Although 2003 was a lean year for the then-Champ Car World Series, it marked a major milestone in the history of The Milwaukee Mile.
The track celebrated its 100th anniversary, and for the occasion, much changed at the historic one-mile oval in West Allis, Wis.
A purpose-built, large, new grandstand was erected to replace the historic, iconic covered one that had been a staple at “the Mile” for decades. Additionally, the Champ Car race was to be run on Saturday night under the lights, with temporary lighting brought in by MUSCO.
It was a bitterly cold night with temperatures barely in the 40s, and as such, an early crash took several drivers out of the race. Bruno Junqueira, Roberto Moreno and Patrick Lemarie were all out on the spot.
But from the green flag Michel Jourdain Jr. got past polesitter Alex Tagliani, and the Mexican never looked back. Jourdain, who had been cruelly denied his first victory earlier in the year with a gearbox issue on a pit stop in Long Beach, took a popular first win driving for Bobby Rahal, after leading a then-record 234 of 250 laps.
Some historical notes from this race and in the decade that followed:
The podium of Jourdain, Oriol Servia in second and Patrick Carpentier in third was matched exactly later that year in Montreal, for Jourdain’s second and last victory.
This race marked the first and only Milwaukee starts for Lemarie, Tiago Monteiro and Joel Camathias. Lemarie was the forerunner at what is now KV Racing Technology, as the first driver for the then-PK Racing squad. Monteiro, who famously finished on the podium in the 2005 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, drove a Reynard co-owned by Emerson Fittipaldi. Camathias, meanwhile, was one of six drivers to lace up the driving boots for Dale Coyne Racing in 2003 (along with these gems: Roberto Gonzalez, Alex Yoong, Gualter Salles, Geoff Boss and Alex Sperafico).
Tagliani, Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay are the only three drivers from that field expected to race at this Saturday’s Milwaukee IndyFest. Servia isn’t expected to, barring a last-minute appointment at either Panther or Dale Coyne Racing.
VIDEO: Ferrari fires up 2016 F1 power unit at Maranello
There has been much speculation about the new car as Ferrari bids to overhaul Mercedes at the head of the field and secure its first championship in eight years.
Sebastian Vettel will be hoping to build on an impressive maiden campaign with Ferrari in 2015 that yielded three race wins, while Kimi Raikkonen remains keen to pick up more silverware in what may be his last season in F1.
Along with new Chevrolet aerodynamic components being tried out at the “it’s green in February and it’s never this green the later into the year we get” Sonoma Raceway, the other interesting storyline out of Wednesday’s six-car Verizon IndyCar Series test was that it marked Max Chilton’s testing debut with Chip Ganassi Racing in the No. 8 Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Chevrolet.
But it was on Wednesday that the talking stopped and the driving restarted, for what was not only the 24-year-old Brit’s first time in an IndyCar but also his first time at Sonoma.
“It’s a bit of a shock today,” Chilton said, via a track-issued release. “I haven’t been in a racing car in six months and that was an Indy Lights car, so I’ve got to learn the track today and the car.
“But I think the morning went swimmingly well. I was quicker than I thought I would be. It’s a really nice kit and I can’t wait to explore it throughout the season.”
Here’s a few photos on social media, either ones he or the track shared, of his maiden day in an IndyCar.
Pabst Racing has added a third driver to its Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda lineup, in the form of talented 19-year-old Australian driver Jordan Lloyd.
Lloyd raced the first two weekends of last year’s USF2000 season with John Cummiskey Racing before being sidelined due to financial woes, but he showed quite a bit of promise in those two weekends at St. Petersburg and NOLA Motorsports Park. He finished second in one of the NOLA races.
For 2016, Lloyd returns to the U.S. after winning the CAMS Jayco Australian Formula 4 championship last year, and was thus awarded with the ‘Road to the World’ scholarship.
“I only touched the tip of the iceberg when I was here in 2015, so on a personal level there is a lot of unfinished business that needs to be tended to,” Lloyd said in a team release. “I am looking forward to a strong season.”
Lloyd, who will drive the No. 21 car, joins the previously announced pairing of Garth Rickards and Yufeng Luo at Pabst, the Oconomowoc, Wisconsin-based team, as the USF2000 field for 2016 continues to grow both in terms of size and talent.
Luca Ghiotto will step up to the GP2 Series with Trident in 2016 after an impressive season in GP3 last year that saw him finish second in the championship standings.
Ghiotto made his GP3 debut at the end of 2014 with a four-race run-out for Trident before remaining with the Italian team for 2015.
It proved to be a memorable year as he won five races – more than any other driver – but fell eight points short of the title as Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon was crowed champion in Abu Dhabi.
Ghiotto will remain with Trident for 2016, stepping up to its GP2 operation after a successful test in Abu Dhabi at the end of last year.
“I can’t wait to line-up for this new adventure,” Ghiotto said. “Last year, it was tough for me to fight so hard and not winning the title. However, it has been an extremely useful experience with the help of the excellent teamwork among the whole Trident stable.
“I want to thank once again Maurizio Salvadori and Giacomo Ricci for their support, and the Italian Federation for believing so much in me. I really look forward to be back on-track.”