Cristiano da Matta to Attend Driving School at Miller Motorsports Park TOOELE VALLEY, UTAH (September 14, 2008) -- Cristiano da Matta, a former Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) champion and Formula 1 driver who survived a high-speed ...
Cristiano da Matta to Attend Driving School at Miller Motorsports Park
TOOELE VALLEY, UTAH (September 14, 2008) -- Cristiano da Matta, a former Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) champion and Formula 1 driver who survived a high-speed collision with a deer while testing an Indy Car in 2006, will be attending the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School at Miller Motorsports Park on Tuesday, September 16.
Da Matta, a 34-year-old native of Brazil, will be racing in next weekend's SunRichGourmet.com 1000 presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels in the AIM Autosport No. 61 Exchange Traded Gold Ford Riley Daytona Prototype.
The personable and diminutive Brazilian, affectionately nicknamed "Shorty" by his colleagues, will be attending the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School in order to familiarize himself with the 4.5-mile Full Course at Miller Motorsports Park, the longest lap in North America.
"It's going to be a challenge to learn the track," da Matta said. "I only know the track from TV, and it looks like a very challenging place - a very cool place. It's got more than 20 corners, and that makes it an even bigger challenge. With the limited amount of practice time, it's going to be a big challenge, but I'm up to it. Learning a new track is one of the challenges I face coming back to racing. I've had many, many opportunities to learn tracks quick, and many times I have done well on the job. That's one of my abilities as a race car driver, to learn tracks quick, and I'm confident about it."
The story of Cristiano da Matta is one of the most compelling in recent motorsports history. After winning the 2002 CART championship for Newman-Haas Racing, he jumped to the Formula 1 World Championship, where he drove for the factory Toyota team for two seasons before returning to Indy Car competition, then renamed the Champ Car World Series, in 2005. Driving for PKV Racing, he won one race and finished 11th in the championship. The following year, he started out with Dale Coyne Racing and switched to RuSport in June to take a seat vacated by A.J. Allmendinger.
On August 3, 2006, while testing at Wisconsin's ultra-fast Road America circuit, da Matta collided with a deer at very high speed, suffering a severe head injury. He underwent surgery for a subdural hematoma, endured an induced coma to reduce brain swelling and spent six weeks in the hospital before embarking on a long recovery and rehabilitation process. His future in racing was very uncertain, but he tested a Daytona Prototype successfully in March of 2008 and participated in a race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May. Now he has signed on with AIM Autosport, one of the hottest teams in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series paddock with recent wins at Montreal and Watkins Glen, and will join regular team drivers Brian Frisselle and Mark Wilkins in the seven-hour SunRichGourmet.com 1000.
"I'm very excited to drive the car at Miller," said da Matta, who led twice for 10 laps at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, when he co-drove the No. 98 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley with Jimmy Vasser. "It's going to be very nice for me to drive, because I'm still hunting for getting back to work. I've had too many days of vacation."
The SunRichGourmet.com 1000 presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels will be the season finale for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Support series appearing during the weekend include the KONI Challenge Series and the first-ever appearance at Miller Motorsports Park by the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda plus the new Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires and the SIRIUS Satellite Radio Mazda MX-5 Cup.
For tickets or information regarding Miller Motorsports Park, call 435-277-RACE (7223) or visit the track's website at www.MillerMotorsportsPark.com.