April Test For Pro Series

The first driver to get behind the wheel of an Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series car will be Robbie Buhl, but not because he’s planning on competing in the developmental league.

Buhl, at the request of the IRIPS, will test the new car at Walt Disney World Speedway on April 8 as part of the car's development.

“Robbie is the perfect driver to put in the seat of this car for its first test,” said Roger Bailey, executive director of the IRIPS. “We chose an experienced driver who's had
success in similar cars. He will be able to give us good, basic feedback and tell us what kind of package the car is.”

Buhl, part owner of the Dreyer & Reinbold team he races for, said he won’t be fielding an IRIPS car but is pleased to be part of the series’ research.

“It's an honor and will be fun to be the first one to drive the car,” Buhl said. “I'm excited to see the series take shape. The IRL needs that steppingstone series. As a team owner, I'm also eager to see it take shape.

“I helped develop the current Reynard Barber Dodge series car. I did a lot of development on it. And, I've spent a lot of time - a lot of seat time - in 425-horsepower cars.

“The initial thing on the shakedown runs will be to make sure the car isn't doing anything that will bite the driver, making sure it is talking to you and giving you feedback. With the Dallara chassis, it shouldn't be an issue. We're not developing this (car) for me to race, but for its drivability.”

Buhl knows the 1-mile, WDWS oval well. He won the season-opening race at the track in 2000. The track, which is on the grounds of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., has not been part of the Indy Racing League since.

John Lewis, IRL director of operations, spent two years operating the circuit as an employee of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Facilities Department. He suggested using the track because of its unique layout.

WDWS is not part of the IRIPS schedule, which is expected to include seven races. The inaugural event will take place July 8 at Kansas Speedway in conjunction with the second annual Ameristar Casino Indy 200.

Buhl is considering fielding an IRIPS car in the future, but not next year. He has other things to accomplish.

“In 2002, we'll be focusing on the Purex Aventis car with its Infiniti power,” Buhl said. “We have a lot to prove, things that we didn't get accomplished in 2001. We may look at it (Pro Series) in the future. We want to see the car, touch the car. It sounds like it's going to be an incredibly affordable series. It sounds like a great formula. I'm a great believer in that kind of series.

“I won championships in both Barber Dodge and the old Indy Lights series. When an equal playing ground presents itself, you have to deliver the goods as a driver. I like those kinds of series.”

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