OLSON’S QUALIFYING RUN RUINED BY RECKLESS COMPETITOR
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 5, 2004
Shanghai International F1 Circuit, Shanghai China –
American racer Peter [“Pete”] Olson got off to a great start this race week by setting fantastic lap times in the first
practice session for the big races at the newly-opened Shanghai F1 track this Sunday.
Unfortunately, being taken out by competitors in the second practice as well as qualifying doesn’t make for a good start
Olson was the fourth fastest timed racer for Saturday’s first practice session, driving the FRD/Christian Children’s
Fund/Gibson Dunn and Crutcher/Winfield Lee Investments car number 5 – a great result for the Maryland racer who has
a grand total of ten days under his belt in Formula Renault. “Hidei [Nakao, Asian Formula Renault Champion 2003] drove
a 1:55 here yesterday, the first day of practice” said Olson from his hotel in the exotic city of Shanghai, China. “I was at
1:58, so I stayed at the circuit until late in the night to review Hidei’s data with Hidei and Gabriel [Team FRD race
engineer]. With their help, I was able to see where I could pick up some time, and today I went out and within a half
dozen laps ran a 1:38. Of course, by then Hidei was God knows how fast, but thanks to FRD’s instruction I was able to
drop twenty full seconds off my best lap, even without a data acquisition computer installed in my race car [to use for
data comparison]. Any racer will tell you that twenty seconds a lap is like a gift from God. I was passing people all over
the track and ready to take off another two seconds in the second session but never had a chance, thanks to a foolish
passing attempt by another driver.”
Olson was on only his third lap of the second practice session when a competitor from another team tried to out brake
Olson into turn ten, a sharp left-hander where racers brake from 200kph [120mph] to less than 80kph. “He had tried
to out brake me at a few of the previous corners and could not do it” said Olson. “I tend to brake late, and after a few
corners he should have known that there was no way he was going to be able to pass me.”
Unfortunately, the reckless driver had other ideas and decided that in turn ten he was going to dive inside Olson, no
Olson turned into the corner only to feel the hard impact of the other car’s front wing in his rear left tire.
“I turned in and then all of a sudden there he was, on the inside after I was already committed to the turn. He had no
business being there and that is why his front wing and nose exploded after hitting my rear tire. It was never my fault,
never my responsibility, and that you can see on CCTV. I received a punctured tire and he lost the entire front wing
and nose of his car – but the practice session was over for me, and we had only five sessions in total to prepare for the
races Sunday. Of course I was furious.”
As the TV cameras and photo crews arrived at turn ten, Chinese television captured the American driver in a furious
state, out of his car but still in full race gear, making wild gestures at the inexperienced corner workers and demanding
that they remove his car from the track.
“I shouldn’t have acted like that, but I guess it just made me angry to watch the other cars go by, lap after lap, as I
stood on the sidelines because of some stupid dive-bomb pass attempt” said Olson.
Upon his return to pit lane, Olson located the other driver in the pits while the driver was waiting in his car to go back
out on the track. Olson shouted several expletives at him in English and made a derogatory hand gesture in front of
the racer’s car before he stormed back to the FRD garage.
“Maybe it is my Latin temper, but I think any driver who wants to win more than anything else would do the same.
This weekend was a great opportunity for me to do very well, and I got off to a great start and then had serious
problems to deal with as things went on.”
Little did Olson know that another driver would do something even more foolish during qualifying itself, and end his
chances at a good starting position for Sunday’s first race.
FRD mechanics worked furiously to repair Olson’s car after the damage incurred by the reckless driver during the second
practice session, in order to get the car back on the grid for the qualifying session just 90 minutes later. Olson left the
grid to qualify just five minutes late, thanks to the FRD mechanic’s valiant efforts. Olson left streaks of tire tread and a
cloud of smoke on the grid as he aggressively launched his car from pit lane to get up to speed as quickly as possible.
Olson was on only his second lap, still breaking in new tires, when he waved a competitor by on one of the SIC’s back
straights. With no cars in front of Olson on the straight, Olson decided a wave-by was the only option. “I knew I could
go to full throttle, but then I would just have to let him by at the next corner” said Olson. Of course, the straight is
the best place to let people by, and I was not going to ruin someone’s qualifying session by blasting down the straight
and then over slowing for the next corner before my tires warmed up.”
Unfortunately, Olson’s American sense of fair play and “may the best man win” was thrown in his face as the other
driver he had just waved by turned directly into Olson’s race car as he passed, bouncing his right rear tire off of Olson’s
smaller front tire and front suspension, for no apparent reason.
Olson recovered from the impact without going off the track, and made a heroic effort to continue as he debated
pulling into the puts with his damaged race car.
“I knew I had only about six laps left to qualify well, so I knew I just had to push it” said Olson.
Little did Olson know that his car was undrivable, the front left wheel toeing in and out (right and left) as he drove, as
result of the damage incurred in the incident.
Olson came onto the front straight and went to full throttle in sixth gear before turning in at 200kph [120mph].
“I turned the car in and felt…nothing. There was no response, no control. The car would not take a set. Almost no
response at all” said Olson.
Olson’s car started careening off the track at high speed but he managed to bring it under control before flying off the
“I always feel totally safe in a race car. But that was the one time in my life that I have felt something very terrible, to
have no control. It is a very bad feeling. In those times the only thing that you can rely on is your faith” said Olson.
“It pays to know who your maker is when you strap yourself in the cockpit.”
Despite his near crash, Olson kept trying to push his car to the limit. After another dangerous lap on the edge and out
of control, an agitated Olson pulled his car off into the pits and stormed off into the driver’s room, with television
“I don’t care what anyone says, that driver was either the biggest fool I’ve ever seen on a race track, or he did it on
purpose” said Olson. “Of course, I like to think that he was just being stupid and trying to make some silly attempt to
intimidate me while I was on a warm-up lap, and after I waved him by, of all things. But if that is how he will drive,
than he has no business being on a race track and he should put his helmet in his closet” said Olson. “I was very
excited to race on this track, it is just what I like, nice and twisty, very challenging, a rush to drive. But enough with
these fools crashing into me, we haven’t even raced yet and I’ve been taken out twice by other drivers in practice and
As a result of the qualifying incident, Olson starts tomorrow’s first race in the back of the pack.
Can Olson jump ahead in the pack, as his hero Kimmi Raikonnen does in Formula One when faced with similar qualifying
challenges? We will see tomorrow, along with a hundred million Chinese viewers and thirty thousand in the grand
We wish Pete Olson the best of luck in tomorrow’s races.
For more information on Peter Olson/Racing for Children contact:
Christian Children’s Fund
Media Relations Contact Agent for Pete Olson:
Christian Children’s Fund
2821 Emerywood Parkway
Richmond, VA 23294
Olson Motorsports, LLC
Taipei, Taiwan R.O.C.
Tel: + 886 9 3567 8609