Castroneves Visits President, Tours Site Of Season Opener

By Auto News Log • February 4th, 2010

SAO PAULO, Brazil – Though he missed the excitement of Super Bowl week in his adopted hometown of Miami, Helio Castroneves has had a thrilling few days on home soil.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 champion was in his native Brazil this week and toured the site of the Sao Paulo 300, the season-opening race for the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series. Castroneves also spent time with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, as the country’s leader spent time with several drivers as they prepared for the March 13-14 race weekend.

“It has been a really busy, but really fun few days,” said Castroneves. “The whole city is very excited about the race and the drivers coming to town. They are doing a great job getting everything ready.”

The drivers met with the President, who is an enthusiastic race fan, and they presented him with a green and yellow IZOD IndyCar Series helmet — with “President Lula, driving Brazil” printed in Portugese on the front.

On Feb. 3, the group then visited with Sao Paulo Mayor Gilberto Kassab to tour the venue that incorporates the Sambodromo – permanent grandstands used primarily for the colorful parades of Carnival in mid-February – into the 2.6-mile, 11-turn street course. Dozens of workers continued their round-the-clock efforts to prepare the area for the race weekend, including the resurfacing of 2.3 miles of city streets.

In constructing the circuit, 27,456 feet of fencing, 41 miles of fence cabling, 5,450 fence poles, 11,000 tires, and about 100 miles of reinforcing steel rod will be used in building of the 5.2 miles of cement barriers.

“I really like the race circuit,” said Castroneves. “It has two really long straightaways and it will be great for the fans. It is going to be a challenge for our Team Penske engineers to set up the car because of the changes between road surfaces, but it’s going to be fun to drive.”
Castroneves will return to the U.S. next week and he will continue to get ready for his first chance on track with Team Penske in 2010 – the series open test at Barber Motorsports Park, February 24-25.

Source: Penske Racing

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