CHAMPCAR/CART: Mark Blundell chat

MARK BLUNDELL HAS A CHAT WITH CNNSI.COM PacWest Racing Group's Mark Blundell was involved in a chat room discussion on the CNN Sports Illustrated ( web-site today. CNNSI Host: Welcome to today's CART chat with driver Mark Blundell.


PacWest Racing Group's Mark Blundell was involved in a chat room discussion on the CNN Sports Illustrated ( web-site today.

CNNSI Host: Welcome to today's CART chat with driver Mark Blundell. Hi Mark. Thanks for joining us.

Mark Blundell: Great to be on CNNSI. Looking forward to a great chat.

Q: Mark, in the past two years, the engines have been rated as lighter and with significantly more horsepower, but yet the lap records aren't consistently falling. What else has changed that offset the gains made in the engine compartment?

Mark Blundell: The situation is that the engines have improved, and the aeros (aerodynamics) have been restricted. We gain in power but lose in grip. That is why the times have suffered. It's all in the name of safety.

Q: I was in the stands at Nazareth when Helio (Castroneves) caused your crash; that was a big collision, right in front of me. What does it feel like and what kind of soreness do you experience in such violent crashes? I held my breath until you climbed out of the car. Good luck at Michigan this weekend.

Mark Blundell: *laughs* It's an experience that I do not go through many times. It is difficult to explain what it feels like. It is probably the same feeling as a bullet coming from a gun. When I hit the wall, it was 77 g's. It took me a while to get out because I lost the air in my lungs. The guys (CART Safety Crew) were being extra careful with me because of my neck injury last year.

Q: What was your biggest obstacle to overcome switching from Formula One to CART? - Also, what is your opinion on the lack of American drivers in Formula One?

Mark Blundell: The biggest change was driving on the ovals. There have been no ovals in Europe for a very long time, although that will change next year. The biggest difference is that you have to left-foot brake. You also can not drive around the problem. I think there is a lack of American drivers in single-seat racing. That is a problem because of a lack of infrastructure at the lower levels to produce Andrettis and Vassers. American industry needs to back it and they need to have better platforms so that they will have CART and F1 drivers from the USA.

Q: Why do you think CART chose to add a pair of ovals instead of road courses? Isn't attendance better at road courses?

Mark Blundell: Yes, but the ovals they added for Europe are chosen because of the big difference between CART and F1. There has been an agreement that CART will not race on road courses in Europe. Attendance is stronger at road courses, but the Euro ones next year will be sellouts.

Q: Mark, has it been a distraction to have movie filming around your team this year?

Mark Blundell: Actually, there has been a lot of distraction, with the amount of extra work and track time, with jogging around the camera car. The hospitality unit is heavily used. There are also a lot of people wearing Motorola shirts, because our car will be heavily featured in the film.

Q: What kind of rehabilitation do you undergo in returning from such a serious injury as you had?

Mark Blundell: Actually, there was a situation from taking advice from a few different doctors. One was inclined to perform surgery, and one wasn't. I went with the natural healing process to let it heal correctly, and that has been fine. After having a 12-week layoff, it was just a case of getting back into the gym and back in the car and working to a good fitness level.

Q: Physically, who is the strongest man in CART?

Mark Blundell: Oh, me of course *laughs* I really do not know. If you went on build, Paul Tracy and Max Papis. Whether they are the strongest guys in the pit lane, I do not know.

Q: Will most of the Champ Car drivers be attending this year's U.S. Grand Prix?

Mark Blundell: I think there will be a lot there. As many will not have seen a Grand Prix. Because it will be at Indy, there will be a lot of excitement. A lot of the drivers are connected with manufactures that will be participating in the F1 race.

Q: What does the future hold for you in this sport?

Mark Blundell: Well, I have another year to run for PacWest. In fact, I have some interest from other parties in the pit lane, and another back across the pond. And I would like to also look at an opportunity that was put before me at the beginning of this year to test in NASCAR.

CNNSI Host: Well, thank you. That's all the time we have for today. Thanks again for joining us, Mark. And good luck in Michigan.

Mark Blundell: Thank you, and look forward to returning to CNNSI.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Max Papis , Paul Tracy , Mark Blundell