Homestead Open Test Notebook

In addition to watching the stars of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series test for the first time as a group at Homestead-Miami Speedway this Friday and Saturday, fans will be able to meet open-wheel legends Al Unser and Johnny Rutherford.

Unser, one of three four-time winners of the Indianapolis 500, and Rutherford, a three-time Indy winner, will provide pace car tours of the track to fans who purchase tickets for the April 8 IRNLS Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami.

The tours of the 1.5-mile flat oval take place from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday. Race ticket-buyers will also receive a T-shirt at the time of their purchase.

The tours are the highlight of an open house that also features an autograph session and a contest for a trip for two to this year’s Indianapolis 500. Indy 500 winners Al Unser Jr., Buddy Lazier and Eddie Cheever Jr., female star Sarah Fisher and Greg Ray are expected to take part in the autograph session.

Other family-friendly activities at the open house include rock climbing walls, Mini-Indy races for children, a Cub Scout Thunderbird District Pinewood Derby and a kayaking demonstration by the Paradise Paddlers Club.

Homestead Ticket Information: In addition to purchasing tickets at Homestead-Miami Speedway, those wishing to attend the inaugural Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami can visit Ticketmaster outlets in Florida and South Georgia, track officials recently announced.

HMS also unveiled a family-friendly ticket-pricing structure for the weekend of Indy Racing Northern Light Series action.

Tickets for Friday, April 6, practice begin at $10. Tickets for Saturday practice, qualifying and an autograph session begin at $20. Race-day tickets start at $25. Children younger than 12 are admitted free if accompanied by an adult, and youths younger than 18 can get tickets for $15 if purchased in advance.

The special prices fall in line with a marketing strategy the IRNLS believes in.

"The Indy Racing League is not going to charge $100 a ticket," said Bob Reif, the IRNLS senior vice president of sales and marketing and chief marketing officer. "We know what our product is. We need people to sample our product.

"The only way they're going to sample it is if there is a good price for people to come in."

After the Open Test: After the final open test of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series offseason, the pace of private testing picks up.

On Feb. 25 and 26, after the 12 drivers participating in the private test leave Homestead-Miami Speedway, Galles Racing’s stable of Al Unser Jr., rookie Didier Andre and rookie Casey Mears will test at the 1.5-mile oval in South Florida.

Phoenix International Raceway will be even busier next week.

Kelley Racing’s Scott Sharp and Mark Dismore will prepare for the March 18 season-opener at PIR in testing on Feb. 24-26. Cunningham Racing’s Shigeaki Hattori joins them on Feb. 25 and 26.

Greg Ray will put in four days of testing at Phoenix from Feb. 27 to March 2. He will be joined by Team Penske’s Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves on March 1 and 2.

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Auto Club 500

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Saturday, October 19, 2013
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