LEXINGTON, Ohio -- When all 6 feet, 3½ inches of Andretti Autosport driver Justin Wilson arrived at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, cramming into a race-modified Honda Fit with fellow Verizon IndyCar Series competitors wasn’t exactly what he had in mind for a birthday celebration.
Wilson, who turned 37 on the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio weekend’s practice day, and 11 others squirmed their way into Honda Performance Development’s SEMA automotive specialty products trade show display car, outfitted to compete in the upcoming Pirelli World Challenge TCB class race in August.
“We all got pretty cozy in there,” Wilson said. “I’m glad I had my seat and not where Jack Hawksworth was sitting because he was basically underneath me and I was on his head. I was on top, sat on the wall hoop, so he was underneath the wall hoop and he had a pretty tight squeeze in there.
“I just wanted to get somewhere where no one could sit on top of me, that was my strategy.”
Honda, involved in Indy car racing since 1994, is title sponsor of the 90-lap race on the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as well as events earlier this season at Barber Motorsports Park and the streets of Toronto.
“Honda does a lot for the whole series. They’re very passionate about their racing and it’s great to be at their home race,” Wilson said. “They’re the title sponsor here and they’re always trying to do things and bring employees out and stuff like that, so it’s always fun.”
HPD and INDYCAR nearing completion of extension
Honda Performance Development president Art St. Cyr said a contract extension with INDYCAR to supply engines and aerodynamic bodywork packages to the Verizon IndyCar Series is close to being finalized.
"Back when we started this, we had a lot of discussion about some of the technical issues and the technical vision moving forward. I'm happy to say that we have a written resolution on a lot of those technical issues. Some of them we have verbal agreement. There's still one or two issues that we're still trying to work through.
"Like any company, we want to make sure that we have all of the Is dotted and Ts crossed before we move forward. But our intent and our wish is to resolve those issues obviously before the end of this season so we can move forward with an extension."
Former Buckeyes receiver Galloway is grand marshal
Former Ohio State University and NFL wide receiver Joey Galloway will serve as the grand marshal of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. He currently is a college football analyst with ESPN. ... Takuji Yamada, president and CEO of American Honda, will be among the guests recognized before the race. ... Honda operates multiple manufacturing facilities and a major Research & Development center in Ohio. Combined, they employ more than 13,000 associates and have the capacity to produce more than 650,000 vehicles and 1.18 million engines annually. ... Bryan Herta Autosport rookie driver Gabby Chaves won his first Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires race at Mid-Ohio. ... Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Jakes celebrates his 28th birthday Aug. 4. ... NBCSN arranged a photo shoot following the second practice session at Mid-Ohio with the American drivers who finished 1-4 in the Iowa Corn 300 on July 18 at Iowa Speedway. It will be part of the race broadcast Aug. 2 (1:30 p.m. ET on CNBC).