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IndyCar Indianapolis 500

Pagenaud to drive de Ferran’s 2003 Indy 500 winner at IMS

Simon Pagenaud will drive the late Gil de Ferran’s G-Force IndyCar, in which he won the Indy 500 in 2003 with Team Penske, in tribute ahead of this year’s race.

Simon Pagenaud, Meyer Shank Racing Honda and Gil de Ferran

De Ferran, who was the 2000 and 2001 CART IndyCar champion for Penske, passed away in December at the age of 56 following a heart attack during a driving event in Miami.

Pagenaud, the 2019 Indy 500 winner also with Penske, has been out of racing action since his horrendous 180mph IndyCar practice crash at Mid-Ohio last July, which was caused by a manufacturer brake failure.

The 40-year-old Frenchman has been working on “getting his health back to 100%” since then, and this will be the first time back in the cockpit to honour his friend, who he called his “Yoda” when he first came to race in America.

Pagenaud then drove for de Ferran’s Acura sportscar team in the American Le Mans Series.

 

“Gil de Ferran has been my role model, not only as a racer but also as a father,” said Pagenaud. “I got to be very close to him, [wife] Angela, [daughter] Anna and [son] Luke through the years.

“Through this tribute, I am so happy we will get to remember Gil winning Indianapolis in this iconic Team Penske livery. The colours, the helmet, the sound, the memories, and the fact that he taught me everything about this place.

“I remember late nights and countless hours with my Yoda talking about all the fine details to get to Victory Lane at the Speedway.

“When I got the call from Angela, Luke and Anna and they asked me to drive Gil’s car, I could not help the tears as I feel so thankful to have the chance to remind everyone on this amazing day of racing of the great racer, father and man he was.”

2003 Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran, Penske-Toyota

2003 Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran, Penske-Toyota

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Pagenaud contested the Indianapolis 500 on 12 occasions, winning it from pole position in 2019.

De Ferran’s 2003 G-Force chassis has been in the care of Penske Restoration, and Pagenaud will perform one parade lap around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway in memory of Gil as part of the IMS Museum's 500 Historic Car Lap at 10:40am ET on race day morning.

During the tribute lap, Pagenaud will wear a helmet that he designed in memory of his late friend.

Details of the helmet will be disclosed before Sunday’s tribute via his social media accounts.

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