CHAMPCAR/CART: Patrick Carpentier visits the US Marines

Camp Pendleton, California, January 7, 2002 - The new year began in spectacular fashion for Patrick Carpentier as the Team Player's driver was granted the privilege of taking part in a training mission aboard a U.S. attack helicopter during his ...

Camp Pendleton, California, January 7, 2002 - The new year began in spectacular fashion for Patrick Carpentier as the Team Player's driver was granted the privilege of taking part in a training mission aboard a U.S. attack helicopter during his recent visit to Camp Pendleton in suburban San Diego.

Authorities at the Camp Pendleton Marine base the busiest in the United States, with a contingent of 40,000 soldiers had invited Carpentier as a guest speaker in conjunction with an annual information program on road safety.

Patrick Carpentier talks to a group of US Marines following a guest-speaking engagement at an annual safety briefing in Camp Pendleton, the busiest military base in the United States.
Photo by Gridwork.

"My speech dealt with the importance of knowing both your own limits and those of your car, and I hope that I was able to get their attention by stressing the fact that one should never mistake the road for a race track," explained Carpentier, who addressed about 1,500 soldiers. "During my visit, I was amazed to see the many similarities between a racing team and a military squadron, especially in the areas of teamwork, the important role of the mechanics and the precision of the setups on the aircraft."

Carpentier, who rode aboard a Canadian Armed Forces CF-18 in June, 2000, said he was extremely impressed by the agility of the Cobra AH-1W helicopter and the dexterity of Captain Aaron Marx of the "Stingers" squadron during the 90-minute training flight he was granted last Friday.

Patrick Carpentier with Captain Aaron Marx.
Photo by Gridwork.

"You feel less G-force but the speed effect is greater, and although nothing can match the acceleration of a Champ Car, I held my breath a few times, especially when the pilot went into attack mode to hit his target," remarked Carpentier, who was able to get a bird's-eye view of the expanse of the base, which extends over 100 square miles.

The Canadian driver, who also had the opportunity to test out a flight simulator, spoke at length with a number of MAG-39 (Marine Aircraft Group) members, and it wouldn't be surprising to see a significant delegation of Marines in the Team Player's pit stand for a CART race in the 2002 season.

"I really appreciated the Marines' hospitality, and with three races in California this season, I hope to see some of them again to give them a behind-the-scenes look at the CART series," said Carpentier, who will conduct his next off-season testing sessions on January 22-23 at Sebring.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier