Friday, December 13, 2002
Tooling around with Formula One
By Sarah Fisher
Special to ABC Sports Online
The 2002 Indy Racing season has ended, but that doesn't mean my job is done!
Although I won't be on the track in an IRL car for a while, we are still working very hard to put together a strong program for 2003. Plus, I have many activities and appearances on behalf of my sponsors to help keep me busy in addition to attending Butler University part-time.
The next big thing I have on my schedule has been in the works for over a month, but was just announced on Thursday. I'll be driving three demonstration laps in the West McLaren Mercedes backup F1 car for drivers David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen next Friday as part of the U.S. Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is a rare opportunity that was brought to me by my personal sponsor TAG Heuer with special permission from Bernie Eccelstone and the West McLaren Mercedes F1 team. It took a lot of cooperation and coordination from many people including the IRL to make this happen, and the purpose of the event is to help publicize the F1 in the U.S. and also bring awareness of my series, the Indy Racing League, to the fans and media overseas.
I flew directly from our IRL race at Dallas to London on Monday following the Chevy 500 and spent a day at the McLaren headquarters in Woking, England. It was extremely interesting to see how a top F1 team operates, and I was able to tour the facility and meet a lot of the engineers. They fitted me in a seat and adjusted the car so it would fit me for my demonstration at Indy, and I also got information on the nuts and bolts of the car and steering wheel and shifting, which is different than that of an Indy car, so I have an idea of what to expect next week.
We also did a photo shoot. West McLaren Mercedes had overalls (F1 name for a driver's suit) made for me that are identical to those of David and Kimi and I had several publicity shots taken alongside the car. I'm really looking forward to driving the West McLaren Mercedes F1 car next week and seeing what the similarities and differences are between those cars and our IRL ones.
After the demonstration on Friday, my weekend is not done. I will be making several appearances on behalf of TAG Heuer, for whom I am an ambassador and also talking to media and clients. We are also going to have a go-kart challenge, which should be fun. It will be great to see the U.S. Grand Prix from the "inside" point of view and is a great opportunity.
We are also working hard on putting together a first-class effort for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for 2003. Things are coming together and hopefully we will have something to announce in the next couple of months. In the meantime, I will also be traveling to Las Vegas for Raybestos and SmartBlade for an aftermarket show in November and have several other appearances along those same lines.
In addition, I have to study for school as well! Education is very important to me and I love going to college. Although it may take me 20 years to get my degree, I will have it someday.
That's all for now. I'd like to give my sincere thanks for all the support my wonderful fans have shown this season. When things were tough, it helped me to keep following my dream when I knew I had such fantastic people who believed in me.
Hope to see you on track again very soon!
Car: No. 23|
Team: Allegra/Dreyer and Reinbold
Hometown: Commercial Point, Ohio
IRL starts: 32
Best start: 1st (Kentucky, 8/11/02)
Best finish: 2nd (Homestead, 4/8/01)