Indy 500 Notebook
Experienced open-wheel driver Alex Tagliani will attempt to race in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in the No. 34 Conquest Racing entry, team officials announced May 4.
Tagliani, 36, from Lachenaie, Quebec, will attempt to qualify for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" on Sunday, May 24. He will participate in the Rookie Orientation Program on May 5-6 at IMS.
"It's every driver's dream to be at the Indianapolis 500," Tagliani said. "As a kid I never thought I would make it here and even later on in my career because of the split, so it has always remained a dream of mine. It's the one race that has always sat atop my list.
"Finally, more than nine years after my first start in a major open-wheel series race, I will get to experience all that surrounds the famous 'Month of May,' and get to experience it during the kick off of the Centennial Era Celebration, which makes it even more memorable. I know that the first few laps around the track tomorrow will be quite special, and I'm super-excited and really looking forward to it."
Sponsorship and the livery for the No. 34 Conquest entry will be unveiled Tuesday, May 5 at IMS.
Tagliani has made four starts in IndyCar Series points events, including at St. Petersburg and Long Beach this year. He earned his first Champ Car World Series victory in 2004 at Road America and finished in the top 10 in series points every year from 2002-07.
Rookies and refreshers: Six Indianapolis 500 rookies will participate in the Rookie Orientation Program on May 5-6 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, completing 10 laps in each of four speed phases.
The 2009 rookie class: Stanton Barrett, Mike Conway, Robert Doornbos, Raphael Matos, Nelson Philippe and Alex Tagliani.
Veteran drivers who haven't competed in the IndyCar Series this year also can take "refresher" laps May 5-6 before Indianapolis 500 practice starts at 2 p.m. May 6. Drivers in that category include John Andretti, A.J. Foyt IV, Davey Hamilton, Buddy Lazier, Alex Lloyd, Scott Sharp and Paul Tracy.
Legends returning to Indy in May: A number of Indianapolis 500 winners and veterans will participate in fan question-and-answer and autograph sessions on the Coke Zero Stage during the Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The lineup:
.Saturday, May 9: A.J. Foyt (stage chat only), 11:15-11:45 a.m.
.Sunday, May 10: Former Indianapolis 500 Chase Rookies of the Year Mario Andretti, 1-1:30 p.m. (stage), 1:45-2:45 p.m. (autographs); Rick Mears, Larry Rice, Jerry Sneva, Josele Garza and Steve Knapp, 3-3:45 p.m. (stage), 4-5 p.m. (autographs).
.Sunday, May 17: Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, 1-1:30 p.m. (stage), 1:45-2:45 p.m. (autographs)
.Friday, May 22: Willy T. Ribbs, 9-9:45 a.m. (stage), 10-11 a.m. (autographs)
Times are subject to change. Visit the event schedule at www.indy500.com for updates.
Indy Live streaming online: "Indy Live," the popular live talk show hosted by IMS Radio Network host Mike King, will be streamed online at www.indy500.com and www.indycar.com throughout the month of May.
The show airs from 8-9 p.m. (ET) May 5, 7, 14, 21. Scheduled guests for Thursday, May 7 include Vitor Meira, A.J. Foyt IV and Sarah Fisher from 8-8:30 p.m. and Raphael Matos, Ed Carpenter and Ryan Hunter-Reay from 8:30-9 p.m.
Foyt offers Indy VIP weekend: A.J. Foyt Racing is offering an Indy 500 VIP Weekend to the highest bidder in the Continental Airlines Frequent Flyer Program's Onepass Online Auction. It is the fifth straight year for the popular program.
The winner and a guest will receive two race tickets and two Bronze Badges for the Indianapolis 500 race weekend. They will meet A.J. Foyt and race driver Vitor Meira on Saturday, May 23 in the team's garage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and see the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda as it is being prepared for the race.
After meeting Foyt and Meira, the winner and guest will attend the Drivers' Meeting at the track and tour the famous Gasoline Alley garage area.
Bidders can participate by visiting www.continental.com and clicking on the Frequent Flyer tab, then to the Online Auction section. The Indy 500 package is listed in the Sports section.
The auction closes at 9:30 a.m. (ET) Friday, May 15.
Racing to Recovery Gala May 13: The 10th Annual Racing to Recovery Gala hosted by the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation will take place Wednesday, May 13 at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, Ind.
The annual gala celebrates the achievements of the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to funding scientific research, medical treatment, rehabilitation and technological advances to help those who have been afflicted with chronic and acute paralysis, as well as other neurological disorders such as ALS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
Besides food, fun and socializing, annual SSPF Racing to Recovery Gala includes awards and a silent auction to benefit research.
Exhilarating golf available in May at BYC: The Speed of Play promotion continues in May at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, an 18-hole championship layout designed by Pete Dye at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Unique opportunities await those who choose to "Come Play Our Track" during May at Brickyard Crossing, as there will be eight days when the course and the racetrack will be open, providing golfers the incredible experience of playing while IndyCar Series cars zoom past at 220 mph. Golfers can play Brickyard Crossing on both qualifying weekends - May 10, 17 and 18 - for the first time, and during practice May 5-7 and May 14-15.
