LIFE'S A BEACH DOWN UNDER FOR TEAM GORDON AS IT TACKLES SCENIC SURFER'S PARADISE AND THE INDY 300 GOLD COAST, Queensland, Australia (Oct. 12, 1999) -- They might be based in sunny Southern California, birthplace of the American beach ...
LIFE'S A BEACH DOWN UNDER FOR TEAM GORDON AS IT TACKLES SCENIC SURFER'S PARADISE AND THE INDY 300
GOLD COAST, Queensland, Australia (Oct. 12, 1999) -- They might be based in sunny Southern California, birthplace of the American beach culture.
But Robby Gordon and the cast and crew of Team Gordon have had no time during their first full season on the CART FedEx Championship Series together to kick back where the sand meets the surf.
That's why the 30-year-old owner-driver has programmed in a few extra days of R&R for his team during its trip Down Under for this weekend's Indy 300 on the beaches of Surfer's Paradise, Australia.
"Funny how our race shop (in Anaheim, Calif.) is just a few miles from some of the best beaches in the world, but we have to go halfway around the world to stick our toes in the sand," said Gordon. "After the rac I've decided to keep the guys in Australia for a few days to have a little mini-vacation and regroup before we tackle Fontana and the Baja 1000. They've done a great job all year and deserve the time to sit in the sand and relax."
First things first, however. Gordon and company are dusting off their #22 Johns Manville/ Panasonic/Menards Toyota-powered Swift Champ Car to tackle the scenic but tough 2.795-mile temporary street course here. The 19th of 20 CART events this season, it'll be the last of seven contested on a temporary street circuit as the season closes on the 2-mile high-banked oval of California Speedway in Fontana October 29-31. Then it's no rest for the weary as Team Gordon takes its Toyota Tacoma trophy truck South of the Border for the annual Baja 1000 one week later.
"I'd like to believe we can finally have a good run on the street courses before it's all done," Gordon said. "We've taken our lumps between the concrete this year. Australia represents our last chance. We're bringing the Swift chassis Down Under, and if I have to scrape, break, or destroy every bolt and body part on these cars this weekend, I'll do it to win.
"We do some serious curb-hopping on this course. It's not kind to the equipment by any means. But this is the last time we'll be running the Swifts in 1999 before they become show cars for 2000, so there's no need to worry about bringing home a good car."
Team Gordon's best finish on a temporary circuit this season was on the wide open spaces of Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport, where Gordon brought home his Toyota-powered Swift in ninth place on a rainy afternoon. During his eight years on the CART tour, Gordon has enjoyed success here at Surfer's Paradise. He qualified fourth and finished third in 1993 while driving for A.J. Foyt. He had another promising run last year in his Arciero-Wells Toyota, but a late splash-and-go for fuel cost him.
"Back when I ran here with AJ in '93, we gave old Nigel (Mansell) a run for his money," Gordon said. "Last year was an altogether story (finishing 16th). We were running well, but a late fuel stop did us in. This year, I guarantee we will not pit with six laps to go if it's a timed race.
"The track in Surfer's Paradise is one of the best street courses for sure. It's long and constantly changing with sharp corners, chicanes and fast combinations. Because it's so long, you need to be solid in qualifying and put together complete laps, similar to a place like Road America. I like Surfer's. Who wouldn't? Especially considering we're winding down a tough season."
Practice and qualifying for this weekend's Indy 300 begin Friday (Oct. 15) and continue Saturday (Oct. 16). The race begins at 2 p.m. local time Sunday (Oct. 17) with a live ESPN broadcast set to begin at midnight EDT on Sunday (9 p.m. PDT on Saturday night).