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How Nigel Mansell prepped for his first CART Indy car test with a white Cadillac rental car

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It’s funny how sometimes, when you’re looking up something, you stumble across something entirely different that immediately grabs your attention because of its unique subject matter.

Such was the case Thursday afternoon. While looking up something else about IndyCar racing, we ran across an online story by Road & Track magazine (RoadandTrack.com) that we had never heard of before.

The well-written story by Travis Okulski was about former Formula One and CART champion Nigel Mansell and his first test in an Indy car on January 4, 1993 at the former Firebird International Raceway (now Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park) in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

Before we talk more about the test, the only reason Mansell crossed the Atlantic to come race in America was because his ride with Williams in Formula One went away after 1992, even though Mansell captured the F1 championship that same season.

Without an available F1 ride, Mansell came to the U.S., when ironically, just as 1991 CART champ Michael Andretti moved to F1 to race for McLaren. In a sense, Mansell became the de facto replacement for the younger Andretti with the Newman Haas Racing squad.

Getting back to the CART test at Firebird:

Now, a test is usually a test, no matter what type of motorsport you’re in. But Mansell’s first effort in an Indy car had the kind of back story that would definitely qualify for the late Paul Harvey’s “Now You Know The Rest Of The Story” radio series.

You see, and as Okulski so aptly described, Mansell prepared for his first run in an Indy car by taking to the 1.6-mile road course first not in an open-wheeler, but in an all-white 1993 Cadillac rental car – at a time when Cadillacs were more like four-wheeled boats and not the much more nimble rides they’ve since become.

Mansell took a couple laps around in the Caddy before climbing into the Indy car. It didn’t take long before the Englishman broke Firebird’s single-lap record.

Beginner’s luck? No, rather, a great skill that would ultimately pay off later that 16-race season with five wins – plus a third-place finish in the 1993 Indianapolis 500 – as well as 10 podiums, six poles and capped off with the CART championship.

Unfortunately, Mansell’s tenure in CART was short-lived. After his great rookie campaign, he struggled in his sophomore season, failing to win a race, earning just three podiums and three poles. The 1994 season would be his second and last in CART before he returned home to his native England.

Here’s a video about Mansell’s initial CART foray – including his run in the Caddy – you definitely want to check out.

Click here to read Okulski’s story.

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Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”