CHAMPCAR/CART: Tasman Motorsports Cleveland Preview

Historically Speaking Tasman team owner Steve Horne and driver Bobby Rahal won the inaugural Cleveland Grand Prix at Burke Lakefront Airport on July 4, 1982. It was only the fourth race for the fledgling Truesports Racing team which was founded...

Historically Speaking

Tasman team owner Steve Horne and driver Bobby Rahal won the inaugural Cleveland Grand Prix at Burke Lakefront Airport on July 4, 1982. It was only the fourth race for the fledgling Truesports Racing team which was founded by the late Jim Trueman.

Rahal's victory in the Red Roof Inn-sponsored March-Cosworth, with Steve Horne as team manager/crew chief, marked the first Champ Car career win for both Horne and Rahal.

Longtime Tasman supporter and friend Dick Leppla was instrumental in helping Truesports Racing get underway by purchasing the first chassis for the team which took the checkered flag at Cleveland 16 years ago. Leppla, owner of Crane & Shovel Sales Corp. -- a sponsor on Tony Kanaan's #21 LCI Reynard-Honda -- is based just outside of Cleveland in Bedford Heights, Ohio.

Crane & Shovel Sales Corp. is a front-runner in the heavy equipment industry, specializing in the sale and service of heavy duty cranes.

Hometown Hoedown

The 90-lap Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland on July 12 marks the first of two home-state events for the Tasman team which is based in Hilliard, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. The airport runway circuit at Burke Lakefront is located about two-and-a-half hours from the team's headquarters. The upcoming Miller Lite 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 9 is about one hour away.

Tony the Tiger

Kanaan's fourth-place finish in the Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 at Portland International Raceway two weeks ago has put him back at the top of the Rookie of the Year charts. With a 10-point lead over friend and former teammate Helio Castro-Neves in the Rookie standings, Kanaan is also knocking on the door of a top-10 ranking in the PPG Cup. He is currently placed 11th, just one point behind Al Unser Jr. in 10th.

Play It Again Sam

Tony Kanaan has been preparing for the upcoming Cleveland Grand Prix in front of his television. (No, he hasn't been doing curls with the remote control.) Kanaan, in between World Cup soccer matches of course, has been reviewing tapes of previous Champ Car races at Cleveland.

"Obviously, every race start is different but reviewing the tapes gives me a good idea of which cars were good, which cars were bad, what kind of mistakes were made, etc.," said Kanaan. "I did learn that if I drive very fast and very hard I can win the race like (Alex) Zanardi did last year!"

Kanaan last competed at Cleveland in 1996 with the Indy Lights series.

What A Workout!

The 2.106-mile temporary road course held on the runways of Burke Lakefront Airport is one of the most physically demanding tracks on the racing schedule.

The circuit is very wide with medium to high speed corners and plenty of passing opportunities. Top speeds can reach 180+ mph with maximum cornering speeds of around 135 mph.

Champ Car drivers will change gears approximately 20 times per lap or 1800 times during the 90-lap race.

Show Me the Points

While not scoring a single point in the last round of the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship, Cristiano da Matta left Portland still in command of the series' standings. Da Matta, who was involved in a first-turn fracas, has a 35-point lead over his nearest challenger -- teammate Airton Dare.

Dare has finished in the points in all but one race to date this season. He had a fourth-place run at Portland -- the mid-point of the Indy Lights 14-race season -- on the heels of a maiden Indy Lights career victory at Detroit two weeks earlier.

The Indy Lights series will return to Cleveland next weekend after a one-year hiatus.

An Eye to the Future

Steve Horne has a keen eye for driver talent. In a career that has spanned over two decades, Horne has helped to mold and develop many a budding career. He was amongst the first to spot the talents of then such relatively unknown names as Bryan Herta, Andre Ribeiro, Helio Castro-Neves and current driver Tony Kanaan. All have driven and won races -- and championships -- with Horne at the helm.

Horne was also the first to give Paul Tracy a test in a Champ Car eight years ago, recognizing the talents of the then 21-year-old Canadian.

All but one of ten full time drivers for his Tasman team over the past five years have won races, and his latest proteges -- Kanaan and Helio Castro-Neves -- are in a head-to-head battle for Rookie of the Year honors in the FedEx Championship Series.

Horne continues to support driver development programs such as the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship and the Team USA Scholarship program, whose past recipients have included Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Memo Gidley, Jerry Nadeau, Matt Sielsky and Tony Renna.

Number Four

The fourth prize winner in the UltimateRide.com sweepstakes hosted by LCI International and Tasman Motorsports Group will be announced on Saturday, July 11. Prize packages won to date have included an all-expense paid trip for two to IndyCarnival Australia, a drive in Tony Kanaan's 1998 Champ Car and a position on Tasman's pit crew for the US 500.

UltimateRide.com is an internet-based sweepstakes which runs throughout the 1998 FedEx Championship Series.

Race4Life Headquarters Gears Up for Cleveland

Race4Life Headquarters -- the mobile at-track information center staffed by local American Cancer Society volunteers at each domestic race venue -- is getting ready for the thousands of fans estimated to attend the Medic Drug Grand Prix this weekend. Volunteers will be distributing health-related information and product samples as well hosting autograph sessions with Tasman drivers Kanaan, da Matta and Dare.

Race4Life is a new program in the racing arena in conjunction with a three-year partnership announced this past February between the American Cancer Society and Tasman Motorsports Group.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jerry Nadeau , Al Unser Jr. , Airton Daré , Jimmy Vasser , Memo Gidley , Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Tony Renna , Steve Horne , Andre Ribeiro , Cristiano da Matta