Racing legend Mario Andretti was back at Brands Hatch on Saturday for the first time in more than 20 years as practice and qualifying got underway for the inaugural London Champ Car Trophy and despite his recent hi-jinks at Indianapolis, it was clear that the fire still burned.

The 63 year-old entertained a captivated media audience between practice and qualifying sessions for Monday's 165-lap event and although he confirmed that there would be no more 'shakedown' runs at Indy for his son Michael's IRL IndyCar team, he stopped short of saying that he would never step behind the wheel of a competitive racing car again.

Andretti conceded that even Le Mans 24 Hours opportunities (one event Andretti has never conquered) were beginning to dry up, but quickly added, "I'd love to be in a Bentley at Le Mans, where all the focus is. The passion [for racing] will never leave me."

But when there are no driving offers on the table, Andretti has shown himself as being equally passionate about other things he believes in, namely maintaining CART's presence in many of North America's finest road courses.

By his own admission he made himself a 'pain in the ass' but it worked and after weeks of hard 'negotiations between two parties that had previously seemed at immovable loggerheads, the revered Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake returned to the 2003 Champ Car World Series schedule.

"Road America has been a part of the CART schedule since 1982," Andretti recalled correctly. "It's a venue everyone enjoys but for some reason attendance in recent years has been down. To be honest the promotion had been miserable and we got to a point where everyone had to roll their sleeves up. I spoke to Chris [Pook] and said 'We can't ignore the reaction from the fans and competitors.' We had to find some middle ground."

Although somewhat hesitant to accept his new role as title sponsor for the 'Mario Andretti Grand Prix of Road America, Andretti feels that the recent controversy surrounding the event and its initial removal from the 2003 calendar could prove to be beneficial in the long run. "I feel confident [of a good turnout], it got a lot of attention in the media because of this."