at four of the oval tracks on the 2020 schedule (Texas Motor Speedway, Richmond Raceway, Iowa Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway).

“A Different Breed” Notable: Harvey is one of only seven drivers to have won on the oval and the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, accomplishing that in Indy Lights in 2015. Harvey took home six wins in his two years racing in Indy Lights, finishing runner up in the championship in both 2014 and 2015.

IMSA Wire: Goikhberg, McMurry Leaning on Teammates in Transition to Meyer Shank Racing Acura

Goikhberg, McMurry Leaning on Teammates in Transition
to Meyer Shank Racing Acura

Feb. 20, 2020
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service

SEBRING, Fla. – Among the eight drivers entered in this year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona for Meyer Shank Racing and its sister team Heinricher Racing, only two drivers were in the same seat as last year.

Mario Farnbacher and AJ Allmendinger returned in the team’s No. 86 Acura NSX GT3, with Farnbacher once again tapped as the full-season driver and Allmendinger swapping his helmet for a headset with NBC for the remainder of the season.

Meanwhile, Trent Hindman – who with Farnbacher was crowned the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) champion – made the transition from the No. 86 to Jackie Heinricher’s No. 57 entry for the four IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup rounds this year.
Then it gets interesting.

Two of the team’s full-season drivers are making their return to the Shank camp after brief hiatuses. In the No. 57, Alvaro Parente will be back behind the wheel of MSR machinery for the first time since 2018. In the No. 86, it’s 2019 WeatherTech Championship LMP2 champion Matt McMurry alongside Farnbacher.

“It’s great to be joining Meyer Shank Racing again,” said McMurry, who also interned with Honda Performance Development this past summer. “I raced with them back in [2015] when they were still running prototypes. It’s great to be back with them again and with some great teammates like Mario Farnbacher.”

McMurry admits the transition from a prototype to a GT3 car is a leap, but that he’s got some help to adjust.

“There’s quite a big difference from P2 to GT, especially around a place like Sebring,” said McMurry while testing at Sebring International Raceway, the next stop on the WeatherTech Championship calendar next month. “This GT3 car handles the bumps quite a bit differently, so that’ll take a little bit of getting used to. But I think we’ve got a great team and great teammates to help get me up to speed quickly.”

If there’s anyone that can relate to McMurry, it’s Misha Goikhberg, one of three new drivers to join the two-car Acura team this year. Alongside his full-season co-driver Parente, Goikhberg made his GT debut at the 2020 Rolex 24 following a prototype career that has spanned the past five seasons in the WeatherTech Championship.

“It’s a team with a lot of wins, just fresh off a championship, so it’s a car that’s already very well developed,” said Goikhberg. “I think their strength is their ability to bring new people in and to get them up to speed quickly, so both me and Matt are fortunate to be able to draw upon experience from guys like Mario and Trent, who have been here for a while.

“Alvaro is very experienced, one of the best GT drivers in the world. For both of us, there’s a big body of experience there we could lean upon, and that’s been very helpful, so we’ve been very fortunate in that regard.”

The other two drivers new to Meyer Shank and Heinricher at Daytona were Shinya Michimi and Jules Gounon. While Gounon’s role was specific only to the Rolex 24, Michimi – who has a successful background in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America series – continues with the No. 86 for the remaining Michelin Endurance Cup rounds.

Looking ahead to the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on March 18-21, compatibility doesn’t seem to be an issue for the mix of the established team drivers and newcomers. The six drivers entered for next month’s race often were huddled up during their Sebring test days.

What about the relationship off the racetrack? Well, that could get interesting too.

“Thankfully, they haven’t gotten me into any big trouble yet,” McMurry joked about his new teammates. “They’re trying to, for sure. I’m sure they’ll get us to do something stupid at some point during the year, but I’ve been safe so far.”

The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts is set for Saturday, March 21. The race starts at 10:40 a.m. on CNBC. It can also be streamed on the NBC App with authentication and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio will have coverage available at IMSARadio.com, RadioLeMans.com and Sirius XM.

Tickets are available now at SebringRaceway.com.

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IMSA Wire: Nasr, Tandy Get Quick Start at BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach

www.sundaymanagement.com(317) 908-2975
@sundaygroup

Begin forwarded message:

From: “NewsWire, IMSA” <imsanewswire>
Date: April 12, 2019 at 12:42:34 PM PDT
To: matt
Subject: IMSA Wire: Nasr, Tandy Get Quick Start at BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach
Reply-To: imsanewswire