IndyCar: Sato’s Indy 500 helmet raises over $31,000 for charity

Leave a comment

Follow the deadly March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged his homeland of Japan, Verizon IndyCar Series driver Takuma Sato created the “With You Japan” program to assist families affected by the disasters.

Sato’s efforts to help continued this past May during the Indianapolis 500. He raced in the event with a special edition helmet that was later signed by him and team owner A.J. Foyt, and then put into an online auction to raise money for “With You Japan.”

The helmet had pulled in $15,675 when bidding ended on June 9. But today, the Foyt camp announced that the helmet had raised $31,350, as the winning bid for the helmet has also been matched by an anonymous donor.

The winner of the helmet is described in the team’s release as a “longtime supporter of Sato who lives in Japan” that, like the donor, chooses to remain anonymous.

“I am very glad that I became the successful bidder for the auction of the Indy 500 Special Helmet,” said the winner. “I appreciate this helmet is a symbol of Takuma and his team’s wishes and challenging spirit. I am proud to own this helmet and will continue to support Takuma who keeps challenging even in difficult situations.”

Sato also thanked everyone for their support of the auction.

“It is great news that this auction raised a huge amount for “With you Japan,” he said. “A big congratulations to the successful bidder, and I really appreciate all donors who put in extra contributions.

“Japan is still struggling from the effects of the tsunami so with your help, we will continue to support children in a way to have some fun activities and encourage their dreams.”

The top of Takuma Sato’s special edition helmet for the Indianapolis 500. Said helmet has raised more than $31,000 for Sato’s “With You Japan” charity. Credit: A.J. Foyt Racing.

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
Leave a comment

John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski