CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Penske tests out west

Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves took the 2001 Marlboro Honda Reynard for its first run on a superspeedway earlier this week when he tested at California Speedway. Originally scheduled to run on Monday, January 8, the Team was only...

Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves took the 2001 Marlboro Honda Reynard for its first run on a superspeedway earlier this week when he tested at California Speedway. Originally scheduled to run on Monday, January 8, the Team was only able to get in eight laps before the rain hit Southern California and ended the test. The Team returned on Tuesday to continue evaluating the basic 2001 superspeedway package.

According to Marlboro Team Penske General Manager Clive Howell, "The objective of the test was really just to try and get a superspeedway set-up for the car and to test some of our new aerodynamic parts. The conditions at California right now will be so completely different than they will be in July in Michigan or November in Fontana that there really isn't a lot to test at the moment."

The Team remained at the Speedway for Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning while they changed the car over to its road course set-up for a Thursday test at Firebird East with Gil de Ferran. It generally takes the crew a full day to change the car from a superspeedway to a road course set-up.

"Our testing program to date has been going very well," said Team President Tim Cindric. "We've been concentrating mostly on the road courses since the first three races will be on these types of circuits. We will begin working on our short oval testing program at the end of the month when we travel to PIR (Phoenix) and Homestead."

Since Gil de Ferran was presented with the Vanderbilt Cup in recognition of capturing the FedEx Series Championship, the Cup has traveled and been photographed nearly as much as Gil himself. Over the past two months it has traveled more than 6,000 miles.

After being presented with the prestigious award at the season-ending banquet in Los Angeles, the Cup was flown to New York where it was displayed during an employee day celebration at Philip Morris' World Headquarters. Following the celebration Philip Morris employees were invited to be photographed with the Series Champion and the Cup.

It then traveled to the Team's race shop in Reading, Pennsylvania where it was the guest of honor at the Team's annual Christmas Party. Once again, all 62 employees of Penske Racing were invited to have their photo taken with Gil, Roger Penske and the Cup.

Next week, the Cup will be flown to Texas for Philip Morris' National Sales Force Meeting. The Cup will be proudly displayed as the 2001 season is kicked-off. Joining in the kick-off will be Gil de Ferran, Helio Castroneves, Rick Mears and Tim Cindric.

The Vanderbilt Cup, established in 1904 by William K. Vanderbilt Jr. as America's first major trophy in motorsports, replaced the PPG Cup which was given to the Series Champion from 1980-1999, as the Series' ultimate prize. The re-creation of the Vanderbilt Cup (the original is housed in the Smithsonian Institute) was produced by Tiffany & Co. and is literally priceless since any re-creation of the Cup must meet the approval of the Vanderbilt family. Due to the value and prestige of the Vanderbilt Cup, it is always transported via Brinks Security and is never left unattended.

For the second consecutive year, Gil de Ferran and his wife Angela competed in a half marathon in Orlando, Florida. Contested on Saturday, January 6th in near freezing temperatures, both Gil and Angela finished the 13.1-mile run with a better time than their 2000 effort. Gil finished the race in just under two hours.

"Although I finished better than in 2000, the race for me was much harder than last year. The 32 degree weather caught me a bit unprepared -- I'm not used to training in such cold temperatures! I feel very satisfied that we were able to finish but it was a very tough race."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Rick Mears , Roger Penske , Philip Morris
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske