Philippe and Legge drive the Champ Car F1x2
The Champ Car F1x2 Team wrapped up its busiest and most successful season ever today with a private program for Bridgestone Firestone North America and Champ Car World Series guests at the MSR-Houston track. The big surprise of the day, however, wasn’t the excited reaction of the 40 passengers who experienced the 2.4-mile permanent road course first hand – that was almost guaranteed - but the drivers.
Champ Car F1x2
With the team’s regular high-speed “chauffeurs”, Zsolt Baumgartner, Patrick Friesacher and Mario Dominguez, unable to be present for the Texas event, it was Champ Car drivers, Katherine Legge (Dale Coyne Racing) and Nelson Philippe (Conquest Racing), who were strapped into the cockpits of the two-seater chassis in Houston. Katherine is no stranger to F1, having tested for the Minardi team at the Vallelunga circuit, near Rome, in November 2005, but this marked Nelson’s first taste of F1 performance. Both drivers quickly got to grips with their new machines, and by the end of the day, seemed as impressed with the experience as their passengers.
“It was really nice to be able to give people we work with a reward for all the effort they put in during the season and, at the same time, help them gain an understanding of what actually happens on track,” said Katherine. “When you’re driving race cars all the time, you can easily start to take the performance for granted after awhile, but when you see how excited the passengers are after they get out of the F1x2 cars, you’re reminded how amazing it is. They’ve clearly had the experience of a lifetime. From a purely personal point of view, it’s been a great day, and I can only thank Paul (Stoddart) for the opportunity to drive the F1x2 car. Nelson and I have had a blast!”
Nelson was similarly enthusiastic, commenting, “It’s been a great experience and a lot of fun – I particularly enjoyed scaring the s**t out of certain people! Despite that, all the passengers got out of the car with big smiles and were obviously very impressed with what they had experienced. It’s been absolutely great to drive an F1x2 car, and I’d just like to say thank you to Paul Stoddart, for the chance to get behind the wheel, and to Bridgestone, for all the hard work they put into Champ Car.”
In the course of 2007, the F1x2 cars have appeared at 13 different venues on two continents and carried nearly 500 passengers. Judging by the response at Champ Car events this year, the F1x2 cars and their drivers have been a big hit with the fans, and after a brief, but much-needed, end-of-season break, the team will be looking forward to more of the same in 2008.
Summing up the day, Paul Stoddart said, “As usual, it’s been another fantastic performance from the Minardi F1x2 Team here in Houston. They’ve been terrific throughout the year, and I’d like to express my sincere thanks to everyone on the team. It’s been just great to have the opportunity to entertain our friends from Bridgestone Firestone North America here today, as well as a select band of Champ Car personnel, as both organizations are always exceptionally helpful to us. I think today’s F1x2 passenger experience may also have changed one or two perceptions about race cars and race drivers. Well done to everybody.”