Tuesday, September 30, 2008

F1: German GP Notes - 2008 edition

So it was a bit strange to be finally wrapping up my delayed Telescreen viewing of this year’s German Grand Prix a fortnight after the actual event... Yet here’s a somewhat quick(?) wrap-up of my notes from the most excellent July 20th SPEED TV broadcast.

And stealing a page from Press Dawg, who likes to celebrate his race notes by picking his beer of the event, I’d definitely have to say that the German Grand Prix would cause me to pick Bitburger... Although if you cannot find a freshly imported BitBurger, then I’d suggest a Warsteiner, Ja Volt!
Friday PracticeProfessor (Steve) Matchett rightly BLASTED the Emasculation the track had received in its 2002 makeover, saying the track just didn’t have the same dynamics as when the cars went out into the forest and blasted along those long straights... To which Peter Winsor concurred, saying that the track was now a very BLAND Herman Tilke design... As it was also noted how the weather had been threatening, as I believe it rained the two days prior to Friday and it was noted how it was humid with dark clouds surrounding the track.

And speaking of your mass marketing promotional strategies... Amazingly all five German F1 piloto’s managed to spend time atop the time sheets on Friday.

Sebastian Vettel was confirmed as David Coulthard’s replacement at Red Bull for 2009, with teammate Mark Webber on a one year extension, as Bob Varsha would spend the rest of the weekend marveling over the fact that 20yr old Vettel was the only Formel Ein driver without a Manager! Meanwhile Vettel’s current teammate at Scuderia Toro Rosso, The Hamburgular, a.k.a. Sea Bass (S. Bourdais) is racing on a one year contract and has been struggling mightily with the latest Adrian Newey incarnation of the Toro Rosso chassis, the STR-03 and hence Varsha twisted the knife slightly by inquiring whether there may be two open seats at Toro Rosso for next year?

Winsor then commented how he felt a bit sad for Bourdais, as he thought he was doing an excellent job and his driving style looked impeccable... He was a bit surprised that Deeter Majestic had picked Vettel as DC’s replacement over Sea Bass, as the young German is very forceful with his driving style, almost a bit ragged... (Hmm? Sounds a bit like somme-juan named Fredrico Suave, eh?) And then Winsor went off on a tangent about how “The American” driver, although Bourdais is French seems to always have such immense expectations placed upon them, saying how Michael Andretti had actually done a very good job if you overlooked the fact that his teammate was somebody named Senna and that they had lousy engines that year... (1993) To which David Hobbs disagreed, saying that the teams biggest problem with Mikey was his insistence to fly home between each round, yet, both Hobbs and Matchett noted that Bourdais was obviously a very gifted driver ‘cause championships don’t just fall off of trees...

“Hobbo” continued on about how he’d spent some time with Bourdais at the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed and he’s a really nice guy! And after Winsor’s long winded point about Lewis Hamilton’s visor fogging problem at Silverstone... To which Arai has now devised a twin visor shield for such weather conditions, Hobbs said he knows a bit about that as his glasses were fogging up in about one minute of sitting in the car and asked Sea Bass how he deals with that? As Bourdais replied he doesn’t have any problems, you just need to crack your visor open a bit.

Then Varsha prompted Hobbo to comment upon his experience at Goodwood, saying it was amazing how everything came back immediately and it wasn’t like he’d been out of the cockpit for thirty years... From the part where the mechanic sticks his head in and says Blah-Blah-Blah... Which of course brought immediate laughter from Matchett, who then muttered I don’t know why we bother!

Hobbo’s prattled on ‘bout how even the gearshift didn’t feel notchity at all even though he’d been warned... To which the ever sharp, krack pit lane reporter, The House of Winsor interjected; David when you were in the cockpit did you have any dreamlike visions of when Sam Posey was AHEAD of you... Which over the guffaws, Hobbs muttered; You mean when I was coming up to lap Posey?

Then with less than two minutes to go Louise “Jaguar” Hamilton threw down a Banzai “Flyer” lap on the Bridgestone “Soft” tires, being 0.7 seconds quicker then Felipe Massa who’d been atop the time sheets, who was in the pits during Lewis’s lap, yet Kimi Raikkonen who was also on the soft tires was 0.3 seconds slower then Jaguar...

Saturday Qualifying“Nelson Nelson,” a.k.a. Nelson Piquet (DON’T call me) Junior. had an interesting Q1 “Qualy” session, where he’d started off late in P20, then did a “flyer” and hoisted himself into 11th before ultimately ending up 17th quickest and relegated out of qualifying... As the host broadcast replayed Nelson’s radio transmission urging the team to protest Vettel for blocking his final run... While Sebastian Vettel claimed the fifth quickest lap time of the session behind Louise “Jaguar” Hamilton, “KOVY” (Heikki Kovalainen) Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen respectively.

During Q2, all of the remaining competitors were content to sit stationary in the pit lane for the first four minutes and 50+ seconds of the 15 minute session... Before the two Ferraris made their appearance, with fast laps were traded back ‘N forth, Hamilton would wind-up quickest with a 1:14.6 to Massa’s 1:14.7 with Kovy in third, followed by an impressive run by Fredrico Suave, a.k.a. Fernando Alonso, who was ahead of The Iceman, (K. Raikkonen) with the only German driver advancing to Q3 Final Qualifying being Vettel...

To which they played a very entertaining radio transmission from Toro Rosso, where the young German asked; Where are we, where are we? To which his engineer replied; P9, to which Vettel yelled WOO-HOO! Over his radio, to which was met with the somber tone of don’t get excited yet... You still have to push! To which Hobbo immediately broke into his mock German accent about you need to push mein race-driver, Ja-Ja!

Final qualifying saw a rather odd ending as Kimi appeared to lift off upon crossing the chequered flag with five seconds to go having nabbed P2. To which would see the Finn slide down to sixth after the music had ended! As Hamilton claimed pole just ahead of Massa, with Kovalainen taking third, saying in the post race interview session how he’d done a little Rally-coursing! As Heikki had done considerable agricultural work with his McLaren enroute to P3... While out of nowhere, Jarno Trulli jumped to fourth and Ferdi the Putz (Alonso) slotted the nervous Renault into fifth place, while Vettel was the highest placed German in P9, sandwiched by his big brother Red Bull drivers...

