Sage Karam and Anna de Ferran at Sage's "prom." (Photo courtesy: INDYCAR)

Unable to attend high school prom due to Indy 500, Sage Karam’s team brought prom to him

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On the surface, it would seem hard to top Chase Elliott graduating from high school in suburban Atlanta early on a Saturday morning and then flying right from there to qualify at Iowa Speedway later the same day for the following day’s race a couple weeks ago.

Well, IndyCar driver Sage Karam may very well have beaten Elliott for bragging rights.

A week ago, just before Karam would make his first appearance in the Indianapolis 500 at the precocious age of 19, his team went above and beyond the call of duty to give Karam something preparing for the 500 forced him to miss:

Going to prom.

According to a story by Austin Coop at, Karam was unable to attend his senior prom back at Nazareth Area High School in Nazareth, Pa. (which also happens to be homestead to much of the Andretti clan).

So with Karam unable to go to the prom, members of Ganassi/Dreyer and Reinbold Racing brought the prom to him.

With only three days of planning, the prom planners not only shined on short notice, they outdid themselves. Not only did they decorate the area around the team’s home in Gasoline Alley, they flew in Karam’s girlfriend, Anna de Ferran (yes, that’s Gil’s daughter) to have a prom that neither will ever forget.

And while it was a two-person prom for the most part, Karam and de Ferran danced and partied as part of Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Community Day, allowing fans, fellow drivers and members of other teams to stop by and spend some quality time with and offer congratulations to the cute couple.

In addition to taking traditional prom photos, Karam, who graduates from high school next week, was named “Prom King,” receiving his “crown” from Indy 500 Festival Queen Lauren Isaacs.

So, let’s recap: In just over a couple of weeks, Karam goes to prom, races in the Indy 500 and then prepares for high school graduation.

How cool is all that?

Congratulations, Sage … and eat your heart out, Chase.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.