Saturday, September 29, 2007

A1 GP Teams nominate drivers

Due to the cancellation of the usual rookie sessions on Friday in line with the circuit's noise restriction requirements, Saturday practice has been extended to two 1 hour 10 minute sessions.

The following drivers have signed-on to compete in A1GP Zandvoort, The Netherlands A1

Team Driver 1 Driver 2
Australia Ian Dyk
Brazil Sergio Jimenez
Canada James Hinchcliffe
China Congfu Cheng
Czech Republic Erik Janis
France Loic Duval
Germany Christian Vietoris
Great Britain Oliver Jarvis
India Narain Karthikeyan
Indonesia Satrio Hermanto
Ireland Ralph Firman
Italy Enrico Toccacelo
Lebanon Chris Alajajian Khalil Beschir
Malaysia Alex Yoong
Mexico Salvador Duran
Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen Arie Luyendyk Jr
New Zealan Jonny Reid
Pakistan Adam Khan
Portugal Joao Urbano
South Africa Adrian Zaugg Wesleigh Orr
Switzerland Neel Jani
USA Buddy Rice

(Credit: a1gp/

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Zippo Historics

As previously mentioned, I recently attended my very first Zippo Historics at the fabulous Watkins Glen International circuit in Up-State New York.

This most wonderful permanent road course has been on my “Must Visit” list for several years, as I’m even more disappointed now that I never got to see Formula 1 race there in anger!

As many of you may know, the track is nestled in “Old Growth” Farmlands nearby the town of Watkins Glen and the gentle rolling hills reminded me a little bit of Eastern Washington.

Although I didn’t have a chance to visit the entire track which is fairly long by today’s standards at just over 3.37 miles. Nor Did I get to visit the esses or the chicane where all ‘O dem Roundy Round boyzs like to run over each other, but I did get to experience portions of the back half of this magnificent venue.

Arriving in Syracuse, NY Thursday evening to an overly warm temperature of 92 deg f, Robert & Cili picked me up and drove me to their wonderful 1910 two story “Arts & Crafts” era homestead in Ithica, NY. Unbeknownst to me their son Marcus had decided that he wanted to camp at the race track so he could be awoken to the symphonic sounds of vintage machinery, which sounded like a great idea to me.

Fortunately I wasn’t required to participate in the early morning jousting for a “Primo” camp site location as Robert & Cili dashed off to Watkins Glen at 6AM to set up the tents, while I slept in (sort of) at Chez Sadie Manor… With the plan being to leave for the race track as soon as young Marcus returned home from school.

With supplies packed we left in two vehicles for the greener pastures of Watkins Glen late Friday afternoon. And it was amazing to me how you simply drive underneath the race track twice to access the “Back Forty,” as we were greeted to the sounds of rancorous snarling V8’s while passing underneath…

We arrived at our original campsite “just-in-time” to watch the days final open practice session which featured two AWESOME BMW M1’s circulating about, nipping at a duo of Ford GT40’s! Yet as we stood by our little tent, a nearby RV camper informed us we were too close to the track, were blocking his view and would be completely smoked out by their evening’s bon fire… So the four of us picked up the tent and carried it across the dirt road, resetting it on higher ground just below the latrine.

Hanging out at our pleasant camp site, a stiff breeze kept the mosquitoes away for the evening. Unfortunately the breeze only increased as the howling winds kept trying to blow away our rain flies… As I awoke sometime in the early morning thinking that the tent poles were possibly snapping? That was a very rough night as Cili told me I looked tired after awakening prior to the sounds of racing engines.

Saturday morning featured a variety of classes competing in their various qualifying races as we basically hung out at our campsite during the morning before deciding to head off for the pits to reconnoiter the various vintage machinery.

There Marcus pointed out to me several awesome vehicles, including a GT40 parked alongside a Lola T70, a Benetton sponsored Tyrrell and my sentimental favourites, two, count ‘em two red Ferrari 512 BBi L/M’s complete with matching rosso Ferrari semi trailer emblazoned with a giant sized black prancing horse on the tailgate!

Then upon watching the winged Formula 2 group near a pedestrian bridge, we decided to go in hunt of some lunch as I’d asked to get the Grand Marshall’s autograph if possible. So Cili accompanied me to the Pyramid shop where ex-Formula 1 winner John Watson was set to sign autographs during two sessions on Saturday.

Hanging about at a table nearby our concession stand, Marcus set off to go find his viewing spot for the upcoming Formula 1 session, while Cili returned to show me the way to the Pyramid shop. And as we began walking the skies opened up and I was treated to a typical Up State rain shower, which was fast ‘N furious. Fortunately Cili had talked me into putting my earlier purchases into a plastic bag which was most appreciated for keeping my camera & program dry on our way to the autograph session.

And standing in the crowded souvenir booth as we attempted waiting out the rain storm, Cili said; Ok, let’s go get in line; I think the rain is stopping. Standing in a very small line in front of the tent awning, a voice behind me said we’ll be glad to sign autographs if you let us in… As the Ulsterman stood patiently behind me! And then while standing in line, my timing seemed to be impeccable stepping underneath the awning as another deluge of precipitation began. While John “Wattie” Watson was being extremely friendly to each of us, taking time to engage each of us in conversation

Tomaso: Are you going to be calling the A1 GP Series this year?
Watson: Yes, we’ll be leaving for Zanport at the end of the month

Tomaso: Oh, you mean you actually commentate live, instead of from some remote location?
Watson: Yes, we do all of the broadcasts live, You get some (“Mickey Mouse”) badly chopped-up version here in the States.

Tomaso: Well I really enjoy your commentating…
Watson: Thank you and I plan to be even MORE OUTRAGEOUS this season…
Tomaso: More outrageous?

Then Cili and I walked around the pits a little more before deciding to head back to our camp site. Passing the Pyramid store once again, Cili asked me if I wanted to ask “Wattie” anything else, telling me he’s sitting alone right now… As I’m positive that the rain fall was a huge incentive for people to stay away, as I should have really gone back, but I was hard pressed for anything else to ask him as my memory of his racing accomplishments were very hazy…

Yet as we made our way back the rain dissipated and we emerged from the other end of the pedestrian tunnel to sunlight. Where Marcus and Robert were watching the afternoons qualifying action from our little tent compound.

I was amazed to notice that there was an entire race grouping of Pre War Bugatti’s motoring about. Unfortunately the rain picked up once again and we finally decided to jump in the cars and drive back to Chez Sadie Manor for the evening and the comforts of being dry!

Sunday morning saw us pile back into a single vehicle and return to our still standing rain soaked tent compound. Fortunately Robert and Marcus had put up a very much welcomed tent awning the day prior which offered us refuge from the never ceasing precipitation.

For humour I talked Marcus into showing me the neighboring burm in order to get a different vantage point. As we trekked up the steep hill, I noticed that we were the only “brave” souls to occupy the burm. Thus we were given an unobstructed sight line to the cars sweeping thru the final turns prior to launching onto the front straight. Yet it was pretty funny watching the various cars disappear into the low lying fog bank, with the growling big block Corvette’s disappearing from our view, followed next by eight Formula 2 chassis (primarily brabham’s) racing at a reduced rate as it began sprinkling.

Then Marcus said let’s go back, here comes the rain… (Marcus seems to have an uncanny knack for reading the cloud formations) as we arrived back at Camp Cili as the skies opened up “big time.”

Then things got strange… As the sun returned, this caused a temperature inversion which induced a mammoth fog bank to envelop the entire race track, as a precious GT 40 slithered around behind the BMW pace car. Noting that only four cars were brave enough to attempt tackling the changing weather conditions unfortunately the dense fog caused a safety hazard as the corner workers were unable to see from station to station. Thus forcing a Red flag condition (Not to mention the drivers limited visibility!) This was the very first time I’ve ever been to any racing event that has been stopped due to fog…

The lengthy delay caused the scrubbing of some events along with pushing back others while we waited out the fog. And then it began to lift so we were treated to some further racing as the Bugatti’s rolled out. Then the winds picked up again and the rain and fog returned, so we decided to go into Watkins Glen for some lunch while hoping the weather would clear. And while in town we saw the poor sap who’d been camping near us in his Cobra replica and trailer profusely wiping the front window with a rag. As the Canadian driver was sans top!

Returning to the track, we were bemused to notice the solid stream of traffic leaving the circuit as we seemed to be the lone fish fighting upstream on our way back to Camp Cili, where unfortunately the rain persisted. As we dived back underneath the cover of our awning, we all saw a mammoth flash of lightning with almost no lag in the thunderous boom mear by our tents. So we finally decided to give up and took everything down in the pounding rain, jumped into the minivan and joined the few remaining hearty souls exiting the venue…

Second Fiddle?

So I couldn’t help laughing after reading about American ex-Formula 1 pilote Scott “Nose” Speed’s baptism to Southern Fried cookin’

In case you haven’t heard, Speed completed his very first test in an ARCA Re Max bomber at Talladega yesterday, where he reveald some of the startling differences between the world of F1 and (Ack!) Roundy Round. Notin’ that he was so used to somebody buckling him in and carrying his crash bucket…

Geez Scott, you means uze gotz-ta buckle yourz own seats belts? As well as carry your own Helmet. I mean c’mon your only testin’ an beginner’s Stock Car!

Hmm, wonder how “Half Gainer” Dario will fair in testin’ Or did the Flyin’ Scot forget to strap himself in?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A1 GP Preview

Turning Green
While apparently there are whispers of Champ Car switching to Ethanol in the future… The A1 GP series has become the first international motorsports series to take the plunge into Bio Fuels. Having announced that the series will contest the upcoming season of racing powered by E30, racing on a 30% blend of ethanol produced from sugar beats in order to reduce noxious CO2 emissions by 21%...

Rules Revisions
In order to spice up the show, the series organizers have “tweaked” competition rules for this year’s series. For full details see 2007-08 A1 GP Rules changes

Swiss team spotlight
Team Switzerland has been quite busy in the off season with the hiring of engineer James Robinson as one indication of the teams willingness to improve their performance. Robinson has engineered no less than four former Formula 1 World Champions.

Meanwhile team boss Max Welti, who’s no stranger to F1 himself, has come up with the novel idea of pitting two Women against each other at the final Silverstone test session, with one of the females being given the opportunity to race for Team Switzerland. And unbeknownst to me, I watched one of the contestants in the rain soaked festivities at Portland this summer…

Team USA
Former Indy 500 winner buddy Rice has been confirmed to race for Team USA this weekend at Zandport. Rice is expected to contest the entire 11 race schedule as the first Indy 500 champion to race in the A1 GP series, with potentially 22 Nations taking part…

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Senna to contest Macau

Bruno Senna who’s currently competing in GP2 with Arden Internationa will once again contest this year’s Macau Grand Prix in November.

Senna will compete in the Formula 3 All Star event for the Raikkonen/Robertson team that campaigned the 24 year old Brazilian during his two seasons in British F3 along with contesting the Macau event in 2005. Senna currently lies seventh in GP2 with one victory to his credit…

Ferrari and Alonso?

This latest headline made my stomach sick… As I just do NOT like Ferdi “the Putz.” And I was surprised to read that the latest speculation suggests that while Ron Dennis will most definitely give Alonso his walking papers for 2008, Ferdi could possibly be joining the “Kimster” at Scuderia Ferrari instead of going to Renault.

As you may have heard, McLaren has decided to not seek appeal of the WMSC’s colossal $100 million fine and instead has been seeking “closure” in the matter in regards to ceasing any further punative actions against the Woking based squad along with clarifying future FIA requirements. Most noteably the ruling to inspect their 2008 chassis prior to racing next year.

Thus as part of the continuing negotiations, scuttlebutt suggests that Alonso could be sent packing to Maranello as Felipe Massa’s replacement for 2008 with Massa taking Ralfanso’s seat at Toyota next year…

Yet I find all of this RIDICULOUS!!! Especially since Ferdi couldn’t handle the pressure of his rookie teammate having “equal” status with him this year and tried blackmailing Dennis into rectifying the situation. I mean, how in the HELL will “Putz-boy” be able to put up with Kimi Raikkonen? Or does Ferdi simply think he’ll be able to pull an M. Schumacher at the Prancing Horse and demote the Kimster to Number Two status? Stay tuned…

Monday, September 24, 2007

Open Wheel Wanderer’s

Fortunately I was busy this weekend, so I MISSED all of the hyperboles over the Open Wheel warriors making their Tin Top debuts, or NOT makin’ duh show once again…

With Jackie V. qualifying an astounding seventh before running over a spinnin’ “Krapmann” competitor and windin’ up 21st with his good buddy Bobby Joe Lazier strokin’ home in 24th.

Meanwhile Sam “Not in a Boat” Hornish Jr. failed to qualify for his second attempt in the neXXtel cup event with AJ Wall Dinger finishing dead last.
And rumours persist that Dario “Half Gainer” Franchitti will make the jump to RASSCAR full time next season with a five year contract as “Juan ‘O Cheep’s” boyzs as Franchitti is expected to test an ARCA bomber this week in preparation (H) for his Tin Top debut at Talladega October 5th. Dario will be joined by another debutant named Scott Speed who’ll be runnin’ a third Red Bull entry for Eddie Sharp Racing…

Profit sharing at Indy?

Talk about your ironies. I mean Tony George and profit sharing? Talk about your shades ‘O CART… As I seem to recall that the Chris Pook era of CART burned thru a $100 million bank account with a similar profit sharing arrangement created to entice team owners sticking with the faltering Open Wheel series pre-bankruptcy. Thus I find the Indy Car plan a bit ironic, for further details see Indy Car Revenue Sharing Plan.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Brickyard Flyer (Part 2)

Standing in pit lane watching the whole procedure was very enlightening, as everything except for climbing aboard followed normal racing procedures. From the firing of engine via auxiliary starter to the pit crew pushing the car off via the rear wing. Along with Hamilton killing the motor and coasting the last 100 feet to a complete stop.

With four (victims) riders ahead of me, we watched Hamilton being rolled backwards as the momentary silence was broken by the BBUURRRR-RAP BBUURRRR-RAP BBUURRRR-RAP Rat-a-tat of wheel guns bolting on a fresh set of Firestone rubber…

I then overheard two men behind me commenting that they didn’t want to go out on “Sticker’s.” So I interrupted and said you want them scrubbed –in for maximum adhesion? Although I’ve been led to believe that sticker tires are faster than scrubbed?

And then back to action as we continued watching Davey run mid-50’s during his hot laps. As Mike kept checking his wrist watch along with pointing out that the Sinden crew was also timing Davey. (50-55 second laps approx.) As Danny had earlier informed the check-in girls that Mr. Tomaso would prefer to go 200mph today! And although this chassis has apparently reached 208mph, the Speedway has imposed strict performance limitations. With the Sinden Racing literature claiming a top speed of 180mph

Then it was Mike’s turn to put the rest of the uniform on, before going for his ride, which meant I was next… GULP!

Moving forward, another very friendly woman first assisted me with putting on the balaclava. Making certain it was tucked in correctly before fastening the velcro throat strap.

Then she asked me what size helmet do you wear? “I DON’T KNOW.” Ok, we’ll try a large. Placing the helmet on my head it seemed fairly snug when she first put it on. It actually felt almost too tight giving me a brief headache. She replied, good that’s what we want As I’d later understand why while she fastened the chin strap securely before helping me don on the matching nomex gloves.

Standing there with the helmet visor up I was asked; “Are you nervous?” NO!!! I feel GREAT!!! With Danny telling me to try keeping my answers a bit shorter…

Actually I had mild butterflies of excitement, as I was totally ready for the ride of my life! Since it’s not everyday that I strap-on a two seater Indy Car!

Then Scott Jasek (Sinden Racing Co-Owner) came up and greeted me, saying he’d personally help me aboard the race car when my turn came. As I watched Hamilton coasts the beast to a stop directly in front of me. Next Mike climbed out and soon it was my turn to enter the pit lane. As they have really cool custom fabricated aluminum steps for getting into the back seat, with the two step platform neatly fitting underneath and over the G-Force’s side pod.

At this point I was slightly nervous of mis-stepping, since I noticed with my helmet on. It was hard to see where my feet were going. (As I heard my “Inner-Child” SCREAMING DON’T step on the side pod!) Then I was instructed to put my right hand on the passenger’s roll hoop and grab the driver’s roll hoop with my left. Before simply stepping into the belly of the beast and rotating 45 degrees

Now facing forward while standing on the carbon fibre passenger’s seat, I was instructed to simply slide down. No, put one foot on each side of the drivers seat I was told. Interestingly the driver’s seat was completely visible to me, since this is where the chassis had been modified. Now comfortably seated, they reached in to secure my lap belt. Next I was told to bend my head forward while the shoulder belts were connected. Then tilting my head back they cinched up the six point harness snuggly. I asked what about my visor? Don’t worry… We’ll take care of that. And then SNAP!

Next I heard the bark of the engine being fired behind me… Idling serenely, I heard the thump of first gear being engaged and then we were off! As the car rolled down the pit lane warm-up loop quickly gathering speed

With the initial clutch engagement, I counted as Davey shifted gears four times while blending onto the Speedway upon exiting turn Two. And man oh man; we were already totally up to speed as we scooted down the back straight. Which really didn’t feel that fast to me

Although I’m told there’s handles to grip, I never located these. Nor did I grip anything during the entire ride. Yet perhaps I was simply resting my hands on top of them. As there appeared to be two slight openings on each side of the drivers roll hoop. Since there doesn’t seem to be any space alongside your legs. Definitely NO armrests, I just stuck my hands in these holes for the duration…

And then BOOM! We entered turn Three and I was TOTALLY FLABBERGASTED as the unexpected G-Forces tried to throw my head out of the cockpit! SHEISA!!! As the unexpected G-Forces physically pulled my helmet hard right… And that made me scream!

