Not everyone can sit in the seat of a car with no elbow room, legroom or headroom and feel completely at ease going three times the lawful freeway speed limit in rush-hour traffic.

That is, said Sascha Maassen very matter-of-factly, unless it's something you've been doing all your life, "then it feels very natural."

In his case it has been since the age of 12. That's when he climbed into the low-riding seat of a go-kart and drove for the first time.

That's when, as many kids do, he decided it would be fun to drive a Formula 1 car. It would be several years later, however, before he, and those around him, realized he could drive comfortably at high speeds.

He won the German Championship, then the European Championship and, as dreams sometimes do, he got a seat in a Formula 1 car.

"It's not easy," he recalled shortly after arriving in Salt Lake City for the American Le Mans race at Miller Motorsports Park. "And it's very expensive. I was fortunate. Some companies were also seeing I had a chance to become very good."

He recognized, however, that it took more than talent to succeed in auto racing. Some very good drivers, with the very same dream, never made it into high-speed racing.

"Sometimes you have to be in the right place at the right time. Then you have to be determined. And luck always has something to do with it. I was very fortunate," he said.

Fortunate in that he is very good and feels very comfortable hitting the straights at 180-plus and steering into turns at 120 mph as casually as making a left turn on State Street.

For the record, Maassen has started 71 races and has 67 top-10 finishes and 29 wins.

Maassen will be racing in the LMP2 class on Sunday, driving the No. 6 Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder. He will share driving duties with Patrick Long. This is their first year together.

Under the Le Mans format, four classes of cars will be racing on the same track at the same time. Also, under Le Mans rules, driving duties are shared.

Which, said Maassen, is what converted him to Le Mans racing. "I'm more of a team player. Race drivers are very selfish. They have to be. It's the reason they are successful. But being selfish is very, very tiring. So, I am happy to have a teammate. It's fun. It's more fun than being alone all the time."

He admitted, too, that he has found the Miller track to be fun, even though it's physically demanding and requires constant concentration.

Take turns 1-2-3. He said he brakes once, going into the first turn, then shifts into fifth and sixth gear for the rest, "at speeds well over 120 (mph). ... You can feel the G-forces on the neck after a couple of laps. It's very fast."

He said he liked the course the first time he drove it in 2006, not only for the speed but because the course offers a complete mix of turns, "and I like turns. Once you're through the straight, it's constant cornering. They put everything into this track, and all of the drivers like it."

In driver rotation, Maassen has been the first in the driver's seat, "and we won. So I'd like to start, but that's something we'll decide, maybe just before the race."

This is, after all, as he said, a team event.