It could well be a case of double vision and second looks around the paddock for followers of Vision Racing in 2006 as the IndyCar Series entry recently revealed a series of announcements designed to enhance its appeal and opportunities both on and off the racetrack.
Vision Racing will be seeing double for the 2006 IndyCar Series season as they will feature an expanded driver lineup for its sophomore effort;
Returning to the cockpit of the #20 entry with new Honda power will be Ed Carpenter who enters his third IndyCar Series season and second with Vision;
Four-year IndyCar Series veteran Tomas Scheckter joins Vision, piloting the new #2 Dallara/Honda/Firestone;
The team has strengthened its engineering department with the hiring of David Cripps, Scheckter’s former engineer at Panther Racing;
Both Vision cars will feature a new look and paint scheme; and
Patrick Dempsey, the famed actor, passionate racer and star of ABC’s drama "Grey’s Anatomy," joins the team as co-owner.
The team, founded by Indy Racing League founder Tony George and his wife Laura in 2005, will feature two full-time IndyCar Series entries for the first time. It wasted little time prepping with both Carpenter and Scheckter at the IndyCar Series’ initial 2006 test at Phoenix International Raceway from January 24 to 26. In the January 24 "shakedown," Carpenter was pleased with his car’s performance. In yet another "shakedown" on January 25, Carpenter reprised his earlier experience while Scheckter made his debut for the team that afternoon in the same car. The result: Scheckter turned the seventh quickest lap of the test while Carpenter was just behind him holding eighth.
"During the winter off-season, we really concentrated on a building program that had as its foundation; a strong nucleus of people from 2005," George said. "And while we are all happy to have Honda power for the coming year, we have focused on becoming a two car ICS team. We believe that both of these developments will begin paying dividends for us immediately. We are excited to have Tomas Scheckter join our team and expect him to contribute immediately by bringing his experience and work ethic to Vision."
Cape Town, South Africa native and favorite son Scheckter, 25, brings experience, speed and potential to Vision Racing, all of which he hopes will lead to continued success in 2006. "I’m extremely excited to be with Vision, to be back in the Indy Racing League and to be back in the car," said Scheckter, son of the 1979 Formula One champion, Jody Scheckter. "During the off-season I had been speaking with Tony (George) about joining the team. Tony was thinking about increasing the size of the team; I had connections with a lot of the personnel on the team, and I get along well with Ed (Carpenter) so it was a good fit. I’m excited to be here and I’m ready to help the team get some race wins.
"I’m looking forward to getting further acquainted with the team, but I’m excited to get to continue working with my engineer from Panther Racing (David Cripps)," Scheckter continued. "Since we’ve worked together in the past, we have a good understanding of each other, and we’ve both been a part of a very successful team, so hopefully, we can bring those experiences to Vision. Tony is serious about winning and that’s what we want to do. That’s what Ed and I will be shooting for this season."
Solidifying his own place in Vision Racing’s history by driving its first IndyCar Series entry in 2005, Carpenter returns to the team providing a healthy balance of continuity and stability as the team looks to improve upon the progress made in its rookie season.
"Returning to Vision is good for me. We essentially have the same group of people, but we’ve improved, and we’re ready to see what we can do this season," said Carpenter, who attended a two-day training and evaluation session with the renowned Carmichael Training Systems in Colorado Springs, CO, to develop a new training regiment for this season. "I’m looking forward to racing with Tomas and having someone to share information with and learn from. Tomas will be a good teammate as he’s won races, earned poles and had a lot of success so I know he’ll help me and Vision."
Along with the addition of engineer Cripps, the team has reinforced its race operations by nearly doubling in size while adding an assortment of new equipment.
Vision Racing has also expanded its ownership team with long-time leading man Patrick Dempsey, who’s enjoying huge acclaim today for his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd on ABC’s Golden Globe Award-winning drama "Grey’s Anatomy." Dempsey’s latest role, however, won’t be seen on the silver screen, but rather at the racetrack.
After attending the 2004 Indianapolis 500 as a "celebrity guest" and meeting Tony and Laura George, Dempsey’s future racing strategy began to develop. A year later following another meeting with the couple, Dempsey expressed an interest in Vision Racing and followed it throughout the 2005 season. During the off-season, Dempsey officially partnered with the George family as a co-owner of Vision Racing.
George added, "Laura and I are proud to have Patrick as a partner in Vision and value his contribution and council as we have built this team."
Dempsey is no stranger to the racing when he’s not on camera. A true racer at heart, Dempsey is currently driving professionally in "Grand American Cup" sports car racing with Hypersport. He also attended the Skip Barber and Panoz Racing Schools and began racing in the Panoz GT Series in 2004. Dempsey finished an impressive third at the Panoz GT race in Road Atlanta in early May 2005. He also competed in the April 2005 Toyota Celebrity Race at Long Beach and the 2005 Baja 1000 with drivers Boris Said and Oriol Servia.
Dempsey said, "I am thrilled to be a part of the Vision team and I feel like a kid in a candy store. I think Ed Carpenter and Tomas Scheckter is a formidable combination and I believe they demonstrated this by their performance at the first test. I also cannot think of anyone other than Tony and Laura George that I would want to partner with in IndyCar Racing. All my experiences at Indy have been magical."
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