Friday, August 31, 2007

DFV turns Four Oh

How the sands of time slip thru the hour glass, as its come to my attention that the most successful customer Formula 1 engine of all time has just recently celebrated its fortieth birthday.

“Power for the People” seems an appropriate headline since that’s exactly what the magnificent Ford Cosworth DFV lump turned out to be. As the ubiquitous Double Four Valves V-8 power plant became the mainstay of Privateers competing in Formula 1.

Interestingly the Ford Motor Co. ponied up $200,000 for the Northampton engine manufacturer to design and produce this legendary power plant for exclusive use by Lotus in 1967 for the onset of the three liter era.

The legendary engine manufacturer was the genesis of Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth. With Costin being the brother of renowned aerodynamicist Frank Costin, whom applied airplane aerodynamics to the development of early 1950’s racing chassis such as Maserati, Lotus and Vanwall.

Although Cosin claims that Colin Chapman wanted exclusivity for eternity. Fortunately Cosin’s partner, the departed Duckworth told Chapman to go jump in a lake! As the three liter engine would become the mainstay of Formula 1 for two decades.

While garnering 155 Grand Prix victories, enroute to becoming the second most successful engine in history. (Eclipsed only by Ferrari) The maiden win came on June 4, 1967 at Zanport. (Holland) With the aging lumps final victory at Detroit in 1983 at the hands of Michele Alboreto aboard a Tyrrell.

A total of 47 different Constructors utilized the Cossie during its lifespan, winning twelve World Championships with Lotus, Matra, Tyrrell, McLaren, Williams and Brabham.

After its initial span of success from 1967-74, Ferrari’s Flat 12 cylinder boxer engine proved to be the DFV’s Achilles heel with Niki Lauda at the helm. Yet it was once again Colin Chapman resurrecting the Cosworth power plants ascension to power with the development of the groundbreaking Lotus 78.

As the ground effects era was ideally suited for the packaging of the compact 90 degree V-8, while the Flat 12 was unsuited for ground effect tunnels. Thus the DFV returned to glory for another half decade prior to the start of the Turbo era.

The DFV would soldier on a further decade as the power plant for F3000 from 1988-95. Making one last gasp for the initial 3.5 liter normally aspirated era in 1989 before fathering Ford’s resurgence in Formula 1 with the 3.5-liter HB series, as these lumps powered Benetton and McLaren to further Grand Prix victories while the HB successor, the Ford Zetec-R ultimately powered Michael Schumacher to his debutant Formula 1 World Championship in 1994.

Sadly Cosworth’s 39 year run in F1 came to an abrupt close with the abandonment of the 2.4 liter V-8, which was the first engine to rev over 20,000 RPM’s. When Williams chose to switch to Toyota power at the end of 2006. Leaving Cosworth without any customers for the current season.

Although I never saw the original three liter era in combat, they’re definitely wonderful to witness as vintage F1 grids in today’s Historic racing as the engines snarl a symphonic rhapsody of low mechanical revolutions.

Recall that these engines required manual shifting along with employing overhead valve trains. As it seems quaint to notice the various chassis antiquated dashboards with a large tilted RPM gauge rotated so when the tach needle hits high noon. The engine is at its 9,000 RPM redline!

Phoenix race melts away

The Champ Car World Series just took another blow to the temple. With the announcement of the Phoenix Grand Prix pulling the plug on its inaugural Champ Car race. The event was scheduled for December 2nd as the series finale. Which coupled with the long unannounced cancellation of the China event sees a total of three races remaining this year, with NO viable TV coverage of this weekend’s Holland event.

Promoter Dale Jensen, part owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks said that economic turmoil had prevented the landing of major event sponsorship. As the city of Phoenix seems indifferent to another street car race in the Downtown area. With the long defunct Iceberg Grand Prix *Formula 1) of 1989-91 still lingering on…

“I CAN’T get to my Bar! There’s some funny ‘lil cars blockin’ off the streets. What are all these Damn Foreigners doin’ here…”

Jensen claims that the Phoenix cancellation will have no affect on the sister event, the Las Vegas street race that Jensen’s company is promoter of. Claiming that they’d spent $15 million to make Vegas happen and were hopeful of recouping their investment by running both events. Champ Car claims that “Los Wages” three day attendance was over 100,000…

Yet this is Champ Cars third event of the 2007 season to be cancelled. And once again the series will finish outside of the United States. And by the time another race is viewable to the remaining stateside audience…

Having just purchased my airplane ticket to attend, I’m mildly adjitated with Phoenix & Champ Car. But hey, we’re NOT merging…

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Scuderia Stuffing

Although thoroughly pleased with the results of the Turkish Grand Prix. One might say it was a pretty uneventful race. With Felipe Massa leading virtually flag to flag upon capturing his eighth career pole position. As the Istanbul circuit is where Massa claimed his first career pole position and victory exactly one year ago.

With the Iceman being unable to pass the Brazilian. Kimi Raikkonen had to settle for following Massa across the line for a dominant Ferrari 1-2. Nevertheless there were some entertaining aspects to this weekend’s Formula 1 race.

Talk about the Sarcasm channel. As SPEED’s Peter Windsor told us that the Honda boyzs call Q3 (Final Qualifying) the “Ice Cream Lady” session… Since that’s when the lads are busy buying ice cream after once again NOT making it into the final qualie session.

With best TV broadcasted driver radio transmission of the season being provided by Rubens Barrichello. As team leader Jenson button had been pleading with the engineers to please have Rubens pull over.

Err, “Rubens, Jenson claims he’s two seconds a lap quicker than you.”

To which Rubens replied. “DON’T MAKE ME LAUGH!”

Alex Wurz reported that the massive “Quad Apex” or four apex-pie as David Hobbs calls it. Is truly a “Hobbo” neck stretcher. With drivers experiencing 4.5 G’s for a FULL six seconds. And this is on an anti-clockwise circuit, which means the wrong side of the drivers neck is under these heavy contortions.

So just what is a Pay driver? Well in Sakon Yammamoto’s case. It means a driver who’s raced outside of his country for seven years and he’s NEVER scored a single point in any category he’s contested!

In deference to the tidily-winks occurring between the McLaren Beastie Boyzs. Mercedes Benz decided to present Fernando Alonso with a gift commemorating his 100th Grand Prix start. (Including the 2005 USGP Michelin tyre debacle…) As the German automaker presented the Spaniard with a solid silver replica of the firm’s all conquering W196. *1954-55)

To which upon the “Ronster” seeing, couldn’t resist telling Ferdi “We wanted to give you something heavy to THROW at us!”

And throwing even more fuel to the fire. As both of the factory Honda’s were demoted to the final starting row upon replacing both drivers’ race engines. Anthony “ANT” Davidson had a brilliant weekend. Flirting with making his first Q3 session with an excellent 8th fastest lap before being pipped in the final moments to end up in 11th. As ANT started once again ahead of BOTH Factory Honda’s, his “super Best Friends” teammate Taku and Toyota’s Ralfanzo.

And how the mighty have fallen… As it was reported that seven times World Champion Michael Schumacher’s 1997 Monaco and Spa winning Ferrari fetched a paltry $1.04 million at the recent RM Auctions event held in Maranello on May 20th.

Meanwhile Rubens Barrichelo’s Suzuka winning F2003 sold for $2.08 million. With Felipe Massa’s debut winning 248F1 fetching a sum of $2.23 million.

But the star of the show was the 24 Heurs du Mans winning 1962 Ferrari 330 TRI/LM driven by Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien. Along with being raced victoriously by Pedro Rodriguez the following year in the US.

Interestingly the exquisite Ferrari barchetta was driven daily to work by its Japanese owner in New York from 1965-74. With the 330TRI/LM garnering a record hammer price of $9.28 million paid by an anonymousSwiss bidder…

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

JV goes Truckin’

By now perhaps you’ve heard that former F1 World Champion and Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve is scheduled to test a Bill Davis Racing Toyota Craftsman Truck at Chicagoland. With plans to contest the final seven NCTS events in preparations to graduate to RASSCAR with BDR in 2008.

If the Motor Mouth Kanuck is joined in neXXtel cup next season by Scott Speed in a similar Toy-yoter Camary, this would see three Formula 1 drivers contesting the Roundy Round series next year…

Oh my God! Won’t the Kuh-nuckers be in a lather over their native son bangin’ doors with that Columbian MAC Montoya. Next thing you’ll know, RASSCAR will wanna switch its Busch Series event to a Cup race on the Il Notre Dam. Especially after this years Robby Gourdoun show…

No news on how many Tundra’s Jacques tore up during Monday’s test. Hmm? That seems to be a good make for the French-Canadian to be driving, eh?

Chez Zolder

So did anybody actually get to see the Champ Car race early Sunday morning? As apparently we didn’t miss too much. Since once again the Hamburgular ran away and hid, while stealing his sixth victory of the season.

