So just who are these 18 international drivers who’ve signed up to compete in the Armor All 600 V8 Supercars event scheduled be held on the Gold Coast later this year?
These 18 top-line drivers hail from all car-racing circles, and have achieved particular success in the fields of Formula 1, USA-based open-wheelers, and touring cars.
Our resident IndyCar writer Matt Lennon and I sat down to compile the following driver profiles. Just who do you think will shine?
With Newman Haas Racing Sébastien rewrote all the record books, dominated the next 5 seasons, winning 31 races, scoring 31 pole positions, winning over 42% of all the races he started, and most importantly, becoming the first man in American open-wheel history to win 4 top-flight championships in succession.
Sébastien finally earned that opportunity to compete in F1, signing with Toro Rosso for the 2008 season. Sadly, his performances in F1 failed to live up to expectations and he joined the list of former Stateside drivers unable to translate their success into the F1 world, his contract with Toro Rosso was terminated mid-2009.
David Brabham (Irwin Racing)
David’s second tilt at F1 came with the back-of-the-grid Simtek team, where David tirelessly toiled in a tough season where his team-mate Roland Ratzenberger was killed on the same weekend as Ayrton Senna.
David’s principle successes have occurred in sports car racing, where he won the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours for Peugeot and was also crowned the 2009 American Le Mans Series champion.
Ryan Briscoe (TOLL Holden Racing Team)
Like many, Ryan began his racing career in karting, and quickly graduated through junior formulae in Australia and Europe, to become the Toyota Formula 1 team’s test driver in 2002, while racing in Formula 3000.
Scott Dixon (Jack Daniel’s Racing)
The Williams project sadly failed to gel, and Frentzen was cast aside and snatched up by Jordan for 1999, where he had a brilliant season with two victories and was a championship contender until the final few rounds when the momentum faltered. Sadly, the following seasons spent with Jordan, Arrows, Prost and Sauber yielded little, and he ventured to the DTM series
Fabrizio Giovanardi (Brad Jones Racing)
V8 fans may know of Fabrizio from his guest-driving roles with Triple-8 Racing in previous years’ endurance races, and his eight touring car championship titles will put him in good stead for the weekend’s racing activities.
Patrick Long (Fujitsu Racing GRM)
A Californian-born racing driver, Long has earned class victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours, Daytona 24 Hours, 12 Hours of Sebring, and Petit Le Mans races. He currently competes in the American Le Mans Series’ GT3 class, driving a Porsche 911 GT3 for the Flying Lizard Motorsports team.
Alain Menu (Brad Jones Racing)
He will return to Surfers Paradise for the first time since his Champ Car year with Fittipaldi Dingman Racing in 2003. He currently races for SEAT in the World Touring Car Championship.
Gianni Morbidelli (Triple F Racing)
Our inaugural interviewee, Gianni has had a lengthy motorsport career, with stints in Formula 1, Speedcars and touring cars. He has won the Italian Superstars championship for three years on the trot with BMW, and beat a host of his former F1 contemporaries in the 2008-9 Speedcar Series to take the title as well.
Yvan Muller (Paul Morris Motorsport)
Like Fabrizio Giovanardi, Muller should be familiar to V8 Supercars fans as a guest driver for Triple-8 Racing over the past few seasons – he actually won the 2005 Sandown 500, co-driving with Craig Lowndes.
Now a World Touring Car Championship regular, Muller has consistently been a championship front-runner, and took the 2008 title at the final round. He now drives for Chevrolet, winning on debut at the season-opening Curitiba round.
Will Power (Ford Performance Racing)
The local favourite, who grew up about a 3-hour drive from Surfers Paradise, in Toowoomba, Power has firmly established himself in the US as a favourite for the 2010 Indycar Series Championship. Winning the first two races of the season, and qualifying on pole for 3 out of the first four races, Power is the current series points leader. Surfers Paradise is unfinished business for Will. With three consecutive pole positions, and all three times failing to finish, you can bet Power will be out to right this wrong next time out, despite this time racing in a V8 Supercar.
Scott Pruett (Lucas Dumbrell Racing)
From 1988 to 1999, Scott Pruett made 145 starts in the CART World Series, driving for a multitude of teams. His two victories came at the 1995 Michigan 500, and in 1997 at the Surfers Paradise event. After retiring from CART, Pruett moved into stock car and NASCAR events, winning the 24-Hour Du Mans in the LMGTS class. A favourite among the fans, Pruett returns to Surfers Paradise for the first time in over 10 years.
Alex Tagliani (Kelly Racing)
Coming into CART with the heavy burden of being the man to take the race seat following the death of Greg Moore, Alex Tagliani has gone from strength to strength. Loyal to the Champ Car Series until the end, ‘Tags’ is welcomed back to Surfers Paradise as an adopted local boy, as his wife Bronte is Australian. Tagliani currently races in the IndyCar Series for the new FAZZT race team.