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Ganassi’s Scott Dixon To Test IndyCar Aeroscreen At Indianapolis Motor Speedway Today

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Indycar Series/Red Bull Advanced Technologies

SPEEDWAY, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is going to be behind the wheel today when the NTT Indycar Series holds its first on-track test of their new Aeroscreen.

IndyCar announced in May that the sanctioning body and Red Bull Advanced Technologies formed a partnership to develop the Aeroscreen to enhance driver cockpit protection.

The Aeroscreen is being developed the reduce the risk of driver injury from debris or other objects sticking the cockpit area.  The driver safety innovation that will surround the cockpit consists of a ballistic Aeroscreen anchored by titanium framework.

Dixon took part in a simulator test of a prototype at the Dallara Research Center in Speedway this past July.

“I think the technology game moves very quickly in our sport, and I think INDYCAR has always been at the forefront of moving safety additions along,” said Dixon at the test. “I’m very happy to try and help push this forward and be one of the drivers that can help define areas that may be tricky.”

The test included having Dixon conduct simulated laps around five NTT IndyCar Series tracks, including Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The others were Texas Motor Speedway, Iowa Speedway, Barber Motorsports Park and the Long Beach (Calif.) street circuit.  The simulation included 20 laps on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval and a half-dozen laps on each of the other tracks.

Scott Dixon Tests Aeroscreen Prototype At Dallara Research Center In Speedway Indiana. Photo by Joe Skibinski/Indycar Series.

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While the polycarbonate laminated screen was not in place for this test, Dixon said he experienced no visibility issues with the framework of the prototype. He said he only noticed the chassis centerline piece, but it was no more of a distraction than the Advanced Frontal Protection device used on Indy cars the past six races (two ovals, two street circuits and two permanent road courses).

“It was very similar to (the AFP),” Dixon said. “So, everything was pretty smooth.”

In addition to visibility, INDYCAR officials wanted Dixon’s opinion on the change in center of gravity the Aeroscreen creates and the varying loads associated with it. Dixon also got to experience entry and exit from the cockpit, although he couldn’t put weight on the 3D-printed mock-up produced by Roush.

“I think every step of the process has been done very well,” Dixon said. “It’s not throwing things (at the wall) and seeing what sticks; most of it has been proven previously and getting to this portion on the simulator covers a lot of the bases we’ll see when we get to the real world maybe in 30 or 60 days with the first generation (of the Aeroscreen).”

That real world test takes place today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Dixon and 2014 Indycar Series Champion Will Power of Team Penske turning laps.

This will be the first of three on-track tests over the next three weeks.  Additional tests are scheduled for Barber Motorsports Park on October 7 and at the Richmond Raceway on Tuesday October 15.

The Aeroscreen will be implemented for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Season.

IndyCar

Indy Autonomous Challenge Race Car Unveiled

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Indy Autonomous Challenge/Indianapolis Motor Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The world’s first high-speed, head-to-head autonomous race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will feature Dallaras as the race cars.

Energy Systems Network (ESN) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) this week unveiled the official race car that will be autonomously driven by scores of university teams in the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) at the Racing Capital of the World on Oct. 23, 2021.

Dallara has been the sole racecar supplier of the Indy Lights series since 2002, and now the modified Dallara IL-15 is the official IAC racecar.

“Dallara is the best racecar engineering company in the world, yet designing the chassis for autonomous racing was really challenging,” explained Stefano dePonti, CEO and general manager of Dallara USA. “Dallara loves innovation and technological challenges, and we share the IAC’s passion for education and motorsports.”

“The Dallara-built IAC racecar is the most advanced, fastest autonomous vehicle ever developed,” stated Paul Mitchell, president and CEO of ESN, and co-organizer of the IAC. “Our IAC sponsors are providing radar, lidar, optical cameras and advanced computers, bringing the value of each vehicle to $1 million.”

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One of the teams competing in the challenge is the Panther AV RAS-ing team from the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

Panther AV RAS-ing is part of more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students, PhDs and mentors who excel in artificial intelligence software that have responded to the challenge.  The challengers represent 39 universities in 11 countries on four continents and 14 U.S. states.

