09/24/2012 03:23 EDT | Updated 09/24/2018 09:25 EDT

IndyCar veterans Carpentier, Tagliani to race ATVs at motocross event

MONTREAL - There's a side of former IndyCar driver Patrick Carpentier that moves him to set aside his second career in construction to get back behind the wheel of something fast and noisy.

The 41-year-old will do that on Saturday night when he and Alex Tagliani — his teammate from the defunct Players Forsythe squad from the old CART series in the early 2000s — try their hand at racing all-terrain vehicles at the Monster Energy Super-motocross event at Olympic Stadium.

Carpentier and Tagliani have entered the Side By Side race, in which big, roaring four-wheeled vehicles will cut tight corners and bound over bumps on a dirt track. It is called a Side by Side car because it has two seats, although there will only be one in each car for the race.

''This thing can clear an 80-foot tabletop, so we'll see what it does here,'' Carpentier said Monday. ''It's fast.

''It took me a whole day to learn how to jump with the thing, but I've ridden so much motocross and it's kind of similar.''

The motocross bikes driven by many of the top racers in North America are generally the main attraction at the super-motocross event, now in its 35th year at the stadium.

Both Carpentier, of Joliette, Que., and Tagliani, of Lachenaie, Que., recall being in crowds of 60,000-plus as kids in the event's heyday in the domed facility. It still draws more than 30,000, and perhaps the presence of two of Canada's best-known race drivers will bring in more this year.

''These events are fun and this one is a blast,'' said Carpentier. ''It's like a kid playing in a sandbox.

''I love it. I ride motocross all the time. I tell my wife that it's not a passion, it's a disease. We know it's dangerous but I still do it anyway.''

Carpentier announced his retirement after the NASCAR Nationwide event in Montreal in 2011, but he accepted an offer to come back for the same event this year. Now he's back again to try an ATV.

Even before his retirement, Carpentier had been to school to learn cabinet making and construction. He now runs a business in Las Vegas remodelling high-end homes.

But he sneaks off once or twice a month with Montreal native Miguel Duhamel, a former motorcyling world champion, to ride motocross dirt bikes.

Tagliani, who turns 40 on Oct. 18, is still active as a full-time race driver.

The IZOD IndyCar series schedule ended Sept. 15 at Fontana, but rather than fly off to a beach on vacation, he accepted the one-off invitation to race an ATV for the first time. Happily, the Side By Side cars are heavily protected by roll bars.

''This is more like a rally car, but on a specific track,'' Tagliani said. ''If you're scared, it's the perfect event for you.

''Dirt bikes are a whole different level.''

The Side By Side cars raced last year on a track that was flat, but this year some serious jumps will be added.

''I saw a picture on what Pat did on a jump and it got me a bit concerned, to tell the truth,'' added Tagliani. ''I thought maybe we would do a celebrity race.

''There's two seats and maybe we would bring a contest winner with us and it would be a fun event. But there's an actual professional category that's going to race. Sometimes by saying yes too quick you get caught. But my plan is to enjoy it. I'm not here to try to beat the guys who do it on a regular basis.''

Tagliani can't wait for the IndyCars to start up again. He races for Bryan Herta's Barracuda Racing team.

This year started out as a disaster as his Lotus car faltered. But after switching to Honda five races in, he was consistently in the top 10 and won a pole position in Texas.

In the final race at Fontana, he held the lead until his engine blew with 21 laps to go in the 250-lap race. That wasn't bad for a one-car team that didn't have financing to take part in any testing sessions.

''It shows we have the speed and we have a way to beat anyone on any given weekend, so I'm very encouraged about that,'' he said. ''I had a lot of pride and a lot of fun because it was my most competitive car, consistently, on any track.''

He said Honda wants both he and Herta back next season and they are working on getting contracts signed.

Tagliani also said he was sad to hear that Octane Management withdrew as promoter of the Edmonton Indy.

''This year the race was very nice. Good turnover. Good press. So I was a little sad when I heard about it,'' he said. ''But I was relieved when (IndyCar CEO) Randy (Bernard) said he was looking at replacing it and bringing in new Canadian races by 2014 and that it would be rectified, so that's nice.''