NOTES & QUOTES: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Takuma Sato On:

o Barber Motorsport Park and whether it is reminiscent of F-1 circuits he has raced on: “Barber is a great track. It is not necessarily similar to the recent F1 tracks but it reminds me of a good classic circuit like a miniature of Imola in San Marino or Brands Hatch in the U.K. which is a narrow track, flowing high speed corners with good elevation change and lots of beautiful greens and trees. I like this sort of challenging track.”

o The Open Test at Barber last month: “The test went well; we tried a couple of test items which we didn't try last year and some things the team studied well over the winter. It is always nice to see the improvement on the car; we need to develop improvements all the time. Sometimes the race weekends become a different scenario, so even if you had a positive result from the test, we need a good analysis from the data to be able to apply it for different conditions we may face for the race.  Our test was proactive so I feel confident that we will have a strong performance.”

o The key to success at Barber: “A good platform control is required for the aerodynamics as Barber is one of the fastest road courses we race on. There are some long corners that make it difficult to get balance right as we need to address both the understeer level and stability [in the rear].”

o The difference between the US Grand Prix F-1 circuit (finished 3rd in 2004) and the Grand Prix of Indianapolis circuit which he will test on April 30th: “The biggest difference is F1 used banking in the opposite direction at the last corner (the 500’s Turn 1) and it was somewhat iconic; I really did enjoy it. The IndyCar road course eliminated that corner and will use the extra complex in the infield of Turns 1 and 2 as the final part of the track which I haven’t driven. So it will be different but I am looking forward to it very much.”

o His post-race dinner at a Long Beach restaurant specializing in hot wings: “Well, that was a very interesting off-track private activity. I had been invited to go for hot wings by a good friend from ABC Supply since last year and we finally made it. I have experienced some hot food--Japanese, Korean and Indian--but that thing was beyond all. It was tasty but way too hot and it gave me unbearable pain all over my mouth! [He had to sign a waiver before eating it]. However, I did enjoy the laugh and had a fun time sharing it with my fan club tour members [who accompanied him] and friends. It was a very unique experience but maybe one time is enough!”

o The last race at Long Beach: “It was a very disappointing end for us but there was a good positive too. We had struggled up until qualifying but found competitiveness on Sunday which was great. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to deliver a result but we came close and that is racing so we shall keep on pushing. The race was a bit too wild overall but I guess it was an exciting event for fans.”

Would you like to order some “Rolling Professor”? A couple years ago, Sato and a Japanese photographer had a good chuckle about the menu at an upscale Japanese restaurant in Birmingham.  The item was supposed to be “Specialty Rolls” but what was written in Japanese was “Rolling Specialist” or “Rolling Professor” which Taku translated for his American friends also present. Sato recalled: “It was just a ‘Lost in Translation’ item on the menu. We had a laugh about it because I translated back to English so we could share what it says in Japanese. We always find a Japanese restaurant, whether it is a proper one or not, as we usually go for Japanese food at least once on a race weekend.”

Rookie Martin Plowman will be testing at Indianapolis along with Takuma Sato in the April 30 Open Test for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Plowman will be driving the No. 41 Alfe Heat Treating Honda. He is one of five rookies participating in the Rookie Orientation Program at the Speedway on May 5th. Plowman will be in the No. 41 ABC Supply Honda in preparation for the Indy 500. Plowman has competed at Indy twice in the Indy Lights; his best showing came in 2010: he started fourth and finished fifth for Andretti Autosport.

A.J. Foyt will miss the Open Test in favor of the Kentucky Derby which he attends every year. Foyt’s best shot at the Derby was his horse “Rare Brick”, who passed away quietly last December at a horse farm in northern Texas. Unbeaten in eight races, the stallion, who had been favored to win the 1986 Arkansas Derby (the prelim for the Kentucky Derby), had to be pulled from the competition 10 days earlier due to an ankle injury sustained in a workout. Labeled a “speedball” by the Associated Press, the horse was ridden by jockeys Mike Smith and Pat Day. The 30-year-old horse sired 27 stakes winners while standing at stud.

Martin Plowman and fiancée Nicole Pollard, former Miss Indiana, are hosting a celebrity kart race at Fastimes Indoor Karting in Indianapolis on Wednesday, May 7th. All proceeds will benefit Snowball Express, the charity for the children of our fallen military heroes.   The event is a two and a half hour endurance kart race with nine teams competing. Each team will have five people per team and will include two celebrities and three VIPs. It will be followed by a silent auction. Plowman will make his debut with AJ Foyt Racing at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis that weekend.

A.J. Foyt’s granddaughter Amanda Foyt is a freshman at nearby University of Alabama. Amanda is the oldest daughter of A.J.’s son Jerry Foyt and wife Kate.

Past performance at Barber: Takuma Sato’s best start is 6th (2010) and his best finish is 14th (2013).  AJ Foyt Racing’s best start is fourth and their best finish is seventh with Mike Conway in 2012.

ABC Supply national account , Pick-It Construction, located in Fayetteville, AR will be featured on the engine cover of the No. 14 ABC Supply car during the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.  Guests will receive the VIP treatment this weekend along with a Meet and Greet with A.J. Foyt.

ABC Supply roofing customer, Woodland Homes, located in Madison, AL won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. The company name will be atop the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda. Guests will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a Meet and Greet with A.J. Foyt.

The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be shown live at 2:30 p.m. E.T. Sunday, April 27 on the NBC Sports Network.