CLEVELAND (June 29, 2001) - Throughout the years, rock musicians from George Harrison to Lenny Kravitz have been drawn to the ambiance of the CART FedEx Championship Series and admired first-hand the attributes of this daring and exciting ...
CLEVELAND (June 29, 2001) - Throughout the years, rock musicians from George Harrison to Lenny Kravitz have been drawn to the ambiance of the CART FedEx Championship Series and admired first-hand the attributes of this daring and exciting profession.
Now two stars of the 'fastest racing on earth' who usually entertain with their unparalleled driving skills - Kenny Brack of Team Rahal and Patrick Carpentier of Player's Forsythe Racing - have been drawn into the ambiance of the world of rock and roll.
Thanks to a partnership between CART Entertainment, Shell and Player's, Brack and Carpentier have united to form a four-member rock band that will perform during race weekends at several FedEx Championship Series venues this season.
The band will make its concert debut Friday, July 13 at Wayne Gretzky's Restaurant in Toronto as part of the Molson Indy Drivers VIP Party being hosted that evening. They are tentatively scheduled to also perform during race weekends at Chicago (July 27-29, Target Grand Prix of Chicago Presented by Energizer), Vancouver (Aug. 30-Sept. 2, Molson Indy Vancouver), Houston (Oct. 5-7, Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston) and the season finale at California Speedway (Nov. 2-4, Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota). The highlight, thanks to a major assist from Pioneer, will be the opportunity for the band to be the opening act for a yet-to-be-named headliner band scheduled for the Pioneer Rock 'N Roar Concert in Houston.
The band will be named R.P.M. - Racing Powered Music - as a result of a contest for fans on cart.com initiated from an idea by Brack. The one-week contest on the official website of CART garnered more than 6,000 names and Brack and Carpentier selected the one sent by Michael Roberts of Lethbridge, Canada. Among some of the more interesting names that were submitted included Backstraight Boys, Men Without Helmets, The Traveling Wickerbillies, Hans and the Devices, Blood, Sweat and Gears, Air Guns & Hoses, Wicker Bill and the Handfords, Blink 235, Lead Foot Zeppelin and The Pole Catz.
Brack will play guitar and Carpentier drums in R.P.M. and the duo will be joined by lead vocalist Elizabeth Fornal and bassist Laz Denes. Fornal is a 26-year-old CART marketing coordinator from Detroit who also performs for Michigan-based band Mirador. Denes, the 41-year-old public relations director for Mo Nunn Racing, has been playing for more than three decades, including the last 10 in the Southern California band Zombie Hit Squad.
The group also may have some surprises along the way such as special guest musicians joining the band at select performances throughout the season.
"What an outstanding opportunity for CART Entertainment, along with our partners in this project, to utilize our resources to blend two forms of exciting entertainment - Champ Car racing and music," said Jay Lucas, senior vice president of CART Entertainment. "This should continue the momentum in the entertainment field for us that has been generated in particular by the motion picture 'Driven' and the extremely entertaining segment with Biff Henderson recently shown on the Late Show with David Letterman. Perhaps we may get Biff to another race and sing with the band."
Brack will utilize guitars provided by Gibson, Fender and Schecter, and amps supplied by Line 6 while Carpentier will use drums provided by DW Drums.
"It sure seems to be easier to put together a band and get some publicity than it is to start racing and getting into a racing career," Brack said. "Sure, I know it helps that we are racing drivers that play music. I guess there are musicians and actors who want to be racing drivers. So it's a natural fantasy. Now maybe we can live out one of our fantasies with this band. Hey, I guess I can live out a dream now. I can go trash a hotel room on the road and we can act like rockers - just kidding. Somehow I think I've probably outgrown my restless stage. I just want to play well in front of the fans and have a good time. I think I'm pretty serious about this band thing. I just don't want to look bad."
