This Week in Ford Racing July 1, 2003 CART Champ Car World Series FORD GT RETURNS TO THE TRACK - The Ford GT will make its return to the racing world this weekend as the all-new 2005 Ford GT paces the Champ Car World Series race at Burke ...
This Week in Ford Racing
July 1, 2003
CART Champ Car World Series
FORD GT RETURNS TO THE TRACK - The Ford GT will make its return to the racing world this weekend as the all-new 2005 Ford GT paces the Champ Car World Series race at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio. This marks the first public running of the '05 Ford GT outside of the Ford Centennial Celebration at World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., three weeks ago.
At the wheel of the 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 Ford GT in Cleveland will be legendary driver Mario Andretti. Andretti's ties to the Ford GT date back to 1967 when he drove it to victory with Bruce McClaren at the 12 Hours of Sebring in Sebring, Fla.
"Mario should be used to running at the front of the pack in a Ford GT, since his experience with the original GT40 race car includes a win at Sebring," said Neil Hannemann, Ford GT Chief Program Engineer.
The Ford GT gained popularity in the mid-1960's as a low-slung, muscular racing car built to win on the legendary Le Mans race circuit. The original Ford GT project was spearheaded by Henry Ford II, and Ford's project saw great success as the Ford GT won four straight 24 Hours of Le Mans races during the 1960's, including a 1-2-3 finish in 1966.
The Ford GT race car changed Le Mans forever, and today it signifies a new era for Ford Motor Company. Over the past year Ford engineers have seen Ford's historic past turn into the present during the design and development of the '05 Ford GT. Now they will see the finished product return to what made it famous.
"We're excited about the new 2005 Ford GT returning to the race track and being part of the pace car fleet during the Cleveland Grand Prix this weekend, and especially with Mario Andretti behind the wheel," said Hannemann.
"With 500 horsepower, the new Ford GT shouldn't have a problem staying at the front once again."
FORD-COSWORTH RESULTS AT BURKE LAKEFRONT AIRPORT - Ford-Cosworth engines have powered eight winners and two of the last three at Burke Lakefront Airport, including last year's winner Patrick Carpentier and 2000 winner Roberto Moreno. Carpentier won the race in record fashion posting a total race time of 2:00:05.785 seconds with an average speed of 120.998 mph over the 115 laps. Five other drivers have landed Ford-Cosworth on the top of the podium since 1982, including, Bobby Rahal (1982), Al Unser (1983), Danny Sullivan (1984 & 1986), Al Unser, Jr. (1985) and Jacques Villeneuve (1995).
Ford-Cosworth has posted six poles at the temporary Cleveland circuit, the last coming in 2000 when Moreno drove to victory from the first spot on the grid. Moreno is one of five drivers to start on the pole for the Blue Oval, the others are Mario Andretti (1983 &1984), Rahal (1985), Sullivan (1986) and Roberto Guerrero (1987).
FORD CHAMP CAR NIGHT IN THE WAREHOUSE DISTRICT - Ford and Champ Car will be hosting the first annual street party in the Historic Warehouse District on Wednesday, July 2 from 5 - 9 p.m. to kick off the race weekend in Cleveland. The Ford Champ Car Night is a free public event that will include a live band, two 30-45 minute autograph sessions and a question and answer session with Ford Champ Car drivers. Fans will also enjoy interactive displays including Ford production vehicles, showcars, and the Ford Technology Tour. Attendees can enter to win pace car rides during the race weekend at Burke Lakefront Airport and race tickets. One lucky race fan will win a VIP Honorary Pit Crew Weekend Package courtesy of Ford Racing. The event's exact location in the Historic Warehouse District on the edge of downtown Cleveland is on W. Sixth Street between St. Clair and Lakeside.
FORD SAFETY PROGRAM - Ford, The Official Safety Technology Provider of the Champ Car World Series, will be visiting the Roosevelt Elementary School located at 14237 Athens Ave. in Cleveland on Wednesday, July 2, from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Ford Champ Car driver Michel Jourdain, Jr. will be on hand along with his No. 9 Gigante Ford to talk to the campers about the importance of safety in their everyday lives. Safety measures such as wearing a seat belt while driving, and wearing helmets and other protective gear while riding bikes, rollerblades, etc. will be emphasized.
DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP RACE - Canadian Paul Tracy took the pole away from Michel Jourdain, Jr. during Saturday's qualifying run and ended up taking the points lead from the No. 9 Gigante Ford driver after the results were in from Sunday's race. Tracy finished second to owner/driver Adrian Fernandez who posted his first win of the year and his first as an owner/driver of the Fernandez Racing entry moving up three places to fifth in points. Jourdain ended up in 12th place following an altercation with Tracy on lap 45. The Mexican driver had led the previous 44 laps and now sits third in the championship race. Bruno Junqueira continued his consistent season with a fourth-place finish and remains in second place, four points behind Tracy. Tracy's Team Players teammate followed his win in Monterrey with a disappointing 16th-place finish and remains in fourth place overall.
TRACKING THE ROOKIES - Darren Manning closed the gap on Sebastien Bourdais in the rookie-of-the-year race with his sixth place effort at PIR. The Brit was the top rookie finisher, two places ahead of fellow first year driver Mario Haberfeld. Bourdais continues to pace the rookie field with 53 points, but Manning (42) and Haberfeld (41) are following close behind. Manning's sixth place finish was his sixth top-ten of the year. Tiago Monteiro, 15, and Ryan Hunter-Reay, 10, round out the top-five rookies.
FORD-COSWORTH DRIVERS TO WATCH -
Ryan Hunter-Reay - Hunter-Reay goes into Cleveland as one of the few CART Champ Car drivers with night road racing experience. The 22-year-old rookie gained valuable night racing experience while competing in the 12-Hours of Sebring. Hunter-Reay won from the pole in last year's Atlantic competition at Burke Lakefront Airport, one of three wins during his rookie Atlantic campaign.
Alex Tagliani - Tagliani is coming off his second podium of the season with his third place effort in Portland. His third top-five finish of 2003 moved the Johnson Controls pilot up two positions to ninth in points. Tagliani posted a fifth-place finish at the 2002 Cleveland Grand Prix and took the pole during his 1997 Atlantic campaign.
Jimmy Vasser - Vasser has had previous success on qualifying day in Cleveland, he has posted two pole positions at the temporary airport circuit - the first in 1996 and the second in 1998. Vasser comes off of a seventh place finish in Portland, his fifth top-ten of the season. The CART Champ Car veteran finished sixth at last season's Cleveland Grand Prix and is looking for his fourth straight top-ten on the circuit. Vasser's best finish came in 1995 when he finished third.
SPARK PLUGS - Max Papis will run his second night road race in three weeks, the PK Racing driver recently competed in the 24-Hours of LeMans ... Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier and Robert Moreno are the only three current Champ Car drivers who have posted wins in Cleveland ... 15 different drivers have won the Cleveland Grand Prix over the past 21 years ... Current team owner Emerson Fittipaldi has three wins as a driver in Cleveland.