And then the funniest sensation of the whole ride As my brain felt like it was a step behind. Quickly learning why the section connecting the two turns are called the Short Chutes.

BAMM!!! HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!! As my head was ripped right once again… And then before you know it you’re screaming down the front straightaway!!!

Now In full sensory OVERLOAD!!! I decided to try looking ahead over the back of Davey Hamilton’s helmet. And upon doing this I suddenly felt the air trying to rip my helmet off! OH CRAP!!! Better NOT try that any more. Instead just looking over to the right Hey there’s the empty grandstands. And then to the left Yep, there’s the pit lane… And OH SHIT!!! (CENSOR that RASSCAR!) Here comes Turn One… YEE-HAWWWWWWWWW!!!

Simply screaming gleefully every time we entered a corner And although I thought it!!! I NEVER screamed any bad words… As it was just too DAMN FUN! With my 64k Commodore “noggin’” (brain) totally incapable of fathoming the feeling of the G-Forces. And WHAMO!!! As we’ve already traveled the length of the Short Chute and my head is flinging right again thru Turn Two…

Down the back straight somewhere between 170-180mph! Funny, now for several years I’d been telling’ Jefford how I wanted to join the 200mph club! (And still do!) To which this was the closest I’d ever been. But I was so much MORE impressed with the cornering speeds that going 175mph really didn’t feel that fast. As I suspect it has something to do with how long the two main straightaways at Indy are…

And then get ready for it, KABLAMOE!!! We’re hurtling thru Turn Four once again as we’re now doing our hot middle lap, with the race car at full song. Yet I never felt anything while going over the Yard of Bricks, along with being amazed how cool I felt with the surging of fresh air firmly flowing thru my cockpit appendage. Yep, there’s the Pagoda and Scoring Pylon… Which means. SHEISA!!! BOOM! Turn One as I am counting my laps the whole time…

The Short Chute flies past briefly and WHAM!!! Turn Two and another blast down to Turn Three. And I’m silently hoping during all of my contorted screaming that may be, just may be? I’ll get an extra lap? As we’re still rocketing around the Speedway at full speed for one last trip thru the final two turns And after exiting Turn Four sadly the car turns left as we’re back onto the pit warm-up lane, quickly decelerating… And NNOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! It’s too soon. DON’T STOP!!! As Davey cuts the engine and we coast in the last 100 feet silently…

Then there’s arms inside the cockpit disconnecting the six point harness, which has aptly done its job. Flipping my visor up, I’m given the all clear to stand up. As I reverse the procedure of extricating myself from the cockpit, the warmth instantly hits me. And feeling a little dizzy, I start to put my feet in the wrong position when stepping back down onto Tera Firma…

Then I’m out of the car and my helmet strap is undone, allowing me to pull off my helmet and balaclava before being directed in front of the beast for one final picture

Stepping off pit lane I pause to return my helmet and gloves, while being asked: “How was It?” AWESOME TOTALLY FRILLING AWESOME!!! IT WAS TOO SHORT AND TOO SLOW!!! To which everyone laughs at. With Danny telling me the smile on my face was worth the effort of chaperoning me…

At this time I suddenly realize just how much I’ve been sweating, as while inside the cockpit’s cocoon, my sensories had been fully diverted to the E-Ticket ride I was taking. So I decided it was time to get outta the monkey suit and slip back into shorts. Yet I couldn’t stop talking… As it was the most INSANE ride I’d ever taken!

And there you have it. In the time it took you to read this article I had circulated the Indianapolis Motor Speedway three times…
For more Indianapolis stories, see; Doctor Doctor

Friday, September 21, 2007

Montezuma’s revenge?

Once again SPEED ran long with its “live AMA Scooter-Fest” at Laguna Seca, going 10+ minutes into The Speed Report and thus effectively chopping Robin Miller out of NOT “Juan” but BOTH of his evening’s segments…

Thus I was “Peeved-Off” after Dave Despain kept strokin’ out the Open Wheel segment of Wind Tunnel co-Host Miller as the video tape faded to black just as Robin started discussing the latest potential driver market shake ups. (Shaken, Not Stirred, eh?)

Therefore I was forced to seek any further words ‘O punditry via the internets where as always Robin Miller’s latest SPEED commentary pulled NO punches…

I particularly liked the headline: Two Black Eyes for Champ Car. You see Miller was noting how it was abominable how first Oriel Servia and now Ryan Dalziel have bothed been punted in favour of public relations hiring’s of doce hombres David Martinez and Mario “Boom Boom” Dominguez.

As Dalziel has just been dumped from Pacific Coast Motorsports after a three year stint of building the team from the ground up, with Robin noting that neither Servia nor Dalziel are suitcases stuffed full ‘O Peso’s Paying drivers… No, they made their way up the ladder the ‘ol fashion way, with raw talent.

Of course this latest move most likely has something to do with esoteric promoter’s requirements of fielding two Mexicano’s in order to have the Guacamole Heads show up in full force. As unfortunately most of the solid Mexican hot shoes have opted for either rides in Tin Tops or Sports Cars. Almost makes you not wanna watch this season finale, eh? And certainly puts the kibosh on rooting for PCM in the future, yet perhaps Dalziel will land a better Champ Car ride in 2008?

And may be, just may be? I’ll get to hear ‘ol Miller reminisce about the good ‘ol dayzs ‘O Mexico City when his pal Tommy “The Gasman” Sneva commandeered a school bus.
Viva la Mexico!

(Keep on Truckin’

Apparently everybody wants to race “Krapmann” Trucks these days… And why does that slick title make me think of that Super Duper Top 40 hit “Convoy?” Err good buddy; this here’s the Rubber duck-keep dat hammer down, 10-4?

In case you haven’t heard, joining the NCTS parade this weekend will be two, count ‘em; two “bonna-fied” Open Wheel Starzs… As JV the Crooner (Jacques Villeneuve) will now be accompanied on the high parts (banks) by Buddy “I used to be Indy” Lazier at the new Hollywood bowl… Better known as Los Wage$ Speedway…

Now all we need to do is get Wayne “Blue Suede Shues” Newton to sing the star spangali banner. Now I just wonder who’ll trip over who? Y’all know “Racin’ is Rubbin…”

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Construction work begins at Indy

Ok, so just how does “Juan” get over the giddiness of riding aboard a 180mph land shark around the Speedway! As I‘ve been busy scribbling down my thoughts of this most excellent adventure over the past few weeks…

Being driven onto the Brickyard grounds to report to the Formula 1 garages for my ride Danny b pointed out how the Red bull hospitality suite was still being dismantled two days after the Brickyard 400.

And as we tried to avoid the billowing dust clouds being created by the construction work, a Yellow Shirt (IMS worker) tweeted his whistle at us, apparently thinking we were a couple ‘O mangy Dawg’s? So we obliged and walk down the dusty torn up road with the earthmoving equipment busily scraping away at the infield portion of IMS in earnest.

This construction work is the major renovations being conducted to the newly announced 2008 MOTO GP event. Which entails a reconfiguring of the road course to a 16 turn layout running the opposite direction of the previous Formula 1 races. Thus seeing all three of IMS’s major events “Turnin’ Left.”

Interestingly Joey Chitwood, IMS’s “COO-COO” Bird and chief mouthpiece for Tony George claims that a vintage Indian motorcycle has been acquired and is being restored in time to run the very first parade laps of the newly developed road course upon completion. But Chitwood has zero interest in being the vintage “Scooters” pilot for said occasion…

Brickyard Flyer

By now most of you are (Painfully) aware that I recently traveled to Indianapolis to ride aboard Sinden Racing’s two seater and I really don’t know if I’ll be able to capture the true flavour of this. Nevertheless I’ll try to recount this BLEEPING AWESOME Experience.

With my ride being pushed back to 2:15PM from its original time of 1PM, I had a leisurely morning, sauntering over to a completely empty Brickyard Crossing restaurant. The waitress serving me seemed most impressed that I’d flown from Seattle just to ride around the track. When I asked her how the weekend had gone, she replied that it was lousy. Sheila claimed that they’d only served 500 for breakfast instead of the usual 1,000 per morning they have during the Brickyard 400 weekend.

My personal tour guide (Danny B) arrived at 12:30PM and we hung about talking’ shop. Prior to leaving for the Speedway Danny made a wonderful suggestion. Saying why don’t we give one of the limited first edition No Fenders T-Shirts I’d brought along to Davey Hamilton… (My Two Seater chauffer)

Making the five minute drive around the corner, I’m always amazed how the Speedway sits nestled in the middle of town with four roads and housing flanking its sides. Along with being able to simply drive underneath the track into the infield.

