Insider's Diary By Ron Richards Surfers Paradise, AUS (October 15, 1998) Day Three As any Champ Car driver will tell you, a big part of the job of piloting his 900-plus horsepower machine has nothing to do with sitting behind ...
Insider's Diary By Ron Richards
Surfers Paradise, AUS (October 15, 1998)
As any Champ Car driver will tell you, a big part of the job of piloting his 900-plus horsepower machine has nothing to do with sitting behind the wheel.
Promotions and appearances make up a major part of the schedule for all the drivers in the FedEx Championship Series. And the build-up for the eighth-annual Honda Indy here on Australia's Gold Coast continued at a frantic pace Thursday with the Champ Car drivers the focal point of a variety of activities.
First up was a breakfast at Conrad Jupiters Hotel and Casino and many of the drivers showed up to meet the media and more than 300 of the general public, who bought tickets to the breakfast to have the opportunity to ask the drivers questions, race against them on race simulators and get autographs.
As usual, the CART drivers were more than willing to accommodate the public, posing for photos and signing everything from caps to t-shirts to posters after answering the media's questions.
Much of the questioning centered on Christian Fittipaldi, who crashed heavily here last year, breaking his leg in the process. The Brazilian was quick to make the point that the crash is behind him and he is focused on getting his first Champ Car win.
Scott Pruett, who won here last year, also was asked a number of questions as did Bobby Rahal, who will be racing here for the final time on Sunday.
After the breakfast, the drivers headed in several different directions. Pruett and Andre Ribeiro ended up surveying the course from the seats in a Blackhawk helicopter operated by the Australian army. Fittipaldi and JJ Lehto headed off to a hospital bed race that helped raise money for charity.
Honda sponsored a luncheon that several drivers attended while others went off to the Surfers Paradise beach to play volleyball with local celebrities.
Of course, we're here for racing and the four sedan support series were on the 2.8-mile street circuit for both practice and qualifying. While they ran throughout the day, the Champ Car crews finished up getting their cars ready for Friday's 10:30 a.m. practice session followed by provisional qualifying in the afternoon.
On tap Friday evening is the annual Honda Indy Ball, a fund-raising dinner that this year features Motown singing group The Temptations.
Don't forget that the 65-lap race will be televised Sunday night on ESPN in the U.S. and to more than 190 countries worldwide to an audience of more than 60 million.
Until tomorrow, g'day.
Source: CART Online
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