Cheever Hits The Road In Atlanta
July 13, 2000 | 12:00 A.M. EST
The 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion, whose motorcade included two pace cars, a media vehicle, and a dozen members of the Atlanta Police Department on motorcycles with sirens blaring, was not immune to the perils of rush-hour traffic.
"I'm amazed that more great racing drivers don't come out of Atlanta," Cheever said after his run. "It was the most harrowing twelve minutes I've had in a race car in a while. I expected to be driving along Peachtree waving to people, and it took all of my 25 years of racing experience not to have about 10 accidents.
"It was unbelievable -- like a cross between a video game and the Monaco Grand Prix. I think we surprised a lot of people on Peachtree Street this morning. I doubt that they expected to see the No. 51 Excite@Home Indy car in their mirrors. The Atlanta Police Department did a fantastic job, and I certainly wouldn't want to race against any of those officers on Saturday -- they would be stiff competition indeed."
Cheever completed the 7-mile drive, which started at 10:15 a.m. at Woodruff Park and finished at Lenox Square, in approximately 12 minutes -- undoubtedly a rush-hour record. The drive along Peachtree Street officially kicked off festivities surrounding the seventh round of the 2000 Indy Racing Northern Light Series, the Midas 500 Classic scheduled for July 15 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Cheever heads to Atlanta as the Indy Racing championship leader after capturing the first victory for Team Cheever, the first win for the Infiniti Indy engine and his first win of the 2000 season at the most recent round of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series at Pikes Peak, Colo., in June.
The landmark victory came just one week after Cheever claimed his first IROC victory at Michigan Speedway, defeating NASCAR superstars, including Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace and Jeff Gordon.
Cheever's victory at Pikes Peak -- his fourth career Indy Racing win -- propelled him into first place in the standings with 176 points, ahead of Buddy Lazier, who has 168 points. Cheever, who has finished in the top 10 in five of six Indy Racing events this season, has also led four of the six rounds of 2000 competition.