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  • Published: Jul 21st, 2011
  • Category: Auto Racing
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Indy Lights Win for Stefan Wilson

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IndyCar Series driver Davey Hamilton

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English-born Stefan Wilson finished first at the Firestone Indy Lights race in Toronto, Sunday. Stefan is the younger brother of Justin Wilson, who won on the Toronto street circuit in 2005 and continues to drive in the IZOD IndyCar Series. This was Stefan’s 24th race of the Indy Lights circuit, and his first win.

Wilson started in the second position with Andretti Autosport teammate Peter Dempsey starting in third. Dempsey, of Ireland, finished the race second, right behind Wilson in a one-two victory for Team Andretti. Esteban Guerrieri, who was driving a LucasOil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car began the race in first position and kept the lead for the first 20 laps of the 50-lap race. Everything changed when Guerrieri’s car spun out on a turn and stalled, allowing six cars to get by him. Guerrieri got turned around and managed to finish fourth, but his mistake was all Wilson needed to claim the victory. Wilson expressed confidence that he would have passed Guerrieri even without the spin-out.

The drivers were forced to hold positions because of three yellow caution flags, causing the clock to run out on the race when 49 of 50 laps had been completed. The only Canadian contender, David Ostella, had been knocked out of the race earlier when he lost control of his car while trying to pass for eighth place, after starting the race in position 13. Ostella finished only 12 laps, going home disappointed, but looking forward to the next race. Colombian Gustavo Yacaman ended the race in third place, driving for TMR-Tuvacol/Xtreme Coil Drilling.

His second-place finishing position behind Wilson was an Indy Lights career best for Dempsey, who had moved from O2 Racing Technology to drive for Andretti Autosport. Both Dempsey and Wilson began racing Karts when they were young boys, honing their racing skills for the day when each was ready to progress to open wheel cars. Dempsey garnered his fourth top-ten finish of the season at Toronto.

Justin Wilson was present to watch his brother’s performance in Toronto, and to offer pre-race advice and post-race congratulations. Justin Wilson, who is 6 feet, 2 inches tall enjoys the larger size of North American cars, since he is too large to drive in the European circuits. Expectedly, both Wilsons voiced pleasure at the outcome of the race.

Firestone Indy Lights is a new iteration of a previous series that began in 1986 as the American Racing Series. In 1991, the series became Indy Lights. The original series ended in 2001, and the current Indy Lights series began the following year. The series has been known as the Firestone Indy Lights since 2008, and is a developmental league for the Indy Racing League. Indy Lights races are generally held as support races for IndyCar events. Indy Lights cars crank out 420 horsepower from their V8 engines and weigh just 1,520 pounds. Team Andretti’s own Marco Andretti is a former Indy Lights competitor now driving in the IndyCar Series.

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Formula 1200 Is The Racing League For The Rest Of Us

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Emerson Fittipaldi dominated the 1994 Indianap...

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Race car driving is challenging, fun and expensive. Many people who have the talent to become a competitive driver and appear on television in the Indy 500 or on the streets of Monaco in a Formula One car never get the chance. The sport is simply too expensive for most young talents to give it a try.

Harry O’Neal believes that just isn’t fair and knows an affordable way for boys and girls to test their talent on the track. Harry is the president of the Ontario chapter of the Formula 1200 Driver’s Association. If you aren’t familiar with Formula 1200, perhaps you have heard of Formula Vee. They are the same international racing league.

A decent Formula 1200 car costs between $10,000 and $12,000. Fees and expenses for a race weekend run from $350 to $500. Expenses will be higher if the car gets damaged, but not significantly. O’Neal points out that rebuilding the front end costs about $500 for a Formula 1200 car compared to $2000 for a Formula Ford.

O’Neal is quick to point out that the key to success in Formula 1200 is the driver’s skill. The rules dictate that every car in the field has nearly identical performance. Stock Volkswagen 4 cylinder, 1200 cc, air-cooled engines are in every Formula 1200 car. They cannot weigh less than 464 kilograms and the wheels, brakes and transaxle are all VW stock.

Even though the engines only produce 55 to 60 horsepower, the cars can reach 200 km/h on a long straight. Because these are small cars, with a low center of gravity, it feels much faster to the driver. Formula 1200 is an exciting racing league and a great way for young drivers to experience the sport of open wheel racing. Best of all, this is a league that doesn’t require a huge budget to compete.

Make no mistake, however, if you have the talent in Formula 1200, there is every possibility you could pilot a car in one of the major racing leagues down the road. Nikki Lauda, Emerson Fittipaldi and Bobby Rahal all proved themselves in Formula 1200. This is a growing sport in Canada and around the world. If you know a youngster with a passion for racing but lacking the budget to compete in Formula Atlantic or Formula Ford, introduce them to Formula 1200. There is no telling how far they might go.


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The “New” Grand Prix

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Eddie Irvine, Indianapolis, 2002

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The Grand Prix has been offering indoor go-kart racing for the last few years during the race, but this year organizers wanted to try something new. Event organizers approached Tom Kutscher, the owner of Kart Express, to set up an outdoor half-mile go-kart track with the sights and sounds of the Grand Prix in the background. For $15, fans can take a spin on the track at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour.

So far, fans have really taken to the new racetrack, but some others have come for something a little different. From flocks of young girls who turned out to see boy band sensation and celebrity race participant Kevin Jonas to fans looking for a chance to listen in on headsets as drivers talk to their crews to the aforementioned go-karts, the Grand Prix offered an impressive experience to the thousands of new and longtime racing fans in attendance. This has gone a long way towards turning the Grand Prix from something aimed at die-hard racing fans to a family-friendly event that promises to turn first-time attendees into lifelong fans.

Longtime racing fans such as 51 year-old John Reese, who has missed just one Grand Prix back in 1977, turned out to see the exciting action that they have grown to love. Reese himself has been involved with the Grand Prix since he was a teenager working in the hot dog stands. The Irvine resident now handles security for the event. He says that there is a “great group of racers this year,” and that the races are some of the best he’s seen in a long time.

Nick and Karen Lombardo say they used to videotape the Grand Prix so they could watch it with the commentary and not miss a thing. They were two of the many fans who opted to pay $40 to rent the headsets for the weekend.

Many of the new fans turned out for the family-friendly spectacle of the event, but for fans such as 42 year-old John Glencoe, racing was the sole attraction.

To many, The Grand Prix is an event to look forward to. However exciting this event can be, it is always important to remember that driving responsibly always comes first. For driver of any age and sex, it is required by law to have car insurance whenever you are operating a vehicle. Without proper insurance, you may be penalized.


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