Helio Castroneves was raised in Brazil and lives in South Florida. He’s not necessarily the guy you want in your rearview mirror when the interstate is icy.
But with time on his hands since his full-time switch from INDYCAR to sports cars and a newfound opportunity for new experiences not at his disposal the previous two decades, the three-time Indianapolis 500 champion happily accepted an offer to compete in the Rally X on Ice on March 3 in Gol, Norway.
Castroneves is eager for his opportunity, but his overall disdain for cold weather and admitted lack of knowledge with the vagaries of solid water have him anticipating the weekend more as an experience than a competition.
“I never thought I would sit in a rally car. It’s snow, too,” Castroneves said. “It’s some sort of closed course. It’s not those WRC championship things, not like that. It’s a closed course.
“My skills … I don’t like much snow. I don’t like the cold weather and I’m not very familiar with snow coming from Brazil. So yes, it will be a race, but I don’t think it’s fair to say I am going to compete. I think I am going to go and have fun. That’s the way I’m approaching it at this point. I’ve been watching video and I’m sure it will be interesting.”
Team Penske’s Austin Cindric – the son of team president Tim Cindric who will drive for Team Penske this year in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – competed in the first two of four Rally X on Ice rounds in Norway. Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden is slated to compete this weekend in Al, Norway.
All three will drive in the Supercar Lites class featuring identical 310-horsepower, four-wheel-drive cars. Newgarden, a native of Tennessee, has driven in snow, but he’s not raced in it.
“I have no idea what this is all about,” Newgarden conceded, adding he’s never sat in a rally car. He’s therefore anticipating the day of testing he was preparing for today, and for how the experience could potentially help his INDYCAR title defense.
“I’ve always wanted to drive a rally car. That’s always been a dream of mine,” Newgarden said in a phone conversation from Norway this morning. “I didn’t think it would come on ice the first time around, but it’s just an opportunity that was right. It should be a fun event. I’ll be able to do a test day. That gives me a little bit of time to figure some stuff out.
“It’s just something else to put in the tool kit and use down the road.”
Newgarden will be back in an Indy car for the 2018 season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 11 (12:30 p.m. ET, ABC and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network). In addition to his sports car duties for Team Penske, Castroneves will race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this May in the INDYCAR Grand Prix and 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.