With the cart FedEx championship series making the trip to Europe for races in both Germany and England, Ford-Powered drivers Max Wilson, Oriol Servia, Kenny Brack and Max Papis lend their thoughts on the two events. MAX WILSON - ...
With the cart FedEx championship series making the trip to Europe for races in both Germany and England, Ford-Powered drivers Max Wilson, Oriol Servia, Kenny Brack and Max Papis lend their thoughts on the two events.
MAX WILSON - #25 Blair Racing/Driving 101 Ford-Cosworth
TALK ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE YOU'VE HAD RACING IN EUROPE DURING YOUR CAREER. "I raced in the German F3 series before spending three years running the European F3000 Championship, so I raced pretty much all over Europe. But those places that I raced were on road courses and are completely different from what we'll be racing on over the next two weeks. I was also a Formula One test driver for Williams and for Michelin last year when they were doing developmental work on their tires."
ARE YOU HAPPY TO BE RACING BACK IN EUROPE? "I feel happy to be going back there because I spent several years living there and it'll be good to see some friends. The European fans really enjoy racing and I think the races in Germany and Europe will have a lot of people coming to watch them. Hopefully these two races will turn out to be big events for CART and for the fans."
WITH THE TWO RACES IN EUROPE BEING ON OVALS, WHAT WERE YOUR IMPRESSIONS AFTER TAKING IN YOUR FIRST CART OVAL EVENT? "It's very interesting because the drivers have to be very confident with each other because they are sharing the turns and going side-by-side at very high speeds. Of course it's important that you keep your line and you have spotters telling you where the traffic is, so it's a lot different from the other courses that I've been on before. But to fight for positions in those conditions is really exciting and I'm really looking forward to getting out on the track."
HOW DO YOU THINK THE EUROPEAN FANS WILL REACT TO OVAL RACING? "As I said before, European fans really, really like racing. When I was living there I was impressed to see a lot of fans coming out to watch the lower series, like Formula Fords, race. The races are always crowded and there are always people in the grandstands who know who all the drivers are and know a lot about the series. Because CART has been broadcast in Europe I think that there are a lot of fans that would like to see one of our races live. This will be CART's first time in Europe on oval tracks so I think the fans will really enjoy it."
DO YOU WISH THAT CART WERE GOING TO RACE ON A ROAD COURSE? "I prefer road courses because I think they're more fun to drive. I'm not just saying that because I have more experience on road courses, but I just enjoy driving them more. For the fans, at least for the first time, the oval races will be a big attraction because they've probably never seen an oval race before in person. But I don't know how much the European fans will appreciate a race on an oval track because for the drivers it's fun, but for the fans who are accustomed to watching road course races, oval track races are completely different. To be honest, I don't feel that it's very popular outside of the United States. In South America, the fans don't really enjoy races on oval tracks, and in Europe I hear some people say that oval racing is just a bunch of drivers going in circles, which is not right. There are a lot of things that go on in an oval race, but for the fans outside of the United States I don't know how much they appreciate it. But I have no doubt that these first two oval races will be very, very big because they are new."
BECAUSE THESE ARE TWO NEW TRACKS THAT NOBODY HAS RACED ON BEFORE, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WILL BE ON EQUAL FOOTING WITH THE OTHER TEAMS AND DRIVERS THAT HAVE BEEN COMPETING IN CART FOR SEVERAL YEARS? "Well, yes and no. If it were a road or street course I would definitely agree with you. But because it's an oval, and all ovals are somewhat similar in shape and banking in my mind, I think the more experienced drivers will still have an advantage because I don't have a lot of experience on ovals. These tracks will be new for everybody, but they are oval tracks and some guys have been driving on ovals for years. It's not like a road course where you don't know how many turns are there or they don't know when to brake and downshift or things like that. We didn't do much testing on ovals this year and we are a little bit behind, but by being a completely new oval at least no one has been there before."
LOOKING BACK AT YOUR RACING CAREER IN EUROPE, WHAT MEMORIES STICK OUT? "I spent a long time in Europe. I first went there in 1996 and did the German F3 series, then went to Formula 3000 in 1997. Then I became a Williams test driver, and when I was testing I drove with alongside [Juan] Montoya because he became a test driver the same time I did, so we tested together. I did a bunch of F1 tests, which was pretty nice as a driver because that was one thing that I always wanted to drive, so I learned a lot over there. But it'll be nice to go back with a completely different series and be part of two really nice events, which I'm sure that they'll be."
ORIOL SERVIA - #22 Sigma Autosport Ford-Cosworth
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE UPCOMING RACES IN EUROPE? "Yeah! It's been four years since I last raced in Europe and I have some good friends coming to watch me because it's difficult for them to come over here. It's good to race on an oval so we can show them a different form of racing that's both fun and exciting. I'm excited, not only because we're going to be racing in Europe, but also because we're going to be on two new ovals and it helps a new team like us because now we're on equal footing with everybody else. Here at the tracks that we've been going for years, the established teams have volumes of information on each track while we guess for the whole weekend. We are doing a good job but it's hard to compete with all that experience. It will also be nice to be racing close to home [Catalonia] because then I can fly home after the race, which is good."
HOW DO YOU THINK THE FANS WILL REACT TO SEEING YOU RACING AROUND AN OVAL AT OVER 200 MILES PER HOUR? "For me the first time I came to the United States in 1998 I went and sat in the grandstands at Nazareth, which is not even a fast oval. When the Champ Cars went on track and went side-by-side through the corners at that speed I got goose bumps, so I think most of the people who come watch us will feel the same way."
- #8 Shell Ford-Cosworth
"I think it's good for CART to go to Europe because the series has a lot of European fans. Personally, I'm very much looking forward to going back and racing in Europe and Germany. The last time I raced over there was in 1996; I won my last race in England in Formula 3000, I also won some races in Germany so I've had some success over there in the past. Now we're bringing an American concept to Europe and it's going to be very interesting to see how the motorsports fans react to it. But I think they'll love it when they get close to the track and can see the tremendous speeds that these cars produce around oval tracks. On television you can't really tell just how fast they're going and I think that's something that will be very exciting for the fans. I also think it will be good for them to see wheel-to-wheel racing from start to finish because Europeans are not used to that, so I'm very much looking forward to racing in these two events. The only worry I have is going to England and Germany at the end of September because from my experience we might be in England for six months before we get this race over and done because of the possibility of rain."
- #7 Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth
"Both the German and England tracks are new ovals, and I know that they have put forth a lot of effort to make these facilities as nice as the oval circuits here in the United States. I feel that both races will be great events and I think that the people of Europe will be very excited to see for the first time open-wheel cars racing on an oval. It's been a long time since Champ Cars raced in Europe and there's an extreme amount of excitement around these two races because I'm sure that the fans can't wait to see wheel-to-wheel battles on the track at over 200 miles per hour. With races now in Europe, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia and the United States, we are truly a global series."