Bourdais gets crash course driving ovals
By wire services
Published April 14, 2005
Tampa resident Sebastien Bourdais hasn't had much experience driving on ovals. But that is changing quickly.
The 26-year-old Frenchman is the reigning champion in the Champ Car World Series, which races mostly on road and street circuits. The only ovals on its 14-race schedule this year are in Milwaukee and Las Vegas.
But Bourdais is getting a crash course in the techniques of oval racing and drafting this year as part of the invitation-only Crown Royal International Race of Champions Series, which will compete Friday at Texas Motor Speedway in the second of four races this season.
Coming off a season-opening Champ Car victory Sunday on the temporary street course in Long Beach, Calif., Bourdais jumped into an IROC car Monday for his first laps on the banked 11/2-mile Fort Worth oval.
"It's quite different than what I've been doing over the last week, for sure," Bourdais said.
It was also announced earlier this week that Bourdais will get to experience another big fast oval in May, when he takes part in his first Indianapolis 500, joining IRL star Buddy Rice, the defending Indy champion.HEADED HOME: Christian Fittipaldi's hopes of finding a full-time ride in NASCAR are over for the time being. Instead, he is going back to his native country to compete in the 12-race Brazilian Stock Car Championship. The first race of the season is set for May1 at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo. The 34-year-old driver tested last fall in one of the Brazilian cars owned by his father, former Formula One driver and broadcaster Wilson Fittipaldi. He signed with the Terra Avallone team, where he will drive a 450-horsepower Mitsubishi Lancer. The younger Fittipaldi, a longtime open-wheel star who raced in Formula One and CART, attempted to make the move to NASCAR's top series in 2003 with Petty Enterprises but couldn't come up with enough sponsorship to make it work. TEACHER TONY: Tony Stewart has gotten many lectures during his time in Nextel Cup. Giving them? Now, that's something new for the former NASCAR champion. "All right everybody, straighten up," Stewart, a grin on his face, told the 30 students as he began his guest professorship Tuesday in NASCAR Marketing at the University of South Carolina. Stewart shared all aspects of his insider's experience and answered about two dozen questions from the prospective motorsports marketers. The class is taught each spring by members of Darlington Raceway's staff. So far this year, car owner Ray Evernham and NASCAR chief spokesman Jim Hunter have appeared. Stewart, though, is the focus of a semester-long project. Darlington public relations director Cathy Elliott assigned students her actual PR budget of $200,000 and asked them to design a publicity campaign for the Dodge Charger 500 around Stewart.