CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexican drivers excited about home race

CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexican drivers excited about home race

Mexican drivers Michel Jourdain Jr., Luis Diaz and Jourdain's father, former driver Michel Jourdain Sr., met with the media in this week's CART teleconference to express their excitement over this weekend's inaugural Gran Premio CART race in the...

Mexican drivers Michel Jourdain Jr., Luis Diaz and Jourdain's father, former driver Michel Jourdain Sr., met with the media in this week's CART teleconference to express their excitement over this weekend's inaugural Gran Premio CART race in the newly refurbished Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

Jourdain Jr. could barely contain his enthusiasm, saying: "To race in the city I was born, that I've lived all my life, it's great. All my family lives here, all my friends, everything. To race in this track, which pretty much I was born here watching my dad race, all my uncles, then I started racing here myself. I raced in Mexico for seven years. Some years probably I raced 10, 15 times on this track. It's a very special feeling. Especially now to come and see the unbelievable job they have done on the track, it's unbelievable."

Michel Jourdain Jr..
Photo by Jack Durbin.
"It's the best track we're going to race in the whole year by far.  The
people, the whole city, moves around this event.  To have a city of 20
million people moving around an event, it's amazing.  I'm just so proud to
be a Mexican because of the track and the event.  It's just great."

Jourdain Sr. added his compliments about the track as well: "It's beautiful. The track is just beautiful. Everybody who is going to be here for the event is going to realize all the investment. The investments were very well done."

Later, he added: "I mean, it's beautiful. I've been on this track since the beginning. The first race was in '59. I was here. I've been on this track every year and many, many times. I've seen the rebuild in the '80s for Formula 1. They did a great job. Now you're talking something really different and very impressive. The track is just one of the best in the world. I'm very excited about this race. Of course, for me, having my son racing in this event, it makes it very, very special."

Jourdain Jr. returned to the subject to reinforce his views later in the teleconference: "This track is for the Mexicans like Indy and Daytona put together for the Americans. Just to be able to race here, it's the best feeling."

Diaz, who is on standby to replace Mexico's most popular driver, Adrian Fernandez, should Fernandez not be ready to race this weekend, expressed some concern about making his CART debut before a huge crowd of Mexican fans: "Well, it's going to be a huge pressure for me. I know that. All the people, including Adrian, he's been supporting me a lot from the test. I think with that, with his support, I think all the people here in Mexico; they know that I don't have the experience of Adrian or his talent. I need more time, obviously. I think it's going to be hard, but with Adrian's support and all his team's support, I'm going to be fine."

Fernandez, still recovering from injuries he suffered in the first lap crash at the Surfers Paradise CART round, will be evaluated today by CART's medical staff to determine if he or Diaz will race the Fernandez Racing Lola this weekend. Fernandez, earlier in the week, said: "It goes without saying that this race means a lot to me - my family is here, my friends, everyone - and also my sponsors. Obviously I would like to be in better shape than I am right now. If I do drive in the end, which I feel very positive, I will give my best even though I am not in the best shape with these two accidents within the last few months."

In his earlier comments, Fernandez also expressed his great pleasure about the prospects of racing on the center stage at his home track: "This is the track where I took my first laps in a race car, and where I competed for many years. To be able to race here again in my hometown, after so many years of racing outside Mexico City, will be very special, especially after the work they have done on the track. After so many years of trying to get an event here, finally we have one. It is going to be huge."

Michel Jr. was asked to describe the circuit itself, and his excitement was apparent in his description, particularly while describing the new section that sends the cars through the center of an existing stadium: "Going through the Foro Sol, it's unbelievable. You have 30,000 people in the stadium going right in the middle of it. I wish for a couple of laps in the race I could step out of my car and just stand in there and watch the race and all the people. They have baseball games there. They have a lot of concerts. I've been to concerts there. After I knew that we were going to race there, to watch all the people now, to know all those people are going to come and watch us, go in the middle of that, like in the parade, it's going to be unbelievable."

He summed up the thoughts of the drivers well, saying: "The track I think is very good for the drivers, it's very good for the teams, it's the best for spectators. It's going to be a great event."

Three amigos press conference

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