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Two weeks ago in advance of the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, Verizon IndyCar Series driver Marco Andretti and MotoGP’s Dani Pedrosa drove the IMS road course together in their respective vehicles and ogled at each other’s rides.
In 2003, Jeff Gordon and Juan Pablo Montoya didn’t just admire the other’s ride – they made the trade. In a media stunt in advance of the Brickyard 400 and the United States Grand Prix, Gordon drove Montoya’s Formula One car and Montoya piloted Gordon’s NASCAR stock car in exhibition laps.
“I really cannot describe the great feeling I had,” Gordon said afterward. “The corners come up so fast, and the car brakes so well and turns so well, and at the exit of the corners it grabs it up and just goes. It is unreal, like slot car racing. I drove full throttle on the straight and got pressed into the seat much more than I would have imagined. My neck is sore after only a few laps.”
Montoya said he found the power of the Chevy stock car engine impressive, though admitted that judging the car’s heavier weight was a challenge.
Of course a few years later Montoya went to NASCAR as a full-time driver to compete against Gordon, and now the Colombian is chasing a Verizon IndyCar Series title with two races to go. Gordon is in his final full-time Sprint Cup season and hasn’t given up hope for a fifth championship.
But 12 years ago, they were as giddy as children at IMS, swapping rides.