The IAC is scheduled for October 23, 2021, at the IMS, with a qualifying simulation race during the Indy 500 week in May. The total IAC prize purse is $1.5 million: $1 million awarded to the winning team of the October IAC race, and an additional $500,000 for winners of the hackathons and simulation races.

“The IAC is going to bring the best minds from around the world to solve a very complex problem, right here at the Racing Capital of the World,” said IMS President J. Douglas Boles. “As the birthplace of motorsports’ innovation, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a fitting setting for this event, and we can’t wait to see the winning entry cross the Yard of Bricks into history.”

Two companies headquartered in Western Pennsylvania are sponsors of the event.  Ansys, a global leader in engineering simulation that is headquartered in Canonsburg, and Aptiv, an autonomous vehicle company who is relocating from O’Hara Township to Hazelwood Green.

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Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Rescheduled

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is being rescheduled from its traditional March date to April 23-25, 2021.

The move to a later spring date is being made in the hopes that a greater number of fans will be able to attend the event, which takes place on the streets of St. Petersburg and the Albert Whitted Airport.

“I want to thank our friends at INDYCAR and our partners at Green Savoree for putting the health and safety of fans first,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.  “Each of these races takes an incredible amount of work from hundreds of dedicated professionals, and I know the decision to move the date of the race is not made lightly.  I appreciate the drivers, teams, staff and most of all the fans for their patience and understanding.  I look forward to welcoming everyone to the next Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The COVID-19 Pandemic forced the 2020 event to be moved from the season opening race to the season finale, where Josef Newgarden picked up the win and Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Scott Dixon was crowned the series Champion for the 6th time.

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“It’s not surprising that an event of this magnitude, scheduled for the first week of March, is still subject to the implications of the pandemic,” said Penske Entertainment Corp President and CEO Mark Miles.  “We’re delighted we were able to work with Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration and Green Savoree Racing Promotions to find a more suitable date, which helps consolidate the beginning of our schedule and allows us to stay on NBC Network televison.”

The April 23-25 date on the INDYCAR Schedule announced last fall was originally supposed to be the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach but that event has been moved to the season finale, which opened the date for St. Pete.

“We appreciate the officials at INDYCAR for their support in setting a new date for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and also to Mayor Kriseman and his team at the City of St. Petersburg for identifying a time when it will be conducive for more fans to attend,” said Kim Green, co-owner, Chairman and CEO fo Green-Savoree St. Petersburg, LLC. “We are grateful to keep the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in the springtime window and also maintain the live national broadcast of the race on NBC.”

The shifting of race dates moves Barber Motorsports Park to the season opener on April 11th.  The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg follows April 25th with Texas Motor Speedway doubleheader May 1st and 2nd.

An updated listing of green flag times will be announced at a later date.

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IndyCar

Aldo Andretti Passes Away

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Chris Owens

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Aldo Andretti has passed away at the age of 80.  Andretti was the twin brother of Mario Andretti and a racer himself who survived two bad crashes, the second of which in 1969 book his jaw, 14-bones and his right eye socket.

“Though Aldo’s life took a different direction than brother Mario’s, Aldo forever shared a passion for racing and was a true motor enthusiast and entrepreneur,” Andretti Autosport said in a release. “He could often still be found on the racing circuit supporting and following the careers of the family.”

Mario Andretti took to his twitter page to express his grief:

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One of those careers Aldo passionately followed was that of his son John (pictured with above) who raced in INDYCAR, NASCAR, Sports Cars and Drag Racing.  John passed away in January after a long battle with colon cancer.

“Nothing mattered more to Aldo than family, and it brought him great pride to share his life with wife and high-school sweetheart Corky and their five children Carolyn, Mark, John, Mary Jo and Adam.” the Andretti Autosport release stated.

Aldo’s nephew, 2020 Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter Marco Andretti, also shared his feelings on social media.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at noon on Jan. 5 at St. Malachy Catholic Church in Brownsburg. The family will receive friends from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 4, at Stevens Mortuary in Indianapolis.

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