IndyCar kicks off busy preseason testing schedule Wednesday at Sebring


The season opening race weekend may not be for nearly two more months (March 11-13 in St. Petersburg, Florida), but the Verizon IndyCar Series preseason kicks off Wednesday with the first of several test dates.

Here’s a schedule (dates and participants subject to change):

* Jan. 20 at Sebring International Raceway in Florida: Honda Manufacturer Day — Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Carlos Munoz, along with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal.

* Feb. 1 at Sebring: Andretti Autosport will be joined by AJ Foyt Racing’s Jack Hawksworth.

* Feb. 8 at Phoenix International Raceway: Chevrolet Manufacturer Day — drivers slated . Drivers slated to attend include Helio Castroneves, 2015 Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud, CHF Racing’s Josef Newgarden and KV Racing Technology’s Sebastien Bourdais.

* Feb. 10 at Sonoma Raceway: Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball is the only driver slated to test thus far, but it’s likely additional drivers and teams will join him.

* Feb. 26-27 at Phoenix International Raceway: “Test In The West,” a promoter test. Participants have not been announced yet.

* March 1 at Sebring: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s and 2015 IndyLights champ Spencer Pigot.

* March 2 at Sebring: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Rahal and Pigot will be joined by Team Penske’s Castroneves, Montoya and Pagenaud, as well as Newgarden.

* March 15 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama: Team Penske will be represented by Castroneves, Montoya and Pagenaud, while Rahal will represent Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.