Tuesday, December 15, 2009
INDIANAPOLIS -- With preparations well underway for the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season, Sam Schmidt Motorsports announced today its first signed driver for its campaign with Englishwoman Pippa Mann joining the team.
"I'm really excited to be joining Sam Schmidt Motorsports for 2010," Mann said. "Sam contacted me after the last race in 2009 through my management team and let me know he would like me to test for his team. For me, going into a long winter with no definite plans for 2010, this was a great opportunity to run with one of the top teams in Firestone Indy Lights."
Mann joins the team after her first season of racing in the U.S.-based circuit, where she made 15 starts and earned three top-ten finishes, including her best finish of eighth at the season finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Since that race, she has taken part in a handful of test sessions with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, with both driver and team evaluating one another in pursuing a future campaign together.
Mann said, "Overall, the tests went well, and I was extremely impressed not just with the cars, but with the attitude and atmosphere of the entire organization throughout the test, from team manager, to engineers, to the mechanics, and tire guys. I had an extremely tough learning year in 2009, and my goal for 2010 is to bounce back from that, and come back showing everything that I've learned. Sam's team, with their vast experience and history of running championship winning cars, is a perfect environment for me to accomplish that goal."
"The team is quite pleased with what we've seen in Pippa during initial tests this off-season," team owner, Sam Schmidt, said. "Her pace and consistency has been good, and we're confident that we can provide Pippa with the tools that she needs to move up into the front part of the grid in the 2010 season."
With today's announcement, the two sides officially unite and can begin working towards a competitive 2010 season.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
We had a great time and appreciate everyone who stopped in to see our custom seat inserts and new SFI 45.1 Roll Bar padding.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Hildebrand, 21, from Sausalito, Calif., will be joined in the rookies-only test by Scotsman Paul di Resta, whose cousin, Dario Franchitti, won the 2009 IZOD IndyCar Series Championship.
"I'm ecstatic about being given the chance to drive a Formula One car for the Force India F1 Team," said Hildebrand, who is currently in England preparing to drive the Mercedes-Benz-powered Force India VJM02 Formula One car. "I know it will be a challenge but I'm ready to take it on, and look forward to getting as much as I can out of the whole experience. It's an incredible way to cap off an already very special year and I'm very grateful for the opportunity."
Hildebrand's test-drive follows an impressive showing in Force India's F1 simulator in England last month.
"We are delighted to have Paul and J.R. join us for the young driver test," says Dr. Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal of Force India.
"Both of their showings in the simulator were excellent and we had no hesitations in offering them some valuable testing. We will be looking at their performance on track very closely and should they perform well, as we are confident they will, we will look at a permanent role for one within the team in 2010, potentially as a test and reserve driver. As a young team we are looking for drivers who can grow with us. As we've always said, nationality isn't the primary selection criteria - it's talent and dedication to the cause and we have seen enough to know that these two have both."
Hildebrand was introduced to Mallya several years ago and following his Firestone Indy Lights title-winning season, was invited to try out the team's F1 test simulator.
"I thought I did quite well," Hildebrand said. "I knew there was room to improve but I felt I accomplished my goal, which was to learn and improve throughout the day. It took a while for the team to analyze the data but when I got the call to say I was going to have a chance to drive the car I was ecstatic. It couldn't have come at a better time."
Hildebrand, who won four races en route to the Firestone Indy Lights title, was the top vote-getter in the at-large category. It's the second time Hildebrand has been named to the All-America First team. He also was a selection in 2006 after winning the F2000 Championship.
"I'm honored to be included in such a fantastic group," said Hildebrand, who is testing a Formula 1 car for Force India at Jerez in Spain. "I have to thank the members of AARWBA for recognizing my season and including me on the team again."
2009 IZOD IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, who won five races and the IndyCar Series championship in his return to the series after a year in NASCAR, earned his second first-team honor by earning the most votes in the open-wheel category. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves earned the second-team honors in the voting of more than 300 members of the media.