And unfortunately Zolder’s claim to fame for most of us will always be that it’s the track that Gilles Villeneuve lost his life at in 1982. So it’s ironic that Champ Car was racing there 25 years later. Yet according to David Phillips, Circuit Zolder is a First Class “A1” track that would put the majority of North American circuits to shame…

Although bourdais’s championship nemesis’s lined up second and third. The Frenchman was nearly untouchable, leading virtually the entire distance. With the second place driver being a bit of a shock. As Whiney Bags Bruno gave Dale Coyne Racing its best finish in 24 years! With the final podium spot going to Junky’s replacement Graham Rahal.

Look for the Champ Cars next week on El Classico. Err, Oh Nevermind…

Monday, August 27, 2007

Wolfman Jack?

Apparently I should give up on the multi-taskin’ Since as I was furiously pounding’ away at the keyboard. I completely forgot about the weekly Autosport Radio broadcast hosted by Mr. Donald Kay. Therefore missing the past two weeks internets airing’s.

This Tuesday’s show should be a pretty good “Juan,” Since master of ceremonies DK has lined up Cruz Pedregon... and Andrew Haynes. Neatly tying into the upcoming MAC Tools US Nationals big whopper NHRA event. Check it out, as Messer Donald always asks some pretty off beat questions…

What Teamate?

After watching the Turkish GP yesterday morning, I umm? Eagerly, nope that’s not it… Any Hoo, awaited the Indy Car race at Sonoma, CA. Having been to the track twice before, I really think it’s a great natural terrain road course. Although apparently like Portland, the drivers tend to claim it’s a one lane track. Nevertheless, it too like Istanbul has substantial elevation changes. Albeit Istanbul is only three years old…

So I sat down to see if Dario “Half Gainer” Franchitti could change his wing walkin’ ways… As the Flying Scotsman was on pole for the days race with the Princess sittin’ shotgun. While Tony Kanaan lined up third, with Dario’s championship nemesis Scott Dixon in P5.

And I don’t want to say that the majority of the race was boring… But I found myself nodding off and missing the most controversial portion of the race. When Mikey sent his boy Marco chargin’ outta the pits and knocking off portions of race leader Franchittis front wing end plate… Who says that McLaren is the only team with intra-squad scrums, eh?

Yet I’m still baffled by how the Andretti Green Racing team could let this happen? Since Marco clearly has NO shot at this season’s Indy Car title…

Yet Dixon was quite delighted by the contretemps. As the elated Kiwi swooped past the injured Franchitti and took over the lead with a baker’s dozen laps remaining. Along with Helio Castroneves squeezing past for second place.

With teammate and good friend Kanaan taking pity upon the wounded Scot, TK dutifully played the role of wingman. As Dario and Kanaan finished third and fourth respectively.

With all of the AGR shenanigans. Dario who’d led most race laps saw his 8 point title lead flip flop to minus 4 points, as Dixon now takes over the Championship points lead with two races remaining. Meanwhile the youngster Marco finished sidelined in the grass and refused television interview requests.

So what’s a non-IRL guy to do? Since I’d really like to see Dario capture the Indy Car crown… Although I’d prefer for AGR to NOT win the Championship since its Mikey’s team.

While I’d also be happy with Scott Dixon winning (again) since he’s an ex-Pacwest Racing driver… Which was once upon a time our local CART race team… So I’ll be happy with either Franchitti or Dixon since both are ex-CART drivers…

Next up, the revamped Belle Isle, courtesy of “The Captain,” Roger Penske…

European Vacation

Hmm? Why did this title spring to mind, as it makes me conjer up images of Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn & Co. gallivanting about Europe while “On Vacation.”

As the Griswalds once again show off their Wally Wurld ways in this really BAD “B” movie… Which is where Champ Car is in my book at the moment. As I’m still fuming over the STUPIDITY of broadcasting both European rounds on ESPN Classic…

And I would have enjoyed watching yesterday’s race to provide my insights on the famous track, but NO!!! One of the BONEHEAD “Brothers” err, four Mousketeers decided either to cut costs or make another really BAD business decision? By getting a really, really good deal on air time on ESPN Classic…

Since once again Champ Car LOOSES at the IRL’s expense! As I wasn’t able to watch the Circuit Zolder race, I was forced to settle for the Indy Car race at Sears Point instead. And Champ Car wonders why it has a TV rating’s problem?

As nexts weekend’s Netherlands race will also be impossible to watch. I’ll once again be viewing Indy Car from Detroit, which has morphed into CART…

And speaking of European Vacations… Did you hear the “Juan” about Jenson Button going camping. Apparently Jense spent the majority of the three week Formula 1 break on a camping trip with his girlfriend roughin’ it in France. As they actually camped out in a tent.

With Jense claiming neither he nor the misses had ever put up a tent before. Along with the couple staying in B ‘N B’s… And after this weekend’s outing at Istanbul. Perhaps Button would have wished to remain camping?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Indy celebrities - Postscript

Did you guess who the six celebrities I ran into while at IMS are?
Or are you simply getting tired of the suspense? Just give us the “Frillin’” answers man… (No cheating Danny B, your excluded)

As I’ve previously written. The mystery men in no particular order are: DH, “S. George,” DM, “Doctor Who?” Mr. Interscope and the REAL “Double D.”

And with no further ado, Drum roll please…………..
The first three represent 1/11th of this year’s Indy 500 grid. And how often do you meet three racing drivers in one day?

Obviously DH is Davey Hamilton, whom returned to the Brickyard for the first time after six years of countless surgeries to repair his shattered feet. Davey has kept sharp by compiling seat time piloting one of Sinden Racing’s two seaters. He’s a true gentleman and it was a pleasure to spend so much time talking with him. And I felt it was a true bonus to have him as my chauffer around the Speedway!

“”S. George” is the aforementioned Steven George. Better known as Stefan Gregoire. And he seemed like a very nice chap as he was sent home early after his two seater mount lost its motor at IMS. Apparently Gregoire is also collecting valuable seat time at IMS as Sinden Racing’s other driver...

Although technically gregoire didn’t compete in this years Indy after crashing during practice. As you may recall Chastain Motorsports drafted the wiley veteran Roberto Moreno as his replacement. Look for S. George to be back next year at Indy.

The third driver is by far the court jester of the triumberant. As Darren Manning is a total crack-up. Making a loud snoring sound when recounting his displeasures of having to attend Sponsor meetings. As well as being a pretty fine golfer. Manning now resides in Indianapolis and was the BAR Honda F1 test driver before moving to Derrick Walker’s Champ Car team.

Dr. Who is none other then 1997 Indy 500 Winning race engineer Tim Wardrop. And I really enjoyed my prolonged chat with him about various facets of Formula 1.

Mr. Interscope could also be called the Flying Hawaiian. As I’ve just read that he was a tire buster in the early ‘60’s prior to getting his shot as a racing driver. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? His name is Danny Ongais.

Unfortunately when I hear his name I can only recite the fact that his crash at Indy in 1987 opened the door for Al Unser Sr. as his replacement at Penske Racing. “Big Al” went on to win his fourth Indy 500 that year behind the wheel of a year old Penske show car. Wow, it just hit me. This is the 20th anniversary of that most forgettable saga.

And lastly, not to be confused with Robin Miller’s Double D. Nope, not “Milk ‘N Doughnuts.” Nor Derr-Wreck Daily. The REAL “Double D” is none other than official track historian Donald Davidson. Whom I’m now calling D-Squared…

The affable Englishman came abroad in 1964 before immigrating in 1965 to work for USAC and has been here ever since. Davidson is a walking computer as he simply rambled off answer after answer to us in the Photo Shop…

Saturday, August 25, 2007

No new Spyker

The much ballyhooed “B” spec Spyker F8VII that was supposed to make its debut this weekend in Turkey. Has now been slid back to the upcoming Italian Grand Prix. As the heavily revised Spyker did not pass its FIA mandated rear impact structure crash test.

In typical Formula 1 “Posi-Spin.” Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne said that they knew the reason why they’d failed and now they’d be able to run the updated “B” spec chassis in the upcoming Italian GP pre-test next week. So they’d be able to have the car up to snuff prior to Monza, where they’ll continue their heated battle with Scuderia Toro Rosso…

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Indy celebrities

So I’ve been reveling over my most excellent adventure to the Speedway for the past few weeks now. While basking in the afterglow of my extreme euphoria experienced while hanging out at Indianapolis. As I can still hear the banshee wail of the two seater reverberating off the Turn 2 grandstands. (Especially when I play it back on my mini-recorder)

Did you guess who the six celebrities I ran into while at IMS were? As I wrote before they were none other than: DH, “S. George,” DM, Mr. Interscope, “Doctor who?” and D-Squared. (O.k. The REAL “Double D.”) I’ll let you ponder it a little longer, eh?

