POWERFUL PENSKE

INDYCARS headed to Pit Lane

Friday morning the Verizon INDYCAR Series race cars queued up and paraded out through Gasoline Alley to Pit Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first session of the month – practice for the INDYCAR Grand Prix. This is the fourth year for the road course race, utilizing various infield portions of the Speedway, making it a 14-turn, 2.439-mile circuit. The weather was mostly cloudy for the 9:15am session, chilly, breezy, a wind chill factor of 55 degrees F. The session got off to an inauspicious start with a very early red flag for debris. The field has 13 Hondas and nine Chevrolets.

Will Power

Will Power. Photo by Nico Matamoros

Will Power/No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet led the field Friday in the first practice. He turned his fastest lap of 1:09.3172 / 126.670 mph on his last lap as the checkered flag about to fly, rising to the top for the first time in the 45-minute session. Power edged past Joseph Newgarden/No.2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who had been leading and led two other times; and Scott Dixon/No.9 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, who was running third and had led twice earlier.

Simon Pagenaud

Simon Pagenaud. Photo by Pablo Matamoros

The qualifying track record is 1:08.6746 / 127.855 mph set last year by Power in the first round of knockout qualifying. Last year’s pole was 1:08.7696/127.832 mph, set by Simon Pagenaud, who went on to win the race. He also won the inaugural GP in 2014, with Will Power the 2015 winner.

Juan Pablo Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya. Photo by Nico Matamoros.

Juan Pablo Montoya/No.22 Fitzgerald Kits Team Penske was seventh fastest, in his first INDYCAR race of the season, since he left Penske after the end of last season. “I got an idea this morning of what we needed out of the car, and I think it helps. Even though we screwed up in the first session.” Later, JPM joked that he had to come back and lighten things up for the team, as they were getting too serious.

Helio Castroneves

Helio Castroneves. Photo by Nico Matamoros

Helio Castroneves/No.3 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet was twelfth. This weekend he is running the silver Verizon livery on the road course chassis. For the Indianapolis 500 he will run a new gold livery for Shell Fuel Rewards on the Speedway chassis. Travis Law, the Chief Mechanic for Castroneves’ car said that livery changes are labor intensive. The No.3 car has six different primary sponsors, which means six complete graphics changes for the driver, crew, and all equipment as well as the car. Everything changes. The Verizon car is a wrap, which takes about eight hours. Four of the guys in the Paint Shop help out with some specialized outside hired help. The special gold livery for the Indy 500 is painted on, with PPG help. PPG is one of the team’s sponsor and has been a great help with the technology as well as color design. It takes days to complete.

This weekend there also are three support races from the Mazda Road to Indy Grand Prix Presented by Royal Purple Supporting Lupus Foundation of America Series: Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda; Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires; and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.

Indy Lights has a field of 14 drivers, from six countries and the US. Half the drivers are Rookies.

The Pro Mazda field is 15, with three countries and mostly US drivers represented. Ten are Rookies, and four are in the National Class – which means the driver either has an older spec car, or is older than a kid.

The largest support race group is the USF2000 field, with 23 drivers, including two women – the only group with female drivers. Ten countries are represented, plus the US, and 17 are Rookies. What fun! Five of those foreign drivers commute from home or another country, while the others have more local addresses.

Thursday was a test day for the Mazda Road to Indy Series, the three support races this weekend. Their sessions were run under cool, heavily-overcast skies. The track was wet from the Wednesday late night rain, but it dried quickly.

Friday’s schedule called for practice and qualifying for all four groups and races for the three support groups.

Mega delay in posting due to WiFi problems. So sorry. Universal Frustration.

FOG

Foggy Paddock

Sunday morning’s heavy dense coastal fog in Monterey delayed the start by two hours for the third and final day of the Mazda Road To Indy races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. With practiced tweaking by the mob of involved Stewards, Race Officials and Track staff, the schedule was adjusted, keeping the announced order of races for the five series. The series retained most if not all of their promised track time, with the day slated to end 55 minutes late.

Again the SFR SCCA volunteer race marshals gave up their lunch hour for another, now familiar, Grab and Go drill. The sun broke the fog at 11 am, with the help of a languid breeze. The temperatures were in the low sixties.

Sunday’s schedule called for seven races, with at least one race per series; and two series have two races, morning and afternoon.