We were directed towards the far end of the track, being directed by various “Yellow Shirts.” (IMS employees) Who seemed most determined to make us walk thru the dirt ‘N dust of construction on our way to check-in. Which was pretty damn cool since we had to report to the Formula 1 garages. Wonder which F1 teams had resided here during the past eight years.

Arriving early, the three kind ladies at the check-in table handed me a pile of forms to sign. While filling out the 43 pages of various waivers, Danny explained in brilliant legal-ease… These simply state that Racing Cars are DANGEROUS!!! Then they gave me a credential pass to wear and told me to just hang out until I heard my name called.

And it appeared we were in a single F1 garage, which are quite spacious since there were three racing cars parked inside. Including both of the Two Seaters with my hoped for mount. The Canadian Club chassis sitting nearest me, then Danny noticed Davey Hamilton sitting behind the check-in table, saying let’s go give him the shirt. Danny introduces me before I casually handed Davey the T-Shirt While Danny explained No Fenders was all about Open Wheel Racing. NO RASSCAR! To which Davey got a chuckle out of.

Telling him I was from Seattle, Davey started naming off 8-9 various tracks he’d race Sprint Cars on in the Northwest… Which unfortunately I’d never heard of since I traditionally don’t follow “Sprinter’s.” (Although a gentleman from Mount Vernon, WA just won his first World ‘O Outlaws event)

Then a little later on Danny asked Davey if he could take a picture of us with our No Fenders T-Shirts Davey was the consummate gentleman, giving us gobs of his time. As we discussed his exploits of running Indy with Davey saying he’s still trying to put something together with this year’s Indy sponsor Hewlett Packard. As he’d be doing some promotional work with them later this fall.

Reportedly Davey landed the HP sponsorship after giving one of their executives a ride in the Two Seater. As Hamilton had been trying to put together a deal to return to the Speedway for over two years and although it wasn’t his best finish, Davey finished ninth in this years marathon Indy 463.

Needing to leave us to change into his drivers overall’s. Davey told me he’d wear the shirt today while driving. (Yeah right!) So I broke into a large grin when I noticed Davey walking out to the pit lane. Driver’s suit on with sleeves tied around the waist and sporting the No Fenders T-Shirt!

Then it was my turn to get suited up as they called my name. Asking me what size shoes I wore, the lady replied we don’t have any at the moment. We’ll have to get you some. She then handed me a Nomex Driver’s suit to put on behind the small enclosed tent which served as the changing room. And shortly I was donning full fledged racing apparel for the very first time. Yet it seemed very comical to be walking about the F1 garage in a Driver’s suit and socks…

After finally putting on the racing boots I ventured out onto the hot grid behind pit lane and suddenly I understood why racing teams use awnings everywhere they go. As it was quite warm out in the sunshine, being 92 degrees. Fortunately the humidity was very mild and there was a nice light breeze blowing. Nevertheless its warm walking about in Nomex, so I quickly got underneath the large awning with the rest of my anxiously awaiting participants.

Casually standing about the first Two Seater took off with a passenger. But after the first few rides, the track went silent. And then a very long pause as I noticed some of the service trucks taking off, driving back and forth to get equipment. And more time passed as we all stood patiently in our matching driver’s suits.

Then while I walked out onto pit lane to have my picture taken again with Davey Hamilton, this time in front of the Canadian Club car by one of the IMS photography staff. The other participants were called together to explain what was happening.

Unfortunately one of the Two Seaters had suffered a mechanical failure and they were down to a single “stretched” chassis. So in-state volunteers were being asked for. Who is willing to defer their ride to either a different date or venue? With the rest of us getting into line for rides that afternoon

Standing eighth in line, Mike, who was in front of me explained that the stricken Two Seater had apparently suffered engine trouble as the driver had heard a large bang in the corner. Shut off the lump immediately. And upon smelling oil pulled off into the grass and said we’re getting outta here! This left a large patch of oil on the track surface which required clean-up before proceeding, which had caused our delay.
To continue reading, see; Brickyard Flyer (Part 2)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

McLaren drops appeal

The FIA has confirmed that McLaren has dropped its appeal of the loss of its Hunga-boring Constructor’s points, which you may recall stemmed from Fernando Alonso’s pit lane shenanigans.

This is supposedly the same weekend that Ferdi tried blackmailing Ron Dennis into punting his prized protégé Lewis Hamilton from the all conquering McLaren Mercedes squad. Rumours suggest that the Ronster and Ferdi haven’t spoken to each other since…

Interestingly SPEED’s Bob Varsha noted that half of the record $100 million fine would now be split between the lower Formula 1 teams, which I assume this portion would come from what McLaren was expected to earn this season as one of the grids front runners. With the other half to be distributed to the various FIA delegations around the world…

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Move over Danica (again)

Nope, it’s not another cheesy story about the Princess being upstaged by her rival female Indy Car competitors Sarah & Milka, nor is it some clever tie-in about Robin Miller’s new squeeze “Milk ‘N Doughnuts.” And it’s not anything about Mrs. Dario, err Ashley Judd singin’ in the rain in her wet T-Shirt at Indy…

But it was brought to my attention by Zach that Ashley Force has been chosen as AOL’s Hottest Athlete in Sports. Yes that’s right a “Flat liner” beat out the Princess as well as Football “Hunk” Tom “What ILLEGALY videoed signals” Brady. Guess the Princess will scratch AOL off of her Go Daddy Christmas card list, eh?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Colin McRae

I found it disheartening to learn that former World Rally Champion Colin McRae has perished in a helicopter accident along with his five year old son and two family friends of whom one was a six year old boy this past weekend.

Unfortunately the Eurojet helicopter that McRae (39) was piloting erupted in flames upon impact, with their deaths having been confirmed this past Sunday morning.

Adding further insult to injury, this tragic accident occurred just a half mile away from McRae’s residence of Lanarkshire, Scotland and must surely be devastating to McRae’s wife and nine year old daughter whom were not aboard the stricken craft.

The extremely well liked Scot became the first British WRC Champion in 1995 along with winning 25 rallies before retiring from full time WRC competition in 2003.

While doing a few “one-off” WRC drives in 2005-06, McRae was busy pursuing other motorsports challenges. Having become a regular fixture of the Paris Dakar Rally as a Nissan “Works” driver, Colin had also been a regular competitor in the Race of Champions (ROC) along with contesting the X Games.

And this surely is another terrific blow for the WRC which in recent years has seen the passing of Champion Richard Burns along with the retirement of Marko Martin after the death of his co-driver.

McRae’s death follows the just announced news of current point’s leader Marcus Grönholm’s impending WRC retirement at the end of 2007…

Around the Globe

Well a lot has certainly transpired over the previous fortnight in regards to the world of motor racing, Not to mention the Italian & Belgian GP’s, the crowning of the 2007 IRL Champion and Champ Car plodding along… Everyone remember who Champ Car is? As we’ll FINALLY see them once again on TV October 21st at Surfer’s Paradise

Formula 1
Obviously the most shocking development of the 2007 season (besides Honda’s DISMAL performance) without a doubt is the WMSC’s bombshell of last Thursday… As I was most unaware of the colossal $100 million fine against McLaren along with loosing its 2007 Constructor’s points while visiting Watkins Glen.

This decision affectively hands the Constructor’s title to arch rival Ferrari as well as elevating everyone else forward one spot in the championship. And Kudos to BMW’s Dr. Mario Theissen for saying he wants NOTHING to do with inheriting second place in the Constructors championship via the Machiavellian workings of “Stepney Gate…”

Champ Car
Congrat’s to Justin Wilson for finally scoring a much overdue victory this season at Assen TT, as the lanky “Brit” has been robbed of victory previously this season by the Hamburgular at several venues.

Apparently long time friend and ex-teammate Jimmy Vasser has suggested that Alex Zanardi test a current Panoz DP 01 Champ Car chassis in hopes of resurrecting his Champ Car career. Yet at 40 years old, I hope the affable Italian will sensibly decide to pull a “Reggie Miller” and not attempt making a series comeback! As much as I like Zanardi, this seems a stretch at best as Champ Car has become a “Young guns” event a la Formula 1…

Forsythe has announced that David Martinez will replace Oriel Servia for the remaining two rounds in this years season, competing in Australia and Mexico City. Which dovetails nicely with being Martinez’s home race and effectively takes pressure off of Gerald Forsythe’s earlier dismissal of Mario “Boom Boom” Dominguez…

Champ Car has announced that the San Jose street race will be swapped back to Laguna Seca for 2008 as San Jose property development will interfere heavily with the street races current location. This is great news for “Juan” ‘O my favourite Norteamericano permanent road courses… Hmm? Perhaps a visit to the California venue is in order, eh?

Indy Car
Its always funny to hear one of the pundits echo your thoughts as SPEED’s Robin Miller mentioned previously how many would enjoy seeing Dario “Half Gainer” Franchitti win the Indy Car title, but NOT Michael Andretti winning it! As this is exactly what transpired at Chicagoland.

