CHAMPCAR/CART: Mid-Ohio pre-event notes

DUBLIN, Ohio (July 31, 2003) - The stars and cars of the Bridgestone presents the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford return to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for a weekend of intense racing and numerous fan activities. For the 22nd time, these ...

DUBLIN, Ohio (July 31, 2003) - The stars and cars of the Bridgestone presents the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford return to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for a weekend of intense racing and numerous fan activities. For the 22nd time, these open-wheel rockets will attack the prolific 13-turn, 2.25-mile road course during the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio, August 7-10.

With his eyes on the Vanderbilt Cup, Paul Tracy has thus far been the top driver on this year's circuit. Tracy has 5 wins under his belt, including last weekend's round in Vancouver.

"My best year I ever had, '93, was five wins in a season," Tracy said. "I've matched that now, with more podiums. You know, there's a long way to go in the championship. All the races coming up I feel I do well at."

"I'm looking forward to every race coming up on schedule, it's a good track for me. Usually in my career, I've usually started to come to life the second half of the season."

If Tracy's second half gets better than his first, it'll be a long road ahead for the rest of the Champ Car World Series drivers. Bruno Junqueira, currently second in the point standings, comes to Mid-Ohio with a team (Newman-Haas Racing) that placed second in last year's race (with Christian Fittipaldi) and captured last year's series championship (with Cristiano da Matta).

"We are being very consistent. That's the most important thing," said Junqueira. "I think now there is going to be this stretch till the end of the year, a lot of back-to-back races. I think the best way to win the championship is to be consistent, and that's what we're going to try to do. Eventually, I hope we can win a race (before) the end of the year."

Tracy's Player's/Forsythe Racing teammate Patrick Carpentier will try to become the 7th Champ Car driver to obtain back-to-back Mid-Ohio titles in the last 20 years, joining a prestigious list of drivers that includes Bobby Rahal, Michael Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Al Unser Jr., Alex Zanardi, and Helio Castroneves.

The Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio is a 92-lap, 207.736-mile race with the green flag waving at just after 2:00 p.m. to a live nationwide audience on SPEED Channel television.

The Champ Car ladder series will also be in full effect throughout the weekend. The CART Toyota Atlantic Championship comes back to Mid-Ohio after a three-year absence. Carpentier and fellow Champ Car superstar Jimmy Vasser are among former Atlantics race winners at Mid-Ohio. Including other former Toyota Atlantics competitors such as Jacques Villeneuve, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan and Michael Andretti, today's Atlantic's drivers are certainly tomorrow's stars.

The Argent presents the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race will take place Sunday morning at 11:30 a.m.

The Barber Dodge Pro Series is the Official Entry Level Professional Race Series of Champ Car and will compete during the weekend as well. Current Champ Car driver Geoff Boss and former Champ Car pole-sitter Bryan Herta both took podiums at Mid-Ohio as Barber Dodge drivers.

The Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship returns to Mid-Ohio for the series' second double-header of 2003, following a twin bill during the Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic weekend in late June. Memo Gidley, Alex Tagliani and the late Greg Moore used Formula Ford 2000 as a stepping-stone for careers in Champ Car.

The SPEED World Challenge Touring Class provides the only fenders of the weekend. Acura RSX, Mazda Protoges, BMW 325 and Subaru Imprezas are among the compacts that will attack Mid-Ohio's twists and turns.

Plenty of off-track action adds to the weekend, beginning in Columbus, Ohio on Thursday, August 7 with the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Fan Fest. Taking place at Promowest Pavilion in the downtown Arena District beginning at 5:00 p.m., the pre-race party will be the last chance to purchase advance tickets at reduced prices for the weekend's race. Spectators will be able to interact with Champ Car stars Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier, Michel Jourdain, and Oriol Servia, among others.

On Friday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the popular Champ Car Fan Forum returns at 4:50 p.m. in the Honda Pavilion. The Fan Forum is an open forum providing an opportunity for fans to ask questions of key players in the Champ Car series. Champ Car owner Derrick Walker, SPEED and CBS pit reporter Calvin Fish and CART Vice President of Joint Venture Operations Rena Shanaman headline the forum. Also on Friday "A Taste of CART" will take place. This charity event places Champ Cars chefs in a cooking competition for all to enjoy.

The Champ Car drivers will make themselves available to the public for a formal autograph session from 4:45-5:45 p.m. on Saturday, August 9 near the Pace Car Paddock. Once the track goes cold on Saturday, fans are invited to attend Z-98 "Rock Stock" at the old Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, setting of the movie "Shawshank Redemption." National recording artist Karma has the show's top billing.

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is located approximately halfway between Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio off of Interstate 71. Commonly referred to as the "Most Competitive in the U.S.", Mid-Ohio hosts six events throughout the summer. For event information or information about deluxe discounts on tickets, call 1-800-MID-OHIO or visit us on the web at www.midohio.com.

-mo-

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About this article
Series Atlantic , Barber Pro , IndyCar , PWC
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Al Unser Jr. , Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Memo Gidley , Bruno Junqueira , Bobby Rahal , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Alex Zanardi , Oriol Servia , Bryan Herta , Calvin Fish , Danny Sullivan , Emerson Fittipaldi , Geoff Boss , Greg Moore