#10 Aaron's Pontiac driver Johnny Benson traveled half way around the world in April to watch a Formula One race, but he won't be in Indianapolis watching this weekend's U.S. Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Benson attended the British Grand Prix in April and the Spanish Grand Prix in 1998. But, this weekend he plans to keep his eye glued to the television set when he's not competing in the NASCAR Winston Cup race on the Monster Mile in Dover, Delaware.
Johnny Benson On U.S. Grand Prix, Dover Weekend:
"I wish this were an off weekend, because I'd surely be in Indianapolis. We had so much fun in Silverstone that it would be a blast to see those cars at Indy. Those guys don't have any idea what they are in for. I remember my first race at Indy. The place might look like any other track but when those stands are full and they start to cheer you can feel your adrenaline take off.
"I'll try to watch the practice and qualifying but the race is going to be tough to watch live. I'll have the VCR back home taping that then watch it when we get home Sunday night. What would be cool is if we win Dover. I'll guarantee you I'll spray more champagne than any F1 driver if we can win Dover.
"I wish those guys had a little extra time and could come to one of our races. When we were in Europe we tried to explain to them what Bristol and Dover were like but it would be really cool to show them."
Why The Interest In Formula One?
"I'm interested in all kinds of racing. The technical end is pretty fascinating in the Formula One cars, the carbon fiber and exotic metals and the light weight of the cars is what fascinated me. They're the leader of the industry in that area. That's what originally sparked my interest. Some opportunities opened up to go to a few races and that's been kind of cool.
"We get to the track so early on Sunday morning that all there is to do is watch the Formula One race on television. It makes Sunday morning go by a bit faster. What stinks is sometimes we have our drivers meeting right in the middle of the race so I have to leave the television set then find out later what happened."
Who Is Your Favorite F1 Driver?
"I wouldn't say I've got a favorite. I admire all race car drivers. There are certain people you try to pull for. Michael Schumacher is probably The one guy I pull for. And Reubens Barrichello, not just because he's with Michael, but I had an opportunity, when he was with Jackie Stewart, to meet him when we were in Spain. He's just an extremely down-to-earth, nice guy. He took time to sit and talk with us and I enjoyed his company. He told me he played the NASCAR video game a lot at home. So you know he is cool if he does that. Knowing the position we're in, with our racing, and theirs being a lot more demanding, it was impressive that he did that."
What Will Be F1's Biggest Challenge at Indy?
"I think there will be a whole bunch of challenges that will come up that every team in motorsports faces when they go to a new facility. It looks tight, compared to some of the other tracks, because it's fit inside a 21/2 mile track to start with. I did get a chance to walk around part of the racetrack (infield) and I look forward to watching a tape of the race. I think it's cool they're coming back to the United States and what better place to have it than Indianapolis? If they can conquer Indy, then let's bring them to Dover and let them run in circles on concrete for four hours."
What Do You Like Most About F1 and NASCAR?
"I like our close racing. Over there it is pretty tough to trade paint like we do. Plus we have a lot more cars. They have 22 cars every race and we have about twice that in ours with about five more cars we have to send home each weekend. The fans see us more often also. We race about twice as many times as they do plus our races are about four hours where theirs are about two hours. As for F1, those cars are amazing. What I couldn't believe the last time we were there is how a Formula One car can go from almost 200 mph down to almost a complete stop in less than a second. Formula One is a lot different than what I am used to. I'm always going to prefer Winston Cup racing but it's hard to argue against a series whose drivers make from anywhere between $10 to $25 million a season in salary. That is pretty cool. I keep telling our car owners over here about that but all they do is look at me and laugh when I mention Schumacher's salary."