BRIDGEVIEW, Ill.---Sigma Autosport owner Tom Wieringa is one of the few CART FedEx Championship Series owners who does not mind getting his hands dirty once in a while.
Wieringa, of Oak Brook, Ill., who created and founded one of the most successful first-year CART programs of this past season, doesn't mind helping set up or tear down the hospitality trailer and tent on race weekends or drive the transporter. He also operates as a race spotter during all oval events.
Now something new has been added - driving a race car.
Wieringa, has taken a unique approach to "hands-on" ownership. Wieringa will test the 2001 Sigma Autosport Ford-Cosworth/Lola at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, in Homestead, Fla., on Dec. 18-19. Wieringa will test on the road course at Homestead, instead of the oval.
For Wieringa, it will mean a better understanding of what goes on behind the controls of an 800-plus horsepower machine, something he believes is important.
"I feel I can be a better manager and owner if I drive myself," said Wieringa. "I think I know the business side of racing, but if I get in the car and drive I'll have a 'behind the wheel' perspective as well. I'm really looking forward to this."
It won't be the first time that Wieringa has been behind the wheel of a race car. Wieringa was a graduate of the Skip Barber School of Driving, plus he contested in several Toyota-Atlantic championship races in 1999 and 2000. In addition, he has been behind the wheel in a Champ Car as well, having successfully completed a test in a Ford-Cosworth/Reynard the prior year.
Earlier this month, Wieringa spent considerable time getting fitted for a seat and getting the Lola properly adjusted, which was not an easy task as Wieringa easily tops out at over 6 feet in height.
Wieringa said the test is also to see how well two new radio systems, shock absorbers, data acquisition and telemetry work.
"Homestead will be a great place to set up," said Wieringa.
While he won't be auditioning himself for a slot for the upcoming season yet, Wieringa did joke that it would be fun to race, but added this is to help the team out as well.
"This is not only going to be a character builder, but a team building test," said Wieringa. "It's important for the guys that they know I'm behind them all the way. I believe they are also behind me and together we can accomplish a lot."