Tony Renna (IMS archives)

It’s been 10 years since Tony Renna’s passing

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October’s a dark month for the racing world. The recent losses of Sean Edwards just a week ago and Maria de Villota (October 11) join a laundry list of tragedies that have all come in this month.

Dan Wheldon (October 16, 2011), Greg Moore (October 31, 1999) and MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli (October 23, 2011) are three of the other high profile names lost; the 2011 stretch of days also claimed Michael Wanser, 6-year-old son of Target Chip Ganassi Racing team manager Barry Wanser and off-road racer Rick Huseman.

And 10 years ago today is another somber anniversary, for yet another driver whose promising career was cut short before it ever fully blossomed.

Tony Renna had been signed by Ganassi for the 2004 season to replace Tomas Scheckter, and be teammate to then-first-time champion Scott Dixon. The two had been Indy Lights teammates in 2000 at Bruce McCaw’s PacWest Racing team.

Ganassi was poised for the future with Renna, then 26, and Dixon, then 23, in the seats of the team’s Panoz-Toyotas. But a testing accident at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at Turn 3 claimed Renna’s life, before he ever had the chance to race for the team.

Renna had starred in substitute roles for Kelley Racing in place of Al Unser Jr. in 2002, and had a third car added for the second half of that season and at the 2003 Indianapolis 500, where he finished seventh. He’d raced in Indy Lights for three seasons (1998 to 2000) prior to that.

“Everyone who worked with him loved him,” said Chris Simmons, in a piece written by the Indianapolis Star’s Phillip B. Wilson. Simmons was another former teammate of Renna’s who has worked with Ganassi as engineer on Dario Franchitti’s No. 10 car since the Scot’s return to IndyCar racing from NASCAR.

Renna’s memory still lives with an annual award presented in his honor, the Tony Renna Rising Star Award, which was awarded to Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing sophomore Josef Newgarden at Sunday night’s IndyCar championship banquet.

And just this past weekend at the American Le Mans Series finale at Petit Le Mans, Patrick Long paid tribute to Renna with a Troy Lee-designed helmet.

There’s been a handful of tweets remembering the DeLand, Fla. driver today as well. A selection of those are below.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”