CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Rahal Gateway Preview

First Anniversary "It's fast and it's fun," three-time CART FedEx Championship Series champion and Team Rahal owner/driver Bobby Rahal said of Gateway Interantional Raceway after only a few laps on the new egg-shaped oval last year. Rahal and...

First Anniversary "It's fast and it's fun," three-time CART FedEx Championship Series champion and Team Rahal owner/driver Bobby Rahal said of Gateway Interantional Raceway after only a few laps on the new egg-shaped oval last year. Rahal and his fellow CART competitors return to the mile-and-a-quarter track this weekend for the second annual Motorola 300. "It's similar to Phoenix in that you're flat (on the throttle) through (turns) three and four. As fast as it is, passing is tough. And though the corners are tight, there's room to race. I give Chris Pook and his staff a lot of credit for getting the track ready to race last year. It's a terrific setting, I enjoyed driving there and I think they're going to be very successful."

En Fuego Team Rahal had a pair of rare, frightening and fortunately relatively minor brushes with fire last year in its Gateway debut. Team driver Bryan Herta had to abandon his car on the front straight after 73 race laps when an electrical fire started in the cockpit. "The cockpit started getting hot about 50 laps into the race. I didn't think much about it at the time. Then, after our first pit stop, I could smell something burning. I finally had to jump out because the fumes and smoke were gettng to me." His fast exit left him uninjured. Teammate Bobby Rahal was not so lucky. Rahal sustained minor first-degree burns and minimal second-degree burns on his upper right arm when a fuel safety mechanism failed on his car and sent excess methanol onto the car and into the cockpit. "Almost as soon as I smelled something burning the flames were in the cockpit," Rahal recalled. "I was able to get the car safely off the track and jump out. It was a scary few moments. Fire is the driver's biggest fear. I've had a few before, but you could smell the bodywork burning first. This time the smell and the flames came together. I was pretty fortunate." He was treated at the CART Medical Facility on site and, remarkably, was back in the car the following weekend at Milwaukee.

Only A Test Team Rahal tested two days at The Milwaukee Mile last week in preparation for the Miller Lite 200 FedEx Championship Series event at that track on May 31. Bryan Herta handled the driving chores in the team's test car.

Lost And Found The Team Rahal Indy Lights team returns to action this weekend after disappointing outings in each of the last two series races. The team has tested twice since then (at Milwaukee and Sebring) and is confident with the progress it's made. "We're not ready to sit on the pole yet," said driver Mike Borkowski, "but we've made some big strides."

Dave's Kids Though Team Rahal co-owner David Letterman will be unable to attend Saturday's Motorola 300, one hundred (100) area youngsters who are part of the St. Louis Sports Commission's Dreams For Youth program will. Letterman has purchased grandstand tickets, box lunches and Team Rahal T-shirts for the group, which provides memorable experiences for young people who would not otherwise be able to attend sporting events.

Birthday Boy Bryan Herta turns 28 on race day. Putting his Shell machine in victory lane for the first time in his CART FedEx Championship Series career would rank right up there on Herta's birthday wish list.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bobby Rahal , Bryan Herta , Chris Pook , Mike Borkowski