MECHANIC GETS KICKS BY WINNING WORLD CUP BET WITH GRECO DOVER, Del., July 17, 1998 - Pep Boys Indy Racing League driver Marco Greco and chief mechanic Gilbert Lage worked well together Friday to turn in one of the top speeds during ...
MECHANIC GETS KICKS BY WINNING WORLD CUP BET WITH GRECO
DOVER, Del., July 17, 1998 - Pep Boys Indy Racing League driver Marco Greco and chief mechanic Gilbert Lage worked well together Friday to turn in one of the top speeds during practice for the Pep Boys 400K on Sunday at Dover Downs International Speedway. But a week ago, they were friendly rivals as the World Cup soccer tournament wound down to a showdown between host country France and defending champion Brazil. France scored a stunning 3-0 upset to win its first World Cup championship.
Lage is from France and could not speak English when he first came to the U.S. several years ago to work for noted team manager/owner Dick Simon. Greco is Brazilian and a veteran of four Indy 500s.
"I bet the money with Marco," Lage said. "Twenty dollars. He wanted to bet more."
Said Greco with a smile, "I'm glad I didn't bet more."
Lage, a native of Paris, said he knew the French team was going to win. He pointed out the French never lost a game from the beginning of the tournament.
"This year was good," he said. "I was very nervous."
"I played when I was young, but I never played professional soccer. I was busy with (chassis builder) Reynard. I love soccer. In France, young people love race cars and soccer."
Greco, who lives in Costa Mesa, Calif., but was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, said he was surprised at the outcome because the Brazilians had played much better during the tournament.
"It was like they were frozen," he said. "Ronaldo (Brazil's star player) had a virus and didn't do anything. He didn't have a touch. That's the way it is. At least we got the championship four times."
Looking to the racing alliance on the International Sports Ltd./Mexmil G Force/Aurora/Firestone, Greco said, "Now with a French mechanic who is going to work with me, we'll see if we can work on the racetrack and do well."
Lage watched the World Cup title game on his large-screen TV at his Indianapolis home. Also watching in Indy were Stephan Gregoire, French driver for the Chastain Motorsports G Force/Aurora/Goodyear car, and his longtime girl friend Virginie Houot. Gregoire hails from Vittel, France, Houot from nearby Mirecourt.
"I am very proud," said Gregoire, who also has driven in four Indy 500s. "This is a very big history time for the people of France.
"Personally, I am not a great soccer fan. But in France it is a great moment. In America, there are so many sports. In France, there is only soccer." Gregoire said he now must top the soccer victory with one on the Pep Boys IRL circuit. He has a pair of fourths this season. "That's exactly what I think," he said. "I try every year to win one race. It would be very nice. Of course, the Indy 500 would be the best."