Ganassi wants “great events,” not tracks for IndyCar


IZOD IndyCar Series team owner Chip Ganassi believes that cultivating strong events is more important for the series’ future than simply visiting new tracks.

“I don’t want to go to great tracks — I want to go to great events,” Ganassi told Indianapolis’ WXIN-TV after he took part in a motorsports business panel discussion this morning at his race shop in the city. The discussion also featured his drivers, Dario Franchitti, Charlie Kimball and Scott Dixon, as well as Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles.

IndyCar has continued to put on some of the best racing anywhere in year two of its current chassis and engine cycle involving the Dallara DW12 and turbocharged powerplants from Chevrolet and Honda. One could also argue that it does indeed have some great events already such as St. Petersburg (Fla.), Long Beach, and, of course, the Indianapolis 500.

However, IndyCar is also still lagging in overall public interest, and in Ganassi’s mind, finding more of the right events is critical in generating needed exposure for the series and hooking the casual fans that will look in on this month’s “500” but not bother to follow the remainder of the championship.

“Anybody that’s close to a sport…All of us that are too close to it, sometimes they say ‘Hey, that was a great race, that was a great game, that was a great basketball game, what a great race,'” he said.

“We have to realize that there are not that many people that are on the inside of these sports. We need to, and all these sports need to appeal to hundreds of thousands of people if they are going to survive and that’s what we need to do.”

IndyCar: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports expands mentoring program for tech school students

Photos: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
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IndyCar team Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced today that it is extending and widening a unique sponsorship and mentoring program that began last season with students from Lincoln Technical Institute.

The program began last year, with students from several Lincoln Tech branches attending select IndyCar events for an entire weekend.

The students, primarily from auto and diesel training programs, got an insiders experience with the team, taking part in team meetings, watching team workers prepare and service the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe, sat on pit boxes during practices, qualifying and, of course races.

The overall experience was to get students more interested and involved in potential careers in the IndyCar field.

“We said at the beginning of last season that we knew our students would benefit and learn from the professionalism and drive of the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team,” Lincoln Tech President and CEO Scott Shaw said. “But the experience they received working with the entire pit crew team and in particular crew member Cole Jagger – a Lincoln Tech graduate himself – went beyond even our own expectations.

“We were grateful for the time they spent mentoring our students, and we are thrilled to once again be part of the racing legacy of team owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson.”

Lincoln Tech will once again serve as an associate sponsor on Hinchcliffe’s car for the entire 2018 IndyCar season. In addition, it is expanding its Mentor Program to select students to attend a minimum of nine IndyCar races from six last season.

Students are selected based upon their grade point average, attendance, conduct and overall commitment to becoming outstanding automotive technicians. An interest in IndyCar and a desire to work in the industry is also considered.

One student that took part last season, Tyler Crist of Lincoln Tech’s Denver campus, joined the team at the IndyCar race in Long Beach last April, watching as Hinchcliffe won the event.

“It was the best weekend of my life,” Crist said after the event. “It reminded me of why I joined this field in the first place and to never give up on my dreams.”

Jagger will oversee the expanded mentoring program this season. For Jagger, being involved especially hits home, as he is a graduate of Lincoln Tech’s Indianapolis campus.

“I totally enjoyed working with the Lincoln Tech students that participated in the Mentor Program last year and look forward to meeting this year’s group,” Jagger said. “Being a Lincoln Tech grad, I hope the students realize that if you have a passion for cars, a career in racing is something that’s not out of reach. If I can be an example for them to follow, that makes it even more rewarding.”

In addition to the at-track activities of the mentoring program, several Lincoln Tech branches across the country will utilize CNC computerized machining and manufacturing tools to assist in creating car parts for SPM.

“Through this unique partnership, we’re able to hopefully find the next class of talent that could one day be part of our organization,” SPM president Jon Flack said. “We’re looking forward to another year of the mentorship program and having their students be ‘boots on the ground’ gaining real-life experience with our team.”

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