Talladega: Max Papis preview

MAX PAPIS & THE GECKO ARRIVE IN TALLADEGA AFTER BUSY BREAK Talladega, AL (April 23, 2009) -- When GEICO Driver Max Papis and the Germain Racing team departed Texas after his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the 2009 season he planned on...

MAX PAPIS & THE GECKO ARRIVE IN TALLADEGA AFTER BUSY BREAK

Talladega, AL (April 23, 2009) -- When GEICO Driver Max Papis and the Germain Racing team departed Texas after his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the 2009 season he planned on taking a break and collecting himself. As history would dictate, Mad Max would do anything but rest. On Monday, he spent his usual time at the GEICO race shop in post-race engineering meetings before gathering his family for a much-needed break together.

Papis and his wife, Tatiana, would pack up their two sons in the family's Toyota Sequoia and make the 575-mile drive from Mooresville, NC, to Kissimmee, FL, so that their children could experience Disney World. Once the family concluded their three-day visit to Disney World, they piled back into their Toyota Sequoia and drove 217-miles to Miami, FL, to visit family. Capping off their journey, they made the 757-mile trek back to Mooresville.

Just for clarification, Papis did not fly to these destinations, but rather logged 1,549-miles on the highway with his wife and two sons in their Toyota Sequoia in a period of five days. It could have very well been a reality show of sorts.

Papis is a throwback, a true blue-collar guy who shuns the private jet lifestyle for time with his family. While it is clear that he has experienced great financial success on the racetrack, his career does not define him. In 2007, he even piloted his own personal vehicle from his Carolina home to the Watkins Glen race all in the name of quality time. At times Papis exudes a childlike innocence, as he is truly amazed at the beauty of the country and the vast scenery it provides. The length of his trips is often extended, as he will hit many exits along the interstate just to enjoy the little things in life with his family.

During his trip, he also spent much of his time coordinating fund-raising efforts for his native country Italy, which was rocked by an earthquake and suffered catastrophic losses. He is selling his helmet and several visors on ebay to raise money for victims.

A few days later, Papis would travel to Long Beach, CA, to join his close friend Paul Tracy at a press conference announcing that GEICO would accompany Tracy on his return trip to the Indianapolis 500 in May. In true Papis form, Mad Max would participate in the press conference dressed as the Gecko and halfway through it unveil himself to a crowded media center riddled with laughter as he smiled from ear to ear.

Papis has evolved into one of the most colorful personalities in NASCAR and Talladega is the appropriate place for such a character. This week, Papis will take his first shot at a restrictor-plate track in Germain Racing's #13 GEICO NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race car. However, Papis is not new to the high-banked atmosphere, as he participated multiple times at Daytona International Speedway in the IROC (International Race of Champions) Series, as well as the Grand-Am Series where he is the 2004 series champion.

In the interest of spending more time with his engineer and car chief, Papis climbed into their car and the three of them departed the GEICO race shop in Mooresville, NC, and made the 370-mile drive to Talladega Superspeedway. Papis noted that it is the same drive that some of the fans will make this weekend, and that he appreciates what they go through to watch him race each week.

"I'm very excited to get to Talladega and experience the 'Dega atmosphere that everyone talks about," an eager Papis stated. "I have been there before, but to be down on the starting grid in the GEICO car would be really special. I'm going to drive it as hard as I can in qualifying so we can put the #13 GEICO Camry in the show and make it happen." He continued, "I had an exciting break between spending time with my family and traveling to Long Beach to be with PT (Paul Tracy) at his GEICO Indy 500 announcement. The GEICO Family is really special and I'm very happy to be a part of it."

In regard to the earthquake that struck Italy, Papis said, "My heart is heavy for my people and when I am in the GEICO car this weekend they'll be with me. Each time I get a break, I say a prayer for them. We are selling items on ebay to help raise money for the people affected, so if possible please visit ebay.com and check out our items. I appreciate the thoughts and prayers of all the NASCAR fans who have been so supportive; it is special to me."

This week, Papis will hop in the #13 GEICO Toyota Camry at Talladega Superspeedway for the third of twenty NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races slated for 2009 with the Germain Racing team.

Papis will hit the track at Talladega Superspeedway for the opening practice session on Friday, April 24th, at 2:00 PM (ET). Qualifying will be held on Saturday morning at 11:15 AM (ET).

-credit: maxpapis.com

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Max Papis , Paul Tracy
Teams Germain Racing