Miami racing legend Ralph Sanchez passes away

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Ralph Sanchez, founder of the Homestead-Miami Speedway, passed away Monday after a long fight with cancer.

Sanchez, a Cuban immigrant, was born in 1948 and was a pioneer, innovator and legend within the greater Miami area. Sanchez’s history in Miami began with a sports car race in the streets of Miami in 1983; IndyCars later raced in the Tamiami Park area thanks to Sanchez’s efforts.

Sanchez earned his accounting degree from Florida Atlantic University and worked as a real estate salesman and land developer before getting involved with motorsports.

The track now known as Homestead-Miami began life as the Metro-Dade Homestad Motorsports Complex and hosted its first race in 1995, the NASCAR Nationwide (then Busch) Series.

The track itself went through three different configurations. It began as a four-corner squared oval similar to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, before the corners were curved before 1998, and later banked before 2003. Homestead annually hosts the final weekend of the NASCAR season and has also hosted IndyCar and sports car races.

Lewis Franck offers a touching tribute here for Autoweek; further reflections are here from RACER, veteran writer Anne Proffit, and below from American Le Mans Series President and CEO, Scott Atherton.

“We are all deeply saddened by the news of Ralph’s passing,” said Atherton. “He was a true motorsports promoter, an accomplished businessman, a family man and a visionary – all wrapped in designer suits and old-school gentleman’s etiquette.”

 

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool