American Solar Energy Society to sponsor Stefan Wilson’s Indy 500 bid

Photo: Stefan Wilson Racing
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As Stefan Wilson prepares for a potential first attempt to qualify for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, he and his team of people are working towards finding partners to go along with the #ThinkSolar campaign.

One of those, American Solar Energy Society, was announced today.

The full release is below:

IndyCar driver Stefan Wilson and the #ThinkSolar campaign team today announced a sponsorship by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) for Wilson’s 2016 Indianapolis 500 bid to be the first IndyCar driver with a solar-powered pit crew at the 100th Running of the Indy 500 in May. Wilson aims to realize a dream of following his late brother Justin Wilson’s path to the Indy 500 by merging the worlds of motorsports and solar energy through #ThinkSolar. ASES and Wilson share the common goal of moving solar forward, faster.

ASES is the nation’s leading association of solar professionals and advocates. For 61 years, ASES has provided leadership in the renewable energy sector hosting important annual events such as the ASES National Solar Tour and ASES National Solar Conference, and also publishes the award-winning Solar Today publication. Alignment with Wilson’s #ThinkSolar campaign represents an interesting collaboration for the organization in bringing the solar, renewable energy and IndyCar industries together.

The ASES mission to “inspire an era of energy innovation and speed the transition to a sustainable energy economy” aligns well with Wilson’s #ThinkSolar objectives. Among these are connecting race teams, track and sanctioning body officials with solar companies that can design and engineer solar systems to power practical needs in the sport such as charging stations, lights, other electronic assets, beginning with his own.

“This endorsement by ASES is a really exciting development and validation of the #ThinkSolar campaign’s vision,” said Wilson. “They’ve helped shape an industry that’s committed to solving many of the energy challenges we face today. Together, we’ll strive to invigorate conversations around commonplace solar applications as well as the design and engineering innovations that will drive the future of renewable energy for this sport and the world.”

ASES Executive Director Carly Rixham is equally excited about the partnership. “We think Stefan’s #ThinkSolar campaign is a great way to get solar in front of people in a new way. There is already some solar in the racecar industry. In fact, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a 9 MW solar farm nearby with 39,312 solar panels. Now, bringing solar onto the track will increase the visibility of the technology with a diverse audience. It’s an honor to support Stefan and his earnest interest to reduce environmental impact.”

#ThinkSolar is currently working with additional partner companies to allow Wilson to compete in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, just a few short months away.

As expected, FIA denies granting Colton Herta a Super License to race in F1

Colton Herta Super License
Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The governing body for Formula One on Friday said IndyCar star Colton Herta will not be granted the Super License that the American needs to join the F1 grid next season.

“The FIA confirms that an enquiry was made via the appropriate channels that led to the FIA confirming that the driver Colton Herta does not have the required number of points to be granted an FIA Super Licence,” the FIA said in a statement.

The FIA decision was not a surprise.

Red Bull was interested in the 22-year-old Californian and considering giving Herta a seat at AlphaTauri, its junior team. AlphaTauri has already said that Pierre Gasly will return next season and Yuki Tsunoda received a contract extension earlier this week.

However, AlphaTauri has acknowledged it would release Gasly, who is apparently wanted at Alpine, but only if it had a compelling driver such as Herta to put in the car. F1 has not had an American on the grid since Alexander Rossi in 2015, but Herta did not particularly want the FIA to make an exception to the licensing system to get him a seat.

At issue is how the FIA rates IndyCar, a series it does not govern. The points it awards to IndyCar drivers rank somewhere between F2 and F3, the two junior feeder series into F1.

IndyCar drivers have criticized the system in defense of Herta and the intense, close racing of their own highly competitive series. Herta has won seven IndyCar races, is the youngest winner in series history and has four starts in the Indianapolis 500. He qualified on the front row in 2021 and finished a career-best eighth in 2020.

Rossi, who has spent the last four seasons as Herta’s teammate at Andretti Autosport, lashed out this week because “I’m so sick and tired of this back and forth” regarding the licensing.

“The whole premise of it was to keep people from buying their way into F1 and allowing talent to be the motivating factor,” Rossi wrote on social media. “That’s great. We all agree Colton has the talent and capability to be in F1. That’s also great and he should get that opportunity if it’s offered to him. Period.

“Motorsport still remains as the most high profile sport in the world where money can outweigh talent. What is disappointing and in my opinion, the fundamental problem, is that the sporting element so often took a backseat to the business side that here had to be a method put in place in order for certain teams to stop taking drivers solely based on their financial backing.”

Rossi added those decisions “whether out of greed or necessity, is what cost Colton the opportunity to make the decision for himself as to if he wanted to alter career paths and race in F1. Not points on a license.”

The system favors drivers who compete in FIA-sanctioned series. For example, Linus Lundqvist earned his Super License by winning the Indy Lights championship.

Lundqvist’s required points come via the 15 he earned for the Lights title, 10 points for finishing third in Lights last year and his 2020 victory in the FIA-governed Formula Regional Americas Championship, which earned him 18 points.

That gave the 23-year-old Swede a total of 43 points, three more than needed for the license.

Herta, meanwhile, ended the IndyCar season with 32 points. He can still earn a Super License by picking up one point for any free practice sessions he runs this year; McLaren holds his F1 rights and could put him in a car. Herta could also potentially run in an FIA-sanctioned winter series to pick up some points.

Michael Andretti, who has petitioned the FIA to expand its grid to add two cars for him to launch a team, said he never bothered to explore potential replacements for Herta on the IndyCar team because he was confident the Super License request would be rejected.

Andretti has been met by severe resistance from existing F1 teams and even F1 itself in his hope to add an 11th team. Andretti could still get on the grid by purchasing an existing team and he’d like to build his program around Herta, who is under contract in IndyCar to Andretti through 2023.