Mansell brothers striving to live up to famous name

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, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

Graham Rahal hears the question all the time.

Marco Andretti, too, just like his dad Michael did 25 years ago.

So, the Mansell brothers, Leo and Greg, had to answer it again yesterday.

Like Marco's grandfather Mario, the Mansells' father, Nigel, is the only driver to win the title in both Formula One and what was then and is again now a unified Indy series.

What's it like to come up in racing circles with a famous racing name?

"Yeah, there's pressure and expectation," said Leo, 23, the older of the British brothers racing here in the Atlantic series.

"There's a lot of positives and some negatives that come with it. You've got to take both things and just go for it and try to make your own name."

Greg, 19, sees it the same.

"You're one of the names people look for when you're on the grid. And, maybe if you're at the back end, they wouldn't notice you if you didn't have the name. But I'd be lying if I didn't say there were some perks - sponsorships, it helps; and just getting your name out there."

The racing legend that made the name seems to view it from a classic dad's perspective: This can be a job, a career - don't let stars dance in your eyes.

"They have to learn their trade," Nigel said. "It's a sport that you have to go through the growing pains, you have to go through a number of teams, a number of formulas," he said, using an English term for open-wheel series.

"It's the growing pains of being a professional race car driver. There's no quick way through that. You have to go through what I call an apprenticeship."

Naturally there was worry after the family chose to come to North America and the Atlantic series as their next step.

As ChampCar World Series' development series in recent years, it looked as it may get hung out to dry when the IRL absorbed ChampCar.

But the series decided to soldier on, keeping enough teams and enough dates, to round out a schedule. Leo drives the No. 15 car for Walker Racing, while Greg steers the No. 5.

"I think everyone was worried," said Leo. "There was a period when no one knew what was going to happen. But the organizers this year have done a great job to make the most of a bad situation.

"We knew which route we wanted to take (coming over here)," said Greg. "The cars are fantastic, they have a stupid amount of grip and they are a really good platform - you can go into any formula you want in racing from here.

"Nothing is going to have much more cornering speed - the hardest thing with racing is cornering speed," he said, believing he's getting a quantity and quality of that in Atlantics.

"I can't explain to people how much more of a challenge it is, coming to a new circuit, coming to new a country - there's no comfort zone," said Nigel. "I'm very proud of both of them, what they're trying to do. I know how tough the job is. And it is very tough. I admire the fact that they even want to take that on."


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