Never Stop Growing – Simon Pagenaud

Simon Pagenaud at Road AmericaSimon Pagenaud started climbing the open wheel ladder in Europe. In 2006 he journeyed to the United States and won the Atlantic championship. From there it has been a journey of both open wheel and sports car. Regardless of the formula Simon Pagenaud has never stopped growing as a driver.

Mecca of Speed: When you won the Atlantic championship and moved up to ChampCar what did you find to be the biggest change?

Simon Pagenaud: The biggest thing was the difference in power between an Atlantic car, or any other car I had driven in the past compared to the ChampCar. At that time, they had about 800 hp and I had never driven such a powerful car.

That was a big jump, it took me the whole season to get adjusted to it. It wasn’t the overall speed that was the problem. The chassis of the ChampCar was very similar to the Atlantic car, the overall power was the big difference. more

Racing at the Best Places – Graham Rahal

Graham Rahal Indycar at Road AmericaGraham Rahal grew up at race tracks across the U.S. that included a lot of days at the mid-west circuits.

Mecca of Speed: Welcome back to Road America you are a very busy man this week.

Graham Rahal: Yeah, it’s been busy but it’s been good. It’s cool to see everybody, a lot of people here; a good buzz is in the air.

Mecca of Speed: When you or other drivers give ideas on how to improve the Indycar series, how much does the governing body listen?

Graham Rahal: I don’t know, but I hope that they listen. We try to influence the series to go to places that are great. There are a lot of people involved in the series today and some of them have never even been here. Some probably didn’t realize the size and capacity of Road America. It’s really cool to be here and see all the fans.

I hope that we can influence the series more in the future. It’s hard; everyone has their own agenda. Mine has always been to go race at the best places and this is definitely one of the best. more

ChampCar at Road America – 2006

After a one-year absence ChampCar was back at Road America with Speedy Dan Clarke taking the field to the green flag. A 42 minute red flag took place when Katherine Legge had a rear wing fail sending her car into the wall at The Kink. She escaped without major injury but her freshly painted Ford Cares Warriors in Pink was destroyed. The all American kid A.J. Allmendinger took the win for Forsythe Racing.

The next generation of ChampCar Panoz DP01 chassis made some demonstration laps complete with donuts complements of Roberto Moreno.

Pole Position: Dan Clarke

Winning Driver: A.J. Allmendinger

Winning Team: Forsythe Racing

Winning Chassis and Engine: Lola/Ford-Cosworth

Chassis in Series: 1 (Lola)

Engines in Series: 1 (Ford-Cosworth)

Tires in Series: 1 (Firestone)

Photo credit: Scott Rohloff

 

ChampCar at Road America – 2004

The Champcar race at Road America not only had a surprise winner with Alex Tagliani who played strategy to take the win but the first “Tour de Road America” charity bike ride around the circuit took place. Proceeds went to the Livestrong Foundation. Over half the ChampCar drivers were apart of the event.

Unconfirmed reports include Tommy Kendall taking part in the ride. By the time he reached Turn 5 on the first lap he opted to take the runoff and call it a day.

Pole Position: Sebastien Bourdais

Fastest Lap: Bruno Junqueira

Winning Driver: Alex Tagliani

Winning Team: Johnson Controls Rocketsports Racing

Winning Chassis and Engine: Lola/Ford-Cosworth

Chassis in Series: 1 (Lola)

Engines in Series:  1 (Ford-Cosworth)

Tires in Series: 1 (Firestone)

Photo Credit: Scott Rohloff and John Vatne

ChampCar at Road America – 2003

The 2003 season was the official rise of ChampCar as CART went bankrupt and it’s assets was put up for legal dispersal. For many it became personal as Tony George made public statements about putting nails in CART’s coffin the previous season.

This was also the start of both ChampCar and IndyCar going down the road to one engine and one chassis supplier.

A rule change was put in place in ChampCar where the driver’s weight was included in the weight of the car in an attempt to truly level the playing field and no longer penalize larger drivers.

Pole Position: Bruno Junqueira

Fastest Lap: Sebastien Bourdais

Winning Driver: Bruno Junqueira

Winning Team: Newman/Haas

Winning Chassis and Engine: Lola/Ford Cosworth

Chassis in Series: 2 (Lola, Reynard)

Engines in Series:  1 (Ford Cosworth)

Tires in Series: 1 (Firestone)

CART at Road America – 2002

The 2002 season was about Cristiano da Matta’s tour de force in the CART series. Da Matta’s 2002 championship season in the CART series lead to a career move to drive for the Toyota Formula One team in 2003.

