Southsider Voice correspondent
Several Southsiders enjoyed great success on the racetrack in 2014.
However, it was an off-the-track development that stands as The Southsider Voice’s top motor sports story for last year.
Near the end of the IndyCar season, team co-owner Sarah Fisher announced that Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing would merge with team owner/driver Ed Carpenter to form Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing.
The move unites Fisher, a Franklin Township resident, and team owner-driver Carpenter, who teamed as owner and driver, respectively, to win their first IndyCar race at Kentucky Speedway in 2011.
The move also unites several well-known motor sports personalities, including Wink Hartman, golfer Fuzzy Zoeller (Fuzzy’s Premium Vodka sponsors Carpenter) and Carpenter’s dad, former Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO/President Tony George.
Drivers include Josef Newgarden, who is coming off his most competitive IndyCar campaign; Carpenter, who earned the Indianapolis 500 pole for the second straight year; and Mike Conway. Carpenter will only race on ovals.
The new team will utilize Chevrolet engines; Fisher had used Honda power.
She is married to Beech Grove native Andy O’Gara, the team’s manager. Fisher originally founded her race team with O’Gara’s father, Johnny O’Gara, a Beech Grove native and business owner.
The rest of the top stories are:
2) Rookie Sage Karam finished ninth in the Indianapolis 500 in a car co-owned by Greenwood automobile dealership owner Dennis Reinbold. Karam, the second-best finishing rookie in the field, earned the event’s Hard Charger Award after moving up from the 31st starting position. Karam’s finish for Reinbold was the owner’s second-best finish, topped only by Oriel Serva’s fourth-place finish in 2012. Karam was second in the Pit Stop Contest.
The only rookie who finished ahead of Karam at the Indy 500 was sixth-place finisher Kurt Busch, the NASCAR veteran, who raced for Michael Andretti.
3) Southsiders enjoyed success in the 60th running of the NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg during the Labor Day weekend.
Drew Skillman of Greenwood and Joey Shipp of Whiteland earned Sportsman class championships in separate stock altered classes.
Second-generation driver Billy Glidden reached the Pro Mod semifinals. Glidden, who qualified 16th and reached the finals, is the son of retired nine-time U.S. Nationals Pro Stock champion Bob Glidden.
4) Beech Grove native Kyle O’Gara won the USAC Honda National Pavement Series championship. O’Gara, the development driver for Sarah Fisher Racing, captured the season finale at Anderson Speedway. The Roncalli graduate announced an expanded 2015 racing schedule for several open wheel series for new team co-owner and Southside entrepreneur Brian Ludlow.
5) The Indianapolis Speedrome opened under new ownership for just the fourth time in 74 seasons. Area restaurateurs Pete Watson and Jeff Hammel and managing partner Larry Curry, former IndyCar team manager for driver Tony Stewart, bought the race track from Bill and Joel Cohen.
The new owners continued with the track’s open-wheel racing heritage and running the track’s signature event, the World Figure-8 Championship three-hour endurance race for high-winged stock cars.
The new racing season already is under way with Fisher, who retired from IndyCar racing in 2010 to become a full-time team owner, getting behind the wheel of a midget car for the 30th Lucas Oil Child Bowl Midget Nationals last week in Tulsa, Okla.
All she did was win one of the two D feature races to reach the C feature, where she finished sixth in the No. 67 RW Motorsports entry, just two positions short of advancing to the next round.
She was among more than 300 entries along with teammates Kyle O’Gara and CFH Racing crew chief Anton Julian.
Prior to her first Chili Bowl, Fisher last raced in the 2010 IndyCar series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.