Cheever Seeks Financing
Apr. 11, 2000
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Every racing instinct in Ross Cheever's body tells him to go as fast as he can for as long as he can. His boss, older brother Eddie, tells him to cool it, at least for now.
Eddie Cheever, the team owner and 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner, knows the reality of racing is he needs big sponsorship money before he can put anyone, his brother included, behind the wheel as a team driver. In the meantime, he has hired Ross to test drive a team car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
``Our endurance runs are always bad, so he's been involved in that,'' Eddie Cheever said. ``It's interesting to see him come to Indy, which is a totally different place. But he's doing very well. He's a natural.''
Ross Cheever, who turns 36 on Wednesday, drove 12 years in Japan, including that country's Formula 3000 series from 1990-94. He also drove in four CART races for A.J. Foyt in 1991.
``It's been comfortable from the point that I'm working in an environment that I feel at ease,'' the younger Cheever said of his introduction to Indy during the annual Rookie Orientation Program this week.
``But the uncomfortable thing is I am a racing driver and I've raced all my life, so the only thing I had to remember is this is a testing program. I'm not racing, so I have to keep my wits about myself.
``A racing driver is a racing driver. I don't care if he's driving a rent-a-car or a test car, you're always trying to get as close to the limit as possible,'' he said. ``Very early on, I realized I have to live well within my limits, because I am doing something I don't know about.
``There's a lot of wall out there and there's a lot of situations that can come up that we don't even imagine. You pace yourself, but at the same time you are a racer, so that's where the pressure comes from.''
Ross Cheever completed the mandatory Indy rookie driving test on Monday. Eddie said he likely will decide within two weeks _ still more than two weeks before the track opens for practice _ whether to name Ross to drive in the May 28 race.
``Our direction is we'd like to run him, but we have a few little things we have to get completed. I don't want to run an under-financed second car,'' Eddie Cheever said.
Ross left racing after he finished third in the 1994 Japanese F3000 series. His retirement lasted five years, although he said he knew probably within six months there was nothing that could replace racing in his life.
``I was always in racing in my mind but the situations weren't right to do racing properly,'' he said. ``With this opportunity (testing for Eddie), it worked out perfectly. There's no pressure on me apart from just giving them positive feedback.''
And driving for a famous brother doesn't hurt.
``If anything, it gives me an opportunity that is unequaled,'' he said. ``I have a winning team, I have an opportunity to test at my own speed, I've got no pressure, nobody's expecting anything from me. ... Obviously, the racing's going to happen if the sponsorship is found.''
Full practice begins May 13.
The Speedway already has received entries from two CART teams _ Ganassi Racing, which includes defending CART champion Juan Montoya, and Walker Racing, with 19-year-old rookie Sarah Fisher.
Montoya was not required to take the rookie driving test because of his CART experience, and Fisher completed the four-phase test on Monday.