Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Midwest Month For Pacific Coast Motorsports

Gasoline Alley on a May afternoon. This is where Pacific Coast Motorsports and the rest of the Indy Racing League will be calling home for the month of May(wouldn’t be more appropriate to name the garage area “Corn-Row”? - the cars now race on ethanol biofuel ;- What? ... you never thought of this?). Image Credit: Ddrucki on Flickr

A Midwest Month For Pacific Coast Motorsports

The folks of twenty member traveling team of Pacific Coast Motorsports are beginning to get a feel for their new digs and they feel destined as they streach out in garages 25-27 for the balance of the month of May.

It is all pluses for the first time driver, sponsor and team to the race track that sports the famed “yard of bricks” for their rookie debut in the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500.

Pacific Coast Motorsports Dallara with its new "Visit Mexico City" livery in which "rookie" IndyCar Series driver Mario Dominguez expects to become the first driver born in Mexico to win an Indianapolis 500 sporting event in 92 tries. Image Credit: PCM (2008)

The Oxnard, California-based PCM squad received their two Dallara IndyCar’s just before the Champ Car finale at the Long Beach Grand Prix. Dominguez’s third place finish at Long Beach fueled his team for 15-hour work days the last two-weeks as they prepared for the Indy effort.

While this is the first time the Pacific Coast Motorsports organization has shown up to compete in the Indy 500, there is plenty of experience within the traveling squad. PCM Team Manager Michael Harvey will make his second start, Crew Chief Roy Wilkerson has 12 Indy 500 starts under his belt, while Car Chief Didier Francesia has seven starts with two third-place finishes, and a pole and Gearbox Specialist Chuck Miller has competed at the Speedway seven times.

Mario Dominguez is expected to cross the historic “yard of bricks” for the first time in his #96 Visit Mexico City/PCM Dallara tomorrow, Sunday, May 4th when he participates in the Rookie Orientation Program practice session from 12:00pm – 5:00 pm. The team will concentrate on a qualifying set-up throughout the first week of practice.

"Visit Mexico City" sponsorship colors worn by Mario Dominguez. Mario was named “Mexico City’s Official Driver” last fall 2007 by Mayor Marcello Ebrard. Image Credit: PCM (2008)

“This is a dream come true,” said Dominguez. “Competing in the Indy 500 has been a dream of mine as long as I can remember. I have to thank all of my guys who have been working crazy hours to get us here. Also to the IndyCar Series and the Mexico City Tourism Board for their encouragement and support. To be here is a great honor, now we have a lot of work to do to make sure we make the show.”

Pacific Coast Motorsports announced its IndyCar program last week in a press conference in Mexico City. The news was well received by 80 members of Mexico’s major media outlets. Mario was named “Mexico City’s Official Driver” last fall by Mayor Marcello Ebrard. At the press conference, the city announced they will place 92 jumbo-tron televisions throughout Mexico City, so Mario’s fans can watch him vie to become the ninth rookie and first Mexican driver to win the Indianapolis 500.

Five drivers from Mexico have previously competed at the Indy 500; Josele Garza, Bernard Jourdain, Michele Jourdain Jr, Hector Rebaque and most recently, Adrian Fernandez. Adrian Fernandez holds the highest finishing position by a Mexican driver in the History of the Indianapolis 500; he started sixth and finished seventh in 2004.

Eight rookies have won the Indy 500 … and largely because of the open-wheel racing unification agreement reached between ChampCar and IndyCar hardly a little over two months ago, 13 rookies have entered; all of them are expecting to become the ninth rookie in 92 years to win it all at the end of 500 miles and drink the milk of success from the traditional quart glass bottle!

At the EDJE, we are hoping that it is Mario’s white uniform that will be drenched from the overflow of that first ever victory swill … classic “White-On-White” is the order of the day for Pacific Coast Motorsports come the 25th day of May, 2008.
(ht: PCM Press Release)

… notes from The EDJE

UPDATE 5-4-2008:

At INDY, "Rookies" Get Their Day In The Sun

The #96 Visit Mexico City - Pacific Coast Motorsports Dallara getting updated with the proper wishbone suspension parts. Image Credit: PCM (2008)

Thirteen of the fourteen registered Rookies that hope to qualify and make it into the race come May 25 took to the "Brick Yard" for the first time.

Mario Dominguez was scheduled to make his rookie debut today in orientation, but some last minute details kept the Pacific Coast Motorsports squad from taking to the track for their first time.

"Once we rolled through tech, three of the four wishbones on the car were deemed unusable by the series. These are suspension pieces that we received with our car and we were not aware these parts are no longer being used," said team owner, Tyler Tadevic. "The guys have been working hard, we're back to being rookies again. We disseminating tons of information trying to catch up and we'll make sure Mario gets through his orientation tomorrow."

Mario discusses strategy with team member after the #96 Visit Mexico City/PCM Dallara has the updated wishbone parts installed. Mario and the rest of the PCM team feel upbeat about being able to get out onto the track for the very first time. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2008)

The rest of the "Rookies", most of them driving for teams that transitioned from the ChampCar World Series with the unification agreement, posted respectable lap speeds with the cream of the crop circling the rectangle two and a half mile "oval" of upwards to the 220 mph range.

The biggest surprise of the day is how poorly the CCWS Championship Team of Newman/Haas/Lanigan did with their drivers Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson being eighth and ninth fastest for the day ... nearly two miles per hour off of the pace st by Will Power/KV Racing Technology and EJ Viso/HVM Racing.

Day One Rookie Orientation Program Speed-Chart - Image Credit: PDF

More on the events of the day from IndyCar writer, Dave Lewandowski>>

... notes from The EDJE

UPDATE - May 6, 2008 - End Of Practice, Day One:

Rookies And Regulars Run Together

Mario Dominguez and presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, share a moment ... each in the middle of their own campaigns. Image Credit: PCM (2008)

It looks as though Mario has changed the color of his driving uniform ... it's yellow!

I wonder if the color change happened while he was in the cockpit as he was about to post a lap exceeding 200 mph in his first ever session at IMS (lap 11)?

He finally posted a 214.358 and completed 48 laps on his first day, Monday.

Mario Dominguez in the #96 Visit Mexico City/Pacific Coast Motorsports Dallara taking first laps at speed on the IMS track. Image Credit: Andy Sallee (2008)

Yesterday, he began to achieve more speed - Mario on the day: “Today we really spent the afternoon building up speed and finding the limits, step by step. Every lap I turn, I learn something.

Yesterday we had to get out there and pass our three phases so we didn’t have time to really focus on anything but that. So today was our first day finding limits and seeing what the car needs. We are fighting a loose condition, but we are working through it.

This racetrack is just phenomenal; it is completely different than any track I have ever run on. I am grateful I have so much oval experience because it helps considerably, but at the same time, this track is different than any other.”

He has completed 61 Laps and is at 30th on the speed charts at 218.306. I believe that PCM will be able to figure out the set-ups because they really are one of the more competent new teams out there.

The biggest story from yesterday comes from Andretti Green Racing driver, ninteen year old Marco Andretti posting a lap speed average of 226.599 mph. This mark bests the 2007 pole qualifying speed set by Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves at 225.817 by nearly 8/10ths of a second.

Today, the fourth day of trials and the third day Mario and the guys at PCM take to the track, the racers face the prospect of a 60% chance of rain. Rain expects to be a threat to practice sessions over the next two days.

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