For the longest time this winter, it looked like the IndyCar car count would be low and cynics (including me) suggested there would be a scramble to make fields look presentable.
Well, what started as a bit of a crescendo has become a landslide in recent days as a full field – two dozen cars – will start the Sao Paulo Indy 300 in Brazil Sunday (TSN2, 11:30 a.m.).
With 24 cars on the F1 grid at Bahrain (go to wheels.ca to listen to my podcast interview with F1 expert Gerald Donaldson) and 45 or more showing up for NASCAR Sprint Cup races, IndyCar’s 24 (which will grow to 25 or more in St. Pete's in a few weeks) indicate the economy is back or the recession is over, take your pick.
The latest signing – announced Thursday – has Mario Moraes returning to KV Racing for the complete season. KV (Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven are partners– it used to be PKV Racing and that was for Jacques Villeneuve’s old manager, Craig Pollock, who’s kind of disappeared since he and JV broke up) now has three full-time drivers signed: Takuma Sato and E.J. Viso, in addition to Moraes.
Which means Paul Tracy, who will drive for the team at Indianapolis as well as Toronto and Edmonton, will be joining a pretty crowded shop.
Seven of the drivers in Sunday's race are from Brazil, with Ana Beatriz the only one-off. The Indy Lights standout hopes to raise enough money to do the full season but she’ll be at Indy for sure.
There will be mixing and matching along the way. Beatriz likely won’t be at the next race in St. Petersburg, Fla., but Graham Rahal and Jay Howard will be in cars owned by Sarah Fisher (who will drive some ovals).
And supermodified star Davey Hamilton will be on
the grid for several oval races as well.
In other news:
Mark Dilley announce today that his NASCAR Canadian Tire Series team will be fielded by Scott Steckly, the 2008 National Champion, for the 2010 season.
“I am very happy to team up with Scott in 2010,” said Dilley, who’s cars were entered previously by now-retired veteran team owner Dave Whitlock.
Steckly, who’s team owner and driver for his 22 Racing Team, says he’s thrilled with the arrangement. “Mark is a great guy and a competitive racer and I’m am looking forward to fielding cars for him.”
The Steckly-Dilley team are expected to announce sponsor support in the near future.
The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is composed of 13 races that take place on road courses, temporary street courses, and oval tracks across Canada. The events are all broadcast on TSN with at least one repeat airing.
The first race of the 2010 season will be June 5 at Delaware Speedway in London. A new addition to the schedule will be a race at the Honda Indy Toronto.
Meantime, 30 or so of the open wheel cars that made history in the Formula 1 World Championship from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s period will race on the support program at the Grand Prix of Canada, at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal June 11-13.
The Historic Grand Prix cars last appeared in Canada in 2004. Not only do the owners/drivers race the legendary cars, they showcase them in a tent that’s accessible to the public in the support race paddock.
Said Grand Prix promoter François Dumontier: “Each time the cars go on track, it is one of the most popular moments of the weekend. The list of cars entered is impressive. It is a true reflection of the history of the first decades of the Canadian Grand Prix. They include cars that our loyal fans can relate to and cars that were successful on Canadian soil."
In Woodbridge, AIM Autsoport announced this week that Maple resident David Ostella will return for a second season in 2010 to contest the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. The 18-year-old will be driving the AIM Autosport / Global Precast No 16 Formula Mazda and he is looking forward to the season’s first race at Sebring
Ostella had a strong debut season with AIM in 2009 – an AIM Team car won the 2008 championship – ending the year with seven top-ten results including a third-place finish at Iowa Speedway. He ended the season 13th overall out of 32 cars in the championship.
And finally, Alex Tagliani – the only Canadian racing full-time in the IZOD IndyCar Series this season – has a small speaking role in the upcoming film, “Score: A Hockey Musical.” Tags plays himself in the film along with other Canadians such as Walter Gretzky and Margaret Atwood in a scene that was filmed at a hockey rink in Toronto.
“Score: A Hockey Musical” — which combines musical numbers with Canada’s national sport — was shot in Toronto by director Michael McGowan (“One Week” and “Saint Ralph”), and features a story line about a teenage hockey phenom, played by Noah Reid, and his parents, played by Olivia Newton-John and Canadian singer-songwriter Marc Jordan, who are worried about the course the young hockey star’s life is taking.
Filming wrapped March 8. The movie will be released on Oct. 22 by Mongrel Media.