Gidley enlists volunteers

Memo Gidley will step from one of the most well funded and professional teams on the CART circuit, to a garage occupied by a crowd of self-confessed 'volunteers' later this month at the Indy 500

Gidley enlists volunteers

"The top teams are showing up at Indy with 25 people. Up until today, this team has had only one member, namely myself," said team manager Alan McCall who engineered Jim Clark's Lotus at Indy in 1962.

Fortunately, Gidley's links with Gerry Forsythe - the Californian is currently driving for Player's/Forsythe in CART until Patrick Carpentier returns from injury - led to the loan of some mechanics from the team owner's second outfit which is sitting out CART for the time being.

"I've been working on the car alone in Garage 12C every day for the last two weeks, and was delighted to be joined this morning by four mechanics from Forsythe Championship Racing, who worked on Tony Kanaan's Champ Car last season," McCall went on.

The band of volunteers came about after Gidley took his rookie test for the Indy 500. Despite being penniless, he persuaded Dale Pelfrey to allow him the seat time. After seeing his performance in the test in the early morning hours of April 10th, McCall, Gidley, his manager Donnie Graves, Jeff Kitchen from Pi Research, and Team Pelfrey engineer Gilbert Lage joined forces to engineer the car and find the resources to run it.

Gidley hit the track at 11:20 am and completed his rookie test in record time, completing the multi-stage examination in less than 90 minutes while posting a maximum speed of 214 miles per hour. Prior to that morning, Gidley had not run a lap on an oval since the 1998 Toyota Atlantic race in Milwaukee, and yet he set the fastest lap of all rookies in the morning session.

Within two hours of the rookie test, Pelfrey, McCall and Graves joined forces and Gidley's Volunteers were born.

"Pelfrey agreed to supply most of the hardware needed to participate in the race: a never-crashed 1999 Dallara chassis, two fresh 2000-spec race motors, the entry fee, and some miscellaneous shared garage equipment," explained Graves.

"McCall signed on as our Team Manager, first man-on-the ground, and self-appointed 'General Dog's Body.' My role is to make 200 calls per day in search of sponsorship money, and let me tell you, at least 150 of the people I speak to are uninterested from the word go. It's extremely late to obtain sponsorship, as most companies locked-in their year 2000 marketing budgets long ago."

Nevertheless, the team is undeterred. Gidley will compete in the postponed round of the CART Fedex series at Nazareth, and a day later start his first Indy 500. His team certainly believe he has the skill, and if luck is on his side, there is no reason why the fairytale result could not happen.

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