Nic Jonsson: honeymoon sacrifice, Jackie Stewart advice

Six months after his wedding, Nic Jonsson is starting a honeymoon fund. The Swedish driver, now living in Aliso Viejo, Calif., and his wife Helene gave up their honeymoon so he could chase a position with BMW Team PTG in the 2001 American Le Mans...

Six months after his wedding, Nic Jonsson is starting a honeymoon fund. The Swedish driver, now living in Aliso Viejo, Calif., and his wife Helene gave up their honeymoon so he could chase a position with BMW Team PTG in the 2001 American Le Mans Series. The calculated risk paid off when Jonsson was selected to drive the No. 10 BMW M3 this season with Bill Auberlen of Redondo Beach, Calif.

Jonsson received a last-minute invitation to race with BMW Team PTG in the 2000 season finale in Adelaide, Australia on New Year's Eve. Knowing the race was critical to earn a seat with the team, he scrambled to find funds for the trip from Sweden to Australia. His bride finally urged him to use a financial gift they had received for a wedding trip.

"I guess I'm going to have to start some kind of a honeymoon fund now," Jonsson said. "Helene and I were married last August and she's been very committed and supportive. She's still sitting in her office in California, but I'll have to do something about that!"

Jonsson may have postponed his dream trip, but he's ready for a dream drive.

"I've run with factory teams before, but this is definitely one of the high points in my racing career, to run with a BMW factory-backed team and the professionalism that the PTG crew brings to the track," he said. "I had other offers, in both GT and prototype [sports cars], but I think this will fit me best, to be involved with BMW North America, PTG and our sponsor Yokohama. This is a dream come true, and I hope it lasts a long time."

Jonsson drove with the UK-based Reynard Formula Three team in 1992. His Reynard team owner was Formula One star Jackie Stewart. The two were reunited in early February.

"My old boss, Jackie Stewart reminded me how important it is to be a team player," Jonsson noted. "You and your co-driver have to be almost like one to be successful. You can't just go out and drive as fast as you can, you also have to make sure that you have a car to give your co-driver when you come in after your stint. That's something he taught me 'way back then. I've been focussing on it and I've had a lot of success with it."

Jonsson is looking forward to driving with Bill Auberlen, who has set track records, won races and earned championships with BMW.

"I'm very fortunate that I'll be driving with Bill Auberlen, a driver I rate very highly in any kind of racing. He's definitely one of the best," Jonsson said. "Bill is a thinking driver. He's not just trying to set the fast lap, but he's thinking long-term, thinking championship, thinking about the checkered flag. I have a lot of confidence in him as a test- driver, as a qualifier and as a racer. I think we'll be very, very strong together."

When Jonsson raced with Jackie Stewart's team, his teammates were Gil de Ferran and current Formula One driver David Coulthard. Ironically, Jonsson's younger brother Mathias is crew chief for de Ferran, who won the CART championship last year.

-BMW-

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Series ALMS