CHAMPCAR/CART: ASCAR: Max Papis to drive UK ASCAR series

May 29, 2003 - Champ Car superstar and Daytona 24 Hours winner Max Papis joins the ASCAR Days of Thunder series with HTML Max Papis, Champ Car star, winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona race last year and current American Le Mans Series driver for...

May 29, 2003 - Champ Car superstar and Daytona 24 Hours winner Max Papis joins the ASCAR Days of Thunder series with HTML

Max Papis, Champ Car star, winner of the 24 Hours of Daytona race last year and current American Le Mans Series driver for JML Team Panoz, has signed to drive for top Days of Thunder racing team, HTML, commencing with the next round at Rockingham, near Corby in Northamptonshire on June 8.

The recruitment of the highest-profile driver yet, is regarded as a major coup for the series. The 32 year-old Italian will drive the HTML team's McDonald's-sponsored Ford Taurus. The Days of Thunder series now boasts leading names from Italy, Germany, Sweden, Holland, Columbia and Britain who have formerly competed in top international motorsport series including F1, Champ Cars, Le Mans, FIA GT Championship and F3000.

"Max signing up with the HTML team demonstrates the Days of Thunder Series is a true challenge for the highest standard of driver" said Rockingham CEO Ashley Pover. "It also clearly confirms the international status of the Days of Thunder racing series, with drivers from across the world racing both at Rockingham and at Eurospeedway Lausitz in Germany,"

"I am pleased to have my stock car debut in an ASCAR," said Papis. "After the first test I had with Travis Carter and the recent test in an Evernham Motorsports Dodge Winston Cup car, I believe the Days of Thunder series will enhance my knowledge about these cars and the competition in this type of racing."

Papis will be joining the most successful race-winning team in the Days of Thunder series in HTML. The Silverstone-based outfit have won seven out of 15 races so far, the most recent being at the last event at Rockingham on May 11.

HTML team boss Jonathan Heynes said: "We're delighted to have Max race with us - he's a true motorsport hero and a big coup for us. I'm certain he will be a major factor in the Days of Thunder series and driving alongside his new team-mate Roland Rehfeld, who won the last round at Rockingham, we have one of the strongest driver line-ups imaginable."

Papis, who resides in Miami, Florida, has had an illustrious racing career spanning 20 years, realising a lifetime ambition last year by winning the Rolex 24-Hours of Daytona race with Doran-Lista Racing. Max will also be competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, June 14-15, with JML Team Panoz. He previously competed with the Panoz team at this year's 12 Hours of Sebring event, finishing fifth overall.

Max first raced at Rockingham in 2001, in the inaugural Rockingham 500 Champ Car event at the 1.5-mile Corby oval and achieved a remarkable record. Although not officially in the Guinness Book of Records, Papis was recorded by the timing beam at the Rockingham track at 208mph - going backwards. Max's spin, and keeping the car off the wall, remains the fastest-ever speed achieved by a driver while driving under control in reverse!

"It happened on the very first lap of the race," said Papis, "but I still ended up in the points. I'm hoping to do that again at Rockingham - but this time to celebrate after the chequered flag doing donuts!"


Papis began his racing career in karting, when he raced the like of multiple F1 world champion Michael Schumacher and former CART champion Alex Zanardi. The Italian soon rose up the motorsport ladder, winning in Italian F3 and F3000 before becoming an F1 Grand Prix driver in 1995 with Footwork Arrows.

"I began my Formula One career at Lotus as test driver with Johnny Herbert and Alex Zanardi," Papis explained. "To drive for Lotus is something I am very proud of."

A year later the Italian crossed the Atlantic to race the renown MOMO Ferrari 333 SP, where Papis amassed three victories, four pole positions and set eight new track records in IMSA competition. Later in the season Papis was recruited to the CART FedEx Championship series. Three years after that he joined forces with Team Rahal, and finished the 1999 Champ Car season in a career best fifth overall in the series, leading the championship in laps and miles completed and finished second in laps led.

In 2000 Papis won his first Champ Car race at his home track and oval superspeedway, Homestead-Miami, and then won two more races the following year at Portland, from pole position, and at the spectacular Laguna Seca circuit from last place to first. He was also second at EuroSpeedway Lausitz and at Fontana in the series' closest ever finish, finishing second by 0.007 seconds. Papis led 491 laps on superspeedway circuits in 2002, showing his ability to conquer and monopolise on oval tracks.



Tested a Winston Cup Car for Evernham Motorsports at Kentucky Speedway.

Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona (Team JMB).

12 Hours of Sebring (Panoz Motorsports) - 5th place overall.


Rolex 24-Hours of Daytona (Doran-Lista Racing) - winner.

CART Fedex Championship (Autosport Sigma Lola-Ford/Cosworth)

3rd at Long Beach and Milwaukee.

Substituted for Adrian Fernandez Fernandez Racing Lola-Honda at Mid-Ohio and Fontana.

Indianapolis 500 (Red Bull Team Cheever Racing Dallara-Nissan Infiniti)

Qualified 18th. Ran as high as 12th before brake problems late in the race.

Indy Racing League Substituted for Gil de Ferran (Marlboro Team Penske Dallara-Chevrolet) - Texas Motor Speedway.

American Le Mans Series (Team Olive Garden Ferrari 550) Petit Le Mans - finished fourth in GTS class.


CART Fedex Championship (Team Rahal - Miller Lite Lola-Ford/Cosworth)

Sixth overall (107 points) - two wins at Portland from pole position and Laguna Seca (Firestone's 100th win). Two second-place finishes - EuroSpeedway Lausitz and Fontana (by 0.007 seconds in CART closest finish).

In six superspeedway races he led 427 laps - more than double of the nearest driver Michael Andretti.


CART Fedex Championship (Team Rahal - Miller Lite Reynard- Ford/Cosworth)

Winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Runner-up in Detroit. 14th overall.

Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona (Team Dyson) - winner of sportscar division.


CART Fedex Championship (Team Rahal - Miller Lite Reynard- Ford/Cosworth)

Fifth overall. Scored 11 top-five finishes in 20 starts, including consecutive runner-up finishes at Surfers Paradise and Fontana. Third at Laguna Seca.

Awarded the "Golden Helmet" as Italy's best driver in the world for 1999.

First career FedEx Championship Series pole position in the inaugural race at the Chicago Motor Speedway, an oval circuit.

Recorded points in 14 of 20 races overall, including nine of 11 races.

Just missed first CART win at the Michigan Speedway, ran out of fuel one turn from the chequered flag after leading 143 of 250 laps.

Led the CART FedEx Championship Series in laps and miles completed and finished second in laps led.

Was running at the finish in a series-high of 18 of 20 races.

24-Hours of Daytona (Ferrari 333SP)

Third overall - alongside Jimmy Vasser and Stefan Johansson.


CART Fedex Championship (Arciero-Wells MCI)

20th overall - fifth at Houston. Scored points at Portland, Cleveland, Road America, Vancouver and Laguna Seca.

24-Hours of Daytona (Ferrari 333SP) - pole position and led 18 of 24 Hours.


CART Fedex Championship (Arciero-Wells MCI)

8th at Michigan 500 - Nine top-15 finishes.


CART Fedex Championship (Arciero-Wells MCI)

Final four races of season - ninth at Road America.

IMSA World Sports Car Championship (MOMO Ferrari)

Second overall - three wins (Road Atlanta, Lime Rock, Watkins Glen), four pole positions, eight track records.


FIA Formula One World Championship (Footwork Arrows)

Seven starts - seventh in Italian Grand Prix.


FIA International F3000 Championship (Team Mytos Reynard/Judd)

Fifth overall - one win, one pole position (Spanish Grand Prix - Barcelona).

FIA Formula One test driver (Team Lotus-Honda - drivers Johnny Herbert and Alex Zanardi).

Tested for Ligier Renault F1 in Estoril.


FIA International F3000 Championship (Team Vortex) March F1 Junior team

Fourth in first race at Donington Park.


Italian F3 Championship (VW Team)

Won from Pole postion at Vallelunga. Fifth at Monaco. Five other top- five finishes.


Italian F3 Championship (Team Venturini)

7th overall - two wins (Monza, Binetto).


Italian F3 Championship (Euroteam Marlboro)

Three top-six finishes - fifth at Monza.


Italian F3 Championship (R3 Racing)


Formula Monza Series

Italian National Karting team.


Karting Intercontinental Championship race (Hong Kong - Italian National team).

Won ahead of Alex Zanardi and Michael Schumacher.

European Karting Championship - pole position.

Karting World Championship (Italian Karting Team) - two events.

Karting European Championship - three events.


Karting - Junior Class.


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About this article
Series ALMS , Grand-Am , IndyCar , Stock car
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Michael Schumacher , Stefan Johansson , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Alex Zanardi , Roland Rehfeld
Teams Team Lotus , Team Penske