The races, in order, are: Pro Mazda Series Presented by Cooper Tires – Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Monterey Presented by Allied Building Products; IMSA Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires; Global MX-5 Cup Invitational; Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda – Cooper Tires Grand Prix of Monterey Powered by Mazda; Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires – Mazda Indy Lights Grand Prix of Monterey Presented by Cooper Tires; and then the second race of the day for Pro Mazda Championship and IMSA Prototype Lites. Now that’s a mouthful!

One of the amazing things about this weekend is that there is such a plethora of young talent, drivers honing their skills and doing some incredible racing. All this talent and energy, which will develop and rise to higher levels. The sad thing, to me, is that the better they get and higher up they go, the fewer the chances become of getting a good ride. All dressed up and no place to go. Forty-two of the 82 drivers (mostly young and mostly male) are Americans, and the rest hail from 22 other countries far and wide. Let’s wish them luck and opportunities.

Foggy Sunday

CAN YOU SAY MAZDA?

2016 MRLS Mazda Drivers

Mazda is busting out all over at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey CA, for the Mazda Road to Indy races, featuring five professional race series all running Mazda Engines in the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires ladder as well as the Mazda Road to 24 level. Those series bring 82 drivers from 21 countries including the US. This unique Mazda develoopment program provides more than $2 million in racing scholarships available to the champions in several series: Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda, Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires, Mazda MX-5 Cup and Indy Lights Powered by Cooper, as well as the IMSA Mazda Prototype Lites Presented by Cooper Tires Series. This whole program spans across three sanctioning bodies – IndyCar, IMSA, and SCCA Pro Racing.

Thanks to the Mazda Road to Indy and the Mazda Road to 24, Mazda has 82 drivers from 21 countries racing this weekend at our home track of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Five series are in action with 100 percent powered by Mazda, with more than $2 million in Mazda scholarships available to series champions. For those too far away to join us in Monterey, you can watch most of the weekend’s 12 races at MazdaLive.com.

Saturday’s National Anthem was sung by Mazda MX-5 Cup driver, Aurora Straus of New York, who races No.17 for McCumbee McAleer Racing. Her car number is her age, a high school senior, who advantageously utilizes her race trips with visits to prospective colleges. This trip she visited nearby Stanford University where she wants to major in English and Mechanical Engineering.

Foggy Friday

Friday’s practice day got off to an inauspicious start – one hour and 45-minutes late due to a seasonal fog delay. Talk about Foggy Mountain Breakdown. But all’s well that ends well. The crackerjack San Francisco Region Sports Car Club of America volunteer race officials and marshals worked closely with the officials from the three series and the race track to put it to right, and with a well-orchestrated Grab and Go Lunch for the workers, all drivers got their track time and the day only ended a few minutes late.

Once the sun came out Friday and Saturday the weather was picture-perfect beautiful: sunny and warm with cloudless blue skies and gentle breezes. Saturday’s morning fog delay was only an hour, and the time was made up to with shortening the generously long lunch hour and nice breaks between sessions.

Kyle Kaiser

Kyle Kaiser

Ed Jones

Ed Jones

Kyle Kaiser of Santa Clara CA, driving No.18 Juncos Racing has the pole for the Saturday Indy Lights race, with a lap of 1:15.2733/107.034 mph. He currently is fifth in the standings with 279 points, 41 points behind Rookie Santiago Urrutia of Uruguay in No.55 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian. Urrutia qualified third, behind Ed Jones of Dubai, UAE in No. 11 Carlin. Jones currently is second in the standings, with 318 points, just one behind Urrutia. All cars have a Dallara chassis with Mazda engine and run Cooper Tires.

Kaiser said “I think I have everything to lose, so I’m just going for the win today. The grip changed today, car was faster.”

Jones was fastest in the first practice and Rookie Dean Stoneman of England was fastest in No.27 Andretti Autosport in the second practice on new tires, second fastest in the first practice and fastest overall.

In the IMSA Prototype Series, Clark Toppe of TX has the pole for Race One in No.10 JDC Motorsports, with a lap of 1:24.504/95.3 mph. Second and third were his teammate Austin Versteeg of Utah in No.7 and Kyle Masson of FL in No.18 Performance Tech Motorsports. In the Masters Class, the top driver was Michael Chlumecky of Canada in No.31 Eurosport Racing. He will start sixth.
All cars have a Elan DP02 chassis with Mazda engines, on Cooper Tires.

