IndyCar

IndyCar and Honda heavily involved in effort to battle COVID-19

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IndyCar and its partners are heavily involved in redirecting resources to help fight the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. American Honda and Honda Performance Development, one of two engine manufacturers in the NTT IndyCar Series, has

Instead of battling against Chevrolet (which also is taking steps to fight COVID-19) on the racetrack this season, Honda is focusing its efforts on addressing the crisis that has kept the IndyCar season from getting started. It is providing support to customers, Honda associates, business partners and local community organizations.

The company also is helping to assist communities throughout the region where people are suffering the devastating effects of the pandemic.

Here is a summary of the actions Honda has taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic regarding its customers, associates and business operations:

Support of Healthcare Providers 

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Ten Honda facilities in North America combined to donate over 200,000 items to healthcare providers and first responders, including gloves, face shields, N95 protective masks, alcohol wipes, half-mask respirators and other types of protective gear.
  • Honda associates at five different Honda facilities are using 3D printers to manufacture parts for face shields being donated to healthcare facilities and first responders.

Community Support 

  • Honda has pledged $1 million to address the immediate needs of communities across the U.S., Canada and Mexico, providing the most vulnerable with access to food. The pledge is part of a range of efforts Honda is undertaking to support community and government actions aimed at helping people combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The donations to food bank and meal programs are being distributed to nonprofit organizations that address food insecurity across the region.
  • Building on the commitment of Honda associates to community volunteerism, Honda has initiated a COVID-19 Special Matching Gift Program that enables associates to make monetary donations to food programs in their local communities, matching up to $1,000 for each individual associate. The matching fund is in addition to a $1 million pledge to address food insecurity.
  • The Honda Center, a Honda-sponsored entertainment venue in Southern California, has been used as a social-distant distribution center by the Second Harvest Food Bank to distribute food to those in need in Orange County.
  • “Virtual Volunteers”: Honda is empowering Honda associates in North America to help people in need in their local communities while maintaining social Some of the activities include making non-medical grade masks for neighbors and the community, neighbor wellness checks and use of social media and other efforts that can be completed from home.
  • Honda has launched the #ThankaHealthCareHero social media campaign to encourage people to offer gratitude to doctors, nurses, paramedics, fire, police and other frontline professionals who place themselves at risk in support of the public’s health and safety.

Customer/Associate Support 

  • The Honda and Acura brands have offered to help customers who financed their vehicles through Honda Financial Services or Acura Financial Services with payment extensions and deferrals, as well as available late fee waivers.
  • Effective April 1, Honda began offering select and eligible first responders and healthcare professionals a $500 (Honda) or $750 (Acura) discount on new vehicles financed or leased through Honda Financial Services or Acura Financial Services.
  • Honda has temporarily suspended production at all of its North American auto and powersports plants due to the decline in market demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has utilized this time to continue deep cleaning of its production facilities and common areas to further protect associates upon their return to the plants.
  • The vast majority of Honda associates are working remotely from home or place of residence. In-office activity is limited to essential activities.
  • Associates who have COVID-19 or are being evaluated for COVID-19 are entitled to temporary paid personal leave of absence program to insure they are receiving full pay for the first 14 days of their illness (with disability leave available thereafter, if needed).

Marketing/Social Media

  • A new marketing campaign builds on the company’s pledge to communities and customers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by adding meaning to The Power of Dreams during these unprecedented times.
  • On social media, Acura is encouraging people to practice social distancing whenever possible through its #LessDriveMorePark campaign – suggesting to park vehicles except for essential travel, while offering useful information concerning driving during this unprecedented situation.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”