Luiz Razia focused on America after first Indy Lights test

1 Comment

We can officially confirm Luiz Razia as part of the IndyCar, and now Indy Lights, free agent pool.

The Brazilian former GP2 runner-up, and original 2013 Marussia Formula One driver before a sponsorship shortfall, hinted at interest in IndyCar a couple weeks ago. But he’s completed his first Indy Lights test with four-time defending series champions Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, and his interest in racing in North America seems serious.

“I visited some IndyCar (Series) teams and Indy Lights teams and my manager came up with this test with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, which is the perfect team for me because they have so many championships and much knowledge,” Razia told IndyCar.com.

“To be honest, I know I have the speed and talent to be in (the IndyCar Series), but also it’s good to know the business around the series, the people, how the competition is, the rules and the tracks.”

After his F1 deal fell through, Razia raced 2013 in the International GT Open sports car series.

Razia’s a bit of an interesting prospect. He’s not a world-beater, and probably wouldn’t enter IndyCar with the hype of an Helio Castroneves or Tony Kanaan, who established themselves in Indy Lights in the mid-1990s and a Marlboro Latin America-supported sponsorship program. He doesn’t quite have the credentials of Raphael Matos, who entered IndyCar in 2009 after successive Indy Lights and Formula Atlantic titles in back-to-back years.

But considering the relative lack of Brazilians that have entered the sport over the last few years – really only Matos, Ana Beatriz, Mario Moraes and Mario Romancini have entered since 2009 – Razia’s probably on that level if not stronger in terms of overall ability. As with anyone trying to find a ride in either IndyCar or Indy Lights, where Razia lands would probably come down to how much funding he can bring.

Brazil provided a hotbed of open-wheel talent at the turn of the century, with Castroneves, Kanaan, Gil de Ferran, Cristiano da Matta, Bruno Junqueira, Christian Fittipaldi, Roberto Moreno, Mauricio Gugelmin, Gualter Salles, Tarso Marques, Luiz Garcia Jr. and perhaps one or two others making sporadic appearances in the CART, Champ Car and IndyCar ranks.

But over the last five years, the level of Brazilian talent in America has dwindled down to the two veterans, and the series’ race in Sao Paulo has been axed for 2014. IndyCar – or Indy Lights – could do worse than finding a fresh Brazilian to add to the grid.

Al Unser Jr. to race Pikes Peak Hill Climb for first time in 29 years

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. is coming out of retirement to race again.

Unser Jr., who turns 56 on April 19, will compete in the 96th Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 24. It will be the first time Unser has raced at Pikes Peak in 29 years, since the 1989 event.

Unser won the Hill Climb and was named “King of the Mountain” in the 1983 event.

Unser said in 2007 that he was retiring from racing and had no plans to race in the future. However, he has taken part since then in some selected vintage racing events.

Speaking of vintage cars, Unser is slated to drive a 1936 Chevrolet Sedan in this year’s Hill Climb, according to race organizers.

He’ll compete with a number of luminaries including eight-time Hill Climb winner Paul Dallenbach; Layne Schranz, who will be competing in his 25th “Race to the Clouds”; 23-time champion Clint Vahsholtz; 25-time Hill Climb competitor David Schmidt II and three-time Climb winner Spencer Steele.

Unser recently returned to IndyCar racing as a consultant with Harding Racing, which is beginning its first full season in the series with Gabby Chaves behind the wheel.