CHAMPCAR/CART: Team KOOL Green Inside Line August 4, 1999

HOME FOR THE WEEKEND. When Team KOOL Green transport driver Dan Collins rolls into Mid-Ohio for the 14th Champ Car event of the season, it will be a homecoming for the 27-year-old native of Columbus. The youngest of four brothers and two ...

HOME FOR THE WEEKEND.

When Team KOOL Green transport driver Dan Collins rolls into Mid-Ohio for the 14th Champ Car event of the season, it will be a homecoming for the 27-year-old native of Columbus.

The youngest of four brothers and two sisters, Collins was born and lived in the area for over 26 years. He admits to rooting for local hero Bobby Rahal while growing up and only left Columbus last winter when he was offered a job preparing tires for Team KOOL Green car #27 and driving the transporter hauling Franchitti's cars.

While his mom, Carolyn, tries to attend a few races a year, Dan is able to check in with family and friends during holidays and during team test sessions at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He also visits his buddies at the Air National Guard whenever possible. "I basically grew up around the base, " Collins recalls. "My father was with the 121st Wing in Columbus for over 30 years."

Dan joined his late father in the Guard when he was 19 years old and stayed for six years. Just after joining in 1990, the unit was activated for Desert Storm. Dan hadn't completed his training yet, so he didn't make the trip, however his father did. Mr. Collins left along with most of the unit a few days following New Year's Day in '91 and returned almost three months later just a few days prior to St. Patrick's Day, giving this Irish family even more reason to celebrate the holiday.

During his six years with the Guard, Dan was the crew chief on a KC - 135R, an air refueling tanker while his father was the boom operator. They refueled anything that could be refueled in the air -- fighter jets, bombers and military cargo planes. Collins compares his current transport job, where he will travel over 65,000 miles with Team KOOL Green, to a military deployment.

"Basically, you pack lots of equipment into a small space, transport it to you're destination, unpack it, then pack it all back up again when you're ready to move out."

Collins' first job in motorsport was as shop assistant and later transport driver with Ohio-based Tasman Motorsports Group where he worked for three years. While he says that he chose to move into motorsport because "I've already flown a plane and this looked exciting." he still maintains his passion for flying. Collins is presently about one-quarter of the way to obtaining his private pilot license, something he hopes to complete this off-season.

- Jonny Kane's parents, Alice & Andrew, traveled to North America recently from their home near Belfast, Ireland. As well as attending Cleveland, Road America, and Toronto, they were fortunate enough to be on hand to see Jonny secure his first Indy Lights pole position at the U.S. 500.

- Team KOOL Green's Alex Gurney is having strong first-year campaign in the KOOL/Toyota Atlantic Championship. This past weekend at the Grand Prix Player's de Trois-Rivières, he enjoyed his third top-10 finish of the season. Gurney started 11th and gained four positions to finish in seventh. He moved up one spot in the point standings from 12th to 11th overall with 23 points.

.LIVING ON THE ROAD Paul and Liisa Tracy aren't shy about expressing what makes their marriage a success. The young couple celebrated their first wedding anniversary on April 18th and credits their common interests on and off the racecourse for making their happy union exciting and fun. Among many favorites, Paul and Liisa enjoy reading Sidney Sheldon novels, being outdoors, and playing water sports. Liisa, a Wisconsin native who enjoys fishing says, "I can't get Paul to slow our boat down long enough for me to fish. That would be too boring for him. Paul loves speed, quick bikes, fast boats and obviously race cars." In that spirit, Liisa got a Harley Davidson motorcycle to keep up with her fast paced partner. "I still can't believe I'm riding a Harley! It was a Hell's Angels bike. We're going to paint it white with opal ghost flames throughout and put on a gray seat with flames and my name stitched to the side of it. Like Paul's Harleys, it will have a lot of chrome."

In return, Paul has adopted a few of Liisa's favorites as his own.  Some of
which include Liisa's kitten Mary, being in the sun and eating sushi.  "When
we met Paul had only tried fish sticks.  I told him if he wanted to date me
he had to learn to eat sushi.  He tried it that night."

The duo admits being away from home 20 weekends throughout the 1999 race season is difficult. Paul says, "Traveling is so hard on your body, but that's my job - traveling and doing my best for Team KOOL Green." Liisa agrees, "Even though we miss home, I like traveling with Paul. We rely on each other so much and are constantly laughing. We crack ourselves up everyday."

DRIVERS' TEST HONDA .BICYCLE? Honda's newest prototype the 'Raccoon', is probably a little less talked about than Honda's domination in Champ Car the past three years. The Raccoon is described as a portable, power-assisted bicycle. Honda recently gave one to each of their driver's in the Champ Car series to ride, road test, and give valuable feedback before the decision is made to launch it to the general public.

Dario Franchitti hasn't had much of a chance to try it out; his father George has 'flattened' the battery a few times with all the miles he's amassed riding it from paddock to pit lane at Champ Car events. "It's great! Especially for going up hills because the less you pedal, the faster it goes," says the elder Franchitti.

He loves the fact that the bike saves riders from pedaling hard. You're still getting exercise, but it's half the effort -- which really bodes well during the recent hot, humid race weekends. Franchitti also likes that it folds in half for easy transport. These features, he believes, would make it a big hit with the public. "Anyone who has a go on it - loves it."

TALK ABOUT LOYALTY! Paul Tracy was recently signing autographs at the U.S. 500 when he was introduced to a very loyal fan. The lady had two permanent tattoos. On one shoulder she had Tracy's former #3 Penske car and his current Team KOOL Green # 26 car on the other.

KOOL Badger. Both Paul and Dario are envious of Keith Badger's (#27 car lead mechanic) black Acura NSX. He purchased it with his 1995 Indy 500 winnings because ".it makes me look cool." Paul and Dario, who each have an Acura RL in their stable of vehicles, should remember that Honda has given an NSX away the past three years. They just have to win the FedEx Series Championship.

- Over one third of TKG staff drive Honda vehicles.

ON DECK:

Champ Car: Detroit -- August 8, Mid-Ohio -- August 15, Chicago -- August 22

Indy Lights: Detroit -- August 8, Chicago -- August 22, Laguna Seca -- September 12

KOOL/Toyota Atlantic: Mid-Ohio -- August 15, Chicago -- August 21, Vancouver - September 5

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Gurney , Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Jonny Kane , Dan Collins