Notes: Bye bye, Barrichello

It appears that Rubens Barrichello will be one-and-done in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

After a 19-year career in Formula One, Barrichello moved into IndyCar last season with KV Racing Technology and came away with a 12th place finish in the championship, two top-5s and seven top-10s.

Unfortunately, funding for a second season Stateside didn’t materialize as quickly as he hoped, and now the Brazilian fan favorite is returning to his homeland to race stock cars. Barrichello’s dear friend and former KV teammate Tony Kanaan told SPEED’s Marshall Pruett that while Barrichello’s heart was still in IndyCar, his pal still had to “look out for his own interest.”

Last year, Barrichello enjoyed support from a variety of Brazilian companies, including primary backing from Brasil Maquinas (BMC), a manufacturer of heavy construction equipment.

His jump to the IndyCar landscape was met with applause, with drivers itching to match up against the 11-time F1 race winner and the series hoping to cultivate a more international following thanks to his fan base around the world.

Barrichello had to learn a lot in his rookie season, from new cars and tracks to the art of racing on ovals. But it appeared that he was definitely getting the hang of things toward the end with back-to-back top 5 runs at Sonoma and Baltimore in the late stages of 2012.

But now that he’s decided to head home, the question of who could perhaps partner up with Simon Pagenaud at Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports – the team that Barrichello had been linked to in regards to a 2013 IndyCar drive – is still unanswered.

Perhaps it will stay that way and SHM will opt to go at 2013 as a one-car operation again.

Ryan Hunter-Reay is set to take on some of the world’s best drivers in the Race of Champions.

The IZOD IndyCar Series champion will duel with the likes of Michael Schumacher, Sebastien Vettel and others this weekend on a circuit created inside Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium. In addition to racing in head-to-head competition, Hunter-Reay is teaming up with Mexican rally champion Benito Guerra as part of Team Americas in a bid for the ROC Nations Cup.

The Race of Champions machines are quite different from the Dallara DW12 that Hunter-Reay drives on a regular basis, ranging from rally cars to an open-air KTM X-Bow. The variety of the cars means that there’s not much brushing up that Hunter-Reay could do prior to the ROC.

“I don’t have any of those toys to mess around with at home,” the American said in an INDYCAR teleconference earlier this week. “So I think you have to rely on your skill set that you kind of worked on over the years and jumping from car to car, sports car to IndyCar to some of the heavier stuff that I’ve driven, stock cars and stuff, you just have to rely on the skill set.

“…I was a little bit disappointed that there is not some type of open wheel formula car in there, but I think [the ROC] definitely wants more of the rally drivers there. But, hey, it’s still a car. It has four wheels and a steering wheel, two pedals, three pedals — you have to make it work.”

Hunter-Reay is also keen on meeting the great Schumacher, a 7-time Formula One champion that recently retired from the sport for a second time.

“There is so much to learn from him that I’ll just be a sponge around him, for sure,” he said.

That said, the ROC is still a competition. And Hunter-Reay will definitely be out to prove his mettle.

“You get a group of drivers together, a group of riders together, and everybody wants to win,” he said. “Doesn’t matter if we’re racing a shopping cart.”

Meanwhile, Sebring International Raceway is currently playing host to a big group testing session before the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Among notable happenings at the test: Graham Rahal is getting in his first laps as full-time driver for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and according to the Buckeye, it’s been a production session so far in Florida. KV driver Simona de Silvestro is still meshing with her new team, and a pair of intriguing prospects – America’s Conor Daly and France’s Tristan Vautier, the reigning Firestone Indy Lights champion – are slated to get their first tastes of an IZOD IndyCar today (Daly for A.J. Foyt Racing, Vautier for SHM).

Teams will be prohibited from testing starting tomorrow through Jan. 4, 2013.

Other cool stuff

Ed Carpenter and wife Heather are celebrating the birth of their third child. Cruz Smith Carpenter was born on Dec. 12, weighing in at a healthy eight pounds and ten ounces. All the best to the family…The INDYCAR crew has created “The Offseason,” a comedic series that focuses on what drivers do when there are no races for them to fret over. In the first episode, Charlie Kimball and James Hinchcliffe help out the front office as receptionists. You can check it out here