Verstappen, Coulthard, Sainz: 2016 Catcher Car drivers locked in

tractor racing

The fastest men on earth are taking on the slowest race of their lives, chasing thousands of Wings for Life World Runners in the charity event that takes place on May 8, 2016, in 34 locations worldwide. Drivers of the Catcher Cars, the race’s unique moving finish line, will start at 11.30am UTC driving — really slowly — after runners, with no idea of how long or how far they will drive. Look out for Catcher Car drivers like Formula One’s David Coulthard, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz, motorcycle legend Ricky Johnson, Stock Car Brasil icon Caca Bueno and 28 more well-known faces.

Colin Jackson, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jarno Schurgers for Wings for Life World Run

SALZBURG (Austria), April 12, 2016 – If Max Verstappen or Carlos Sainz told you to run faster, you would, right? Well, that’s exactly what they’ll do on May 8, 2016. They join 32 Catcher Car drivers as the motivation for tens of thousands of Wings for Life World Runners in 34 international locations to run as far and as fast as they can, chased by the Catcher Cars.


Like Verstappen, Sainz and Coulthard, the Catcher Car drivers worldwide have spent decades in high-speed, high-focus disciplines to prepare themselves for this moment. With endurance, precision and absolute dexterity learnt at high speed, they will slow right down to maintain a synchronised crawling speed to chase thousands of runners worldwide.


Usually there’s little stopping Dutchman Max Verstappen — he was Formula One’s youngest-ever driver at age 17, last year, when he swept up a record three FIA awards including Rookie of the Year. But on May 8, he’ll have to restrain himself to a sedate 15kmph (9mph) as the driver of the Netherlands’ Catcher Car.


“I usually go about 325kmph”, laughs the Torro Rosso driver who’ll drive in the Netherlands, “but this time, I’ll be going for distance, not speed. I want to be the last Catcher Car driver out there – I want to be the one to catch the Global Champion!”


Verstappen’s Toro Rosso teammate, Carlos Sainz, has a different objective: “I’ll be driving the Catcher Car at home in Spain. I don’t know what Max is thinking — of course the Global Champion will be crowned here. I’ve got the endurance to keep going as long as necessary”, smiles the 21-year-old, knowing that two-time winner, Lemawork Ketema, ran for over five hours in 2014 and 2015.


“Seriously, we’re all so impressed by what these runners are doing: all running at the same time worldwide to raise funds and awareness for spinal cord research. Whether they’re absolute beginners or hard-core ultrarunners, they’re making a difference, and, believe me, I’m going to be cheering them hard as I drive by.”

Catcher Car Drivers: Who’s Who


David Coulthard will drive for the third time in Great Britain, Caca Bueno in Brazil, and Ricky Johnson will participate at the California race in the USA. Other famous faces behind the Catcher Car wheel will include the WRC’s Thierry Neuville in Belgium, surfer Ramón Navarro in Chile, Mexican race car driver Guillermo “Memo” Rojas, former ski jumper and current rally driver Adam Małysz of Poland, Australia’s Tim Crosbie (runner), Austria’s Reini Sampl and Denmark’s Jason Watt (both race car driver with a spinal cord injury), Georgia’s Data Kajaia, India’s CS Santosh, Italy’s Antonio Rossi, Slovakia’s Ivan Jakes, Slovenia’s Aleks Humar, Elias Ambuehl of Switzerland, Chou Chun-hsun of Taiwan and Turkey’s Yagiz Avci.


Here Is How It Works


At 11.30am UTC, half an hour after the Wings for Life World Runners have started, the Catcher Cars start driving at precisely 15km/h (9.32 miles/hr). All the drivers will speed up at the same time, worldwide, and maintain the same speed. Since the Wings for Life World Run starts at 11am UTC in all 34 locations, a Global Race Control and the help of technology ensure that all drivers speed up at precisely the same moment.




11.30 UTC – CATCHER CAR START – PACE of 15km/hr (approx. 9.3 mph)


12.30 UTC – PACE INCREASE: 16 kph (9.94 mph)


13.30 UTC – PACE INCREASE: 17 kph (10.56 mph)


14.30 UTC – PACE INCREASE: 20 kph (12.43 mph)


16.30 UTC – PACE INCREASE to 35 kph (approx. 21.75 mph)


Behind The Scenes


The Catcher Cars are fitted with tracking technology developed specifically for the Wings for Life World Run. A participant’s local and global ranking will be determined by the distance covered before being passed by a Catcher Car, not by the time spent running. The Catcher Cars are governed by the Wings for Life World Run rulebook, ensuring fair and simultaneous progress on the 34 tracks around the world. All runners’ progress and final results across all tracks will be recorded by a timing tag hidden in each runner’s race number. The tag is activated as a runner crosses the start line and is deactivated and the final distance recorded when he or she is passed by a Catcher Car. 

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