Sunday, December 30, 2007

The “Badest BAD Asses” (Con’t)

As I’ve said in Part 1, this is a NON-Scientific poll, which you’ll notice is weighted towards Formula 1 stalwarts making the top rungs of the list. Yet I included a smattering of real “He-Men,” you know those crazy Off Road Endurance specialists, along with a healthy dose of “Two Wheel phenom’s; a.k.a. “Scooter Pilots,” which seemed only fitting due to this being Evel’s penchant in life…

BAD ASSES (1-25)

25. Gordon Johncock
“Gordie” epitomizes the true Open Wheel professional to me, part of those 1970’s warriors, when Indy Cars still ruled the roost and the Indy 500 truly was the “Greatest Spectacle in Motor Racing.”

Johncock is most widely known for winning the Indianapolis 500 twice, along with competing in two of the closest finishes at the Speedway. Johncock also is the last driver to win Indy in an American made chassis, the Wildcat (1982) and it was really “KOOL” to see him reminiscing with the rest of his crew on the 25th Anniversary of that victory, with “Gordie” making a cameo on Robin Miller’s On The Bubble video clips this past May…

24. “Big Al” (Al Unser Sr)
Although not nearly as cantankerous as his older brother Bobby, “Big Al” actually scored the most family victories at the Speedway with a total of four.

Coming up the hard way like the rest of his peer’s, i.e.; Foyt, Andretti, Johncock, Rutherford, etc. Al wasn’t afraid to mix-it up on or off the race track. And he’s quite the funny man, as I thoroughly enjoyed hearing him trade insults with Rutherford on Autosport Radio earlier this year…

23. Rick Mears
Although one of the softest spoken personalities off the track, nevertheless Mears was the ultimate king of consistency on the hallowed grounds of Indianapolis. With his unique smooth style seemingly opposite to his early days as an off road buggy driver

Mears was known for never over abusing his equipment, joining two other legends who’ve won Indy a record four times. Rick is the consummate gentleman and has been loyal to the Captain since landing his ride. Ironically Mears broke Penske protégé Mark Donohue’s closed course speed record during Indianapolis 500 qualifying with a four lap average of 223.885 mph in 1989…

22. James Hunt
Although I don’t know much about the ex-World Champion, I believe he had a bit of a reputation as a Party Animal!” And if KIMI enters a snowmobile race under his name, there must be something behind the inspiration, eh?

21. “Black Jack”
Sir Jack Brabham was as tough a hombre as they come from Down Under. Brabham was the very first driver to win the World Championship in a car bearing his name and was always a threat on track, along with passing the racing bug onto his sons Geoff and David…

20. Mark Donohue
An Engineer by trade, Donohue while employed by Roger Penske coined the phrase; “The Unfair Advantage.” Which he helped Penske hone to a mirror image. And Donohue was a winner in everything. Trans Am, Can Am and Indy, (1972) giving “The Captain” his first victory at the Speedway.

Although most likely known as the pilot of the all conquering Sunoco blue “Killer” Porsche 917/30 Can Am car, Donohue also set a closed course speed record aboard a modified CAM2 Porsche 917/30 on the high banks of the Talladega Super Speedway, with a top speed of 221.120 mph on the 2.66 mile oval. Sadly Donohue lost his life after an innocent looking Formula 1 crash in Austria in 1975, just 10 days after setting the closed course speed record…

19. Peter Revson
To me, “Revvie” epitomizes the classic look of cool during the early 1970’s. This heir of the Revlon cosmetics empire started off his racing career as an amateur, who created his own team with Tim Mayer and quickly graduated to the “Big Time” ranks of top level motor racing, i.e.; Sports Cars, Can Am, Indy and Formula 1.

