Minardi Team USA has deep roots in Europe
There wasn’t much time to rest for Minardi Team USA and drivers Robert Doornbos and ‘Speedy’ Dan Clarke after the most recent Champ Car World Series race at Road America. Both traveled to Europe immediately after the race, and are now preparing for Rounds 11 and 12 of the Series, which kick off next weekend at Zolder in Belgium.
Minardi Team USA has deep roots in Europe, including longstanding ties for team owners, Keith Wiggins and Paul Stoddart. Both spent many years racing there, including in the Benelux markets, while ‘Speedy’ Dan and Robert began their racing careers in Europe.
For Doornbos, who is in the midst of an enthralling, three-way battle for the 2007 title in his rookie Champ Car season, the two Benelux races mark a welcome homecoming. There’s no doubt his performances this season have elevated him to icon-status with the fervent Dutch racing fans, who are ecstatic that “their man” will once again be competing in Europe.
‘Speedy’ earned his best Champ Car result to date just over a week ago, with a fine second-place finish at Road America. The young Briton has shown clearly on numerous occasions this season that he has the pace, and it finally came together for him at one of his favorite tracks.
With just a little over a week to prepare the cars for the two European races, Minardi Team USA personnel have also had to deal with the daunting task of packing the contents of the race trailers, as well as other essential equipment, for shipment overseas.
The team travels to Belgium today, and will continue preparations for the remainder of this week.
“For Champ Car, it’s their first time at Zolder, but not for me - I raced there seven years ago, in 2000. It’s just great to drive in front of your home crowd, and for sure it gives you an extra boost that you need. The last time I won a race in front of my home crowd was at Spa-Francorchamps, in F3000, and the feeling afterwards was just great. I hope I can give them another good show and get a good result this time.”
‘Speedy’ Dan Clarke:
"There's great momentum in my team right now. As a result of Champ Car staging these two European races, I've been able to go home and spend time with friends and family, which has been a huge pleasure! If we have another great race here, we can celebrate it with some Belgian waffles!”
Keith Wiggins, Team Co-Owner:
“I think it is clear all of us are looking forward to racing back in Europe but in our U.S. Champ Car style. Having said that, it is, in reality two more Series races for the Championship and so we will continue as usual and stay focused on the Champ Car title chase. We can also enjoy the familiar atmosphere in the bar at night.”
Paul Stoddart, Team Co-Owner:
“We thoroughly enjoyed helping to publicize the Zolder and Assen races with the media during the Champ Car European Tour back in May, and now, with these two events, the Series will be able to give fans on this side of the Atlantic an opportunity to see what I’m sure will be some really entertaining racing. In addition, a number of Minardi Team USA’s commercial partners are based in Europe, and their guests will now have a chance to see the team and its drivers in action on home ground, which is a real bonus. There is huge enthusiasm for, and knowledge about, motor racing in this part of the world, and I’m sure all the Champ Car teams and drivers are going to be extremely well received by the Dutch and Belgian fans. There’s also no doubt that Robert, Dan and Minardi Team USA will be aiming to give those fans something to cheer about!”