CHAMPCAR/CART: Hot Rodder''s Haven

MONTVALE, N.J. (March 13, 2000) -- Tony Kanaan earns his living driving a Mercedes-Benz-powered Champ Car in the CART FedEx Championship Series for Mo Nunn Racing on race tracks such as Miami-Homestead Speedway. At home in South...

MONTVALE, N.J. (March 13, 2000) -- Tony Kanaan earns his living driving a Mercedes-Benz-powered Champ Car in the CART FedEx Championship Series for Mo Nunn Racing on race tracks such as Miami-Homestead Speedway. At home in South Florida, Kanaan spends his free time working on his road-going Mercedes-Benz CLK430 Sport at the service bays of Bill Ussery Motors in Coral Gables, Fla. "When I was growing up, I practically lived in the shop," said the 24-year-old Brazilian pilot and 1998 CART Rookie of the Year. "I was always changing things around on my cars. After I bought my first CLK430 in 1998, the first thing I did was change from the stock 17-inch AMG wheels to 18-inch AMG wheels. My Mercedes rarely needs maintenance, but I love to tinker with it anyway. "There are some roads near my house where you can really test the performance of your car. With other cars, you have to keep your speed very low or use your brakes a lot on those corners. But with the Mercedes, you just turn the wheel and control the throttle pedal, and the car performs better. It's a fast car, but it's sporty and comfortable too. It's fun to drive."

Hot Rodder's Haven 2

At the race track, Kanaan and his chief engineer review lap data gleaned from the single-seat Champ Car's onboard computers, and the team makes adjustments to the equipment. With his street-legal CLK430, Kanaan and Mercedes technician Dean Sourber can experience the sport sedan's ride characteristics simultaneously. In fact, Kanaan thinks of Bill Ussery Motors as his personal "work shop" and calls Sourber his "chief engineer." "Dean and I go out in my car and we drive around," Kanaan said. "I tell Dean how I want the car to behave on those tight corners. He plays a similar role as the chief engineer for my Champ Car, but Dean can ride in the car along with me. Then we go back to the shop and work on the car -- maybe adjust the pads or the springs -- and we take it out again to make sure it's just the way I like it." Kanaan frequently goes to Bill Ussery Motors to get his car washed or simply to hang out. "I don't let just anyone touch my Mercedes -- whether it's my race car or my personal car," Kanaan said. "The guys there are my friends -- they are really nice people. That's why they are so successful." In addition to Kanaan's Mo Nunn Racing team, Mercedes-Benz supplies turbocharged IC108F V8 engines to PacWest Racing and Bettenhausen Motorsports. Mercedes-Benz is the Official Car of CART.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Kanaan , Mo Nunn