Pirelli World Challenge: Duncan Ende highlights dangers of distracted driving

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Living in Los Angeles, Pirelli World Challenge driver Duncan Ende is constantly reminded of the dangers of distracted driving.

“It’s bad when I’m driving in my car and sometimes really scary when I’m on my road bicycle, and drivers on the road are speaking on the phone, looking at the map on their phone, or paying attention to the kids in the backseat of their Prius,” said Ende, who drives the No. 24 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS in the GT class.

“Racing with Andy Pilgrim while we come through the GTS field like we did in Austin [Texas] is very exciting, but it’s much less stressful than seeing a driver on their cell phone in my mirror while I drive down the 405 freeway.”

For the last three seasons, Ende has done his best to educate the public about why it’s important to drive focused. Since 2011, he has aligned himself with an organization called STANDD – Stop Texting and Driving Distracted – which sets up a booth at every race next to GMG Racing’s piece of the World Challenge paddock. There, STANDD asks spectators to sign a pledge form (pictured; Photo Credit: SCCA Pro Racing) and make a personal commitment to safe driving.

The organization was created by Divetta Thompson, who lost her 18-year-old son, Rodney, in an October 2008 car accident. According to the STANDD website, “speed, music, and texting” all played factors in the fatal crash.

She believes that being a part of the World Challenge family has been important in helping spread her group’s message.

“We have really enjoyed being a part of Duncan’s racing program, and being a part of World Challenge this year has been incredible for STANDD,” said Thompson. “We’ve felt really welcomed and embraced by World Challenge and GMG Racing, and we’ve been really successful in spreading our message this year.

“At Long Beach, we had the highest amount of sign-ups for an event that we’ve ever had. We are incredibly happy and proud to see the STANDD logo on the front of the beautiful Audi R8 that Duncan is racing this year.”

In addition to their efforts in World Challenge, STANDD has released an Android app that can reduce the risk of distracted driving by automatically sending a text message response if the phone is in a moving car. An iPhone version of the app will be available at the end of this month.

The Pirelli World Challenge’s next race weekend is July 4-6 at Lime Rock Park. NBC Sports Network will televise the race on Saturday, July 20, at 4 pm ET.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.