Juan Pablo Montoya

INDYCAR announced an increase of $250,000 to its Leaders Circle program, which raises the total annual payment to eligible Verizon IndyCar Series entrants to $1.25 million. A total of 21 entrants are entered in the Leaders Circle program for the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

“INDYCAR is invested in the continued support of its teams,” said Derrick Walker, INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations. “The Leaders Circle program rewards INDYCAR teams for full-season participation and helps each of them with an additional source of funding. The program is also an asset to our promoters as it guarantees over 20 cars at each Verizon IndyCar Series event. As INDYCAR continues to grow we’re excited about opportunities like this that are beneficial to the teams that compete in our series.”

The Leaders Circle program was established in 2002 to provide incentives to teams that participate full time in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Each Leaders Circle member is assured a minimum of $1.25 million if the entrant successfully qualifies for all of the 16 Verizon IndyCar Series events in 2015, including the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Twenty-one entrants were selected based on final 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series final entrant points.

Click it: 2015 Leaders Circle members

All Leaders Circle entrants will continue to compete for bonuses that will now be paid to the top-12 finishers – an increase of two positions compared to 2014 – at each Verizon IndyCar Series race aside from the Indianapolis 500. The race bonuses are $30,000 (first place), $20,000 (second place), $15,000 (third place), $11,000 (fourth place), $10,000 (fifth place), $9,000 (sixth place), $8,000 (seventh place), $6,000 (eighth place), $5,000 (ninth place), $4,000 (10th place), $3,000 (11th place), and $2,000 (12th place).

Non-Leaders Circle entrants also will compete for payouts awarded to the top-three finishers in each race excluding the Indianapolis 500. The highest-finishing non-Leaders Circle entrant will receive $20,000, while the second- and third-highest finishers will receive $15,000 and $10,000, respectively.

The Verizon IndyCar Series driver champion and championship entrant again will share a $1 million bonus, with second through 10th in the standings sharing bonuses totaling $320,000. The recipient of the Verizon IndyCar Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year award will receive a $50,000 bonus.

Contingency awards will continue to be presented at all Verizon IndyCar Series events.

Mayors, drivers participate in pre-St. Petersburg event

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman now has something over other mayors of Florida cities: a karting race victory.

Kriseman’s team won the “Mayors’ Challenge” – a three-lap event during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg media event at Andersen RacePark in Palmetto, Fla. Other mayors participating were Shirley Groover Bryant, Palmetto; Bob Buckhorn, Tampa; Samuel Henderson, Gulfport; Woody Brown, Largo; and Commissioner Bill Truex, Port Charlotte.

Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Graham Rahal, who won the 2008 race on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Petersburg street course, Luca Filippi and Gabby Chaves participated in activities and were team captains for a 50-minute go-kart race with area media members.

Sebastian WheldonThe Verizon IndyCar Series season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is March 27-29.

Sebastian Wheldon, 6, in a firesuit and wearing a helmet honoring his late father Dan – a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and the 2005 Verizon IndyCar Series champion – was the official pace lap driver in his kart. Last week, he won his first race.

His brother Oliver celebrated his fourth birthday at the event.

Allison Transmissions marks centennial with CFH Racing

Allison Transmissions will celebrate its centennial in part by being an associate sponsor on the No. 20 CFH Racing car driven by Luca Filippi in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9 and by Ed Carpenter in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 24.

Allison traces its corporate lineage to the founding of the Indianapolis Speedway Team Co. on Sept. 14, 1915. As a co-founder of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and part-owner of several racing teams, James A. Allison established a precision machine shop and experimental firm on Main Street in Speedway called the Allison Experimental Co. to support his racing endeavors. As a race team owner, Allison won the 1919 Indianapolis with driver Howdy Wilcox.

"We're honored that Allison Transmission chose to celebrate their centennial with CFH Racing," said Carpenter, a team co-owner. "In addition to producing world-class products, they are great neighbors and supporters of the community.”

Of note

Indianapolis-based Delivra has joined Andretti Autosport as its official provider of email marketing.