Milwaukee IndyFest: What to do, where to go, plus other tidbits

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Here’s a rundown of some of the key elements you need to pay attention to if you’re thinking of or planning to attend this year’s Milwaukee IndyFest, or, as its known by its full race name, the ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers. The event is promoted by Andretti Sports Marketing:

The race weekend schedule:

Linked here, via the Milwaukee IndyFest website.

Driver appearances/places to go:

A driver appearance schedule, as compiled by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ace motorsports reporter Dave Kallmann.

A round-up of places to go and events to hit when in Milwaukee, per The Set-Up Sheet’s Steve Wittich.

Here’s more information on Thursday night’s celebrity driver bartending event, plus Friday night’s IndyFest Street Party and the Racing for Kids benefit event, Beer, Cheese & Charity:

How many people can say that their favorite IndyCar driver has served them a beer?

Thursday, Miller Time Pub & Grill will host the second annual Bartender Challenge from 5-6PM. IndyCar drivers Justin Wilson, Josef Newgarden, Jack Hawksworth, Simon Pagenaud, and Mikhail Aleshin will tend bar, competing for tips that will go to Racing For Kids-Official Charity of Milwaukee. Also joining them will be Molly Menard of NVL Pro Beach Volleyball and Sue Black of the Milwaukee Wave.

On the IndyFest Street Party:

The IndyFest Street Party will be rocking from 5-10PM across from the Hilton City Center downtown. Meet your favorite drivers at autograph sessions and enjoy interactive displays with your family before racing really gets going on Saturday. Also at the IndyFest Street Party will be Beer, Cheese & Charity-a special event to benefit Racing For Kids. Participants will be able to enjoy a VIP Beer Garden, silent auction of one-of-a-kind racing memorabilia and experiences, and meet & greets with select IndyCar drivers.

On the race weekend itself, which begins with testing Friday for Indy Lights and Pro Mazda and a full day Saturday:

For tickets and more information, visit milwaukeeindyfest.com

More information on what Honda, which is a presenting sponsor of the race by way of the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers, is doing: 

H-BLOCK – A Honda Fan Section will be present, which is a section that is dedicated to Honda fans; special Honda and Honda Racing/HPD branded pom-poms and sunglasses will be given out.

Honda On-Track Ticket: Honda guests will be receiving TWO laps in the Official Pace Car (instead of the customary one lap) as well as merchandise. The Official Pace Car this race will be back to the Honda Accord for the Milwaukee event, but then back to the HPD CR-Z for Sonoma; the CR-Z premiered at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago.

Social event previews:

If you’re a fan of reporter predictions and bobbling heads (you’ll gain a further appreciation of why I’m a web reporter and not an on-camera person), then you’re in for a treat with this social media preview of the event I did with the Milwaukee Social Club (hint: it also includes my win pick, so you can hold me to that this weekend). Pippa Mann, who’s much more camera savvy and can better offer both a driver and regular radio analyst opinion, also did one too.

Hinchcliffe’s knock-knock joke for kindness:

James Hinchcliffe got two tickets to give away for IndyFest, and gave them away to the fan who came up with the best knock-knock joke.  Here’s your winner:

Michael Andretti on Milwaukee’s history:

A good video from IndyCar with Michael Andretti, on the history and value of the Milwaukee event:

Pre-race post roundup? Look out for that tomorrow:

We’ve done a wealth of behind-the-scenes and pre-race posts ahead of Milwaukee IndyFest. If you missed any, or if we missed any in this post, we’ll hit that on Friday.

Tony Kanaan says his message of IndyCar-NASCAR unity aimed at fans

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Over a 22-year IndyCar career featuring its share of adversity, Tony Kanaan has learned to embrace trying to find the positives in a negative situation.

He believes NASCAR and IndyCar will find a tiny silver lining from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The series will race together at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course in a July 4 doubleheader, which he believes sends a message of unity he’d like to see from the world during this dark period.

“It’s time to send that message (of unity),” Kanaan told “Happy Hours” hosts Kevin Harvick and Matt Yocum in a Wednesday afternoon interview on SiriusXM’s NASCAR Channel. “If we don’t come out of this situation as better people, globally, in every way, shape or form … it’s just being kind to people. Hopefully, we’ll be sending the right messages, doing radio shows together, doing live on Instagram together, doing races together.

ON NBCSN: IndyCar at virtual Barber Motorsports Park, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

MORE: Jimmie Johnson wants to run IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader

“I was bugging Jimmie Johnson to say, ‘Can I be a guest in NASCAR on iRacing?’ I think the misperception, and probably a little our fault as well, is that people don’t know how (IndyCar and NASCAR drivers) respect each and how we think each other’s jobs are so cool.”

It was Kanaan’s comment last week that “it’s not us and them. It is the motorsports world’ that prompted Harvick to ask the 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner about his views on past IndyCar and NASCAR divisions.

Harvick noted that “over the years, IndyCar and NASCAR have that separate stigma as far as the fans, but the racers in the middle, we talk with each other. We’re just racers. I think it’s absolutely great” the doubleheader will happen.

Kanaan said he felt it was the right message to send because of the fans. “For drivers, I don’t think we ever thought of it that way,” he said. “We always respected each other and thought each other’s jobs were cool. That tweet was for our fans who say, ‘Those cars are too fast. Those cars are too slow.’ It’s time for us to stop. It’s a racing family.

“For people who don’t understand about racing, any race car is cool. Doesn’t matter if it’s a go kart, a sprint car, a  Cup car, it doesn’t matter. … The situation, we’re in, we’re all equal. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. We’re all in the same boat now. We can’t do what we love. It just clicked. I said it’s time to send that message. Hopefully this will be the end for ‘you guys and us’ for the fans. For drivers, I don’t think we ever thought of it that way.”

The GMR IndyCar Grand Prix is scheduled to be run July 4 on the IMS road course ahead of the Xfinity race, which will mean that the NTT Series’ Firestone rubber will be on the asphalt before the Goodyears of NASCAR hit the track.

Recalling a NASCAR test many years ago at Nazareth Speedway when he turned laps a second faster because there’d been an IndyCar race the previous day, Harvick asked Kanaan whether the varying tire compounds might present a challenge.

“I don’t there is a solution for that,” Kanaan said. “It’s part of the job, and we need to realize that you guys run different tires. We run softer tires. It’s no different than (IndyCar) racing with the trucks at Texas. It’s probably harder on an oval than a road course.

“But I like it. It’s part of the challenge and makes the race weekend more interesting, the people who can manage that as well.”

Even though he is sidelined, Kanaan still will stay busy this weekend, racing in Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. IndyCar iRacing Challenge event at virtual Barber Motorsports Park on NBCSN. He will be tuning in Sunday at 1 p.m. on Fox and FS1 as NASCAR hits Bristol Motor Speedway.

“Last Sunday I had my alarm set for 12:40 p.m., because at 1 o’clock (NASCAR was) on,” Kanaan said with a laugh. “I told (wife) Lauren, ‘Let’s turn the TV on and watch the NASCAR race!’ I was excited, and it wasn’t even real. She’s like, ‘Man, look at you … I said, ‘That’s what we got.’ It’s been a weird year.”

Harvick also will be racing Sunday, having recently joined Kanaan in installing a new racing simulator at home.

“Let’s do this Kevin: Come do an IndyCar race on iRacing,” Kanaan said. “I’ll do NASCAR. Now that you have a sim. What do you think?”

“Well, I’ll have to go to my 7-year-old to figure out how to drive it fast,” Harvick said.

“He’s been practicing. I’m really good at crashing.”