LIVE BLOG: 2014 Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on June 29, 2014 6:00 am
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1:30 PM CT (John) – I don’t know what the lights to make this a night race cost (Derrick Walker floated a 20-30K number back at TMS), but they definitely should have been purchased. The ambient air temp right now is about 88 degrees, but with the humidity (always) lingering in the area it feels like 95 degrees right now. Add sun baking off a concrete parking lot to that equation and you end up with absolutely swamp like conditions. As a Houston resident I can guarantee you that regular exposure to this heat does not alleviate its symptoms, it just numbs you to the consequences.

I’ll be very interested to see how many people make the trek out to the track tomorrow and Sunday given the weather conditions. The RLL team has heavily promoted the event this year, which should give the race a boost, but this weather could definitely hamper things in that regard.

One thing is for sure, the drivers will be earning their paychecks (even more than normal) this week.

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1:26 PM CT (Steph) – The track was quiet for a little while as we have the odd luxury of lunch breaks here at the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. Pro Mazda is now under way for their second practice of the day.

USF2000 racer Clark Toppe will make his debut at the Pro Mazda level this weekend with his team, JDC Motorsports, as Kyle Connery is off recovering from ankle surgery. Toppe will join Michael Johnson and Ryan Booth at the squad for the two Pro Mazda races this weekend, one each on Saturday and Sunday.

Also, I forgot to mention earlier that I’m once again indebted to Verizon as I’m availing myself this weekend of the tablet they supplied to help supplement our coverage. Thanks to that, we’ll be able to bring you many more social interactions and photos than we would be able to otherwise. We’re very grateful that Verizon is willing to invest in coverage of IndyCar and that they are willing to help us be a better avenue for that.

I haven’t yet been outside since first thing this morning. I’m afraid. John just came back in and he was sweating and opening a bottle of water while shaking his head. I think he’s about ready to jump in and tell you his thoughts on that, so I’ll get out of the way here, suck it up, and get ready to experience it for myself.

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11:55 AM CT (John) – Andersen Promotions CEO Dan Andersen and MaxSpeed Group President Richard Boisclair just joined us here in the media center to announce a new partnership between the two entities.

MaxSpeed is the United States distributor of the Rotax Max engine platform, which is currently campaigned by over 15,000 drivers worldwide. The recent Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals hosted 288 drivers from 60 countries this past year at NOLA Motorsports Park, and with so many drivers in the Mazda Road to Indy progressing from the karting ranks, Richard and Dan have seen the potential to create a partnership between the two entities.

Andersen specifically mentioned the synergy between the two groups in announcing the partnership, which will see Andersen Promotions award four one-day tests in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda to drivers selected by a panel of experts. The drivers will be selected from an as yet unnamed selection panel, and Andersen foresees a process similar to the Mazda developmental driver process going forward.

“We are very happy and excited to have inked a partnership with the Mazda Road to Indy program,” said Boisclair. “It’s success in motorsports and the ladder that has been established from entry level motorsports to the Verizon IndyCar Series is rivaled by no other and we look forward to being an official pathway for drivers to advance onto the first step in USF2000.

I will have more on this developing story as it becomes available.

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