Pole Position: Bruno Junqueira

Winning Driver: Cristiano da Matta

Winning Team: Nawman/Haas Racing

Winning Chassis and Engine: Lola/Toyota

Chassis in Series: 2 (Lola, Reynard)

Engines in Series: 3 (Ford-Cosworth, Honda, Toyata)

Tires in Series: 1 (Firestone)

Graham Rahal at Woodlake Market

Graham Rahal will be greeting fans on Thursday June 23 at Woodlake Market – 795 Woodlake Road, Kohler, Wis. from 6-7 p.m. This will be a great opportunity for fans to chat with one of the most popular drivers in the IndyCar series before the start of activities for the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America.

The green-flag will fly on the KOHLER Grand Prix at approximately 12:15 p.m. CST on June 26.

CART at Road America – 2001

CART 2001 Memo GidleyIn a weekend of mixed weather conditions Bruno Junqueira took his first CART win at Road America, round 14 of the season. His teammate Memo Gidley who was joined Target/Chip Ganassi in round 8 had a tough race. While showing great pace Gidley lost control after a wheel crossed a wet curb and crashed head on into the Billy Mitchell Bridge splitting the tub of the car in two. The bridge was removed after the 2006 season when a tunnel was created to cross under the track.

The Phoenix engine, a reworked version of the Mercedes-Benz IC108F only made four races with Max Wilson driving for Arciero-Brook Racing WinnerB2B.com. After missing a couple of races the team returned under the control of Larry Blair and used Ford Cosworth engines.

Pole Position: Kenny Brack

Fastest Lap: Bruno Junqueira

Winning Driver: Bruno Junqueira

Winning Team: Target/Chip Ganassi Racing

Winning Chassis and Engine: Lola/Toyota

Chassis in Series: 2 (Lola,Reynard)

Engines in Series:  4 (Ford Cosworth, Honda, Phoenix, Toyota,)

Tires in Series: 1 (Firestone)

CART at Road America – 2000

The Reynard 2KI chassis was the chassis of choice winning the majority of races during the 2000 season including the race at Road America. The race was caution free and fuel economy became a major factor with teams limited to small pit windows due to the four-mile length of the circuit and long fuel consuming straightaways.

Penske Racing officially stopped developing there own chassis and after evaluating both the Lola and Reynard chassis during the 1999 season. The team selected the Reynard 2KI for the 2000 season. Engineering resources promptly started to refine the Reynard developing custom parts to continue maintaining the Penske advantage.

Goodyear withdrew from the series at the end of the 1999 season leaving Firestone as the only tire manufacture.

Pole Position: Dario Franchitti

Fastest Lap: Paul Tracy

Winning Driver: Paul Tracy

Winning Team: Team Green

Winning Chassis and Engine: Reynard/Honda

Chassis in Series: 3 (Reynard, Lola, Swift)

Engines in Series:  4 (Ford Cosworth, Honda, Mercedes, Toyota,)

Tires in Series: 1 (Firestone)

CART at Road America – 1999

The last time IndyCar raced at Road America it was under the ChampCar series ten years ago in 2006. Stepping back a further seven years it was the CART series as open wheel racing was at that time divided between CART and the IRL. With unification in 2007, at last the IndyCar series is headed back to Road America for the Kohler Grand Prix on June 26.

The Mecca of Speed did not launch until 2006 but we have been in attendance at a multitude of races at Road America, first as fans starting back in 1989. The camera gear and vantage locations as a spectator were a bit more challenging, but a good sniper can still get a shot off with a bit of preparation. The image quality may not be as sharp as what we currently produce, but it should help bring back some memories.

You can pull out your Autocourse for the full race review, or check YouTube for a replay while quick race stats are listed below. For the most accurate representation of the equipment used each season, the listings will reflect the series running at the Road America at the time.

Pole Position: Michael Andretti

Fastest Lap: Hélio Castroneves

Winning Driver: Christian Fittipaldi

Winning Team: Newman/Haas Racing

Winning Chassis and Engine: Swift / Ford-Cosworth

Chassis in Series: 5 (Penske, Lola, Reynard, Swift, Eagle)

Engines in Series:  4 (Mercedes, Honda, Ford, Toyota)

Tires in Series: 2 (Goodyear, Firestone)