Mark Drennan

Mark Drennan

John Dean II of FL was fastest in the second practice for the Mazda MX-5 Cup Series, in No.16 Sick Sideways Racing. Teammate Nathanial Sparks of AL got the pole position for the first race, in No.8, with a lap of 1:41.737/79.192 mph. Second and third were Robby Foley of NJ in No.63 Atlanta Motorsports Group and Rookie Mark Drennan of San Jose CA in No.50 Winding Road Racing TFB.

Rookie Aaron Telitz of WI in No.82 Team Pelfrey has the pole for Race One in the Pro Mazda Series, with a time of 1:23.2863/96.736 mph, turning his time on his last flying lap before the checkered flag in the 12-car field. Eight of the drivers are Rookies. Second and third fastest were Pato O’Ward of Monterrey Mexico in No.80 Team Pelfrey and Rookie Nicolas Dapero of Argentina in No.33 Juncos Racing. Telitz had been fastest in the second practice, while Will Owen of TX was fastest in Practice One in No.23 Juncos Racing.

Aaron Telitz No.82

Aaron Telitz No.82

Telitz is the current points leader with 345 points to O’Ward’s 331. He has six poles and five victories. O’Ward has six victories and five poles. Third in the points and the only other driver to have won races (2) and poles (2) is Rookie Nico Jamin of France in No.2 Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing. He will start the race from fifth position on the grid.

Victor Franzoni of Brazil was fastest in all sessions for the USF2000 Series, taking the pole with a lap of 1:26.3066/93.351 mph in No.9 ArmsUp Motorsports. Second and third were teammates Anthony Martin of Australia in No.8 and Parker Thompson of Canada in No.2. They race for Cape Motorsports w/Wayne Taylor Racing. Thompson was second in both practices followed by Martin. All cars run a Mazda engine in a Van Diemen chassis on Cooper Tires.

All the series have a race on Saturday afternoon, and another race on Sunday. Two groups – the Pro Mazda Championship Series and the IMSA Prorotype Lites have a third race Sunday afternoon. It’s a full, full weekend. And many of the races can be followed live by streaming from Mazdalive.com.

Mazda has a Zoom-Zoom radar speed trap high atop the Start-Finish Cross-Over bridge, which measures the speed of the cars on the front straight and headed up into Turn One. The top speed I’ve observed so far this weekend was an Indy Lights car at 148 mph. Zoom-Zoom!

Zoom-Zoom

UNSUNNY SONOMA SATURDAY MORN

Saturday morning at Sonoma Raceway, the Verizon IndyCar Series paddock has more hustle in the bustle as the 22 cars are prepared for their first practice session at 10am PDT.

IndyCar Paddock

Penske Crew polishing wheels

Empty IndyCar Tech Center

The Scrutineering Bay is totally devoid of activity as all the IndyCars completed their initial Tech Inspection Friday. They will, however, be coming back time and again during the weekend to check on things.

The teams get busy early, as the garage opens at 7am PDT. The teams off-load their race cars from the transporters. Each night the cars are lift-gated to their transporter bed.

Ryan Briscoe's car lift-gated up

Ryan Briscoe's car lift-gated up

Ryan Briscoe's car lift-gated up

Chevrolet announced that it has won the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer Championship, with two races remaining in the 18-car schedule. In the 22-car field, Chevrolet has ten cars and Honda has 12. Chevy’s statistics so far this season include winning ten of the first 16 races, and starting on pole 12 times. Chevrolet rejoined the IndyCar Series in 2012 and has won this championship every year since. Chevrolet previous involvements in indycar racing were 1983-1993 and 2002-2005. During those years it’s won seven Indianapolis 500 races and six Driver Championships.

Saturday’s busy on-track schedule has two IndyCar practice sessions with qualifying last session of the day. Other series competition include Warm-Up and Race #2 for the Cooper Tires USF2000 Series powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Series presented by Cooper Tires, Qualifying and Race #1 with no Warm-Up for SCCA Pro Racing’s Pirelli World Challenge Series, and Race #1 with no Warm-Up for Indy Lights powered by Cooper Tires.

The weather started out cold and foggy with no breeze. It’s forecast for full sun by Indy first practice, and working up to a high of low eighties by mid-afternoon.

