ZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and Mazda Road to Indy headlines:
1. Dan Wheldon Memorial Auction raises more than $600,000
2. Barracuda Networks partners with Herta team, Tagliani
3. Castroneves visits North American International Auto Show
4. Bowl with stars to benefit Indy Family Foundation
5. Veach moves full-time to Star Mazda in 2012
1. Dan Wheldon Memorial Auction raises more than $600,000: An online auction of memorabilia dedicated to the late Dan Wheldon raised more than $600,000 for a memorial trust established for his family after the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner died from injuries sustained in an accident in October.
The organizers of the Dan Wheldon Memorial Auction released a final total of $627,203 on Jan. 13 after all items had been officially sold and the funds collected.
"From the very beginning, I have been so overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy and the unwavering support of Dan's friends, his fans and from the racing community," Wheldon's wife Susie said in a statement. "When Graham (Rahal) reached out to me with the auction total today, I was very touched by everyone's generosity. I want everyone to know how grateful I am and how much I appreciate everyone's kindness and their love. It means the world to our family, and I hope one day to personally thank all those who donated and purchased the auction items."
Rahal, a competitor in the IZOD IndyCar Series, started the auction when he announced that he planned to auction off his helmet, shoes and gloves from the Las Vegas race and donate the proceeds to Wheldon's family.
As word spread about his gesture, personalities from the sports and entertainment world began donating items for Rahal to auction off. Within just a few days, the auction grew too big for Rahal to handle alone. It was taken over by eBay, which waived all fees, and Auction Cause, an auction management agency.
"We're beyond floored with the outpouring of love you have all shown," the organizers said via their Twitter account. "(We) couldn't have done it without you all! Words can't express our gratitude! Every little bit helped and will make a difference for the family."
2. Barracuda Networks partners with Herta team, Tagliani: Bryan Herta Autosport has partnered with Barracuda Networks Inc. as the primary sponsor for Alex Tagliani's 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series entry.
Tagliani, the 2011 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter, joined the 2011 Indianapolis 500-winning team earlier this week.
"Bryan Herta Autosport is well-known for its leadership, drive and focus on innovation," said Michael Perone, executive vice president and CMO of Barracuda Networks. "This partnership gives us an amazing opportunity to communicate our shared philosophy, expand our brand footprint and demonstrate our technology leadership around the world."
Barracuda Networks' products protect organizations from threats over both email and Web. With a strong security heritage, Barracuda Networks offers networking products that improve application delivery and network access.
"Barracuda Networks is an industry leader known for performance, integrity, and quality. These are the same qualities we strive for at Bryan Herta Autosport," said Herta, whose team will compete full time in the IZOD IndyCar Series for the first year. "They have shown tremendous confidence and vision in partnering with us as primary sponsor for the 2012 season. We are thrilled to welcome them to the team and look forward to delivering results both on and off the track."
3. Castroneves visits North American International Auto Show: Helio Castroneves tweeted photos of exotic and concept cars Jan. 12 as he toured the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center in Detroit with an NBC Sports camera crew in tow.
"I always like coming to the auto show here in Detroit," said Castroneves, who toured the Chevrolet display with Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President for Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. "The cars and the technology are really cool and I was happy to get a chance to see all of the great products GM and Chevrolet have this year and the concept cars for the future."
Twenty-seven new vehicles were introduced during press day, and more than 500 vehicles are on display at the show that runs through Jan. 22.
NBC Sports taped a segment with Castroneves that will air at 5 p.m. (ET) Jan. 22. Team Penske drivers will be available for a Q&A and sign autographs Jan. 20 (check time, location on show itinerary at Cobo Center) to promote the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.
"It's awesome to have the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix back on the IndyCar schedule this season," said Castroneves, who won his first Indy car race on the circuit in 2000. "It's so important to have a race here in the Motor City and we're all looking forward to coming back and putting on a great show for the fans in Detroit the first weekend in June."
The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner will test the Chevrolet-powered DW12 chassis on Jan. 16-17 at Sebring International Raceway.
"I'm big-time excited to get into it and test it out," he said. "It's been a long offseason. We're starting out fresh and hope we can change our luck. Whenever you don't win a championship or a race, you want to make it happen. We had close calls (for wins), but the ones we had something happened, like flat tires, and prevented us from getting it done."
4. Bowl with stars to benefit Indy Family Foundation: The Indy Family Foundation, which seeks to aid those in the motorsports community who find themselves in financial need because of hardship caused by illness, injury or death of a loved one, will be a beneficiary of the Stars and Strikes Celebrity Bowling Bash on Feb. 2 at Western Bowl in Indianapolis.
The event is in conjunction with the NFL championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. IZOD IndyCar Series drivers, NFL players and other celebrities have committed to attend, with the event open to the public to watch and/or bowl.
Visit www.wix.com/saevents/celeb-bowling-bash for information and reserving an alley.
5. Veach moves full-time to Star Mazda in 2012: After getting a taste of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear in 2011, Zach Veach will compete in the series full-time in 2012. Veach will drive No. 77 Team Zakosi Data Backup car for Andretti Autosport.
Veach, a 17-year-old from Stockdale, Ohio, finished fourth in the 2011 Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda season. He helped Andretti Autosport secure the team championship title for the second consecutive year with one win, five podiums and three pole positions. He also captured the inaugural USF2000 Cooper Tires Winterfest title in early 2011 with two race wins.
"I'm really excited to be racing in the Zakosi Data Backup Star Mazda car this season, especially with Sage [Karam] as my teammate again," Veach said. "The time I was able to spend in the car earlier this winter gave me a chance to change my driving style to better suit the Star Mazda car, and I think with a bit more testing I'll be ready to compete for the championship. I would like to thank Michael Andretti, Zakosi Data Backup, my family and the whole team that continues to support me."
During the 2011 season, Veach competed in the final two rounds of the Star Mazda Championship. He secured a third-place finish at the final race of the season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. He also recently drove to victory in the first two rounds of the Formula Car Challenge presented by Goodyear Winter Series at Infineon Raceway in November. He earned two pole positions and led every lap during the race weekend.
Away from the track, Veach stays active as a spokesperson for FocusDriven, an advocacy group for victims of motor vehicle crashes involving drivers using their cell phones, has campaigned for Oprah Winfrey's "No Phone Zone," and even created a phone app to fight texting behind the wheel. He also released a book titled 99 THINGS TEENS WISH THEY KNEW BEFORE TURNING 16, where he shared his battle with bullying, which later led to his campaign work for the Cyber Safety Academy's No BULL Challenge