Rubens and Beaux–Could IndyCar have turned a corner?

Throughout the history of racing, the US has seen more than one European racing superstar hopping the pond to participate in many of the Open wheel and sports car series’. In modern history, many raced formula one with a certain focus on the rich prizes offered in the Can-Am (John Surtees, Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme, Jackie Stewart…to name a few) and one of the the ultimate prizes in the world of racing, the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar seems to now be attracting more F1 talent, with the recent news of Rubens Barrichello testing for Kevin Kalkoven and Jimmy Vasser’s KV Racing. This could be a real boost for the sport. As most know, Rubens played second fiddle to Schumacher for all those glorius Ferrari years and managed 11 trips to the top step of the podium–including a controversial win in the 2002 USGP at Indianapolis. It should be noted that at 322 Grand Prix starts, Rubens also holds the record for leaving the stating line in F1.

Having Justin Wilson, Takuma Sato, and Rubens in the mix certainly can add to the international intrigue. But consider that at one time, CART had three F1 World Champions on the track at one time in the mid-nineties (Mansell, Andretti, Fittipaldi) and one soon to be WDC in Jacques Villeneuve. Many of us still need to get over the devastating split that essentially ruined the world’s most competitive and varietal form of motor racing.

Regardless, this clearly is a step in the right direction for our friends at IndyCar. Perhaps next year IndyCar can make a David Beckham-like offer to Michael Schumacher? But what would a risk like that, after the devastation we saw at Vegas, cost to attract the 43 year old 7-time WDC?

Rubens is no stranger to IndyCar Racing. Dating back to 1997 during his days at Stewart Grand Prix, Barrichello was seen on pit-lane at the Milwaukee Mile, giving moral support to close friend and fellow countryman Tony Kannan. The well liked, good natured Brazillian should be a very welcome newcomer to the IndyCar Garages and paddocks.

With Danica leaving for fendered pastures, IndyCar should be happy to get–and should fight to keep–the starpower that Rubens will certainly bring with him.

Testing has been active for a number of teams down in Sebring, enjoying the rights of spring training that happens there and at homestead. A new year, a new car and thank goodness a new head of Race operations, Beaux Barfield who comes from ALMS.

I am looking forward to the IndyCar season!

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