Franchitti and Hildebrand, along with the rest of the first team - NASCAR Sprint Cup star Mark Martin, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr., NHRA Top Fuel Champ Tony Schumacher, Rolex Sports Car Series co-champs Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney and World of Outlaws titlist Donnie Schatz - will be honored at the 40th AARWBA banquet Jan. 16 in Brownsburg, Ind.
The winner of the Jerry Titus Award, which is awarded to the top vote-getter over the seven categories, also will be announced at the banquet.
By indycar.com staff Tuesday, December 1, 2009
ZERO-EMISSION ELECTRIC CAR SERIES
EV CUP LEADS THE WAY
The world's first 'green' motor racing series, based totally around zero emission electric cars, has been launched in London, with plans to have cars racing across Europe in 2011.
The pioneering new series, known as the EV (Electric
Vehicles) Cup, is working with vehicle manufacturers to bring together a range of electric-powered cars to race at top circuits throughout Europe.
A new, London-based company, EEVRC Ltd, has been set up to introduce and run this new racing sector, which aims to help the car makers change the image of electric vehicles, from being local runabouts to high-performance, highly-desirable cars.
The EV Cup events initially plan to feature three different sectors of cars. The City and Sports classes will use race-prepared production cars, while the Prototype class will feature innovative new models. Already EV manufacturers THINK, Ginetta, Lightning Car Company and GreenGT have expressed their support for the series.
In 2010, EV Cup will hold a number of promotional events in the UK and mainland Europe, aimed at giving the public and would-be competitors a chance to sample the high power delivery of these innovative, green electric cars.
In 2011, the series is provisionally planning a six-race programme of events at top motor racing circuits in the UK, France and Germany. The organisers will work with the national and world-wide governing bodies to establish a unique, new set of rules for electric cars, with particular emphasis on safety.
Says Managing Director Sylvain Filippi: "We are creating an opportunity for the EV manufacturers to promote their vehicles in a new and exciting way. We want to show that green motor sport is a reality - and an exciting one at that."
The team at EV Cup have a wealth of experience in the motor industry, electric vehicle development and motor sport, all three sectors of which are seen as paramount in making this green concept motor sport take off.
Directors Sylvain Filippi and Andrew Lee have eight years'
experience within the electric vehicle sector. Race Director Grahame Butterworth has more than 30 years experience within motor sport as a competitor, organiser and sponsor. Most recently he introduced the innovative Fun Cup endurance series to the UK, where it is now flourishing.
Further details of the series and photos for download can be viewed at http://www.evcup.com.
FURTHER GENERAL ORGANISATION INFORMATION:
Tel: +44 (0)207 812 0578
Tel:+44 (0)207 812 0589
FURTHER RACE INFORMATION:
Tel: +44 (0)1427 875900
[Distributed by CDWrite on behalf of EEVRC Ltd.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Fort Wayne has been honored for steps it has taken to incorporate alternative fuel-powered vehicles into its fleet.
The award is named after Indy Racing League Driver and Indiana biofuels supporter Paul Dana, who died in a racing accident in 2006.
Source: Inside INdiana Business
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Racers, teams, dealers/distributors and industry professionals,may register to attend the International Motorsports Industry Show. Just check out the following link for more information: https://www.conference.com/eventmanager/OnlineRegistration.asp?EventCode=AMX
Friday, October 09, 2009
Highcroft Racing's driver Scott Sharp crashes @ Petit Le Mans and walks away. Highcroft uses BSS custom seat inserts.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Since 1986, Superleague has conducted over 138 racing events, coast-to-coast. Over the past 23 years, the series has raced on two continents and in four countries. An estimated 700,000 fans watch the action up-front during the season with another 25 million viewing the action during the selected national and international television broadcasts in cooperation with of Romesburg Media Group LLC. (go to: http://www.SuperleagueMedia.com to view full-length broadcasts).
