CHAMPCAR/CART: Rocketsports: Sharing the thrill of the ride

Sharing the Thrill of the Ride During the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix last weekend, Champ Car driver, Alex Tagliani and Trans-Am driver, Paul Gentilozzi both had opportunity to give select passengers tours on the 2.104 mile permanent road...

Sharing the Thrill of the Ride

During the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix last weekend, Champ Car driver, Alex Tagliani and Trans-Am driver, Paul Gentilozzi both had opportunity to give select passengers tours on the 2.104 mile permanent road course.

Tagliani shared the exhilaration of open-wheel racing with Monterrey's finest motorsport media in the Champ Car two-seater, while Gentilozzi showed Cosworth's Assistant Track Support Manager what the Ford Mustang Cobra pace car could do.

"A ride in the Two-Seater Champ Car has to be the opportunity of a lifetime for a fan or enthusiast," figured Tagliani. "A Champ Car is more powerful than any vehicle most people have ever experienced and few things can compare to it. It's completely different from a street car because of the design and set-up, and the G-Force involved, so it's rare to ever feel the full effect of an open-wheel car.

"The lateral G-Force, especially in the braking because of the wings, is probably the most impressive element. A Champ Car allows for immediate braking. By the time the passenger realizes we're braking, I'm already back on the throttle and out of the corner. Even the grip and acceleration, from 50-140 mph, blows them away.

"This is the closest I could ever get to sharing the feeling of driving a Champ Car. For the passenger to feel each bump and turn in the track as I have, makes it easier to express how it is to drive a Champ Car," said Tagliani. "Especially with motorsport media, who know the cars and sport well, they gain a better understanding of the driver's experience and they get to share in it."

Enrique Guadarrama, of El Norte Newspaper, was equally impressed by the event calling it, "one of the most incredible experiences of my life." The unique exposure was more than a ride, and started as Guadarrama was getting dressed in a Nomex, fire-retardant suit and buckled into the machine. The safety precautions taken by Champ Car made him aware of the speed and risk involved in the adventure ahead of him.

"Sitting just ahead of it, I felt the power of the Ford-Cosworth engine vibrating through my back. I was full of adrenaline and sometimes fear, since I couldn't predict when we would brake. It was a one-of-a-kind experience," said Guadarrama.

Andy Gregory, Assistant Track Support Manager for Cosworth, supplier of the Champ Car engines, dealt with three-time Trans-Am champion and Rocketsports team owner, Paul Gentilozzi on the Monterrey course.

"As I was approaching the meeting point for the Ford pace car rides and saw Gentilozzi by the Mustang, I knew that was the car I had to be in. Naturally, I had to wind him up a bit to make sure I got the ride I wanted. I don't think I needed to do it," said Gregory in retrospect. "He couldn't push that car any harder.

"We easily maxed 110 -- 115 mph in the straight until he had to break for the left-hand turn, and dropped to 35 mph through the chicane. The car was on its edge at 50 mph through the corners and I thought we'd head across the grass or into the cones, but he stayed on course.

"Many drivers can drive the Monterrey course well, but Gentilozzi's just more prepared to hang it all out on the line. With all due respect, I'm sure Mr. Kalkhoven or Mr. Forsythe wouldn't have given me the same ride. I'd do it again any day," claimed Gregory.

By: Nadia Petrossi, Rocketsports Racin

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Trans-Am
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Paul Gentilozzi