INDYCAR News and Notes – Oct. 20, 2015

1. Indy Lights Champ Pigot Sets Plans for 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series
2. Print Depicting All of Wilson’s Winning Cars Available on eBay Auction
3. Sim Racing League Stops at Barber Motorsports Park for Round 2
4. Of Note

1. Indy Lights Champ Pigot Sets Plans for 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series: Spencer Pigot’s meteoric rise to the Verizon IndyCar Series is similar to that of Graham Rahal. In 2016, the drivers will form an all-American lineup at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

The 2015 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion, Pigot will contest at least three rounds of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule with RLL alongside Rahal, who finished a career-best fourth in this year’s championship.

Pigot’s Indy Lights title came with a $1 million Mazda Road to Indy scholarship that was applied to the partnership with the team co-owned by Bobby Rahal, David Letterman and Mike Lanigan. Pigot’s initial schedule includes the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 13, the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 14 and the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 29. Pigot and the team are working to extend the number of races if sponsorship can be secured.

Pigot, 22, earned the Indy Lights title in the series’ 30th anniversary season by sweeping the final two races of the 16-race season last month at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. He won a series-high six races.

Graham Rahal, 26, made his Indy Lights debut in 2006, earning the pole and finishing second in the Liberty Challenge on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The youngest winner of an Indy car race, Rahal earned two victories among six podium finishes this year in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“I think it’s a great place for me to be as a rookie because of all the experience within the team,” Pigot said of RLL. “The team is coming off a great 2015 season and hopefully we can build on that success. The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 is going to be a very special moment for me and the highlight of my career so far. It’s what I’ve been working towards ever since I started racing.”

Pigot competed two seasons each in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, securing the 2014 Pro Mazda title and corresponding Mazda scholarship to drive in Indy Lights. Twelve of his podium finishes in 30 Pro Mazda races included seven victories. In 26 USF2000 races, he scored 19 podium finishes, including 11 wins.

“The Mazda Road to Indy has been vital for my development as a driver,” Pigot said. “It’s safe to say I wouldn’t be going into the Verizon IndyCar Series without the experience and support I gained from each level. Each car teaches you something new and racing at the same tracks as IndyCar throughout my Mazda Road to Indy career will only help my transition. It’s the place to be for anyone trying to make it to IndyCar.”

RLL co-owner Bobby Rahal is excited to add Pigot to the team that has won 22 races since its inception in 1992.

“I have gotten to know Spencer over the years and have been impressed with his progression through the various series, being champion in Pro Mazda and the Indy Lights series,” Rahal said. “Clearly the Indy Lights platform is a very good one for young drivers trying to reach IndyCar and I am confident that Spencer can shine with our team.

“We’re looking forward to having Spencer, another young American driver in the series, alongside Graham and are excited about what the future holds,” Rahal added. “We hope that this isn’t limited to just three races. Obviously funding plays a role for any team, but we’ve already received a lot of interest in Spencer (from potential sponsors). The goal here is to run Spencer as much as we can in 2016.”

2. Print Depicting All of Wilson’s Winning Cars Available on eBay Auction: A limited-edition print depicting every race car that Justin Wilson drove to victory – from a Formula Vauxhall in 1994 to a Verizon IndyCar Series Dallara in 2012 – is among the items featured this week on the Wilson Children’s Fund auction site.

Wilson succumbed Aug. 24 to a head injury sustained in a race the previous day. Proceeds from the eBay auction of racing, other sports and entertainment memorabilia and items will be directed to Wilson’s family.

The 18-inch by 12-inch color print of Wilson’s winning cars was created by INDYCAR art director Ryan Long and illustrator Andy Blackmore. Fifty prints are available at the “Buy It Now” price of $125.

