IndyCar Championship Contenders Bring Style & Speed to California’s Auto Club Speedway

Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud

Championship contenders Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves and Will Power at the Grove in L.A.

“Racing is fashion,” says Helio Castroneves, one of three drivers contending for the coveted series championship heading into the season’s final race at Auto Club Speedway. “It’s super cool, it’s sexy, it’s fast.” The Brazilian is looking the part in aviator sunglasses and a LAPIZTA racing watch as he, along with Will Power and Simon Pagenaud, gather at The Grove in Los Angeles.

Just outside the press area, Castroneves’ car is drawing a crowd. Despite the three-time Indy 500 champ’s 22 career wins, he’s still chasing his first series title, something he hopes to achieve this weekend.

Helio Castroneves Watch by LAPIZTA

The Helio Castroneves Watch by LAPIZTA

Over the past several years, the Brazilian became a household name thanks to starring roles on Dancing with the Stars and Wife Swap. But what few fans realize is how committed he is to style. Castroneves has been long associated with Hugo Boss, and he jumps at the chance to talk about the Lapitza L21 series watch on his wrist. “The case is like the brake disc of a racing car, and the inside is like the exhaust pipes, with a carbon fiber look. It’s the perfect racing watch.”

Not to be outdone, Frenchman Simon Pagenaud – who won Grand Prix races in Indianapolis and Houston this year – has a sport watch deal of his own with B.R.M. The French-made 44mm bushed stainless steel and black timepiece features automatic movement, a tachymeter and sapphire glass front and backing. “It is the lightest mechanism in the world – only 49 grams,” he says excitedly. “I just find it fascinating that you can make a watch that is so reliable, light and technical.”

Pagenaud takes his role as a style ambassador seriously. “As a race car driver, you need to have this kind of relationship with luxury brands. You represent an image.” His ambition is also taking the form of collaboration between the Frenchman and Danish men’s fashion brand Sand Copenhagen, who hosted Indy Night, an event celebrating Pagenaud in Toronto this past summer. “I really love Sand. Great clothes, a great company and great people as well.”

Helio Castroneves and Fashion Trends Daily founder Michelle Dalton Tyree

Style aside, winning is foremost on the three drivers’ minds. Australian Will Power, whose 21 wins over the past six years has placed him among racing’s elite, finished second in the championship in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Heading into the final race of the season, he finds himself leading the points yet again, with Castroneves and Pagenaud both looking to unseat him

Power knows all too well how easy it would be for the championship to be snatched from him once again. “I think IndyCar has the best racing in the world. Right now, you’ve got the toughest group of drivers and teams ever in IndyCar history.”

Give IndyCar officials full credit for making the championship go right down to the wire. Without the new system that awards double win points to the series’ three 500-mile races – the Indy 500, the Pocono 500 and the MavTV 500 – the championship would be all but decided already. Thanks to the system, instead of 50 points going to the winner, Saturday’s victor will receive 100.

The move has been controversial with drivers.

Will Power leads a lap at Milwaukee

Will Power leads a lap en route to a win at Milwaukee.

If I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t too excited about it,” says Pagenaud. “It cheapens the other races. But it has given me a chance. I feel like it’s down to the wire in the last race, and it makes it exciting for the fans. You can expect anything to happen on Saturday night.”

One thing is for sure, though – Will Power won’t be playing it safe this weekend. “I get a lot of abuse on Twitter for being aggressive in the races. But I’m going to be aggressive. I want to win.”

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Author:William Tyree for Fashion Trends Daily