For this most memorable trek to Mecca, I stayed at the Brickyard Crossing Hotel, which is located directly next to the Turn Two Grandstand. And it’s slightly dated. Ok, so it looks circa 1970’s. Yet I found it to be a most enjoyable locale as it’s full of old fashion charms.

Although I didn’t get Jimmy Neighbors suite. The room was clean, the staff is super courteous, the waitress’s & bartender’s very friendly and the food is quite palatable. But what I found most humourous was having a real “live” person making the wake-up call each morning. Along with using a real key to unlock your door.

And where else can you simply step out of your room and be serenaded by the symphonic harmonies of the Sinden Racing Two Seater reverberating off of the Brickyard grandstands?

After checking into my hotel room Monday evening. Danny B introduced me to his old friend Dave, who we met on his way into the bar while Danny was showing me the hotel’s layout. There Dave introduced us to Dr. Who. And on our way out for dinner, Danny said hello to Mr. Interscope.

Tuesday was the big day for me. As Danny chauffeured me around the corner to the Formula 1 garages for my big adventure aboard Sinden Racing’s Two Seater.

While waiting for my ride, Danny introduced me to DH, who’d be my two seater pilote later in the afternoon. DH was super friendly and really made my day enjoyable. He talked to us for over 20+ minutes before excusing himself to go get suited up for his afternoon at the office. And I’ll give you a hint. He finished ninth in this years Indy 500.

While awaiting the track to be cleared after having a big problem with the other two seater, Danny introduced me to “Steven George” while going to have my picture taken on the pit lane with DH in front of the Canadian Club car. According to Danny, Steven George has been given the moniker due to his close relationship with Mary Holman George.

Than after a mind boggling FANTASTIC day at IMS, we returned to the bar for some liquid refreshments along with a quick bite to eat. Walking in after us and sitting down directly behind us. There’s Mr. Interscope once again. And Danny told him of my ride aboard the two seater and perhaps he could have been my chauffer? No thanks said Mr. Interscope. I’ll stick to single seaters.

After dinner Danny drove us over to McGilvery's Speedway for a weekly radio broadcast hosted by Don Kay of Autosport Radio. One of his featured guests this week was the “Cheeky Brit” DM. Who as always was quite entertaining. And he started off the show by claiming that I’d messed up his golf game when roaring around Indy! But DM had NO interest in the two seater, stating that may be his girlfriend would?

As he was leaving Danny brought him over to our table and introduced me. DM promptly said, so you’re the chap in the two seater messing up my golf game!

Wednesday upon taking a PAINFULLY SEDATE bus ride around the Brickyard narrated by D-Squared. We toured my favourite racing haunt. The Hall of Fame museum. And upon popping into the Photo Shop on the second floor. Which you really must if you want to see AWESOME racing photography from wall to wall. Coming out of his office was D-Squared, who Danny introduced me to. And very obligingly chatted with us for quite some time as we picked his brains over the history of the Brickyard.

SHEISA!!! That was a really ruff trip! As I mentioned to “Auntie” Harriet, I’m getting a bit spoiled here. And I’m becoming a bit particular on whom I meet ‘N greet…

To continue reading, see; Indy Celebrities - Postscript

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

One less seat for Alonso

As I’d previously speculated, BMW Sauber has announced that it will retain both Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica as its drivers for 2008. With Timo glock most likely remaining the teams Test & Reserve Driver.

Thus the only two “Top” teams for Fernando Alonso to seek refuge from his supposedly unsatisfying situation at McLaren would be either Renault or Toyota.

The most obvious suitor is Flavor Flav and Renault. Ferdi’s previous employer with whom he achieved all of his current glory. And rumours suggest Flavio is attempting to get ex-sponsor Telefonica to bankroll the Spaniard’s return…

As I highly doubt that Alonso would dare jump to Toyota as Ralfanzo’s replacement, since the Colone based squad has done nothing to date in regards to showing winning potential.

BMW’s announcement leaves five current teams without finalized 2008 Driver pairings; Renault, Spyker, Super Aguri, Toyota, Williams. As well as the expected debut of Prodrive next season as Mclaren’s “B” Team.

Renault will most likely either “poach” Ferdi or insert current tester Nelson Piquet Jr into “Fishy Fella’s” seat. While I’d expect Vitantonio Luzzi to take over Alex Wurz’s seat at Williams. Spyker and “Super Best Friends” are both looking for Pay Drivers and who knows what Toyota’s thinking?

The only wildcard seems to be Prodrive. Would Alonso dare go there as partner to Anthony Davidson in order to show up the Ronster’s Big Brother outfit? Or will David Richards go for the unlikely pairing of Fisichella and Tomas Enge? Oh goody, its Silly season time once again…

Racing Tri-Fecta

With the Dog-Days ‘O Summer fast approaching there end… The major Open Wheel racing series are entering the latter stages of this year’s championship.

Formula 1 returns to action after a three week sabbatical, racing in Istanbul. With six rounds remaining McLaren’s Beastie Boyzs seem to have the championship by the scruff of its neck. While the Scuderia has an outside chance. Will Hamilton become the very first Rookie to ever win the title>

The IRL has three races left, beginning with this weekend’s Sonoma, CA event. Half Gainer Dario sees his points lead shrinking rapidly to ex-Champion Scott Dixon. Can Franchitti hang on?

Champ Car is making a two race swing thru Europe currently. With the added bonus of the newly created European Cup, which will reward the winning drivers with paid 7 day holidays. While the Hamburgular closes in on a fourth consecutive Vanderbuilt Cup… Now the only trick is to find the DAMN race on TV!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Open Wheel chatter

I’d have to say that the San Jose race was far more entertaining to watch vs. Road America. Although I hugely prefer the Elkhart Lake venue over the concrete canyons of Silicon Valley.

Nevertheless, Bad Bobby D utilized a Sand Dune Tracy race strategy after giving Jan “Van Hagar” Heylan the Chrome Horn at the beginning of the race. Vaulting from 15th to take the chequered flag first. This was after Dan “Speedy-Dry” Clarke punted pole sitter Justin Wilson from the lead at the beginning of the race…

Yet the Hamburgular celebrated his announcement of going to Formula 1 next season by capturing the Road America pole by over 1.5 seconds. Then cruised to a fairly sedate race win while both Robert Doornbos and Will Power suffered major points hits to their fleeting championship hopes…

And I found it very awkward to be rooting for Bruno “Whiney Bags” Junqueira as it was Dale Coyne’s 500th start in Champ Car. And Junky got an excellent start, vaulting into third place. In fact it was so good that the in-car camera showed him jumping the start…

As the Forsythe team continues to struggle, it was noted that Mo Nunn had joined the team as a Consultant for the weekend, in hopes that he’d be able to sort out some of the teams troubles. And if memory serves me right? I think that Nunn was engineering Oriel Servia at Patrick Racing when the team ran Visteon sponsorship. Many may recall that Mo Nunn was the engineer for three of Chip Ganassi’s four CART titles…

And although it’s a slightly old rumour that I heard Robin Miller comment on awhile ago. There are now multiple reports of Justin Wilson being in the catbird seat to take over the departing Bourdais’s seat at Newman Haas Lanigan in 2008.

And I’ll be interested to see where this year’s Atlantics Champion Raphael Matos lands next year in Champ Car. As Matos goes shopping for a seat with his $2.0 million winner’s check.

Quickest guess is he’ll take Wilson’s vacated seat at RSports. Since co-owner Paul Gentilozzi was rumoured to be putting together a Team Brazil last year. Of course I’d prefer to see Matos simply move up with his team Sierra Sierra, but that would require them running a two car effort?

Meanwhile the IRL’s Brian Barnhart put the entire field of drivers on probation after the Michigan crash fest, where 12 drivers took themselves out of action after various melees. So did it work? Not really as both Helio Castroneves and Dario “Double Half Gainer” Franchitti were both summoned to Barnhart’s trailer after the Spartan, KY event. With both drivers most likely to receive $25,000 fines for race incidents.

And speaking of the flying Scotsman. I had to go see what all the buzz was about another supermodel possibly joining the RASSCAR pit lanes. It seems that Franchitti who’s friends with Richard Childress is being linked to a possible fourth car entry at RCR in 2008?

Yet it seems to me that perhaps Dario may want to contact his ‘old sparrin’ partner PT and ask him how that “Bomber” tryout went? Y’all recall Tracy’s not so excellent attempt to transition over to Tin Tops with the aforementioned Childress.

Also there’s been reports that Scott “Nose” Speed is coming to America on a fact finding mission to investigate possible racing options in either Open Wheel Racing or Nexxtell Cup. With Speed stating that Red Bull owner “Deeter Majestic” thinks he’d make a good fit in the Cup carzs… Perhaps Speed will want to put AJ Almendinger on his speed dial? As the latter has now failed to qualify in his last 9 attempts. Did I mention that AJ is driving the Red Bull #8? Err #883 since that other number used to be Ironhead Jr’s…

SHEISA!!! I’m talkin’ RASSCAR… But it is sad to note that all of the American drivers hunker to hang their crash buckets there. Could it be something to do with the influx of dinero? By the way how’s reigning Indy Car champion Sam Hornish Jr doin’ with his Tin Top education?