Powerboat Superleague offers daytime entertainment designed to meet the needs of local communities, in particular the local organizer’s sponsors and area spectators. The racing events are held close to shore on rivers, lakes and small bays/coves. The boats are all state-of-the-art in design and power, piloted by experienced drivers (most of them hold national and international titles and records).
A privately owned partnership, APR Events Group and its national circuit Powerboat Superleague, is committed to producing professional events where spectators can expect to see exciting championship racing and equally important, where local producers and local sponsors can receive value for their participation. We work with the community host by partnering with a non-profit organization for program enhancement, serving as a catalyst for funding the organization’s area projects, or by focusing specific attention on a community need. We also work with festivals, supporting and providing entertainment.
Powerboat Superleague is a member of and sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association (APBA) the recognized authority (since 1903) in the United States for amateur and professional boat racing. We are member of the Union International Motonautique (UIM) the world sanctioning body for international events.
Referred to as the “next wave” in powerboat racing, an event that includes the Superleague circuit promises excellent competition and high standards of professionalism; a safe well-managed race that benefits everyone involved.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
JR Hildebrand, of Sausalito, Calif., finished fifth to wrap up the series title in the penultimate race at Chicgaoland. The Firestone Indy Lights closes the books Oct. 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"My strategy was not to crash," said Hildebrand, who entered the race needing to finish 14th. It's just a dream come true. I came into this year with Andretti Green Racing knowing I had every opportunity to make this happen. It feels great to bring it home to the boys and bring everything back together after the last few years. Hopefully, we can take this (championship) and move forward for next year."
Hildebrand, who has four victories and 10 top-five finishes in 14 races, is closing out his second full season in the series.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Way to go guys!!!
His BSS Arpro bead seat insert did it's job and he was able to walk away.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Hildebrand was the quickest in both practice and qualifying, then went on to win Saturday's race by just over 14 seconds, setting the fastest lap along the way. The vicotry further padded his points lead which now stands at 69 points over teamate Sebastian Saavedra with five races remaining on the schedule.
"We had an awseome race, everyone did a great job all weekend," said Hildebrand after winning the caution free race by a margin of 14.015 seconds. "The start was a little unnerving but Richard and I both gave eachother just enough room and we just got on from there. I figured with the track being as rough as it is that as long as I could run consistently fast laps I would be able to slowly pull away and that's pretty much what happened. As the tires wore off, I picked up a little bit of balance, and then I started catching lapped cars so I decided to go ahead and lay some laps down to put them between myself and Philippe in case a caution came out. WE had a great weekend all around. I'm so happy for everyone and am looking forward to the next few weeks as well."
Hildebrand and his Andretti Green / AFS Racing crew have a quick turnaround as they head to the Kentucky Speedway this weekend for Round 11 of the Firestone Indy Lights Series.
Hildebrand would like to thank his Andretti Green / AFS Racing crew, along with ARPOR, BALD SPOT SPORTS, THE RACEMAKER PRESS and DOUG MOCKETT & CO. for all their support.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Sabelt manufactures the equipment you need to win and win safely. With the Sabelt collection of top quality auto racing suits, racing gloves, racing shoes, racing belts & harnesses, racing seats, racing steering wheels, Nomex accessories and more, Sabelt will get you to the Winner's Circle in one piece and looking great.
Stay tuned to our website for more information on this great product line.
Toll Free: 877-BSS-SEAT
J.R. Hildebrand, of Sausalito, California, made some fireworks of his own this July Fourth, charging from fourth on the grid to take a convincing victory in the Corning 100 at the historic Watkins Glen International Raceway. He and his Andretti Green/AFS Racing crew ran into trouble in qualifying, but turned their fortunes around by making several key decisions regarding their race setup that allowed him to overtake on the difficult circuit. The win, coupled with trouble for his championship rivals during the race, allowed Hildebrand to extend his points lead to a healthy 58 points over second-place Mario Romancini.
