Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Chris Griffis Memorial Test returns to IMS in October 2016

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After a year away owing to track construction ahead of the 100th Indianapolis 500, the Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test for the full complement of Mazda Road to Indy series will be back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Oct. 8-9, instead of at Circuit of The Americas as it was last November.

The test is always a good “first look” at who will be in next year’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series, and the USF2000 component this test will be extra intriguing as the new Tatuus USF-17 car will be run by several teams in earnest.

The series release with more information is below:

All three levels of the acclaimed Mazda Road to Indy – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda – will converge on Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 8/9 for the sixth annual Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test. The test is named in honor of Chris Griffis, a longtime member of the motorsports community who led the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports w/Curb-Agajanian Indy Lights organization before passing unexpectedly in September of 2011.

In addition to providing opportunities to “audition” new talent, gain a headstart on 2017 campaigns and earn valuable testing time on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course at the iconic Brickyard, the outing will be of special significance as teams will turn their first laps with the new Mazda-powered Tatuus USF-17.

A highly successful prototype testing program concluded July 1 with rave reviews by development drivers Joel Miller (Mazda sports car talent and USF2000 driver coach) and Matthew Brabham (a graduate of all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy and USF2000/Pro Mazda champion who made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in May). With a rolling chassis priced at $51,800, the Tatuus USF-17 will serve as the base car for the PM-18 to help control operational costs.

To date, 28 of the initial 30 chassis ordered have been purchased with additional orders pending. The first shipment of 15 cars will be delivered to teams in September. A list of current USF-17 teams can be found at http://usf2000.com/teams-drivers/usf-17-teams.

In addition to the USF-17, the test will be open to current USF2000 Championship and National Class entries.

“We are thrilled to be able to return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for our sixth Chris Griffis test,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “This is a key round in our regular season schedules and the perfect venue to see our USF-17 make its debut in the hands of our teams. The test is one of my favorite events as we watch our graduates take the next step on the ladder and welcome new talent to experience the Mazda Road to Indy.”

The Chris Griffis Memorial Open Test will also serve as a “rewards” program in USF2000 for two finalists in the Mazda Road to Indy and MAXSpeed Group Driver Advancement Program. Entering its third year, the partnership provides the opportunity for karters to sample the next step in their career. In addition, an alliance with the Australian Formula Ford Series established in 2014 will see its champion participate in the two-day test.

Registration information for the Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Open Test will be available on the respective series’ websites in the coming weeks as well as a detailed schedule. Live Timing and Scoring will be available throughout the test.

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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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.”