Pruett awed, inspired as Le Mans nears

LE MANS, France (June 11, 2001) -- As a youngster, there were four races that Scott Pruett dreamed he would someday get the chance to race in. He's only days away from having part of his dream fulfilled. Pruett, an American who has tasted...

LE MANS, France (June 11, 2001) -- As a youngster, there were four races that Scott Pruett dreamed he would someday get the chance to race in. He's only days away from having part of his dream fulfilled.

Pruett, an American who has tasted success in many forms of auto racing, will compete for the first time in the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16-17 at France's Circuit de la Sarthe. Pruett will team with Canada's Ron Fellows and American Johnny O'Connell in a factory-backed Corvette that stands a very strong chance of winning the GTS class in the world's most famous endurance race.

Pruett has raced in both the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500, and racing at Le Mans will bring his dream to the 75 percent completion mark. The last part is to race at Monaco, which he says he is pretty sure will never happen. But racing on the renowned Formula One course is far from his mind as he and the Corvette team prepare for 24 grueling hours that begin at 4 p.m. (France time) on Saturday.

"This is just an incredible event," said Pruett, who drove the eight-mile long circuit for the first time last month in a day of testing. "It's like the festival atmosphere of Indy and Daytona, but with the addition of a European flavor. There are things going on all day and into the night every day."

Pruett arrived in France on Sunday and observed as Corvette Racing went through the traditional Le Mans public scrutineering on Monday. "There must have been 30,000 people watching," he said. "It's a huge carnival."

Cars will get their first chance on the racing circuit Wednesday, and Pruett will continue to learn the nuances of Le Mans. "I had about 15 laps in the car at the test, and I learned a lot then," he said. "The biggest problem for me was remembering where I was on the track, because it's so long and so many parts of it look alike."

Pruett said that the team plans to have Fellows start the car in the race, but that its strategy beyond that will depend upon many factors. "Ron, Johnny and I will probably each do a stint in the car, just to get comfortable in the race, and then we'll decide from then if we'll do double stints or whatever. If it's really hot, we won't stay in the car as long."

Pruett, who does not have a fulltime ride in any kind of racing this season, will drive again for Corvette Racing in the American Le Mans Series Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in October. Other than some fill-in roles, the veteran of CART, NASCAR, IROC, Trans-Am and IMSA has no firm plans, but is working toward 2002.

"I'm thankful to Corvette for giving me the chance to race at Le Mans in a car that has a chance of winning," he said. "I had offers before, but there were always conflicts with whatever I was racing at the time. It's great to be here and experience all of this. It's been a dream."

Race fans in the United States will be able to watch coverage of the 24 Hours of Le Mans live from flag to flag on the Speedvision Network. In addition, Radio Le Mans will be live beginning at midday Wednesday and continuing throughout the race at www.radiolemans.com.

-ALMS

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Johnny O'Connell , Scott Pruett
Teams Corvette Racing