Team Penske Prep

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CARS

Cadillac Convertible and friends

It’s another beautiful day in the neighborhood at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Saturday morning. The sun is shining, skies are blue with scattered clouds, and there’s a breeze. Crowds are thronging for Grand Prix of Indianapolis race day – four races. The feature race is the Verizon IndyCar race at the end of the schedule, preceded by the three Road to Indy support series – Indy Lights, Mazda Pro Series Presented by Cooper Tires, and Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda.

In Pagoda Plaza, more than 150 beautifully restored classic cars are on display, by groups. These meticulously detailed cars, invited by the Classic Car Club, will be seen all day. There is judging underway, and Saturday night there will be an Awards Banquet to present the trophies.

Vintage Pace Cars

1936 Cord Phaeton

Classic Corvettes

Bobby Rahal's 1961 Jaguar E Type

Charles Bronson's 1949 Delahaye

Cadillac Sedan

In the IndyCar garages the teams are starting to ramp up for the late afternoon race, slowly and surely. There doesn’t appear to be anything frantic ongoing. So far the Tech Shed is vacant, awaiting visitors. Signs are starting to go up for the incoming Indianapolis 500 drivers.

Tech Shed

Sebastian Saavedra's garage

Pippa Mann's Garage sign

The highlight of my day came early, with a Hot Lap in the Chevrolet Camaro Safety Car driven by Professional Driver GAIL TRUESS, who also drives the Indy 500 Doctor’s Car. What a thrill!

Racing begins at 11 am and continues into the afternoon, finishing with the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis – a 82-lap/200-mile IndyCar race on the 14-turn, 2.349-mile road course. The live TV broadcast is on ABC beginning at 3:30 ET/local time.

MEET THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

Matthew Brabham

Matthew Brabham

Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves

Look at these faces and remember their names. They are the drivers of the future.

Rookie MATTHEW BRABHAM/No.33 Andretti Autosport took his first pole position for the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race Saturday afternoon. The third-generation racer turned a lap of 1:18.4256/111.958. He came to the series courtesy of the scholarship he earned from winning the 2013 Pro Mazda championship.

GABBY CHAVES/No.5 Belardi Auto Racing will join him on the front row.

Brabham said taking pole “was a confidence builder after the less than stellar start to his Lights season. We kept moving forward with the car during the weekend getting faster and faster.”

Both Brabham and Chaves lauded the IMS road course. Brabs said it was a nice change from other street and road courses, nice and smooth, like Circuit of the Americas, where I drove last year in the Pro Mazda race. This track is like a European track.”

Chaves said “I’ve won races from second position (and lost races from the pole). The Lights competition is the highest it’s ever been, so we have to keep pushing ourselves.”

SPENCER PIGOT/No.7 Juncos Racing has the pole position for Pro Mazda Powered by Mazda series, with a lap of 1:22.9623/105.836 mph, the only driver to drop down into the 22’s. All nineteen drivers were on track. SCOTT HARGROVE/No.3 Cape Motorsports w /WTR, who had been fastest overall this weekend will start the race on the front row with Pigot.

Four of the 20 drivers are in the Expert Class and nine are Rookies.

HENRIK FURUSETH/No.96 JAY Motorsports took the pole for the Cooper Tires USF2000 group, with a lap of 1:31.9800/95.460 mph. Up until qualifying, the fastest Furuseth went this weekend was P5. The top Rookie was TIM HOLLOWELL/No.12 GBI Racing, in fourth place. All 22 drivers were on track, and half the field are Rookies.

IMS HAS GRAY MATTER

IMS Pagoda

It’s a grey, grey morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Day Two of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, featuring the road course for all four IndyCar Series. The wind is brisk, the skies threatening, and forecast grim.

In the Verizon IndyCar garages, things are bustling, but on a low key level. Not much engine noise, a few cars working their way through the Tech Shed, and inside the garages, last minute work being done for the 10am practice local time.

No.3 Team Penske Chevrolet

No.26 Honda

No.41 Honda

The IndyCar Rules Book has just been published much to the delight of those who work in Race Control, including BEAUX BARFIELD, GARY BARNHART and JOHNNY UNSER. Barfield is the IndyCar Series Race Director, Unser is a Driver’s Steward this weekend – one of a rotating panel who work in the tower during events, and Barnhart, who handles all the data used and needed during a session.

Johnny Unser, Gary Barnhart and Beaux Barfield

Left to Right: Johnny Unser, Gary Barnhart and Beaux Barfield.