And speaking of CRAP! What in the HELL is up with Champ Cars big foray to Europe. As the series returns across the pond for the first time in four years with two races in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Now I know that Champ Car is paying a hefty fee to be on the Dizney Shopping Networks… And it was funny to hear Katherine Legge saying she’s worried about her reputation being tattered in Europe. But who in the BLOODY HELL has ESPN Classic? Which is where you’ll find this weekend’s telecast. Talk about being in the Netherlands…

Monday, August 20, 2007

Live Webcast

While in Indianapolis Danny B introduced me to a little ‘ol radio show held weekly. This webcast is held live Tuesday evenings (7PM Eastern) and airs for 1 hour via the internets on Autosport Radio.

The program is hosted by don Kay live from McGilvery's Speedway, a local bar & restaurant nearby the Brickyard. The week that I visited the show was quite entertaining with DM being quite funny… Along with Roger Bailey, whom I believe was once the captain of Indy Lights.

You know the series that used to be the final stepping stone prior to graduating into CART. Interestingly I think I heard over the din of the crowd that Mr. Bailey is now involved in the Indy Pro Series.

Of course I was off by one week towards being in the audience for the show. As I would have definitely made plans to attend seeing two multi Indy 500 champions at once. As the two guests were none other than Big Al and Lone Star JR. Otherwise known as Al Unser Sr and Johnny Rutherford whom have a total of seven victories at the Brickyard combined! And I don’t know the history between Donald K. and the two guests. But Big Al was a total crack-up, causing me to go into hysteric laughing fits. As he made quips about Johnny being late because he’d needed to take a pee break while driving the pace car for five hours in the rain at Michigan…

And it’s pretty hilarious to drop in live pre-broadcast and be able to hear everybody getting’ their game faces on before Mr. Kay starts the show. So if you’re interested in a local Indianapolis perspective on the world of Open Wheel Racing then check out Autosport Radio this Tuesday…

Schuey to race again

While Michael Schumacher may not be gracing us with his presence in the pits during Grand Prix weekends any further. It appears his driving days aren’t completely finished.

As it’s just been announced that the seven times World Champion will take part in Felipe Massa’s charity go kart event this November. While it has been previously announced that Schuey will also participate in the ROC in Wembley this December. What’s next? Perhaps some Tin Top competition. And none of dat Speed Car stuff. Naw, wouldn’t it be fun to see Michael giving his ex-nemesis Mika Hakkinen the Chrome Horn in the DTM. But don’t hold your breath…

A1 GP announces upcoming calendar

While the major Open Wheel Racing series are in the second half or latter stages of this years championship. The A1 GP is gearing up for its third season with the announcement of its
2007-08 Calendar.

And although not as glitzy as Formula 1, I found the racing entertaining last year, albeit a bit too late at night. Err usually the wee hours of the morning on SPEED.

In case you’re not aware of the A1 GP, the series is billed as the World Cup of motorsports. With various nations competing in identically prepared single seaters, taking queues from different racing series to comprise this unique series. Now it only has two hurdles to overcome. Since it could be dubbed either the Arena Football or USFL of motor racing. Along with new competition during the winter months from Emperor Bernardo’s newly created Asian GP2 series. As well as the new Speed Car series…

New Dutch Schues

Well sorta; while all of the current speculation towards the little Dutch team focuses on the parent companies cash crisis… The much ballyhooed debut of the Spyker “B” spec is finally scheduled to occur at the Turkish Grand Prix.

And Technical boss Mike Gascoyne is relatively downbeat about the new chassis potential. Saying only we should be on par with Toro Rosso. Umm? That’s NOT saying a whole lot.

Then again the upgrade could be bad news for the Honda boyzs… Since Rubens was unable to pass Adrian Sutil during the Hunga-Boring race…

Friday, August 17, 2007

Phone Home ET

Isn’t it interesting how you can so firmly grasp a trivial fact in your mind only to find out 10 years later you were wrong! And I find it even more humourous that I spouted off this “Fact” while traipsing about Mount Rainier on the 30th Anniversary of “The King’s” alleged passing. You know, “Elvis has left the building!”

Several years ago my yearly tradition while going to Portland for the Champ Car race was to stop for breakfast with friends at a little roadside Diner… That had a pristine Model a flatbed truck parked inside the Diner’s entrance. With the Diner’s claim to fame being that Elvis had once stopped there and ate breakfast. Or as my “Fwiend” Bob liked to tell us. It was the place that Elvis once peed at. But once again I digress…

They say the… Well, Uh? What was I gonna say? Oh yeah, Err, the memory is the first thing to go… Perhaps I’m finally getting old-ER? But I do know the ONLY reason I know the trivial fact about the UFO sighting is because I heard about it when getting ready to go to the racetrack one morning in 1997.

As I do still recall Randall having turned on the TV early race morning for a weather update and the local cable news outlet ran a very quick story about it being the 50th Anniversary of the “First” reported UFO sighting happening that June 24th at Mount Rainier preceeding Roswell, NM... Now why I thought this was 1946 is a mystery to me… Nevertheless it’s kinda funny that Elvis died 30 years after Roswell, eh?

Gorilla Driving

In lieu of the firestorm surrounding McLaren’s “Beastie Boyzs.” I found the following two stories hugely entertaining.

Did you hear about Kimi Raikkonen hamming it up in a Gorilla suit? Apparently the Finn and two friends took part in a local power boat race in Hanko wearing Gorilla suits, winning a prize for best costume. Yet when asked at Hungary. The “Kimster” replied in his typical Icelandic fashion. Yeah, but do you know it was me?

And I was unaware of his earlier exploit this season. Having entered and won a local snowmobile race under the name James Hunt.” As it had never struck me that the Iceman was perhaps trying to emulate the hard partying Englishman.

Meanwhile imagine being a local Driver Education instructor in Brazil and one of your pupils is a former three time Formula 1 World Champion…

This scenario played out recently upon a Brazilian judge sending Nelson Piquet back to driving school for an overly large number of outstanding tickets.

Apparently Piquet had 29 points on his license from speeding and parking incidents, which caused automatic suspension of his license. His wife also was sentenced to Driver’s Education apparently for Bad Driving…

Alonso to leave McLaren?

Apparently Formula 1 has been watching the Robby Gourdoun Show… With its own soap box programming. Currently known as the Ferdi ‘N Louise show. And there have been countless stories lately upon the stormy relationship between the two McLaren hired guns. From Lewis Hamilton claiming Fernando Alonso isn’t speaking to him. To Hamilton categorily denying he told the Ronster to “F’ OFF!” on the radio during the “Hunga-Boring” weekend.

So how can one resist being sucked into the melodrama? As the latest press releases seeking Damage Control are attempting to throw cold water on the whole melee. As Ferdi now says he’s NOT leaving McLaren and Louise says “He’s NOT at war with Alonso.”

With the recent departure of Sebastian Vettel to Toro Rosso. This seemed to imply to me that BMW Sauber is happy with its current driver line-up and will keep “Quick Nick” Heidfeld next year. As he’s currently racing for a new contract.

This seems to leave only two “Top” team options available to Fernando. Either a return to Renault under Flavour Flav’s tutelage. Or dare I say it? As Ralfanzo’s replacement at Toyota…

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Out ‘N Aboot

So I thought I’d take a few days off from the office… Since I hardly ever take any holidays. Thinking it would be a nice breather to get away from the world of motorsports and get a little fresh air.

Making a beeline south, I went down to Tacoma to visit Auntie Harriet and get away from ze Confuzer and Telescreen Monday morning. No cell phones, two way pagers, PBA’s or any other portable electronics with an on/off switch and my tray table and seat back returned to their locked ‘N upright position, with all of my personal belongings stowed away…

Thinking there’d be NO automotive related activities for the few days of sun ‘N humour… but little did I know that the price ‘O admission was to help in the potential loading of an extremely sick chebbie Camaroe, circa 1985.

And what a three ring circus that production turned into. As first we had to wait for the surrogate driver who’d been vainly scouring Seattle and the neighboring communities for a car dolly.

As we all congregated at the Clyde wrecking yard… It was quite entertaining as you know that ‘ol saying ‘bout “Too many cooks in the kitchen.” With Harriet and her 90 year old brother Tom trying to give us pointers… A total of six adults, two six year old children and four dogs, it was Comedy Central as everybody gave their two cents worth on how to load the portly Camaroe.

No shouldn’t we load it on flat ground? Why do we need a slope to load the 3,500lb vehicle? How do we get it onto the car dolly? Shouldn’t these ramps move, come down or do something? Why does the car dolly need to be firmly latched to the truck?

