Mann, Woedl Organizing Indy Fans Tweet-Up

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Two-time Indianapolis 500 starter Pippa Mann, besides her on-track time and searching for sponsorship, has worked very diligently over the last few years to help create fan awareness of the IndyCar Series through her social media presence and active at-track activities.

With the 2014 season now actually “in range” after the four or five months since Fontana last October, Mann and devout IndyCar fan Amy Woedl are working on organizing a fan tweet-up two weeks before the season opener in St. Petersburg. The Indy Fans Tweet-Up will be held March 16 at Fastimes Karting indoor go-kart track in Indianapolis, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Karting, prizes, and surprises will all be on the agenda for the day. Kids over 53 inches can drive the junior karts, with Woedl organizing activities for those under. Glass Hammer Racing and Miles Ahead will both have a presence at the event, and other special guests could potentially make an appearance from the IndyCar media side, and the Mazda Road To Indy driver side. More information is available here.

Months of planning go into these tweet-ups, which can be either formal or informal meet-ups of IndyCar fans to get together in person after interacting on Twitter. In Mann and Woedl’s case, that’s how they met to begin with.

“Amy and I first met at a Glass Hammer Racing Tweet-Up at Mid-Ohio in 2011,” Mann said. “He (Woedl’s son Gage) showed up with a really cool picture of my racing car he had drawn, and was wearing a Pippa cap… As a racing driver we meet a lot of people, but that’s the kind of thing you remember, and that really sticks with you.”

It stuck so much, in fact, that upon Mann’s return to the 500 this past year in Dale Coyne’s No. 63 Cyclops Gear Honda, she presented Gage with the chance to hold onto her steering wheel.

“The Indy 500 was incredible, and he still talks about how cool it was to see a garage on the inside and how the wheel felt,” Woedl explained. “She has given Gage some pretty incredible memories, and the mom side of me is always grateful to Pippa for that!”

“His face when I handed him the steering wheel to look at was a picture!” added Mann.

As for the tweet-up itself, it’s not the first such IndyCar-related version. The Official Winter Indy Tweet-Up, organized by Monica Hilton and Elizabeth Lenzi in years past, is not going ahead this year due to other obligations and commitments.

“They are the reason the fans wanted an event this winter, and they are the reason we even had the idea to try and organize a fan event in Indy before St Pete,” Mann said.

Both Mann and Woedl have discussed the idea of doing more such events throughout the year at IndyCar events, as their time and schedules permit.

It’s an active, fan-friendly event that should do a good job of gathering a collection of IndyCar aficionados in one place and at good rates to generate excitement for the 2014 season, and it’s cool to see an active driver and devout fan put it together.

Robert Wickens in the Indy 500? Bryan Herta making plans to field a car for next year

Robert Wickens Indy 500
Brett Farmer/LAT Images/IMSA
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bryan Herta wants to enter Robert Wickens in the Indy 500 as early as 2024 – a year longer than preferred as work continues on the hand controls needed for the paralyzed driver.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway in his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He’s worked as a driver coach for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team since, but last year with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai returned to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The 33-year-old Canadian won a pair of races (including the season opener at Daytona) driving a Hyundai Elantra N-TCR that is fitted for Wickens to race strictly through hand controls. Herta said Thursday that perfecting that technology for an Indy car in the biggest race in the world has slowed the project he’s determined to do with Wickens.

‘I’M AS HUNGRY AS EVER’: Robert Wickens’ return to racing

“I’d love to take Robbie back to Indy because I know he could do that, and I think that would be a next step for him in his journey,” Herta told The Associated Press. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the logistical side of things, hand controls, and I think we have solutions for that.”

Herta said Honda has been supportive of the process, which Herta called “one of the most important things we’ve done in racing” last year.

“We actually looked at doing it this year, but the logistics of it, the timing, it just wasn’t enough,” Herta said. “That’s not something you can rush. There’s some things that we have to work very closely with IndyCar on, and things we just have to get right. It’s a process, but I can see a path to it.”

Wickens, when told his boss was openly discussing the Indy 500, grinned widely. Herta as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.

“That’d be fun,” he said of running the Indy 500.

But like Herta, Wickens said the effort has to be both done correctly and be competitive.

“We’d like to do it right. If we started right now, can we get a car ready for the open test in April? Probably,” Wickens told The AP. “But I don’t know where the systems would be and I want to get on proper simulators to make sure its correct.

“We all want to do a proper, professional effort,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”

Wickens later tweeted about the possibility of racing the Indy 500 and said his goal was “always to get back to the top level of motorsport” whether it’s IndyCar or IMSA.

Wickens in 2021 did a demonstration in Canada that marketed advancements for paralyzed drivers and gave him a chance to again drive. His entire life had been upended 14 races into his rookie IndyCar season, just three months after winning top rookie honors at the Indianapolis 500.

Wickens has since married, returned to racing last year and welcomed the birth of his first child, an son named Wesley whom is infatuated with both race cars and the trip to Disney he took this week during the off days at Daytona International Speedway.

Wickens, who uses a wheelchair but can stand with some support, marks a full year back racing on Friday in the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. Despite success last season, Herta made changes to his lineups and Wickens this year will be teamed with Harry Gottsacker.