NOTE:
Although I did indeed manage to capture the FOX TV Race broadcast on my ‘Ol Memorex tapin’ machine... I stumbled upon the SPEED TV rebroadcast (about 1/3rd of the way thru the Acura Pre-Race segment) the following morning after our return from Der Fatherland, , of which you can read about my “live” track report in; Hockenheimring.

And being in a semi-state ‘O Jet Rag, while Wishin’ to do nothin’ utter ‘den sit stationary upon the couch, I simply watched the race in order to fill-in the massive blanks from the racetrack and hence didn’t take any notes... Especially since this was originally a DELAYED, HACKED-UP FOX TV Show...

Race Report
Qualifying Results
Pole: L. Hamilton; 2. F. Massa; 3. H. Kovalainen; 4. J. Trulli; 5. F. Alonso;
6. K. Raikkonen; 7. R. Kubica; 8. M. Webber; 9. S. Vettel; 10. D. Coulthard

Race ResultsWinner: L. Hamilton; 2. N. Piquet Jr; 3. F. Massa; 4. N. Heidfeld;
5. H. Kovalainen; 6. K. Raikkonen; 7. R. Kubica; 8. S. Vettel

2008 F1 Point Standings(Round 10 of 18)
Driver’s
L. Hamilton 58
F. Massa 54
K. Raikkonen 51
R. Kubica 48
N. Heidfeld 41

Constructors

Ferrari 105
BMW Sauber 89
McLaren 86
Renault 25
Toyota 25
Red Bull 24

F1: Bloody Silverstone - 2008 edition

Otay, so it was awhile ago... And having just returned from a most bemusing time in BLOODY Heathrow, I apparently wasn’t in the mood to take notes on the Jolly ‘Ol Silverstone event, where the young “Louise Jaguar” Hamilton put on the ultimate driving clinique! Enamoring himself and McLaren to the reputed sell-out... I’m guessing that many of the fans and several of the drivers would have preferred the dry confines of the BMW Sauber Pit lane Park exhibit on display in Manchester, eh?

Race Report
Qualifying Results
Pole: H. Kovalainen (1st F1 Career Pole)
2. M. Webber; 3. K. Raikkonen; 4. L. Hamilton; 5. N. Heidfeld;
6. F. Alonso; 7. N. Piquet Jr; 8. S. Vettel; 9. F. Massa; 10. R. Kubica

Race ResultsWinner: L. Hamilton; 2. N. Heidfeld; 3. R. Barrichello;
4. K. Raikkonen; 5. H. Kovalainen; 6. F. Alonso; 7. J. Trulli;
8. K. Nakajima

2008 F1 Point Standings(Round 9 of 18)

Driver’sL. Hamilton 48
F. Massa 48
K. Raikkonen 48
R. Kubica 46
N. Heidfeld 36

Constructors
Ferrari 96
BMW Sauber 82
McLaren 72
Toyota 25
Red Bull 24

Monday, September 29, 2008

Paul Newman



As many of you may know by now, Paul Newman passed away on Friday, September 26th at the age of 83... As typical, I first heard the sad news on the Friday practice coverage of this year’s inaugural Singapore Grand Prix.

And what could I possibly say about such a legendary figure? As I only know of Paul Newman first thru the camera lense and secondly as the team co-owner of Newman/Haas Racing... Who for many, many years were one of the “Enemies,” as first Mario and later Michael, were always potential winning threats. And PL was partially responsible for bringing “BLOODY NIGE” (Nigel Mansell) to CART at what most likely was its zenith, actually causing more buzz over CART then the series he’d left as reigning World Champion; Formula 1! Newman got even further rave reviews from myself over his fortitude of staying away from the Speedway for 12yrs; Saying he had a problem with the management... And Newman/Haas Racing is arguably one of the most successful Indy Car teams of all time, with 107 victories and 8 Championships.

And I certainly haven’t seen all of Mr. Newman’s cinema work, nor hardly very much of the some 60 odd films he took part in, yet I’d have to say the film that left the most indelible mark upon me was his performance in The Sting, followed much later on when he came back once again as a pool hustler in The Color of Money...And somewhere along the line I saw the wonderful film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Yet, I also recall watching him kick ASS in the SCCA Trans Am racing series, when he drove an all black, un-sponsored #4 Roush Ford Mustang to victory, as many may not know that Newman was quite serious about his racing career and won four SCCA National Championships between 1976-86 behind the wheel of Bob Sharp Racing Datsun’s/Nissan’s, most notably 280Z’s, as the actor had gotten the racing bug while preparing for his role in the film Winning (1969) and it would take a further three years for Newman to find the time to get his racing license and win his first event behind the wheel of a Lotus Elan. Paul would capture his first SCCA title in D Production in 1976 followed by the C Production crown in ‘79 and two GT1 titles in 1985-86.

“In the 1970s, Newman, admittedly bored with acting, became fascinated with auto racing, a sport he studied when he starred in the  film, "Winning." After turning professional in 1977, Newman and his driving team made strong showings in several major races, including fifth place in Daytona in 1977 and second place in the Le Mans in 1979.”

Newman made history by winning the Daytona 24hrs at the age of 70 in 1995 and his final major racing event was the 2005 Rolex 24 at Daytona at the age of 79, which I recall being the cars number, when he climbed behind the wheel of a Daytona Prototype with fellow drivers Sebastian Bourdais and Cristiano Da Matta, as I also seem to recall the car had hastily painted on flames after the car had caught on fire.

Thus, while I missed the first ten minutes of last night’s Speed Freaks program, it was a quite well done show, with a two hour tribute to the legendary Paul Newman, with the first guest being none other then Mario Andretti, who was followed by Kyle Petty. Having run long with the first two guests, Christian Fittipaldi was next on the line, followed by current Newman Haas Lanigan drivers Justing Wilson and Graham Rahal, followed by Stanton Barrett, a very brief interview with Gil De Ferran and a written statement by Tony Stewart.

