Notebook: Andrettis On Reality TV
June 15, 2006 | 3:23 P.M. EST
Produced by IMS Productions, the series gives viewers unprecedented access to Andretti Green Racing, one of the most powerful teams in the IndyCar Series, and follows Marco Andretti’s rise under the watchful eyes of his grandfather, racing legend Mario Andretti, and his father, Michael, a standout racer.
Mario Andretti is with Marco every step of the way and shares his thoughts on the pressure of having the Andretti name and gives weekly updates on Marco’s IndyCar Series rookie season. Michael is also with Marco from the beginning, coming out of retirement to race with Marco in the Indianapolis 500.
During the month of May, watch Michael cope with being an owner, father and driver attempting to win his first Indianapolis 500. Marco’s teammates, 2004 IndyCar Series Champion Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Bryan Herta also contribute to the story.
In the premiere episode, scheduled for Noon (EDT) on June 18, “The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky explains the pressure of being an 18-year old athlete, and how he dealt with the responsibilities of being in the spotlight at a young age.
In future episodes, the Denver Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony and Chicago Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux also share their experiences as young athletes on the big stage.
Family ties run deep in IndyCar Series
Father’s Day isn’t until June 18, but three Sundays ago, Sam Hornish Jr., helped his father realize a dream by fulfilling his own.
When the two-time IndyCar Series champion won the 90th Indianapolis 500 on May 28, his father was along for the ride as he’s been since his namesake won his first go-kart race on a dirt track near Angola, Ind., not too far from their home in Defiance, Ohio at age 11.
The pair began racing when the younger Hornish was eight as a father-son activity, but young Sam showed talent that exceeded the father-son effort. As he began to win races on a regular basis, it became obvious to his father that his son needed to step up to the next level.
"The thing for me that was hardest growing up and being a race car driver, racing the go-karts, moving to Formula Ford, Toyota Atlantics, every time I started to get good at something, he'd make me to go to the next level," said the younger Hornish. "He never wanted me to be the big fish in the small pond."
"He worked hard for his wins," "Big Sam" Hornish added. "He had me as his detriment. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing while a lot of those other kids’ dads had raced karts themselves.
"It was my golf game. It was my vacations. It was my ability to get away with going on the weekends and racing go-karts while his mother was home taking care of business. She always supported us, though."
"Big Sam" Hornish isn’t the only father with a watchful eye on his son in the IndyCar Series.
Gene Simmons (no relation to the rock star/IRL marketer with the same name) has two sons on different teams – Jeff Simmons, the driver of Rahal Letterman Racing’s No. 17 Team Ethanol entry, and Chris Simmons, a data engineer for Target Chip Ganassi’s No. 9 entry driven by Scott Dixon. While the series’ most famous father-son pairing, Michael and Marco Andretti, nearly pulled off a family 1-2 finish at Indianapolis.
"I hope they’re cheering for me first because I’m the one driving the car," Jeff Simmons said. "But I know at the same time if I can’t win the race, I’m sure they want Scott (Dixon) to because of Chris."
Still, all of the sons would like to emulate Hornish’s feat at Indianapolis one day, and give something back to their fathers for all the things they did.
"He took me everywhere," young Sam recalled. "I think that's part of what makes me -- what makes it so neat for me. I've been blessed with a family that's willing -- a mom and dad that's willing to be a part for however long I'm racing, my dad being with me, coming to all these races. My wife comes to all the races. I'm just very lucky not only to have that, but also to have had a lot of things go right in my career; go sooner than I thought they should.
"To not only repay what my dad was able to do for me, my mom, Crystal, but also what Roger Penske and Tim Cindric have been able to do for me, give me everything that it took to go out there and win. I'm glad that I was able to pull through and do that for them."
Camara to test Andretti Green Racing IndyCar Series machine Friday at Nashville
Jaime Camara will become the first Indy Pro Series™ driver to receive IndyCar Series testing time from the IRL’s new “bonus” test program when he tests an Andretti Green Racing IndyCar Series car June 16 at Nashville Superspeedway.
The bonus testing program, announced late last year, allows IndyCar Series teams that also field full-time entries in the Indy Pro Series to earn bonus test days for their IndyCar Series program after every four races. Working in conjunction with Sam Schmidt Motorsports, Andretti Green Racing fields entries for Camara and rookie Jonathan Klein.
"I'm really excited about the IndyCar test. It's going to be another step in my career,” said Camara, who won the Indy Pro Series’ Cleanevent 100 at Nashville in 2005. “It's always been the goal - the IndyCar Series. Achieving that is a big step for me. I hope I can do a good job. At the end if the team is satisfied with my performance, I think that's a very good point in my favor for something for next year.”
Camara will split time with 2004 IndyCar® Series champion Tony Kanaan in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Honda-powered Dallara. Andretti Green Racing rookie Marco Andretti also will test Friday behind the wheel of the No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone.
Klein's first stint in an Andretti Green IndyCar Series machine will come in the near future as part of an upcoming AGR test session.
Indy Pro Series drivers to test IMS road course
Indy Pro Series drivers and teams will participate in an Open Test on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on June 20. The full-day test session will prepare the competitors for the 25-lap Liberty Challenge on the 2.605-mile course on July 1.
Seventeen drivers are expected to participate in the test. Of the 15 named so far, six are teenagers, including Graham Rahal and Logan Gomez, who will become the first 17-year-olds to drive the 420-horsepower Indy Pro Series cars.
The other teens are: CR Crews (18), Sean Guthrie (18), Jonathan Klein (18) and Brett Van Blankers (19).
Others expected to test are defending series champion Wade Cunningham, who finished second in the inaugural Liberty Challenge last year, as well’s as last year’s third- and fifth-place finishers, Chris Festa and Jaime Camara, respectively.
The Indy Pro Series is the premier ladder series for drivers, teams and sponsors striving to compete in the IndyCar® Series and the Indianapolis 500. The 12-race schedule in 2006 features six races on ovals and six races on road courses, including competing on both circuits at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Teams compete for $3 million in prize money. The races are telecast to more than 88 million homes in the United States on ESPN2.