Drivers Test the Dirt
Professional race car drivers know how to have a good time. And Oakley’s Porsche Factory drivers Patrick Long, Sascha Maassen and Jörg Bergmeister are no exception to the rule.
With a day to spare on the way to the Long Beach Grand Prix, they pulled over to check out the seaside Ventura Raceway. Cory Kruseman, professional driver and owner of Cory Kruseman’s Sprint Car and Midget Driving School, was kind enough to let the boys take a few laps for fun.
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Sprint cars have a high power-to-weight ratio, making speeds in excess of 140 miles per hour possible on some tracks. Many IndyCar and NASCAR drivers used sprint car racing as an intermediate stepping stone on their way to more high profile divisions, including Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart.
But for German Le Mans Series drivers Maassen and Bergmeister, it was the first time they’d seen a dirt track or a sprint car.
“This is very American,” said Maassen. “I have never seen anything like it!”
After getting the abbreviated instructions from Kruseman, the Germans, Long and Performance Racing’s Reed Morales—all wearing new Oakley base layers, racing suits and gloves—took turns lapping the muddy track, wasting no time easing in to it—the cars were getting throttled.
“It’s unbelievable how much power these cars have,” said Bergmeister. “They really are a lot of fun.”
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About the drivers:
Hailing from Aachen, Germany, Maassen began his career in karts, and moved to cars in 1989, in Formula Ford 1600. During the early 1990s, he raced in the German Formula 3 series. In 1998, Maassen moved to the FIA GT Championship, where he raced a Porsche 911. He currently drives the #6 Porsche RS Spyder for Penske Racing.
As for Bergmeister, growing up in Leverkusen, Germany with a mechanic as a father, his life was shaped by cars from an early age. In 2003, he won the Rolex 24 at Daytona overall in a Porsche 911 GT3-RS and the Grand-American Rolex Series Championship in ’06. He also won the Porsche Supercup in 2001, and the German Cup in 2000.
Oakley’s Patrick Long, the only Porsche Factory American driver, began racing karts at age eight, after driving his first kart at six. He moved to France in 1999 to make his debut in automobiles. Long placed third overall in the Elf Campus series and won nine of 11 races in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Series in the United States that season.