Since I’m the automotive “expert.” I was summoned over to the Camaroe where the hood was open and Catherine wanted to know where she could spray starter fluid. As the chebbie actually appeared to have “real” fuel injection with no removable air cleaner. But surprisingly the clunker Camaroe fired up on the first crank ‘O key. Albeit sounding horrifically awful as there was a horrible knocking noise as well as billowing clouds of black exhaust smoke.

You see the Camaroe is a project car as at the very least it has a rod knock if not more engine damage… As Catherine had bought it for her son William’s first car. I mean doesn’t everybody start out with an American V-8 muscle car?

After trying to drive the Camaro onto the dolly without it being latched onto the truck hitch, It was quickly discovered why that wouldn’t work as there was now a 3,500lb smoking muscle car having teeter-tottered the dolly’s hitch skywards.

Reversing off of the dolly, Catherine forced the protesting Camaroe up the grassy knoll. To the top of the yard in order to gain some slopage for the forlorn chebbie… In our second attempt at loading the wildebeest.

Meanwhile, Uncle Tom was fuming, since he couldn’t figure out where in the HELL his beef cubes for his dinner stew had disappeared to? Having left the door open while coming out to survey all of the commotion. Mary Ellen’s “Hoond” Luna had gone inside and helped herself to all of the thawing beef!

Next it was discovered that the two ramps were missing their extensions as Catherine was trying to figure out how to not rip the beast’s air dam off upon trying to drive onto the dolly. Using some scrap lumber as starting ramps, Catherine got the loudly knocking chebbie half way onto the dolly when it was finally discovered that the car dolly wasn’t the right type… Not being wide enough to transport a low rider V-8 muscle car.

And if The Camaroe’s a knockin’ Then turn the damn billowing clouds’ ‘O black exhaust smoke off!!!

So with sunset setting, we abandoned any further attempts to hoist the badly smokin’ chebbie and return to the scene of the crime at a further date. As our original plans to go to the Island had been scuttled by the Camaroe loadin’ adventure…

Tuesday morning we made our way leisurely over to Vashon Island to stay at Catherine’s beach cabin. Which was thoroughly enjoyable. As we spent most of a perfect afternoon in solitude on our very own sandy beach, with only sun, surf ‘N waves to relax in. As “The Mountain” was out directly across from us with the sounds of Alex & Elizabeth playing on the beach in the background.

Then after catching the ferry back to Fauntleroy to meet Catherin and exchange “Chittlin’s” Wednesday morning. We were off to see little Tahoma… Better known as Mount Rainier. As Mary Ellen had picked the absolutely perfect day for a two hour drive to the majestic mountain. Having become a yearly tradition, I pushed Harriet up the steep paved walking trail, as she partook in her yearly Mr. Toad’s WILD ride. But this is always worth the price of admission to me, as it was another glorious day visiting Mount Rainier in all of her splendor…

Monday, August 13, 2007

Toro Rosso inks Burdais

The news of Scuderia Toro Rosso’s impending announcement of three time Champ Car Champion Sebastian Bourdais has been one of the worst kept secrets in motor racing this year.

So it was NO Surprise when Toro Rosso finally announced the Hamburgular’s signing to partner Sebastian Vettel at STR for 2008 last week. Now all Sea Bass has to do is steal his fourth consecutive Vanderbuilt Cup before jetting off to Europe.

I wonder if “Bad Bobby D,” Neal Jani” or any of the plethora of Formula 1 talent in Champ Car will have any words of encouragement for him? Nah…

And I wonder if Scott Speed will be giving him a going outta business deal on his Condo in Austria…

Da Matta still recovering

While I’m completely behind on the previous Champ Car races. Once again its hard to believe it was one year ago when Cristiano Da Matta had his horrifying collision with a wayward deer at Road America.

And although mostly recovered, Da Matta is becoming restless in his pursuit of returning to the cockpit. As Cristiano admits he’s not a very good watcher… After attending the San Jose Champ Car race.

Good Luck Cristiano!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Road Course Fever

Whoa Nellie, talk about givin’ your TV remote a work out. As this weekend saw a plethora of racing action. Specifically from two of my favourite North American road circuits. As in real bonified permanent road courses with storied histories. Being the two venerable tracks Watkins Glen and Road America.

And yeah, I know that The Glen was host to the Roundy Round boyzs this weekend, but how could I resist a sneak peak at a bunch ‘O road racin’ ringers… Having first watched the entire Grand Am Daytona Prototype race Friday night. Then I followed this up by checking’ out portions of the Busch Series race at The Glen, before watchin’ the entire Indy Car yawner at Sparta, KC on Saturday. (Hey, where’s Milka?)

And is it just me… But I found it a bit entertaining that the Champ Car race was live on ABC, err ESPN on ABC. While the Nexxtell Cup boyzs were on ESPN. But how many people do you think were actually watching ABC today?

I found myself having to watch SPEED’s most excellent show Victory by Design over the RASSCAR pre-amble prior to Champ Car taking the green flag.

Apparently this was a new episode of Victory by Design, since it was titled, Grand Prix Greats. So I’m kinda bummed I missed the first 45+ minutes of it. (Re-Air Sat, Aug 18: 1PM Pacific)

And although I watched the entire Champ Car race… What a snoozer it was! But hey, the Rumble at the Glen was Red Flagged for some slippery liquids on track. So it went past the Champ Car time slot. Ok, time to put down the remote…

Flipped Out

Interestingly the intra-squad tussle at Andretti Green Racing is now tied for the driver who’s flipped the most cars this season at 2-2. With Dario Franchitti’s dancin’ partner being the owner’s son Marco Andretti.

And just where do winning Indy 500 chassis go? As two of the last three year’s winners have now been flipped. (And wrecked!) With Marco flipping Dan Wheldon’s 2005 winner this May at the Speedway. While Dario flipped his 2007 winning entry at Michigan. Damaging 70% of the car, with only the tub, engine and gearbox surviving the impact.

And the “Kentucky Kid” that Dario flipped on the cool down lap? None other than Michael Andretti’s 2007 Indy 500 chassis that was also driven at Texas by Marco.

Speculation over the 2004 & 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner’s flipping their race winning mounts has been proven wrong. As Buddy Rice’s flip at Chicagoland was in a back-up chassis. While Sam Hornish Jr’s flip at Indy occurred two years prior to his first Borg Warner trophy. With the wrecked race car being unrepairable due to underside damage to the tub.

While AGR claims that the cars are too expensive to pull from competition and leave sitting on a show room floor. Roger Penske insists that nearly every winning Indy chassis be completely restored and pulled from active duty. As Penske team personnel claim fortunately Penske’s willing to buy new equipment…

And AGR leads the IRL in flips with six total. For this season along with two in 2003. One each by Wheldon and Mario andretti. Meanwhile AGR will repair both, err all three chassis and return them to service. With Franchitti’s latest two flyer’s being ready to race next year…

The Flying Franchitti

Talk about having double vision… As I’m sure that Dario “REO Speedwagon” Franchitti certainly isn’t singin’ the ‘ol Juicyfruit ad; “Double your pleasure, Double your FUN!”

Although I didn’t watch the Michigan race. Well HELL! I suppose nobody did after Danny B had me in hysterics over the Herculean troubles he went thru trying to find the flippin broadcast. You see there was a FIVE hour rain delay…

Is it on ESPN? NO it’ll be back on in an hour on ESPN2… Err; it’s still raining so we’ll put it on ESPN Classic… WHAT? Who in the HELL has ESPN Classic??? Isn’t that for vintage archival footage? Hey I know, I’ll watch it on the internets… No they’ve got really SHITY resolution… So I’ll just listen to the friggin’ race via Indycar. com… Do you feel the PAIN yet? (“I Am Indy?)

Anyhow, I found the following video clip of this frightening accident. Check it out if you want to see Dario Franchitti Flips. (Flip No. 1!)

Although I had planned on NOT watching any further IRL Oval Track races this year… And I’m sure Danny B. was having a fairly miserable day sweltering in the Kentucky heat, having signed up to work the Sparta, KY event.

