Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Open Wheel Pundits

Perhaps you caught this past weekend’s episode of Wind tunnel with Dave Despain. As always the show seemed entertaining and provocative with featured guest Jacques Villeneuve and Robin Miller sounding off about the current plight of Open Wheel racing.

JV got the featured billing with Miller getting the caboose car portion of the show. Yet I found JV refreshing as he seems to be a totally “straight-up” interviewee, answering questions openly and straight to the point.

Villeneuve was being interviewed from his restaurant/night club New Town in Montreal where business was a little slow due to the recent snow storms in April. Villeneuve said “Everybody’s tired of the snow.” As for the nightclub Jacques commented that he’d always wanted to open a small cafĂ©, but I ended up with 4 floors and dancing.

And how serious are you about the singing, Despain inquired? JV said I’m real serious about it. Since I’m married you’ve got to show the accounts at the end of the month and you’ve got to be serious about it when your moneys invested. (Villeneuve has just released his first album)

Of course the top question was focused upon his impending RASSCAR intentions… But Villeneuve seemed pretty reserved saying that he had NOTHING to report at the moment and that he wanted to take his time to do the right “deal.”

In the latter stages of the program, Despain asked his co-host Ron Le Masters about why all of the “Stick ‘N Ball” owners were getting into RASSCAR, Despain pointed out that a Montreal hockey owner was close to a deal with Ray Evernham… So perhaps Jacques will be driving a Dodge shortly?

But Villeneuve seemed pretty cognizant that you just don’t jump in a Nextel Cup race car and show the series regulars how it’s done. Yes, I’d definitely need to do some lower series racing like Juan Pablo to get experience before stepping up to RASSCAR.

Despain then asked, but wouldn’t it be a natural fit for you to race this August in Montreal? (Inaugural Busch Series race that replaces Champ Car) JV commented that he’d be busy driving for Peugeot at Le Mans so it wouldn’t really be right since he’d have no preparation prior to the event. Then again Villeneuve commented that he was stupid enough to do such a thing… As he’d always done in his career.

Despain read some quotes from the latest F1 Racing magazine where Jacques states that: “Giancarlo will never be a team leader like Alonso. Raikkonen doesn’t give a FUCK about set-up and Scott “nose” Speed hasn’t shown anything to justify his being in F1.”

And on the subject of F1 I found it entertaining to hear Jacques being conciliatory towards Michael Schumacher as Despain seemed to be goading him on…

But c’mon, he tried to knock you off track in 1997 and everyone criticized you for passing him on the outside in 1996.

JV said, yeah I’d been telling the team I was going to do that, so they kept egging me on. But I was able to pull the move off since I’d been used to racing ovals in CART. It was kind of a game…

We’re certainly not friends and I haven’t done anything social with him and we had our differing opinions of what is wrong & right on track.

And what are your thoughts on him being a great Formula 1 driver? It’s too bad that history spits on you. People only seem to remember the negatives…

And in regards to current day F1, Villeneuve found it tiring and not as fun as he says you get to drive a little bit and then you spend your whole day in meetings. Like 12 meetings with Engineers over things not even related to the race car. It’s a bit like going to the office…

And do you have any opinions on the current state of Open wheel racing in the US. Well CART, err Champ Car used to be really excellent in the mid-90’s before the split. But now there’s NO credibility. I mean RASSCAR is the place everybody wants to be and there's no ability to get sponsors. Basically you have two HALF series with NO credibility and Europeans aren’t interested…

And what about the Indy 500? Well the 500 to Europeans is what Le Mans is to Americans… (Virtually UNKNOWN)

And would you like your 5 month old son to become a race car driver? I don’t care what he is as long as he’s passionate, works hard and isn’t a BUM!