Monday, July 16, 2007

Indy day trippin’ (Part 3)

Der Great Nico!
And did I mention how hot it was? As the first two days had been 90+ degrees, with Sunday’s event even hotter. I marveled to myself upon our passing block after block of parked cars on private lawns while nearing the Brickyard, as we’d decided to come later in the day since we had reserved parking. (So I thought! But, Oh NO! The Handicap parking fills up by 8AM…)

It was rough sledding as we had to follow the coolest road car ever produced by the Ford Motor Company… Yes. The Ford GT! As I just sat gaga watching the ass end of the black Ford GT with Indiana dealer plates directly in front of us. With Harriet telling me to quickly roll down the window. In order to listen to the syrupy sweet exhaust note as we handed our parking pass to the IMS attendant.

And then we had a really fun time trying to find where our seats were as the Yellow Shirts were baffled to why they’d parked us where we were. Finally getting driven by golf cart to the opposite end of the race track as we’d been forced to drive past our grandstand!

Sitting in the scorching sun several hundred yards away from the first corner complex, it was wild watching the seven car melee caused by Juan Pablo Montoya in what would be his very last F1 start. Yet I was extremely happy to watch Schuey wax the entire field pulling away by nearly a second per lap… In fact he was so far ahead that I could hear him downshift 5 gears into turn 1 before his second place wingman Felipe Massa would enter the corner.

And I cannot recall ever sweating so much before, while I did my best impersonation of a “Little German Boy on the podium!” Gleefully whistling the Italian National anthem while waving my conductor’s baton upon Herr Schumacher’s victory!

During the whole race I couldn’t figure out what all of the fuss over M. Schumacher winning five times at Indy was about… Oh, I get it! He’s the first driver ever to WIN 5 times at Indy. Surpassing a trio of drivers named Foyt, Unser and Mears.

Returning to our hotel, it was interesting how the stigma of Le Michelin fiasco still hung over the event. As a patron asking us about the race seemed primarily concerned about whether or not the Michelin shod cars ran? Telling him there was a seven car shunt on lap one didn’t do much to impress him as I realized that not too many more cars were around at the end this year compared to 2005. I recall telling Clyde how hilarious it would have been to see the Michelin Man walking around Indy deflated with bandages all over him! As Harriet really likes the Michelin Man, so we shook hands with him on Saturday.

Dropping Harriet off at the airport Monday morning Clyde & I watched two Sharp Dressed Men in black suits pass thru the airport while awaiting her flight departure. Hey that’s Ross Brawn of Ferrari. Then we talked to a very friendly German journalist, who said it’s a good thing Michael won. That way there’s still interest in the championship and they’ll keep sending me to cover the races. Then on our way out of the terminal Clyde noticed approx. 25-30 people in identical white uniforms standing in the check-in line. It was the Panasonic Toyota team getting ready to fly home.

Upon returning from another 2.5 day mad dash across the country and having only stopped at Old Faithful and Devil’s Tower. It was nice to be back home where I watched the race tape, I found Nick Heidfeld’s barrel rolling down the main straight quite scary. I also learned via Bob Varsha that it was 97 degrees (+ Humidity) race day. As well as being the start of the second century of Grand Prix racing…

Calling Auntie Harriet, I was most shocked to hear her story about who’d sat next to her on her flight home. At the very last moment a young whipper snapper sat down next to her, as it was the last seat on the plane.

Noticing that the young German kid with long blond hair had a slightly funny sounding accent. Harriet inquired, so where are you from? What are you doing in America? After a long pause the kid said. “Ja! I am Nico Rosberg! I have just been at Indy to race in the USGP. SHEISA!!!
Harriet had to sit next to F1 Williams Rookie driver Nico Rosberg on her flight from Indy to Chicago as this was the only flight poor Messer Rosberg could find in order to make his connections back home to Germany.

Harriet told him how she’d just attended her very first Formula 1 race and how I was a huge Formula 1 fan… Just before landing the young German who’d turned 21 during the break between the Canadian and USGP reached for his briefcase and pulled a card out. Then of course neither of them had a pen, so they frantically searched for a writing utensil and finding a pencil. Nico scribbled an autograph onto his race card for me.

SHEISA!!! How come I never get to have anybody famous sit next to me, eh?