Tony Stewart:
”Paul Newman was a phenomenal individual who made a profound impact throughout his life. His acting skills are well-known, but equally impressive was his desire to give back and help those who just didn't get the same shake out of life that we did,"
Besides his most impressive charity work for the Hole in the Wall Gang, of which in typical Newman understatement, I wasn’t aware that he’d personally help open a branch in Carnation, WA in 2007... I find it most impressive how Paul Newman & Carl Haas left Bruno Junqueira’s seat open for him after his terrible accident at Indianapolis in 2005...

Paul Newman

IndyCar Gossip

While listening last night to Speed Freaks, Crash Gladys asked Stanton Barrett, Godson of Paul Newman, when Greg Beck was going to announce Darren Manning as the team’s second driver? As apparently Beck Motorsports plans to campaign two cars in the Indy Car World Series next season...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Hockenheimring (Part 2)


Having dosed off to the soothing sounds of peaceful acoustic German music with enthusiastic singing along, daylight soon approached...
SAT, 7/19YES! There really is a shuttle bus to the race track for us... As we were stationed in front of our awaiting motor coach bright ‘N early... Otay, perhaps a little too early, as we rode the Greyhound-like shuttle bus in to watch the day’s activities... And as our motor coach came to a stop, we disembarked and followed the F1 “Sheeple,” not being exactly sure which direction to go?

Following the crowd, we passed another cluster of “Yellow-vest’s,” walked thru a massive amount of broken glass, up a little dirt trail and followed the Sheeple across the Autobahn... And then walking underneath the track with some sorta type of unknown Honda-esce like mini racecar’s roaring overhead, as this is what my notes say...

“Why don’t you just say some type of cars went around the track, but my Seeing Eye dog didn't know what they were, and therefore I didn't either!"?!?”
Yeah, that’s what happens when you’re visually impaired, since I never actually saw these cars before we finally reached the track’s entrance and headed towards our seats. But I think perhaps they were the BMW Pro car’s? Of which I last saw two competing at the Zippo Historics at Watkins Glen and they’re really cool racecars.

Thus, we arrived at our seats just-in-time to see the start of Formel Ein practice, and I watched with amazement once again how FREAKIN’ FAST they are and the hour practice session just flew by! As it would be interesting to know just how fast they’re arriving into the Motordrome section?

Next up was the Porsche Supercup qualifying session, which started off fairly sanguine, as its an injustice for anybody to appear after the Formula 1 land sharks have thrown down hot laps... Yet suddenly, three cars spun out directly in front of us, as after hearing the screech of brakes locking and badly flat spotted tyres, a Porsche sat motionless facing the wrong way in our corner, although the PA announcers later confirmed what I’d suspected, that he’d had some assistance... Yet, the real culprit for all of this drama was caused by a ten second rain burst that covered the racing surface. (Oh NO! DON’T tell me it’s gonna rain...) While two of the Porsches were abandoned off track, the piloto facing the wrong way finally managed to motor back off into competition and then the sun reappeared.

Next up, after a lunch break and having removed the stricken Porsches, it was time for Formel Ein knock out qualifying!

In-between the bellowing sounds of the shrieking F1 rocket ships, I was able to intermittently catch snippets of the track’s PA announcers, of which there were three voices; German, French and English, of which I could only understand the one in English, which turned out to be the familiar voice of Bob Constanduros, whose been a traveling trackside F1 announcer for several years now. Actually, it’s funny to think it’s almost a decade now since I first heard his voice on the PA system at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

And unfortunately for us, we were sitting directly besides a quartet ‘O very enthusiastic fans, of which the nearest duo Claire appropriately decided to nickname “The Air horn Brothers!” As they wildly tooted their air horns every time one of the Ferrari’s appeared, making it pretty easy for me to know when the red cars were coming...

Yet, even with out the assistance of the Air horn Bros. Claire had devised an ingenious method of informing me when the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro racecar’s were passing me, by simply tapping me on various parts of the body! Wap-Wap!

And it was most impressive to see the youngest German hot-shue Sebastian Vettel ring the lifeblood out of his Scuderia Toro Rosso and make his way into the Q3 final qualifying session, once again out qualifying Red Bull elder statesman DC. (Coulthard)

And it was interesting to note, that although the Air horn Bros. were still rooting for the red cars in Q3, they became absolutely ecstatic, standing up and eagerly blarin’ away every time the BMW Sauber of “The Kracow Kid, a.k.a. Robert Kubica passed by.”

But even funnier yet was that all the way up to the final moments of Q3 Mr. Constanduros could be heard intermittingly on the PA system during brief moments of relative quiet from the banshee wail of the ten remaining F1 rocket ships... Yet, Bob simply disappeared before the end of Q3 and we were left pondering who was on the pole? As I could make out some of the names from the German commentator, but had no idea which way he was reading them off? Last to first, or visa-versa?

While the stands emptied after qualifying, we stayed for the upcoming GP2 race, which turned out to be very entertaining for us remaining spectators... Albeit not so fun for the participants, as midways thru the event a 10 minute rain shower engulfed the track and I decided to christen my newly acquired rain gear, as suddenly there were four racecar’s pirouetting off of the “Ash-fault” directly in front of us... Who were quickly joined by another two contestants alongside the massive carnage, as the six driver’s solemnly stood besides their wrecked hulks, totally dismayed by what had just occurred, as all of the chassis would be towed away later.

As the sun reappeared and I began to swelter in my rain gear, we decided it was time to leave the day’s festivities and I stopped to purchase my lone Bratwurst of the weekend on our way outta the track, although we did stop briefly to check out a few of the F1 show car’s before sauntering back to our Shuttle bus...

Returning to our party tent, it was nice to be sitting down with a beer in hand as the rain once again returned and we simply sat listening to our wonderful German acoustic performer before we were rudely interrupted by a massive thunderclap, as suddenly our campground was hit by a 5+ minute deluge of torrential precipitation, as Claire madly battened down all of the party tent’s various flaps... Aye Karumba!

