Regardless of the level of competition, motorsport is for the most part a dangerous and cut throat industry that has left many talented drivers on the sidelines, but occasionally a story emerges that displays a human and more considered side. Stories such as the emergence of Brawn from the ashes of Honda in Formula 1 at the beginning of 2009 and Sarah Fisher giving her seat to Graham Rahal for two races at St Petersburg and Barber Motorsports are two such examples of positive tales from motor racing, but they are a rarity in a sport awash with money and questionable ethics.
Prior to last year’s Indianapolis 500, former -Williams F1 test driver, Bruno Junqueira was asked to give up his spot on the grid for team mate Alex Tagliani following a mechanical failure on Tagliani’s All Sport Conquest Racing machine. Realising that Tagliani was bringing a majority of sponsorship to the struggling outfit, Junqueira stood aside and Tagliani drove a solid race to finish in 11th place. Regardless of how much respect Tagliani commands and how well he performed, it was still a decision met with some derision. Since the 2009 event, things have been rather quiet for Junqueira who has not driven in any competition since he was replaced at Conquest Racing.
However with his new FAZZT Racing squad, former team mate Alex Tagliani has confirmed that he will be running a second car for this year’s 500 mile race and that Junqueira will be in the driving seat. It is unclear at this time what sponsorship that the 33-year-old Brazilian will be bringing – or even if he will be bringing any – but it marks one of the rare times a truly positive story emerges from a motor racing paddock.
Junqueira does have a rather good competition record in motor racing – after losing out on a Williams F1 seat to current World Champion, Jenson Button in 2000, Junqueira went on to win the 2000 Formula 3000 Championship before going to the US with Chip Ganassi and taking 5th place at the 2001 Indy 500 and a pole position at the following year’s event. He finished 2nd place in the Champ Car World Series (formerly CART) three seasons in a row – from 2002 to 2004 – to three different drivers; however since his last Champ Car success, his fortunes have suffered a downward turn as his career has been hampered by injury or poor seats. Junqueira broke his back at the 2005 Indianapolis 500 in a frightening accident with AJ Foyt IV.