Ohio State student Patrick Gallagher to wear Buckeye helmet at Mid-Ohio race

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Livery design by Andy Blackmore. Photo credits: CJ Wilson Racing

The Ohio State University will be in action this weekend, but not for any spring tune-ups ahead of the 2013 Buckeyes football season.

In one of the more innovative link-ups in racing in recent years, Ohio State student and Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup driver Patrick Gallagher will wear a Buckeye helmet this weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Gallagher, 20, is a junior mechanical engineering major at Ohio State, and a full-time driver for Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher CJ Wilson in the No. 28 MAZDASPEED Motorsports CJ Wilson Racing MX-5 car.

The helmet was created by the talented livery designer Andy Blackmore and was finished and delivered being hand painted by Tyler Cenarusa of Censport Graphics. The retail value of this one-off helmet is approximately $3000.

It will be signed and auctioned immediately after the event with all funds benefiting the Hematosis and Thrombosis Center at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

The race track and university are nearly inextricably linked for Gallagher, a native of Thornville, Ohio.

“While my mom was pregnant with me she was watching my dad race from the Keyhole (Turn 2 at Mid-Ohio),” said Gallagher. “After the race, they went home and a few hours later I was born. It’s a cool story but I wish I was actually born at the track – that would have been pretty awesome.”

“I am thrilled to have the support of The Ohio State University and the opportunity to wear the school colors on a unique helmet design,” he added. “To have the support of so many people from such a large school like Ohio State is an incredible feeling. We will be looking to score a win for the whole OSU group!”

Wilson put the pressure on for the weekend. The online auction begins today, June 10, with more information available at www.cjwilsonracing.com, www.leftylefty.com, and on the CJ Wilson Racing Facebook page.

“A great thing about racing is we have an opportunity to recruit from across the country and showcase partnerships locally at each event. With Patrick being an Ohio State student, partnering with the school, for the Mid-Ohio round, while showcasing the work of the charity, will be awesome.  Now all he has to do is set pole, and win the races or he will never hear the end of it from the crew.”

Gallagher, who won MAZDASPEED’s Club Racing scholarship to compete in this year’s MX-5 Cup series, enters the doubleheader weekend June 15-16 in fifth place in the series points standings. He has a best finish of second, set last race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May.

IndyCar’s revised schedule gives Tony Kanaan an extra race in 2020

INDYCAR Photo by Joe Skibinski
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Tony Kanaan got a bit of good news when the latest revised NTT IndyCar Series schedule was released Monday.

Kanaan’s “Ironman Streak” of 317 consecutive starts would have concluded with the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 15. That race was postponed, and the races that followed have been canceled or rescheduled later in the year. The season tentatively is scheduled to start June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is the reason for the tentative nature of this year’s 2020 NTT IndyCar Series schedule.

Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar Series champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner, started the season with a limited schedule for A.J. Foyt Racing in the No. 14 Chevrolet. That schedule included all five oval races, including the 104th Indianapolis 500.

A silver lining for Kanaan is that this year’s trip to Iowa Speedway will be a doubleheader, instead of a single oval contest. His schedule has grown from five to six races for 2020, should the season start on time with the June 6 contest at Texas Motor Speedway and the additional race at Iowa.

“I’m really happy that IndyCar has been very proactive about the schedule and keeping us posted with the plans,” Kanaan told NBCSports.com Tuesday afternoon from his home in Indianapolis. “I’m double happy that now with Iowa being a doubleheader, I’m doing six races instead of five.”

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Kanaan’s “Last Lap” is something that many fans and competitors in IndyCar want to celebrate. He has been a fierce foe on the track but also a valued friend outside the car to many of his fellow racers.

He also has been quite popular with fans and likely is the most popular Indianapolis 500 driver of his generation.

Scott Dixon was Kanaan’s teammate at Chip Ganassi Racing from 2013-17. At one time, they were foes but eventually became friends.

“I hope it’s not T.K.’s last 500,” Dixon told NBCSports.com. “I was hoping T.K. would get a full season. That has changed. His first race of what was going to his regular season was going to be the 500. Hopefully, that plays out.

“You have to look at T.K. for who he is, what he has accomplished and what he has done for the sport. He has been massive for the Indianapolis 500, for the city of Indianapolis to the whole culture of the sport. He is a legend of the sport.

“We had our differences early in our career and had problems in 2002 and 2003 and 2004 when we were battling for championships. We fought for race wins and championships in the 2000s. I’ve been on both sides, where he was fighting against me in a championship or where he was fighting with me to go for a championship. He is a hell of a competitor; a fantastic person.

“I hope it’s not his last, but if it is, I hope it’s an extremely successful one for him this season.”

Even before Kanaan joined Chip Ganassi Racing, Dixon admitted he couldn’t help but be drawn to Kanaan’s personality.

“T.K. is a very likable person,” Dixon said. “You just have to go to dinner with the guy once, and you understand why that is. The ups and downs were a competitive scenario where he was helping you for a win or helping someone else for a win. There was never a dislike or distrust. We always got along very well.

“We are very tight right now and really close. He is a funny-ass dude. He has always been a really good friend for me, that’s for sure.”

Back in 2003 when both had come to the old Indy Racing League after beginning their careers in CART, the two drivers were racing hard for the lead at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan on April 13, 2003. They were involved in a hard crash in Turn 2 that left Kanaan broken up with injuries. IRL officials penalized Dixon for “aggressive driving.” Dixon had to sit out the first three days of practice for the next race – the 2003 Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan recovered in time and did not miss any racing. He started second and finished third in that year’s Indy 500.

“We were racing hard and going for the win,” Dixon recalled of the Motegi race. “It was a crucial part of the season. Everybody has to be aggressive. I respect Tony for that. He was not letting up. That is what I always saw with Tony, how hard the guy will push. He will go to the absolute limit, and that is why he was inspiring and why he was a successful driver.

“Those moments are blips. You might not talk to the guy for a week, but then you are back on track. T.K. is very close with our family and we are with his.”

This season, because of highly unusual circumstances, T.K.’s IndyCar career will last for one more race than previously scheduled.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500