Barrichello, Montoya, Fittipaldi, Coulthard confirmed for 500 Granja 500, that is. The biggest race of the year in Brazil - paying nothing but trophies and bragging rights - is less than a month away and all the major players are preparing for...
Barrichello, Montoya, Fittipaldi, Coulthard confirmed for 500
Granja 500, that is. The biggest race of the year in Brazil - paying nothing but trophies and bragging rights - is less than a month away and all the major players are preparing for the eighth running of the 500 Milhas da Granja Viana, a charity kart 500-mile enduro beginning at midnight November 13th that brings out top and aspiring Brazilian and international drivers.
The 500 Milhas da Granja Viana feature takes at the 20-turn, nearly 7/8-mile Kartodromo da Granja Viana circuit designed, built, owned and maintained by the Giaffone family on the outskirts of their Sao Paulo hometown. The family presence in the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series is 2002 IRL Kentucky race winner Felipe Giaffone, driver of the #24 Purex/Aventis Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone challenger from Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
This competition brings out heavy hitters in the sport from Formula One, IndyCar Series, Champ Car World Series, Formula 3000 and even NASCAR. All the major Brazilian drivers vie for chances to be on one of 74 FIA-mandated teams in the field.
Entries closed within two hours of the call for teams, which range from three to ten drivers per entrant. Karts are powered by Honda GX engines making all of 15 horsepower, but that doesn't matter. It's the severity of competition that results in lap times under the one-minute mark that brings superstars to Sao Paulo for this race.
Last year Christian Fittipaldi, (04' Daytona 24 winner and 03' NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Petty Enterprises driver) won the 500 Milhas da Granja Viana with teammates Mario Haberfeld (Champ Car - Walker Racing driver) and Costa Rican karting standout Charles Fonseca. They'll be back to defend this year.
Other entrants include 2004 FIA Formula 1 points runner-up Rubens Barrichello (a 4-time winner) and his F1 colleagues Antonio Pizzonia, Juan Pablo Montoya, Felipe Massa (another 4-timer), Ferrari 1 tester Luciano Burti and McLaren pilot David Coulthard. The IRL will be represented by the 2004 champion Tony Kanaan and runner-up Dan Wheldon as well as Vitor Meira and Felipe Giaffone. Champ Car will show with Mario Haberfeld and possibly Oriol Servia. Roberto Moreno, brothers Rodrigo and Ricardo Sperafico and virtually all Brazilian Series' Champions from karts to F-Renault, F3 and Stock Cars will contest the Cup - there is a deep pool of talent down there.
Adding to it, this year young American Formula BMW USA standouts Matt Jaskol and Graham Rahal are rumored to take part for the first time, to be confirmed the former with IRL's Victor Meira and the latter with ex-F1 and CART Roberto Moreno and two other Brazilian drivers. Marco Andretti paired with Kanaan last year.
This 500-mile charity kart race gains monumental air space on all the major Brazilian networks and over ten hours of live coverage is on local cable sports channels. The race takes over the sporting print media.
In a country were motor sports is extremely important as part of a national pastime, the 500 Milhas da Granja Viana has become one of the most anticipated race weeks of the year.