Other May promotions include:
.All moms play for free on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 10, when accompanied by a family member.
.Fast Fridays on the Fairway. Play 18 holes with a GPS-equipped cart and a box lunch for just $100.
.Twilight Golf. Play 18 holes after 4 p.m. for just $55, including a GPS-equipped cart.
The course is closed for public play on Saturday, May 9, Friday, May 22 and Sunday, May 24 but will reopen for public play at noon (ET) Monday, May 25.
Andretti breakfast benefits charity: The Michael Andretti Foundation's annual "Breakfast with Michael" fundraising event will take place at 9 a.m. (ET) Thursday, May 14 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The popular, unique program provides an opportunity for fans to become VIPs for the morning by enjoying breakfast at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's North Chalet and receiving an inside look at the activities that take place at IndyCar Series events. In addition, an event ticket comes with a non-transferable Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage pass, allowing participants to get behind the scenes during the day's IndyCar Series practice session.
Guests also will experience a special greeting from Michael Andretti, guest appearances by Andretti Green Racing drivers Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, Hideki Mutoh and Danica Patrick, and an interview with guest speaker Al Unser Jr.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will be donated on behalf of The Michael Andretti Foundation to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose main goal is to help feed people in need.
The charitable donation for this limited event is $125 per person, of which $100 is tax deductible.
To reserve your tickets, send an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Ryann Rigsby at (317) 872-2700. Payment must be received in advance.
Vitale named parade grand marshal: Legendary college basketball analyst and ambassador Dick Vitale will serve as grand marshal of the 2009 IPL 500 Festival Parade on Saturday, May 23 in downtown Indianapolis.
As parade grand marshal, Vitale also will attend the Regions 500 Festival Snakepit Ball, presented by Cindy and Paul Skjodt, and take part in some ceremonial pre-race activities at the 2009 Indianapolis 500.
"I am absolutely flattered and really thrilled to be honored in this way," Vitale said. "The Indy 500 is one of the greatest sporting weekends and to be grand marshal will be an incredible treat. My entire family is really looking forward to it."
Vitale is best known for serving as a college basketball analyst for ESPN. He joined the network in 1979, following a successful college and professional coaching career.
Vitale coached at the University of Detroit from 1973-77. In May 1978, he was named head coach of the NBA's Detroit Pistons, which he coached during the 1978-79. On Dec. 15, 1979, Vitale called ESPN's first major basketball game - Wisconsin at DePaul. Since then he's called nearly 1,000 games. In 2008, Vitale was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Cody Unser documentary begins Oscar runs: The theatrical release of "CODY: The First Step," a documentary about Cody Unser, has started Oscar qualifying runs in Los Angeles and New York.
Unser is the daughter of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. and granddaughter of four-time Indy winner Al Unser.
"CODY" is a powerful documentary that charts the extraordinary story of Cody Unser, 22, who became paralyzed from the chest down at age 12 from transverse myelitis. But she refused to let that diagnosis define her and instead at age 13 founded the Cody Unser First Step Foundation to ensure that money would be raised to find a cure.
For the last five years, Unser has lobbied state legislatures and Congress to push for stem-cell research, which offers the key to her recovery. During the film, Unser shares with the viewers her determination to walk again. The film takes the viewers on an intimate journey with Unser detailing her daily emotional and physical struggles. The film also charts where science and politics intersect. Visit www.cufsf.org to see the trailer.
"I hope my story will shed some light on what it is really like to live with paralysis," Unser said. "I also hope that the film will lead to more research dollars so that paralysis - not just for me, but for all people - will become a treatable and reversible diagnosis. I want to thank all the people who have made these Oscar Qualifying Runs possible, especially Don Chalmers Ford, the Off Shore Super Series Powerboat Racing Association, Johns Hopkins Project Restore and the Al Unser Jr. Children's Charities."
CARA Fashion Show on May 21: The 28th annual CARA Charities Fashion Show and Luncheon will take place at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 21 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis.
VERSUS IndyCar Series anchor Bob Jenkins will serve as host, with scheduled appearances by Indianapolis 500 veterans Will Power, Mario Moraes and Bruno Junqueira and other special guests.
Proceeds will benefit CARA's award-winning Buckle Up Baby program, Riley Children's Foundation, the Cody Unser First Step Foundation and the Lyn St. James Foundation.
Individual tickets are only $75, and reserved tables of 10 are available. Reservations can be made by calling (317) 299-2277 or online at www.CARAFashionShow.com.
2009 IMS tickets: Established in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has long prevailed as an icon of motorsports excellence. Beginning in 2009, the Speedway celebrates its Centennial Era, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the facility in 2009 and the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in 2011.
Tickets for the three events in 2009 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - the Indianapolis 500, Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and Red Bull Indianapolis GP - can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com at any time.
Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are on sale. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.
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