Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma - Day 1

IndyCar: Five teams, 11 drivers to test at Sonoma on Thursday

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This upcoming week may be an “off week” for the Verizon IndyCar Series in terms of an actual race weekend, but not in terms of on-track activity.

Half the 22-car field will be in action at Sonoma Raceway on Thursday for an open test, which will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is free to the public.

Fans who purchase a ticket to the upcoming GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (August 24), or have already purchased tickets, will be given a FREE pit tour for an up-close look at the racecars and drivers. The Raceway Café will also be open for lunch, and a press conference will fall during the lunch hour.

Those drivers and teams confirmed to test include:

  • Andretti Autosport: Ryan Hunter-Reay & Carlos Munoz
  • Chip Ganassi Racing: Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan & Charlie Kimball
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Graham Rahal
  • Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing: Josef Newgarden
  • Team Penske: Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya & Will Power

Newgarden is embarking on a crazy, whirlwind week where he returned from Mid-Ohio to Indianapolis for the Indiana State Fair, will head west to Sonoma on Thursday, then heads back southeast to Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. for the weekend to compete in a Honda-powered Formula F car. More here from the SCCA.

Interesting from a championship perspective is that Castroneves, Power and Hunter-Reay will have an extra day’s worth of data compared to Simon Pagenaud, who is not testing here. But Pagenaud and the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team did test at Sonoma over the winter, so they’ll have that data to work off of.

Penske has traditionally run well at Sonoma, and since the introduction of the Dallara DW12 has won both races – with Ryan Briscoe in 2012 and Power a year ago.

We’ll see whether anyone is able to make key gains this week.

NHRA: New book a celebration of life, love and drag racing

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The overpowering smell from nitromethane that powers Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars in the National Hot Rod Association oftentimes brings fans to tears after getting a whiff of the stuff.

Now there’s a new inspirational book that will also bring tears to the eyes of die-hard drag racing fans.

Veteran crew chief Jim Oberhofer has released “Top Fuel For Life, Life Lessons From A Crew Chief,” a touching homage to both his late wife and persevering and overcoming adversity in the highly competitive world of NHRA drag racing.

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Oberhofer wears a number of hats as vice president of one of the sport’s most veteran and successful teams, Kalitta Motorsports, including serving as crew chief for Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta’s dragster.

Oberhofer relates a number of stories about overcoming adversity in the book, but none more touching than how he watched his beloved wife “Tammy O” lose a long and painful battle to stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.

While Oberhofer has spent his life using wrenches and tools working on 10,000-horsepower engines, his new book shows that he is also a very gifted writer.

Known in the sport as “Jim O,” Oberhofer describes the fight his wife went through in gritty and descriptive prose, but with a foundation built upon what the love of his life meant to him – and continues to mean to him more than two years since she passed away.

“When you take a long hard look at your life, I guarantee you that being a winner has little to do with crossing the finish line,” Oberhofer said. “After many mistakes and a whole lot of heartache, I learned that happiness comes from a deeper, simpler place. That’s the big win.”

“Top Fuel For Life” is available on Amazon for $19.95.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Report: Ecclestone believes F1 could be sold by year’s end

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Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday said the racing series is up for sale and has as many as three potential buyers.

Ecclestone told The Associated Press that a deal could still be struck by year’s end.

“I think so, maybe this year,” Ecclestone said. “There are three people mentioned to buy. So it’s a case of whether CVC or Mr. Mackenzie wants to sell.”

Ecclestone was referring to F1’s largest and controlling shareholder, CVC Capital Partners co-chairman Donald Mackenzie.

But even if F1 is sold, the 84-year-old Eccelstone doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

“The people that I’ve spoken to … have asked me if I would stay,” Ecclestone told AP.

Follow @JerryBonkowski