Alexander Rossi will long remember his first venture into off-road racing.
The Andretti Autosport driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series joined the Honda Off-Road Racing Team for the BFGoodrich SCORE Baja 1000, the iconic race around the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico. While Rossi was proud to help bring his Ridgeline Baja Race Truck to the finish in second place in its class, he’ll likely recall more vividly how he escaped disaster on his opening stint Friday when he narrowly avoided colliding at speed with a passenger car traveling on course in opposite the race direction.
Many gravel and dirt roads on the Baja circuit remain open to public traffic during the race. Video of the incident, which showed Rossi at the wheel of the Ridgeline, sailing over a small crest on the course and clipping the right side of the car – shearing the passenger-door mirror off in the process – went viral on social platforms immediately. Below are two views:
Undaunted, Rossi and co-driver/navigator Evan Weller held the Class 7 lead at the 40-mile mark of the 808-mile trek. Sharing driving duties with team owner Jeff Proctor, team manager Pat Daily and 11-time Baja winner Johnny Campbell, the team was slowed on a couple occasions by traffic backups and the infamous Baja silt beds, yet still finished runner-up in the class for unlimited, six-cylinder trucks and SUVs.
It marked the fourth straight year that the Honda Ridgeline finished first or second in class at Baja. Rossi was already chomping at the bit for another go at it in 2019.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Rossi, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner who finished second in this year’s Verizon IndyCar Series standings. “We came here and obviously wanted to win, so I’m disappointed we weren’t able to do that. But this is a great group of people.
“It’s an amazing experience, I loved every second of it. I’m ready to come back next year. A huge thank you to everyone involved. It’s an eye-opening experience, and I’m so grateful to Jeff (Proctor), Honda and HPD for giving me the opportunity.”
INDYCAR drivers compete in SKUSA Supernationals
Several drivers with INDYCAR ties raced in Las Vegas last weekend at the SKUSA Supernationals, annually one of the largest karting events in the world.
Neil Alberico, who’s been part of the Mazda Road to Indy development ladder since 2012, including the last three years in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, finished seventh Sunday in the KA100 Senior class main event. Verizon IndyCar Series driver Conor Daly also reached the final but did not finish.
Five-time Indianapolis 500 starter Sage Karam finished 14th in the KZ by CRG class final. Formula One and Verizon IndyCar Series veteran Rubens Barrichello placed ninth in the same race.
Racers Know Dave Dusick fundraiser set for Dec. 6
The fourth annual Racers Know Dave Dusick charity event is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 6 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The fun-filled evening benefits the Riley Children’s Foundation.
Among the activities will be live and silent auctions, a celebrity bartender challenge and music from the MacDaddys. A number of racing drivers from various disciplines are expected to be in attendance. The event runs from 7-11 p.m. ET.
Tickets are $35 in advance and $50 at the door, granting entry and unlimited access to food stations. VIP tickets for $100 also include two drink tickets and a gift. To purchase tickets, visit racerskddtickets18.eventbrite.com.
Information on sponsorship, corporate tables and/or donations is available at racerskddsponsorship18.eventbrite.com. To register to volunteer for the event, visit racerskddvolunteer18.eventbrite.com.
Santa Claus to make annual arrival by Indy car
Santa Claus will make his annual arrival at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis by Indy car on Friday to kick off the opening of Jolly Days at the world’s largest children’s museum.
St. Nick will be chauffeured in an Indy Racing Experience two-seat Indy car, with his expected arrival at 9:15 a.m. ET Friday to officially begin the holiday festivities that run at the museum through Jan. 6. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit childrensmuseum.org.