49ERS VISIT HOSTED BY LONGTIME OWNER HARBAUGH THRILLS PANTHER OFFICIALS, NATIONAL GUARD SOLDIERS


By Alex Espinoza, 49ers.com: One of Jim Harbaugh’s favorite mantras is to get his team playing “one mile an hour faster” each and every day. The 49ers brought that thinking to a new level on Thursday, when they hosted IndyCar driver J.R. Hildebrand and the No. 4 Panther Racing car to team headquarters.

Harbaugh has been a part owner of the Panther Racing team since 1997 and a race car enthusiast since his childhood. To see the No. 4 car – picked in honor of Harbaugh’s jersey number during his playing days – decked out in 49ers colors was a treat for the coach.

“Obviously, great to have the National Guard IndyCar here,” Harbaugh said. “Panther Racing, with owner John Barnes and Jane Barnes here. National guardsmen and women here today with us. It’s a real honor and a privilege, and a pleasure to have the Panther team here.”

Following his scheduled press conference, Harbaugh got an up close look at a replica of the race car that Hildebrand will be driving at Infineon Raceway this weekend for the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.

While Hildebrand may get all the publicity and face time as the man behind the wheel, the 24-year-old Sausalito native said there’s plenty of teamwork involved in IndyCar success.

“For one car, we’ve got 50 guys that are working back at the shop, working aerodynamics and all kinds of different facets of what we do,” Hildebrand said. “I’m the driver and you’ve got the over-the-wall pit crew that’s changing tires – that’s what everybody sees. But really, the speed comes from the whole group of engineers and others that are behind the scenes.”

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