Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

IMS, Indiana Donor Network announces partnership

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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indiana Donor Network, via its Driven2SaveLives campaign, have announced a partnership on Tuesday to promote organ, tissue and eye donation.

The campaign made its debut in 2016 as part of Stefan Wilson’s entry into his maiden Indianapolis 500 last year, in a late deal struck with KV Racing Technology for that team’s third car. Wilson competed in honor of late brother Justin, who died in August 2015.

Wilson was meant to have a sophomore run in this year’s 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil with Andretti Autosport, but stood down to make room for Fernando Alonso’s arrival in what was an undoubtedly tough but gracious decision.

Per Trackside Online, Wilson will be one of several driver ambassadors for the partnership. Others of note include Pippa Mann, Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., all of whom were close to Bryan Clauson, who competed in three Indianapolis 500s, the last two with Jonathan Byrd’s Racing (in partnership first with KVRT and then Dale Coyne Racing) but was fatally injured in August last year.

The release from IMS is below:

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) announced today it has partnered with Indiana Donor Network to promote organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation through the Driven2SaveLives ® campaign. The goal is to educate race fans on donation and to encourage them to register their donation decisions through the campaign.

“This partnership between IMS and the Indiana Donor Network is very important to all of us,” said Mark Miles, Hulman & Company president and CEO. “We see this as a great opportunity to reach fans who visit the Racing Capital of the World throughout the year, informing them about the need for registered donors across Indiana and the United States. It’s extremely easy for anyone to take part in this process and save lives.”

Photo: IndyCar

Indiana Donor Network, which oversees and coordinates organ, tissue and eye donation across the state, launched Driven2SaveLives in April 2016 with IndyCar driver Stefan Wilson to promote donation and transplantation awareness around the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. At the time, the campaign honored Stefan’s late brother, IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who died in August 2015 from injuries he sustained in a race crash and saved five lives as an organ donor.

“When we launched Driven2SaveLives last year, we wanted to show the hope and healing that donation provides families, and in turn, we hoped to inspire race fans to become registered donors like the Wilson brothers,” said Kellie Hanner, president and chief executive officer at Indiana Donor Network. “Then we lost another racing hero in Bryan Clauson, and his family approached us to help spread donation awareness and to encourage donation registration more broadly within motorsports.”

Bryan Clauson prior to the start of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. He’d then go on to race again that evening in a sprint car race at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway — and won!

Bryan Clauson, a versatile and beloved driver best known for his talent and achievements in dirt track open-wheel racing, died in August 2016 following a race accident. As a registered donor, he went on to save five lives as an organ donor and continues to heal the lives of countless others as a tissue donor. In January 2017, Indiana Donor Network partnered with Clauson-Marshall Racing and expanded Driven2SaveLives into dirt track racing in honor of Clauson.

“Driven2SaveLives has worked tirelessly to promote donation and transplantation within motorsports since it was formed after the tragic passing of Justin Wilson,” said J. Douglas Boles, IMS president. “The need for donors was magnified even further after we lost Bryan Clauson last summer. Both Justin and Bryan were incredible people who always connected with fans and selflessly gave of themselves as donors, and we hope fans will honor their memory and join drivers from so many series by supporting this vital campaign and registering as a donor.”

IMS and Indiana Donor Network together will promote donation and transplantation awareness starting this weekend, at the INDYCAR Grand Prix, through next year’s Indianapolis 500. Race fans can expect to see the Driven2SaveLives campaign – signage, videos, advertising, social media and more – at all IMS events in between. A special Bryan Clauson tribute is also in the works for the 100th lap of this year’s Indianapolis 500.

“The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the biggest name in motorsports, and we are incredibly grateful to have their support as we honor donation heroes like Justin Wilson and Bryan Clauson and encourage more people to take part in those legacies by registering their own donation decisions,” Hanner said.

The easiest way for race fans to register their decisions to become registered donors is to visit Driven2SaveLives.org. The campaign’s website feeds into Donate Life America’s national registry, which means fans, no matter where they live in the United States, can register their donation decisions there.

