INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing is gearing up for the Extreme E Series by signing American Kyle LeDuc to pair with Sara Price for the 2021 season.
“I am beyond excited to announce that I will be driving in the Extreme E series for Chip Ganassi Racing,” said LeDuc. “Not only do I get to drive these fully electric 4-wheel drive cars around the world, but I get to do it for the man himself, the biggest team in motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing.”
Extreme E is a five-race global series spanning four continents that will highlight the impact of climate change and human activity on some of the world’s most remote locations, while promoting sustainability and the adoption of electric vehicles to help protect the planet.
Competitors like LeDuc and Price will drive Extreme E’s revolutionary battery-electric, 550-horsepower, 3640-pound Electric-SUV that is capable of going from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, at gradients of up to 130 percent!
“The 2021 Extreme E series is going to be groundbreaking and we are going in with the goal of victory,” proclaimed LeDuc. “Some of the unprecedented features of this new series will be splitting these races 50/50 and racing worldwide in climate-affected areas. This is a huge opportunity for all involved and we cannot wait to get this thing started!”
LeDuc, a six-time Pro-4 Short Course Off-Road Champion with a record of 101 victories, will pair with Off-road Truck Champion and X Games Price in a format that will see teams field both a male and female driver in its races – promoting gender equality and a level playing field amongst competitors. They will compete together in every two-lap race as driver and co-driver, with each completing one lap behind the wheel of the ODYSSEY 21 electric-SUV, with a changeover incorporated into the race format.
“I’m looking forward to working with my teammate, Sara Price,” said LeDuc. “I was born and raised around racing with my family and to see the desire and determination in Chip and the entire team to be successful and win in this newly developed form of motorsports has given me the drive to bring victories to this program.”
“Congratulations to all at Chip Ganassi Racing for completing their driver line-up and a big welcome to the Extreme E family Kyle,” said Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO, Extreme E. “I’m really looking forward to seeing both Sara and Kyle race, they’re both super successful in their motorsport endeavors and have already achieved so much. I’m sure they’ll be bringing this determination and skill to the Extreme E paddock.”
Skill and determination is exactly what LeDuc brings to CGR. LeDuc was the youngest active driver in off-road racing and became the 2003 Prolite World Champion at Crandon International Raceway at the age of the 20.
The following year LeDuc became Prolite Champion. In 2008 LeDuc entered the Pro-4 category and has since won six Pro-4 Championships in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series (LOORRS), with his first coming in 2012 and his most recent in 2019.
These titles became the norm for LeDuc as he continued to achieve a career-total of three LOORRS Challenge Cup wins, two Pro-4 World Championships, and two LOORRS Driver of the Year titles.
LeDuc has also competed in several Trophy Truck races with great success including the 2016 Baja 1000 where he qualified first and started first on the road and finished fifth in his first ever attempted Trophy Truck race. Not only is LeDuc one of the best in off-road, he has the mind of an engineer and builds his own race vehicles from the ground up.
“We are really excited about Kyle joining our team and being a teammate to Sara in Extreme E,” said Mike Hull, Managing Director of Chip Ganassi Racing. “Kyle is a really quality off-road, all-terrain driver. Presently, Kyle has 101 victories in off-road racing. He is a true champion, a race winner, and understands how to drive in all terrains. He will have a positive effect, not only behind the wheel but also with our team with his experience. We are looking forward to him joining Chip Ganassi Racing!”
The 2021 Extreme E Series debuts January 22-24 in Lac Rose, Senegal.
Indy Autonomous Challenge Race Car Unveiled
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.”
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.
Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Rescheduled
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.
“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.
Aldo Andretti Passes Away
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:
Aldo Andretti, my loving twin brother, my partner in crime and my faithful best friend every day of my life was called to heaven last night. Half of me went with him. There is no eloquence. I'm shaken to my core. pic.twitter.com/NJ3fZxklNo
— Mario Andretti (@MarioAndretti) December 31, 2020
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.
RIP uncle Aldo. One of the toughest guys I have ever met. I have never heard him complain, a trait that he passed down to John. Always so positive and upbeat and raised an amazing side of our Andretti family. 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/D6p3RyTdkG
— Marco Andretti (@MarcoAndretti) December 31, 2020
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.