IndyCar files lawsuit against Sao Paulo race promoters (UPDATED)

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The IndyCar Series has recently filed a lawsuit against Sao Paulo Indy 300 promoter Grupo Bandeirantes.

Anthony Schoettle of the Indianapolis Business Journal relays word from a source that says the series is seeking just under $10 million for the annual sanctioning feed. IndyCar (going by its legal name of ‘Indy Racing League LLC’) transferred the lawsuit against Bandeirantes on Dec. 12.

Attorneys from law firm Ice Miller LLP have been listed to represent IndyCar in the case, which has one William T. Lawrence named as the judge.

The Sao Paulo Indy 300 ran from 2010 to 2013, but did not make the 2014 IndyCar Series schedule upon release in mid-October. At the time, Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles noted that the Sao Paulo event could still happen.

Schoettle writes that in the lawsuit, Bandeirantes officials told the series that the race could not continue due to planned road work and closures in and around the race circuit. However, IndyCar argues that the promoter was contractually obligated to find another suitable place to race.

Furthermore, the lawsuit claims Sao Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad had stated in a letter to the promoters that while part of the course would be unavailable due to the construction, the race could still be held on an altered or relocated course. Instead, according to the lawsuit, Bandeirantes officials traveled to Indianapolis and said the race could not be held in 2014.

But what is interesting to note from Schoettle’s piece is that IndyCar apparently still desires to return to Brazil despite the suit. This is understandable on the series’ part, considering that the race has attracted a strong following – no doubt bolstered by having the likes of Brazilian IndyCar drivers Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves on the grid.

Depending on how the case goes, perhaps that hope isn’t long gone after all. Again, we’ll keep tabs on the story as it develops further.

Roger Penske discusses flying tire at Indy 500 with Dallara executives: ‘We’ve got to fix that’

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INDIANAPOLIS – Roger Penske spoke with Dallara executives Monday morning about the loose tire that went flying over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway catchfence and into a Turn 2 parking lot.

The left-rear wheel from Kyle Kirkwood’s No. 27 Dallara-Honda was sheared off in a collision at speed as Kirkwood tried to avoid the skidding No. 6 Dallara-Chevrolet of Felix Rosenqvist on Lap 183 of the 107th Indianapolis 500.

No one seriously was hurt in the incident (including Kirkwood, whose car went upside down and slid for several hundred feet), though an Indianapolis woman’s Chevy Cruze was struck by the tire. The Indy Star reported a fan was seen and released from the care center after sustaining minor injuries from flying debris in the crash.

During a photo shoot Monday morning with Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden at the IMS Yard of Bricks, Penske met with Dallara founder and owner Gian Paolo Dallara and Dallara USA CEO Stefano dePonti. The Italian company has been the exclusive supplier of the current DW12 chassis to the NTT IndyCar series for 11 years.

“The good news is we didn’t have real trouble with that tire going out (of the track),” Penske, who bought Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2020, told a few reporters shortly afterward. “I saw it hit. When it went out, I saw we were OK. I talked to the Dallara guys today. We’re going to look at that, but I guess the shear (force) from when (Rosenqvist’s) car was sitting, (Kirkwood’s car) went over and just that shear force tore that tether. Because we have tethers on there, and I’ve never seen a wheel come off.

“That to me was probably the scariest thing. We’ve got to fix that. We’ve got to fix that so that doesn’t happen again.”

Asked by NBC Sports if IndyCar would be able to address it before Sunday’s Detroit Grand Prix or before the next oval race at Iowa Speedway, Penske said, “The technical guys should look at it. I think the speed here, a couple of hundred (mph) when you hit it vs. 80 or 90 or whatever it might be, but that was a pinch point on the race.”

In a statement released Monday to WTHR and other media outlets, IndyCar said that it was “in possession of the tire in Sunday’s incident and found that the tether did not fail. This is an isolated incident, and the series is reviewing to make sure it does not happen again. IndyCar takes the safety of the drivers and fans very seriously. We are pleased and thankful that no one was hurt.”

IndyCar provided no further explanation for how the wheel was separated from the car without the tether failing.

IndyCar began mandating wheel suspension tethers using high-performance Zylon material after a flying tire killed three fans at Charlotte Motor Speedway during a May 1, 1999 race. Three fans also were struck and killed by a tire at Michigan International Speedway during a July 26, 1998 race.

The IndyCar tethers can withstand a force of more than 22,000 pounds, and the rear wheel tethers were strengthened before the 2023 season.