1. Hinchcliffe makes special delivery2. Foyt released from hospital, recovering at home
3. Push-to-pass standardized for 2015
4. Blackstock steps up with Andretti Autosport
5. Fans invited to watch Mazda Road to Indy teams at NOLA
6. Third Skip Barber INDYCAR Academy Scholarship Shootout on tap
1. Hinchcliffe makes special delivery: Verizon IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe acknowledges being nervous as he drove through the streets of downtown Indianapolis on Dec. 3.
No, the Canadian wasn't driving his Verizon IndyCar Series car at high speeds through the city's streets. He was behind the wheel of a massive retired military vehicle, filled with boxes of LEGOs.
"It was pretty terrifying to be honest because the thing is so big," he said after steering the truck through a maze of cars, cyclists and pedestrians to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.
"The good news is that when you drive something like that people tend to give you a little bit of extra room, and when they saw it was me behind the wheel they gave me a lot of extra room."
Hinchcliffe's delivery was part of the Heroes Foundation's Team JOEY Program, which provides LEGOs to pediatric cancer patients. The truck he used, named "Hero1," is the symbol of the Foundation's Project Militia, which is aimed at serving the cancer community.
Patients immediately began playing with their LEGOs and Hinchcliffe enjoyed the goodwill.
"I can only imagine for a kid who doesn't get to be home something like this has got to be great," he said. "It kind of takes them away a little bit. That's what it was for me. Building something kind of took you into the world of whatever it was you were building. Hopefully it's got the same effect for these kids."
2. Foyt released from hospital, recovering at home: Verizon IndyCar Series team owner and four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt was released Dec. 2 from Baylor-St. Luke's Medical Center in Houston and is recovering at home from a Nov. 12 triple bypass heart surgery.
Although surgery was successful, Foyt developed serious complications with his lungs. He was kept on a ventilator for eight days to allow his lungs to recover full functionality. Ten days in the Intensive Care Unit was followed by an additional 10 days in the hospital.
"It's been pretty rough but I guess I slept through the roughest part," said Foyt, who will turn 80 in January. "I had some problems that most people don't have after open heart surgery so I made my doctors work extra hard, but they saved my life. We've turned a corner so everything's pretty good. I've got a long way to go but I'm feeling better every day."
3. Push-to-pass standardized for 2015: Standardized push-to-pass parameters again are among the sporting and technical regulations incorporated in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series rulebook released this week.
Push-to-pass, which was introduced to the engine-chassis package in July 2012 on the streets of Toronto, will have parameters for each of the 11 road/street course races. The option gives drivers a turbocharger boost to 161 kPa and additional 200 RPM with the push of a button located on the steering wheel.
There's no delay in activation or refresh time.
Verizon IndyCar Series drivers will have 10 uses of the overtake system for all road/street course races, with 20 seconds per push at NOLA Motorsports Park, Long Beach, Barber Motorsports Park, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Toronto and Mid-Ohio.
Races at Brasilia (Brazil), St. Petersburg, Detroit (two races) and Sonoma Raceway will carry 15 seconds per activation.
4. Blackstock steps up with Andretti Autosport: Shelby Blackstock will graduate from the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires for the 2015 season.
Blackstock, 24, of Nashville, Tenn., will enter his fourth year with Indianapolis-based Andretti Autosport and will drive the No. 51 entry.
"I am very happy to be back with the Andretti Autosport team for the 2015 Indy Lights season," Blackstock said. "I'm extremely excited to test the new IL-15 and to see if all the great expectations are true. I want to thank Andretti Autosport for giving me the opportunity to be in one of its cars this year. This team is like a second family to me. I hope there is a lot of success to come from a completely fresh season."
Blackstock, the son of country music star Reba McEntire, earned one victory, three pole positions, 13 podiums and 18 top-five finishes in two Pro Mazda seasons.
"Shelby has been with us for some time now and he's put in a lot of hard work to make the step from Pro Mazda to Indy Lights happen," Andretti Autosport COO JF Thormann said. "We are all very excited to keep Shelby in the Andretti Autosport family and look forward to watching his success continue during this new chapter of his career with us."
5. Fans invited to watch Mazda Road to Indy teams at NOLA: Three Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and two Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda cars will inaugurate the recently renovated NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale, La., on Dec. 8-9.
Fans can watch the cars supplied by Andretti Autosport and Team Pelfrey on the 2.67-mile circuit at no charge both days.
The facility will host an Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires test Feb. 18, followed by the first half of the Mazda Road to Indy Winterfest for Pro Mazda and USF2000 drivers and teams.
The first Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park, featuring the Verizon IndyCar Series and all three rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy, is April 10-12.
6. Third Skip Barber INDYCAR Academy Scholarship Shootout on tap: Sebring International Raceway will host the third Skip Barber INDYCAR Academy Scholarship Shootout on Dec. 15-17.
The event is designed to provide aspiring racers without prior racing experience the opportunity to launch a career in motorsports. The winner of the competition will receive a scholarship toward the Skip Barber Regional Race Series.
Michai Stephens, who was the 2013 winner, was named a Team USA Scholarship recipient earlier this year and finished third in the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone in England last month.
In the Academy, drivers are tested in equally-prepared cars on a demanding circuit. Racers applied for the Academy after graduating from a three-day Skip Barber Formula Car Racing School and are required to follow that training with an Advanced Two-Day Racing School.