Hildebrand and his team hit the ground running in the first and only practice session, setting the pace for much of the session while working on a variety of setup items. Hildebrand again set the early pace in qualifying, but when he went out on his final set of new tires with just a few minutes remaining, he was badly held up in traffic and was only able to squeeze out a lap that was good for fourth position overall. The crew later determined that Hildebrand was also driving with less than full throttle for the duration of the session, adding to the difficulty to find the lap time he needed for pole.
“Qualifying was pretty frustrating,” Hildebrand admitted. “I thought that the car was pretty close and that I would be able to grab the pole, but at the end of the run I got caught between a handful of slower cars without much time left, and then overdrove the last two corners of the one lap that I had right at the end. It’s hard to quantify how much the extra ten-percent throttle may have been worth, but more than anything it was just frustrating that we probably could have been on pole anyway and didn’t make it happen.”
Heading into the race, Hildebrand and his crew knew they would be up against a difficult task of passing the three cars ahead of them. The circuit, while long and rather high speed, provides very few opportunities for overtaking. Knowing that their mechanical setup was strong, Hildebrand and his crew decided to roll the dice and take away downforce while putting in taller gear ratios to have a bit of extra speed at the end of the straights. They also made a few key adjustments to better look after their tires, knowing that they might wear faster with less downforce and grip. Once the race got underway, Hildebrand was able to use these tools to great effect, picking off each driver in front of him one by one at the end of the back straight and pulling away to a convincing victory.
“We were talking about everything before the race, especially after how qualifying ended up and I kept thinking to myself, ‘We cannot accept defeat today. We need to do whatever it takes to get into the lead,’” Hildebrand related. “It was a big gamble but a somewhat calculated one because I was pretty sure that I had the speed as long as I could keep it together, and it worked like a charm. It feels great to win here at the Glen on the Fourth of July. Everyone did a fantastic job; it was definitely a group effort through and through.”
Hildebrand will quickly switch gears, as the Firestone Indy Lights Series now heads to Toronto Canada this weekend for Round Nine on the streets of Toronto. Hildebrand claimed two victories in Toronto in 2006, in Formula Ford 2000 competition, so will be looking to carry his momentum there this weekend. He would like to thank ARPRO, Bald Spot Sports, The Racemaker Press, and Doug Mockett and Company for their continued support.
J.R. Hildebrand Racing
Sunday, July 05, 2009
Hildebrand passed polesitter James Davison with an inside move at the beginning of the Bus Stop on Lap 14 and held on through a final-lap restart to win his second race of the Firestone Indy Lights season.
"It doesn't get any better," the California native with the American flag atop his helmet said after winning the Corning 100 on the Fourth of July. "This race could have really not been at a better time for us. I knew we had a strong car going into this race. We were sitting there thinking, 'We cannot accept defeat today.' It's America's birthday. I can't be happier with it."
Thursday, June 25, 2009
J.R. Hildebrand needed some luck in the Miller Lite 100 at Iowa Speedway to maintain the points lead in the chase for the Firestone Firehawk Cup.
The driver of the No. 26 ARPRO car for AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing was penalized for blocking while running in second position, but was able to stay on the lead lap as the yellow flag flew as he was heading to pit lane to serve a drive-through penalty.
After restarting as the final car on the lead lap, Hildebrand, the race's pole sitter, was able to pass a few cars to finish sixth and maintain a 16-point lead over RLR/Andersen Racing's Mario Romancini.
"(The) race was definitely frustrating for us," he said. "We started on the pole, so we knew we had a good car. We also knew we were fighting a bit of understeer in qualifying. With such big condition changes before the race, it made it really tough to get the car set up and the understeer continued to get worse throughout the race. After the drive thru penalty we lost position and had to fight our way back up. It's difficult to pass here and the understeer wouldn't allow us to get close enough to other cars."
