CHAMPCAR/CART: Brazil Homecoming Big Event for Luiz Garcia

Rod Stewart sang about every picture telling a story. The picture was perfect for Luiz Garcia Jr., and so was the story. Had there been a picture of his face, the smile alone would have told anyone that he was a happy driver -- and for many ...

Rod Stewart sang about every picture telling a story. The picture was perfect for Luiz Garcia Jr., and so was the story. Had there been a picture of his face, the smile alone would have told anyone that he was a happy driver -- and for many reasons.

Reason number one: He is coming off his best finish in his two-year CART career, a 12th place at the Long Beach Grand Prix, which earned him a point, his first in the FedEx Championship Series, and the first point for the new Project Racing Group (P.R.G.).

Reason number two: After two races in last year's equipment, Garcia got his first crack at a 2000 Reynard/Mercedes-Benz IC108F, when he took the new Hollywood car for several laps at Putnam Park Race Course, in Mt. Meridian, Ind., on Wednesday, April 19. The car ran smoothly and Garcia improved his time with each lap.

Reason number three: Garcia will be making his second Champ Car (and third overall) appearance at the Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway in the Jacarepagua section of Rio de Janeiro.

"It is of course, a very special race for every Brazilian driver, and I'm no exception," said Garcia, 28, who is from Brasilia, the capitol of Brazil. "Like any home race, it's the one we want to win the most."

Last season, Garcia, racing for Payton-Coyne, did not qualify, but he was entered in the race and finished 17th overall. His only other appearance at the track was in 1991, when the track was a road course.

"I was running third in a Formula Ford race and was overtaking second place, when we collided and went out of the race. I remember it well because Tony (Kanaan) was also competing there and we were the only two drivers to continue into CART," said Garcia.

Besides his racing, Garcia is also pretty good with his racing history. He first went to the Fittipaldi Speedway in 1986 as a 15-year-old with his father. There he saw two of the greatest Brazilian drivers of all time place one-two in the Brazilian Grand Prix (when the track hosted Formula 1 events).

"Nelson Piquet won, and Ayrton Senna was second. I remember how everyone in the country was ecstatic about that," said Garcia. "I grew up admiring the Brazilian drivers like Senna, Nelson, and Emerson."

Garcia is in fact friends with both Piquet and Fittipaldi. While the track is called Fittipaldi Speedway, the entire facility is named Nelson Piquet International Raceway.

"I can't think of a better place to race," said Garcia. "I hope to finish in the top ten at Rio and I think it's a possibility. We worked very hard to score at Long Beach, and with my sponsors Hollywood, Embratel, Tang and Banco Sofisa all Brazilian companies, I want to do the best for them, myself and the team."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ayrton Senna , Nelson Piquet , Emerson Fittipaldi , Luiz Garcia Jr.