As Romain Grosjean became a pilot, a rookie learned English
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Check out The Thermal Club, a private country club for car enthusiasts, ahead of the NTT IndyCar Series Open Testing on February 2-3.
Andy Abeyta, Palm Springs Desert Sun
If all that racing stuff with Andretti Autosport and the Lamborghini sports car team fails, Romain Grosjean has his eye on his next career: piloting Roger Penske’s private jet.
After several years of dreaming of soaring several hundred miles per hour in the sky, Grosjean revealed that he has accelerated his dream of becoming a pilot this offseason. The 36-year-old ex-F1 star said the requirements in Europe were much more stringent – and with a nine or 10 month racing schedule to 2020 almost impossible to meet.
He opened his first book in August and he had earned his private pilot’s license over the holidays and had already spent 115 hours in the cockpit. He expects to have his commercial license by the end of the year, so “Roger (Penske) can pay me to take him to the races.”
Having already treated his wife, Marion, to spontaneous lunches in Key West – a 40-minute flight instead of a four-hour drive from their home in Miami – Grosjean’s bigger plans for this year include the trip to every IndyCar race. as time permits.
“I was bored of waiting in airports, so I thought I’d fly myself,” he said. “Now we have the freedom to go where we want, when we want. We can go to the Bahamas for a day if we want – anywhere.
“The biggest difference between Europe and here is that anything is possible.”
To tackle the most daunting part of the IndyCar schedule – the season-closing west coast swing at Portland and Laguna Seca, Grosjean said he plans to travel to Portland for two days, targeting one night to Denver before continuing to the Pacific Northwest.
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Accelerated English courses
Do you think flying an airplane is difficult? Try to learn a new language in three months while traveling around the world to prepare for life in a foreign race car. That’s been Juncos Hollinger Racing rookie Agustin Canapino’s to-do list since his show in his native Argentina with JHR spurred a full-time IndyCar race backed by the office’s “Visit Argentina” campaign. of the country’s tourism.
The 33-year-old driver, who shot to fame in Argentina in stock cars, said “hello” when he was at JHR’s Speedway store this fall for his seat fitting and initial test ahead of the Argentine shows that took place. attracted more than 70,000 fans. Since then, he has spent at least three hours a week in a formal intensive English course.
“I need to practice, I need to practice talking, I need to practice so I can hear my engineer,” he said during a 20-minute interview with the media. “Ricardo helped me, and (Thursday and Friday) will be important going to St. Pete. But I need to practice. I need to do laps and hear my engineer in English. I need to speak to you all in English.
“And that’s very important, but I need to practice, practice speaking, practice so I can hear my engineer,” he said. “Ricardo helped me, and (Thursday and Friday) will be important going to St. Pete. But I need to practice. I need to do laps and hear my engineer in English. I need to speak to you all in English.
“When I have a goal in mind, I go for it. Honestly, I think my English is very bad, but I always try to be perfect in everything, and if I can’t do it perfectly, for me, why do it ? “
Lundgaard’s Hairy Bet
IndyCar’s most famous mustache will encourage its youngest driver to lose his mustache as soon as possible.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s sophomore driver Christian Lundgaard strolled through the Palm Springs Convention Center on Wednesday sporting a relatively new and fairly robust mustache. It stems from a deal he and a friend made this offseason, agreeing to grow facial hair until the 21-year-old picks up his first IndyCar victory.
The Dane said Wednesday he hopes to come out of the truck at St. Pete better than his debut a year ago – finishing Test 1 25th in the 26-car field. Thanks to the fruits of a massive off-season team overhaul, he may be able to retire the mower in a matter of weeks.
Or, given the team’s two-plus-season winless drought, there might be a chance to let him advance into Bobby Rahal territory.
“We’ll see,” he said. “It could take a few years, or it could take about a month.”
ECR’s growth paused
After a year in which his racing team raced a third car at more than half of IndyCar races and signed an IndyNXT driver to a development deal for a 2025 IndyCar seat, Ed Carpenter seemed in a hurry towards his longtime goal of running three full-time entries. Equipped with substantial support from Bitnile.com, the team’s title sponsor in 2023, the hiring of a part-time driver to continue to fill the No. 33 Chevy’s schedule on road and street courses (with Carpenter running all the ovals) would seem like the next logical step.
But Carpenter said Wednesday that decision will have to wait. He and crew chief Tim Broyles set a tough deadline this offseason that any prospective part-timer would have to meet with the necessary budget already in place. The team’s growth is great, Carpenter said, but hiring more crew, balancing new budgets and tinkering with its mid-season race schedule can’t come at the expense of ECR’s pursuit of an Indy 500 win and more consistent performance throughout the season.
Unfortunately for Simona De Silvestro, Linus Lundqvist and all the other part-timers waiting in the wings, Carpenter revealed that that deadline has now come and gone.
“I don’t see that changing,” Carpenter said. “Things can always change, but if we want to have growth, I’m focusing on that in 2024.”
Last April, De Silvestro’s current backer, Beth Paretta’s Paretta Autosport, announced an alliance with ECR that initially included a three-race road and street program and offered training and mentorship to the relatively inexperienced crew. of Paretta. Months later, they added the Laguna Seca final with hopes of more. But Carpenter’s comments on Wednesday confirmed a delay until at least 2024.
Paretta has been mum for the past few months about any potential 2023 comebacks for her team.
Scott Dixon: Jimmie Johnson could delay 500 plans
Scott Dixon has revealed he thinks Jimmie Johnson may choose to forgo a race this year in racing’s biggest show with his former team Chip Ganassi Racing after choosing to step away from his full-time role in September.
Since Johnson revealed his full-time racing career was over and added the Cup team co-owner to his CV, he has argued that a return to the 500s remains on his short list. options with confirmed races at the Daytona 500 and NASCAR’s Le Mans works with the Garage 56 program. Johnson also said that NASCAR’s return to North Wilkesboro for its All-Star race, scheduled for Indy 500 qualifying weekend, is also one of its objectives. CGR officials said they remained open to using a car for Johnson, even though they had filled their full-time four-car lineup.
Dixon, a close friend of Johnson’s, said Wednesday he thinks Johnson’s return could come in tandem with Kyle Larson’s debut in tandem with Arrow McLaren and Johnson’s longtime NASCAR boss Rick Hendrick.
“He wants to do it. It’s just a matter of timing,” Dixon said. “It’s very difficult, and especially with entering Garage 56 and all that stuff, there’s a lot going on, especially during this time.”
A first Daytona 500?
Helio Castroneves confirmed last week that a Daytona 500 debut had been put on hold due to the last-minute nature of Floyd Mayweather’s TMT Racing opportunity, lack of practice time and uncertainty in qualifying. . Conor Daly’s name quickly emerged as a likely “next man” target.
Daly, who made his Cup debut with TMT Racing on the Charlotte Roval last fall, said on Wednesday he would be willing to accept the difficult challenge.
“I spoke with (Helio) earlier, and I think for him, an opportunity like this could probably come up at any time,” Daly said. “But for me, I don’t know if such an opportunity would present itself. I’ve done a lot of things in my life but, you know what, if there’s a chance to do it, might as well do it.”
If TMT Racing sets up the program and gives Daly the green light, then he will have to qualify for the race. The Cup’s 36 guaranteed full-time entries take up all but four grid spots, and the fastest two non-chartered cars from single-seater qualifying that week will earn spots No. 37 and 38. The final two will go to the highest-ranking unchartered car in each of the two double-handed races. At the moment, Daly and TMT Racing are said to be racing six cars not guaranteed for four places – a group that includes racing legends Jimmie Johnson and Travis Pastrana.
Power’s wife’s health improves
After being forced to skip her Rolex 24 debut to care for his ailing wife Liz last month, Will Power said on Wednesday her condition had improved after undergoing back surgery to clean up related complications. to a staphylococcal infection. Liz Power was a big part of the two-time champion’s success.
“She’s getting better and hopefully in the next four or five weeks we can get to a point where we feel safe,” he said. “She is much better than two weeks ago, but I think we will know for sure then if her blood will remain sterile. It was in very poor condition a few weeks ago.
“The past few weeks have been difficult, staying in hospitals and dealing with health issues. But that’s life. It can always be worse.”