Yet after riding around Indy at 170+ mph, I’ve gained a whole new respect for this type of racing. And I promised myself I wouldn’t make fun anymore of these amazing Indy Car drivers…

BUT!!! How can I refrain after another made for TV “Drama-fest” courtesy of “Princess” (Danica Patrick) as I found myself hitting the mute button once again during her interview during the race. But I digress…

As I found the opening segments interview with Dario to be hilarious, upon being asked to show off his bruised nose from his Michigan high wire act. While showing off his “Schnoz.” Franchitti quipped” I got the bruise because I have a large nose, but NO-Where as big as TK’s! (Teammate Tony Kanaan)

And the race seemed fairly mundane thru the firs 3/4ths
With the exception of Sam Hornish Jr. loosing control upon hitting Franchitti’s dirty air. And to think Danny had told me to try sticking my hand up while racing ‘round Indy…

Then all hell broke loose as first Franchitti drifted high, dropping back to 8th. Then trying to make up for his mistake, he hit the traffic cone denoting the pit lane speed blend line while trying to overtake teammate Danica. This resulted in Dario needing to have a new nose fitted. (To his car…) But while all of this was happening, Danica looped it exiting the pits on old rubber. Having taken fuel only during her pit stop… Then having severely flat spotted her tires, KABOOM! The right rear let go, causing Danica to go spinning into the wall after nearly hitting the safety vehicle…

But wait, it gets better? With the race completed Kosuke Matsuuralike all drivers ahead of him lifted off the throttle. But Dario didn’t realize it was the chequered flag and rammed into the hapless Matsuura. And wallah, Franchitti went flipping down the race track. Landing upside down for the second weekend in a row…

As the onboard camera shows, Dario shifted up a gear as if getting ready to pass Kosuke before hitting his rear wheel and launching himself skywards! With the camera showing blue sky before turning into static…

Talk ‘bout tryin’ to rack up your frequent flyer miles, eh? And to think that Franchitti had flown Kanaan into the racetrack aboard his helicopter…

Yet with four races left, Dario now holds a slim 8 point lead over Scott Dixon.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Y’all know what they say ‘bout Co-eansy-dences… As I sat down to take a break last night. I watched my first entire Grand Am race of the season, which was being contested at Watkins Glen. And the action was fairly entertaining… Although the Grand Am and the ALMS seem to suffer a similar fait as do Champ Car and the IRL.

Immediately afterwards, there was the Nurburgring staring’ back at me via the telescreen. As SPEED was showing an entertaining half hour snippet of the World’s LONGEST race track.

The Nordschleife took four years to build, between the years of 1923 to 1927. And although I’ve written it has over 175 corners, these numbers vary depending upon how their counted. As the announcer claimed there’s only 72 corners.

And I’d seen the latter half of the show previously, but missed the beginning. Interestingly while there’s been a big fuss made over Audi’s winning of Le Mans with a diesel. As well as Peugeot’s diesel powered contender this year. A BMW 320D won the Nurburgring 24 Hours race in 1998. Becoming the very first diesel powered vehicle to win a 24hr event…

And while the “Wee Scot” was never a fan of the track. Due to his relentless safety demands. Jackie Stewart won a Formula 1 race in the rain, beating the second place car by over 4 minutes! But the track was withdrawn from the F1 calendar after Niki Lauda’s fiery crash in 1976.

Also I was unaware that it was Stewart who nicknamed it the Green Hell. And prices have gone up slightly, as it will now cost you 16 Euros per lap to reconnoiter this truly epic circuit…

Nurburgring, 2002 (Part 4)

Welt von Schuey
On Saturday, (July 6th) while nearing Kerpan. Vladi points out the Michael Schumacher Karting Centre and we turn off the Autobahn. Next turning onto Schumacher Strassa, where we stop for the first of many “photo-op’s.” (M.E. takes my picture underneath the street sign)

The Karting centre is a colossal complex and interestingly is located directly across from the Visteon Technical Center. Visteon was originally a Ford Parts supplier before being “spun-off.”

There’s an indoor & outdoor Karting track and we go inside herr Schumacher’s Karting plaza and go to the Loo… (Hey how many times do you get to PEE at Herr Schumacher’s, eh?)

The next guided tour doesn’t start until 4PM so we must “kill” 1hr. We quickly go thru the gift store which surprisingly is selling Juan Pablo Montoya merchandise. Vladi says “Let’s go get a bite to eat, Ja?”

Amazingly above the stairway, a Benetton B195 Formula 1 is mounted horizontally to the wall! We walk upstairs to the M.S. Sports Bar. Sitting on bar stools inside the small barroom, I notice that there are pictures plastered everywhere – as the walls are completely jam packed with memorabilia while the bar’s TV’s and big screens play footage of that year’s Silverstone qualifying session. While Vladi & I have”Snasage’s” un Bitburger…

Afterwards we go next door to the tour centre and wait until 4:15PM to take our tour. I find it HILLARIOUS as Mary Ellen points out the vacuum cleaner leaning against the wall directly next to the entrance door. (Having M.E. snap a picture of it)

The walls and door frame are painted in Ferrari “Fly Yellow” with a Ferrari F2000 chassis greeting us. Clearly visible thru the doors glass panel; as our tour guide is the president of Chicquita Deutchland and has known the Schumacher family for 22 years.

We begin the tour by watching a short film highlighting the brotherz Schuey’s development: From Michael purchasing his first car at age 8 (Fiat 500) to the brother’s progression into Formula 1.

Next we walk to the first room which features a go kart. (Michael’s) Next sits a red Fiat 500 which Michael learned how to drive & shift at age 8! I suspect it’s the very car that Fiat gave Michael for his past birthday in recognition of his winning for Ferrari.

In the third stall” of the first room sits Michael’s Formula Ford which was sponsored by the local Ford dealer where Michael worked as a mechanic for three years... Alongside this sits the Formula 3 chassis of younger brother Ralf.

And with Willi webber becoming Michael’s manager in 1988. The rest as they say, is History, Ja!

The next room houses several Formula 1 cars including: A 1995 Benetton B195; A 1996 Ferrari “High-nose” chassis and another Ferrari. With a 1999 Ferrari sitting alone in a pit stop diorama. The car sits lifted on front & rear jack stands with 2 tires removed and the pit board congratulating Michael on his 150th start. While there’s light music playing in the background. The subtle sounds of an F1 car passing by are clearly audible.

Before reaching the ’99 Ferrari we pass thru two rooms filled with lighted display cases full of pictures before walking on top of a lighted glass floor filled with Michael’s driving boots. There’s also a variety of driving gloves and Ferrari bits on the wall.

Besides the ’99 Ferrari sits Ralf’s Jordon-Mugen/Honda F1 chassis with the Bee cariture on the nose. Then there’s a blank space against the back wall. This is where the F2002 chassis will go! With which Michael tied Juan Manuel Fangio’s total of five World Championships. And there’s also another 2 Ferrari’s on the way we’re told…

As our tour concludes, we’re asked if we have any questions. So I ask why there’s NO Jordan 191? The tour guide replies that Michael does NOT consider this part of his career... Since he only drove it 500 meters…

SHEISA!!! Although I think its total BULLSHIT… I find this to be a very humourous remark since it’s what got Michael noticed in the first place before being “poached” by Benetton.

I suspect it’s because Michael is unwilling to pay an exorbitant (ANY) amount of money to the private collectors holding his very first F1 chassis hostage. Which has since been reproduced in 1/18 & 1/43 Diecasts by Minichamps.

Reluctantly leaving Der ‘Vurld ‘O Schuey. I take solace in the fact that I’m most likely the very first visitor from Seattle, WA as the Museum has only just opened to the public on July 1st. This concludes our days outing as we drive home to Colone. What a MOST EXCELLENT DAY!!!

Thursday, August 9, 2007


DAG-NABIT!!! They’re back again…

I just “LUV” the smell of burnt ions in the morning…

Funny how I was just tellin’ Jefford how technology is really kOOL sometimes… As I’d managed to listen to the live broadcast of a “liddle ‘’ol” radio show live from Indiana via the internets Tuesday night.

Yet upon making my way to the office bright ‘N early this morning… And turnin’ on Ze Confuser. Walah! NO FRILLING Internets… So I’m just patiently(?) waiting for it to come back ‘round…

Apparently Mr. Confuzer was having technical difficulties communicating with the networks this morning. Actually it’s my FRILLIN’ Verizon acting up again! And the beauty of this recurring PROBLEM is that it’s totally SPORATIC…

Back shortly? Whenever the Free-DUM plan desires to re-connect me… As the only KNOWN cure is to simply wait a day, since ALL of the connections are connected. Wonder if any of the Formula 1 teams utilizing CFD are Verizon customers? HURRAH! I’m back… After waiting ONLY 6hrs. And why do I have this snappy Connector-Connector song in my head, eh?

Open the Pod Bay doors HAL! DAMNIT HAL!!!

Nurburgring, 2002 (Part 3)

Monday morning
Lazily lying in our sleeping bags inside the tent, Mary Ellen told me I’d better get my heiny over for coffee as she heard them making a racket while packing at 7AM. That was very funny as they didn’t want to have one damn thing to do with me in the morning… Oh Whale, NO harm, NO foul, eh? (Something to do with the previous night’s consumption of alcohol?)

It was amazing how the place turned into a ghost town, littered with garbage everywhere. Wood used to construct awnings covered with plastic, plastic chairs, etc. Mary Ellen commandeered two for us to use while awaiting Vladi’s arrival. And there were hundreds of beer bottles everywhere. As I’ve never seen such a trashed out race track area!

Walking through the now deserted town the only activity was one lone forklift re-stocking the beer distributor… We continued to a field below a private estate towards the castle. Where we ate lunch which consisted of leftovers from our “friends,” Afterwards we flayed in the field for awhile soaking in the sunshine.

