Indiana city backs Newgarden for Indy 500

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Josef Newgarden and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing will receive associate backing for the Indianapolis 500 from the Indiana city of New Castle (44 miles east of Indianapolis), which raised sponsorship funding through private investors.

Newgarden raced go-karts early in his career in New Castle, which is home to New Castle Motorsports Park, one of the top karting facilities in the country.

“I learned my race craft at NCMP and go back there every year I can for the Robopong 200 kart race,” Newgarden said in a team statement. “It will mean a lot to me to carry a decal of the city where I started my racing career on my livery at the Indianapolis 500.”

“With help from private investors in New Castle, this has become a reality for our community,” said New Castle mayor Greg York. “This will allow us to promote New Castle on the largest advertising stage in the world.”

For the “500,” Newgarden’s car will change numbers from its regular No. 67 to No. 21 for the team’s Indy-only primary sponsor, Century 21. The decision to change numbers has proven fruitful in the not-too-distant past, as Dario Franchitti won last year’s “500” after flipping from his regular No. 10 to No. 50 for the race in honor of Target’s 50th anniversary.

Former 5-time ALMS and Le Mans-winning team owner Dave Maraj killed in accident

Photo courtesy Dave Maraj Facebook page
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Well-known sports car team owner and automobile dealership owner Dave Maraj was killed Saturday night in a boating accident in Florida, according to SportsCar365.com.

Maraj’s Champion Racing teams won five consecutive American Le Mans Series championships from 2004 through 2008, and also captured the overall win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2005, the last American team to do so in the iconic sports car race.

IMSA President Scott Atherton released the following statement mourning Maraj’s passing:

Dave Maraj. Photo courtesy IMSA.

“All of us at IMSA are shocked and saddened by the news of Dave Maraj’s passing. As a team owner in the American Le Mans Series, Dave and his Champion Racing organization were the epitome of professionalism and excellence, as their five series championships and 24 Hours of Le Mans victory will attest.

“Dave was a tremendous competitor and a great friend to all in the paddock throughout his time in our sport. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dave’s family and friends and to all of his associates at Champion Motors.”

Maraj was a very successful automobile dealership owner, most notably Champion Motors and Champion Porsche in Pompano Beach, Florida, the latter considered the No. 1 Porsche dealer in the U.S.

Details of how Maraj died have not been released.

Maraj sold his racing operation after the 2008 season and devoted himself to his Porsche and Audi auto dealerships, as well as competitive sailing.