Ray Evernham

Ray Evernham aims for 200 mph with ‘Ghost’ car

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LONG POND, Pa. — Ray Evernham’s attempt to break the 200 mph barrier with his specially designed “Ghost” car is set for after IndyCar practice Saturday afternoon at Pocono Raceway.

Evernham, the NASCAR Hall of Fame crew chief and team owner, brought the car as part of the Classic Racing Times Vintage Celebration at the 2.5-mile track.

The exhibition run had been scheduled for Saturday morning but was delayed when rain put IndyCar practice on hold until the aftenroon.

“The Ghost” is a custom-built race car created to look like a Modified that would have raced in the 1960s but with modern features and technology.  Although it resembles a 1936 Chevrolet sedan, The Ghost has the aero performance of an Indy car and is powered by an engine with 850-plus horsepower.

“Building The Ghost is the culmination of my more than 40 years of experience in auto racing and car fabrication,” Evernham said in a statement..  “Our goal was to design and build a race car from the ground up just like it was done in the 1970s and 1980s, and to utilize the knowledge we accumulated through the years – without any computers or lasers.

“On the outside the car looks like the Modified race cars I grew up watching and racing at short tracks in New Jersey, but on the inside it’s packed with all the latest and greatest technology.  And the chassis is really a combination of a current Modified, a Trans-Am car and a little bit of a Cup stock car, but it’s also like a 1980s Indy car too.”

In 2018, Evernham traveled to Colorado with “The Ghost” for the historic Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, which takes place on a 12.42 mile public mountain road with 156 turns and an elevation increase of 4,720 feet en route to the finish line at the mountain summit.

In his inaugural attempt at the long-running motorsports competition, he finished first in the Exhibition Class, and 18th overall among 77 competitors.

In addition to his success at Pikes Peak, Evernham, 61, also has competed in historic road course races with “The Ghost” at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Road Atlanta and Virginia International Raceway.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.