Although it was a nail biter and Franchitti was on the outside looking in with a single lap remaining before title protagonist Scott Dixon ran out of fuel with two corners to go…

Now everyone is holding their breath to see if the Flying Scotsman will make the jump to RASSCAR? As rumours abound that Dario has a five year contract to partner MAC Montoya next season at Chip Ganassi. Although this seems a bit confusing since Dan “Spike” Wheldon has repeatedly said he wants a shot at “Juan” ‘O “Cheep’s” Tin Tops, a la Sam Hornish Jr.

Now time for me to watch the Belgian GP… Which has to be one of the best racing venues on the planet! And with the front row being a Ferrari rosso lock-out with the McLaren Beastie Boyzs nipping at their heels, it should be a doozy, eh?

Saturday, September 15, 2007


I’m assuming by now that everyone has heard the news over McLaren receiving Draconian punishment by the World Motor Sport Council after the “emergency” meeting held Thursday to discuss new evidence against the Woking squad.

Having been previously found guilty of breeching article 151C in the WMSC’s July meeting, yet having NO fines levied against them. The WMSC retained the right to recall McLaren back before the tribunal if any further damaging evidence came to light in the ever growing “Stepney-Gate” Spy scandal.

In the past weeks it has come to light that McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa had been contacting McLaren’ ex-chief designer Mike Coughlan via email and then passing set-up information to his fellow countryman Fernando Alonso.

And the current rumours abounding all across the spectrum insist that Ferdi tried using the information to blackmail Ron Dennis into all sorts of nefarious things including full number one driver status and sending the “Ronster’s” star pupil Lewis Hamilton packing…

Therefore allegedly the Ronster felt compelled to present the damming information to the FIA himself in lieu of giving into Ferdi’s OUTRAGEOUS demands, which in turn led to McLaren being fined a record amount of $100 million along with forfeiting ALL of its 2007 Constructor’s points. This has effectively handed the Constructor’s title to Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, which seems totally willing to accept the trophy at ANY cost!

And before you shed a tear for Ron Dennis & Norbert Haug, lets recall that McLaren was caught tampering with the FIA ECU/Engine seals upon Mika Hakkinen’s chassis several years ago and given a slap on the wrist, with a paltry fine of $50,000.

Although as SPEED’s Peter Windsor has personally pointed out… Spying and the illicit transferring of rival team’s information has been a long standing practice in Formula 1, I find that the magnitude of the information passed from Ferrari to McLaren is unprecedented and it would be nice to believe that the penalty would perhaps make rival teams think twice before pulling such shenanigans.

It will be entertaining to note that McLaren will now be force to occupy smaller pit lane facilities alongside the Spyker Team India operation as well as having to pay their own air freight. Yet Messer Ron can take solace in the fact that the No. 1 & 2 will adorn the 2008 McLaren’s parked alongside the Prodrive “B” Team debutants…

Concours Seattle (Part 2)

It’s funny how different the past two years events have been on all avenues, as I made my way south to the venue via public transportation. Last year I’d been forced to suffer riding to & fro the event in my friends 1964 ½ Ford Mustang convertible and 1984 Pantera GT5!!! With the best part being the ride home, as Roberto gave chase to a pack of Maserati sedans, which seemed very rattled by the sight of this wonderful Anglo-American exoticar…

But the best part of all was pulling alongside a Ferrari 512BBi at one of the numerous stoplights in the University district. “Pardon me; do you have any Grey Poupon?” As the Ferrari driver was unwilling to give us the time of day or cast a look in our direction… As the light turned green. All I could see over the snarling howl of the Cleveland’s V8 was the Ferrarista’s pilote’s overly large nose looking straight ahead…

2007 Italian Concours
This year’s event was moved to the tiny city of Des Moines, WA and held at the Marina. Which was a nice change of scenery compared to last year’s dirt baseball fields. As there seemed to be way more spectators… Perhaps due to the more confined space of the Marina’s parking lot vs. the expanses of the baseball diamonds?

Steve-Oh picked me up at the “aroma Dome” and whisked us over to the Marina, noting we must be close upon spotting a few Porsche 911’s parked on the street, before we pulled into a parking lot with an Acura NSX and traileredd Ferrari 308GT4/Dino.

Entering the Marina’s parking lot, we were greeted buy a cast of various luxury cars, i.e.; Mercedes Benz E320 & AMG along with a Lambo LM02 near the “Swag” booths, while on the opposite side were a quintet of Lamborghini’s. And DAMN! Lambo has really come out with some groovy, bright colours! As Steve pointed out how much larger the Lambo’s rotors & calipers were compared to the lone red Ferrari F430 spyder parked alongside.

Then perhaps my most favorite “Best ‘O Show?” Was a tastefully customized Lambo Gallardo in brilliant electric blue with carbon fiber accents galore. Carbon front spoiler, rear wing, brake ducts, splash guards, etc. This was part of the Park Place Motors armada which included two Aston Martin’s, a red Ferrari F355 spyder, etc.

Then the three most prized vehicles at the show, which were appropriately roped off, comprising of two vintage Alfa Romeo’s and a lone Ferrari F40!

The first Alfeti was an awesome “Best of Show” Pebble beach Concours de Elegance winning 1938 6C 2300, which was an absolutely stunning vehicle. Reminding me of the late ‘30’s Ford hot rods The Alfa sported a robust 114bhp and had seamless coachwork along with rear wheel spats.

The next Alfa was a 1932 8C 2300 open cockpit touring model, complete with two spare tires held down by leather strap. Intricate chrome laden running boards along with a central cockpit body fin. These were two excellent examples of Alfa’s classic automobiles…

Then over to one of my all time most favourite Ferrari’s, the F40 which is simply a brilliant exoticar! With its classic glass fibre bodywork, countless NACA ducts along with its NO Nonsense race breeding, this car simply means business! As the 3.0 liter twin turbocharged V8 produces 478bhp and propels the red rocket to 200mph! This was truly a super car for its day some two decades ago.

And then off to the meat of the show as Ferrari and Lamborghini were definitely the two heavyweight’s of the event, with near equal representation as the cast of usual suspects filled the middle of the show area.

As the Ferrarista’s consisted of many of lasts year’s contestants, along with some variations. As there was a beautiful silver 575 Maranello on hand, a great looking blue 348, three 246 Dino’s; which the stunning silver #96 was to be my people’s choice, along with two red 512BBi’s, Testarossa, 360 Challenge Stradale and several 355/360/430 spyder’s.

While looking at the jaw dropping Lambo’s, as I said before; the new colours are simply dazzling! Although Steve wasn’t impressed by the brown Murciélago… Upon asking what shade it was, he replied; Baby Shit brown! And it was also funny to witness a “Lot Boy” from Cat’s Exotics running about firing up the various “Lambor-Jeenie’s…” As one female spectator commented to us how funny it was to watch all of the Men’s heads swivel upon the unnecessary throttle wrapping of the shrieking Lambo’s…

And parked in-between the bright yellow, white, blue and black treasures, Steve pointed out to me something totally unexpected. A yellow Diablo GTR! As this is the very first “Juan” I’ve seen in public. With a second GTR in an overly gaudy red-white-blue “Stars ‘N Stripes” motif, which totally ruined the car for me.

Yet Steve and I simply couldn’t get enough of the mesmerizing electric ice blue 2007 Murciélago LP640!!! Which boasts a 6.2 liter V 12 as Lambo’s current flagship model, thus making the other remaining car groups a bit blasé to look at. There were six early model Pantera’s once again, with both the Alfa and Maserati groupings being much smaller this year. And once again the Fiat’s didn’t interest us.

Briskly purusing our way past the “Scooter” section which seemed dominated by DUC’s *Ducati’s) while trying to get to the fast closing People’s choice awards ticket booth. Steve asked if I wanted to view the Countach with its legendary scissor doors opened. Yet first Steve told me how the latest DUC’ also sported 114bhp… And our distraction to the Countach made us miss the deadline for turning in our People’s choice selections. Oh Whale!

After a quick last look around, flitting back over to Steve’s favourite, the #54 blue Murciélago, I just had to get another Ferrari T-Shirt before we finally decided to depart…

Friday, September 14, 2007

Back again

So what better way to celebrate your first Birthday on the internets… Then by going on (another) holiday, eh?

As I’ve just returned from a very enjoyable week in New York along with attending the Zippo Historics at Watkins Glen International Raceway.

More details later, now back to watching the Italian Grand Prix...

Concours Seattle

Just a little story while tryin’ to play “Ketsup” from my latest holiday to Watkins Glen…

In what is becoming my new yearly Labor Day tradition, I once again attended my favourite local Italian car show, while being the fourth successive year the Italian Concours had a new venue.

Although I’d heard about the car show for several years, I’d always been unable to attend since I had traditionally trek north to Canada for the Molson Indy. Yet four years ago I finally went to my inaugural Concourso with my good friend Yutaka, as we attended the show on a post card perfect day in the idyllic setting of a Seattle “Indian Summer.”