SUN, 7/20Once again, we get up early, ‘cause Tomaso wants to get in as MUCHO racing action as possible! Thus, upon departing the Shuttle Bus, we walk around in town a bit and stop in a little delicatessen to purchase some water for the track, which will later be much needed and appreciated as it would be extremely warm; 90 degrees w/humidity and even with the water, I’d ultimately get dehydrated from sitting in this oven for 5+ hours...

Crossing the Autobahn once again, over the woods ‘N thru the hills, Err, up the ‘lil dirt trail and underneath the race track, we’d be greeted to the shrieking sounds of the F1 piloto’s making their morning warm-up laps as we made our way towards the Motordrome stadium section. And once again Claire planned things perfectly, as my notes say; “Get in, SHUT UP! Sit down and Strap in!” Err, actually they say that we sat down, put our earplugs in and wall-lah the morning’s GP2 Sprint race began! Talk ‘bout timing, eh?

Next up was the Porsche Supercup race and it seemed like deja vu all over again, as once again a Porsche 911 spun out directly in front of us... Although he did make it back on track while another two driver’s joined the “Groundhog Day” precession, also merrily spinning off track. But the German commentators made the whole show very entertaining...

After all of the Porsche’s had been removed, there was a short “Demonstration” race run by the BMW M1 Pro car’s, along with a short interview on the PA system with Herr (Niki) Lauda, (Michael Schumacher also made a cameo interview I believe?) while Claire noted that they looked like a bunch ‘O RASSCAR’s out there and were SLOW! Well NO SHEISA, Sherlock! They’re not going 10/10th and are following up two previous races, but hey! At least we saw something unusual, as one of the M1’s actually made an outside pass in our corner and they have a very nice, throaty, burbly sound...

Then it was time for the F1 Drivers parade laps... LAPS? I’ve only ever seen them perform a single lap, so this seemed like a bonus, as appropriately Kimi Raikkonen led the parade, with all of the drivers being chauffeured around the track in really nice vintage automobiles...

And one of the coolest things about going to Grand Prix’s is the multitude of people carrying flags on long poles in support of their favourite drivers or team, as the Air horn bros. had seemingly elected to wave a huge Ferrari flag instead on race day, although we also passed a few Finnish flags, (a Scottish flag?) etc.

And then it was time for the race to start, with undoubtedly the coolest part of the race being the parade lap, where all 20 drivers did various incarnations of putting heat into their race rubber, coming to an almost complete stop and “BRRRRRR!!!!!!!!” Burap- Burap-Burap!!! As clouds of tire smoke wafted from the Ash-fault, with everybody doin’ their Big Daddy Don Garlits Top Fuel dragster dance steps thru the entire Motordrome section...

Then the unmistakable shrill of 20 tightly wound 19,000RPM rocket ships screeching off towards the first corner as Bob Varsha urging you to turn up the volume at the start of every televised race just DOESN’T do justice to the live symphonic sounds of 20 Formula 1 piloto’s mashing the loud pedal!

And in the time it took me to write the above paragraph, pole sitter Hamilton had taken off like a scalded cat... No puns intended as I like to call him Jaguar; Oh never mind... Yet, Hamilton seemed to be leaving Massa in his dust with apparent ease, along with the rest of the grid, as I’d count up to 14 seconds to myself when awaiting the arrival of the red cars...

And while Claire was still employing her ingenious Wap-Wap method of informing me when the Ferrari’s were approaching, it was pretty simple for me since a fan a few rows below us would stand up and hold a Ferrari flag in his hands every time Kimi approached, who for reasons unknown was way off the pace, (the entire weekend) dropping down to somewhere between position 4-10? SHEISA!

And then a audible din fell upon us as over the PA system I could hear that one of the Panasonic Toyota’s had crashed, somewhere else on the circuit and this was followed by a safety car period; but which Toyota driver?

Afterwards Massa dropped from P2 to P3 although Claire had NO clue who was on second... Although we could tell one of the red cars was third, as Claire says it’s impossible to make out a cars number as they scream by... And I’d forgotten to print up any spotter guide material, so I just simply ASS-Sumed it was “KOVY,” a.k.a. Heikki Kovalainen? As it was a light coloured racecar...

And I noticed that the two gentlemen sitting next to me had been plugged in the entire race with mini television sets... And the person closest to me obviously was a McLaren/Hamilton fan as he gave his friend a waist high closed fist pull/pump as the drivers came by on the final lap... After waving to all of the drivers, I’d just marvel at youn “Louise’s” domination, muttering out loud several times that Hamilton had simply “WALKED IT!” (As I’d been rooting for either Kimi or Felipe to win...)

After letting the stands clear out a bit, we joined the parade and walked down the stairway, ducked thru a small fence hole and joined the masses walking on the track... Which is always an added bonus! As I was bemused to notice that the FIA curbing in our adjacent corner was painted blue and white instead of the customary red and white, while we were surrounded by an ocean of race fans.

Then Claire walked off towards the sand trap to retrieve race track souvenirs for Zeben (Alex) finding a whole bunch of bits ‘N pieces of fiberglass/carbon fibre, metal bits, etc, while I stopped for a photo-op with the largest AGIP banner I’ve ever seen before following the Sheeple thru another set of fences and ducking before coming out next to part of the paddock...

Then we had to walk thru another tunnel which ultimately led us towards the other side of the Motorddrome, where we did another cool thing, like fish swimming upstream against the constant current of leaving spectators, we walked up to the top of a grandstand/bleacher complex which happened to look directly out onto the front straight and was awash with a see of people mulling around the pit lane and now deserted victory rostrum...
After reversing course and coming back down the stairs with the still leaving spectators, we decided to check out the various F1 show car displays; McLaren, Toyota, Ferrari and Red Bull, as well as the BMW M1 racecar’s, (again) with Claire deciding to get Zeben a few free car posters, as I was quite bemused to have been almost knocked over while accompanying Claire towards the BMW M1 posters... SHEISA DUDE! There’s only about 1,000 left...

Not sure what else to go look at, since the majority of the remaining tents were simply merchandise, we reluctantly decided it was time to leave, walking back to our Shuttle Bus rendezvous, where we patiently waited next to some Firemen washing a vehicle in the still beaming sunlight, as approximately 30-45mins. Later our motor coach arrived and took us on a different route back to our now mostly deserted campground, where I immediately got a beer before changing into shorts and lying down...

