(June 14, 1999) - Tropical trade winds and tikis lure their share of tourists
to the Aloha State, but they're not the only attractions for PacWest driver
Mauricio Gugelmin. The talented Brazilian, who became the first Champ Car
driver to turn hot laps in Hawaii on Saturday, June 12 in a special test
at Oahu's Barbers Point Naval Air Station, is focused on returning to this
Pacific paradise for November's inaugural Hawaiian Super Prix and its unprecedented
$10 million purse.
was invited by CART and Hawaiian Super Prix officials to assess the surface
of the Kalaeloa airport circuit. He powered the team's No. 18 Motorola/PacWest
Mercedes-Benz Reynard to a top speed of over 190 mph on a modified version
of the 1.67-mile temporary track.
very satisfied with the surface, particularly in terms of how smooth it
is," Gugelmin said. "It is even smoother than some of our permanent
road courses. I don't think we'll have to do much work to have a really
normally drives the No, 17 Hollywood/PacWest Mercedes-Benz Reynard in the
FedEx Championship Series, but he stepped into teammate Mark Blundell's
Motorola race car for the Hawaii run. Blundell, originally scheduled for
the Hawaii run, is recovering from a neck injury suffered in a test accident
last month at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis. Brazilian veteran
Roberto Moreno is filling in for the injured Brit who is expected to be
ready to return to action by the July 11 race at Road America.
is currently 18th in the FedEx Championship Series championship, six positions
shy of the all-important Top 12 in the standings. The top dozen drivers
at the end of the 20-race season will be guaranteed an invitation to the
Hawaiian Super Prix. Gugelmin wants to be part of that group in order to
have a shot at the race's record first place prize of $5 million.
a driver, you always love to see the purse get larger and larger,"
said the driver known as Big Mo. "Let's face it, this is a technology
sport. It takes about $30 million a year to run a competitive effort, so
a purse like this is more than suitable. I think the fans like to see drivers
running for that amount of money, too. No matter how you look at it, it
makes the event more important."
also believes the Hawaiian Super Prix circuit will create a good show for
trying to make every turn an opportunity to overtake," Gugelmin said.
"Normally there is good passing when the drivers spend a lot of time
under braking. I think we will have three or four really good examples
of that here. The circuit is also quite wide in places, which allows people
to be fairly creative with their lines. I think it will make the Hawaiian
Super Prix not only the richest race, but also the most exciting to watch."
next stop for Gugelmin and his FedEx Championship Series rivals is Round
8 of the 20-event schedule this weekend at Portland International Raceway.
The Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 can be seen live on ABC this Sunday at 4:00
p.m. ET (1:00 p.m. PT).