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Andretti Autosport joins new racing series

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Andretti Autosport has one of the most diverse racing platforms of any team in international racing. From the NTT IndyCar Series to Formula E and many racing series in-between, team owner Michael Andretti is always looking for new worlds to conquer.

His latest venture is Extreme E, an electric SUV off-road racing series designed to bring attention and sustainability and impact of climate change.

Andretti Autosport becomes the first American team to commit to the international racing series. It is the sixth team overall.

“We remain dedicated to expanding and diversifying our team effort, in both traditional motorsport and with new, revolutionary racing concepts,” Andretti said. “I think that Extreme E is an exciting opportunity for the team as we continue to grow globally.

“The current COVID-19 crisis is bringing attention to a changing world, and our traditional mindsets have to adapt with that. We feel that announcing now can help bring hope for the future of motorsport and a new focus to the sustainability message. I believe the entire motorsport industry is going to emerge from this time stronger than ever, and I look forward to seeing our team join Extreme E to do our part in leaving an impactful legacy in each race location.”

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The Extreme E championship includes five rounds of competition, each featuring two days of head to head, knockout racing. It is designed to increase awareness on the impact of climate change, driving sustainability and inspire action.

The 10-kilometer circuits will be staged in some of the most remarkable, remote and severely damaged locations on the planet. Those include Kangerlussuaq in Greenland, the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil, Al-‘Ula in Saudi Arabia, the Nepalese Himalayas and Lac Rose near Dakar, Senegal. Each venue has been impacted by climate issues. Those include carbon emissions, global heating and melting arctic ice, rising sea levels, droughts and desertification, deforestation, plastic pollution and more.

“I am absolutely delighted to welcome Andretti Autosport, a true powerhouse in racing, as the latest team to join Extreme E,” founder and CEO of Extreme E, Alejandro Agag said. “Andretti Autosporthas achieved across multiple disciplines at the highest level of our sport over many years. The team has a real passion for motorsport, both as a driver of change and in promoting sustainable practices and technologies, making its decision to join Extreme E at this early stage, a natural one.

“Extreme E is an ambitious new project born out of a concern for the future of our planet, and now more than ever, as motorsport adapts its behaviors and values to stay relevant in these changing times, that concern is critical for us all to consider.

“Andretti Autosport has been fine tuning its expertise in electric racing as a founding Formula E outfit, and off-road as multiple rallycross title-winners. These experiences will be invaluable in making the jump into Extreme E. That said, the series is a unique prospect all of its own. The sporting challenge will be intense and the scope for innovation is far-reaching, and I for one am eager to see how the Andretti Autosport team adapts to its new test.”

Each team will take delivery of ODYSSEY 21 E-SUV’s in late October 2020. A group test of the vehicles will take place afterwards.

“The proposed format of Extreme E is unique, not only from the competition perspective but also fromwhat it means to the planet, the impact to it and our contribution to improving it,” said Roger Griffiths, team principal, Andretti Autosport. “Motorsport has always spoken of racing in harsh environments and now with Extreme E we really will be putting this to the test and showcasing the abilities of an all-electric racing platform.

“It is an exciting opportunity to combine our knowledge and experience of electric racing with that of short circuit off road competition. We have proven to be successful in both arenas in the past so hopefully we carry this over into the new venture.”

Andretti Autosport is one of the top teams in the NTT IndyCar Series. It features 100th Indianapolis 500 winning driver Alexander Rossi, 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2012 IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, two-time race winner Marco Andretti, young Zach Veach and budding star 20-year-old Colton Herta.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.