MON, 7/21
There was just one couple next to us, as our campground, which was normally a soccer field was quite quiet Monday morning. After checking out and getting our deposit back, we got a ride to the Hockenheim train station from two of the very friendly “Chaps” working the event for F1 Camping, which is TOTALLY the way to go low budget while NOT having to lug around camping paraphnalia...

Having said our goodbyes, we hung out at the train station for an hour awaiting our first train, to begin the long trek home to Vladi and Ulli’s, I marveled at the fact of how the tracks were divided, with the slow freightrain’s hugging the inside lane, while the High Speed trains blasted past us on their own separate lane, four tracks opposite of us and the freightrain’s. Transferring at Mannheim, we once again took the scenic route alongside the Rhine River and had good seats for viewing the countryside... Look, there’s another Kastel, Wap-wap!

Arriving in now semi-familiar Koln, we hopped upon our well known commuter train from Koln Central Station to Bergisch-Gladbach and arrived early afternoon. Upon Vladi’s arrival and telling him all about our adventures, I was dumbstruck to hear Vladi tell me that Nelson Piquet had finished second... WHAT? Are you sure? And then Vladi got the paper and read the results to me, SHEISA! How in the HELL did that happen?

Next, we drove over to Yogi’s Vino store, where we met Saskia, and then back to Vladi’s where we met Ulli and walked over to the neighborhood’s local restaurant for dinner before staying up into the wee hours imbibing in our favourite German beverages one final time
Prior to our unwanted departure as Vladi & Ulli are simply “Voonderbar” hosts...

TUES, 7/22
After awakening way too DAMN early to say our unwanted goodbyes... We take our well worn commuter train to Koln-Mulhim and transfer for Dusseldorf airport. Of course our train is running slow and we arrive late to the airport after hopping the third and final train, but we make check-in 1hr prior to our departure for the DREADED Heathrow airport which was Claire’s idea to go home a different route...

After spending the majority of our 4hrs layover quibbling with numerous security Boffins... Uh Sir, is that a corkscrew in your backpack? NO! It’s a BLOODY Corkscrew... Well Bolluck’s, as we did finally manage to get Heathrow sorted “Just-in-Time” to board our 9hr 36min direct flight to SeaTac...

You can read more about this PAINFUL Airport experience in; Back in the USSR?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pop goes the Driver

Danny B just informed me that “Super Tex,” a.k.a. AJ Foyt has hired the recently departed Vitor Meira of Panther Racing to replace current ABC Supply funny man and Golfer extraordinaire Darren Manning for the 2009 season, with an option to stay on thru 2010.

Thus, will see three new Driver/Team pairings at the upcoming non-points Indy Car finale at Surfers Paradise, in order to get a jump upon the 2009 season, with Dan Wheldon in Meira’s Panther ride. Dario Franchitti in Wheldon’s Target/Ganassi mount and Vitor warming up Manning’s vacated seat, as I guess it didn’t pay for the Brit to get “Too Knackered” during an earlier Oval race this season, eh?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

FIA Ruling

So, as we all wait with baited breath over the outcome of “Spa-gate,” it seems worth noting that the Court of Appeals is notorious for NOT overturning decisions...

Just think about Eddie “IRV THE SWERVE” Irvine receiving a three race ban after the Jordan Grand Prix team appealed the one race ban for the wicked looking crash involving the acrobatic rookie F1 debutant Jos “THE BOSS” Verstappen at Brazil in 1994. Or how about Michael Schumacher loosing the ’94 Belgian Grand Prix in regards to his underbody plank being worn too thin... And that’s before we even get to the now long forgotten Ferrari barge board controversy... Or last year’s “Stepney-Gate,” the Renault NO call decision and the tawdry late night Der Fraulein episodes of Sir Maxxum... And who knows what else in-between, eh? So, DON’T be overly surprised if the decision to appeal Lewis Hamilton’s 25 second time penalty is upheld...

UPDATE
The WMSC has just ruled upon the recent “Spa-gate” incident at this year’s Belgian GP.

No big surprises in Paris
The FIA Court of Appeal has rejected the McLaren appeal from the Grand Prix of Belgium on the grounds that Article 152 of the International Sporting Code states that drive-through penalties are "not susceptible to appeal". The decision was made by Philippe Narmino (Monaco), Xavier Conesa (Spain), Harry Duijm (Netherlands), Thierry Juillard (Switzerland) and Erich Sedelmeyer (Austria).
"We are naturally disappointed with today's verdict, and to have received no ruling on the substance of our appeal," said Martin Whitmarsh. "No-one wants to win Grands Prix in court; but we felt that Lewis had won the Belgian Grand Prix, on track, in an exciting and impressive manner. Our legal team and witnesses calmly explained this, as well as our belief that the appeal should be admissible, to the FIA International Court of Appeal. It nonetheless decided that our appeal was inadmissible. We will now concentrate on the remaining four races of the 2008 Formula 1 season."

(Source: Grandprix.com)

Hockenheimring


As Y’all may be aware of... Your humble scribe managed to partake in this year’s German Grand Prix, Ja Volt! And thus has since been suffering from post Formel-Ein-us, as in there’s simply NO WAY! To adequately describe the thrill of being at a Formula 1 race live in person...

Yet, nevertheless, here’s my story recap of frolicking about in Der Fatherland this past July, to which I’ve already scribbled about our MADCAP attempt of retrieving our Grand Prix tickets in;
Ticket Schumozzle

(TICKETS? WE DON’T HAVE YOUR STINKIN’ TICKETS; JA VOLT! )

Thus, whilst awaiting the arrival of said document... We continued our Holiday in spite of this circumstance and hence, feeling fairly confident that the tickets were finally on there way from Norte Americano... we decided a side trip to Paris was our best course of action while awaiting the delivery of said tickets...

As thanks to Saskia, we’d learned that Paris was only 4hrs away from Germany via the Talis operated TGV high speed train, of which I was told by Vladi blasted the rails at a top speed of 310-320kph... (192.5-198.7mph!) Even worse was the fact that we had to ride in Comfort 1 (First class) on our way to Gay Paree... SHEISA!

