FONTANA, Calif. – Dario Franchitti looked at the boot imprints at least an inch deep in the cement to his right and exclaimed, “Sam must have gone to In-N-Out that day.”
The four-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion was referring to Sam Hornish Jr., whose racing boot prints and signature complement a plaque recognizing his 2002 and ’03 victories at Auto Club Speedway.
Likewise, Franchitti was honored Sept. 15 at the speedway’s Walk of Fame for his victory in the 2005 season finale at the 2-mile oval in which he outdueled then-Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan.
Jimmy Vasser, co-owner of KV Racing Technology, is the third member of the Walk of Fame, recognizing his 1998 and 2002 CART victories at the track.
“It seems a long time ago, but it’s nice to come back here and remember that day with TK and I going for the finish line,” said Franchitti of the six-year absence of the IZOD IndyCar Series at the track. “Then we got to go in Turn 2 and did some donuts for Greg (Moore, who died in a racing accident at the track in October 1999). It was a special day."
Oh, say you can sing
Melora Hardin, most recognized for her portrayal of Jan Levinson on the NBC series “The Office,” sang the national anthem.
Hardin, an LML Music recording artist, will star in a new TBS series, “Wedding Band,” that premieres Nov. 10.
Hey, I recognize them
Jimmy Spithill, skipper of Oracle Team USA in the America’s Cup, visited with the Panther Racing team on race day. JR Hildebrand, driver of the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car, was an honorary crew member on the wing sailed multihull during a training sail last month in San Francisco Bay.
Other celebs attending the race included PGA Tour regular Kevin Na (who celebrated his birthday with a two-seater ride with driver Mario Andretti), Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller, actor Lorenzo Lamas, Adam Ferrara (host of “Top Gear” on the History Channel) and Chelsie Hightower of "Dancing With the Stars" (professional partner of Helio Castroneves). Michel Jordain Jr. participated in a Q&A with fans.
London Olympic swimming gold medalist Tyler Clary was the grand marshal of the Firestone Indy Lights Auto Club Speedway Foundation 100. … A bulletin sent to teams Sept. 15 by INDYCAR said that private testing is not allowed between Sept. 16 and Oct. 1. … Auto Club Speedway president Gillian Zucker, 43, was absent from the racetrack this weekend as she’s recovering from an operation last month to remove a benign brain tumor. Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood was at the facility to assist the staff. … Castroneves threw the ceremonial first pitch at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 13 (low and outside). ... Page Mader, the retiring manager of Firestone race tire development, waved the checkered flag.