In preparation for their debut in Toronto, the band has been practicing roughly four hours each race week. The group has been rehearsing songs such as "Proud Mary" and "Midnight Special" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Drive My Car," by the Beatles, "Little Deuce Coupe," by The Beach Boys, "Joey" by Concrete Blonde, "Just A Girl," by No Doubt and "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry.
"I think it is going to be a lot of fun for us and I'm really looking forward to it," Carpentier said. "We are practicing each race week so we should be all right. I hope we don't screw up, but if we do at least it can't be as bad as with your team when you are in the race car! It should be a fantastic time as long as the fans realize it is for fun."
Brack and Carpentier have played music for years on their own but the idea to form a band was hatched during the Sneak Preview week in January at California Speedway. They met during a function at the Playboy Mansion and decided to move ahead on the project.
"Kenny and Patrick approached me in earnest about forming the band at the Mansion and they were very serious about the project. Considering how much they do for the FedEx Championship Series, it was a pleasure to assist them in an endeavor that they were passionate about," said Mike Zizzo, CART vice president of competition public relations who is serving as the "unofficial" band manager. "Many consider them having the dream profession of being a globe-trotting Champ Car driver, but they also can dream as well. Considering the amount of musical talent that routinely visits the FedEx Championship Series, the group should be able to cultivate some professional advice and tips. I don't think Kenny would mind a few pointers from Lenny Kravitz when he shows up on a race weekend."
Both drivers have been musically inclined since their youth. Brack, 35, began playing music while he was in grade school in Sweden. He began with the flute, moved on to acoustical guitar by 11 and later focused on rock and roll when he got his first electric guitar.
"I've always used my music for relaxation," said Brack, who lives in Dublin, Ohio. "I haven't really played in a band before. I've jammed with several different bands but nothing seriously. Last October, I played with [fellow driver] Cristiano [da Matta] and The Paladins band at the CART Runway Madness near Fontana and I just recently played with Paul Shaffer and the band on The Late Show with David Letterman. It was fun and I was able to play over the winter with a band in Columbus."
Carpentier, a 29-year-old Canadian living in Las Vegas, began playing the drums when he was 11 and played on and off for years. He became serious about his music a few years ago and practices regularly with his drum set in the living room of his Las Vegas home. He also is adept at playing piano.
"I'm building a recording studio behind my house and maybe some day I'll be even more involved in music," Carpentier said. "But for now, my professional life is racing and music is for fun."
On their "true" professional side, the two are accomplished drivers in the FedEx Championship Series.
Brack, who drives the No. 8 Shell Ford Lola for Team Rahal co-owned by three-time series champion Bobby Rahal and entertainer David Letterman, was the 2000 CART Jim Trueman Rookie of Year and finished fourth in the series championship. He is off to a torrid start this season, earning the first two wins of his career at Japan and Milwaukee and leads the FedEx Series championship.
Carpentier, who drives the No. 32 Player's Indeck Ford Reynard for Player's Forsythe Racing co-owned by Player's Inc. and Gerald Forsythe, finished a career-best 11th in the championship last season. Carpentier was the 1997 CART Jim Trueman Rookie of the Year and owns two career poles as well as a career-best finish of second twice (1997 Gateway, 1999 Vancouver) to his credit. Carpentier is currently 15th in points championship, but enters this weekend coming off consecutive top-eight finishes, including a season-best effort of fifth last week at Portland.
"They may want to hang onto their day jobs for a while, but I think they will surprise people with their talents and dedication to the project," Zizzo said.
The FedEx Championship Series prepares for Round 9 of 21 this weekend with the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by Firstar at Burke Lakefront Airport. The series visits seven countries and four continents during the season and climaxes with the season-ending Marlboro 500 Presented by Toyota on Sunday, Nov. 4 at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Thanks to a partnership between Marlboro, Toyota, CART and California Speedway, the winner of the season finale will collect $1 million, one of the largest paydays in all of motorsports. An additional $1 million, as well as the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup, will be awarded to the driver who wins the FedEx Championship Series championship.