But Paris was fantastic, as Claire and I literally walked the soles off of our shoes... Well, at least I did! Thanks in large part to Saskia’s wonderful suggestions of all the possible sightseeing options we could do via foot...

And thus after returning late Thursday evening after an endless two nights in Gay Paree, we were very relieved to finally have our GP Tickets awaiting us, talk about being “Just-in-Time, eh?” Having arrived from Norte Americano the day prior! And thus as our sleepy heads hit the pillows, we both managed to sleep thru the next morning’s alarm...

As Claire noted how difficult it was to switch languages, having learned to :deutsches wenig sprechen,” then attempted learning a wee bit Francois, before having to abruptly switch back to Deutch, Ja Volt!

Fri, 7/18After breakfast and having packed our camping backpacks for the following adventure, we walked the now familiar path to the awaiting commuter train stop in Bergisch-Gladbach and made our way to Koln (Colone) Central Station, for which we had tickets for the 1PM train.

From Koln we took the “Slow” (regular speed) Train (opposed to the more expensive I.C.E. high speed train which only saved one hour from our travels. (For an additional $28 Euros, one way)

Our train trip was most pleasant, as we passed alongside the “Romantic” region of the Rhine River, as Claire constantly noted the various kastels in the distance, before departing in Manheim. (Major cities from Koln: Bonn; Koblenz; Mainz; Mannheim. Transfer at Mannheim, 2-3 stops prior to Stuttgart)

Exiting the train, we transferred to a normal “Inner-city” commuter Train for a 15min ride to Hockenheim and while aboard, a British lady standing next to us said; “I think that approx. 7/8th’s of the passengers aboard must be going to the Grand Prix...” When Claire asked her if she knew how to get there, she just shrugged and said she had a map...

Arriving at the Hockenheim train station at 4PM, there were absolutely ZERO signs to the Shuttle Buses or the Hockenheimring and thus Claire went inside the nearby Panda restaurant, asking for directions from the Chinese owner, who gave her directions in German. (Huh? Confucius sez what’s wrong with this picture?)

And thus we began our march thru the tiny city of Hockenheim in search of the race track, with the sounds of racing vehicles off in the near distance, while we cut thru a park, an elderly German woman with walker parked nearby asked us where we were going in Deutch... To which all I could think of to respond was; Formel Ein, as we continued our trek towards the race track.

Thus it seemed a tad ironic as we emerged from the park, that we were asked in Inglish if we knew the way to the train station? (Like we know where we’re going, eh?)

Continuing onwards, Claire asked if I smelled anything? As she told me that Hockenheim smelled like sewage! (Pew-ee!)

Yet, its all kind of a blur now, as we must have crossed over the Autobahn, which does indeed run right down what used to be the middle of the original race track, when this portion of the (A6) Autobahn was built in 1965, as we stopped to ask a man directing traffic in front of one of the numerous camping facilities; where is ours? But, he wasn’t very helpful and told us to move along... So Claire decided we’d simply walk to the track’s main entrance where certainly they’d be able to help us; Buh-buh-buh-believable!

So after a short walk, we approached the main gate and stopped to ask for assistance from the yellow vested circuit workers. (A la the Yellow Shirts at some ‘lil track named Indy...) And I smiled incredulously when Claire asked them; Sprecken ze Inglish? To which the five workers ALL pointed at each other... As in; “Like it’s your turn to deal with these Dumbkamf visitors!” But none of them could help us find our campground location, nor where the shuttle bus was located, instead giving us a map and setting us off on the scenic route for the lone known shuttle bus locale in town.

Now having walked for quite some while, after having turned around once after going in the wrong direction, Claire said mockingly; Did I say I saw a shuttle bus sign or was I just imagining things? (Did I have a dream, or did the dream have me?) As my notes say that WE WALKED FOR FUCKING EVER!!! By this point I was simply in full keep upright mode as my backpack was beginning to feel like 80lb bag ‘O cement... As the full weight was upon my shoulders and not my hips as I was informed later that evening by Claire.

Oh, that’s right you wanted some water an hour ago, Claire mused. Stopping at a tiny little store, Claire went inside to buy me some water and ask for directions... Yet, unfortunately our map was so BAD! That even the locals couldn’t decipher it and thus we continued our panoramic exploration of Hockenheim, SHEISA!
In the end, we walked for approx. 2hrs PLUS! With our heavy backpacks, touring the entire city of Hockenheim (repeatedly!) vainly searching for the flippin’ shuttle bus to our campground 7 kilometers outside of town, as Claire told me sternly NOT to get LAZY with my feet as she didn’t wish to carry me anywhere... As I was carrying quite the load!

OH SHEISA!

Look it’s the train station we started at! Thus, we promptly dropped our packs as I was profusely wringing wet in sweat from our long march. Claire found me a bench seat to sit down on while she went off to attempt calling the F1 Campground we’d been so doggedly searching for...

And while waiting for a taxicab to show-up, we were fortunate enough to co-erced a taxi driver who’d shown up for another fare into taking us to our isolated campground, before waiting an hour for the site’s manager to show-up. So, Claire said; (FUCK IT!) I’m sitting down on the grass after handing me a beer...

But hey, at least we got the really small (Economy) tent (NOT!) that we’d pre-ordered. As our two person tent was built to sleep at least 12 comfortably! (Can you say Party tent?) And thus we spent the remainder of the evening relaxing inside our cavernous accommodation and listening to a very funny local man singing Deutschland songs, first making all of the Kindren laugh and then later getting all of the adults to sing along...

To continue reading, see; Hockenheimring (Part 2)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Move over Bubbah

Although James “”bubbah” Stewart may have just become only the second ever rider to complete a perfect season... Just caught this great story about Ashley Fiolek, who just won her very first Women’s Motocross Association championship... And what’s even more impressive about the talented 17yr old female rider is the fact that she’s deaf and cannot hear when to shift her motorcycle...

Motorcross rider uses engine rythm

Speed gets Cup ride

Well it appears that the RASSCAR Sprint Cup paddock will see not one, but two ex-Formula 1 participants moving into its big leagues next season, as Michael Waltrip Racing has hired Steve Hallam of McLaren F1 fame to direct its Engineering operations, while Red Bull has given AJ Almendinger his walking papers...

