Imola (ITA), 18th April 2003. Some cars you just wouldn't lend to anybody. A Formula One race car, for example, or a NASCAR. Or maybe you would? On 11th June 2003, on the Wednesday before the Canadian Grand Prix, Juan Pablo Montoya will be taking the Chevrolet of four-time NASCAR Winston Cup Champion Jeff Gordon around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. At the same time, Gordon will be getting behind the wheel of the WilliamsF1 BMW FW25 of Formula One's Colombian star.
This unusual car swap is causing quite a stir on either side of the Atlantic, both in the homeland of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team and among America's NASCAR followers. That's because the laps the drivers are planning to do on the 2.606-mile (4.2-kilometre) Grand Prix circuit of the legendary US race track will be the first time either will have tried out the other's breed of car. Fans will be admitted to this spectacle free of charge. At the press conference to follow, the drivers will talk about their experiences.
Both racing drivers associate the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with special victories and high aspirations. In 2000, Montoya (27) won the 500-mile race on the world's most famous oval track and will be staging another attempt in September 2003 to claim a historic double victory by winning the US Grand Prix as well.
Jeff Gordon (31) has already taken three victories in the Brickyard 400 - one of the highlights of the NASCAR season. In August 2003 he will be gunning for his fourth win. He hasn't yet covered a single mile of the GP circuit, which only takes in part of the oval but includes a twisty infield section, as well as running in the opposite direction.
"I'm just excited about this opportunity. It's something I've dreamed of, just getting behind the wheel of an F1 car and seeing what it was like," said the Californian. "I don't plan on going F1 racing, but I would love to just get that experience."
Juan Pablo Montoya is similarly delighted at the prospect of this novel experience: "It will be very interesting for me, and driving a big, heavy NASCAR will certainly be different to driving a Formula car. I will enjoy the opportunity, and I don't think Jeff should be concerned that I will take away his job."