“Kimi-Bob” Raikkonen, the new NASCAR driver, will be sponsored by snack food Perky Jerky in his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 20.
Perky Jerky — caffeinated beef jerky — is the name of a real, honest-to-goodness, U.S. convenience store snack food. It takes the edge off your hunger and delivers an energy drink-type kick, hence the name.
Raikkonen is quoted as saying: “”Perky Jerky is an excellent product. Not only does it taste great, but it is a fun brand to be a part of.”
Who says “Kimi-Bob” (as Planet F1 is calling him) won’t fit right in at NASCAR?
James Hinchcliffe of Oakville will make his first start in the IZOD IndyCar Series this weekend at Barber Motorsport Park in Alabama (TSN, 3 p.m. on Sunday). Sponsored by Sprott Inc. of Toronto, “Hinch” was asked this week why he wasn’t at the season-opener in St. Petersburg two weeks ago:
“When you're dealing with any company in any sort of potential sponsorship, certainly the magnitude of sponsorship required to go IndyCar racing, it's a lengthy process. It's not just somebody pulling out their wallet out of their left pocket, taking out a bit of cash. There's a lot of things to go through, a lot of due diligence to be done by all the parties involved.
“Ultimately the big thing is you don't want to rush something and get it wrong or push someone into a certain time frame and ultimately scare them off.
“So, you know, for us, what we're trying to do between Newman/Haas and myself and our partners is build a long-term program, hopefully something that can be successful for a few years. We wanted to make sure that all the groundwork was laid, all the pieces were in place to do that, not jumping out of the car every other weekend not knowing when we were going to be racing again. If that meant we had to sacrifice some time at the beginning of this year to make sure we had a long-term plan in place, that was a risk we were willing to take and a sacrifice we were willing to make.
“I think that was the right choice. It's paid off now. I think the damage was limited. We only missed one event. Hopefully we can just build on this for years to come.”
Look for James to play things very conservatively this weekend in the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama. He’s a rookie and he’s got to get his feet wet. Give him a race or two, though, and start looking for him to finish more toward the front.
Ana Beatriz, who broke her wrist during the St. Pete joust (and it really was that, with lots of wheel-banging and other mischief going on out there), will miss the Alabama race and be replaced by Simon Pagenaud, who’s been racing — successfully — in the American Le Mans Series the last few years after trying Champ Car cars earlier this century.
Pagenaud’s an okay choice, I guess, but I wonder why the team, Dreye and Reinbold Racing, didn’t give Paul Tracy the start, considering he’s racing for them at Indianapolis and his deal with Jay Penske doesn’t include this particular race?
Eric Jensen of Toronto announced this week that Canadian Formula Atlantic champion Lee Bentham will join his Firestone Indy Lights team as Driver Coach.
Bentham, a native of Toronto, previously managed driver development for Jensen MotorSport during the 2007 ChampCar Atlantic season, working with drivers Tom Sutherland and Frankie (Malcolm in the Middle, Agent Cody Banks) Muniz.
"I am proud to announce that our team has been bolstered with another extremely talented person joining," said Jensen. "Lee Bentham is one of the best driver coaches in open-wheel racing, and I am certain his guidance will further enhance the competitiveness of our drivers (Juan Pablo Garcia and David Ostella, of Maple)."
Bentham's resume also includes his Head of Driver Development role at Forsythe Championship Racing, where he helped develop successful drivers including Canadians Robert Wickens and James Hinchcliffe and American John Edwards.
Bentham also has an impressive resume as a driver, winning the 1998 Toyota Atlantic Championship driving for the Player's/Forsythe Racing Team. He also won races in the 1997 Firestone Indy Lights Championship en route to a fifth-place overall finish in the season standings.
"Jensen MotorSport has quickly established itself as one of the most competitive teams in Indy Lights," Bentham said. "David Ostella's pace in pre-season testing and his strong fourth-place finish in the first race at St. Pete bode well for a very successful season.”
Donald Trump, who hosts a TV show on NBC (as well as owning much of the free world) will drive the Oshawa-built 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible Pace Car to lead the field of 33 drivers to the start of the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 on Sun., May 29, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The “Most Important Race in History," according to the hype, will start at noon (ET) and will be televised on ABC for the 47th consecutive year.
There are some who think Trump’s selection has a dark implication — that the Indianapolis Speedway and the IndyCar sanctioning body want NBC to take over televising the race and that by having Trump drive the pace car, it will piss off ABC.
Auto racing is the most capitalistic sport in the world. There is no auto racing welfare. The driver who wins gets all the money and all the glory. It is the 100th anniversary of the world’s most famous race. So who better to drive the pace car than the most successful capitalist on the face of the Earth?
Donald J. Trump. That’s who.