Moving from my favourite locale of Pier 62-63. (Downtown Seattle) These waterfront piers have been deemed structurally unsound and have been undergoing renovation for the past few years.

Thus the venue moved to the end of South Lake Union in 2005, which I once again attended with Yutaka prior to his returning to Japan. Of course the setting wasn’t as enjoyable as the waterfront locale.

Last year’s new location was the Magnuson Athletic fields at Sand Point. (Unfortunately I’d billed this to friends as the “best kept secret” Italian car show in Seattle, which might have been a little too hard to swallow?) As I’m a pushover for Italian machinery... Ok, so it doesn’t compare to the real Concourso Italiano held each August in Monterey, CA. But Hey! That’s the granddaddy of all Concourso’s.

2006 Italian ConcoursOn a hot “scorcher” summer day, the “Dry ‘N Distant” expanses of Magnuson Park offered zero shade, dusty baseball infield and scattered vehicle displays. There was the usual smattering of vendor booths, (which I didn’t check out) with the spectator’s favourite vista being the covered eating area…

Once again there was a vast array of exotic Italian machinery for everyone to marvel over. Another large armada of Ferrari’s were present, along with excellent gatherings of Lamborghini’s, Maserati’s, Alfa Romeo’s, (Featured marquee) Pantera’s, Fiat’s an eclectic sampling of “scooter’s,” along with other “specialty” vehicles. The Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s were comprised of the “usual suspects.”

308/308 Dino GT4, 328’s, 355’s (Spyder, Coupe) 360’s (Spyder, Coupe) F430’s, 456GT/GTA, early ‘60’s vintage Ferrari and one oddity: 250 GTO Replica. (Datsun Z-Car chassis)

Lamborghini’s:Countaches, (LP400, 5000 Quattrovalve, 25th Anniversary) Diabloes, (Coupe, VT roadster) Jalpa, Espada, Miura.

There were several “Mauser’s” *Maserati) including Merak, Bora and two beautiful Ferrari “Daytona-esque” Ghibli…

Classic Italian styling flowed from the various Alfa’s on hand. A gorgeous “perrywinkle” blue Alfa grabbed my attention over the red GTV (Under 2 liter Trans Am class) parked alongside As well as a gorgeous Zagato bodied Alfa.

De Tomaso was well represented by an outstanding fleet of seven Pantera’s. Six cars were early models, (1971-74) along with a 1984 GT5. Contrary to the PA Announcer, not all Pantera 351 V-8 Cleveland’s are built “Down Under.”

I was very impressed by the black Pantera from Oregon which has been custom adapted with hand controls by its owner, who drove up from Portland…

I suppose Fiat’s are the “Rodney Dangerfield’s” of Italian cars: “Getting NO Respect, eh?” (Since I simply blew past them) I also paid little attention to the SUV and Cobra replicar. Although the Corvette Z06 was a bit out of place, it certainly garnered plenty of admiring looks.

There were several special chassis on hand including an OSCA, which I believe the name was derived from the 4 Maserati brother’s initial’s after the selling of Maserati. A pleasing Euro-spec Alfa Romeo diesel station wagon, along with a “one-off” custom Nardi.

Taking “Best of Show” was John Shirley’s 1938 8C 2900 Alfa. This absolutely stunning chassis was 1 of 5 touring coupe bodies produced. It was wonderful listening to the scrumptious harmonics of the straight-eight idling along with its supercharger’s awaiting input as the car made its departure upon receiving its award…

To continue reading, see: Concourso Seattle - Part II

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

One year Old!

Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to Me, I look like a…
Today marks the first Anniversary of the launching of No Fenders. And it’s been a pretty hectic year. Of which I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts on the Wurld der Motorsports with all of you…

And it seems like I’ve come a long way from the debut story of Christian Klien rejecting “Deeter Majestic’s” offer to race in Champ Car, eh?

I would like to thank everybody who encouraged me to try this endeavor. My most excellent Blogmeister Mike and Artiste Supremo Dave. Along with story ideas from Mary Ellen as well as the great articles penned by Danny B.

Most of all, I’d like to thank everybody for reading my scribblings over the past year… Especially all of you who are regular readers as well as those who’ve commented on my stories…

Gratzi, Tomaso

Monday, September 10, 2007

McLaren Dynasty?

Ok, so I’ve spent a lot of time downplaying the brilliance of the young Mr. Hamilton. And believe me, I thoroughly enjoy him kicking Fernando’s tail feathers… I guess I just don’t enjoy the overabundance of accolades being exuberated upon the rookie sensation by the overly biased UK press.

As there have been previous drivers to also dazzle us with their brilliance, yet ultimately disappoint as the names of Villenueve, Montoya and Ralfanso come to mind.

And much has been made of the impending firestorm surrounding the current Beastie Boyzs of McLaren. With comparisons being made to the Woking based squads previous super duo. As you may recall the names Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna…

This pairing was the superteam to end all superteams. With the pair ultimately winning seven World Championships while racking up 92 victories. Thus eclipsing Williams vaunted duo of Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet. Whom claimed four World Championships and 54 victories. This domination of the Grand Prix world makes me call them The Four Horsemen. As it was a rare sight for anyone else to claim victory during their reign.

In fact it wasn’t until Senna’s death that a new player arrived, taking over the Brazilian’s seat at the head of the table. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? His name is Michael Schumacher. And as most know, the German Wunderkind went onto obliterate ALL of the Formula 1 records…

In 1988 McLaren almost did the unthinkable. Winning every race on the calendar as the “Ronster’s Honda turbo powered racers won 15 of 16 events that season. Only missing out at Monza, when Senna tripped over back marker Jean Louis Schlesser. Which in retrospect, it seems appropriate that Gerhard Berger would lead a Ferrari 1-2 at the Scuderia’s home track upon the passing of Enzo Ferrari…

It seems apparent that Ron Dennis should know by now the effects of placing two bonafied Number “One’s” as teammates. Since Williams saw countless infighting between “Il Lione” and Piquet, prior to the Prost-Senna love fest. Which was precluded by Prost’s partnering Keke Rosberg.

Also the Scuderia saw their combination of Prost and Mansell fizzle. As bloody ‘ol Nige jumped series to escape being the Professor’s teammate at Williams in 1993. Coming to America to race in CART. While Prost himself retired upon the signing of Senna to Williams for 1994.

Yet one could argue that Lewis Hamilton’s performance could not have truly been expected in his Freshman season. As I’m sure that Ferdi thought he’d make mincemeat of the upstart. As typically it seems that winning World Championship teams need one premiere driver coupled with a solid Number Two. As in either McLaren’s pairing of Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard. Or Michael Schumacher’s revolving cast of teammates…

So will Louise become the very first driver in Grand Prix history to win the championship in his debut season? Or will Ferdi win his third successive title and then vault to Renault? Or will the highjinx of this intra-squad rivalry die down and see the two drivers continue to race side by side. With Alonso seeking redemption next season before leaving the team? Only time will tell…f

Friday, September 7, 2007

LeMay Open House

Recently I attended the 30th Anniversary of the Harold LeMay Car Show & Auction to which I’ve heard about for years, but have never been able to attend. So it seems like I picked a good year to attend for my very first outing, eh?

The event is held on two separate locations with Yellow School buses transporting us from six different parking lots, as well as transporting us between show venues. And although the comments were unanimous as we all was very well organized especially for a crowd estimated at over 10,000…

Folklore says that Nancy LeMay liked describing her house as a typical five bedroom bungalow with a 300 car garage! Her husband Harold’s collection is listed as the largest private collection in the world according to the Guinness book of World Records, peaking at 3,000+ vehicles, comprised of nearly every American made automobile, motorcycles, trucks and numerous memorabilia…

Harold made his fortune in the Refuse business beginning after World War II in Tacoma, WA. LeMay’s business expanded to comprise of several Garbage and Recycling companies, serving from Mount Rainier to the Pacific Ocean along with sales, towing and investing ventures. In the early 1980’s, Harold and Nancy purchased the former Maramont Military Academy which sits on an 80 acre parcel in Spanaway, WA.

Arriving at the LeMay homestead, (off limits) we notice that there’s a Merry-Go-Round in the yard. (Doesn’t everyone have a full size merry-go-round in their yard?) And there’s various farming machinery on display in the paved courtyard including a steam powered engine that blows its whistle…

Walking past the various farm implements, we enter what ultimately would be my favourite room: the tiny ‘lil garage of Limousine’s housing a mere 16 automobiles.

And what an impressive display it was (These should DEFINITELY) go into the New Museum!) with four mid to late 1930’s Rolls Royce’s parked side by side. Years included 1936, ‘38 and two ’39’s with the blue Rolls being my favourite.

