Thursday, September 18, 2008

Brothers in Arms (Part 3)

Oh yeah... I suppose Y’all are probably wonderin’ what in the HELL is the answer for the NFL QB’s, eh? So, did you manage to name the other Quartet ‘O Brothers besides the Manning’s?

But it looks like the Europeans vs. the Americano’s has gone in to overtime... With the Americano’s set to get the pigskin first...
Open Wheel Racing* (Con’t)
(* = Driver’s to contest F1/USAC/CART/Champ Car/IRL)

MEARS; Roger and Rick
Although one of the softest spoken personalities off the track, nevertheless, Rick 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, while currently holding the record for most Indy 500 poles, claiming P1 six times in the Memorial Day classic. In addition to his Indy glory, Rick has won the CART Championship three times. (1979, 1981-82)

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 and his amazing success as a CART and Indy champion have definitely overshadowed his brother Roger.

Roger, Rick’s older brother, primarily raced Off Road, but also made a total of 31 starts in USAC/CART IndyCars between 1978-84, along with two starts (1982-83) in the Indy 500 and capped his career with a handful of starts in the Craftsman Truck series.

SNEVA; Tom and Jerry
Tom Sneva, (Sentimental favourite) originally from Spokane, WA; School principal makes good! Earned his nickname “The Gasman” upon being known for his blazing speed at the Brickyard and thus later on while piloting the Texaco Star his moniker was adorned, while Tom was the very first to record an official lap of 200mph at the Speedway, as well as the very first to break the 210mph barrier and although his 200mph blast was the first of his three “Official” poles at Indy, (1977) he’d have to wait a further six years before finally drinking the milk in victory lane. Tom also was the very last USAC Indy Car Champion, winning the title in 1977-78 for Roger Penske.

Meanwhile, younger brother Jerry’s Open Wheel career was overshadowed by Tom’s Indy 500 victory and National Championships, with little light being cast upon his USAC/CART career (1977-82) or the fact that Jerry contested five Indy 500’s, with Jerry’s moment in the sun being named the 1977 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year.

SPERAFICO; Ricardo and Rodrigo
Once again I know very little about the Sperafico brother’s, having just learned that Ricardo and Rodrigo are twins and are part of the Sperafico racing clan from Brazil, as cousins Alexander and the late Rafael are also racecar piloto’s.

Ricardo made his name by winning the 2000 Italian Formula 3000 Championship before moving onto the European F3000 series, where he’d be joined by Alexander and Rodrigo in 2002, finishing fifth overall before finishing as the series runner-up in 2003 and then taking a sabbatical in 2004.

I only know of the Sperafico name due to two of the ten Sperafico’s having contested the Champ Car World Series, where both Alexander and Ricardo had fairly short lived careers. Alexander spent his debut season with Dale Coyne Racing in 2003 before spending time at Eric Bachelart’s Mi-Jack operation and the CTE-HVM organization before switching to the Champ Car Atlantics series in 2006, where he currently resides.

Meanwhile, Ricardo spent the 2005 CCWS campaign driving for the under funded Dale Coyne team, which wasn’t overly successful, especially with the revolving door of five different teammates, while cousin Rafael was killed in a Brazilian Stock Car outing in 2007.

UNSER; Jerry jr., Bobby and Al
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, becoming the second driver to accomplish the feat.

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 Johnny Rutherford on the Autosport Radio show last year.

Al won the 1971 USAC National Championship along with that year’s Indy 500, having won the previous year’s outing, both years driving the Johnny Lightning Special, along with being a model of consistency, a la Rick Mears and captured his first CART Championship for The Captain in 1983 and a second title in 1985 with a lone victory, yet beating his son ‘Lil Al for the title based on overall finishes...

Although Bobby is one of a very select group of individuals with three Indy 500 rings, (7) along with having won two USAC National Championships (1968, ’74) and having contested the 1968 USGP Formula 1 race, 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.” (Posey)

Bobby made the top 10 of my previous feature; THE BADDEST BAD ASSES! (1-50) upon my hearing the story of his lighting a Rolls Royce on fire! On the Speed Freaks webcast, which was in deference to the passing of Evil Knievel.

And Bobby’s always had 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.

Yet sadly, elder brother Jerry, winner of the 1957 USAC Stock Car Championship, who was the instigator of the Unser’s racing at the Speedway, had his racing career cut horribly short, when he was killed in a practice crash at the Speedway in 1959.

(If you’re wondering why Al Jr., Johnny and Robby Unser aren’t in this story, like Mikey, Jeff and John Andretti? It’s because they’re cousins)

VILLENEUVE; Jacques and Gilles
As Y’all know, Gilles is a former Grand Prix piloto and I know very little about him, 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 during his most famous period in Formula 1, when he was one of Enzo’s piloto’s between 1978-82. And although he’s most remembered for his amazing Ferrari drives, he actually began his Grand Prix career with McLaren in a third chassis in the 1977 British GP before being snapped up by Ferrari at the end of the season.