Friday is Family Fun Day at the Speedway. Thursday was free to the fans.

Friday’s schedule is mostly qualifying and racing, with the fist group on course being the Verizon IndyCar Series, having a morning 45-minute practice before afternoon qualifying. The other three groups, the Road to Indy series will all qualify in the morning and race in the afternoon after IndyCar qualifying. They would be the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, Pro Mazda powered by Mazda, and Cooper Tires USF2000.

Around 9am local time, a Weather Alert was showing intermittently on the Media Center monitors. Stay tuned. Gotta love the midwest weather. If you don’t like it, wait five minutes.

9am Weather Alert

GETTING RACY

IndyCar Starter

No.11 KVSH Chevrolet

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS/No.11 KVSG Racing Chevrolet was fastest in the first Verizon IndyCar road course practice session Thursday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His lap was 1:10.5150/124.518 mph.

All 25 cars were on course, turning double digit numbers of laps. Second through fifth were RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.28 Andretti Autosport Honda, SIMON PAGENAUD/No.77 Schmidt Peterson Hailton Motorsports, JOSEF NEWGARDEN/No.67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda, and SCOTT DIXON/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

Rookie MIKHAIL ALESHIN/No.7 Schmidt Peterson Motors Honda was the top Rookie, in sixth place. GRAHAM RAHAL/No.15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing turned the most laps – 20, and was in nineteenth place. Rookie CARLOS MUNOZ/No.34 Andretti Autosport Honda turned the fewest laps – ten.

IndyCars practice again at 2pm local time, for another 45 minutes.

GABBY CHAVES/No.5 Belardi Auto Racing pipped the charts at the last moment in the practice for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, His lap of 1:19.1740/110.900 mph was turned just prior to the checkered flag, pipping Rookie LUIS RAZIA/No.7 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports who had led the charts for most of the session. He was one of eleven drivers on track, and eight are Rookies.

SPENCER PIGOT/No.7 Juncos Racing turned a 1:23.5212 lap, topping the charts for the Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires. He’s on his way to a fifth victory in as many Pro Mazda races so far this season. There are 20 drivers in this group, including nine Rookies.

FLORIAN LATORRE/No.10 Cape Motorsports w/WTR was the fastest driver in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda at 1:26.0840/101.998 mph. There are 21 drivers in this group, including ten Rookies.

BACK HOME IN INDIANA

IndyCar SF

The first Verizon IndyCars took to the new road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Thursday morning in warm, sunny weather. They were the first of four groups on course. At first, the IndyCars mostly seemed to go out and in with not much actual on-track running, at least at first. It’s called acclimation.

Twenty-five IndyCars are entered for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis this weekend, which will run on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course. The cars race clockwise, opposite of the Indianapolis 500.

Five of the drivers are Rookies, including ‘newcomer’ MARTIN PLOWMAN of England, who will be racing for A.J. Foyt Enterprises in No.41 Honda.

There are ten Chevrolets, and fifteen Honda’s this weekend.

This is a full Road to Indy race schedule, with the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires, and Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda groups.

Thursday is practice for all four groups, followed by the Celebration of Automobiles Track Laps.

Friday is IndyCar practice, qualifying for everyone, and three races for the support groups.

Saturday are more races – all four groups, plus the Celebration of Automobiles. The IndyCar road race begins at 3:50pm local time.

Sunday starts practice for this year’s Indianapolis 500 race, and will continue through Thursday – noon to 6pm daily, local time.

ANDRETTI’S ANNOUNCEMENTS

Andretti Autosport made a series of announcements Saturday afternoon prior to the MAVTV Izod IndyCar Race at Auto Club Speedway. None came as much of a surprise … more like suspicions confirmed. There was shuffling of players back and forth on and off the podium for the several announcements.

Art St. Cyr & Michael Andretti

Art St. Cyr & Michael Andretti

MICHAEL ANDRETTI, President/CEO of Andretti Autosport, and ART ST. CYR, President, Honda Performance Development announced that Andretti Autosport will switch to Honda engines, with a multi-year contract starting with the 2014 season – a move rumored at least since the Houston IndyCar race. Andretti admitted talks had begun prior to that weekend. He said “It’s like coming home.”

Andretti Autosport has been with Chevrolet for the past two years, and won the 2012 Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championships with RYAN HUNTER-REAY.