I especially enjoyed his prominence in the movie “The Quick and the Dead.” Where he portrays himself as a real Bad Ass. Yet unfortunately Revson was killed during F1 testing at Kyalami in 1974 while trying to break away from the shadows of McLaren where his relationship with team manager
Teddy Mayer (Brother of Tim Mayer) had become strained…

18. “IL Lione” (Nigel Mansell)
How can you not love “BLOODY NIGE?” And Nige was definitely a “Scrapper.” As he was one of the few drivers actually able to beat Ayrton Senna. His tenacity while at the Scuderia was so intense that it won him the adoration of the Tiafosi whom called him Il Lione. (The Lion)

Yet BLOODY NIGE also had a bit of a swelled ego in his later stages, along with being an award winning Thespian. My greatest memory of ‘Old Nige, is his waving to the home crowd at Silverstone on his victory lap before killing the “Lump” and loosing the race to his bitter rival Nelson Piquet on the final corner…

17. EMMO
How can Emerson Fittipaldi not make the list, as the only person to be able to pull off wearing Elvis Presley “Mutton-chop” side burns so eloquently! EMMO also happened to be the youngest ever Formula 1 champion of his day as well as being only 1 of 3 drivers to win Formula 1 and CART Championships as well as the Indy 500…

16. Gilles Villeneuve
Another driver I know very little about, but he’s revered around the world, especially Up North, eh? He seemed to have a mercurial spirit which rubbed off on his mammoth contingent of faithful Tiafosi.

I believe I’ve also heard that he liked to party hard and was notorious for his Helicopter hi-jinx. Sadly he lost his life after a brooding rift between his fellow teammate saw the Red Mist overcome him…

15. “MAC” Montoya
Better known previously as JPM, (Juan Pablo Montoya) David Hobbs named him MAC in deference to the jokes making the rounds about his penchant for Big Macs… And it seems quite fitting for the Formula 1 star who DEFECTED to RASSCAR! But, hey he seems to be able to hold his own with dem “Roundy-round Boyzs.” And he certainly waxed them all in Sonoma, CA. (Right, Danny?)

14. “The Iceman” (KIMI)
How can Kimi Raikkonen not be a “BAD ASS!” I mean anyone nicknamed the “Iceman” must be worthy, eh? His off track exploits are legendary; From partying too hard with various women of the night, insane amounts of adult beverages consumed, to drinking champagne and falling off his friend’s yacht, winning a snowmobile race entered under the pseudonym of James Hunt and contesting a local boat race in a gorilla suit! And that’s before we even get to his AWESOME Driving skills, I mean what more can you say about somebody when David Hobbs routinely notes how LARGE the size of his attachments are!

13. “The Wee Scot”
Jackie Stewart is probably the most underrated triple World Champion of his generation, who’s also not too bad with a shotgun.

12. Dan Gurney
One of the true California “COOL” string-back glove boys, Gurney was actually born in New York before moving west. Yet, the lanky Gurney has to be one of Motor Racings truest pioneers, never being satisfied with his machinery. Dan has won in just about everything he’s entered, minus the Indy 500. Although his Eagle chassis have won the race more than once Gurney is also the ONLY American to ever win a Grand Prix in a chassis of his own construction. (Which will NEVER occur again.)

Gurney also made Toyota a dominant force in IMSA GTP before bringing the Japanese giant into Open Wheel racing and now spends his time perfecting his own motorcycles…

11. Fangio
Juan Manuel Fangio was the first true conquistador, as the diminutive Argentinean simply out drove all of his contemporaries, even when in inferior equipment! It was a different era when he drove, the likes of which we’ll never know. Yet his drives in the Argentina and Nurburgring Grand Prix’s are legendary…

10. “Schuey”
What can I say about this most legendary Formula 1 driver! As my Blogmeister commented: Michael Schumacher is simply BAD ASS for kicking everyone’s ASS in F1 so long…

Herr Schumacher’s records in Formula 1 will most likely never be broken. (Certainly not in my lifetime) And although retired, what does this German Wunderkind do for amusement? Simple, he rides MOTO GP “Scooters,” goes testing for Ferrari and gives astounded taxi cab drivers the ride of their life!

9. Bobby Unser
Although I’ll always remember Bobby for his famous words ‘O wisdom on ABC’s Wide World of Sports: “That’s because there’s some slippery liquids on the track Sam.” Bobby made the top 10 upon my just hearing the story of his lighting a Rolls Royce on fire!

