Last summer much was made about Gil de Ferran - excuse me, 2003 Indianapolis 500 Champion Gil de Ferran - as he spoke of shuttering his ALMS venture and moving towards assembling an IndyCar team. Names of drivers like Rahal and Dixon were frantically churned through the rumor mill as possible drivers even though the team hadn't so much as a single Dallara for anyone to pilot. At Indy much was also made of de Ferran hanging around with F1's Takuma Sato, but as the year drew to it's close there was still no team, no IRL equipment purchased, and certainly no verified reports of signed drivers for de Ferran.
Well, finally de Ferran has a team. It's not exactly his own, but...
Steve Luczo and Jay Penske, co-owners of Luczo Dragon Racing, and Gil de Ferran, owner of de Ferran Motorsports and former Indy 500 winner, have merged their two businesses to create a new cutting edge motorsport venture that will leverage technology and science to compete at the highest levels of the IZOD IndyCar Series, it was announced today.Tony Johns says pairing guys with Penske ties is a recipe for success, but I just want to note that while these gentlemen have every right to be impressed with themselves it would be incredible helpful if they could check their egos at the door and come up with a team name that isn't so freaking long? Sheesh. (And I know "Penske" isn't in the name, but "Dragon" is because that was the name of one of Jay's other business ventures, and perhaps also because his father threatened to cut him out of the will if Jay thought the universe was big enough for another race team named "Penske".)
De Ferran, the 2003 Indy 500 winner and two-time IndyCar champion, will serve as co-owner, President and Managing Partner of Luczo Dragon Racing/de Ferran Motorsports.
But this should make this team better, and in terms of driver news the press release explicitly states that Rafa Matos is still the guy for...uh, do we call them LDRdFM? (Obscure musical reference: anyone else think that acronym looks like the result of Lords of Acid merging with KMFDM? Is that just me? OK, then excuse me while I remove my Doc Martens.)
Right now, we are running one car with Raphael Matos, but are working hard on expanding our program as this will increase our ability to improve and to extend our resources. We hope to have those details ironed out very soon.So Rafa's their man while they are "working hard" so that he might soon have a teammate. Could it be Sato? Well, my ability to conjugate Portuguese verbs leaves much to be desired, but Brazil's Grande Premio indicated Sato either will be signing or has signed with...KV Racing Technologies? OK, show of hands - who saw that coming? I think the same article indicates Mario Moraes will also be returning, but again none of this has been confirmed.
Meanwhile, in recent days KV Racing was conducting a test...with EJ Viso. Hey, why not - right? I say get a guy that speaks Japanese, a guy that speaks Portuguese, and a guy that speaks Spanish and let 'em all throw broken English at each other. Besides, they all speak "Speed", right?
Finally, speaking of guys who speak "Speed" and "English" proficiently, "Captain America" JR Hildebrand has also been testing for the currently driver-less Dale Coyne Racing. Coyne made an announcement that the team now has sponsorship from Boy Scouts of America, so from a promotional standpoint Hildebrand definitely falls under the heading of "synergy". And as those that saw him in Firestone Indy Lights have seen he's a really good driver, so that helps as well.
And yes, I'll soon get around to discussing actual drivers who have actually been signed to actual contracts once there's a break from talking about Delta Wings and Danicas and Dragons and such.