CHAMPCAR/CART: Gold Coast Diary

Gold Coast, AUS (October 13, 1998) -- Ron Richards, CART Vice President of Communications, is filing a diary Online on some of the behind-the-scenes activities leading up to the Honda Indy in Australia. Day One Whoever said a journey of a ...

Gold Coast, AUS (October 13, 1998) -- Ron Richards, CART Vice President of Communications, is filing a diary Online on some of the behind-the-scenes activities leading up to the Honda Indy in Australia.

Day One

Whoever said a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step never sat in a 747 for 15 hours.

G'day from the Land Down Under!

Getting here gives a new definition to the term seat time.

Actually, it wasn't that bad jetting to Surfers Paradise in Queensland on Australia's east coast. The people on Qantas Flight 8008 from Los Angeles to Brisbane provided us with a great ride across the Pacific. A little over fourteen hours after wheels up at LAX, we touched down just about an hour's drive from Australia's Gold Coast.

The vast majority of the 400 seats on the flight were filled with members of the CART Community. In fact, and I may have mentioned this in one of my diary pieces from Japan or Brazil, it's kind of like being on field trip with your entire class.

The 747-400 was filled with various teams' crew members, CART staff and officials, drivers and owners as we crossed the world's largest ocean for the second time in the 19-race FedEx Championship Series 1998 season. In many ways, it seems as if our trip to Japan for our inaugural race on the oval at Twin Ring Motegi was more than six months ago.

As we build momentum leading into our final race Nov. 1 at California Speedway in Fontana, we again are reminded about how truly global Champ Car racing has become. More than 60 million people worldwide in 190-plus countries watch CART's premier series on a regular basis. We have drivers from 10 countries in the series and race in five countries on four continents.

As we waited to board the flight, I had an opportunity to talk with Helio Castro-Neves, driver of the Alumax-sponsored Reynard Mercedes for Bettenhausen Motorsports. As always with Helio, he approached his first trip to Australia with enthusiasm and passion.

"I've never been to Australia but I've heard a lot of great things about the event and the people there," said the bubbly Brazilian rookie with what seems to be his perpetual smile. "I just hope we do well - I think we will but it seems to get tougher with every race. The competition in this series is just so strong."

Helio is not the only one with something to prove this coming weekend. Other than Alex Zanardi, who clinched the PPG Cup at Vancouver on September 6, every driver is in position to improve his points standing and, for many, move into or higher up on the points ladder.

The cars and equipment all arrived in Brisbane on Sunday, courtesy of our great friends at FedEx, and all was shipped to Surfers Paradise where it was unloaded Monday and Tuesday.

As for those of us on the flight to Brisbane, once we arrived and cleared customs, it was off to the buses which carried us on the 70-minute ride from the airport to the Gold Coast. It was a group that was pretty quiet during the majority of the ride and couldn't wait to get to the hotel, check in and get to the room for a shower and some sleep.

I just hope I'll be able to make the adjustment quickly (14 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time) so I won't feel like a zombie over the next several days.

More from Surfers tomorrow. G'day!

Source: CART Online

-------------------------- Internet Access Australia-------------------------- --- IAA is MNI's ISP of choice at the '98 Gold Coast Indy --- ---- Melbourne -- Tel. 03 9686 6677 -- Fax 03 9686 6644 ----- ------------------ http://www.iaccess.com.au ---------------------

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Zanardi