Vladi arrived at our campsite promptly, 5PM sharp. On the way home Vladi pointed out the Seven Dragons, a series of mountaintops that we traveled over. Returning to Colone, we were indulged with a wonderful dinner. As Uli cooked us an excellent snitzel accompanied with Bitburger’s and Vino…

And NO trip to Germany would be complete without sampling one of the most historic racing tracks in the world. None other than the “Green Hella...” But I digress.

Having transferred to the wonderful little twin towns of Traben-Tarbac. Mary Ellen & I were now guests of Artur & Sabina. Staying at “Sabina’s Villa” in TT.

Since arriving I’ve been driving Weingut Artur crazy asking “Where it is?” During lunchtime Artur locates where Magny Cours is on a map for me. Which he claims is near Paris. (5hrs from TT)

Later in the day Dirk “The Drummer” (the 3rd Dirk) drops by Sabina’s villa and tells us great stories about the “Green Hella!” This is what the F1 Pilotes called the original Nurburgring; better known as the “Nordschliefe,” the world famous 14.7 mile road circuit where Niki Lauda had his big accident… Hopefully we’ll meet Vladi there on Saturday…

What better way to spend your Fourth ‘O July than on the Mosel River… As after a brief visit to Mary Ellen’s wine making friends in Tarbuc, we’ve started off the day by sampling a bit of the morning’s production.

On the way back to Sabina’s Villa Mary Ellen notices a Formula 1 race car poster in a little shop window in Trauben. We go inside the Allianz office where the man behind the desk asks us; “What is der Problem? Mary Ellen replies we’re American tourists… “Ja, “What iz der Problem?” Then Mary Ellen says. We’re Formel 1 fans and how we’ve just been to the Grand Prix. Do you have any post cards of Ralf & Juan Pablo? Mary Ellen tells him how she’d noticed the poster in the window. The very nice (shrewd) man simply replies Ja, Ja, Ja! Some posters?

So I end up walking out of the office with 2 awesome Williams BMW posters and 3 driver (Hero) cards; Sheisa, we made out like bandits! (Again...) Of course M.E. gets to keep the JPM card while I’m stuck with Ralfanso…

Tomorrow Artur will drive us back to the Nurburgring where Vladi will meet us halfway. If we’re lucky, Vladi will possibly chauffeur us in the “Vladi Rein Taxi” for a lap around the Green Hella. Then Vladi will drive us to Kerpan to the “Wurld ‘O Schuey,” which has just opened to the public. Before returning to Colone.

After a wonderful week in TT. Artur & his family drove us to the Nurburgring to meet Vladi. After our farewells, vladi drove us to the Green Hella Holy Shit! Vladi’s going to drive us around in his daily driver…

After purchasing our ticket to drive the Nordschleife we wait 1hr for our turn as the “Scooter’s” (Motorcycles) currently have the track to them. Which is a very smart idea!

While we sit waiting a Right Hand drive dark grey Porsche 911 pulls up alongside us. (English plates) There’s several Porsche 911’s in attendance as we wait our turn.

“Now we Go!”

Vladi says as everybody around us suddenly jumps into their cars and engines fire up! After letting the Porsches go Vladi drives us onto the track where we pass approx. 500 motorcycles sitting parked while awaiting their next hot laps.

Vladi drives us briskly but cautiously around “the Ring,” saying how he cannot afford to crash. Vladi explains how he needs to keep one eye constantly monitoring the rear view mirror in search of faster traffic. As the constant elevation changes are stupendous as Vladi rolls over the “Yump’s.” We’re just constantly turning, dropping, climbing, diving around the never ending 175+ turns of the ‘ol Nordschleife… It’s FUCKING AWESOME!!!

Vladi tells us the story of how they used to come to the circuit and try to trick the drivers into crashing while watching the waving spectators. Continuing with his favourite story of when he got in “The Wee scot’s” way at the track. (Jackie Stewart) While we pass an emergency vehicle (Opel station wagon) attending to a stricken “Scooter” pilote…

The ride ends all too shortly as we safely complete our single hot lap of the 14.7 mile Nordschleife. (Apparently the circuit has been brutal towards Vladi’s suspension as it now makes a vibrating, squealing noise when making L/H turns) We depart the Nurburgring and head for Kerpan and the Wurld ‘O Schuey…

To continue reading, see; Nurburgring ’02 (Part 4)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Nurburgring, 2002 (Part 2)

Saturday morning

We had a very special alarm clock! While lying in our tent at 8AM, I listened to the glorious whailing siren song of 22 F1 race cars participating in the morning’s first practice session - right across the street!

We arrived at our grandstand seats “just-in-time” for the second F1 practice which rand to 10:15AM? Then there was a long 2hr break before qualifying began. We walked around the portion of the track we had access to. Where Mary Ellen laid down in the grass alongside a worn down walking path; our favourite corner #63... (Original Nurburgring circuit)

Back to our seats for qualifying; as Michael Schumacher started out 9th in his primary car before switching to the spare… After qualifying we walked to the Castle on the hill overlooking the town. There we talked to some “cheeky Brits.” They highly recommended that we go to Silverstone. Mary Ellen asked what their favourite track was and surprisingly they replied Magny Cours.

When Mary Ellen told them I was a die-hard Schuey fan they gave me lots of flak. (BOO!!!) "We were right at the corner where he broke his leg. We hoped that he had DIED!!!"

I recall walking through the tiny castle, inside the dark stone building we climbed the stairs that led out onto the roof. From there we had a terrific vantage point of the entire town and off in the distance you could even see the race track. The little blobs I could barely make out? Were the Porsche Super Cup cars, yet I could definitely hear them.

On our way back through town we encountered Bob, who’s an ex-patriot. He was originally from California and his father had come to Germany to restore Can Am cars. He grew up around them and now works as a fabricator, working on cars like Lotus & McLaren. After Mary Ellen told him how I wanted to go to Road America, Bob mentioned that he’d gone there for his first vintage race and it was the grand daddy of all! The 30th Anniversary of Can Am...

Bob told us an interesting story about the ex-Mark Donohue Sunoco Porsche 917/30 I’d seen at Monterey. When the current owner bought it, it had NO engine, transmission or uprights. It cost $6 million to restore.

Later that evening we had an interesting experience. Dirk, a young German came and politely “knocked” on our tent flap. Dirk wanted to know if we were ok. Are you sick? NO, why? Well you just come and go straight inside your tent and never come back out. Do you want to join me and my friends for a beer?

So we scrambled out of the tent and followed Dirk over to a little Old fashioned (1960’s era rounded) trailer where he introduced us to two older Germans who didn’t speak any English. They handed me a large can of beer and we had a good time drinking and trying to converse about Herr Schumacher. When Mary Ellen asked what will happen after Schumacher retires they both loudly retorted “Immer Ferrari!” (Ferrari Forever!) Lots of laughter when I told them I was a “Vie-shie,” since I had NO intention of trying to keep pace drinking with them.

After a good 45+ minutes we went back to our tent and there was a further knock on the tent. Do you like sausages? And before we knew it the man came back with a plate of steaming sausages, warm bread with cheese in the crust and another 2 cans of beer!

With evening having fallen, becoming dark outside, tired and feeling relaxed after the Bitburger’s; I fell asleep while Mary Ellen went out on her own; as she told me there were several drunks everywhere and that the Dutch seemed to be the rowdiest.

She told me they were wearing T-Shirts that said: “FUCK TOM!” What’s that all about? I just lay there laughing out loud… I explained how Tom Walkinshaw had just (let-go) fired Jos “THE BOSS” Verstappen from Arrows... Replacing him with “Heinz 57.” (Heinz Harald Frentzen) As apparently the Dutch are very loyal about their race drivers! As I still chuckle about this even now. It makes me very happy to see such devotion publicly displayed and as it turned out Walkinshaw was a total “Wanker!”

Sunday morning

Once again we were “rudely” awoken by the sounds of 22 F1 cars screaming around the track during their morning warm-up session… As we arrived at our grandstand in time for the race warm-up of the Porsche super cup cars. (Dirk says these cars make a nice noise!)

I found it very kOOL that just before the F1 Drivers parade lap they played the “intro” theme to James Bond. (007) all the drivers were loaded on a single flatbed trailer, standing and waving to the crowd. As Mary Ellen had wanted to see her man 'Monty. (Juan Pablo Montoya) and I enjoyed the rolling display of the 22 Gods! Finding it entertaining as the race interviewer was bouncing around on the flatbed trying to talk to various drivers while utilizing a cordless microphone.

After the F1 Drivers parade we went back to the tent for breakfast. Then we made our way through the massive throngs of bodies “just-in-time” for the race. (Arriving 20 minutes prior to the start) I can still recall trying to navigate thru the massive crowds of people. We “cheated” and walked up the fenced off section of roadway for emergency vehicles…

Our seats were really KOOL since we were at the bottom of the horseshoe leading onto the front straight. This allowed us to see the tail end of the grid. There were at least 2 rows of back markers gently sweeping around the curve as the field waited for the lights to turn green.

