NASCAR & Auto Racing

Local motor sports: Nevada City’s Rossi enjoying double duty

Driver Alexander Rossi talks to media following the qualifying session at the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix on the Marina Bay City Circuit in Singapore on Sept. 19.
Driver Alexander Rossi talks to media following the qualifying session at the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix on the Marina Bay City Circuit in Singapore on Sept. 19. The Associated Press

Alexander Rossi has never been busier.

But driving in both the Grand Prix 2 and Formula 1 series is something the Nevada City native has wanted to do. And now that he’s made it to the starting grid of a F1 race – the first American since Scott Speed in 2007 – he plans to stay there.

Rossi, 24, has been a reserve driver for Manor Marussia since 2014 and was promised a start last season that didn’t materialize. Then the team suffered some financial troubles and didn’t reconstitute until February, roughly a month before the F1 season began in Australia. In the meantime, Rossi accepted a seat in GP2 for Racing Engineering and has two wins this season, in Francorchamps, Belgium and Monza, Italy. He’s also second in the standings behind Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne.

Yeah, I’m busy but it sure is a good busy. It’s been a hectic couple of months, for sure, but racing F1 has been the goal and we’ve accomplished that.

Alexander Rossi

After Rossi proved himself on the GP2 circuit – the equivalent of NASCAR’s Xfinity Series – Manor Marussia opened a seat for him in the Singapore Grand Prix on Sept. 20, and a week later at the Japanese Grand Prix. He finished 14th in Singapore and 18th in Japan.

“Yeah, I’m busy but it sure is a good busy,” Rossi said Wednesday from south Spain, where Racing Engineering is based. “It’s been a hectic couple of months, for sure, but racing F1 has been the goal and we’ve accomplished that.”

Rossi said landing an F1 seat was tough, but staying in it beyond this season will be even more challenging because competition is relentless for a spot in some of the world’s most powerful race cars.

Manor Marussia has said Rossi will race in five of the last seven rounds of the 2015 season. The GP2 and F1 series both are in Sochi, Russia, on Oct. 10, but Rossi will only race GP2, hoping to catch Vandoorne for the points championship. The other scheduling conflict is in late November when GP2 is in United Arab Emirates and F1 is in Abu Dahbi.

We’re using a modified car from the 2014 season where everyone else is using 2015 cars, which have a lot more advantages. There will never be a chance to be competitive this year.

Rossi, on Manor Marussia’s prospects

Rossi said he is ready for the media onslaught when F1 visits Austin, Texas, on Oct. 25 for the United States Grand Prix. Reaching the podium will be unlikely, he said, because his team is still underfunded and technologically behind.

“We’re using a modified car from the 2014 season where everyone else is using 2015 cars, which have a lot more advantages,” Rossi said. “There will never be a chance to be competitive this year.”

Et cetera – Granite Bay driver John Moore, who holds a four-point lead over defending champion Mike Beeler, only needs to avoid disaster Saturday night at Ukiah Speedway to claim his first Pacific Coast Series Super Late Model championship.

Beeler needs to finish at least six positions ahead of Moore in Saturday’s race to force a tie breaker.

▪ Browns Valley’s Misty Castleberry won her third consecutive Pro 4 Sprint championship at Marysville Speedway last Saturday. She now has nine track titles in various divisions in Marysville and at Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway.

Mark Billingsley: editorwriter@att.net.

  Comments