Off-track activities prelude to Nikon Indy 300 Viso nominated for Autosport award DownForce banquet this weekend
1. Off-track activities prelude to Nikon Indy 300: IndyCar Series drivers arriving in Australia for the Nikon Indy 300 had a chance to relax Oct. 22 with a series of fun events away from the track. Six drivers participated in the Miss Indy Beach Volleyball Challenge, while three others experienced the thrill of driving off-road buggies.
Jaime Camara, who regularly plays doubles beach volleyball in Miami as part of his training regimen, joined HVM Racing's E.J. Viso, Dale Coyne Racing's Bruno Junqueira and Mario Moraes, KV Racing Technology's Oriol Servia and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's Justin Wilson in the round-robin tournament. Miss Indy finalists complemented each team.
"I'm really enjoying being here,” Camara said. “We should have more of these types of events because it really makes the drivers relax a little bit before getting on the track, and it's a great way for the fans to meet the drivers."
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt IV spent the morning at V8 Off-Road Rush taking turns behind the wheel of Team ORR's off-road racing dune buggies.
"It's fun," Carpenter said. "Any time you take a race car driver out and let them drive, they get pretty excited. I've never gone and tested another car like this before a race, like this, but it's a good experience."
It was a good start to the week-long build up to the first IndyCar Series race in Australia.
"The beautiful thing about the events they set up for the Surfers race is that they're all so different," Hunter-Reay said. "I've swam with sharks at Sea World, and I got to do a ride with the Roulettes Air Show and now this off-road buggy thing. Some of the best experiences I've had have been here."
2. Viso nominated for Autosport award: IndyCar Series rookie E.J. Viso has been nominated for the Autosport Rookie of the Year award, which will be determined by fan voting at www.autosport.com.
Viso, who had never competed on an oval before, recorded five top-10 finishes in 2008, including an eighth at Milwaukee and 10th at Richmond. He finished a season-best fourth on the Streets of St. Petersburg.
“At Homestead, everything was so new,” Viso said. “By the time we got to Chicagoland for the final race, I was challenging the leaders for the win before a punctured tire ended our day. The ovals are a lot of fun, and as a team we made a lot of progress this season.
“It’s a privilege to be in this category. I really had so much fun this year. I love the series and I want to stay here. My next target is to win the championship.”
3. DownForce banquet this weekend: INDY DownForce, the official fan club of the IndyCar Series, will holds its year-end banquet for members Oct. 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Echoing the theme of the Championship Celebration on Nov. 5 in Las Vegas, the banquet will feature a “Casino Night” theme. Members can party into the night watching the live broadcast of the Nikon Indy 300 from Surfers Paradise, Australia, which begins at 10:30 p.m. ET.
IndyCar Series team owner/driver Sarah Fisher and Firestone Indy Lights runner-up Richard Antinucci are scheduled to attend.
There also will be giveaways, a silent auction of three unique keepsakes (a signed wing from one of Fisher’s cars, an autographed Tony Kanaan firesuit and a PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award trophy), video presentations and food and beverages.
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.