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Rookies eager to live Indy dream


Though four rookies competed in the first three IndyCar Series events of the season, those races were akin to dipping their feet into the water. Now, they're about to take the plunge.

Next Tuesday [5 May], Stanton Barrett, Mike Conway, Robert Doornbos and Raphael Matos will begin preparations for the 2009 Indianapolis 500 and, despite their different racing backgrounds, insist that competing in the Indianapolis 500 has always been a major ambition.

Barrett, a native Californian and the only American in the quartet, claims that he was hooked on the 500 even before he started racing as a teenager.

“I got to go there a couple of times and watch the race before I started racing,” the Team 3G driver revealed, “In the '80s and '90s, when I wasn't in racing yet and watching it from a fan standpoint, that was the race to watch. I remember you always wanted to know who won.”

Despite his obvious open-wheel interest, Barrett's subsequent racing career took him to stock cars - where he made almost 200 starts between the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series - but he now gets a chance to fulfil his childhood ambition.

“The Indy 500 is at the top of any kid's list,” he insisted, “Even a lot of the NASCAR guys would love to [race in it]. When they found out I was going to run the Indy 500, they were like 'man, I want to go to the Indy 500 and watch you - I've always wanted to run the Indy 500'. I think it's a race that, no matter what kind of racing you're in, all those guys would want to race that race.”

Conway and Doornbos, meanwhile, grew up in Europe, where Formula One is king, but both kept their eyes on the Indianapolis 500 even as they were making their way up the open-wheel ladder towards the grand prix scene.

“It is very popular in Europe,” Dutchman Doornbos said of the blue riband event, “Many people know the race, and a lot of people in Holland are proud that they have another Dutch guy there. If I can only do the same as [two-time winner] Arie [Luyendyk] did, I will be very happy.

“You grow up with Formula One, so that was my dream, my target. To achieve that was great, but you kept an eye on the other side of the ocean, because you knew that they were racing at high speeds on ovals - extremely high speeds. You don't even do that in a Formula One car. I have to be honest, racing in the Indianapolis 500 is another boy's dream come true. I've been there with F1, drove the other way around, but you don't experience the same sense of what it's like. All the drivers who have been there many years keep telling me that it will be the best I've ever experienced, and it still surprises them every year.”



Related Pictures

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Indy Racing League. 17-19 April 2009. Long Beach Grand Prix. Long Beach, California USA. Rafel Matos.
Accident for Sage Karam on the first lap of the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Mike Young for IndyCar Media)
Oriol Servia accident during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Mike Young for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe at IMS (Photo by: Mike Harding)
Ed Carpenter`s car on the flat bed. Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Sunday May 17 2015. (Photo by: Mike Young for IndyCar Media)
Ed Carpenter`s car on the flat bed. Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Sunday May 17 2015. (Photo by: Mike Young for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud on track in the Penske #22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice on Friday May 15 2015. (Photo by: Mike Harding for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud leads Will Power at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice on Thursday May 14 2015. (Photo by: Mike Harding for IndyCar Media)
Pippa Mann at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during practice on Thursday May 14 2015.  (Photo by: Mike Young for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz and Marco Andretti at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for practice on Wednesday May 13 2015. (Photo by: Mike Harding for IndyCar Media)
Simona de Silvestro`s car is returned to the team garage after catching fire. (Photo by: Mike Harding for IndyCar Media)
Arie Luyendyk chats with Stefano Coletti during his Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Stefano Coletti exits his pit box for Rookie Orientation Program (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Stefano Coletti on track at IMS (Photo by: Mike Young for IndyCar Media)
Team Owner Jimmy Vasser chats with Stefano Coletti before his Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves on course during practice for the Angie`s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo by: Mike Harding for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway on pit lane prior to the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway prepares for a wet qualifying for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Source on Saturday, August 2 2014. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)

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