AJ Foyt 225 – Milwaukee Mile

? On the day that Team Penske won its 300th race, Ryan Briscoe felt some vindication after a week of Ryan vs. Danica left over from Indianapolis. “It’s great to win my first race, and win it for team Penske. It feels so good to do it here in Milwaukee. It was fun,” said Briscoe, who has had tough times in recent years, particularly here in Milwaukee. “We were focused on this race. We’ve got Texas next week, so there’s not too much time to enjoy it.” And as to getting out from under the shadow of the “Danica incident” at Indianapolis? “We just had to put it behind us and move on to this race.” And as for Team Penske’s 300th? “We are getting old here. We won our first thirty years ago. It shows you how long we’ve been here. That’s a lot of time and effort,” said “The Captain”. And with Briscoe securing the team’s historic win, the question was asked as to what the team saw in the often- criticized pilot. ” Today I think we really got the monkey off his back. We knew how good a race driver he was when he ran for us in the Porsche program last year. He seems to get better as the race goes on as you saw today, but I think we had a great car,” said Penske. “This is exactly what he needed to break the ice, because we know how good he is on the road courses. ” We had an opportunity to test him here with the car and he was quick So, I would say that was a plus for him and that gave him certainly the confidence he needed today. “

And with 45 laps to go, what did Penske tell his driver? “Don’t over extend yourself. We were 4 or 5 seconds ahead of the cars behind us and it was just a matter of time the way he was running that he was able to get up near the front. The strategy at the end paid off, but I think he needed to execute at the end and that’s what he did. I think this is going to go a long way to show how good of a race driver he is.” Briscoe joined an elite list of drivers who have won for Penske, becoming the 15th to win in open wheel cars. ” It’s pretty special. There are some big names on that list, and I guess what’s more difficult to live with is NOT being a winner for Penske,” joked the winner.” And with that, he removed another monkey from his back.

AJ Foyt 225 Notes:
? When Jay Howard was replaced by John Andretti prior to time-trials at Indianapolis last month, the press release stated that due to limited track time because of a rainy May, Andretti would qualify and race the Roth Racing entry, but that Howard would continue his rookie IRL campaign when the circuit came to Milwaukee. However, upon arrival in Milwaukee, Andretti was still their driver and the latest press notice says, ” We’re pleased to announce that veteran John Andretti will remain with the team as the driver of the #24 car for two more races beginning with Milwaukee. He will also be behind the wheel next Saturday in Texas.” Guess it’s hard to get track time when you don’t have the experience, or perhaps the money.
? Staffers at the Milwaukee Mile reiterated that their contract with the IRL is good through 2009, and stipulates that the Milwaukee event will follow the Indianapolis 500 by one week. There is still speculation as to options for both parties that remain open for 2010 and beyond.
? Indy 500 winners don’t rest, do they? Winner Scott Dixon’s post-500 travels included a Tuesday morning private jet flight to New York City for interviews with four media outlets, while Wednesday morning was ” Live! With Regis and Kelly” That afternoon included a quick flight to Texas for a media luncheon at Texas Motor Speedway and then back to Indianapolis. Thursday began with a quick flight to Chicago for media comments at ESPN Zone, before returning to Indy and then flying to Milwaukee on Friday to wrap-up the Winners Tour with a press conference prior to this weekend’s AJ Foyt 225 at the Milwaukee Mile. Whew! Quite a grueling week for the Kiwi, but I’m sure very rewarding.
? After a crash Saturday on his third qualifying lap, the Indy Racing League’s medical staff cleared Panther Racing’s Vitor Meira to drive in the AJ Foyt 225 on Sunday. Meira made the highlight reel with his “flight ” over Marco Andretti in the closing laps of the race.
? Bobby Wilson of nearby Oconomowoc, WI, scored his third career Indy Lights win Sunday in the Milwaukee 100 IRL support race. Wilson, who is driving for first year team Team E, led 88 laps of the 100- lap event and was thrilled to perform so well in front of his hometown fans. “The team E guys put together a great car this weekend. Our first win together couldn’t have happened at a better place than the Milwaukee Mile Coming to the Mile as a kid, it was always a dream for me to race here someday. To win here is even better.” Wilson became the first Milwaukee-area native to win an open wheel event at the Mile since Myron Fohr scored a victory in a June,1949 AAA 100-miler. Wilson’s previous series’ wins came at Watkins Glen in 2006, and on the Indianapolis Speedway road course in 2007.
? In a classy move that is typical of Andretti Green’s Tony Kanaan, he carried the Direct Supply logo on the front wing of his #11 Team 7-Eleven car in Sunday’s AJ Foyt 225. Direct Supply, based in Milwaukee, is a major sponsor of Sarah Fisher Racing. Kanaan and Fisher, in her first year as an owner/driver, were involved in an incident during the recent Indianapolis 500 that resulted in damage to Fisher’s car. Andretti Green Racing also has given an underwing to Fisher’s under financed team.
? Twenty-seven Indy cars were on the grounds of the Mile this weekend, but the grid was one car short on Sunday as Marty Roth withdrew his #25 car after an incident on Saturday left the car too damaged to be repaired in time for the race. “We lost the right rear shock.” noted Roth, “It was fading the entire session and then went completely south in the last outing. We can’t fix the car for the race, so our focus has to turn to Texas.”
? Graham Rahal started second, his best IRL start since coming over from the Champ Car World Series. Rahal encountered lapped traffic that slowed him, causing him to slide out of the groove and into the fourth-turn barrier.
? Four of the top-ten starters in the race were former CCWS drivers. Rahal (2nd), Will Power (4th), Enrique Bernoldi (8th), and Oriol Servia (9th), surprised IRL regulars who, supposedly, are savvier on the oval tracks than the CCWS drivers who have more road course experience.
? Much to the dismay of his loyal fans, there were no sightings of Paul Tracy on the grounds this weekend. Tracy remains the most eligible driver without a ride on the unified open wheel circuit.
? While no crowd figure was announced for the race, one IRL official described it as, ” the best I’ve seen here in the last ten years.”

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life.

Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950’s, Paul had no idea what “that noise” was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked.

The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner’s autograph in the pits, something he couldn’t do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked.

Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt’s first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark’s historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them.

He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats.

Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, “a factor that got me hooked in the first place.”