Indianapolis (USA). Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon were infidels today. On Wednesday, June 11th, for the first time in history two drivers of their level swapped cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Montoya, who won the Monaco Grand Prix ten days ago with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team, and the four-time NASCAR Champion Jeff Gordon (USA) enjoyed a very special racing day.
Montoya and Gordon drove six and seven flying laps respectively - plus in- and out-laps - on their own on the 4.192 kilometres Indianapolis road circuit which consists of parts of the legendary oval and a very winding infield. For a final they both drove a parade lap side by side. For both of them it was the first time they sat behind the wheel of a NASCAR car or F1 car respectively but also both the drivers clocked impressive lap times
Montoya (27) was the first one to do his laps during the warm and sunny noontime with the 1600-kilogram and approximately 800-bhp powerful Chevrolet of 31-year-old Gordon. The Colombian F1 star was excited: "This was so much fun, I really enjoyed myself. The NASCAR moves around a lot more than the F1, it is much more active, but it also gave me a very good feedback. Once I underestimated the weight of the car when I saw a corner and thought I would make it, but I was braking too late and ruined a tyre. Also I found the power of the engine impressive. Although at high speed, Jeff might confirm that now, there is nothing you can compare with the BMW F1 engine."
Gordon, darling of the public all over the U.S., said after his laps with the last year's Formula One car FW24, in which the BMW engine offers up to 900 bhp for a total weight of just 600 kilograms: "I really cannot describe the great feeling I had. The corners come up so fast, and the car brakes so well and turns so well, and at the exit of the corners it grabs it up and just goes. It is unreal, like slot car racing. I drove full throttle on the straight and got pressed into the seat much more than I would have imagined. My neck is sore after only a few laps."
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen also made a stopover at Indy on his way to the Canadian Grand Prix. "It was a fantastic event for the two teams and the fans around. And if you look at the drivers' faces it must have been like Christmas for them. It was great watching these two professionals getting familiar with each other's machines. Both had an approach full of curiosity and circumspection. I think it was a brilliant idea to bring together Formula One and the most popular U.S. racing series. Also it has been a good promotion for the F1 race at the end of September, the Grand Prix of the United States, which is BMW's most important overseas market."
Most of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team staff did follow the event live on TV in the garage of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, where the preparation for the Canadian GP is underway.