Marlboro Team Penske Pit Notes
December 1, 2004
CASTRONEVES AND DE FERRAN COMPETE AS TEAMMATES ONCE AGAIN
Helio Castroneves was in Brazil this past month not only to visit with friends and family, but also to take care of a little business. On November 14th, Castroneves competed in the Granja Viana 500, which is held annually at Felipe Giaffone's family karting facility.
The 500-mile endurance race attracts some of Brazil's most skilled drivers including Castroneves, former teammate Gil de Ferran, and IndyCar Series stars Vitor Meira, Tony Kanaan and Felipe Giaffone. While they led for a good part of the race, Castroneves and teammates de Ferran and Meira ultimately finished second behind the Team of Kanaan, Giaffone, Dan Wheldon and Formula 1 driver Rubens Barrichello. More than 70 teams entered the 644-lap race, which took nearly 11 hours to complete.
CASTRONEVES ENTERS FAST FOOD MARKET
In addition to hitting the racetrack to brush up on his road course racing skills, Helio Castroneves also took some time to kick-off his latest business venture. The 29 year-old has teamed up with nine other colleagues to bring the global Burger King hamburger franchise to the country of Brazil.
Last week, the group opened up the nation's first Burger King outlet in Sao Paulo at the Ibirapuera Mall, where Castroneves joined two of the nine other partners Galvao Bueno, a Brazilian Formula 1 announcer, and Luiz Eduardo Batalha for the grand opening of the franchise. In addition, Nish Kankiwala the international president of Burger King and Julio Ramirez, the president of Burger King in Latin America, were present at the opening ceremonies.
Castroneves and his partners are planning to open two more Burger King franchises in Sao Paulo this year at the Interlagos Mall and at the Tatuape Mall and a total of 50 stores over the next five years. Burger King is now available in every country in Latin America.
MARLBORO TEAM PENSKE GETS A REFRESHER IN ROAD COURSES
In preparation for the three road/street course events during the 2005 Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar® Series season, Marlboro Team Penske has recently been employing a number methods for its drivers to get reacquainted with the rigors of driving on these challenging circuits.
While many other IndyCar Series drivers are keeping their skills sharp in other forms of racing during the off-season, Marlboro Team Penske recently tested an old CART car at Sebring, FL. The Reynard/Toyota, prepared from Penske Racing's inventory, provided Castroneves his first experience behind the wheel of an Indy car on a road or street course since Australia in 2001 when he competed in the CART Series.
Although Castroneves has tested Formula 1 cars since then, the Reynard/Toyota was more similar to the IndyCar Series machines the Team will be running in 2005. This test also marked the first time Hornish Jr. has had the opportunity to run a car with a power-to-weight ratio similar to that in which he'll be competing next season. The last time Hornish Jr. raced on a road or street course was in Houston in 1999 when he competed in the Toyota Atlantic Series.
Castroneves and Hornish Jr. are also in the process of working with their personal trainers to create a new workout regimen in order to prepare themselves physically for the upcoming road/street course events. To supplement their sessions in the gym, the pair has also been driving go-karts to maintain their conditioning.
"It's important that our drivers stay physically fit," said Tim Cindric, President Penske Racing Inc. "Our primary objective is to get Helio and Sam mentally and physically prepared for this type of racing. Many of our competitors have had the opportunity to stay sharp on road and street courses as they have been competing in other series. We feel these three events will be critical to the 2005 IndyCar Series Championship."
HORNISH JR. HEADS TO MEXICO FOR HONEYMOON
Two-time IndyCar Series Champion Sam Hornish Jr. finally had time to give his new bride, Crystal, the honeymoon she's been waiting for since the couple tied the knot on June 5th of this year. With the time constraints of the 16-race schedule and off-season testing, the two made sure that they had time to sneak away this weekend as they departed for Cabo San Lucas.
The couple has been looking forward to their honeymoon to get some much-needed "R&R" before the holidays and the 2005 IndyCar Series season begins.
CASTRONEVES' STOCK CAR TEAM COMPETES IN SEASON FINALE
This past Sunday, during Helio Castroneves' trip to Brazil, he was in Interlagos to watch his cars perform in the final race of the season in the Brazilian Stock Car V8 Championship. Castroneves became a partner of NasrCastroneves Racing at the beginning of the 2004 season fielding two drivers Adalberto Jardim and Juliano Moro.
While Castroneves ended his IndyCar Series season with a win in Texas, his stock car team was not so fortunate as neither driver was able to finish due to mechanical problems.