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Big Pittsburgher 100 Weekend at PA Motor Speedway

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Steve Skarupa Photography

IMPERIAL, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – A huge weekend of racing is on tap this at Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway with the 31st Annual Pittsburgher 100, the Bill Hendren Memorial and Betsy Kriegisch Memorial.

The racing gets underway on Friday with six divisions of racing taking to “Dirt’s Monster Half-mile” including the Diehl Automotive RUSH Late Model Dirt Touring Series, the RUSH Sportsman Modified Dirt Series, the PPMS Pro Stocks, the Keystone Coach Works Hobby Stocks, the Four Cylinders, and the Young Guns.

In addition to those divisions Friday will also see the qualifying events (heats & dash) for the RUSH Late Model Dirt Series Bill Hendren Memorial and the RUSH Sportsman Modified Dirt Series Betsy Kriegisch Memorial.

Saturday, October 5, will feature the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series with a full program including the 100-lap 31st Annual Pittsburgher 100. The single-day event for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will include a complete program of Miller Welders Time Trials, Heat Races, and B-Mains – highlighted by a 100-lap, $20,000-to-win feature event.

Saturday will also feature the 40-lap Bill Hendren Memorial for the RUSH Late Model Dirt Series, and the 2nd Annual Betsy Kriegisch Memorial for the RUSH Sportsman Modified Dirt Series.

Bill Hendren, the patriarch of the Hendren family and founder of Hendren Racing Engines, had the foresight to begin building his affiliation with crate racing. As many of his open engine customers looked to crate racing as an opportunity to continue racing, Bill began offering free advice via the well known 4M.net message board. As the concept grew throughout the country, his generosity and expertise were rewarded as many of those who had utilized his knowledge, in the beginning, utilized him as their engine rebuilder as their needs arose. Bill passed away on March 19, 2011, but his legacy and dedication to crate racing lives on through his sons, Steve and Mike, as the Hendren’s are recognized throughout the entire country as a leader in this specialized form of racing as they continue to operate Hendren Racing Engines.

“I look back to several years ago to a surprise phone call I received from Steve Hendren expressing interest in having a memorial event for his late father Bill Hendren in conjunction with a RUSH Touring event,” explained RUSH Director Vicki Emig. “Although I never knew Bill Hendren personally, I certainly was well aware of his pioneering spirit and great success in the world of GM Performance crate engine racing. And now to have the Hendren Family allow us to hold their patriarch’s ‘only’ memorial event of the year under the RUSH banner is truly an honor!”

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“My family and I are looking forward to returning to Pittsburgh for the ninth annual ‘Bill Hendren Memorial’,” stated Steve Hendren. “This year will mark the first time that my mother Bettie will be able to attend this event in Pittsburgh, and it will be the first time she’s been able to attend a RUSH event as well. As a family, we decided to move all future memorial races to the RUSH Racing Series, and we hope to continue our bond with PPMS as well. The professionalism of RUSH, PPMS, and the racers in the RUSH series is second to none. We would like to thank all of our sponsors for this event.”

“The Miley Motor Sports family is honored to host the Bill Hendren Memorial during the Pittsburgher 100 weekend again,” expressed Matt Miley. “Bringing back the Pittsburgher was a dream of Red Miley’s when he founded Miley Motor Sports. He always strived to make the Pittsburgher bigger and better and we’re again taking the event to another level, honoring another man who made a difference in our sport, Bill Hendren. I’m sure both are smiling down upon us.”

Daryl Charlier has won the last two “Bill Hendren Memorial” races at PPMS, while John Mollick won the event in 2016. Charlier and Mollick will be two of the favorites trying to stop Kyle Lukon, who has won both of the PPMS Sweeney Tour races this year including “Manufacturers Night” presented by MSD Performance and the “Jook George Steel City Classic”. Lukon’s wins accounted for more than $13,600!

Betsy Kriegisch, the mother of RUSH Sportsman Modified racers Chelsie and Jessica Kriegisch, passed away after an extended illness on February 21, 2018, at the age of 57. She was a strong supporter of both her daughters’ efforts and by their side as they rose to prominence in the RUSH Sportsman Modifieds. Both girls quickly became competitive and fan favorites. A memorial event as a Hovis Weekly Series show was put together and held last year at Pittsburgh that attracted an all-time Pittsburgh record count of 26, and was won by Rocky Kugel.

