Microphone in hand, Jeff Gordon stood on a deck outside the Marriott in South Beach on Nov. 19 and threw down the gauntlet. "I can't wait to get to Paris," Gordon told the crowd of 100 fans, "and show Michael Schumacher what NASCAR racing is all about!"
On Saturday, Gordon and Jimmie Johnson will represent the U.S. in the 17th annual Race of Champions--Nations Cup in Paris. Seven other countries--including Germany, whose two-man team will feature �berdriver Schumacher (right), the seven-time Formula One champion--will be represented at Stade de France, an indoor soccer arena that seats 80,000. The 16 drivers will face off in a series of match races in identically equipped and prepared four-wheel-drive rally cars on a specially constructed one-kilometer asphalt figure-eight track. The winner will be crowned Champion of Champions, after which the two-driver squads will vie for the title of World's Fastest Nation.
If the racing goes to form, fans will be treated to a dream matchup: Gordon, NASCAR's four-time champ, versus Schumacher, the most successful driver in F/1 history. "Win or lose," says Gordon, "it's probably the only opportunity I'll ever have to race against Schumacher." -- L.A.