Monday, September 25, 2006

Road America Journal

Da Matta flies home
While the Champ Cars returned to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin after a one year hiatus this weekend, the best news of all was that Cristano da Matta has finally left the hospital and flew home aboard a private Gulfstream jet to Miami. Da Matta had been in a medically induced coma for one month after striking a wayward deer that cleared an 8’ fence topped with barbed wire during the Champ Car test on Aug. 3rd. Da Matta was shown on TV walking down a hospital corridor, chatting with Jimmy Vassser, playing guitar solo along with a duet with his brother before giving today’s command for “Drivers to Start their Engines.” Da Matta will soon return to bicycling along with returning home to Brazil and hopefully will make a full recovery after completing his rehabilitation in Miami…

“Speedy-dry”
Rookie “Speedy” Dan Clarke used a gambling tire strategy during Friday’s provisional qualifying session to claim his very first Champ Car pole position, also the team’s first pole since 2004 and first pole under the CTE/HVM banner. Clarke switched from rain tires to slicks in the latter moments of qualifying to emerge a fastest on a slow drying track. Rookie Charles Zwolsman employed a similar tactic to claim 2nd place on Friday. During Saturday’s final qualifying session, the rain continued with Sebastian Bourdais grabbing quickest time in the rain to grab 1 point and line up 2nd behind Clarke for Sunday’s race…

Driver roulette
Making his Champ Car debut for the revolving door driver shuffle at Dale Coyne Racing was Juan Caceres, 22 years old from Uruguay. Caceres, previously competed in European F3000, a step below the FIA’s GP2 category.
Rocketsports continues its driver shuffle with Tony Kasemets back behind the wheel of the #18. Mario Dominguez will pilot the #8 for the remainder of the season with new PEMEX (Petroleum Mexico) sponsorship livery.

”The Rick Daly Show”
Although I know they’re just doing the job they’re being paid for… Unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of Derrick Daly whose gift of the ‘ole Blarney-Stone seems to make him think he’s “Juan” ‘O America’s premiere motorsports analysts. I simply prefer the intelligent insights of pit reporter Jon Beekhuis…
Meanwhile Rick “Insert $ponsor’s name Here” Benjamin seems infatuated upon Andrew Ranger’s new “WALL$MART” le Canada sponsorship. See if you can count how many times he mentions this during the Road America coverage...

Surprisingly “Dudley D” (Derrick Daly) was fairly restrained during Sunday’s broadcast. The only time he seemed to get into a lather was when he began gushing over his main man “Sugar Ray” (Paul) Tracy… He did however make an entertaining comment about Justin Wilson’s drink bottle being located inside the helmet as he circled the drink hose with the telestrator…

Bridgestone presented a special Red Alternate tire autographed by all the drivers to Cristano da Mata’s doctor…

In his never-ending quest to insert sponsor’s names, Rick Benjamin did his usual bang-up job. His favourite sponsor plug “WALL$MART” outscored CDW 5-4…


Legge’s “NOT so Excellent" Adventure
“Dudley D’s” best one-liner of the weekend was: “Katherine’s Corner, Katherine’s Kink,” which fortunately he was able to joke about after Katherine Legge’s savage crash after an apparent rear wing flap failure. Legge became a passenger in the 180mph corner, loosing rear end downforce, slamming into the concrete wall backwards. Her car went airborne before being collected by the catch fencing. The car exploded into multiple pieces, the engine and transmission shearing clean off! Then the carbon fibre monococque tub barrel rolled several times on the racetrack… Amazingly Legge emerged from the emergency care center on her own two legs and gave a brief interview to Jon Beekhuis…
Showing an unbelievable coolness, bravado and tenacity, Legge quipped: “You’ve got to have a screw loose to be a racecar driver!” Legge said that she was ready to jump back into the car immediately. It was quite the interview as Legge kidded that she’d had her eyes closed through much of the incident… Her worst fear was potential fire, but when she saw the engine pass by, she felt relieved, SHEISA!
This in part led too much kidding in the announce booth about having Legge autograph leftover pieces of the car since Legge was part of a special CARA auction this weekend. Legge sported a special “one-off” pink paint scheme, pink driver’s suit & pink helmet as part of “Warrior’s in Pink.” The auction is to raise funds for breast cancer… Legge’s driving suit & helmet are to be sold in an on-line auction. Even Bridgestone got in on the action by producing pink “alternate” sidewall tires for the occasion…

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