|Hunter-Reay hopes to keep rolling in Motor City|
|Thursday, May 29, 2014 8:21 PM|
DETROIT — Ryan Hunter-Reay recalls rooting for the Andrettis and Unsers when he was growing up in South Florida, hoping an American would win the races he watched on TV.
“I’ve always been patriotic,” he said Thursday along the banks of the Detroit River.
Now, Hunter-Reay hopes he can give kids in the United States someone to cheer for in open-wheel auto racing. He is the first American since 2006 to win the Indianapolis 500 and the sixth in two decades.
Soon, he will get two chances to sustain success because the Detroit Grand Prix will feature full-length IndyCar races Saturday and Sunday.
“It won’t be easy because the Penske and Ganassi teams are great and they don’t have one American driver,” Hunter-Reay said. “And on any given week, there are 15 cars that can win.”
Belle Isle’s 2.36 mile, 13-turn street circuit will be put to a test by a lot of racing and some patching that was needed at Turns 12 and 13 because a water main broke this week.
Detroit Grand Prix Chairman Bud Denker said $4 million will be invested in the track after this year’s races.
Simon Pagenaud and Mike Conway won the 2013 Detroit Grand Prix races on an improved surface that held up much better than it did in two years ago when pot holes and grooves spoiled the show.
Conway hopes to repeat but if he does not, the Brit would be happy for the desperately seeking attention sport if Hunter-Reay finishes first again.
Will Power would, too.
“It is good for the sport if we can have an American regularly contending, winning sometimes at least and challenging to win the series championship,” Power said. “I hope Ryan has success that boosts interest in our sport.”
Barely, Hunter-Reay won the Indy 500 on Sunday. He was 0.060 seconds ahead of 3-time Indy champ Helio Castroneves in the second-closest margin of victory in the history of the race. Hunter-Reay became the first from the U.S. to win open-wheel racing’s signature event since Sam Hornish Jr. did it eight years ago.
The 2012 series champion said he has slept 3 to 4 hours a night lately, taking advantage of opportunities to boost his profile and promote the sport. Hunter-Reay rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange and posed for pictures at the top of the Empire State Building. He was Texas on Wednesday at a lunch with Texas Motor Speedway sponsors and season ticket holders. On Monday, Hunter-Reay is scheduled to appear on the “Late Show with David Letterman.”
“It has been surreal to be honest,” he acknowledged. “But there’s a real sense of getting back to work this week and turning the page because there’s a lot at stake this week. With two races, there are as many points up for grabs in Detroit as there was at Indy.”
If Power had it his way, IndyCar would have two races every weekend.
“I really like it much better,” he added. “It feels like more of a worthwhile weekend if we have a double-header. Instead of a weekend filled with practicing and qualifying, you’re competing twice and that’s what we’re all here to do.”
Dover agrees to sell Nashville Superspeedway
DOVER, Del. — Dover Motorsports has agreed to sell the Nashville Superspeedway to NeXovation, Inc., in a deal worth nearly $46 million.
Denis McGlyn, Dover’s chief executive officer, announced the sale Thursday.
“This is a great deal for all concerned insofar as we can transfer an under-utilized, high quality asset to NeXovation, who will create and implement a new business model and re-activate Nashville Superspeedway for the benefit of everyone in the area,” McGlyn announced in a statement. “We wish them the best and we thank all those in middle Tennessee who made us feel welcome during our time there.”
NeXovation will pay $27 million and also put up a letter of credit for the $18.8 million in bonds issued to build the infrastructure needed by the speedway near Lebanon, Tennessee. The Nashville-based company also was the highest bidder for the Nürburgring motor sports facility in Germany and is contesting that sale.
The 1.33-mile, concrete track opened in 2001 hosting NASCAR trucks and Nationwide races along with an Indy Racing League event through 2008. Dover closed the track, except for testing, in 2011. The company isn’t ready to share its plans for the track.
“With our unique business model, passion for automotive technology and motor sports, and a tremendous market right in our own backyard, the Nashville Superspeedway is the perfect complement to our innovative and technological focus,” NeXovation CEO Robert Sexton said.
“After creating and developing this opportunity within NeXovation for nearly two years, we are excited about implementing a completely new business model that we believe will transform this complex into a fully immersive experience in the world of high performance motor sport, automotive technology, and experiential venues.”
NeXovation Inc., which describes itself as a global innovation company, was founded in 2012. Sexton’s inventions include FlatWire, a high-performance technology designed for automotive, building, aerospace and military industries.
Andretti picks Montagny as first Formula E driver
INDIANAPOLIS — Franck Montagny is the first full-time driver announced by Andretti Autosport for its 2-car effort in Formula E, the innovative electric car series due to debut in September.
Andretti Autosport plans to announce its second Formula E driver at a later date.
Montagny drove for Michael Andretti’s team in the American Le Mans Series in 2008 and in IndyCars during the 2009 season and again earlier this month at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
The Frenchman has also driven in Formula One and made 12 starts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, plus has served as a television analyst for French TV Group TF1 and Canal+.
The inaugural 10-race Formula E schedule begins Sept. 13 in Beijing.