Hildebrand won his third pole position of the year and leads the standings for the $5,000 Lucas Oil Frequent Pole Sitter Award.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Sunday, June 07, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
US Army/Fagin Team Enjoys Consistency
by Roger Hughes, US Army/Fagin Motorsports
CLOVERDALE, Ind. -- The US Army/Fagin Motorsports team and driver former Cloverdale, Indiana resident Brandon Fagin a fireman who lives in Evansville continues to impress the racing community. Fagin raced to a 12th place finish on May 17th at the world's fastest half-mile track in Winchester, IN.
Fagin started in the 22nd position and missed some horrific wrecks on the treacherous 1/2 mile speedway. Taking care of the US Army Monte Carlo was just what was needed to get the consistent run that moved him into 2nd in the "CRA K & N Filter Rookie of the year? point standings.
Fagin also won the "Lane Automotive Cams Hard Charger Award" for the driver that gains the most positions during the race. Fagin stated "the car was way to tight during the entire race but I just kept hitting my marks. I'm really glad to have a decent finish for the Army plus come home with an undamaged race car."
Up next for the US Army/Fagin Motorsports team is the Redbud 300 at the Anderson Speedway in Anderson, IN. on Tuesday, June 16th. NASCAR super star Kyle Busch has filed an entry to compete. As always he will be very competitive along with all the CRA regulars. It should be a very interesting race in front of what is expected to be a capacity crowd.
VP Racing Fuel, Bald Spot Sports and Budget Motors of Greencastle, Indiana are associate sponsors on the US Army/Fagin Motorsports. The official website for the US Army/Fagin Motorsports team is faginmotorsports.com.
Congratulations to Dario for his pole position and to Helio on his win!
Good luck to all our customers at Iowa on June 21.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
It's scheduled to air this Fall. We will keep everyone updated once we have more information.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Hildebrand, also the runner-up in the Firestone Freedom 100 on May 22 at t he Indianapolis Motor Speedway, gained five points on Saavedra in the championship standings. He leads by 10 heading to Iowa Speedway Saturday, June 20
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Cunningham, who started in pole position, held off JR Hildbebrand by 0.1sec for the win.
Hildebrand led 23 of the 40-lap race, but Cunningham came through in the final two laps.
It is the 24-year-old's second win in the race, having won it for the first time in 2006, also from pole.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Saturday, May 09, 2009
*BSS customers in bold
Pos. No. Driver Make Speed
1 3 Helio Castroneves Dallara-Honda 224.864
2 6 Ryan Briscoe Dallara-Honda 224.083
3 10 Dario Franchitti Dallara-Honda 224.010
4 02 Graham Rahal Dallara-Honda 223.954
5 9 Scott Dixon Dallara-Honda 223.867
6 11 Tony Kanaan Dallara-Honda 223.612
7 5 Mario Moraes Dallara-Honda 223.331
8 26 Marco Andretti Dallara-Honda 223.114
9 12 Will Power Dallara-Honda 223.028
10 7 Danica Patrick Dallara-Honda 222.882
11 99 Alex Lloyd Dallara-Honda 222.622
"Overall, I feel pretty good about the whole weekend, but we would have liked better results," Hildebrand said. "I'm just proud of the guys on Team USA and all the work they've done. I think I could have done a better job, but I also know that we showed we had the speed to compete. We probably missed a couple of opportunities this weekend to move up in the field, both in qualifying and in the race. But, again, I think we proved we have the pace to run up front."
Monday, April 27, 2009
Target Chip Ganassi Racing 9 D/H/F 4 210.368 200 5 134 Running 52
2 Helio Castroneves
Team Penske 3 D/H/F 22 0.000 200 2 3 Running 40
3 Tony Kanaan
Team 7-Eleven 11 D/H/F 8 210.082 200 0 0 Running 35
4 Ryan Briscoe
Team Penske 6 D/H/F 7 210.098 200 1 53 Running 32
5 Danica Patrick
Motorola 7 D/H/F 3 210.470 200 0 0 Running 30
6 Marco Andretti
Andretti Green 26 D/H/F 5 210.220 200 0 0 Running 28
7 Graham Rahal
McDonald's Racing Team 02 D/H/F 1 211.311 200 2 8 Running 27
8 Hideki Mutoh
Formula Dream 27 D/H/F 13 208.506 200 0 0 Running 24
9 Ed Carpenter
Menards/ Vision Racing
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- While most Firestone Indy Lights drivers will be taking the next few weeks off, J.R. Hildebrand will spend this weekend racing.