Then shoehorned in against the far wall after the four Rolls, came my “Best of Show.” (Most Favourite) A stunning silver-blue 1952 Bentley R-Type which was simply an AMAZING automobile! In the center of the room was a 1983 Duesenberg to which I asked Mi Madre if that was correct? It must be a typo, since Duesenberg went out of business in the late ‘20’s. Turned out it was a very nicely done replica, which explained why it wasn’t roped off. And above the cars were shelves housing various “Pedal Cars,” assorted headlights and various other automotive related items.

Next we sauntered thru the Happy Days garage which was complete with ‘50’s music playing, vintage hub caps on the wall and various period correct automobiles including the actual Dodge Desoto used on the Happy Days show.

Next was a “small” garage with various automobilia setting the theme for the six Chrysler cars parked inside. I was impressed by the vintage neon Chrysler signage on the back wall. Then a quick walk thru another garage housing various large delivery trucks of various makes including a tow truck with a Austin Healy on its flatbed, a custom one-off Ford streamlined tractor truck, various Chevy’s, etc.

At this point Mary Jane & I took a quick break for a “Ball Park Frank” and enjoyed talking to a couple whom encouraged us to go over to the main collection at Maramont for which we squeezed into another “Yellow Yellow” School bus…

And I don’t think I can even come close to doing the Maramont facility justice as there were simply TOO MANY DAMN Vehicles to see, look at and properly review… As the School bus drove up the private entryway which was off limits to all vehicles, mi Madre exclaimed, Look at ALL of the Cars!

The grass lawns were filled with row after row of car show attendees personal mounts. Surprisingly we noticed that there was even room for a pair ‘O vintage Saab’s intermingled with the various pre-war automobiles, along with a mammoth Chrysler with a hint of what was to become the era of tail fins as this boat of a vehicle had smallish fins

And we noticed a beautifully unrestored “Green Hornet” sitting alone. As I believe that mi Madre’s favourite was this medium olive green all original 1952 Studebaker Commander, of which I’d never seen before.

Then MJ pointed out one of the wackiest vehicles on display, a “Death Trap Rail.” A custom built 1960-70’s jet turbine dragster. And we didn’t even attempt going thru all of the various buildings on the grounds… As it’s simply IMPOSSIBLE to visit everything in a single day!

We scurried past the “Scooters” display (Motorcycles) in favour of my wishing to view some more of the cars parked outside. Which upon sauntering thru a row of “Musc-cle Carzs,” I checked out a few plain Jane 1960’s Ford Mustangs.

Upon noticing a single low slung race car parked underneath its own canvas tent, I took a closer look as the famous hues of light blue and orange Gulf Oil livery called my name. I stopped dead in my tracks musing to myself “It CAN’T BE!” As the GT 40 staring’ back at me was a dead ringer for the 1968-69 24 Heurs du Mans winner.

So I stood listening to a few people chatting with what appeared to be the vehicles owner. Then I briefly had a chat with him asking about the GT 40’s chassis which is a very nicely done replica imported from Australia complete with your choice of small block Ford V8. The car was built by C & G Automotive out of Oregon.

Standing there I told him I knew it could NOT be the original chassis #1075, since it’s a priceless one of a kind chassis and he didn’t have any ropes around his vehicle which people were climbing in and out of.

Then we went inside a mammoth building that’s been converted into a warehouse completely jammed packed with vehicles of every make, style, shape, etc. from an early 1990’s Hemlegarn Indy Car, Chevy Nomad, Packard’s, Dodges, Fords, etc. Along with trucks, two WWII aircraft engines (Allison, Rolls Royce Merlin), a truck hauler with a Sherman WWII tank, a truck with two trucks piggy-backed on it, a truck with an early horse carriage, etc. My mind simply became overwhelmed by the enormity and eclectic range of the collection. We walked into another packed warehouse out the back side into a small offshoot, where mi Madre spotted another vehicle of interest to me. It was a bright red Bricklin, of which I’ve only ever read about before, as I believe it was one of only 2,000+ produced.

Then after walking thru another two huge warehouses, packed with cars and too many people, I overheard a young “lad” asking his father “where are all of the Porsches?” We had to take a break, briefly resting before giving up on the Military vehicles and automobiles still parked outside, deciding instead to return to the homestead and partake a few of the structures we’d missed.

Once there I was happy to visit the Bentley R Type twice more as well as briskly walking thru a two story building filled with vehicles on both floors, comprised mostly of vintage Fords on the second floor, before we finally gave up and called it a day.

This fantastic car show offered over 800 vehicles and is part of what will ultimately become America’s Museum, as the LeMay’s have graciously agreed to donate their prized vehicles to the “City of Destiny” for a state of the art museum hopefully opening in 2010. For more about the Harold E. Lemay museum visit: America’s Car Museum..

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Penske does Detroit

Although I swore I wasn’t gonna listen to this week’s Autosport Radio broadcast… Some-thun’ ta doo with the guests religious affiliations. Nevertheless I decided to drop-in and see what Words ‘O Wise-dum Mr. Donald could soldier up as he’d billed the show’s guests as The Three Wise Men. Father Phil, Bob Hills, and Fred Jones.

And I know Mr. Donald is heavily biased towards the Indy Racing League… And was almost fawning over The Captain, but I did find his remarks right on the mark in concerns to Roger Penske’s tireless efforts to bring motor racing back to the Motor City after a six year absence. As I came to the conclusion a couple of years ago after visiting the Penske Racing Museum that Penske is truly a class act.

Interestingly Don Kay pointed out that he was truly amazed over the city’s renaissance compared to the old Detroit of 15 years ago while Father Phil commented on how it used to be scary to go downtown before. (10yrs ago) And he believes Penske is personally responsible for part of the change after bringing Detroit the Super Bowl in 2005. (Which I’m still sore about our Seahawks getting a raw deal from the Officials!)

Mr. Kay pointed out that Penske not only organized the Indy Cars and American Le Mans Series double header, but also invested his own cash to the event. In the tune of $12-14 million...

And Mr. Donald raved about the outstanding “Detail to Excellence” which has become The Captain’s trademark being applied to the Bell Isle event as Roger was personally on hand at the circuit every morning bright ‘N early at 6AM. Going from team to team and making sure everything was Ok four days straight.

Reportedly they had OVER 1,000 volunteers for the event and they all received training prior to the kick-off on how to do their respective “gig’s” as well as the Downtown corridor is clean and the people friendly and courteous.

Don told a tale of how Penske had bought Detroit Diesel when it was in the dumps and the very first thing he did was pay every employee a bonus… Which hadn’t happened in years and as they say the rest is history.

While Penske truly seems to have the Midas touch, it was refreshing to hear Father Phil chime in and tell us how generous Penske is along with noting that Roger doesn’t need to be doing anything he’s doing now, i.e.; personally showing up at the track every morning, etc. But then again this is how The Captain got to where he is as Mr. Donald claimed that Penske had even been seen pushing a broom at Belle Isle…

And Mr. Kay noted that Penske is the US’s LARGEST Automobile dealer. Saying while the “Big Three” are taking’ their lumps, Penske set his record for sales in 2006 and expects to be only down 2% this year. With Father Phil noting Roger had changed his holdings from the United Auto Group to Penske since his name is synonymous with success.

And I was very pleased to hear about Fred Jones selfless work to coordinate the donating of all track hospitality food to the nearby community organizations in need. As he says it’s a pleasurable change from cold cereal…

So I hate to harp on it again… But Champ Car may want to take notes from The Captain’s zealous regard for detail! As I’m pretty certain you can see ALL of the IRL races on available TV channels. And if ONLY Phoenix could have hired Penske, then I’m certain the race would have been a success…

Perhaps Michigan International Speedway will want to call up its ex-owner to promote their lost IRL race?

Seeing Stars?

And while Buddy Rice was busy wingin’ his way back from Silverstone. It was confirmed that fellow IRL rival Helio Castroneves will be trading in his racing boots for ballerina slippers upon the Indy Car season finale. As Helio will partner last years winner to participate in the upcoming Dancing with the Stars spectale broadcasted on the premiere “Dizzy Wurld Shopping Networks. (ABC)

When long time friend (?) and arch nemesis Tony Kanaan was told of his fellow Brazilian’s decision to join such luminaries as Wayne Newton and Mark Kuban… TK said he’d probably tell “Spider Man” Let’s Dance!

Rice tests A1 GP

Prior to last weekend’s Belle Isle Indy Car race. 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice flew to Silverstone to take part in the A1 GP pre-season test.

Rice tested alongside last years final Team USA driver Jonathan Summerton while A1 GP teams prepared for the season opener. As A1 GP kicks off its 2007-08 season at Zanport in Belgium over the weekend of September 28-30.

Rice ran Team USA sponsorship this May at the Speedway and has become acquainted with team owner Rick Weidinger. Interestingly this year Weidinger will take over running the team himself instead of hiring a third party to run the organization as in the previous two years.

Buddy managed a best time of 10th fastest before having to jet back to the Motor City…

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Spyker Sold

Lately there has been much speculation over whether or not the Spyker F1 team will remain part of the Formula 1 circus, as apparently the parent company Spyker Cars NV has been borrowing heavily from the F1 teams revenues in order to stay afloat.

