FLYING HIGH IN HOUSTON HOUSTON, TEXAS, April 22, 2007 -- Over recent years, the Minardi two-seater team has played host to some high-profile passengers, but none could claim to be higher flying than Colonel Kevin Ford, who hitched a ride in a ...
FLYING HIGH IN HOUSTON
HOUSTON, TEXAS, April 22, 2007 -- Over recent years, the Minardi two-seater team has played host to some high-profile passengers, but none could claim to be higher flying than Colonel Kevin Ford, who hitched a ride in a fast, but decidedly low-flying F1x2 car during pre-race activities at this weekend's JagFlo Grand Prix of Houston, third round of the 2007 Champ Car World Series. Colonel Ford, a graduate of the United States Air Force Test Pilot School, and since 2000, a member of NASA's Astronaut program, is due to command a Space Shuttle mission in early 2009. He will also work as CAPCOM, based at NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston, for the next Shuttle mission, STS 117, due to blast off from Cape Canaveral on June 8.
After his passenger ride, with regular Champ Car F1x2 driver, Zsolt Baumgartner, at the controls, Colonel Ford said, "It was a tremendous experience, and my overriding impression was of the continuing intensity of the experience. In that respect, it is a lot like certain aspects of space flight. The action during the five minutes we were on track was just non-stop. I can't begin to imagine how the drivers are able to keep up the levels of concentration involved for an hour or two at a time. There is obviously also a huge sensation of speed, simply because you are going so fast and you're so low to the ground. Car racing is just amazingly dynamic, and the skill level and professionalism of the drivers to do what they do is awesome."
Colonel Ford's participation provided a fitting conclusion to the F1x2 Team's involvement in the first three rounds of the 2007 Champ Car World Series. During this time, personnel have traveled almost 4000 miles around the United States, and strapped 70 passengers, including actors, businessmen, political figures, journalists and prizewinners -- as well as an astronaut -- into the cars.
On completion of the Houston programme, team owner, Paul Stoddart, commented, "Today marks the culmination of a number of weeks of intense activity for the Champ Car F1x2 Team, which delivered what was frequently described as a life-changing experience to a total of 70 passengers during the opening three events of the 2007 season. My congratulations go to the entire team -- drivers, engineers, mechanics and support staff -- for a job well done, and for the excitement provided not only to the passengers, but also to Champ Car fans at large. Without doubt, they have given the project a resounding thumbs-up."
The F1x2 cars and drivers will next appear at the Cleveland, Mont-Tremblant, Toronto, Edmonton and San Jose Champ Car rounds, in June and July.