Racing in the fast lane

Sabastien Bourdais has captured the eye of millions of race fans all over the world. Leaving his homeland of France to pursue a professional racing career, Bourdais found himself in the United States — a country that was, and still is, at odds with his native soil.

Racing professionally has taken Bourdais all over the world. At almost 25 years old, Bourdais has already raced in England, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and, of course, the United States.

Bourdais said he got much of his enthusiasm for racing from his father.

“I can remember when I was young, my father was always at the track. He is the one who got me involved in the sport, and I haven’t looked back since,” Bourdais said.

The young driver has looked past all of the conflict between the two countries and focused on his career as a driver. With such a stellar career already in place as he enters his second year, it is quite possible that he will draw even more fans this year. After conquering everything from go-karts to the Formula 3000 circuit, Bourdais said he chose to continue his career with another advancement in stature. This time he made the move to the Champ Car circuit.

“I was the champion of Formula 3 in France and champion of Formula 3000 for Europe,” Bourdais said. “The next step would be to go to Formula 1, but that requires a major financial commitment. I just did not get any serious backing.”

At the conclusion of the 2002 season, Bourdais said he had championed the Formula 3000 circuit and was looking for some larger prey. The next natural progression was to move up in classification, and without the financial backing for Formula 1, Bourdais looked elsewhere. This came when Bourdais was invited to try out for the Newman/Haas racing team. After only one day of trial runs, Bourdais was invited to join the team as their newest driver.

In his first year as a professional, Bourdais said he was voted “Rookie of the Year,” finishing fourth in points. With three victories in only his first year, he has already established a reputation on the professional circuit as being one of the fiercest forces to be reckoned with on the track.

Referring to a victory, Bourdais said, “The team has been doing a fantastic job all year long, but we always go out of the track after the race with our heads down. Everyone is always up after qualifying and down after the race. We need to stay up this time.”

David Phillips of Racer magazine commented, “With Bourdais’ talent and intense, but amiable personality, it’s a safe bet that Newman/Haas has a lot of ‘up’ weekends in store.”

Bourdais said he has not only made an impression on his team, but also on owners that have made money on him, such as Paul Newman.

“All of the proceeds from (Paul Newman’s) products go to camps that are designed to help sick children have some fun in their lifetimes. (Newman) is probably the most generous guy I know,” Bourdais said.

Bourdais has his next race in St. Petersburg on February 23.

For more information, visit his Web site at .