And Bobby has a bit of a temper, just ask the Albuquerque policeman he punched while being given a citation at the airport! Or how about the time the National Guard were called out to go hunt for him when he got lost snowmobiling on “Off Limits” Forestlands…

8. Richard “The King” Petty
A true American icon, who doesn’t know of the King, ‘Old Number 43!And have you ever seen him without his trademark hat as well as customary shades? As the only man to ever win 200 Stock Car races, Petty has been sought out by Presidents; King’s and even the BLOODY Queen of England…

Why yes, Enzo Ferrari did briefly race cars before first becoming Alfa Romeo’s racing boss and then ultimately creating arguably the most revered automobile marcque in the world! And this icon always wore his trademark dark sunglasses along with believing he was holier than the Pope!

6. Carroll Shelby
How much badder can you be then to wear bib overall’s in racing while being a Chicken farmer! This lanky Texan could and still can sell you just about anything, especially after its been dipped in his secret Snake Oil! ‘Ol Shel has done it all, from winning Le Mans both as a driver and team owner, to building some of the baddest ass street & racing cars of all time…

5. Mario Andretti
One of Open Wheel’s truest Bad Asses! Nobody messes with Mario, who’s the only man to be kissed in Gasoline Alley by his team owner upon winning the Indy 500! Mario invented the word cool, with his attitude and zest for winning in anything he strapped on. And he didn’t like being beat, especially by some God DAMN Movie Star!

4. Dale “Ironhead” Earnhart
A real Bad Ass, as only men in black can truly be! And when you’re called Ironhead, nobody messes with yuh! Where else did Champ Cars court jester Paul Tracy learn about using the “Chrome Horn, eh?” And who perfected the phrase “Racin’ is Rubbin!”

3. “Super Tex” (AJ Foyt)
What can I truly say about AJ? The man has won virtually everything he’s ever raced in… Yet my fondest memories of ‘Old Super Tex are him thrashing the Dejesus outta a recalcicant pop-off valve with a Craftsman ratchet! Or the time he beat the wholly hell outta an unsuspecting team engineer’s lap top after his car had run out of fuel. And how ‘bout punching Arie Luyendyk in Victory Lane….

So, I only gave the nod to Rufus since he drove Ford Bronco’s sponsored by “Oly” beer in the Ba-Jah; “It’s the Water,” yuh knows? And was a total sour-puss while getting his autograph in 2003 at “PAC-MANN” (Pacific) Raceways!

2. Rufus “Parnelli” Jones
Parnelli is probably best known for his win in the 1963 Indy 500 as well as driving the revolutionary “Whoosh” mobile in 1967. (Andy Granatelli’s STP Pratt & Whitney Turbine car) Yet his NO Holds Bar driving style was feared in most disciplines of motorsports that ‘Ol Parnelli entered. As Roger Penske once noted, he’d stand on the wall just to watch Jones hit the same mark every lap and throw dirt on him…

And the Number One driver is Drum roll Please…

1. Steve McQueen
Although many of you may dispute this, McQueen has always been the King of Cool! Although technically a Movie Star, McQueen was the ultimate speed freak, whom arguably made the best chase scene of all time in Bullit.

Yet McQueen was also an aspiring amateur racer whom almost won the 197x 12 Hours of Sebring, driving with his broken leg set in a plaster cast! True, Peter Revson did the yeoman’s share of the driving, but nonetheless, McQueen & Revson finished runner-up to Mario Andretti who was so incensed over the thought of a Movie Star beating him, that he flogged his winning Ferrari into submission!

McQueen also is credited for making what I consider racing’s finest movie: Le Mans, which featured real racing footage from the Circuit de la Sarthe as well as McQueen flying about in a Porsche 917.

And recently McQueen’s very first Ferrari that he ordered from the factory sold at the RM/Sotheby’s auction in Maranello for a cool $2 million. Hell he’s even got a song written about him by none other than Sheryl Crow; “Like Steve McQueen!”

Honorboale Mention
10. Tom Cruise
9. Boris Said
8. Tommy Kendall
7. Paul Tracy
6. Bob Wolleck
5. Junior Johnson
4. Tony Stewart
3. Fireball Roberts
2. James Gardner
No. 1: P.L. Newman