Tagliani signs on to race Surfers V8 Supercar race
Today’s 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 polesitter Alex Tagliani will race for Kelly Racing at the Armor All Gold Coast 600 this October.
|Indy 500 polesitter Alex Tagliani (R) with his object of desire, wife Bronte|
On the eve of the biggest race of Tagliani’s life, team co-owners Todd and Rick Kelly have confirmed the return of the popular Canadian driver for the unique Gold Coast event, where all 28 full-time V8 Supercars drivers will be paired with an international import.
Tagliani earned pole position for the Indy 500 last weekend driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports, becoming the first Canadian to earn the honor in the 100-year history of the prestigious race.
Tagliani is a familiar face to Australian fans. He has three previous V8 Supercars Championship starts, at Sandown and Bathurst in 2005 and in Kelly Racing’s #11 Commodore at Surfers Paradise last year.
“It’s great to have Alex back in Queensland once again and back on the Gold Coast, where he has a strong connection to the event over many years,” said Queensland Sports Minister Phil Reeves.
“Alex is the first of a number of international stars to be named in the field for this year’s Gold Coast 600.
“The Bligh Government is a proud supporter of the Gold Coast 600 because it’s good for jobs, good for the local economy and demonstrates Queensland is open for business.”
Known as ‘Tags’, the former Champ Car race winner has raced a total of 10 times at the Surfers Paradise street circuit, eight times in Champ Car and one each in IndyCar and V8 Supercars competition.
While Tagliani has finished third twice on the Gold Coast in 2001 and 2006, arguably his greatest memory of the event was meeting his wife Bronte at the event while judging the Miss Indy competition, in which the Adelaide-born model and fitness instructor was a contestant.
“It’s fantastic to be returning to the Gold Coast event for the 11th time this October,” said Tagliani.
“It’s a very special event to me for so many reasons. It’s the home race for my wife, Bronte, and I’ve been to Australia so often now that I like to think of myself as an honorary Aussie.
“The Gold Coast track is one of the most beautiful circuits in the world, running right next to the beach and between the high rise buildings.
“I met my wife there, I’ve had a few big crashes, I’ve stood on the podium twice and I was taken out by Russell Ingall last year. So I’ve really done everything except win it, so that’s the goal for this year.
“Last year’s event was so special. All the IndyCar guys love that event and to get the chance to be a V8 Supercar driver for the week once our season is over is really cool.
“It’s such a great series you have down there. It’s extremely professional, but also very exciting and friendly. Having an international co-driver in every car will only make it even more exciting and competitive this year.
“I’ve got a huge race ahead of me here in Indianapolis. To be on pole at Indy is a dream come true. It’s a really tough race but I’ve got a great team and great car so we are in with a good shot at it.”
This year’s event will not only include some of the biggest names in world motorsport, but also from the world of entertainment with the event’s Rock and Race format to continue to with nightly concerts at the Broadwater Parklands entertainment precinct.
More drivers will be announced in coming weeks before the entire field, ticketing options and entertainment line-up is announced at the event’s launch in mid-July.
At this stage Kelly Racing is yet to confirm whether Tagliani will partner Rick or Todd Kelly in one of the Jack Daniel’s Holdens, Greg Murphy in the Pepsi Max entry or David Reynolds in the Stratco Commodore.
V8 Supercar Chairman, Tony Cochrane, said he was delighted to have Tagliani a part of this year’s field.
“Alex and Bronte have been friends of this event through its long history and we were all delighted to see him win the pole for this weekend’s Indy 500,” said Cochrane.
“We were even happier when he found time to reach agreement with Kelly Racing to come back down here in October.
“This year we will have 28 star international drivers – one in every car in the field.”
Todd Kelly, Racing Director of Kelly Racing and driver of the team's #7 Jack Daniel's Commodore, welcomed Tagliani back to the team.
“It's fantastic to have Tags joining our team again on the Gold Coast this October,” said Kelly.
“Everyone here at Kelly Racing was wrapped to see him get pole for the Indy 500 in qualifying last weekend.
“All the boys on the crew really got along with him well last year. He's a fantastic bloke and we really enjoyed his company.
“He’s a driver who really becomes a part of your team very easily and that makes him a perfect driver to have onboard for the Armor All Gold Coast 600.
“He's an absolute weapon in the car and one of the most determined, focused and intense guys I’ve ever met.
“His result in Indy 500 qualifying was outstanding and I'd love to see the footage if he wins the thing. I think he would go nuts.
“He's a funny guy and extremely passionate about his driving and that shows through. He is not a guy that really hides his emotions in or out of the car."
The Indianapolis 500 will be run on the early hours of Monday morning Australian time, while the next round of the V8 Supercar Championship will be staged in Darwin on June 17-19.