The Andretti Green Racing/AFS Racing driver will represent A1 Team USA in England for the World Cup of Motorsport event at Brands Hatch.
"I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to drive for A1 Team USA and Andretti Green Racing next weekend at Brands Hatch," Hildebrand said. "Marco (Andretti) and the guys have done a good job learning more and more about what we need, and I hope to make the most of all their hard work."
Hildebrand earned the opportunity to drive the car after participating in three rookies sessions for the squad this season, making the top 10 running in each session. Andretti is unavailable for selection because of Indianapolis 500 preparations.
"It's unfortunate that Marco has to stay in the US to get ready for the 500, but I'm thrilled to get this opportunity," Hildebrand said. "I've really enjoyed driving in the rookie sessions at the other A1GP rounds I've attended and am excited to be able to take the car all the way through the weekend."
IndyCar Series Merchandise
IndyCar Series Magazine Subscription. Get 4 Print And Digital Combo Issues Plus 2 Bonus Digital Issues. Hildebrand has raced at the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in in the Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series. He'll be making his debut on the full grand prix circuit.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
LONG BEACH, Calif. - This time, J.R. Hildebrand didn't allow anyone to get a jump on the No. 26 ARPRO car.
Hildebrand, of Sausalito, Calif., won the 45-lap Firestone Indy Lights race on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach temporary street circuit by 1.8315 seconds over Richard Philippe. James Hinchcliffe finished third and Jonathan Summerton was fourth. Ana Beatriz advanced two positions to finish fifth in the No. 20 Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car.
In the first of two races on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., two weeks earlier, Hildebrand started from the pole but was overtaken on a restart halfway through the race. He finished third. Hildebrand started from the pole at Long Beach in the AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing-prepared car. He maintained a sizable lead through the early portion of the race and no one could muster a challenge on a Lap 20 restart (one of two after full-course cautions).
"We just had a great car and the ARPRO guys have just done a great job all weekend," said Hildebrand, who posted his second Firestone Indy Lights victory. "We had a great car at St. Petersburg, but we had some mechanicals going on or we could have been just as good there. I have to give all the credit to the boys for picking it up after a rough weekend."
Hildebrand likes his chances at the first oval race of the season - April 26 at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway. He won there in 2007.
"I think we have the potential to be the fastest on the track everywhere we go," he said. "We had a good run at Kansas last year and picked up some miles in the IndyCar (Series car) a couple weeks ago, so maybe that will give us a leg up on everyone."
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Any and all driver suits, pants, jackets, shoes and boots manufactured by Impact Racing pursuant to SFI Specifications 3.2A/15, 3.2A/20, 3.3/15 and 3.3/20 at any time during the year 2008 have been decertified by SFI Foundation, Inc. and must be immediately returned to Impact Racing offices or an Impact representative. Impact Racing has reason to believe that these products do not fully comply with the stated SFI Specifications and therefore do not meet SFI manufacturer certification requirements. This recall applies to all such products whether or not they have been updated, rebadged, or recertified by Impact Racing. This recall applies even if the product now has a 2009 SFI patch or label affixed to the product. All applicable sanctioning bodies have been notified of this noncompliance.
Please be advised that the recall only applies to drag racing suits, SFI-15 and SFI-20 not SFI-5 suits.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Wade has been signed on to drive the #11 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry for the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
The trek started on Wednesday (February 25), with a trip across the Atlantic from Indianapolis to Johannesburg, South Africa, to again represent A1GP Team USA in the rookie sessions of the most recent round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsports at the famed Kyalami Circuit.