Hence the disputed departure of Cristijan Albers due to late payments, the release of Giedo Van der Garde after a protracted contractual wrangling with Super Aguri F1 and finally Sakon Yamamoto bringing boatloads of Yen to claim a drive for the remainder of the 2007 season as Albers replacement.

Recently Maul resigned from his post at Spyker Cars, being replaced by newly installed CEO Hans Hugenholtz, in the first step of separating the two companies.

This appears to have been part of the plan to make way for the selling of Spyker F1 team to a consortium involving the Maul family and India’s Vijay Mallya which has just occurred. Therefore the Spyker F1 name will leave Formula 1 after just one year and could be rebranded Kingfisher F1?

The deal reportedly cost $80 million Euros ($54 million USD) and will undoubtedly see Michael Maul remain as head of the new F1 outfit with no known staff changes planned. Further details will be learned when the deal is finalized, since it must legally be announced on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. No doubt having to pay off the remaining $38 million owed to Alex Shnaider, owner of the previous MF1 Racing team of which apparently Spyker Cars NV was in danger of defaulting on.

There are reports that the Stock Exchange’s regulator is upset with the Dutch car maker and is insisting that the “Cooked Books” be revised for 2006, sighting many problems with these figures. While the company has just reported losses of $28.8 million and $13.3 million for the F1 team respectively.

The new ownership seems to dovetail nicely with the upcoming 2009 Indian Grand Prix and I suspect that Narain Karthikayan will become Adrian Sutil’s teammate for the 2008 season…

New F1 Alliances?

Interestingly while Spyker appears to have been sold) Once again) speculation also centers upon the possible suitor of Aguri Suzuki’s Honda “B” Team which is also in search of a new infusion of cash.

Rumours suggest a possible partnership with Alejandro Agag. Whose interestingly a business associate of Flavour Flav’s as well as having ties to a company ironically sharing its mailing address with Emperor Bernardo’s GP2 Motorsport Ltd.

It also appears that Agag will be named one of the board members to Flavio & Bernie’s buyout of the beleaguered English Foosball team Queens Park Rangers. Yet along with the close working relationship Agag has with Briatore, there is speculation towards the Spaniard’s involvement possibly being with Prodrive next season. For more insight on Agag, see
Who is Alejandro?

Monday, September 3, 2007

Blame Canada!

Once again its Labor Day weekend which traditionally signals the end of summer. Also causing me to reflect upon the long vanished yearly tradition of trekking north to Vancouver, BC for the annual Molson Indy. Which STUPIDLY Vancouver dumped in favour of the 2010 Winter Olympics…

And as the time flies by I recall less ‘N less of those trips Up North, Eh? As I truly miss this event. Although not being a huge fan of Temporary Street circuits which seem to run their course. The trend seems to be making a strong revival at earlier venues expense. Excluding Phoenix’s second demise with Champ Car)

As my only experiences with this type of racing are the much lamented Iceberg Grand Prix and the Molson Indy. Does anybody remember that Formula 1 raced around the downtown streets of Phoenix, Arizona from 1989-91? Even funnier was the title sponsor in regards to Arizona’s cool summer climate. As I vividly recall it being 104 degrees on June 4th, 1989! But hey,
“It’s a DRY Heat…” (And so’s your oven!)

But I thoroughly enjoyed both venues, especially the Molson Indy, which seemed to ALWAYS have a LARGER crowd then Portland during CART’s heydays of the early 1990’s.

I guess part of the attraction of the Vancouver event was its great location, being situated around False Creek nearby BC Place. This locale was also the site of Expo ’86. A very popular World Exposition that unfortunately I attended on the day it set its record attendance of 211,000+ spectators. Yet Expo ’86 itself was a fairly fun event.

The Molson Indy Vancouver BC race ran for 14 years before coming to an unexpected demise with me already writing my thoughts about Willy T Ribbs darkest moment as a professional driver, which I witnessed live in 1990, when an errant corner worker ran in front of the oncoming Ribbs… To which I’ve been told isn’t politically correct to write about.

I attended the first five events, before being dropped from the group attending the races. This is when the course was still in its original vane, my favourite circuit configuration. As we had seats reserved in the first corner hairpin where we watched several drivers trying to out brake one another Including numerous skirmishes between ‘Lil Al and Mikey… As I seem to recall also being present when Al Unser Jr barrel rolled his Galles/Valvoline race car!

In 1997 the circuit was heavily revised, leaving little intact from the original layout nearby Pacific Place. Yet I also enjoyed the new circuit as I finally made my way back to this great race in 2000, as it offered unbelievable access to view the Champ Cars. Especially at the Science World hairpin, where you could stand 30+ feet from the circuit

And I also enjoyed the fantastic Art exhibits they had in the latter years, as I seriously considered purchasing an original painting of Greg Moore along with oogling over a beautiful bronze of Gilles Villeneuve

And the track was always popular with the drivers, whom claim it was one of their favourite circuits to attend. I suspect because of the amazing spectator support. With records showing that Al Unser Jr and Michael Andretti ruled the roost from 1990 to 1996. With ‘Lil Al winning four times to Mikey’s three, before “Big Mo” (Mauricio Gugelmin) broke this streak. The win was popular since Gugelmin scored his only Champ Car victory for the local PacWest Racing team.

The event was also dominated by the Team Kool Green boyzs Dario franchitti with two victories and native son Paul Tracy scoring a Hat trick in the events waning years.

My favourite moment had to be the year we took Auntie Harriet to the race and witnessed Roberto Moreno doing victory doughnuts in front of us as we were clouted by billowing clouds of tire smoke!

And towards the end, the city even had an elaborate scale model of the area’s proposed renovation, in which the track would be incorporated into a Monaco-esc setting. Yet nearby residents complained about the noise and the date was eventually moved from its traditional Labor Day spot to early July. Of which I attended for my final trip north.

My other most vivid memory involves Alex Zanardi. As the mighty CART champion had returned to the series after a disappointing season at Williams. After a force one year sabbatical, Zanardi made his return to racing with the fledgling Mo Nunn team.

And as I stood at the Science World chicane during practice, I watched “Zorro” spin haplessly. Looping the Pioneer Reynard/Honda while entering the turn with his nose facing me! Zanardi managed to not hit anything and kept the engine running as he waited for competitors to pass by before ultimately killing the lump. This in turn brought out a yellow flag and a safety vehicle was dispatched to give Zanardi a restart tow.

I recall thinking how far Zanardi had fallen as he was struggling at the back of the pack, trying to wring every ounce of performance out of his new mount. Yet unbeknownst to me, this would be his last complete race.

As sadly he would suffer life threatening injuries in the following CART round held at the Lausitzring a fortnight later…

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Motor City Madness

Although its labor day weekend, motorsports is well ‘N alive with it’s return to the Belle Isle sircuit.where the Indy Cars and American Le Mans Series are racing this weekend. This marks the return to racing in Detroit after a six year absence. And since I CAN’T watch the Champ Cars this weekend, I’ve decided to watch the ALMS event instead…

Although it seems to be a pretty boring race, the ALMS always intrigues me since there are four separate classes competing at once. With the lighter LMP2 Porsche RS Spyder’s once again dominating the once all conquering Audi’s.

And I’m writing this as there’s a lengthy yellow flag period to clean the track after a very scary incident when the Flying Lizards Porsche 911 caught fire. And I mean Oh Boy did it ever catch fire! As the car simply burst into flames… Which the SPEED announcers are saying the same has happened for any chance of their taking the championship as they were currently trailing the leading duo of Risi Competizione Ferrari F430GT’s.

And Ryan Briscoe managed to get punted upon trying to run over Mika Salo, with Briscoe being black flagged for his advantageous passing maneuver… And now his teammate has just lost his rear wing after contact with “Stevie Johnson,” A.K.A. Stefan Johansson.

And did I say boring? As Emanuele Pirro has just forced his way to the front in the Audi R10 Diesel after the long yellow flag session and looks set to snap Roger Penske’s Porsche seven race winning streak.

Does this indicate what the Indy Car race will be like tomorrow? As Helio Castroneves has just set the record for most poles in a season at seven, with Franchitti lining up second, Dixon third and Kanaan fourth. While Ryan Hunter Reay starts fifth…

Yet with only 4 ½ minutes left to go, Romain Dumas made an excellent pass on Pirro to give Porsche its eighth consecutive overall victory, as the Audi drought continues. The victory also gave Porsche the LMP2 Manufacturer’s title with two races remaining.

Meanwhile Mika Salo and Jamie Mello led wire to wire to capture their seventh victory of the season in GT2, while extending their championship points lead.

But the spotlight was on the overall winners, as the victory was fitting for the man who’d made the event happen. As Roger Penske worked tirelessly to bring racing back to Detroit, his cars captured pole, swept the front row of the grid and won the race. Is this an omen of things to happen in the Indy Car event?