IndyCar: Brasilia, Brazil race confirmed for March 8, 2015

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INDYCAR announced today it is returning to Brazil next season and will sanction a Verizon IndyCar Series event at Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet in the capital city of Brasília during the 2015 season. Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles and Maruska Souza Holanda, President of Terracap, a government-owned company that owns the racetrack, made the joint announcement from Brasília today. The Brasília Indy will be held on March 8, 2015.

“We’re eager to continue INDYCAR’s rich history of racing in Brazil with today’s announcement of a Verizon IndyCar Series event in Brasília next season,” Miles said. “This event is an instrumental step in the growth of INDYCAR as we continue to execute our strategy of adding race markets and events that drive us forward. We’ve received a tremendous amount of support from Governor Agnelo Queiroz, the Government of the Federal District – GDF and the Bandeirantes Communications Group throughout this entire process. INDYCAR fans throughout the world are unbelievably enthusiastic about our sport and we’re excited to showcase another thrilling event next season.”

INDYCAR previously sanctioned a Verizon IndyCar Series street race in São Paulo (2010-13) and CART raced in Rio de Janeiro (1996-2000) on an oval circuit that was also named in honor of Piquet.

“I look forward to having the race in Brasilia; it will be a marvelous event not only for developing Brasilia but for all of Brazil,” Brasília’s Governor Agnelo Queiroz said while visiting the Indianapolis 500 in May. “The racetrack is located close to downtown and we expect more than 100,000 fans at the event. The racetrack is a permanent facility and it was built in the center of the city in 1973, and we were determined in our improvements that the track should meet the safety and performance requirements for INDYCAR, F1 and MotoGP. We truly hope the event will bring investments and economic development for the whole Central region of Brazil.”

Brazilians Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves, two of the most successful and popular drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series, applauded the 2015 schedule addition.

“It’s awesome news that we’re going back to Brazil next year,” said Kanaan, the 2004 Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner. “The fans there love INDYCAR and support the race and we also have Brazilian sponsors involved in our sport, so racing in my home country is a no-brainer. I raced at the Brasília track a very long time ago, in the beginning of the 90’s, but I remember it being very cool. I can’t wait for INDYCAR to get back there in 2015.”

Castroneves, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner who recently finished second in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship behind his teammate Will Power, echoed Kanaan’s sentiments.

“We are living in great times for Brazil,” Castroneves said. “The World Cup was there a few months ago. The Olympics are coming to Rio de Janeiro in 2016. In between we will see the return of the Verizon IndyCar Series beginning in 2015. Brazilians are very proud of their sports heritage, including motorsports. I know it will be a great event at a new venue for us in the capital of Brasilia, the Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet, named after one of our greatest drivers. I love racing in my native country and I hope to be the winner next year.”

Brasília joins NOLA Motorsports Park as the second new INDYCAR venue added to the calendar for next season. INDYCAR officials are currently finalizing the entire 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, which will be announced later this offseason.

Female racer makes history with record finishes in dirt national midget events

Photo courtesy Toyota Racing
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Holly Shelton is riding high after setting a milestone for a female driver in a national midget series feature event on dirt this past weekend.

The Sacramento, California-area resident recorded the highest finish ever for a female dirt national midget series driver with a runner-up finish last Friday at the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League double-header weekend at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Missouri.

Shelton broke her own national record for top finish by a woman in a national dirt event – she finished third in a USAC race at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, last year.

One night after setting her new national record, Shelton and her Keith Kunz Motorsports Toyota roared back Saturday to finish third (started on the outside pole) in the second half of the weekend double-header, making her the first female dirt driver ever on the national midget circuit to earn back-to-back podium finishes.

“It’s cool making history as a female, but my number one thing is I just want to win,” said Shelton, who will be graduating from Cal-State Sacramento with a B.A. in Criminal Justice this fall. “Truthfully, on the track I don’t even remember that I’m a girl. I’m just racing all the guys with the same goal they have – to win.”

Only one other woman has finished second in either a USAC or POWRi midget feature – Sarah McCune at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in 1999 – but that was on pavement, not dirt.

The record-setting weekend was great consolation for Shelton, who missed three races earlier this season due to surgery and then sat out three other races last month after suffering a race-related concussion.

“It felt good,” she said of her back-to-back podium finishes. “It builds up my confidence. The car is fast and we keep getting better and we want to build on it.”

Shelton was one of four women that competed in midget competition this weekend. The others were 19-year-old Maria Cofer and 16-year-olds Holley Hollan and Presley Truedson.

“It’s awesome seeing all the little girls come up to me excited to see me at the track,” Shelton said. “Hopefully, it encourages them to pursue their dreams as well and, as the years go on, more girls will get into it.”

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