CART FedEx Championship Series competitors Team Rahal announced Monday that Massimiliano "Max" Papis will succeed three-time PPG Cup champion Bobby Rahal when Rahal retires from driving at the conclusion of the 1998 season. Papis, who will pilot...
CART FedEx Championship Series competitors Team Rahal announced Monday that Massimiliano "Max" Papis will succeed three-time PPG Cup champion Bobby Rahal when Rahal retires from driving at the conclusion of the 1998 season. Papis, who will pilot the team's Miller Lite-sponsored, Firestone-shod Reynard/Ford-Cosworth Championship Car, will partner with Shell-sponsored team driver Bryan Herta for the 1999 CART campaign.
"When I set about looking for a replacement, I sought to hire the best driver available," said team owner/driver Rahal, who will focus on the owner role after this season's completion. "With Max, I think we've done that. He's fast, experienced, professional and well regarded, both by his peers and most keen observers of the sport. We know he hasn't been able to show his true colors to this point in a Championship Car, but his past exploits, his passion for the sport and his ability to perform well in what clearly has been a development program lead us to believe he's a pretty good bet to do so in the environment our team can provide. We're fortunate he became available and happy to have him."
Papis, who earned the nickname "Mad Max" for his many stunning late-race runs in U.S. sports car competition, requested and received his release from CART's Arciero-Wells Racing team earlier this month in order to replace Rahal.
"This is an amazing opportunity for me," Papis said, "and one I simply could not pass up. Driving for a front-running team like Team Rahal has been my dream since coming to CART two years ago. Bobby and my new friends at Miller Brewing Company have shown a great deal of faith in me and my abilities. I am determined to show that their faith is not misplaced."
"Max has all the ingredients to become a champion in CART," said Miller Brewing Company Director of Event Marketing, Mike Welsh. "He shows the hunger to win and the personality and flair to give Miller Lite and CART a new star performer."
"I had the good fortune to meet Max a few weeks ago at Road America and found him to be a very engaging fellow," said Team Rahal co-owner David Letterman. "No doubt he'll bring a lot of passion to our championship pursuit."
"Max's boundless enthusiasm, Bryan's obvious speed and Bobby's invaluable experience will create an exciting combination for Team Rahal as we enter a new era next season, "said Team Rahal General Manager Scott Roembke. "I think we're poised for a great leap forward."
Papis began his CART career with a limited three-race run for Arciero-Wells in 1996 in relief of the late Jeff Krosnoff. He has since earned eight points-paying finishes in 34 starts for the team.
Papis piloted a Moretti Ferrari to four poles, three wins and second place in the IMSA World Sports Cart standings in 1996. His racing resume also includes Formula One, Formula 3000 and Formula 3 experience. His lone F1 campaign came in 1995 with Arrows Grand Prix after serving as a test driver for both the Lotus and Ligier teams the previous season. He began racing go karts at age 12.
A 28-year old native of Como, Italy, Papis holds a degree in political science from Milan University. He resides in Newport Beach, Calif.
Team Rahal is a franchise member of Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART). Headquarted in Columbus, Ohio, the team owned by three-time CART champion Bobby Rahal and CBS Late Show host David Letterman currently fields a pair of Championship Cars for Rahal and Bryan Herta in the FedEx Championship Series. The 65-member team, which enjoys primary sponsorship from Miller Brewing Company and Shell Oil Products Company, also fields a PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship entry for driver Mike Borkowski and sponsor Textron Automotive Company.