FACTS:

  • More than 118,000 people nationwide are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants.
  • Over 1,300 of these people are in Indiana alone.
  • In the U.S., another person is added to the transplant waiting list every 10 minutes.
  • Each day, 22 people on average in the U.S. die because a donated organ wasn’t made available in time.
  • One organ donor can save the lives of as many as eight people.
  • One tissue donor can heal the lives of approximately 75 people.
  • Approximately 90 percent of Americans support organ donation, yet only 50 percent are registered.
  • You can register to become an organ, tissue and eye donor at http://www.driven2savelives.org.

Behind the scenes of how the biggest story in racing was kept a secret

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In a world where nobody is able to keep a secret, especially in auto racing, legendary business leader and race team owner Roger Penske and INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles were able to keep the biggest story of the year a secret.

That was Monday morning’s stunning announcement that after 74 years of leadership and ownership of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Hulman George Family was selling the track, the Indianapolis 500 and INDYCAR to Penske.

In an exclusive interview with NBC Sports.com on Thursday, Miles revealed the extreme lengths both sides went to so that nobody found out about this deal ahead of time. That included meeting with Penske at his Detroit offices early on Saturday mornings and late on Sunday nights.

The most important way of keeping it confidential was containing the number of people who were involved.

“We thought it was important to keep it quiet until we were ready to announce it,” Miles told NBC Sports.com. “The reason for that is No. 1, we wanted employees and other stakeholders to hear it from us and not through the distorting rumor mill.

“That was the motivation.

“We just didn’t involve many people. For most of the time, there were four people from Roger’s group in Michigan and four people from here (IMS/INDYCAR) involved and nobody else. There were just four of us. We all knew that none of the eight were going to talk to anybody about it until very late.”

Even key members of both staffs were kept out of the loop, notably Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles, who admitted earlier this week he was not told of the impending sale until Saturday when he was at Texas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR race.

Both Penske and Miles realize the way a deal or a secret slips out is often from people far outside of the discussions who have to get called in to work to help set up an announcement.

Miles had a plan for that scenario, too.

“On Saturday, we had to set up a stream for Monday’s announcement,” Miles said. “We came up with an internal cover story so if anybody saw what was going on, there was a cover story for what that was, and it wasn’t that announcement.

“The key thing was we kept it at only those that needed to know.”

It wasn’t until very late Sunday night and very early Monday morning that key stakeholders in INDYCAR were informed. Team owner Bobby Rahal got a call at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Racing legend Mario Andretti was also informed very early on Monday.

At 8 a.m. that day came the official word from Hulman & Company, which owns the Indianapolis 500, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR as well as a few other businesses, that Penske was buying the racing properties of the company. It was an advisory that a media conference was scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It was a masterful move by both Penske and Miles.

Penske is already famous for keeping one of greatest secrets in racing history in 1993 and 1994. That is when his famed racing team along with Ilmor Engineering created “The Beast” – a 209 cubic-inch, pushrod engine that was designed, developed and tested in total secrecy. A small, select group of Team Penske mechanics were involved in the top-secret project and were told by Penske that if word of the engine leaked out, “it would be like cutting your paycheck.”

Nobody talked.

History repeated itself with the biggest racing story of the 21st Century, the sale of the world’s most famous race course that hosts the largest single-day sporting event in the world – the annual Indianapolis 500.

When INDYCAR held its “Victory Lap” award ceremony on Sept. 26 in Indianapolis, Miles told the crowd of an impending announcement that would be big news for the sport.

Was he coming close to giving away Monday’s announcement?

“No, that was about a sponsor announcement that will be coming along later,” Miles said on Thursday night.

Penske is one of America’s greatest and most successful business leaders. He is also the most successful team owner in auto racing history with 545 wins in all forms of racing including a record 18 Indianapolis 500 wins, a record 16 NTT IndyCar Series championships as well as two Daytona 500 wins and two NASCAR Monster Energy Cup championships just to name a few.

Penske was not the only bidder, but he was the one who made the most sense to the Hulman George Family, because it was important to find an owner who believed in “stewardship” of the greatest racing tradition on Earth more so than “ownership” of an auto racing facility and series.

“There were a number of parties that were engaged in thinking about this with us,” Miles revealed to NBC Sports.com. “There were a couple that got as far as what I call the ‘Red Zone.’

“Then, Tony George reached out to Roger Penske on Sept. 22.

“Price and value were always important, but the thing that nobody could match was the attributes that Roger could bring to the table, in terms of his history of the sport, his knowledge of the sport, combined with his business sense.