Thus, look for the Red Bull crew to be sporting a nice lavender hue... As Mr. Pedicure, a.k.a. Scott “Nose” Speed (Ok, I suppose he’s got some pace after all...) will replace Almendinger next year behind the wheel of the #84 Toyota Camry. But, will somebody please quit putting ‘dem whoopee cushions in his pants... And gee Wally? Are there any Indy Car teams looking for another temporarily out of work Californian?

Rafa”wins again

With a smattering of the wet stuff outside, I decided to attempt watching this year’s Grand Am season finale on the SPEED Channel, as the action was taking place at Miller Motorsport Park in Tooele, Utah. (The nation’s longest racing circuit)

Yet, my attention waned, as somehow I cannot get overly excited about the “Racin’ is Rubbin’” mentality of the Grand Am series...

Yet, for this season ending “Enduro,” there were a plethora of Open Wheel “Starzs” on hand to split time behind the wheel with series regulars in the 6 ¾ hour event, with big names such as: Da Matta, Dalziel, Gregoire, Hunter-Reay, Lloyd, Matos, Rice and Vasser to name a few... As all of these “Big” names split time behind the wheel of the Ugly Duckling Daytona Prototypes...

And as always, Cristiano Da Matta was the class of the OWR “Ringers” to me, as the microphone was stuck in front of his face, asking; what technical expertise does he bring to the team and its young drivers? As Da Matta was co-driving with AIM Motorsports this weekend and the diminutive Brazilians said: Actually I don’t bring any experience to them, as you have to remember I’m the Rookie, as it’s only my third race ever in a Grand am car... This coming from the lips of an ex-CART Champion and ex-Formula 1 piloto was a breath of fresh air...

But in the end, it was “Rafa,” who was the star of the show... As I was going crazy at the Telescreen, growling; C’mon you morons! It’s Matos... NOT Mate-oh’s... And Thus I erupted in laughter when Michael Shank Racing teammate Mark Paterson appropriately SLAMMED the SPEED TV commentators over the correct pronunciation, as the reigning Indy Lights Champion put on a driving clinique during the races final stint by handily pulling away from series regular Max “The Ax” Angelelli, with a string of scintillatingly fast laps in the 2:37+ per lap range over the 4.47 mile, 23 turn circuit in somewhat inclement weather...

Way to go Rafael!

Race Results

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Oktoberfest

Ja-Ja! Itzen der timenzs for der Annual Oktoberfest tooze beginith. Ja Volt!

Don’t forget to celebrate Oktoberfes! (Sept 20 – Oct 5) Now where’d my Bitburger go?

Oktoberfest Seattle Style

HVM makes 200th Start

Missed during the entire hullabaloo over Scott Dixon vs. Helio Castroneves fight over the 2008 Indy Car Series Championship, was the fact that proverbial minnow-esqe HVM Racing was making its 200th Indy Car Series start, which I suppose is a fairly impressive statistic.

Recall that HVM Racing actually began life as Bettenhausen Motorsports, founded by the late Tony Bettenhausen Jr. in the early 1990’s, during CART’s hey days, with the first true hired gun being “Stevie Johnson,” a.k.a. Stefan Johansson, (1992-96) who would claim CART’s Rookie of the Year honours on the strength of two third places and would capture his first Indy Car pole at Portland the following year.

Tony’s older brother Gary also drove for the team in 1982-83 and 1996, in what I can only assume were Indy 500 one-offs, with Gary failing to qualify both in 1983 & 1996...

Yet, the list of drivers is fairly diverse, with Tony B’s most prolific driver Signe’s being Johansson, Patrick Carpentier and Helio Castroneves, which I’ve previously scribbled about in Brothers in Arms (Part 2) prior to the untimely death of the team’s founder in early 2000.

Since then, the team has been taken over by Keith Wiggins, whom briefly fielded his own F1 Pacific Grand Prix team, before coming to America to oversea Lola’s Indy Car resurgence, prior to taking the reigns of Bettenhausen Motorsports, which has since been thru a litany of name changes, several partners and revolving cast of drivers... Before emerging as the HVM Racing entity we know as today with Edward Carpenter’s best buddy Ernesto “EJ” Viso at the helm.

Wiggins admits he hopes to make it thru another 200 starts, which should be potentially doable for the 50yr old Englishman.

Yet, to put the HVM Racing accomplishment into perspective, consider that the ex-Formula One team Minardi, made a total of 345 starts during its 20yr tenure (1985-2005) without ever scoring a pole position or victory before being sold to Deeter Majestic...

Pantano wins GP2 Championship


While writing about the good fortunes of Italian motorsports the past weekend, while history was made during the Italian Grand Prix, along with The Doctor’s good fortunes at the Speedway, I forgot to mention that Italian Georgio Pantano finally got the monkey off his back, by capturing this year’s GP2 Championship also at Monza, Italy... As I hadn’t watched the race yet!

But the elder statesman of GP2, at the tender age of 29, having contested 75 GP2 events, did indeed clinch his very first title and now aspires to join the Formula 1 ranks, although this seems unlikely, largely due to his age, as youngsters like Bruno Senna, series runner-up to Pantano, Sebastian Boomi, (6th overall) Lucas Di Grassi, who finished an amazing 3rd overall, driving only a partial season and reigning GP2 Asia Champion Romain Grosjean, who finished 4th overall, all clamour for F1 seats in the near future.

And don’t forget about Karun Chandhok, (10th overall) who was just handed the series "best driving style" award, as I’m certain that Vijay Malia (Not to mention Emperor Bernardo!) would most likely wish to see Chandhok in F1 just-in-time for the impending 2010 Indian Grand Prix... As I wonder if Giancarlo Fisichella is simply keeping the Force India seat warm for him?

Yet, further implications towards this quintet of “Young Lion’s” potential superstardom vs. Pantano, is the fact that they all have a major advantage over the Italian, as Boomi and Chandhok are both sponsored by Red Bull, along with Boomi being Red Bull Racing’s F1 test and reserve driver, while Di Grassi and Grosjean are both Renault F1 test drivers and Di Grassi seems to have overshadowed GP2 pre-season favourite Grosjean.

