Although surprise Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon remains unemployed – he didn’t have a ride before his one-off at Indy and he doesn’t have one now – his share of the winnings (usually between 40 and 50 per cent) should help to keep him in the manner to which he’s become accustomed.
Wheldon picked up a cheque for $2,567,255 at last night’s Victory Banquet in downtown Indy. That amount was the winner’s share from the overall purse of $13,509,485 that was up for grabs in the 100th Anniversary 500 Mile Race.
Wheldon, who started sixth, became just the 18th driver to win the race at least twice. He first won the classic in 2005, when he also captured the IZOD IndyCar Series championship.
Wheldon has six top-four finishes in nine career Indianapolis 500 starts, including second, second and first in the last three years, respectively.
Wheldon represents yet another challenge for IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard. How do you promote races in the rest of the series – the Honda Indy Toronto, for instance – when you don’t have the Indy 500 winner in the lineup?
My suggestion: hire him as an IndyCar ambassador and send him into places like Toronto a week or two ahead of the race. Every media outlet in town will want to interview the Indy 500 winner and Wheldon can easily explain his absence while suggesting IndyCar is seriously on the comeback trail and he’ll very likely be in a car the next time there’s a race in Toronto (or wherever).
He might also remind them it could be - could be - the last time they'll see Danica Patrick in an Indy car, racing through the streets of Toronto, so don't miss out.
P.S. Talking about women racing drivers, a little bird tells me that Simona de Silvestro will be in a Team Penske car in 2012. Either Ryan Briscoe or Helio Castroneves - likely the former - won't be invited back.
Better late than never, dept. F1 tire manufacturer Pirelli says the series should consider changing the rules to prevent teams from changing tires if a race is stopped.
Pirelli director of motorsport Paul Hembery told autosport.com that he thinks fans were robbed of a great finish at the Monaco Grand Prix.
In the closing stages, when eventual winner Sebastien Vettel’s tires were about to become useless, a three-car accident brought out a red flag. He had been holding off Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, both of whom had made several pit stops for tires while he had only stopped once and was gambling they would hold up.
In just about every other form of auto racing in the world, a red flag means no work is to be done on the racing car but in F1 you can just about rebuild the car – if there’s enough time. And you can change tires, too.
Ergo, Vettel got fresh rubber and was able to win the race. No problems (when there should have been).
Hembery said he thinks that the tire-change robbed fans of an entertaining finish to the race and believes the rules should be tweaked to prevent teams from switching rubber if there is a late red flag and restart.
Don’t count on it ever happening, but it’s the thought that counts.
No sitting in traffic jams for Mario: This from his appearance on SPEED's Wind Tunnel program the other night:
"Every year from the hotel, you get the (police) escort and some years back I was getting the escort and you never saw a soul until you got to the gate. I said, ‘Wait a minute, why am I spending this money?’ This morning, it was like 6 o’clock, 5:30, 6 o’clock in the morning, the sirens were going immediately like they used to be."
Translation: Indy is back, big-time.
Carpentier to try NASCAR next weekend: Patrick Carpentier of Montreal will return to the NASCAR circuit next weekend driving Frank Stoddard Jr.'s #32 Ford in the Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway.
"This will mark the first time in my Sprint Cup career that I will be driving a car that is already qualified for the race," said Carpentier, who will be making his 40th Sprint Cup start in Stoddard’s car that is in the top 35 in points, meaning it’s locked in.
"There will be a lot less pressure when we practice on Friday, because we will be able to work both on qualifying and race set ups. I am thrilled that Frank (Stoddard) chose me to drive the number 32 car in Kansas. With the confirmation of my ride in the Nationwide race in Montréal with Michael Waltrip's team next August, it's two good news items out of three." (Note: Carpentier was alluding to the fact that he crashed during qualifying at Indianapolis.)
Carpentier is the team’s fifth driver. Terry Labonte, Kenny Schrader, Mike Bliss and Mike Skinner have all driven the car this year.
Dynamic Duo win again: Quebec driver Antoine L’Estage, of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and co-driver Nathalie Richard of Halifax won this past weekend’s Rocky Mountain Rally, the second round of the 2011 Canadian Rally Championship, amidst extreme weather conditions in the Kananaskis region of Alberta. This marks their fifth consecutive victory in the series, having won the last three events in the 2010 season and the first round of 2011 earlier this year.
Two versions of the same story: James Hinchcliffe of Oakville and E.J. Viso of Venezuela had a coming together during the Indy 500. Both had different versions of what took place:
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 06 Sprott Newman/Haas Racing, 29th): "It was a disappointing day. A disappointing end for the Sprott car because we rebounded pretty well. At that point, we were driving on borrowed time after what happened with Viso and I forget who else it was on that restart. He got into us, we got hit and had to come in and save the car from going into the wall on that one."
E.J. VISO (No. 59 PDVSA-KV Racing Technology-Lotus, 32nd): "I was running with Graham Rahal and James Hinchcliffe, and I believe that James Hinchcliffe missed a gear and he lost his momentum out of Turn 4. Graham Rahal went on the inside, and I went on the outside. Then when we were approaching Turn 1, I got hit on my rear left tire and it spun me."
For the record: E.J. Viso is a crasher. James Hinchcliffe is not. I leave it to you to decide whose version you believe. Having said that, I suggest Viso hit Hinch and not vice-versa.
And, in conclusion: Robert Wickens of Guelph and Toronto finished second in the World Series by Renault Formula 3.5 race at Monaco at the weekend and is now just a point out of first place in the standings.
Wickens will be in Montreal for the Grand Prix of Canada a week from next weekend. Whether he will be there officially with the Virgin F1 team, or just there in an unofficial capacity, is unknown at this point in time.
Translation: Uhhhh - maybe.