IRL headlines

1. Panther drivers complete Firestone Indy Lights rookie testing

2. Trick or treat?

3. Andretti celebrates Phillies' win

1. Panther drivers complete Firestone Indy Lights rookie testing: English racers Martin Plowman and Pippa Mann successfully completed Firestone Indy Lights rookie testing on Oct. 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, clearing the way for them to compete for the Firestone Firehawk Cup in 2009.

Plowman, 20, and Mann, 24, each completed nearly 300 miles of testing under the supervision of Firestone Indy Lights executive director Roger Bailey and Firestone Indy Lights driver coach Rick Mears.

"The test went very well," Bailey said. "Both drivers were very impressive and running times comparable to (Raphael) Matos in the last race here. Both Pippa and Martin did a very good job of understanding the car and the changes being made to the car, and I think they will be assets to the series."

Both drivers have signed to compete for Panther Racing in 2009.

2. Trick or treat?: Ah, the good old days when the magical night of Halloween produced a bumper crop of candy and a belly of laughs at a house party. Ryan Hunter-Reay fondly remembers.

“I had a lot of fun goofing off as a kid,” he said. “We used to have pretty big parties at the house.”

            Some drivers, of course, remember dressing up in their favorite costumes each year. For some, it was just donning their helmets and firesuits from go-karting, for others it was more creative.

            "My best costume was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when I was about five," said Firestone Indy Lights driver Logan Gomez. "It was two pieces of square foam for the bread and I wore purple sweats and a purple mask like Zorro. I had a peanut butter-colored patch on my stomach. It was awesome."

            Others remember going with a more traditional Halloween look.

"I think my best costume when I was younger was a ghost," said Danica Patrick.

IndyCar driver Ed Carpenter is always up for the challenge of finding a fun costume to wear but most often comes up with home-made creations.

“Halloween is just such a fun time," he said. "I think it’s just as fun for me now as an adult as it was for me as a kid. This year, my wife Heather, her sister and husband and I will be dressing up as the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team, equipped with our own homemade cardboard bobsled. In the past I have dressed up as Ricky Bobby and Joe Dirt. I think the costume I remember most fondly as a kid was when my brother and I dressed up as the WWF (now WWE) Luke & Butch Bushwackers Tag Team wrestlers."

Carpenter will also share his love of Halloween with his young daughter Makenna, who recently turned 1 years old.

"Makenna might still be a bit young to fully appreciate Halloween but she’ll get to trick-or-treat for the first time at the Speedway offices Friday afternoon with other staff member’s children," he said. "She’s still way too young for nighttime trick-or-treating. She’ll be dressed up as a fairy this year. Last year, we had her dressed up as a green M&M candy, a costume that we made ourselves from a Christmas stocking.”

Halloween, which originated in Ireland, is big business in the United States, and continues to enthrall costumed youngsters on a neighborhood trick-or-treat walk.

            In the Southern Hemisphere, the Americanized version of All-Hallows Eve has only recently been growing in popularity. There’s something about the date falling in late spring – with daylight until 8 p.m. or so and warm evenings – that doesn’t translate into spooky.

            “Halloween is getting bigger,” IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon of New Zealand said. “When I was a kid, there wasn’t much of that going on.”

3. Andretti celebrates Phillies' win: IndyCar Series driver Marco Andretti is among the many Philadelphia Phillies fans who are celebrating the team's World Series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Andretti, who grew up in Nazareth, Pa., is a fan of all of the Philadelphia professional sports teams. The win by the Phillies is the first World Series win he has been able to celebrate. The team's last title came in 1980 – seven years before the 21-year-old Andretti was born.

“As a native of Pennsylvania, I’m thrilled that the Phillies won the World Series," Andretti said. "Philadelphia is a city of great fans and they are going to enjoy this title, for sure.  The Phillies are another in a long line of Pennsylvania champions and hopefully I’ll be able to join that list.”


           The 2008 IndyCar Series season and Firestone Indy Lights season have concluded. The 2009 IndyCar Series season opens April 5 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be telecast live at 2 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season begins with a doubleheader race weekend April 4-5 at St. Petersburg.

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