Emu Australia upgrades sponsorship Meyer, Guthrie partner in Firestone Indy Lights effort Firestone Indy Lights to support Team USA scholarship Penske to be honored this weekend
1. Emu Australia upgrades sponsorship: Emu Australia, a sponsor partner of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in 2008, will be the primary sponsor on the team’s two cars entered in the Nikon Indy 300 Oct. 26 at Surfers Paradise, Australia.
“This announcement says a lot about the product we offer, and more importantly, the perception and direction that the IndyCar Series is heading,” team co-owner Robbie Buhl said. “Emu Australia joined us as an associate sponsor partner at the start of this year, and to see them make the leap up to a primary role for the race in Australia is great.
“We hope to assist Emu Australia in maximizing their name and brand in the Australian market."
Buddy Rice will drive the No. 15 entry while Townsend Bell will drive the No. 23 entry. In 17 IndyCar Series races in 2008, Bell and Rice combined for nine top-10 finishes, including a 10th and eighth respectively in the 92nd Indianapolis 500 — the best finishes for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in the race since the team’s inception.
“Our partnership with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing has been a tremendous asset in accomplishing our brand growth objectives this year,” said Ted Houston, Emu Australia CEO of America. “The two-car presence we will have for the season finale
Nikon Indy 300 in our home country of Australia punctuates a great year for us. We are looking forward to extending our IndyCar sponsorship in 2009 and having another successful year.”
Emu Australia (eem-you) is an Australian premium lifestyle brand that uses 100 percent Australian sheepskin and wool. Founded in 1994, Emu is recognized around the world for its tradition of offering comfortable products ranging from wool boots to casual comfort slippers.
2. Meyer, Guthrie partner in Firestone Indy Lights effort: Firestone Indy Lights technical director Butch Meyer is leaving the series after six seasons to become co-owner of Guthrie Meyer Racing with Jim Guthrie, who has fielded cars in the Firestone Indy Lights since 2006 under the Guthrie Racing banner.
The team intends on fielding four cars in the official developmental series of the IndyCar Series in 2009.
“While I have thoroughly enjoyed my years as technical director for the Firestone Indy Lights, I am very excited to move to the next stage of my career as a team owner,” said Meyer, the grandson of Louis Meyer, the first three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500. “Having spent the past six years with the Indy Racing League, I know the strength of the organization and the dedication they have to continue building both Firestone Indy Lights and the IndyCar Series."
The pairing of Guthrie and Meyer brings together a combined 70-plus years of motorsports experience, both in and out of the cockpit. Both men have been a fixture in IndyCar Series racing since the inception of the premier open wheel organization in 1996 and the addition of the Firestone Indy Lights in 2002.
“Jim has a proven track record as a winning team owner,” Meyer said. “Our skills complement each other and this partnership has the perfect ingredients to produce instant on-track success.”
It is also a reunion of sorts for the two racing veterans. Meyer built engines for Guthrie when he earned 1997 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year honors.
“The growth of the Firestone Indy Lights is nothing short of amazing,” Guthrie said. “My faith in Butch's knowledge and experience spurred my desire to partner with him, and it is that knowledge that will make us capable of winning every race we enter. He brings tremendous technical depth to our organization and will enhance the success we have already enjoyed."
While the need to compete fueled Meyer's decision, his goal is to turn Guthrie Meyer Racing into a premier program in the Firestone Indy Lights. Prior to joining the Indy Racing League staff, he built an impressive resume including two Indianapolis 500 victories with driver Gordon Johncock and two IndyCar Series championships – 1997 with Tony Stewart and 1999 with Greg Ray as a member of Team Menard.
“Jim and I are both very competitive and the structure of GMR will reflect that spirit of winning," Meyer said. "We are excited about the long-term goals and opportunities that we have and I can’t wait to get started.”
3. Firestone Indy Lights to support Team USA scholarship: The Firestone Indy Lights is getting involved in a scholarship program that has helped shape the career of several of today's top American racers.
The official developmental series of the IndyCar Series is among the supporters of the Team USA Scholarship, which is taking two young drivers to England to compete in the Formula Ford Festival – the same event that helped launch the career of Danica Patrick – and the Walter Hayes Trophy.
"I'm thrilled to have the Firestone Indy Lights championship as a supporter of the Team USA Scholarship,” said Jeremy Shaw, the program's founder. “Our program has quite a history with Indy Lights, dating from Bryan Herta, who won the scholarship in 1991 and then the Indy Lights title in '93, to J.R. Hildebrand, the 2005 scholarship winner, who was a front-runner this year with RLR-Andersen Racing. It's very encouraging to see the higher echelons of our sport seeking to help out deserving youngsters at an early stage in their careers."
Ten past winners of the Team USA scholarship have gone on to compete in the IndyCar Series and/or Firestone Indy Lights. This year's recipients are Conor Daly of Noblesville, Ind., and Josef Newgarden of Hendersonville, Tenn.
"Firestone Indy Lights is an essential step for drivers seeking to compete in the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500, and supporting Team USA Scholarship is a natural fit for our series," said Roger Bailey, executive director of Firestone Indy Lights. "The success of the program's alumni speaks volumes for the kind of program Jeremy has put together and hopefully we can work with these very promising young drivers very soon."
4: Penske to be honored this weekend: IndyCar Series team owner Roger Penske will be honored as the seventh Legend of Laguna Seca Oct. 18 prior to the American Le Mans Series race at the California track. He’ll join, among others, IndyCar Series team co-owner and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal and two-time 500-Mile Race runner-up Dan Gurney on the list. Penske won twice as a driver at Laguna Seca.
Several IndyCar Series drivers will join Penske at Laguna Seca, competing in the ALMS season finale before traveling to Surfers Paradise, Australia, for the Nikon Indy 300 on Oct. 26.
Tony Kanaan will co-drive the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio AGR Acura ARX-01b with Franck Montagny.
“Last year, I drove back from a couple of laps down to finish right at the front,” Kanaan said. “I think Franck and I can be right in the battle for the win. It would be great to win there.”
Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves, who finished first in the LMP2 class at Road Atlanta in the Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder, will team up again in an attempt for back-to-back victories.
Reigning Firestone Indy Lights champion Raphael Matos, recently announced to drive for Luczo Dragon Racing in the 2009 IndyCar Series campaign, will co-drive for BK Motorsports in LMP2. Firestone Indy Lights competitor Andrew Prendeville will co-drive for ECO Racing’s debut in LMP1.
The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with a non-points paying race Oct. 26 at Surfers Paradise, Australia. The Nikon Indy 300 will be telecast live at 10:30 p.m. (EDT) Oct. 25 by ESPN Classic and will re-air at 11 p.m. Oct. 26 on ESPN2. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season has concluded.