Celebrity Drive: IndyCar Champion Tony Kanaan

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Quick Stats: Tony Kanaan, IndyCar Champ, Chip Ganassi RacingDaily Driver: 2015 Chevy Tahoe (Tony’s rating: 8 on a scale of 1 to 10)Other cars: see belowFavorite road trip: Miami to the Florida KeysCar he learned to drive in: 1984 Chevy ImpalaFirst car bought: 1996 Golf GTI

When Indy racer Tony Kanaan is off the racetrack, he still likes his cars to have a little more power, as one might predict he would. That’s the case with the family daily driver, which is a 2015 Chevy Tahoe.

“I need a big car with the kids and all the stuff that we have to carry, but also the technology on the car, it’s great,” he says. “It has a built-in Internet, which is for the kids. When they’re in the car, I can keep them entertained. The safety aspect, as well, because it’s a big car—the bigger the car, the less hurt you get when you try to get out of an accident or if something happens.”

Pictured: A 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe 4WD LTZ

The design is also important to Kanaan on the cars he chooses to buy. “I really like the new design,” he says. “It’s futuristic. I like modern. I like new stuff to look really modern, so to me it looks extremely futuristic. It could add a little more power; that’s why I didn’t give it a 10.”

Because he won the Indy 500 in 2013, Kanaan of course has a 2013 Chevy Corvette, the pace car from that race. Unlike the Tahoe, the Corvette satisfies his need for more horsepower.

“The pace car is a fun car,” he says. “It’s a Corvette. It has a lot of history. It’s an American muscle car. I’ll give it a 10 just because of the history of the car, and it’s like a trophy to me.”

Kanaan mostly drives the trophy Corvette on weekends in Miami, where he is based. “I always take my kids; they love it,” he says, “and because of the history of the car itself—it has all the logos on; it says, ‘Indianapolis 500’—it’s kind of like a show car. I’m really impressed. It is a car that has a bunch of horsepower, which is pretty cool for me.”

The car turns heads whenever he takes it out for a spin. “Where I live, they all know who I am, so they all know what that car is,” he says. “When I go out for dinner outside of where I live, people always ask. They don’t know what it is. Because it says ‘pace car,’ they’re like, ‘Oh, wow, that’s cool. Is that an original pace car?’ And then when they realize who I am, it’s even cooler, so I get a lot of looks from that car.”

Kanaan would love to add another pace car to the collection. “You want to do it again every time when you win one like this,” he says. “It’s definitely what you want to do.”

2013 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Black Series

Rating: 10

Kanaan also loves his rare 2013 Mercedes-Benz coupe. “They only did 100 cars in the entire world,” he says. “It has a lot of horsepower, a lot of carbon fiber. It’s really more like a race car. It’s a fun car that I don’t drive every day, because it’s not an everyday drive. I like the style. It’s like a race car, to be honest.”

That’s why he bought the ride. “A lot of carbon fiber, a lot of racing components, it’s a two-seater car, carbon brakes, the suspension is adjustable, it’s a little stiffer than a normal street car—it’s more like a race car,” he says, adding that he doesn’t drive it much, “because otherwise I’ll get too many tickets.”

There isn’t anything Kanaan dislikes about this Mercedes. “It’s my all-time favorite,” he says. “I take it over the weekends when I’m home. But it’s not an everyday drive. But definitely on Saturdays and Sundays I always take the cars out—I usually try to. Saturday I take one of the cars, and Sunday the other one. We go do errands, movies, restaurants, we go to eat, with the family or me and my wife when the kids are not with us. We sometimes like to eat at a good place, and a good restaurant, so we take the car for not more than 20-30 miles. Not farther than 30 miles. We don’t go too far or big trips with the car or anything.”

This ride also gets a perfect 10. “It’s hard for me not to give a 10 to the car that I own because I only buy the cars that I really like,” he says. “I won’t buy a car if I think it’s a 6 or 7. The Tahoe I gave an 8 because of the power, but it’s a car that I need on my everyday drive because of everything that we do with the kids and stuff.”

2015 BMW M3

Rating: 10

“I always go by design,” he says. “The M3 I got because I wanted a sports car, but it’s a four-door car, so I can always take the wife and the kids out and be more of a daily driver, as well. Instead of splitting the Tahoe with my wife all the time, I also got myself a daily driver.”

If his wife has the Tahoe, he’ll take the BMW out that day. There’s nothing about the car he doesn’t enjoy. “It has a lot of power, which I like,” he says. “It’s like a luxury for me, and it also fits the kids and everything else. That’s a 10 for sure. Everything is really cool about that car.”

Car he learned to drive in

When Kanaan was 8 years old and started driving go-karts in São Paulo, Brazil, his dad taught him how to drive at the parking lot of the racetrack in his 1984 Chevy Impala.

“I was extremely teeny,” he says. “I could barely reach the pedals, but that’s how I learned—in empty parking lots, so people don’t get any ideas that my dad was irresponsible.”

As a young boy, the budding auto racer wanted to learn to drive as soon as he could. “That’s all I wanted to do because it was so cool,” Kanaan says. “I already had the dream to be a race car driver, so the earlier that I could learn how to drive, the better.”

First car bought

When Kanaan was 20, he bought his first car, a 1996 Golf GTI. “I was racing already, making money, and I needed to buy a car,” he says. “That was what I could afford at the time, and it was a little sporty, as well, so I went with that.”

He bought it in the U.S. when he moved here to race for Tasman Motorsports. “I had it for a year, and then it got stolen in Miami,” he says. “I just parked, and one day it was gone.”

Kanaan would later buy his first splurge car when he won the IndyCar championship in 2004, and treated himself a 2004 Ferrari 360.

Favorite road trip

Kanaan’s favorite road trip was the one he took last year with his in-laws for their 40th wedding anniversary.

“We just rented a minivan and went from Miami to the [Florida] Keys with the whole family,” he says. “Actually a van, so it was kind of like a road trip for real, like were only missing the dogs. It’s only one road to go to the Keys. From Miami it’s not that far. It took us four hours to go there, but we spent four days in Key West and then drove back.”

They reason he rented the van was so that the whole family could be in the same car. “It was like 12 people,” he says. “It was like a Chevrolet, a 15-passenger van. It was cool. I had to drive. That was my only request because I hate when people drive for me. We did everything. We put old songs into the radio so they could remember their time. I actually put a couple GoPros inside then we recorded the entire trip. So it was really cool. And in the end we burned it on a DVD for the whole family, so we all had the memory of the entire trip.”

For more information about Kanaan and his team, visit www.chipganassiracing.com.

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