“After my limited-edition prints of Justin’s 2015 Indianapolis 500 Rolling Stones car went up on the eBay auction and all sold out in less than a day, livery designer Andy Blackmore and I started throwing around the idea of collaborating on another print featuring all of the cars Justin won races in throughout his entire career,” Long said. “Between the two of us, we had some of the basic illustrations in our archives, but we had to draw several of the cars completely from scratch, and they all required some tweaking to get them all in the same basic style so they would work well together.

“In addition, Andy did quite a bit of research to figure out the specifics on the older cars that didn’t have much photo reference available, talking to teams, photographers and even Justin’s father, Keith, to get all the details just right. … If we as designers can have fun putting together a project like this that fans will get excited about and be proud to display in their homes, and that can also help raise money to support such a fantastic cause, that’s a great thing to be a part of.”

Rowland Printing in Noblesville, Ind., donated the printing and HardingPoorman in Indianapolis, an official printing partner of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, donated the printing on the Rolling Stones print.

Other unique items available for bid this week include a tour of the McLaren Technical Center in England, an autographed, concert-worn Brad Paisley cowboy hat and a racing helmet autographed by two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk and 17 other 500 Mile Race winners. To view and bid on items, visit http://stores.ebay.com/Celebrity-Charity-Auctions/Justin-Wilson-Memorial.

A limited-edition reproduction of signed and numbered prints of noted artist Bill Patterson’s original work depicting Wilson’s final Indy car victory at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012 – painted live Aug. 31 at the Verizon IndyCar Series Championship Celebration – are available at http://billpatterson.com/justin-wilson-memorial-print, with $100 of each print sold contributed to the fund.

Wilson tribute T-shirts are available at http://shop.ims.com/indycar, with proceeds also directed to the fund.

Contributions can be made directly to the fund at http://justinwilson.co.uk/donate or by mail to: Wilson Children’s Fund, c/o Forum Credit Union, PO Box 50738, Indianapolis, IN 46250-0738.

3. Sim Racing League Stops at Barber Motorsports Park for Round 2: The 16th Street Racing League – a simulated racing league that is a collaborative effort among INDYCAR, iRacing and RACER magazine to establish a top-notch online racing game with Verizon IndyCar Series and Mazda Road to Indy drivers competing alongside invited standout amateur virtual racers – moves to the road course at Barber Motorsports Parktonight for the second week of its season.

The race will be streamed live on IndyCar.com at 8 p.m. ET, complete with commentators and race stewards. Round 1, won by iRacing veteran Tim Holgate and featuring Verizon IndyCar Series driver Simon Pagenaud competing, was contested on the Phoenix International Raceway oval.

4. Of Note: Leader Bank has been named the Official Bank for the Grand Prix of Boston powered by LogMeIn, set to debut on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule Sept. 2-4, 2016, in the South Boston waterfront area. As part of its sponsorship, Leader Bank will develop a grand prix debit card and provide ATMs on site at the temporary street circuit. Leader Bank’s newest branch location, in the Boston Seaport Innovation District, will serve as a pick-up location for volunteer credentials and information during the event. … Mexican driver Juan Pablo Garcia, who competed in 44 Indy Lights races from 2009-2014, completed a two-day Verizon IndyCar Series test with KV Racing Technology on Oct. 15-16 at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Fla. “You will never forget your first test in an Indy car and I can now say that,” said Garcia, 28. “I had a great experience and can’t thank the team enough for this.” … Ed Jones, who recorded three consecutive victories to start the 2015 Indy Lights season and wound up third in the championship standings, will return for a second year in the top rung of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system with Carlin. “I learned a huge amount in 2015 and feel that I have a great base to go for the championship in 2016,” said Jones, 20. “I have a great relationship with my team, Carlin, and I believe in them completely. Carlin as a team have achieved a great deal, but they haven’t won a championship in U.S. motor racing and I want to be the driver who delivers that.” … 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve and Simona de Silvestro are scheduled to compete in the 2015-16 FIA Formula E season that opens Oct. 24 at Beijing, China. De Silvestro will drive for Andretti Autosport, the same team she drove three races for in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series.