I believe I’ve also heard that he liked to party hard and was notorious for his Helicopter hi-jinx, in-between winning six Grand Prix’s, two poles and finishing runner-up behind teammate and World Champion Jody Scheckter in 1979. Yet, sadly he lost his life after a brooding rift between his fellow teammate Didier Pironi saw the Red Mist overcome him.

Like his brother Gilles, Jacques (Sr.) also began his career racing Snowmobiles in their native Quebec countryside, having won a prestigious three National Snowmobiling Derbies before transitioning to single seaters.

Uncle Jacques was the 1979 Formula Atlantic Rookie of the Year before winning two successive titles. (1981-82) along with capturing the ’83 Can Am crown while making three unsuccessive attempts to qualify in Formula 1 for the Arrows and RAM teams at the Canadian and USGP East. Jacques then spent a few seasons in CART, becoming the very first Canadian to win an event, at the famous Road America track in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin before returning to his Snowmobiling antics!

WHITTINGTON; Bob, Don and Dale
I only learned about the nefarious hi-jinx of the Whittington brothers upon penning the story Ganassi drives Indy, in which Dale was a fellow rookie driver and apparently another “One Hit Wonder,” as Dale would make only one dubious start at Indianapolis in 1982, when the Whittington Brothers made history by being the only trio of brothers to qualify the same year.

Recall this was the year that Kevin Cogan broadsided Mario Andretti just prior to the green flag being thrown. Whittington, who was starting from 23rd position incorrectly, assumed that the slowing cars trying to avoid the accident were an opportunity to pass them and slammed into a slowing Roger Mears.

Allegedly Mario was so incensed by the results of what triggered the four cars being retired that he threatened to expose Dale and his brothers smuggling hi-jinx, thus Dale never returned to Indy.

Unfortunately the Whittington Brothers along with the John Paul’s (Jr. and Sr.) and Randy Lanier were part of IMSA’s notorious 1980’s “International Marijuana Smuggler’s Association” which later led to several arrests, with Dale being the only suspect to not go to jail.

Yet, Dale died of an apparent Drug overdose in 2003 after being found deceased by his son on Father’s Day…

Otay, if you’re still reading... I’ll quit stalling and give you the answer to the original trivia question of brothers in the NFL to play Quarterback, since Y’all know ‘bout ‘dem Manning bros. interestingly three fourths of our remaining quartet have ties to the Pacific Northwest...

See what happens when I’ve been starin’ way too long at ze confuzer and try to do a story on Pro Football? Since I’ve mistakenly confused Ty Detmer with Trent Dillfert! I mean c’mon; Dillfert – Detmer, you say Detmer and I say Dillfert... Oh Never mind!

Thus, that would mean that only 2/4th’s of our quartet has ties to the Northwest, but hey! I tried, eh?

Ty & Koy Detmer
So, all I know about the Detmer’s is that despite my popular misconception... Ty did NOT play for the Seahawks, nor the Tampa Bay Buccaneers... NO! Instead he was the 1990 Heisman Trophy winner while at BYU and then drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1992 and then played for multiple teams before retiring in 2005.

Younger Koy was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1997 and played QB in 1998 as well as remaining with the Eagles thru 2006 before signing with the Vikings in ’07 and is currently listed as a Free Agent.

Matt & Tim Hasselbeck
Unaware of Tim’s career, who played very briefly for the Redskins in 2003 with a record of 1-1, but very familiar with our All Pro Quarterback Matt, whom our beloved coach “Fuzzy Seller,” Err, Mike Holgran originally drafted while at Green Bay to compliment some dude named Brett Fabre... Before Holgran wisely traded for Matt, who’s helped the Seattle Seahawks kick ASS ever since, with four consecutive NFC West Crowns and a trip to the 2005 Superbowl where Y’all know the Hawks were robbed! Yet, for the beginning of this year’s NFL season, Matt and the Seahawks have seemingly reverted to the older Seattle team known as the SEA-CHICKENS!

Damon & Brock Huard
Both Damon and Brock were very successful University of Washington (Dawg’s) Husky quarterbacks before going onto NFL careers. Damon has seen stints with the Dolphins, Patriots and Kansas City “Chefs,” while younger brother Brock has brief stints with the Seahawks and the Colts, with his very first NFL attempt being a touchdown, before spending his final year with Seattle on IR.

Yet, after KC’s starting QB Brodie Croyle suffered a separated shoulder during the season opener vs. New England, venerable back-up Damon was pressed into service and almost pulled off an improbable upset, leading the Chiefs down to the Patriot’s 5yd line before his team was unable to punch in the pigskin for the go ahead score...

Damon then made his first NFL start in several years this past weekend against the Oakland Raiders, but after just two series and having thrown an interception, was replaced for the remainder of the game by third string QB Tyler Thigpen.

Payton & Eli Manning
No need to say anything here... With two Superbowl winning MVP’s, eh?

Josh & Luke McCown
Never heard of this duo, although apparently Josh was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2002 and after bouncing around a few teams, currently is a back-up for the Carolina Panthers, while younger brother Luke is currently a backup for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers...