MORENO HOPES NIGHT TIME IS RIGHT TIME TO HEAD FOR HIGH BANKS By Dick Mittman indyracingleague.com CONCORD, N.C., April 16, 1999 -- Brazilian race driver Roberto Moreno is ready to finally check out the entire oval at Lowe's ...
MORENO HOPES NIGHT TIME IS RIGHT TIME TO HEAD FOR HIGH BANKS
By Dick Mittman indyracingleague.com
CONCORD, N.C., April 16, 1999 -- Brazilian race driver Roberto Moreno is ready to finally check out the entire oval at Lowe's Motor Speedway at Charlotte, N.C., on May 1. He got a taste of part of the track six years ago.
That's when he competed in an IMSA sports car in a road course race at LMS. The road course uses part of the oval, including all four turns.
Today, Moreno, 40, is preparing to drive in his second Pep Boys Indy Racing League race for Truscelli Team Racing in the VisionAire 500, May 1. In his league debut, the MCI WorldCom 200 on March 28 at Phoenix International Raceway, he brought his Warner Bros. G Force/Aurora/Goodyear home to a solid sixth place.
"That will be my very first night race and my very first high-banked oval," said Moreno, who joins fellow veterans Raul Boesel and Marco Greco as the league's Brazilian contingent.
In 1993, Moreno teamed with Wally Dallenbach Jr. in an IMSA race at the famed 1½-mile Lowe's track. They drove for Dan Gurney but didn't last long, as the car broke early.
The few loops around the 2.25-mile LMS road course and the 500-mile CART race at Michigan International Speedway in 1986 and 1996 comprise Moreno's entire experience on high-banked tracks. But he shows little concern since his career has taken him to racetracks around the world.
"I must say it's a little bit of the unknown quantity for me," he said, "but I think if we get this testing here (at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway April 10-13), we'll be a bit more prepared for a high-speed speedway."
Racing under the lights will be another new experience. Though the Pep Boys Indy Racing League competed three times at night last year, Moreno didn't see any of them.
"What I hear, it's just like daytime," he said. "The light system they have is very good, and it's like daytime, so it shouldn't be a big deal."
Moreno raced the 1986 season in CART and included a 19th-place finish in the Indianapolis 500 driving for Rick Galles. Then he moved to Europe, won the Formula 3000 championship and worked as a test driver for Ferrari in 1988, and then drove for several Formula One teams through 1995.
He returned to the United States in 1996, and in 1997 he drove in CART for Payton-Coyne and as a Newman-Haas replacement driver for injured fellow Brazilian Christian Fittipaldi. He served as a part-time test driver for Roger Penske in 1998.
Moreno was home in Brazil when he received a phone call from new Pep Boys Indy Racing League car owner Joe Truscelli on the Wednesday before the TransWorld Diversified Services Indy 200 at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla., in late January. Truscelli wanted Moreno to help rookie Greg Gorden learn the nuances of the team's car.
The Colorado-based team was totally new, and Moreno felt it was too big of a step for him to take in such a short period. A flight from Rio de Janeiro would not get him there until Thursday, and then he would have to be fitted to a seat. He and the crew would be totally unfamiliar with each other.
Instead, Moreno agreed to fly to the race, meet with Truscelli and discuss the details of an arrangement beyond the first race. Brian Tyler took over the ride, qualified 24th and placed 14th.
"At the time we were talking about the Indy 500 and also helping the rookie Gorden to get up to speed," Moreno said. "Unfortunately, he did not (go fast enough), and Joe asked me to do the races before as well. That's how it all came about."
Moreno turned in a fine performance at Phoenix for Truscelli and new sponsor Warner Bros. Studio Stores. He shocked many regulars by qualifying fourth on the outside of the second row and then challenged for a top-five finish throughout the race. A spin in Turn 2 when he was avoiding another car on Lap 192 cost him a lap, but he still crossed the finish line in sixth place.
"Our first race was quite good qualifying, good results for a team that's just starting," he said. "We are planning to go to Charlotte and get more experience to be prepared for the Indy 500.
"I always wanted to come back to the Indy 500. I think the IRL series has become much more professional, so I feel it is the right time to try. That's why I'm here."
VISIONAIRE 500 NOTEBOOK
Schedule: The VisionAire 500 starts at 8 p.m. (EDT) May 1. PPG Pole qualifying starts at 6:15 p.m. April 30. Practice sessions start at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. April 29, and 3:15 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. April 30. *** On the air: The VisionAire 500 will be televised live, starting with a 30-minute prerace show at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) May 1, on SpeedVision. It's the network's first live broadcast of a Pep Boys Indy Racing League race. FOX Sports Net will rebroadcast the race May 6. Check local listings for air time. SpeedVision will televise PPG Pole qualifying live at 6 p.m. (EDT) April 30. The Indy Racing Radio Network will broadcast a 30-minute prerace show at 7:30 p.m. (EDT) May 1, followed by the live race broadcast at 8 p.m. The Charlotte-area IRRN affiliate is WSOC-FM, 103.7, Charlotte. The IRRN race broadcast also will be available live on the Internet at www.indyracingleague.com as part of a new partnership between IRL Online and broadcast.com, the world's leading Web broadcast site.
Tickets: Tickets are available for the VisionAire 500 on May 1. Call (704) 455-3200 for more information. Ticket information also is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.lowesmotorspeedway.com .