NEW CASTLE, Ind. -- Tony Kanaan joked he needs more racing in September.
The 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner held off James Hinchcliffe to lead his Big Machine Records team to victory in the Dan Wheldon Memorial Pro Am Karting Challenge at New Castle Motorsports Park.
It was the second consecutive win in the event for Big Machine Records, which were the co-winners of the inaugural Pro-Am go-kart race in 2013 with pro Marino Franchitti. Joining Kanaan as race winners were Mark Borchetta, Chad Schug and David Garbo.
“It was a lot of fun and I want to keep racing,” said Kanaan who also captured the Verizon IndyCar season finale at Fontana last month. “It’s great to see all the guys turn out for this and honor Dan’s memory. He loved karting and I think he’d be happy to see all his buddies out here. Dan was one of my best friends and seeing Susie, Sebastian, Oliver and benefit Alzheimer’s. I’m really touched by all the people who came today.”
Hinchcliffe, whose United Fiber & Data team featured his engineer Nathan O’Rourke, Lindsay Brewer and Indy Lights race winner Matthew Brabham, led about half the final segment of the four-man endurance race before Kanaan passed him for the lead. Hinchcliffe pursued Kanaan through the final laps, but didn’t have enough to pass for the win.
“I thought about trying to fire him off in the last corner, but didn’t have enough momentum,” Hinchcliffe said. “If I had the chance, I was going to turf him, big. Eventually Tony got in front, he was a little better coming off the slow corners, and unfortunately, that was a slow corner.”
Scott Dixon (Target) finished third and praised all the participants in the final segment, which included Marco Andretti (Motorsports Graphic Designs), Ed Carpenter (Machine of Awesome), Ryan Briscoe (Performance Tire Services), Josef Newgarden (Honda), Sebastian Saavedra (Firestone), JR Hildebrand (CF Charities), Sage Karam (Comfort Revolution), Conor Daly (Indianapolis Motor Speedway), Jay Howard,(Bell Racing USA) plus Jack Harvey (AL Consulting), Rhonda Trammell (CAPE) and Spencer Pigot (Verizon IndyCar Series) and David Malukas (Bell Helmets).
“It’s a fantastic event and a great way to remember Dan,” said Dixon. “There were some heated moments for sure, but it didn’t get as ugly as I thought it might on the last lap. I don’t think there was a lap during that last 15 minutes that I didn’t have a smile on my face.
Organized by Susie Wheldon, the event raised more than $100,000 for the Dan Wheldon Foundation, which made a $50,000 donation to the Alzheimer’s Association branch in Central Indiana. Wheldon’s 5 year old son Sebastian served as the pace kart driver, while 3-year-old Oliver threw the green flag.
“It was so special, and I think the crowd this year was so much bigger than last year, ” Susie Wheldon said. “The racing was incredible and Big Machine was able to hold their title again. We’ll have to see what happens next year. The support from all these guys coming together and saying yes and the fans being able to get close to them makes this a big success all around.”