Over the years, many motorsports entities have gone out of their ways to play April Fool’s jokes on their peers. With the first day of April falling on Easter Sunday, a lot of the shenanigans went by the wayside. Thankfully, a few folks managed to remember that this day is meant for a bit of fun.
First up for this writer came the 6am sunrise “service” of a press release from Harding Racing, the INDYCAR team running their first full season with Gabby Chavez. The team announced a second car for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 with team consultant Al Unser Jr at the helm.
Unser Jr., who has been in retirement for 10 years, was announced as the driver on the No. 8 Harding Racing Chevrolet by team owner Mike Harding who said, “One of the best IndyCar drivers ever is back for the Indianapolis 500. I believe we will be more than a competitive force during the month of May with Gabby and Al as teammates.”
The press release went on to state that this will be “Little Al’s” second time working with team president Brian Barnhart, as they share two Indy 500 victories and two CART championships in their respective careers. “I’m sure a lot of people will think we are fools to be doing this, but I can’t think of any better guy to pilot the car. I’m so excited and I’m actually considering going over the wall for pit stops,” Barnhart said.
After spewing coffee out the nose from reading the entire release, it was on to IMSA’s latest announcement, which arrived three hours later. IMSA declared there’s a new Prototype team headed by Jordan Taylor who, they claimed, was moving into the ownership ranks while still driving for his father, who fields the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac Dpi-V.R. Taylor won the 2017 WeatherTech Sports Car Prototype championship with his brother, Ricky.
The new team, called Jordan Taylor Racing (JTR), would debut in the Prototype class with Cadillac. “It’s definitely going to be weird racing against a car that I own, but probably no weirder than racing against my brother. I mean,” he said, “it’s April Fools’ Day, so it seems like the time was right to start my own race team, especially when I had one fully funded driver and another driver who is eager to leave his mark on the sport.”
“The team’s full-season driver lineup will include a pair of highly touted rookies, Rodney Sandstorm and Estér Bunné, with the team’s endurance lineup still to be confirmed. Taylor has an upcoming trip planned to the North Pole to scout a potential third driver, but likely won’t have an answer until late December at the earliest.”
The livery on the No. 10.5 car, IMSA said, would feature Bunné’s favorite color, giving it an instant nickname: “Pink Cadillac.” The roof features a radical new aerodynamic feature to accommodate the driver, who has abnormally large ears; JTR has received approval from IMSA for the modifications…
Finally, Perris Auto Speedway announced it would change its pay-out structure, sending the release less than an hour after IMSA. The clay track, located near Riverside, Calif., said it would have a “new, innovative purse structure to help the sport of racing.” Starting with the next event on April 14, “Purses for all classes at the famous Riverside county half-mile clay oval will be reversed to help the lower budget teams.”
Promoter Don Kazarian said, “I was laying in bed staring at the ceiling the other night thinking about how we can help the lower budget teams. Then it hit me like a bolt of thunder. Reverse the entire purse at every race. I was so excited I woke up my wife to tell her, but she told me to go back to sleep.”
The new purse structure at Perris, the owner said, would work just as it sounds. “The driver who finishes last in a main event will now receive the winner’s share of the purse and the winner will be paid last-place money. Likewise the driver who finishes next to last will receive second-place money… and so on through the field.”
While he hadn’t broken the news to the teams and drivers yet, Kazarian figured, “The ones who do not hear about this release will find out when they receive their purse money after the next race. I think they will understand that it is to help the sport and they will be very happy with it.”
Is it any wonder people laugh – and maybe drink – a lot on April Fool’s Day?