Mauricio Gugelmin was forced to withdraw from this Sunday's Lehigh Valley Grand Prix at the Nazareth Speedway after the tragic passing of his six year old son Giuliano who died Thursday morning after a brave fight against cerebral palsy.

Less than a week after surviving a terrifying practice crash at the Texas Motor Speedway, Mauricio Gugelmin scratched his entry from Sunday's Lehigh Valley Grand Prix at the .946-mile Nazareth Speedway after the untimely passing of his six year old son Giuliano on Thursday morning.

Giuliano had battled cerebral palsy throughout his life and Mauricio and his wife Stella had gained the admiration and respect of everybody in the CART paddock with the work they did not only for their own son but also for the thousands of other children born each year with the debilitating disease.

In a statement read out at Nazareth this weekend, Mauricio said: "Our family has been blessed with three wonderful children (Bernardo & Giuliano 6, Gabriel 10 months), and this morning God decided to take one of them to a better life. Giuliano was a brave young boy who battled his way since he was born. He blessed and enriched our lives and made us appreciate just how fortunate we are to have enjoyed him for six years. We are comfortable in knowing that he will be with us forever and will always remain in our thoughts and hearts."

'Big Mo's' withdrawal from this weekend's event means that his consecutive starting streak of 130 comes to an end, ironically that statistic was set to end last weekend in Texas when Mauricio suffered bruising in his high speed shunt on Friday but due to the cancellation of the Firestone Firehawk 600 the Brazilian driver looked to continue adding to that tally this weekend. Sadly for reasons far more serious than motor racing the CART paddock will be without one of its friendliest faces on Sunday.

Gugelmin's team, PacWest Racing will field only one Reynard-Toyota this Sunday for CART rookie Scott Dixon and PacWest President Bruce McCaw, who has worked with Gugelmin since 1995 also released a statement.

"On behalf of our family and his [Gugelmin's] team-mates and friends at PacWest, we would like to extend our sincerest condolences over the loss of their son. Giuliano was a very strong boy who braved so many challenges. His courage has set a standard for all of us. He was a truly special child and he will be greatly missed. The love, support and caring he was given by his parents, his brothers and other relatives has been both remarkable and inspirational. Our thoughts, prayers and sympathies are with his entire family during this difficult time."

In addition to the countless messages of goodwill and sympathy that have been passed onto Mauricio and his family already this weekend, the staff at send their deepest sympathies.



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