Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Crashing on the Learning Curve Greg Lemond Trades Two Wheels for Four and Turns into a Real Crack-Up

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Crashing on the Learning Curve Greg Lemond Trades Two Wheels for Four and Turns into a Real Crack-Up

Article excerpt

Once the fastest man on two wheels, three-time Tour de France cycling champion Greg LeMond, at least relatively speaking, is not yet greased lightning on four.

But four races into his professional auto racing career in the USAC Formula Ford 2000 series, LeMond said his need for speed has never been keener.

"Car racing is still a hobby right now but I want to be serious about it," said LeMond, which explained his presence at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. LeMond did two days of testing here under the watchful eye of former 12 Hours of Sebring champion Bob Earl at the Derek Daly Speedcentre. "I want to learn properly. I'm still green. I've been to two (Jim) Russell Racing Schools, and that really helped. But I only had three weekends of racing (in a spec car series) before jumping into this pro series. I'm not past that learning curve yet." The results bear that out - four starts, four crashes. But LeMond is quick to point out that only one - a grinding practice wreck at the fast Phoenix oval - was his fault. He wasn't hurt, although he said his confidence absorbed a major bruising. "When you hit the wall at 70 or 80 mph, it kind of shakes you a little bit," said the affable LeMond, the only American to have won the prestigious Tour de France, with victories in 1986, '89 and '90. When he contracted a rare muscle disease and was forced to retire from competitive cycling in 1994, LeMond needed a new outlet for his competitive urges. He found it when he and a business partner from Minneapolis enrolled in the Russell school at Laguna Seca Raceway. "After about 20 minutes, I knew this is what I wanted to do," LeMond said before putting one of Team Green Academy cars through its paces at the old LVMS road course. LeMond said he has a lot to learn about racing open-wheel cars, but suggested there are more similarities between his former profession and his new passion than the casual observer might think. "The reaction time in speed - not in Indy cars but at this level - actually is equivalent," said Lemond, 35. …

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