Even as he hopped the globe for F1’s schedule in the 10 years since his two-race Nascar foray, Raikkonen always kept an eye on the series. So he knew a new car was coming when he met Marks, who he said “was very honest” about his intentions for the programme and TrackHouse’s capabilities.
“I think he came as a very honest and straightforward guy and nobody has promised any big thing,” Raikkonen said. “The only thing we can do is do our best and hope we get a good result. You never know, any category or any racing you choose, you just never know what will happen. And so I trusted what he was saying and they’ve been doing pretty well. In Nascar, it can easily happen.”
Raikkonen said he has had several offers to race in the last eight months, but that Marks’ is the only one “that so far I’ve said yes.”
He’s enthused in part because he gets to do something brand new and experience it with his wife and two young children, who have occupied his time in retirement. He said finally having a traditional schedule has allowed for expanded family time and a summer spent on holiday around Europe.
He brought “The Ice Cubes” to the United States after three days with TrackHouse spent at the shop, the Chevrolet simulator and then a Nascar-sanctioned test at Virginia International Raceway. The family met in New York City and will travel this weekend upstate to prepare for Sunday’s race.
His son, who is seven, is now racing in both go-karts and motocross, but he said his five-year-old daughter has less interest in the sport. He wasn’t quite sure what either knows about Nascar.
“I haven’t asked them, they’ll figure it out,” Raikkonen said.
Project91 hopes to give international drivers a chance to run designated Cup races and a Nascar-record seven countries will be represented Sunday. He agrees with the concept of Project91 to open opportunities for international drivers curious about the top motorsports series in the United States.
“I’m pretty sure there might be some phone calls to Justin already,” Raikkonen said of interested drivers. In fact, Marks has had early talks with eager four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who wants to run next year’s Daytona 500; Marks has said Project91 must complete its debut race before it can thoroughly discuss future events.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for drivers from Europe because it’s not very easy to come from Europe to the US to race,” said Raikkonen. “People can get challenges and maybe they can come here and have a long future because it is a good sport. I think it is great what Justin is doing.”