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CART Goes to Rio: FedEx Plans Big Trip Zanardi/Vasser Pumped up, Toyota Sees Blue Sky

5 May 1998

The trip to race number four on the FedEx/CART world tour takes the
professional open cockpit chauffeurs to Rio de Janiero this coming
weekend, and everyone is hopped up about racing on the 1.864 mile
semi-banked oval in front of 80,000 South American motorsports fans.
To prepare for such an undertaking is an tremendous exercise in
logistics and planning.  Feature this: Flight distance for the two
MD-11 Fed Ex jets is 4,700 miles and the value of their cargo is $60
million. It will be a nine hour trip for the 54 race cars, and the
jets will cruise at 575 mph with a 200,000 pound cargo.  The planes
will consume 27,500 gallons of fuel.  Ahh! Show biz does cost a lot of

The event is called The Rio 400 and takes place at the Emerson
Fittipaldi raceway Friday-Sunday.  The green flag falls for the 133
lapper at 1 p.m. Rio time, and the race airs on ABC at 3:30 EDT.

Defending champ is Paul Tracy, who also has the fastest lap at Rio
(171.921 mph).  Defending pole sitter is Mo Gugelmin.  Last year Alex
Zanardi started 22nd and finished fourth.  The Dan Gurney Toyotas had
their best ever outing last week at Nazareth, as Robby Gordon ran as
high as third before settling for a 7th place finish.  Pac West
drivers Guglemin and Mark Blundell, both crash victims at Nazareth,
have been released from the sick bay and will make the trip.  Al
Unser, Jr. has had two top seven finishes at Rio, while Michael
Andretti has had poor racing luck in South America, finishing 20 th
last year.  Christian Fittipaldi can't wait to get on the race track
named for his uncle; he missed it last year because of an injury he
received in Australia.  Rio will be Hiro Matushita's last Indy car
race.  Rookie Tony Kanaan is from Rio and can't wait to race there.
Kanaan says that it looks like an oval, but it requires a gear change
at one point in the circuit.

The top five drivers in CART points are:

G. Moore	     51
A. Zanardi	     50
A. Fernandez	     41
G. de Ferran	     33
J. Vasser	     31

Bill Maloney -- The Auto Channel