Final Four brings opportunity for Texas Motor Speedway


Texas Motor Speedway is trying to make the most of having to share the spotlight with the Final Four this weekend in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

The 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth had run its spring NASCAR Sprint Cup race on a Saturday night, but opted to shift this year’s Duck Commander 500 to a Sunday afternoon in order to avoid a head-to-head conflict with the National Semifinal games at AT&T Stadium in nearby Arlington; the National Championship will be settled inside the home of the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.

Looking to capitalize, TMS is attempting to convince employees of the NCAA’s corporate sponsors that are in town for the Final Four to also take in the race with an all-inclusive ticket package for both events, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Additionally, TMS is trying to bring in fans traveling from Connecticut, Wisconsin, Florida, and Kentucky for the games. TMS has a Speedway Motorsports sibling in Kentucky Speedway as a link to those hailing from the Bluegrass State.

“This sets up well,” TMS president/GM Eddie Gossage said to the Star-Telegram. “Florida has two [Sprint Cup] speedways in the state – Daytona and Homestead – so there are lots of race fans there. We have a speedway in Kentucky, so we know those fans.

“Connecticut isn’t big racing territory, so that’s an opportunity. And Wisconsin is particularly exciting because they have lots of avid fans and tons of local short tracks there. We’re going to target those markets and see what we can do.”

While one can argue Gossage’s assertion that Connecticut isn’t “big racing territory” – some of the more notable short tracks in the country, like Stafford, Thompson, and the Waterford Speedbowl, as well as Sprint Cup drivers Joey Logano and Parker Kligerman are from there – you certainly can’t blame him for trying to go for a box-office slam dunk.

“What a great weekend for North Texas to have both going on,” he added. “Of course, we’d rather not have any competition, but it’s an opportunity. We’ll see how it turns out.”

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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