Michigan International Speedway names first 8 members of Youth Fan Advisory Board

Leave a comment

NASCAR knows that youth are its future, where new fans and new drivers will come from. That’s why the sanctioning body has become so proactive in trying to attract more youthful fans.

Borrowing a page from NASCAR’s playbook, Michigan International Speedway is doing the same.

While MIS and several other tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit have fan advisory boards or panels that are made up of adults, MIS is taking things a little further, announcing on Thursday the first eight members of its Youth Fan Advisory Board.

It’s the real deal: track officials will solicit input from the YFAB’s eight teen members from the Midwest and Canada to assist in future planning for the track.

“Engaging and attracting youth is critical for NASCAR, our sport and MIS,” MIS president Roger Curtis said in a statement. “We want to learn what and how to do more for the young race fans who come to our events.

“It is important to us that we maintain an open line of communication with all our guests; guests of all ages, as we strive to make their trip to the track memorable each time. The Youth FAB allows us to talk with youth and gather ideas to improve their fan experience.”

The eight YFAB members are: Daniel Bell, 16 years old, Meadville, Pa.; Katie Browning and Andrew Gillon, both 14 and both from Wyandotte, Mich.,; Kathleen Cassidy, 18, Gulford, Ontario, Canada; Nick Molina, 17, Troy, Mo.; Adam Oelrichs, 14, Sterling, Ill.; Veronica Shoemaker, 16, Livonia, Mich. and Chase Winter, 15, Cass City, Mich.

“I was interested in the Youth Fan Advisory Board just for the fact how much MIS gets involved with fans and how they always give back,” Cassidy said. “I wanted to be part of that and not only make a difference for youth, but fans in general who come to the track.”

Cassidy has been coming to the track for 11 years, with her most memorable moment coming last year.

“My favorite memory was last year when Roger (MIS President Roger Curtis) stopped in our campsite and he gave me a Fan Appreciation gift to follow an MRN (Motor Racing Network) reporter for the Sunday race,” she said. “I got to interview my favorite driver, which is Brad Keselowski.”

Gillon looks forward to making youngsters and teens new fans of MIS.

“The Youth FAB is interesting and it is a good opportunity for kids our age to help MIS out,” he said. “Plus, we can have a fun time with it. I am really looking forward to helping MIS get better as a track and make it better than it already is.”

The Youth Fan Advisory Board is patterned after the track’s adult Fan Advisory Board, which began in 2008.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
Leave a comment

As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”