Former Longhorn running backs Cedric Benson and Ricky Williams are renowned for their pace and agility in their college and NFL careers but the University of Texas standouts got to experience another form of pace and agility at the Circuit of The Americas on the weekend.
Benson and Williams were joined former Australian international Rugby League and Rugby Union representative Wendell Sailor in taking a "ride on the wild side" in preparation for the American debut of the Australian V8 Supercars championship in Austin this weekend.
With Sailor at the wheel of the Chrysler 300 SRT8 Pedders STP Safety Car, former series champion James Courtney joined him aboard the Holden V8 Supercar "Car of Tomorrow" with the duo taking the Longhorn stars for a ride from the from the University of Texas and finishing outside the spectacular Texas State Capitol building in downtown Austin.
Benson was a four-year starter at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back in 2004. He finished his college career with 5,540 rushing yards to rank sixth all time in NCAA Division I-A history, and second only to Ricky Williams in school history. Currently a free-agent, the former Longhorn has played in the NFL for the Chicago Bears (2005−2007), Cincinnati Bengals (2008−2011) and Green Bay Packers (2012).
Williams played for the Texas Longhorns from 1995 to 1998 and holds or shares 20 NCAA records. He became the NCAA Division I-A career rushing leader in 1998 with 6,279 yards. Known as the "Texas Tornado", Williams played for the New Orleans Saints (1999–2001), Miami Dolphins (2002–2003, 2005), Toronto Argonauts (2006) (CFL), Miami Dolphins (2007–2010) and Baltimore Ravens (2011).
'It's really cool that the Aussie V8s are coming to Austin, we had fun driving around the track," said Williams.
With the V8 Supercars championship arriving in Texas this week, more than 400 members of the series "family" including drivers, crew members, series officials and media will make the trip from Australia.
Track action begins this Friday at Circuit of The Americas with practice while both Saturday and Sunday will feature two qualifying sessions and two races each day.
Kelly boys head to Tennessee
Jack Daniels Nissan racers feel at home in the USA
Their sponsor was founded in Lynchburg, Tennessee and the road going version of their Nissan Altima is made just down the road only 60 miles away - it is no wonder Jack Daniel's Racing stars Todd and Rick Kelly feel right at home in the USA.
The former Bathurst 1000 winners arrived in the US yesterday and immediately headed to Nashville. The duo toured the Jack Daniel's factory today in Lynchburg and will head to Nissan's US headquarters in Smyrna, TN tomorrow.
The USA is regarded as the 'home' of the Nissan Altima. The mid-sized sedan is one of the best-selling vehicles on the American market, with more than 300,000 sold in 2012. The American version of the Altima is built at Nissan's production facility in Smyrna, near Nashville, Tennessee. The Altima will go on-sale in Australia for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2013.
"It has always been a dream of mine to race in America, and for the life of me, I never thought we'd have the opportunity to take our own cars over there," said Todd Kelly.
"It's huge for an Australian category to be racing in that part of the world where motorsports is so massive. I feel very lucky and I can't wait to get over there.
"We're in the backyard of our biggest partners, with Jack Daniel's just up the road and Nissan's plant that builds the Altimas there as well. There'll be a lot of interest and support from those guys.
V8 Supercar stars ready for US debuts
Only four V8 Supercar stars with prior US experience
Of the 28 drivers in the V8 Supercars Championship field, just four - Jason Bright, Alex Davison, Alex Premat and James Courtney - have raced cars before in the United States.
Team BOC's Bright is the most experienced, having competed in the US Formula Ford 2000 Championship in 1996, Indy Lights in 2000 (including a victory in Portland) and the 2006 Sebring 12 Hour for Aston Martin Racing - where he finished fourth overall and second in class.
Jeld-Wen FPR Ford's Davison was the first Australian to win a race at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he won in Porsche Supercup in 2002.
He also competed in a handful of American Le Mans Series races in a Porsche in 2003 and 2008 - including a second place finish in the GT2 class of the 2008 Sebring 12 Hour.
Fujitsu Racing GRM's French ace Premat competed in a round of the American Le Mans Series at Laguna Seca in 2011 in an OAK Racing Pescarolo-Judd, while the Holden Racing Team's Courtney made a one-off start in the U.S. in 2004 when the Japanese GT Championship he was racing in at the time competed at California Speedway in Fontana.