Ex-Bridgestone/Firestone leader Al Speyer joins DeltaWing team

Katherine Legge and Al Speyer (DeltaWing Racing Cars)
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Al Speyer, former Executive Director of Motorsports for Bridgestone/Firestone, hasn’t taken too long finding a new home after 39 years with the tire manufacturer.

He’ll be joining the DeltaWing Racing Cars team as its President and Chief Operating Officer, with the task of preparing for 2014 and transitioning the team into an organization capable of long-term growth.

“DeltaWing is a terrific concept, and I am delighted to be joining the team,” Speyer said in a team release. “I have been a passionate believer in DeltaWing since its inception and am very enthusiastic about the future. I am grateful to managing partner Don Panoz and partners Chip Ganassi, Joe Walton and Duncan Dayton for selecting me for this key position. I am fully aware that there is a lot to be done and am eager to get started.”

The DeltaWing is racing’s radical, oft-derided red-headed stepchild, but it’s kept going through a crazy ride over the last 12-16 months in particular.

The car was originally planned as an IndyCar prototype but rejected by that series’ ICONIC committee; it found its home in sports car racing, first with backing from Nissan, Michelin, and All American Racers in the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans.

This year, the car is independent from its former partners, run under the auspices of Panoz’s headquarters in Braselton, Ga., adopted with Bridgestone tires and running in the American Le Mans Series’ P1 class with drivers Katherine Legge and Andy Meyrick. It had its breakout race at Elkhart Lake’s Road America in August and plans are forging ahead on the team’s new coupe version, which premiered last week.

Speyer, whose impact on motorsports through his efforts at Bridgestone/Firestone was profound, is about as good a get as possible to enhance the DeltaWing’s brand and further its future. The car runs at half the weight, with half the horsepower of a normal prototype.

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”