St.Cyr said “We’re extremely happy to welcome Michael Andretti and his Andretti Autosport organization back into the Honda Racing family. As many of you will remember, the Andretti organization played a major role in Honda’s success during the previous era of manufacturer competition in Indy car racing; and we’re looking forward to adding more victories and championships to an already impressive total.”

Chevrolet’s statement from JIM CAMPBELL, U.S. Vice President Performance Vehicles and Motorsports: “We’d like to thank MICHAEL ANDRETTI and the entire Andretti Autosport organization for their partnership in IndyCar Series competition during 2012 and 2013. Michael, J-F THORMANN and JOHN LOPES lead a quality organization that resulted in RYAN HUNTER-REAY winning the 2012 IndyCar Series driver championship. We would like to thank the Andretti Autosport drivers for their on-track achievements that contributed to Chevrolet clinching the 2012 manufacturers’ championship. They are all true professionals on and off the track. We wish them well and look forward to spirited competition in the future.”

James Hinchcliff, Matthew Brabham, Chad Taylor/United Data and Michael Andretti

James Hinchcliff, Matthew Brabham, Chad Taylor/United Data and Michael Andretti

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE has been a pivotal driver in the ongoing IndyCar Silly Season Saga. He became a free agent after his Go Daddy sponsorship announced it was leaving IndyCar at the end of the 2013 season. He was courted by and had talks with several teams. The suspense ended Saturday. Hinch renewed with Andretti.

The Mayor of Hinchtown will drive No.27 with primary sponsorship from United Fiber & Data. CHAD TAYLOR, Chairman of UFD, told of the company being formed by three musicians from the band LIVE and their Think Loud Development Company. Hinch promised not to become a fourth musician. He’ll leave his guitar on the wall.

UFD is jumping into motorsports sponsorship in a big way. UFD will continue to be a major associate sponsor on MARCO ANDRETTI’s No.25 car, and will also join RHR’s No.28. And then as if that’s not enough, UFD will be the primary sponsor for MATTHEW BRABHAM, who is moving up to Indy Lights next season, after winning the Pro Mazda Championship with 13 victories and 15 podiums out of 16 races – a series record.

Michael Andretti said he was glad to make the Hinch announcement, along with sponsorship; no doubt almost as happy as Hinch was to have his next year’s plans finalized before the end of the current season instead of going down to the wire.

Hinch said “It’s great to be back with Andretti. Obviously, this has been home for the last two years and we preach so much about chemistry in this team and to keep it together is awesome.”

Both Andretti and Hinch were quick and effusive in their praise and thanks to Go Daddy for its sponsorship.

And last but not least was the announcement that young Brabham will continue to race for Andretti going forward. He comes from well-storied and famous Australian racing family – the son of former racer GEOFF BRABHAM, nephew of racer DAVID BRABHAM and former racer GARY BRABHAM, and grandson of the great JACK BRABHAM. Although the teenager grew up in the US, he still has traces of an Aussie accent.

Matthew Brabham brings with him the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development scholarship money for winning the Pro Mazda championship. He’s no stranger to the Mazda scholarships. He won the USF2000 Championship in 2012, moving him up to Pro Mazda – the only driver so far to so do.

Brabham said “I’m really excited to be moving into Indy Lights next year. I remember seeing the Indy Lights cars for the first time in St. Petersburg when I was racing USF2000 there last year; I was blown away by how quick they were and how cool they sounded. It’s going to be a fun year, and I’m very pleased to be on board with Andretti Autosport for a second year. Especially so after the fantastic year we shared this year in the Pro Mazda Championship. I’m so grateful to CHAD TAYLOR and BILL HYNES with United Fiber & Data and Mazda for giving me this incredible opportunity for next season!”

Andretti Autosport is not only involved in all levels of the IndyCar family, he’s moving to the new FIA Formula E series for electric formula cars. Andretti has not nominated his Formula E driver.

In Formula E, Andretti is joining JAY PENSKE of Dragon Racing, who will also field a Formula E team. JAY PENSKE of Dragon Racing has nominated SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS as the driver for the majority of the races – depending on IndyCar conflicts. Bourdais is moving to the KVSH IndyCar team next season. While Andretti is remaining in IndyCar, Dragon Racing is not.

The Formula E series has scheduled 10 rounds, with two in the US – Los Angeles on 14 February 2014 and Miami on 18 April 2014. No specific venues have been named.