“He was viewed as the leader from a legacy or stewardship perspective, which was a very important factor.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

McLaren IndyCar boss breaks down team’s first test since missing Indy 500

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McLaren Sporting Director Gil De Ferran left Sebring International Raceway last Tuesday with a much happier outlook than when he left the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 19.

That was when McLaren and famed two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso arrived at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ill-prepared. They failed to make the 33-car starting lineup for the 103rd Indianapolis 500.

That day in May, De Ferran vowed that McLaren would return.

Last Tuesday, what is now known as Arrow McLaren Racing SP after purchasing into Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, De Ferran was back to evaluate the team’s NTT IndyCar Series effort.

Instead of Alonso in the cockpit, it was the team’s recently named full-time drivers for 2020 at the test. That included 20-year-old Pato O’Ward of Monterrey, Mexico, the 2018 Indy Lights champion and 22-year-old Oliver Askew of Jupiter, Florida, the 2019 Indy Lights champion.

O’Ward was in the car for the test with Askew watching from the pit area.

“Pato did a great job, did not put a foot wrong, got on to it straight away and it was all good,” De Ferran told NBC Sports.com. “It was a positive day on all fronts. To work together, to build the team together and embark on this team together was very positive.”

De Ferran is a two-time CART champion with titles in 2000 and 2001 when he was with Team Penske. He also won the 2003 Indianapolis 500 for Team Penske before retiring as a driver at the end of that season.

Since then, he has been involved in numerous Formula One, IndyCar and Sports Car efforts. As McLaren’s Sporting Director, De Ferran is involved in both Formula One and IndyCar.

Arrow McLaren Racing SP also includes partners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson. Arrow also has a financial stake in the team in addition to serving as sponsor.

The chance to work with two young drivers is something that has De Ferran excited.

“They are both very young, but they have been around for a while,” De Ferran said. “It’s not like these guys are completely clueless about racing. They have been racing ever since they were kids. Generally speaking, as a trend in motorsports, they start much younger than I did. They move to cars at a younger age and tend to reach this level of the sport at a younger age then when I was coming up.

“Although they don’t have a lot of experience in IndyCar, several members of the team can help in their development. These guys are very accomplished and top-level guys. They have won a lot of races and championships before getting the nod from our team.”

Last week’s test was part of INDYCAR’s evaluation of the new aeroscreen that will be on all cars beginning in 2020. Arrow McLaren Racing SP is a Chevrolet team. Honda team Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan also participated in the test with four-time Champ Car Series champion Sebastien Bourdais as the driver.

This was the only test that Arrow McLaren Racing SP will conduct in 2019. Testing time is severely limited De Ferran said it won’t be back on track until the 2020 regulations take effect.

Arrow McLaren Racing SP has already experienced some controversy after the team said several weeks ago that popular driver James Hinchcliffe would not be driving for the team. He remains on the payroll and is expected to be at the track in a public relations capacity.

That has angered many IndyCar fans who are huge fans of the popular Canadian driver.

“I have nothing more to add to this than what was said at the time,” De Ferran told NBC Sports.com. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s head-down. We have to go racing. We are on a journey here together with this partnership and two young drivers that are very accomplished and have a lot of talent. Our job is to deliver the results on the track.

“That is where my focus is. I’m completely focused on improving every aspect of everything that we do trackside.

“One thing I guarantee you, whatever we start, to have that focus to improve everything that we do we will continue to move forward. It was like that when I was driving, and it was like that throughout my professional career away from the cockpit. We will keep looking for opportunities to improve.

“Eventually, good things will happen.”

It was just Day One on the track, but after seeing this team struggle at last year’s Indianapolis 500, McLaren took its first step in returning as a full-time NTT IndyCar Series team.

“This is the beginning of a journey that we embarked on several months ago now and you do a lot in the background,” De Ferran said. “The guys from SPM and us have put a lot into this partnership. Behind the scenes, we have been working hard together.

“We’re all racers, man. We want to see cars on track. This has been like a little check off the box and it feels good that we were on track.

“We have a long journey ahead, but it’s good to be working together, at the race track, how the car is handling, the engine is working and how the drivers do.

“First day on the track for Arrow McLaren Racing SP. It’s a good day.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500