Sears Point: Drivers visit San Francisco

American Le Mans Series drivers enjoy day of fun in San Francisco. Practice begins Friday. SAN FRANCISCO (May 15, 2002) -- Taking advantage of their time in one of the world's most beautiful and popular cities, drivers from the American Le ...

American Le Mans Series drivers enjoy day of fun in San Francisco. Practice begins Friday.

SAN FRANCISCO (May 15, 2002) -- Taking advantage of their time in one of the world's most beautiful and popular cities, drivers from the American Le Mans Series enjoyed a day of fun in San Francisco before beginning to get down to the business of competition at nearby Sears Point Raceway.

The series returns to action after a two-month break with Sunday's Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Fosters. The two hour, 45-minute sports car event will begin at 1 p.m. (PDT) and will be televised live by SPEED Channel. Practice begins Friday with qualifying set for Saturday.

Nineteen drivers donned their racing suits and took a half-hour ride on a cable car Wednesday afternoon, taking in the sites from Fisherman's Wharf to Chinatown during a video and photo shoot. One of San Francisco's most recognizable symbols, the cable car carried the drivers up and down the steep hills that have appeared in so many movies and television shows filmed in The City by The Bay. The vehicle stopped once and the drivers disembarked to have a look at the famous zig-zag Lombard Street.

While gathering at Ghiradelli Square to board the cable car and standing around in their racing suits, the drivers attracted many passers-by.

Participants in the ride included Emanuele Pirro and Rinaldo Capello (Audi Sport North America), Chris Dyson and Elliott Forbes-Robinson (Dyson Racing), Bill Auberlen, David Brabham, David Donohue, Bryan Herta and Gunnar Jeannette (Panoz Motor Sports) and Terry Borcheller (Konrad Motorsport).

Also enjoying the cable car ride were Steve Knight and Chad Block (KnightHawk Racing), Ben Devlin and Dave McEntee (Archangel Motorsports), Chris McMurry, Jeff Bucknum and Bryan Willman (Team Bucknum Racing) and Sascha Maassen and Jorge Bergmeister (Alex Job Racing).

"I've traveled to a lot of places in the world for racing, but usually it's airport, hotel, race track and airport," said Brabham. "This is a great city to visit and I'm enjoying playing tourist. I'm staying at a little place near Chinatown and I've just been out walking around and looking."

"I try to have some time to look around, especially when it's in America," said Germany's Maassen. "There are so many things to see."

Earlier in the day, Capello and Pirro joined American Le Mans Series founder Don Panoz in the kitchen at the oldest Italian restaurant in America, Fior d'Italia in San Francisco's North Beach section. As TV cameras rolled, Capello, Pirro and Panoz helped prepare food for a noon press conference at the site.

"I feel home," said Pirro, the 2001 ALMS champion. "I really enjoy cooking and to get to do it in such a professional atmosphere is really fun." Pirro and Capello conversed in Italian with restaurant head chef Gianni Audieri as they prepared the meals.

The cooking segment was featured in the evening news on two San Francisco TV stations. Auberlen, Herta and The Racers Group's Kevin Buckler also attended the press conference.

During the interview segment of the press conference, Pirro delighted the attending media with a story about seeing Sears Point and San Francisco for the first time in the 1960s movie "The Love Bug." "The first time I came here to San Francisco and to Sears Point, I wanted to see the things I had seen in the movie," he said. "Now my children watch that movie and I've watched it with them 15 or 20 times."

Between the press conference and the cable car ride, Herta was a guest on a San Francisco afternoon radio talk show hosted by former NBA basketball great Rick Barry.

To end the day, some members of the Panoz Motor Sports team attended the San Francisco Giants vs. Atlanta Braves baseball game at PacBell Park. The Georgia-based team delighted in seeing the Braves take an easy 6-1 win.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Rinaldo Capello , Bryan Herta , Bill Auberlen , Ben Devlin , Chad Block , Sascha Maassen , Elliott Forbes-Robinson , Kevin Buckler , Terry Borcheller , David Donohue , Dave McEntee , Steve Knight , Chris McMurry , Bryan Willman , Jeff Bucknum , Don Panoz , Alex Job , Chris Dyson , Emanuele Pirro
Teams Alex Job Racing