Car No. - 17
Now in his ninth year of FedEx Championship Series competition, Mauricio Gugelmin is one of CART’s most experienced racers. Entering 2001, Gugelmin had started 128 consecutive CART races dating from Mid-Ohio in 1993, the longest such streak currently running.
The driver affectionately dubbed "Big Mo" has another title: "Fastest Man in Champ Cars", courtesy of the world closed-course speed record of 240.942 mph that he set in capturing the pole for the 1997 season finale at California Speedway. In that breakout 1997 campaign, Gugelmin earned three pole positions and recorded the best average qualifying position (4.2) of drivers who qualified for all 17 races. His average grid position on ovals was an even more impressive 2.3.
Always outstanding in qualifying, Gugelmin was similarly spectacular on race day. He earned his first CART victory at Vancouver and added a pair of second place finishes en route to fourth place in the PPG Cup standings. "Big Mo" led a total of 211 laps, third best in the series.
Gugelmin joined PacWest in 1995 after competing for Dick Simon Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing. During his tenure with Ganassi, Gugelmin was instrumental in the development of Reynard's first CART chassis. He out-qualified his experienced teammate Michael Andretti on six occasions, and scored a season-best finish of fifth at Vancouver.
The combination of Gugelmin and PacWest made an immediate impact, with Mauricio qualifying on the front row and finishing second at the 1995 Miami season opener. He added a podium finish at Laguna Seca, and began to establish his reputation on superspeedways by leading the most laps at the Indianapolis 500 and running strongly at Michigan. Gugelmin finished tenth in the 1995 PPG Cup standings, the top Brazilian driver.
1996 brought further superspeedway success, as Gugelmin claimed second place at the inaugural U.S. 500 and notched another podium result at the Marlboro 500.
Gugelmin's 1997 performance- one victory, three pole positions, and fourth in the PPG Cup standings - positioned the talented Brazilian as a championship threat for 1998. However, several factors placed the PacWest team at a competitive disadvantage, and Gugelmin finished an uncharacteristic fourteenth in the final standings with a top result of fourth at Mid-Ohio. Nevertheless, Gugelmin led races and PacWest regained its championship form at the Fontana season finale.
Mauricio, his wife Stella, and their twin five-year-old sons Bernardo and Giuliano live in Coral Gables, Florida. Gugelmin also maintains a residence in Curitiba, Brazil, where he is a major star and a profile ambassador for one of Brazil's leading companies, Souza Cruz, and their Hollywood brand. In his spare time, Mauricio enjoys all forms of water sports including jet skiing and water skiing, and maintains a rigorous fitness program.
Mauricio Gugelmin ran the fastest qualifying lap in auto racing history, 240.942 miles per hour, at the California Speedway for the Marlboro 500 PPG CART World Series event. He finished fourth, but Gugelmin has shown he has what it takes to become a champion. In his 67th start at the Molson Indy 500, Gugelmin earned his first CART win. He had three career poles for the 1997 season and finished fifth in points. He may have had two victories, but ran out of fuel while leading the last lap of the Detroit Grand Prix.
Gugelmin has proven that he is not a driver to be taken for granted. The 34-year-old Brazilian had eight top-10 finishes in the first dozen events to establish a career-best. In seven of those events, Gugelmin placed sixth or better.
Even though the race did not go as he would have hoped, "Big Mo" experienced a thrill by capturing his first career CART pole for the '97 Rio 400 in his homeland. Gugelmin was joined on the front row by countryman Roberto Moreno, but finished 22nd.
Gugelmin came to the CART circuit after running in Formula One from 1988 through 1992 for several teams including Jordan, Leyton House and March. He is in his third year driving for the PacWest Indy-car team, which is running Reynard chassis with Mercedes engines and Firestone tires.
Gugelmin joined the CART circuit for the last three races of 1993 with Dick Simon Racing, then moved to Ganassi for 1994 and to PacWest in 1995. Gugelmin is popular on the CART circuit and a major media and marketing personality in his home country of Brazil.
First CART win at Vancouver in '97.
Raced in Formula 1, Formula 3000, Formula 3, Formula Ford 2000, Formula Ford, Formula Fiat, Karts.
Drove for Chip Ganassi for one year.
Set a world record qualifying lap of 240.942 mph at California Speedway in '97.