There’s an intense amount of air horns blowing every time Michael Schumacher passes by and the grandstands are literally a see of red… Although the man sitting next to me is sporting a blue Nick Heidfeld Sauber cap.

The low slung missiles simply scream by lap after lap and I can’t really tell what’s going on except for when the air horns blow. The race results would mirror the impending results of the World Cup finals. M. Schumacher who was on probation for some minor? Offense finished second behind teammate Rubens Barrichello. (Brazil would defeat Germany in the finals)

After the race we listened over the PA system to the podium interviews, before Mary Ellen asked if I wanted to walk on the track. Seeing that the track had been opened for spectators, I’m glad she persisted as it was a very enjoyable experience.

The track was flooded by spectators as we worked our way past the crowd standing around the victory rostrum.

Walking past the pit lane garages which were totally separated by the pit lane and completely cordoned off... You could still see into some of the team’s garages and we briefly listened to the sound of an engine being run-in before packing into the transporter.

We walked and walked approx. 1/3rd of the race track before turning around and climbing up through grandstands. Where we stood in line and ended up getting the very last two beers from the concession stand. It was totally SHEISA beer, but it tasted damn good nevertheless as we sat on the concrete bleachers in the sun resting our feet…

That evening Dirk’s “neighbors” came over to our tent unannounced and left us another plate of steaming sausages, warm cheese bread and another 2 cans of beer. So after eating our delicious food we went out to “kibitz” with them. Before saying good night the men asked me several times: Do you like coffee? Ja, Ja, Ja. Ok, he told me; you come over for coffee at 8AM tomorrow morning. Unbelievable! Only in Germany…

To continue reading, see; Nurburgring ’02 (Part 3)

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Nurburgring, 2002

After discussing this year’s dramatic results of the German Formula 1 event... Mary Ellen suggested that I write about our memorable experience of staying at the Nurburgring. And having just watched SPEED TV’s Formula 1 Debrief of the European GP, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to chronicle this most enjoyable trip to Der Fatherland…

2007 European GP Race Report

European GP: Nurburgring – June 21-23, 2002
Trying to get some sleep after arriving in Colone the previous day. While staying at our wonderful guests Vladi & Uli’s, we’re awoken by the piercing sounds of several “frilling” birds at 4:30AM. SHEISA!!! (SHIT!) Around 6:15AM we’re startled awake by a violent thunderclap ensued by hard rain, thunder ‘N lightning! The perfect way to begin your vacation… We go back to sleep again, finally getting up around 1PM. Talk about trying to cure your “Jet-Ragg,”eh?

It’s funny how Mary Ellen complained about this since I was the one who should be dragging my ARSE! You see, I was still fanatical about CART and decided to do an Open Wheel double. Two days prior to leaving for Germany I’d gone to Portland for a three day weekend at PIR. (Portland International Raceway) Having been determined not to miss the annual G.I. Joe’s 200 CART race...

Thursday evening
Vladi drove us to the Nurburgring. Upon pulling into the parking lot, Vladi jumps out and arranges for us to camp there. He tells us it’s OK to set up our tent here, informing me the cost is 30 Euros for the weekend. (Pretty Damn Cheap for four nights, eh?) Vladi tells us he’ll pick us up here Monday night after work. As there’s NO way in HELL he’ll try after the race. (Especially since there’s just one 2-lane road to the venue!).

Setting up our tent, we’re situated in a little tent compound, part of an offshoot of the main camping area. Being one of the few tents alongside the lone two lane road past the track; afterwards we briefly explore the surroundings, walking up to a closed entrance gate to the racetrack. Then walking through the tiny town of Nurburgring, purchasing a Braut ‘N Bitburger for a late lunch... Next perusing the countless souvenir shops before returning to our tent; having a light dinner at 10PM... We’re serenaded by the massive crowds around us lighting off fireworks, blasting air horns while having a good time partying. There’s lots of loud music and we even have our own “wanna-be” DJ. He’s “crooning” along with the songs and making comments while mixing his music. For some reason the Rolling Stones “Little Red Rooster” is a crowd favourite. Finally drifting to sleep around 3:15AM…

Friday morning
after awakening around 7AM, We finally get up at 8:30AM for breakfast. Departing for the track at 10AM... We’re missing the start of the Porsche Super Cup practice.

As I still cannot believe that I’m at the Nurburgring. As almost six months prior my good friend Yutaka had come to my Apartment to help me order the race tickets via the internets, since I’d never ordered anything on line before. We made careful study of the entire track layout. This included printing out the track map as well as watching the prior year’s event. Then Yutaka made my purchase for two seats at the Coca Cola chicane, just prior to the pit lane entrance.

Arriving at the souvenir villa Mary Ellen purchases a large Columbian flag for her “man,” Juan Pablo Montoya. (Remember him? He used to drive in Formula 1 before defecting to “RASSCAR!”) Draping the flag over her shoulders like a shawl, we go to our grandstand seats - as I can still vividly recall the looks of disbelief tossed our way as we made our way up the grandstand stairs. With a smirk on my face I watch a man’s (Dressed in Ferrari red pants, light jacket and Ferrari cap) head snap, doing a “double take” as Mary Ellen passes by. He looks at me completely dumbfounded!

We watched the morning Formel 1 practice session (11AM-12PM) from our seats. It sprinkled during the first practice. (Thank God we didn’t have to sit thru this years deluge!) They are so FUCKING FAST!!! It was really entertaining to watch the drivers making their practice pit entrances. They “simply” slow down for the final corner and “peel off” for the pit lane. Then they stand on the “loud pedal” once again, accelerating hard back up two gears. In just fractions of seconds they nail the carbon fibre brakes just before crossing the white pit lane speed limit line…

(Silly me, I thought I’d have NO Problema reading my chicken scratchings… Of course it ALL depends on how much information is written in chronological order; Ja Volt! So I just had to break out my 2002 Grand Prix program and read some German to figure out why my notes are so contorted 5-years later…)

During the second Formel 1 practice session (1-2PM) we hear some of the Germany vs. USA world cup soccer game over the loudspeakers. (Germany defeats us 1-0) Upon leaving the track we order another Bitburger, which tastes great. (No, it’s NOT less filling, either… Since its REAL Beer!)

Returning to our little tent “camp,” just past the Schumacher Fan Club compound which seems to house about 3,000+ Germans! Since we’re literally right across from the track we’re serenaded by the screaming sounds of the International F3000 cars while having a quick lunch. There’s what sounds like more of the football game, which I can hear intermittently over the track’s PA system. The Germans are singing quite loudly, so I assume that they must have scored? As another barrage of fireworks are set off. Next our little tent is buffeted by the cascading sounds of the Porsche Super Cup cars taking to the track. Which soon becomes the perfect lullaby for an afternoon siesta…

Practice Results:
1st) M. Schumacher; 2nd) KIMI; (Raikkonen) 3rd) Rubino; (Barrichello) 4th)
Trulli Scrumptious;” (Jarno Trulli) 5th) JPM; (Juan Pablo Montoya_ 6th) Ralfanso. (Ralf Schumacher)

After our wonderful siesta, (Damn its hard work going to a Formel 1 race, eh?) we decide to walk through the town of Nurburgring. As there are booths selling merchandise everywhere… Like Ferrari hats, i.e.; solid yellow, yellow & black, black & silver, etc. We walk past the BMW dealership which has Johnny Cecotto’s touring cars on display: ’95, ’96. There are three cars on display along with a bunch of his trophies. We continue walking past more merchandise booths. (Official Team merchandise, etc.)

In town a bus stopped nearby us. It was the “Strip-tease Party Tent.”(Bus) Mary Ellen tells me that it’s full of a bunch of disgusting, leering old German men… (The whole town according to M.E.)

Around 10PM while meandering through the various booths, we stopped to buy some chocolates at a candy booth. There Mary Ellen talked for a half-hour plus to a woman from Brazil. (They talked each other’s ears off!) She was very happy to speak English to somebody; she’d lived in New York for 4yrs prior to marrying a German policeman.

While we stood there a drunken German male race fan approached us to give us Sheisa… (Mary Ellen said the entire grounds were primarily male, i.e.; 5-1 ratio) He’d overheard our conversation and wanted to harass us about there being NO American F1 drivers in Formel 1. Then he tried winding me up by saying you only have “RASSCAR!” Ovals, round ‘N round, how boring… The Brazilian lady then told him in German to leave us alone, which was so KOOL!

Afterwards we went back to the tent and I fell asleep while Mary Ellen went exploring on her own... As she says it’s one of the places she’s felt totally safe in. Even while surrounded by 50,000 carousing drunken Germans…

To continue reading, see; Nurburgring ’02 (Part 2)