BROWNSBURG, Ind. (June 12, 2014) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan (RLL) Racing announced today that the team will enter a car for 2011 GP2 runner-up Luca Filippi in the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston and Honda Indy Toronto Verizon IndyCar Series doubleheaders. Associate sponsorship for the program will come from IMPCO and Fight SMA.
“I’m extremely excited to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing because there is a lot of respect between myself and Bobby,” said Italian Luca Filippi, 28, about team co-owner Bobby Rahal. “We have been trying to find a way to work together for a long time and to finally have it happen is a great feeling. I really love the IndyCar Series. Since I first drove the car and experienced the atmosphere of the series, I have loved everything about it and can’t wait to get back in a car.”
RLL attempted to put an Indy car program together for Filippi in 2012 but was unable to secure funding. Filippi made four Indy car starts in 2013 for Bryan Herta Autosport at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and street races in Baltimore and the doubleheader races in Houston with a best start and finish of eighth and 10th, respectively, in Race 1 in Houston.
“We tried to get Luca into the team a few years back and even went so far as to build a seat but we were unable to find the funding,” said RLL co-owner Bobby Rahal. “In the meantime he went to Bryan Herta’s team and showed what he can do in the few races he ran for them. He has been successful in GP2 in Europe, amongst other series, for a number of years so I don’t think there is any question that he has the pace to run towards the front. On top of that, he is a real gentleman and we are looking forward to working with him and seeing how he can help the team progress.”
Filippi, a 28-year-old born in the northwestern town of Savigliano, Italy, spent the six seasons in the GP2 series which is the European equivalent of the Firestone Indy Lights series and was runner-up to champion Romain Grosjean with three wins in 2011. Filippi was also a test driver for Honda in Formula One from 2007 until December 2008 when the manufacturer withdrew from the sport. While working toward a return to Indy car racing, Filippi has been part of Sky Sports’ broadcast team for their Formula One coverage since last year. The Toronto race is a conflict with the F1 event in Germany so he will be in Canada instead of Germany.
“I know the team is capable and has potential but it was good to see Graham on the podium in Detroit and so close to the win,” added Filippi, about Graham Rahal’s second place finish in Dual 1 in Detroit. “That proved the car is working very well on a street course and I really expect to have a good feeling from the car again. I really enjoyed the Houston course last year so the expectation is high for a good result. I don’t know the Toronto circuit but coming from another street course before that, I hope I can build on what we learn in Houston and learn the Toronto course quickly. The circuit looks very, very tricky and demanding but from what I know the atmosphere all around the Toronto weekend looks amazing. I can’t wait to be involved.”
Filippi began racing karts in Italy as an eight-year-old and progressed through the ranks until he won a driver-search contest in 2002 that landed him a season in the Mazda MX-5 Cup series. From there he competed in the Formula Renault Championship in 2003 and 2004, with a third place overall finish in 2004. He then won the Italian Formula 3000 series title in 2005 which resulted in being invited to test a Formula One car for the first time with Minardi that winter. To gain valuable racing experience, he competed in the GP2 series from 2006-2011 and was also a Honda test driver for their F1 program beginning in 2007. After winning poles and races in Europe, Filippi has been working toward making a fulltime move to the top-level of open wheel racing in North America and reuniting with Honda.
The Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix Houston races will be held June 28 and 29 at Houston’s Reliant Park. RLL co-owner Mike Lanigan is the promoter of the event. The Honda Indy Toronto races will be held July 19 and 20 on the streets around Exhibition Place.
IMPCO (an acronym from its original name Imperial Machine Products Company) was founded in 1958 by Herbert V. Hills and Richard Baverstock in a small Quonset hut in South Gate, California. The company was born out of the need for faster and more energy efficient car and speed boat racing. The first product developed and sold was the CA300A carburetor, known as the “IMPERIAL”, which is still sold today. In 1967, the company was moved to Cerritos and became a wholly owned subsidiary of AJ Industries (Alaska Juneau Mining Company). IMPCO purchased BEAM Products Company in 1986, Garretson Equipment Company in 1997, J & S Products and Algas Carburetion in 1998, GFI and AFS in 2008 and 2009. Along the way, several of IMPCO’s distributors, such as Technisch Bureau Media in The Netherlands, Mikuni in Japan and Ateco PTY in Australia were purchased, becoming global affiliate locations. The company’s name was changed to IMPCO Technologies, Inc. in the early 1990’s and merged with BRC Gas Equipment in 2005. In 2006, a holding company called Fuel Systems Solutions (FSS) was created to umbrella both companies. Also in 2006, IMPCO moved to a new state of the art facility in Santa Ana, California.
Today IMPCO Technologies and BRC gas equipment are the world’s leading supplier of clean, cost effective LPG and CNG alternative fuel systems for: a) Light duty on-road transportation; b) Industrial off-road; c) Stationary applications and FSS’s technology that is used by most of the Automotive and Industrial OEM’s globally.
Spinal Muscular Atrophy is a disease that affects the motor neurons of the spinal cord and brain stem. Spinal Muscular Atrophy is the number-one inherited genetic cause of infant death, continually causing weakness in the muscles, and eventually hindering one’s ability to eat, speak, breath and swallow.
In 1991, FightSMA was created, and its volunteers have worked tirelessly to bring heightened levels of awareness and understanding of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). FightSMA began its crusade with a successful 30-day campaign raising $100,000 to supply researchers with vital gene-search equipment. In the years since, FightSMA has funded SMA researchers at numerous academic institutions and biotech corporations in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy. The group has been involved from the initial successful search for the gene that causes SMA, to the more recent efforts to identify compounds which can compensate for the faulty gene, and ultimately provide treatment for the disease.
In the year 2000, Tracy and Shawn Lacey founded FightSMA Canada. The charity was initially named “Tori’s Buddies”, after Tracy’s daughter Tori, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. To this day, the registered Canadian charity is 100% volunteer driven and all money raised goes directly towards accelerating the research to finding a cure or treatment to help the families that have been devastated by this disease.
This year’s annual fundraising event coincides with FightSMA Canada’s exciting partnership with Luca Filippi and the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Team to raise awareness to the cause, as they race at the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston June 28-29, 2014 and at the Honda Indy in Toronto July 19-20, 2014. As a charitable organization, FightSMA Canada has been successful due to a strong network of energetic and committed volunteers, including Brent Larson of Wabash Canada and Thomas Tomovic of Saputo Canada, whom have made this exciting event come to life.
FightSMA Canada hopes that this highly anticipated event will bring awareness and additional funds to help find a cure for this devastating disease, which affects so many individuals each and every day. Further information for this event can be found at www.fightsma.ca .
About Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and Brownsburg, Ind., is co-owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, CBS LATE SHOW host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. In 2014 the team will compete in their 23rd year of open wheel competition and attempt to add to their 20 wins – including the 2004 Indy 500 from pole with Buddy Rice — their 29 poles, 81 podium finishes and 1992 series championship. The team also competed in the American Le Mans Series from 2009-2013 as BMW Team RLL where they won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category in 2010 and swept all three GT titles in 2011 – Manufacturer, Team and Driver. In 2012, the team finished second in the Team Championship and third in the Manufacturer Championship and in 2013, the team finished second in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championship. In 2014, BMW Team RLL is competing in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship with a two-car program in the GTLM class and is attempting to add to their 10 wins and 47 podium finishes.
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