Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Mario and Jimmy show

Is it live or Memorex? Can it really be almost “Juan” week ago that I watched the G-Man and Kevin K’s smiling mugs on Wind Tunnel…

And at least the Speedfreaks (radio) show seemed to get its patronage in the right order by having the elder statesman Mario Andretti precede Jimmy Vasser in their interviews regarding the just then announced Takeover, Err, Merger of Open Wheel Racing, as Mario had to play second fiddle to Jacques Villeneuve on the big windbag’s TV show.

The Speedfreaks interview was much more entertaining with Crash Gladys saying a cuss word in Italian which of course was bleeped, along with Mario being quite adamant about how this was indeed the right thing for Open Wheel Racing as he’d been trying to get the two parties together for several years, even receiving a quip from Kalkhoven about loosing some fingernails in Colorado on Wind Tunnel.

Yet Mario was quite bamboozled by the fact that Honda wouldn’t be willing to budge on its race date in order to have a single, unified grid participating at Long Beach. Just think of the positive publicity they’d garner. Yet, when told that ISC was unwilling to move its date the following weekend, Mario noted that you wouldn’t expect the France’s to do anything to help their competition…

And upon AJ Foyt’s being upset by Tony George giving “Hand-out’s” to the rival Champ Car teams, Mario was fairly diplomatic, saying he could understand ‘Ol Super Tex’s side of the argument for being a loyal IRL entrant, but in the long run AJ would ultimately prosper.

On the question of what Mario thought the series should look like, Mario said it needs to be distinct, different/unique, as CART was able to differentiate itself from Formula 1 and NASCAR by contesting all types of venues, i.e.; short ovals, super speedways, proper road courses and temporary street circuits.

When asked what would keep the newly aligned series from splitting once again in the future, Mario said; “It’ll NEVER happen in our lifetimes.” Look what happened when the auto manufacturers were threatening to break away from F1, all that Bernie Ecclestone had to say was look at American Open Wheel!

But I liked Jimmy Vasser’s view on AJ Foyt’s antic’s better; saying hasn’t Foyt gotten about 30 chassis from the IRL? You mean AJ wouldn’t take a free Dallara/Honda race car if Tony offered him one?

Thus, is it just me or isn’t it ironic that AJ Foyt IV has since been confirmed as the second driver at George’s Vision Racing alongside son in law Edward Carpenter. And I wonder if Tony’s dropping of Paul Tracy’s name when talking about next year’s centennial was a hoped for “Olive Branch” to Gerry Forsythe?