Record-breaking skydiver Baumgartner to contest Race of Champions (VIDEO)

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After jumping from the edge of space and breaking the sound barrier, Felix Baumgartner is set for his next big challenge: Taking on the world’s top drivers.

Baumgartner, whose 24-mile descent last fall as part of the “Red Bull Stratos” project left the world spellbound, has announced that he will be part of the Dec. 14-15 Race of Champions in Bangkok, Thailand.

The 44-year-old recently raced in a Volkswagen Scirocco Cup series event at Germany’s Hockenheim track, which was part of the undercard for the DTM series (you can see a bit of his work in the Scirocco on the video below).

In a press release, Baumgartner said that he’s always been interested in motorsport and has previously practiced in rally driving with a friend.

“Of course I’m at a very medium level, but I’m used to speed, picking things up fast and I’m not scared to compete against the best,” he said.

Additionally, he believes that the Race of Champions’ concept can be good for him, since there isn’t much time for competitors to practice before having to hop in the car and race. The RoC sticks drivers from multiple racing disciplines in identical cars and has them go head-to-head.

“Of course everyone is at the top of their game, so I’m the one with the least amount of pressure this time,” he said. “They all want to show they’re the best racing driver in the world, whereas I’m a skydiver…

“So no one will be expecting very much from me and as long as I don’t damage the car and I do a couple of cool laps, everybody’s going to say: ‘Hey, he’s not as bad as we thought he would be!’ I’m looking forward to it and I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot from it. The more I can learn, the better.”

Baumgartner will be facing tough competition in Bangkok, as racing luminaries such as seven-time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher, nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Tom Kristiansen, 2013 World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier, and V8 Supercars star Jamie Whincup are among those set to compete in this year’s running.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”