Firestone Racing gives back to community; prepares for future in Sonoma

Harrigle (on right). Photo: IndyCar
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We didn’t get to this during the weekend but will do so today, because it’s a good thing.

Over the weekend, Firestone Racing announced it was giving $20,000 back to the motorsports community split between four charities, at $5,000 each.

Here’s the release from Firestone:

In celebration of the 2016 Championship, Firestone Racing will donate $20,000, divided evenly ($5K each) between the following four charities:

  • The Wilson Children’s Fund
  • The Indy Family Foundation
  • The Dan Wheldon Foundation and Alzheimer’s Association
  • The USAC Benevolent Fund in memory of Bryan Clauson

“Championship weekend is a perfect time to reflect upon and celebrate everything that has happened over the past season,” said Lisa Boggs, director of Bridgestone Americas Motorsports. “The motorsports community is one big family and it’s a privilege to be a part of it. We wanted to take the opportunity afforded by this weekend to honor those individuals who embodied the spirit of racing and their legacies that live on through all of the great work these organizations do to help others.”

This weekend was also a sentimental one, as it marked the last weekend for Dale Harrigle in his role as Chief Engineer and Manager of Race Tire Development, and the last before Cara Adams, Senior Project Engineer, Race Tire Development, moved into her new role as Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Americas Motorsports and Manager, Race Tire Development.

You may not know Harrigle’s name off the top of your head but since he has more than 20 years experience with Firestone and has been integrally involved in its racing program since its return to top flight North American open-wheel racing in 1995 (testing occurred in 1994), he’s been a key part in ensuring the advancement, safety and development of Firestones over the years.

“It’s bittersweet, but I’ve loved every minute of it,” Harrigle told NBC Sports during the weekend. He has accepted a management position within Bridgestone’s Consumer Tire Trade Group.

Adams, meanwhile, started on Monday in her new role – it will make for a busy week, because her IRONMAN 70.3 August takes place this weekend along with her friend Katherine Legge in what they’ve dubbed #IRONMANCaraKat.

They eclipsed the $5,000 barrier of fundraising to support the Scott Rigsby Foundation (SRF), a service organization that supports veterans who have been injured while on duty.

Adams joked over the weekend she hopes to keep pace with Legge, the professional athlete of the two.

Three-time W Series champ Jamie Chadwick joining Andretti in Indy NXT Series for 2023

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Jamie Chadwick, the three-time W Series champion, will drive for Andretti Autosport in the Indy NXT Series next season.

Chadwick will make her debut in an American racing series in March, driving the No. 28 for Andretti Autosport with sponsorship from DHL. The 24-year-old will become the first female driver in 13 years to compete full time in the Indy NXT championship.

Chadwick joined the female free-to-enter W Series in its inaugural 2019 season, winning two races and the first of three consecutive championships. She has been a reserve driver for the Williams Formula One team and will continue in that role in 2023. She also has driven in the Extreme E Series.

Despite her success, Chadwick hasn’t landed a bigger ride in F3 or F2, and her break didn’t come until Michael Andretti contacted her and offered a test in an Indy NXT car.

The final three races of this year’s W Series schedule were canceled when funding fell through, but Chadwick still believes the all-female series was the right path for her.

“W Series has always been and will continue to be an opportunity to be racing for every female driver, so for my side, I looked at it while perhaps I would have liked to step up maybe earlier, at the same time being able to have that chance to race, get that experience, have that development, seat time… I was constantly learning,” Chadwick told The Associated Press.

“In that sense, I wasn’t frustrated at all. But on the flip side of it, now I’ve had that experience testing in the United States in Indy NXT and this is something I’m really excited about.”

Chadwick also is expected to have an enhanced role as a development driver next season with Williams, which chose American driver Logan Sargeant to fill its open seat on next year’s F1 grid.

“Andretti Autosport is proud to be supporting Jamie alongside DHL,” said Michael Andretti. “Jamie’s successful career speaks for itself, but Indy NXT gives Jamie the opportunity to continue her development in a new type of racing.

“We’ve turned out five Indy NXT champions over the years and look forward to continuing our role in developing new talent.”

Indy NXT is the new name of the rebranded Indy Lights Series, the final step on the ladder system before IndyCar.

Andretti will field two drivers next season in IndyCar that were developed in Indy NXT: Kyle Kirkwood, the 2021 champion, will return to Andretti after one season in IndyCar driving for A.J. Foyt Racing, and Devlin DeFrancesco is back for a second season.

Chadwick will be teammates in Indy NXT with Hunter McElrea and Louis Foster. She becomes Andretti’s second full-time female driver alongside Catie Munnings, who competes for Andretti United in the Extreme E Series.