IIRNLS Briefs:/I Homestead Gets Second Sponsor

The Indy Racing Northern Light Series’ debut race in South Florida will be known as the Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami presented by 123.com Americatel, Homestead-Miami Speedway officials announced late last week.

123.com Americatel is an Internet service provider catering to the Hispanic population, which has a strong presence in the Miami-Homestead area.

"When you take America's top open-wheel teams and drivers in one of their final races before the Indianapolis 500, sponsored by two premier companies, and combined with family-friendly pricing at our beautiful speedway, that assures us that Homestead-Miami Speedway is the place to be on April 6-8," track president Curtis Gray said.

South Florida resident and Chile native Eliseo Salazar expects the deal to attract a new set of fans.

"I'm quite proud to be representing 123.com, whose parent company is Americatel. It is the leader in telecommunications in Chile, my home country," said Salazar, who will drive the No. 14 for A.J. Foyt this season. "We plan to bring a lot of people from Chile for the race.

"Indy Racing is a thrilling sport that appeals to all cultures. What we are trying to do is let Hispanics living in South Florida know that one of the most important races in the world takes place in our own backyard."

123.com launched in November and connects its users to the Internet while transmitting information in English and Spanish.

F1’s Williams Praises Schmidt: For years, Frank Williams has been a visible and successful part of the Formula One racing scene.

His teams have won nine World Constructor’s titles and he’s watched many of those wins from a wheelchair.

Williams was paralyzed from the waist down in a passenger car accident in the 1980s. When he heard that former Indy Racing Northern Light Series driver Sam Schmidt, who is paralyzed from the shoulders down after an accident in January of 2000, was forming his own team, he had nothing but praise for Schmidt.

"I am delighted that Sam Schmidt has decided to return to motor racing," said Williams, who met Schmidt at the inaugural United States Grand Prix in Indianapolis in September. "In these new circumstances, Sam will be able to channel his love for motor racing in a new direction, which, most importantly, will consume and tax his mind and at all times give him a great deal to think about.

"Given his obvious determination, I am sure that success will come his way and provide him with an appropriate reward for his efforts. I surely wish him all the luck. I will personally be following him. His career was great, and what he's doing is of great interest."

Schmidt announced the formation of Sam Schmidt Motorsports at the Test in the West in February. He is expected to field a car for the full, 13-race IRNLS schedule with a driver and sponsor to be revealed soon.

Dare Remembers Earnhardt: When Airton Dare participated in the open test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Feb. 23 and 24, Dale Earnhardt was on board with him.

2000 rookie of the year Dare honored the fallen seven-time Winston Cup champion during the two-day test with a decal on his No. 88 G Force that read "In Memory 3 – Godspeed Dale!"

Homestead-Miami Speedway also had memorial cards for fans to sign during the IRNLS open house and autograph session at the track on Feb. 24.

Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18.

HMS will feature the IRNLS for the first time in a race on April 8.

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