Aussie GP organizers now threaten lawsuit, switch to IndyCar

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From 1991 to 2008, American open-wheel racing annually made a visit to Australia at the beloved Surfers Paradise Street Circuit. But what if the current Verizon IndyCar Series was able to make its way back Down Under at the home of Formula One’s Australian Grand Prix?

Race organizers are still agitated over the lack of noise from F1’s new V6-powered machines, which they say detracted from the atmosphere during the Grand Prix earlier this month.

Now, after alleging that the quieter cars may have breached their contract with F1 management, the organizers have continued their saber-rattling by not only threatening a lawsuit but also bringing up IndyCar as a possible replacement at Albert Park.

“We may as well go and buy an IndyCar race for $3.5m [AUS]. It would be hugely louder,” Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker told the UK’s Independent this week.

“It would be a drastic change to switch to IndyCar but we cannot go on like this.”

Walker also added that the new sound of F1 was “a disgrace” and that as a result, promoters will resort to having to “go and get an IndyCar race or something like that to keep the fans.”

As for the matter of the possible lawsuit, Walker says he has written F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone to inform him that F1’s Promoters Association group (of which Walker is the chairman) will meet in two weeks’ time to discuss the matter.

“We can’t just sit back and wait,” he declared. “There’s a strong wind blowing here. Legal action would not be very difficult. Bernie is clearly in breach of his contract because this is not what we bought…”

“I didn’t buy a wimp. Originally, I bought a giant with noise.”

Ecclestone himself has said that he was talking with FIA president Jean Todt about ways to make the cars louder, like their V8-powered predecessors. However, he has told Sky Sports in Malaysia that the noise was louder than he expected and that if it were raised a little bit more, “it will be alright.”

Todt himself appears open to the idea of louder engines, even though he has said he finds the V6 tones “fascinating” from his perspective.

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.”