Indy Racing Experience to open at Walt Disney World Speedway Drivers participate in Ball State-Miami football game activities Luyendyk headed to Iraq with goodwill tour Foyt lines up charity appearances for the weekend
1. Indy Racing Experience to open at Walt Disney World Speedway: The Indy Racing Experience, which provides fans an opportunity to ride in a 2-seat IndyCar Series car or drive an authentic IndyCar machine, is expanding its operations to the Walt Disney World Speedway at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., beginning Nov. 17.
"Since we first began the Indy Racing Experience, fans have traveled the globe to feel firsthand what it is like to race around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - the Racing Capital of the World," said Indy Racing Experience co-owner Scott Jasek. "Millions of people also descend on the Orlando area annually for its renown attractions, including Walt Disney World, so we feel our Indy Racing Experience is both a unique and fitting addition to this exciting landscape."
Walt Disney World Speedway is a 1-mile, paved tri-oval located just outside the gates of the Magic Kingdom. The track's three corners are uniquely banked, with the first turn at 10 degrees, the second at 8.5 degrees, and the third and final turn at 7 degrees. The IndyCar Series competed at the track from 1996-2000. Davey Hamilton, who will drive the Indy Racing Experience 2-seater in the opening weeks, was one of five drivers to christen the track in a "Flying V" formation during the facility's first test on Nov. 28, 1995.
"The Walt Disney World Speedway was actually home to my first IndyCar Series race, so obviously that track is special to me and I'm anxious to get back there," said Hamilton, who has finished in the top 15 at the Indianapolis 500 the past two seasons. "Disney is a unique design that is different from any other track out there. It's not your typical oval or tri-oval; the corner banking and elevation change in the back makes this track a thrill to drive."
The Indy Racing Experience has given more than 12,000 rides to celebrities, media, race fans and thrill seekers over the past eight years. It will share track hours daily with the popular Richard Petty Driving Experience and operate on a first-come, first-serve basis.
2. Drivers participate in Ball State-Miami football game activities: IndyCar Series drivers Graham Rahal and Will Power and Firestone Indy Lights driver Travis Gregg traveled to Oxford, Ohio, Nov. 11 to participate in an array of IndyCar Series promotions surrounding Miami’s nationally-televised football game against undefeated and nationally ranked Ball State University.
The trio participated in a pre-game autograph session and an on-field gift exchange, presenting school officials with specially designed Miami race helmets and receiving football jerseys in return. In addition, the IndyCar Series street-legal two seater spent the day traveling around campus with Miami coaches taking rides and passing out hats and flyers to promote the game. The two-seater and another show car were also on display nearby as fans entered the stadium.
Rahal, a native of New Albany, Ohio, is a big fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes, but as an Ohio native, he came to root for the underdog Redhawks.
“Ball State has done pretty well this year, so it will be interesting to see just how good they are,” Rahal said during pre-game festivities in Miami’s Tailgate Town. “I’ve got a lot of friends from up where I live that go to school down here, so you just want to see Ohio schools do well.”
Gregg, a 2000 graduate of Miami University and three-time race winner in Firestone Indy Lights, was excited to be back on campus.
“Miami was a big part of my life during those four years that I went to school here, so it’s always good to come back and sort of re-live those days,” Gregg said, shortly before kickoff. “I got to see (former Miami quarterback) Ben Roethlisberger play, and coming back here, especially tonight with the IndyCar Series, it’s pretty special being a Miami alumnus and an Indy Lights driver. It’s cool to see them both come together.”
Power, a native Australian currently living in the Indianapolis area, learned American football by watching the Indianapolis Colts.
“I love rugby league in Australia, but I get into the sports scene in whatever country I live in,” Power said. “I lived in England for a while, so I got into soccer there, and now that I’m living here, I’m getting into the American sports. When the (Indianapolis) Colts won the Super Bowl, I started getting into it a little bit more, and I understand the game now, so I can enjoy it.”
3. Luyendyk headed to Iraq with goodwill tour: Firestone Indy Lights driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. will join NASCAR drivers Geoffrey Bodine and Scott Wimmer and NHRA drag racer Hillary Will on a tour of United States military bases as part of the Racing Heroes 2008 Goodwill Tour.
The tour, which begins Dec. 9 and concludes Dec. 20, will include visits to U.S. military bases in Iraq and Kuwait.
The program focuses on raising spirits and providing inspiration to servicemen and women serving abroad.
"The drivers’ visit will have a tremendous impact on the troops," said David Chavez, president of Pro Sports MVP, which organized the tour. "We are certain that the tour will be very entertaining and a welcome and needed break from the routine."
The participants will attend autograph/photograph sessions, lead clinics and demonstrations, hold meet and greets, and visit hospital patients and staff.
"I'm looking forward to going over there and meeting the troops," said Luyendyk, who finished fourth in Firestone Indy Lights points in 2008 with a win at Chicagoland Speedway.
4. Foyt lines up charity appearances for the weekend: Vision Racing driver A.J. Foyt IV will sign autographs Nov. 15 at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis as part of a World Diabetes Day campaign. Lilly Diabetes is a sponsor of Vision Racing.
World Diabetes Day was introduced in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and has been recognized by the United Nations since 2007.
Following the autograph session, Foyt will proceed to a second charity event, a flag football jamboree in Westfield, Ind., for “Rally with the Robinsons to Help Cure Colon Cancer.”
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.