SEBRING, Fla. – Dec. 15, 2011, was an especially busy day for Sarah Fisher and Willis “Wink” Hartman. They held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing facility and unwrapped their new Dallara chassis a few miles away at their current home base.
A year later finds the team principals exceptionally busy and continuing to build for the future.
Fisher, who founded the team in 2008, expects furniture to roll into the 37,000-square-foot facility on Main Street in Speedway, Ind., next to Dallara Automobioli's U.S. home by May 2013.
“To have a facility that’s more than twice the size of the one we’re in now allows us so many more capabilities that we’re looking forward to in the long term,” Fisher said at Sebring International Raceway, where on Dec. 12-13 Josef Newgarden was rolling along in the No. 67 Honda-powered car in another step of preparation for his sophomore season.
“There’s a lot of things that we’ve done in 2012 that maybe sparked our interest or we saw an area of development that we wanted to explore further but didn’t have time, but only having an hour and a half of practice at each venue and with our budget not having as many test days as we would have liked things stacked up through the season.”
Newgarden, the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights champion, had a best finish of 11th in the season opener at St. Petersburg and a high qualifying position of fourth in the season finale at Auto Club Speedway.
“I’m excited that he gets to go back to places,” Fisher added. “At St. Pete last year was his very first pit stop. Some of the things that he’s learned through this last season and have the whole off-season to digest it, I think he’s going to be a whole lot stronger than he was this year.”
Hildebrand checks out half pipe and more
JR Hildebrand will be a guest at the Dew Tour Mountain Championships this weekend in Breckenridge, Colo. Competitions include various forms of snowboarding and skiing.
“I’ve always been a huge action sports fan,” he said. “Growing up in the Bay Area I raced mountain bikes and BMX and I still mountain bike. It’s a cool thing to do during my off-season and to see the snow sports side it.”
The National Guard, primary sponsor on Hildebrand’s No. 4 car for Panther Racing, is a supporter of the Dew Tour.
Go to movie, get a bonus feature
Michael Andretti will conduct a Q&A with the audience Jan. 15 before the screening of the film “Super Speedway” at the Marcus Majestic Cinema in Brookfield, Wis.
General admission tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for children and can be purchased at the Majestic Cinema box office. “Super Speedway,” released in 2000, follows Mario and Michael Andretti and the Newman-Haas race team during their 1996 season.
Several drivers practiced launches at pit out in anticipation of the addition of standing starts for some races in the 2013 season. … Andersen Promotions, owner and administrator of the Pro Mazda Championship, confirmed a key component of the series’ infrastructure by welcoming Cooper Tires as the Official Tire and presenting sponsor. The Mazda Road to Indy series will be known as the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires with a three-year agreement in place. … Andretti Autosport Firestone Indy Lights driver Zach Veach is featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” on newsstands now.