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Mauricio Gugelmin Gives Hawaiian Super Prix Circuit A Go
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Gugelmin Gives Hawaiian Super Prix Circuit A Go
HAWAII (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.
Gugelmin 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.
"I'm 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 great event."
Mauricio Gugelmin talks with reporters!
Gugelmin 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.
Gugelmin 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.
"As 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."
Mauricio speaks at press conference!
Gugelmin also believes the Hawaiian Super Prix circuit will create a good show for the fans.
"We're 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."
The 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).
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