Double duty for Rahal, Walker, Bell in Long Beach

Leave a comment

It’s a different kind of double duty for three different individuals in the IndyCar paddock this weekend in Long Beach.

As was the case last year, Bobby Rahal, Derrick Walker and Townsend Bell will spent their weekends bouncing between IndyCar duties and commitments in the supporting American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.

With a combined five cars, Rahal will be busiest. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing IndyCar team expands to three cars with Mike Conway joining Graham Rahal (right, with Ed Carpenter at St. Petersburg) and James Jakes. Meanwhile Rahal’s BMW ALMS team has its two new BMW Z4s in action in the GT class.

Walker is team manager at both Ed Carpenter Racing (IndyCar) and Team Falken Tire (ALMS). The Falken Porsche 911 GT3 RSR finished third in GT in the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by “Fresh from Florida” with drivers Wolf Henzler, Bryan Sellers and Nick Tandy.

Bell is the only one of the three racing this weekend, as he’ll be in action in a West/Alex Job Racing/Boardwalk Ferrari F458 Italia in GT co-driving with Bill Sweedler, and providing his insights and analysis from the booth for NBC Sports Network’s IndyCar coverage.

If you see either of these three in a free moment this weekend, you’ll have caught them at a rare time.

IndyCar’s season finale at St. Pete approved to have 20,000 fans

IndyCar St. Pete fans
Chris Jones/IndyCar
Leave a comment

The NTT IndyCar Series’ season finale will be permitted up to 20,000 fans, making the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg possibly the circuit’s most well-attended race of 2020. The race originally was scheduled as the season opener before being moved to Oct. 25 because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has enjoyed limited crowds at Road America, Iowa Speedway, Gateway, Mid-Ohio and this weekend’s doubleheader races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, which could have up to 10,000 fans in attendance. That had been the largest maximum grandstand crowd for an IndyCar race this season.

At a St. Petersburg city council meeting Thursday, Mayor Rick Kriseman approved plans by race organizers Green Savoree Racing Promotions to hold the Oct. 23-25 weekend for the IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Pete with 20,000 fans who would follow health and safety protocols that include mandatory temperature checks and masks.

 “My thanks to Green Savoree Racing Promotions and IndyCar for their flexibility and resilience during this challenging time,” Kriseman said in a release. “I know that everyone is excited to get back on the track in St. Pete. I can’t wait for Oct. 23rd. I know everyone will embrace this race the St. Pete way, adhering to the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Let’s have some great racing in the Sunshine City.”

Paddock and the pit lane will remain closed to spectators, and social distancing of at least 6 feet will be observed on site.

“Our entire team greatly appreciates the patience and understanding of our ticket holders as we worked through this process with Mayor Kriseman, City Council and local health officials,” Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree Promotions. “It’s important for everyone who attends to read and follow all the COVID-19 protocols to contribute to a fun, safe and successful event for us all.”

“The ongoing guidance and support of Mayor Kriseman, City Council, and the City of St. Petersburg’s event team have been phenomenal,” said Kevin Savoree, co-owner, president and COO of Green Savoree Promotions. “We also would not be in this position to move this spring tradition to fall without Firestone’s unwavering commitment and dedication. It’s going to be a terrific weekend again in downtown St. Pete in three weeks featuring world-class racing from INDYCAR.”