IRL: Boesel Ready for '98 Season

BOESEL PREPARED FOR NEW CHALLENGE IN INDY RACING LEAGUE LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 19, 1998 -- Veteran Brazilian driver Raul Boesel has come full circle in his racing career. Boesel has joined the Indy Racing League after 12...

BOESEL PREPARED FOR NEW CHALLENGE IN INDY RACING LEAGUE

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 19, 1998 -- Veteran Brazilian driver Raul Boesel has come full circle in his racing career.

Boesel has joined the Indy Racing League after 12 years competing on the CART circuit. He'll return to the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race in May after a 2-year absence. It was at Indianapolis in 1985 that he slept on Dick Simon's living-room couch at night and drove for Simon during the day, qualifying for the first of nine Indys.

Boesel missed the last two 500s while continuing to drive in the CART series and placed 10th in the 1997 final standings.

There was a void, he felt, in his life. He still wanted another shot at winning Indy.

"Yeah, I missed it," he said. "I'm sure the drivers who say they don't aren't speaking from the heart."

When his ride with Pat Patrick ended last fall, he looked to the IRL for a drive that would give him that opportunity. Dennis McCormack, forming a new team in Indianapolis, was seeking a seasoned campaigner to sit in his car's cockpit. Car manufacturer G Force helped bring the two together.

"At Indianapolis, it's like I have some unfinished business," Boesel said as he prepared for Saturday's IRL debut in the Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway Presented by Aurora.

"In 1993, I definitely had the fastest car. I had a stop-and-go penalty and then got another at the end when I came into the pits and they said they weren't open."

That year Boesel was driving the Duracell/Mobil 1/Scandia car and started on the front row alongside polesitter Arie Luyendyk and Mario Andretti. He beat Luyendyk into the first turn, led the first lap and the next 16 as well. The penalties were costly because he finished fourth right on the tail of the front three, Emerson Fittipaldi, Luyendyk and Nigel Mansell.

His speed average of 157.142 mph was only 65-hundredths of a mph slower than Arie's.

Boesel also finished third in 1989 and started next to polesitter and eventual winner Al Unser Jr. in 1994.

        "That's in the past," the 40-year-old native of Curitiba, Brazil,
said.  "I'm coming here with an open mind." 

Boesel feels the experience he brings definitely will be an asset. He also believes McCormack's skills as a mechanic and car owner will be a plus for him.

"I think I did well on the ovals before," Boesel said. "That's one of the reasons the IRL will be good for me. I think I will be the one to benefit. He (McCormack) is really trying to become an established team."

In 1993, Boesel almost won at Milwaukee before getting passed on the next-to-last lap. He placed second and also had a second at Phoenix that year as well as a similar finish in the Detroit Grand Prix road-course race.

He captured the pole at Milwaukee in 1994.

Last season, Boesel garnered his third career pole in the inaugural race at the Gateway International Raceway across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. He led the first 41 laps before slipping back to 14th due to handling problems.

In other CART oval races in 1997: Started sixth and finished eighth at Nazareth, Pa.; drove from 18th to a season-best finish of fifth at Rio de Janeiro; qualified third and placed fourth at Milwaukee; started third at Michigan and stayed in the chase until a broken transmission put him out after 120 laps, and started ninth but fell out in 20th due to electrical problems in the season finale at the new California Speedway.

Boesel has 169 career starts.

Boesel says the IRL has come a long way in just its third season. He hopes there is a market for both series.

Speeds are somewhat slower with the non-turbocharged engines used in the IRL, but Boesel feels this is irrelevant.

"The main thing is not speed," he said, "but being competitive."

Last season the IRL had close, exciting finishes from Indianapolis to Las Vegas.

The Brazilian, who now lives in Key Biscayne, Fla., made his initial tests in the McCormack Motorsports G Force/Oldsmobile Aurora on Jan. 10. He quickly moved his speed up from 158.479 to 162.620. In a later test, he hiked this to 162.881.

The car has an unusual associate sponsor - the National Hockey League Players Association. Attending the announcement at Orlando were Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brian Bradley and former player Adam Creighton.

Boesel isn't predicting he will score his first career victory in the race. Eddie Cheever Jr., whom he raced against in both Formula One and CART, accomplished that feat last January.

"I'm just looking to be competitive," he said. "There is a learning curve as a driver. It's a new circuit for me, a new contact with the car, a new experience. I have a lot to learn. It'll take a little while for us to jell.

"I don't predict going there to win the race. I'm going to try to do the best I can. There are some quick drivers there."

But if things work out just right he just might score a "helmet trick" for McCormack, himself and his hockey-playing sponsors.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Al Unser Jr. , Arie Luyendyk , Raul Boesel , Nigel Mansell , Emerson Fittipaldi , Dick Simon