After spending 18 hours on the plane (with a stop in Dakar for fuel), Hildebrand and the rest of Team USA arrived in South Africa to find out that the weekend's events had been delayed, and it was unclear if he was going to be able to drive at all! Fortunately, everything got sorted out and he and the other rookies that missed Friday's practice were given 45-minutes on Saturday morning. Hildebrand made good use of the time to relay the characteristics of the car and the track to lead driver Marco Andretti and the engineers for Team USA. After making changes based on Hildebrand's feedback, Andretti continued working with the car and was able to post the second fastest time in final practice later that day.
Hildebrand was unfortunately unable to stay for Sunday's races, due to his primary commitment to the AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing Indy Lights team. After a 10-hour flight to Paris and a sprint through the airport to make his connection to Miami, he was able to make it to the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval in time for Tuesday's Firestone Indy Lights open test. Hildebrand spent most of the day running through a planned program of setup changes and ultimately walked away with a variety of ideas to work with moving forward.
The team quickly turned the cars around and drove up to nearby Palm Beach International Raceway for a road course test just two days later. Hildebrand again spent much of his time adjusting the car and fine tuning the car’s setup before running some extremely quick times at the end of the day.
The highlight of Hildebrand’s adventure came just a few days later in Sebring, Fla., where he was treated to a test in Andretti Green Racing's IndyCar Series car. Hildebrand was due to test the car on Monday, before regular IndyCar Series drivers Hideki Mutoh and Marco Andretti took over on Tuesday. This was Hildebrand’s first time driving an IndyCar Series car, and just to make things more interesting, the team had laid out a thorough test plan to evaluate different setup options and incorporate his feedback to use the following day. Hildebrand quickly got up to speed, keeping pace all day with Raphael Matos of Luczo Dragon Racing, the only other driver on track, and was able to give useful and accurate feedback about the car and the changes.
"I didn't find that I had a hard time getting up to speed, but there were definitely a few things that took a while to really get a handle on," Hildebrand said. "The traction on power-down was incredibly good, to the point that I'm not sure a button on the steering wheel for 'full throttle' may not have been more effective in some situations! It was almost as if I physically could not put my foot to the floor fast enough! I was glad that another car was on track, and I think Rafa was a great benchmark, particularly around Sebring. We got through a lot of changes and a lot of miles, and I felt like I had learned and accomplished quite a lot by the end of the day."
On Tuesday, Hildebrand stayed at the track and was happy to see that his feedback had been good and was useful to the team. Andretti and Mutoh both went through similar changes and described similar impressions about their cars.
"Working with the IndyCar Series team both days really gave me a taste of the "big time, which I'm hoping to experience full time in the future," he noted. "It was a great experience and I'm really appreciative that AGR continues to give me such fantastic opportunities."
Following a few substantial time changes, over 40 hours on airplanes, a lot of early mornings, four race tracks and over 200 miles on the Sebring short course in just two weeks (not to mention a bout of food poisoning), the young Californian welcomed the sight of a familiar bed back in Indianapolis, Ind., on Tuesday night.
"It was a fantastic experience all around," said Hildebrand. "South Africa was a really interesting experience on a great circuit. I really enjoy being a part of the A1GP Series and Team USA, but it can be frustrating at the same time because just about the time you start to build some momentum you have to get out of the car! Back in my Indy Lights car, the Homestead test pointed out that we still have some work to do on our oval package, but I didn't run in the draft or do anything special for speed at the test and a few things stood out later on, so I'm very confident that the team and I will be right were we need to be in time for the first oval track race of the season in Kansas. We then had a great road course test at Palm Beach and got through a ton of test items while also setting very fast times, which felt great. I think we are going to be strong across the board this year right from the beginning."
The next chance for Hildebrand to jump in a race car will be the Firestone Indy Lights open test at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama on March 21st.
Hildebrand is grateful to AGR, ARPRO, JSP, Racemaker Press, Bald Spot Sports and Doug Mockett & Company for their continued support of his career.