CHAMPCAR/CART: The Rocketsports men

When Rocketsports team owner Paul Gentilozzi entered the Champ Car World Series he searched for a driver much like himself: a notoriously competitive, strong individual, with a desire to achieve results and win. He found these qualities in Alex ...

When Rocketsports team owner Paul Gentilozzi entered the Champ Car World Series he searched for a driver much like himself: a notoriously competitive, strong individual, with a desire to achieve results and win. He found these qualities in Alex Tagliani and although more than 23 years of diverse life experiences separate the two, a daring spirit binds them.

There has been much speculation about the potentially fiery relationship between the Rocketsports duo. Some suggested the provocative former Trans- Am champion and the competitive, maverick Champ Car driver were certain to lock horns at some point. Others assumed a father-son relationship would unfold between the men, who are so passionate about their sport. Instead, eight months into the Rocketsports union, the two intense racers have developed a solid partnership and mutual respect for each other's accomplishments.

Rocketsports' headman, Paul Gentilozzi, has earned a reputation as a protagonist on the track and shrewd businessman off of it. The road racing legend got his start drag racing on the streets of Lansing, Michigan. He claimed three NHRA records before securing numerous IMSA victories and his three Trans-Am championships. Out of the cockpit, Gentilozzi shines in his latest role as a team owner, in both the Trans-Am Tour and Champ Car World Series. In keeping with his desire to win, Gentilozzi has wielded huge success with his Rocketsports engine and chassis development, as well as his commercial real estate business. Gentilozzi has become known as a motorsports visionary for his Rocketsports endeavors and the strategic application of his business acumen and insight as a driver. The latest testament to Gentilozzi's prudence is his involvement in the OWRS (Open Wheel Racing Series) potential acquisition of the Champ Car World Series.

What fuels Gentilozzi to set new goals and maintain his momentum is his sense of competition. "To sustain, you have to be a racer; the rest comes as you mature. Some never worry about the business side of racing, resting only on their skill; others go to the next level," explains Gentilozzi standing firmly on the 'next level.' "But it's not just a matter of racing," he adds. "Competition is a vocation and a life-long lifestyle." Gentilozzi is keenly aware of his competitive spirit, and knows it is not a quality that can be turned on/off at the track or in the boardroom.

Ironically, the bravado that is Gentilozzi is born of a fear that spurs the self-made motorsport enigma on to even greater accomplishments. According to Gentilozzi, the common element among exceptional, highly successful individuals is their "desire to win," and what motivates Gentilozzi to win is the fear of being ordinary. "There can only be one winner, different from the rest. It's not confidence. It is the fear of being ordinary, the fear of being like the masses that makes me accept challenges," reveals Gentilozzi. "There are no rules imposed on us in life. We only have our personal morays and perceived limitations. It doesn't matter if it's brushing your teeth, you either have the fear of finishing second or you don't." The dread of finishing second provokes Gentilozzi's innovative thinking, makes Rocketsports progressive and keeps the clever strategist from being perceived as 'common.'

Champ Car's latest 'Rocket Man' has also garnered a reputation for his own determined, feisty ways. Tagliani's sense of competition is as fierce as Gentilozzi's, but derived from a more independent motivation. In his four action-packed seasons of Champ Car racing, Tagliani has emerged from a variety of scenarios that have intensified his greatest challenge: the challenge that comes from within. "Everyday I push the limits by stepping outside my comfort zone. Only I am accountable for my performance and that's why I measure my results against myself. The pressure is intense, but it's the best way to improve and reach even higher goals," states Tagliani.

Along with the responsibility of piloting the No. 33 Johnson Controls Lola, Tagliani readily accepts Gentilozzi's leadership and mentorship. While Tagliani's experience is rooted in karting and open-wheel racing, the two engage in animated discussions about driving strategy and the engineering of the Lola. Hungry for his first win, Tagliani benefits from Gentilozzi's consistent focus as a racer and shares his predatory outlook. "The world is a competitive place, where every day is a challenge for survival," reveals Tagliani. "You have to know what you want to achieve, which should be your best, and then the rewards justify the sacrifices." Natural confidence and talent feed Tagliani's competitive nature and reinforce his overriding objective: to be fast and win.

Though sometimes blinded by his desire to be the fastest, and admittedly "strong-willed and determined," - characteristics he shares with Gentilozzi - Tagliani defends these as necessary qualities to accomplish his goals. Headstrong and idealistic, Tagliani guards the integrity of the competition, without compromising the art and sport of driving. "On the track, I constantly push myself and the car to perform. This is the only way to win, but it must be done with respect. If I know I have done my best, then I am not cheating my team or myself and I'm satisfied," claims Tagliani.

Like Gentilozzi, Tagliani's satisfaction only lasts until the next challenge presents itself. Tagliani seizes the opportunity to push himself beyond his limits on the track throughout the Champ Car season and daily as he tackles life. Gentilozzi continues to separate himself from the pack and earn 'extraordinary' recognition with each of his accomplishments in motorsports. The highly motivated Rocketsports men support each other in their endeavors and celebrate their partnership. As the relationship between Gentilozzi and Tagliani continues to evolve, the first-year team progresses and is strengthened by the collaboration of these unique characters with a shared desire to win.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Alex Tagliani , Paul Gentilozzi