RUSSIAN YOUTH TRIES TO HELP FATHER FULFILL INDY DREAM INDIANAPOLIS, May 20, 1998 -- Evir Bagdassarov says his father wants to become the first Russian driver in American racing. Evir, 13, has attended the seventh grade for the...
RUSSIAN YOUTH TRIES TO HELP FATHER FULFILL INDY DREAM
INDIANAPOLIS, May 20, 1998 -- Evir Bagdassarov says his father wants to become the first Russian driver in American racing.
Evir, 13, has attended the seventh grade for the last two months at Fulton Junior High, only a few blocks southwest of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His father, Alexei, has returned to their Moscow home to attempt to procure a work visa for the United States.
While on a trip to Indianapolis in March, Alexei visited shops along Gasoline Alley, unsuccessfully seeking employment as a mechanic so he would have a sponsor to help him get a permanent visa. Young Evir remained with the family of Ernest Sangar, who befriended them while driving them in his taxi to various racing businesses.
"He's fourth in the championships in all of Russia," said Evir, who had his picture taken with four-time Indy champion A.J. Foyt and 1998 pole winner Billy Boat during a visit to the Speedway last Sunday.
"He's a very good mechanic," Evir said. "I and my dad work on the cars. I do some motors. My dad's 44 and raced bicycles and then cars."
Alexei carries an FIA license as a member of the Russian Automobile Federation.
"His father drives cars similar to NASCAR, but they are smaller," Sangar said. "His dream is he wants to drive NASCAR or Indy-style cars."
Young Bagdassarov said he is his father's sponsor and named the team Olympic Motors. They race on a 2-mile oval and a 3-mile plus road course near a large university in Moscow. The cars reach a top speed of 160 mph, Evir said.
Evir helps his brother, Frank, 15, service their father's car during pit stops.
"We give some gas, change tires," Evir said. "My brother works as a mechanic. I change two tires, he changes two tires."
When asked whether he had seen the Indianapolis 500 on television in Moscow, Evir broke into a wide grin and exclaimed, "Yeaaaah."
"I see it on ESPNIT," he said of the international ESPN feed. "I liked the No. 5 Valvoline car (Robby Gordon in 1994-95). I would like to see the race (in person)."
Evir's mother, Olga, was a doctor but now operates a clothing store in Moscow. He also has a sister, Ratenna, a 21-year-old college student.
Evir speaks creditable English and already has made a splash in Indianapolis. He has joined the Indy Twisters diving team and last week won three gold medals in springboard and platform competition.
Sangor, whose family came from Pakistan, said he is trying to get Evir's visa status changed to student so he can remain in Indianapolis. Sangor's mother, Rose, was named International Mother of the Year in 1979 for her work in helping Pakistanis emigrate to America. Sangor said he is trying to continue the tradition, but he is helping a Russian family.
After Evir got autographs from Foyt and Boat, he said: "That's my father's dream, to be the first Russian driver in America. When I was little we saw Formula One. My favorite is Michael Schumacher."
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