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.

INDYCAR’S contract at Laguna Seca not affected by new track management

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INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles told NBC Sports.com that INDYCAR’s season-ending race at WeatherTech Raceway in Monterey, California is not in any type of jeopardy after Monterey County officials sought a new management company for the Laguna Seca facility.

After 62 years of continuous management of the Laguna Seca Raceway, the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) was advised via email by County of Monterey Assistant County Administrative Officer (ACAO) Dewayne Woods last month. The email said, “…the County is now in negotiations with another proposer for management services at Laguna Seca Recreational Area.”

At a November 19 Board of Supervisor’s meeting, a proposal centered on Monterey County’s direct management of the Raceway and Recreation Area.  The Monterey County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to have a management group led by Monterey businessman John Narigi take over for SCRAMP.

The NTT IndyCar Series returned to Laguna Seca in September for the season-ending Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. It was the first time IndyCar had competed at Laguna Seca since September 12, 2004 after it had been a regular on the CART schedule from 1983 to 2004.

NBC Sports.com asked Miles if the new management group would impact the multi-year contract at the picturesque road course near Monterey, California.

“I’m happy to answer that,” Miles told NBC Sports.com. “We have following the situation closely for several months. At this point, we don’t have any concerns. Our sanctioning agreement is with the county and not was not with SCRAMP. The county is excited about the event and looking forward to the next edition in 2020.

“The county has appointed a new management team for the operation of the facility. There is plenty of work to do on their part and on our part to make sure they understand the requirements for the event and to make sure they execute well.

“The event is certainly going on. The financial underpinnings and the contractual obligations are between us and the county. They think they have selected the best possible management team and we look forward to working with them.”

Miles said INDYCAR vice president of promoter and media partner relations Stephen Starks has been working directly with the new management group at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca.

“The agreement is between us and the county and the county is absolutely comitted and excited about the future, they have appointed a new management team at Laguna Seca, and we look forward to working with them,” Miles said.

INDYCAR officials believe the series return to Laguna Seca was very successful in terms of promotion and spectator turnout.

“We were really pleased,” Miles said. “I think we under-estimated how outstanding it is both for the race and for the venue and the region. I thought it was better than we expected but it bodes well for the future.

“We’re going to be looking at how to take better advantage of it in the promotion of the series.

“There is plenty of room for growth and they will find ways to manage that from a traffic perspective,” Miles said. “We thought it was a great success. We think it can be even bigger. We have the commitment of the county and look forward to working with the new management team.”

Miles and INDYCAR are optimistic of continued success at WeatherTech Raceway with new management. However, the decision to end a 62-year relationship with SCRAMP was a surprise.

“This news comes as a surprise to the SCRAMP organization,” said Tim McGrane, CEO of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and SCRAMP, who took over the position in June 2018. “We were starting to make real progress on getting the facility and the raceway operations turned around and poised for the future, but it appears at this time we may not have the opportunity to see these plans through.”

SCRAMP believed the Monterey County Board of Supervisors denied the chance for it to continue with its plan.

“As the existing facility operator, we were stunned by the fact that we were not provided the opportunity to discuss our proposal with the ACAO,” McGrane said. “The entire process has been unconventional, ranging from the bypassing of the County’s usual Request For Proposal (RFP) process, the announcement in mid-October requesting proposals from any interested parties with only two weeks’ notice, and complaints that SCRAMP had not met deadlines to submit a proposal when in fact a submission date had been agreed upon in May, and subsequently met, has been challenging.

“We have been in this position before with the County administration, but we, our fans, racing series and teams, do have to look at the possibility of the era of SCRAMP operating Laguna Seca Raceway coming to an end.”

In 2015, Monterey County began private talks with International Speedway Corporation (ISC) who, after a careful review of the operational parameters of the facility, determined not to submit a formal proposal for management of the track. In 2016, the Monterey County Administrators Office entered into negotiations with another group to replace SCRAMP for 2017 but were unable to agree to terms that were mutually acceptable. The County then reverted back to a three-year agreement with SCRAMP to continue running Laguna Seca.

According to a statement from SCRAMP, in 2018, the SCRAMP-run Laguna Seca Raceway attracted 263,888 attendees and generated $84.4 million in direct spending generated by event attendees over 26 days of the seven major events. 2019 saw SCRAMP orchestrate the long-awaited and highly successful return of IndyCars to Laguna Seca, with a larger than anticipated spectator count for the weekend.

2019 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

“We’ve delivered an extensive, forward-looking proposal to the County for a new, long-term 20-year management and operating agreement that incorporates solid plans for revenue generation and expense reduction, expansion of the use of existing facilities, and development of Laguna Seca into a world-class destination,” said CEO McGrane. “We are building the right team, both paid staff and volunteers, with extensive motorsports experience, institutional knowledge, and the dedication to lead this important Monterey County asset into a successful future. We hope we still have the opportunity to present our plans directly to the County Board of Supervisors and we would be proud to continue SCRAMP’s 62-year stewardship of Laguna Seca on behalf of Monterey County.”

The Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula, a 501(c)4 not-for-profit, was formed in 1957 by local business owners and civic leaders. SCRAMP’s goal was to raise the funds needed to construct a permanent motor racing circuit to maintain the tradition of sports car racing on the Monterey Peninsula which had begun in 1950 in the Del Monte Forest at Pebble Beach. SCRAMP is comprised of a Board of Governors, Race and Events Committees, and hundreds of loyal volunteers who donate thousands of hours each year to ensure the successful operation of events here.

The SCRAMP organization acquired leased land from the US Army at Fort Ord on August 7, 1957, and the now-legendary track, built with funds raised by SCRAMP, held its first race, the 8th Annual Pebble Beach at Laguna Seca SCCA National Championship Sports Car Road Races, on November 9 & 10, 1957. In 1974 the site was transferred from the Army to Monterey County, who together with SCRAMP, have managed the facility through this year.

SCRAMP’s current three-year management and operating agreement with Monterey County ends on December 31, 2019. SCRAMP currently employs a full-time professional staff of just over 40 team members.

INDYCAR, itself, is about to have an ownership change as racing and business icon Roger Penske and the Penske Corporation completes its acquisition of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500, INDYCAR and IMS Productions sometime after January 1. Miles and the INDYCAR staff as well as the staffs at IMS and IMS Productions will be retained.

Miles will become CEO of Penske Entertainment and will continue his duties that he currently has. Since the sale was announced on November 4, Miles and key officials have met with Penske and his top officials on a weekly basis.

“It’s been great,” Miles said. “We are covering tons of ground. Roger and his team are all about adding value.

“It’s a very focused effort that is making great progress.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500