Notebook: PJ Jones Finds Ride

Earlier this month, veteran car owners Greg Beck and Kent Baker combined their resources to field an Indianapolis 500 entry for Stephan Gregoire. Now that single-car entry has grown into a two-car team.

Team Leader Motorsports announced May 15 that it has entered a second car for the 90th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race for second-generation driver PJ Jones.

"We’ve heard some buzz in the garage area calling this the ‘David vs. Goliath story,’" Team Leader Motorsports co-owner Kent Baker said. "In the beginning we found some humor in that comparison, but we’re starting to believe in it now. Now we’ve added a second rock for our slingshot."

Jones, the son of 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones, will attempt to qualify his second Indianapolis 500 in the No. 98 Curb Records Special Panoz/Honda/Firestone.

This will be Jones’ second one-off 500 attempt with car owner Greg Beck’s Curb-Agajanian Beck effort. He finished 28th in his first Indianapolis 500 in 2004 backed by the same entry.

Brack back at Indianapolis
Kenny Brack’s new career brought him back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 15.

The 1999 Indianpolis 500 winner, whose has embarked on a music career with new band called Brack, shot scenes for an upcoming music video at the site of his biggest win.

"Right now we’re writing a few songs," Brack said. "We thought it would be neat to come to the Speedway and get some footage, since this is my world, so to speak. It’s good to make that association with the music as well."

Brack filmed scenes around the Rahal Letterman Racing garage area in gasoline alley and on pit lane of the historic 2.5-mile oval.

"We’ve borrowed some equipment from Team Rahal and that’s a good fit, too, because I’ve been with them so long," Brack said. "I’m just glad I could include them in the music video."

No. 97 Finds Sponsor
The black No. 97 Team Leader Special Panoz/Honda/Firestone driven by Stephan Gregoire will be sponsored by Effen, an ultra premium vodka distilled in Holland. The company plans to entertain customers at race. Gregoire, who has a best finish of eighth (2000) in six 500-Mile Races, will get on the racetrack May 17 and attempt to qualify on Coca-Cola Throwback Day Qualifying on May 20.

Greg Beck, co-owner of Team Leader Motorsports, said, "For a small team to land a sponsor like Effen is pretty huge for us. It’s funny because I actually had a message on my answering machine from Tom Anderson about potentially if I would be available to help run a third car. I called him back, and I just approached him with the idea of maybe we could maybe lease the car from him. That would alleviate his problem of trying to run a third car and put us in a position to put some things together. I had some sponsorship from Mike Curb and told Brian (Barnhart) just to let him know that I was heading down that path. He told me that Kent Baker was trying to put an effort together and had some sponsorship and maybe that we should work together. And as they say, the rest is history. It has been a really good relationship from day one. Everything has just fallen into place. It has really been good.

About the looks of the new car, Beck said, "I’m very excited with the look of our car. The black on white scheme of Effen Vodka really works on a race car. You can’t miss it. The design is simple yet it just plain looks nice. Simple is always better. We will have a very interesting press release out in the next couple of days about the guy who did a lot of the graphics work and the design on the car and our Team Leader logo. It will be an interesting human interest story."

Co-owner of Team Leader Motorsports Kent Baker said, "We basically compressed three months work into three weeks. We’re ready to roll. We think we have a major effort. We’ve heard some buzz in the garage area calling this the ‘David vs. Goliath story.’ In the beginning we found some humor in that comparison, but we’re starting to believe in it now. The sponsorship all fell into place. This is a primary sponsor launch, but we actually have the full car with sponsors. We have a variety of companies from Indiana. We’ve got Curb Records from Nashville, Tenn., also Direct Supply, which is a health supply company out of Wisconsin. I’ve got a really good feeling about the whole program. It just seems like it was meant to be. I’m excited to be part of it, and I think the car is awesome. Nothing beats a black race car."

Stephan Gregoire, driver of the No. 97 Effen Vodka Team Leader Special Panoz/Honda/Firestone, said, "I am really proud to be a part of this team. I’ve been doing some sports car racing in-between (since 2001). For me to be back with Greg Beck brings back a lot of wonderful memories. Thanks to Effen Vodka for helping make a dream come true. Everything just happened so quickly. I am very excited to be back."

About returning to racing, Gregoire said, "The motivation to drive again was just too strong to resist. I heard that Kent Baker wanted to do something, so I got in touch with him (and Ted Warner of Acceleration Marketing, which had ties to Effen principals)."

Jon Deitelbaum, President and CEO of Effen Vodka, said, "We’re thrilled to be involved and thrilled to be here. I got a call about two weeks ago asking if I was interested in any type of motor racing. Because I’ve known Ted Warner and have always been a big fan of the Indianapolis 500 and just a race fan in general, I had to do this. We had also just come out of doing consumer research. Our consumers told us to be involved with a sport like this. So we thought, wow, two opportunities came together pretty quick."

Race Center

Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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