Helio Castroneves inducted to Team Penske Hall of Fame

Castroneves Team Penske Hall
Robert Laberge/Getty Images
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Helio Castroneves became the ninth inductee to the Team Penske Hall of Fame on Friday.

With Castroneves’ longtime teammate and friend Gil de Ferran in tow, Penske’s President Tim Cindric traveled to Florida to honor the driver with the longest tenure in the organization. Castroneves has been a Team Penske driver for 21 seasons.

Much of the remainder of the organization attended the ceremony virtually-a sign of the times as the country continues to battle novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

“What an incredible surprise,” said Castroneves in a press release. “I was hoping to visit the Team Penske shop in North Carolina to see everyone after the season, but we couldn’t do it with all of the COVID-19 restrictions. It was so great to connect with everyone virtually.

“I have so many friends and people that are really like family to me after 21 years together. That was awesome, but for TC (Cindric) to then announce that I was being inducted into the Team Penske Hall of Fame, wow. What an amazing honor. I want to thank Roger (Penske), TC and everyone at Team Penske that I’ve worked with over the years. It has been an incredible ride and this is such a special tribute.”

Castroneves began his Penske career 2000 and was immediately successful. In 2001 and 2002 he became the first driver in the history of the sport to win in his first two Indianapolis 500 starts. The next year it was only his teammate de Ferran that kept him from making it three in a row; Castroneves finished 0.299 seconds behind him in second.

But Castroneves would return to Indy 500 glory in 2009 and become one of only 10 drivers to win the marquee race three times.

Castroneves Team Penske Hall
Helio Castroneves and Roger Penske talk during practice at Auto Club Speedway. (Paul Mounce/Getty Images)

After scoring 24 IndyCar wins, Castroneves transitioned to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2018 with one win that season at Mid-Ohio. Last year he won four times including three consecutive.  That was enough to give him and teammate Ricky Taylor the 2020 DPi championship. It was the perfect ending for a team that shuttered its sports car program at the end of the year.

After 21 seasons and 344 combined career starts, Castroneves produced 36 wins (fifth in team history), 60 poles (first in team history), 107 podium results (first in team history) and 160 top-five finishes (second in team history).

“What can I say, Helio and I came to Team Penske at the end of 1999 and our relationship goes beyond racing,” said Cindric. “We have had a lot of fun together over the years and it is hard to imagine this team without him.  He really defines what it is to be a ‘team player.’ Even though he will be competing against us next year, he can always count on us to be there for him.”

Castroneves will continue to add to his racing legacy with six IndyCar races next year with Meyer Shank Racing at Barber Motorsports Park, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Indianapolis 500, the Harvest Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, the Grand Prix of Portland and the season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in September.

Castroneves joins previous Team Penske Hall of Fame honorees: Roger Penske (2016), Mark Donohue (2016), Rick Mears (2017), Karl Kainhofer (2017), Rusty Wallace (2018), Walter Czarnecki (2018), Don Miller (2019) and Dan Luginbuhl (2019).

 

NEOM McLaren Formula E announces Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast for 2023 season

McLaren Formula E Hughes
McLaren Racing
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Doubling down on their commitment to electric auto sports, McLaren Racing announced Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast to compete in the 2023 Formula E Series (FE), which completes their driver lineup.

The NEOM McLaren FE team was formed by the acquisition of the Mercedes-EQ Formula E team that won the 2021 and 2022 championships with Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries behind the wheel.

“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming,” said Ian James, managing director of NEOM McLaren Electric Racing in a release. “Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success.

“On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front.

“On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.”

The driver lineup clasps the two hands together.

Hughes brings 10 years racing experience in single seater cars, including a role with the acquired Mercedes-EQ team as a reserve and development driver for the past two seasons. He is the 2013 BRDC Formula 4 champion and has multiple wins in Formula 2, including two in 2020.

Announced in August, Rast joins the team after earning two podium finishes and six top-fives in 22 career Formula E starts for Audi Sport ABT before returning to the DTM Series last year. Rast’s best finish in Formula E came in the Puebla E Prix when he finished second to teammate Lucas di Grassi by less than a half second.

McLaren’s commitment to Formula E comes one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour in the driver lineup. After a modest start to the season, the McLaren XE drivers crossed the finish line first in Round 4 in Chile, but were assessed a time penalty that dropped them to fifth. Last week in the season finale in Uruguay, they held onto a hard-earned second place finish.