“This is going to be a tremendous weekend for RUSH,” said Emig. “To have both RUSH classes share the spotlight with the Lucas Oil Late Models is tremendous via the $5,000 to-win ‘Bill Hendren Memorial’ for the Late Models and the ‘Betsy Kriegisch Memorial’ for the Sportsman Modifieds. Through the gracious donations of so many people, we’ve been able to grow this event into the richest Sportsman Modified race in the history of the region. We have to thank Miley Motor Sports for allowing us to showcase our division at one of the region’s biggest events, and this will also be the RUSH Mods first-ever Tour race at the ‘Monster Half-Mile’.”

The pit gates at Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway will be open from at Noon on Friday and all day on Saturday. The general admission gates are set to open at 5:00 p.m. on Friday and 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. A Dirt Racing Outreach service is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., followed by a driver’s autograph session at 4:30 p.m on Saturday. The on-track action will begin at 6:00 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.

Two-day tickets are available for both the grandstands and pits, as well as, a one day ticket for Friday or Saturday only. Visit PPMS.com for pricing and tickets.

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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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Racing Notebook: Kellett Returning to A.J. Foyt For ’21; U.S. Motorsports Association Forms Leadership Council Plus Extreme E

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A.J. Foyt Racing

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – A.J. Foyt Racing brings back Dalton Kellett plus The U.S. Motorsports Association forms Leadership Council and Extreme E names Race Director and Sporting Director.

Dalton Kellett Returning To A.J. Foyt Racing:

  • Canadian Dalton Kellett will drive A.J. Foyt’s No. 4 Chevrolet full-time in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series. K-Line Insulators USA returns as the primary sponsor, moving from the No. 14 to the No. 4 for the upcoming season.  The 27-year-old rookie drove for Foyt in eight races this year, sharing the driving duties of the No. 14 Chevrolet with Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais. Bourdais returns to drive the No. 14 Chevrolet full-time as announced earlier this year.
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U.S. Motorsports Association Forms Leadership Council:

  • The U.S. Motorsports Association announced the official formation of the first-ever national Circle Track Leadership Council (CTLC), a group of circle track owners and industry leaders, who are committed to working on current and future issues related to the sport.  Members of the council include Lucas Oil Speedway’s Dan Robinson, Anderson Speedway’s Rick Dawson, Five Flags Speedway’s Tim Bryant, Knoxville Raceway’s John McCoy, Jackson Motorplex & Huset’s Speedway’s Doug Johnson, Track Enterprises’ Bob Sargent, Madison International & Midwest Tour’s Gregg Mckarns and Wilmot Raceway/IRA Sprint Cars, Steve Sinclair.

Extreme E Names Race and Sporting Directors:

  • Extreme E, the new electric off-road racing series, has strengthened its sporting team with the appointments of Scot Elkins as Race Director and Guy Nicholls as Sporting Manager for its inaugural 2021 season. Elkins has served as Race Director for the FIA Formula E Championship the past three years. Elkins started out as an engineer for Robert Yates Racing in NASCAR. Elkins has also held technical sporting roles with the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and Champ Car World Series and has served as Deputy Race Director for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, FIA Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3.

Extreme E names Race and Sporting Directors as their inaugural 2021 season approaches.

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RUSH Late Model Series Enhancing ‘Track Pack’ Program For 2021

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PULSAKI, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The RUSH Late Model Series is bringing back and enhancing their ‘Track Pack’ program for 2021.

The ‘Track Pack’ program debuted in 2016 and continued through the 2019 season before the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the program in 2020. Each of those four years, $800 was split amongst the top five RUSH members with $300 to the champion at each RUSH weekly-sanctioned track.

In 2021 RUSH Late Model weekly-sanctioned tracks top-six will share in $2,500!  RUSH weekly member racers will accumulate points at each event and at the end of the year the top six in member points will split $2,500 with $1000 going to the champion followed by $500, $400, $300, $200, $100 for positions 2-through-6. These monies will be awarded over and above any other championship monies drivers will receive.

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“We’ve always known the strength of RUSH lays within our weekly tracks and the racers who support them,” said RUSH Director Vicki Emig. “During the pandemic, the average car counts at our weekly tracks were very impressive as most all tracks increased. In the past the ‘Summer Chase’ gave just 10 racers additional monies, but we feel by taking that money and adding another approximate $14,000 to the ‘Track Pack’ we can allow substantially more racers the ability to take home additional weekly monies at the end of the year.”

Prior to COVID-19 RUSH had announced the Touring Series Championship point fund would double to $35,500 with a record $12,000 going to the champion! This will now take place in 2021. The Touring Series schedule continues to come together and is expected to be similar to 2020’s before the pandemic.

The 2021 season is expected to be the richest in RUSH Racing Series history, which includes the RUSH Late Models, Sprint Cars, Sportsman Modifieds and Pro Mods, with additional programs and events planned throughout.

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