And let’s not forget series runner-up Bruno Senna, whose name alone is a sizzling commodity in regards to a future Formula 1 career, as rumours suggest that either a drive with Scuderia Toro Rosso or McLaren as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate abound...

Good Luck Georgio!

Georgio Pantano interview

Williams hits 500

While Keith Wiggins and the Boyzs at HVM Racing were celebrating their 200th Indy Car start, Sir Frank Williams and longtime partner Patrick Head were busy making a little noise of their own, by commemorating their 500th Grand Prix start at the Italian Grand Prix...

This is also Sir Frank’s 40th year in F1 and his monstrous tally of Grand Prix starts dwarfs ex-Formula 1 boss Keith Wiggins, by a staggering sum of 2.5 times, Aye Karumba!

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…


NFL (“FAB FIVE?”)
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...

OOPS!
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...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Move over Fernando - Vettel's Playing thru!


WOW! UN-FREAKIN’ UNBELIEVABLE!!!

As it was truly a star crossed weekend for Italy, as history was made for the blood thirsty cadre’s of Tiafosi, with NOT one, but TWO Historic first’s occurring on both sides of the Atlantic...

As you may know, on Saturday, rising German Hot-schue Sebastian Vettel became Formula One’s youngest ever driver to win a pole position, as Vettel, at 21yrs and 73 days young, snatched the honours from previous record holder Fernando Alonso...

As it was Sebastian’s and the little Faenza based ex-Minardi F1 team’s maiden pole position, of which hopefully Giancarlo Minardi was on hand to witness?

Then I found myself shouting louder ‘N louder at the Telescreen; C’mon Sebastian! As in appalling weather conditions, the young German whippersnapper looked set to make more Grand Prix history by leading the Italian GP virtually flag to flag and take the historic race win ahead of both McLaren and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro... SHEISA!!!

And “Isn’t it Ironic?” That the victory comes on the 20th Anniversary of that unbelievable lone Ferrari 1-2 victory during what almost was McLaren’s Perfet Season. (1988) You know when Ayrton Senna tripped over Williams replacement back marker Jean Louis Schlesser, giving the Tiafosi a most celebratory victory just one month after the passing of “Il Commendatore," a.k.a. Enzo Ferrari, when Gerhard Berger led teammate Michele Alboreto past the chequered flag at Monza!

Thus, Vettel also became the sport’s youngest ever race winner and it seemed almost surreal to have a young German on the top step of the podium while the German and Italian National Anthems were being played... As this brought back strong memories of somebody named Michael Schumacher, as I kept telling Sebastian to be a good boy up there... DON’T you dare waive your imaginary baton... As Herr Schumacher was ridiculed for doing so several years ago, while another amazing aspect of the victory rostrum, was the fact that all three podium steps were taken by first time Grand Prix winners this season and also made up the youngest podium ever...

Bravo Sebastian!

Valentino carves up Indy

While the young Sebastian Vettel was speeding his way to victory in Monza, Italy, across the pond, the inaugural Red Bull USGP motorcycle race was also being run in the wet stuff; Hmm? I’m sensing a pattern here... Something about racing in inclement weather on road courses...

As hopeful local hero Nicky Hayden put on his brave face and actually led the first portion of the event, leading 12 laps before “The Doctor” swooped by once again, as Valentino Rossi would make history by becoming MOTO GP’s debutant victor at the Speedway, along with notching his 69th career victory, to become the sports Winn ingest rider, breaking his tie with Giacomo Agostini, who’d previously held the record for 31 years...

Having faced the wrath of Hurricane Ike’s ire over the entire weekend, riders faced horrendous conditions with heavy rain and winds of 50-80mph, as the race was finally red flagged on lap 20, as Rossi’s FIAT Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo settled for the final step on the podium, after having nearly passed Hayden for second place.

And isn’t it interesting to note that the races outcome was partially a byproduct of MOTO GP’s waning tyre war, as Hayden was just one of three riders on the mostly discarded Michelin’s, while Rossi and the bulk of the field utilize Bridgestone’s, as Valentino is now almost ascertained of his sixth MOTO GP crown after having made the switch to the Bridgestone rubber and holds a commanding 87 point lead. Yet, it would have been quite humourous if the French rubber manufacturer could have once again claimed victory at the Speedway after its 2005 Formula 1 tyre debacle...

Meanwhile, in only his third MOTO GP event, reigning triple AMA Superbike Champion and Suzuki wildcard entrant Ben Spies put on a dazzling display, riding his bright blue “Scooter” to an excellent sixth place, while the current MOTO GP Champion seemed to be slightly out of his element in the atrocious conditions, as Casey Stoner would finish in fourth, 19 seconds adrift of Lorenzo. Yet, in the dry, Stoner’s Ducatti held a slight edge in straight-line speed, besting the Doctor with a top speed of 193.4mph vs. Rossi’s 189.8, but we know that top speed doesn’t necessarily guarantee you the quickest lap time and I suppose with the FIAT sponsorship of Rossi’s Yamaha it should have been a foregone conclusion that he’d win the race on the Italian Grand Prix weekend...

Salute and Viva Italia!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Two Wheel Thunder


Well I suppose the SPEED Rip news was centered around ‘dem Scooter Piloto’s since this weekend is the Red Bull USGP at Indianapolis after all... As I was impressed to hear that the “Kentucky Kid,” a.k.a. Nicky Hayden will be leaving his current employer Honda after six years and one MOTO GP Championship (2006) to partner current MOTO GP Champion Casey Stoner at Ducati next year... WOW! I think that’s an excellent move on Nicky’s part and should definitely bolster his chances next year.

And I didn’t catch both names, but did hear that Ricky Carmichael will be possibly contesting next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona?

And it’s not quite the same thing that Mike King and the Gang of the IMS Radio Network are used to, but they’ll be broadcasting this weekend’s action at the Speedway live both Saturday and Sunday, along with NBC hosting a 1hr show on Sunday @ 12 noon, (Pacific) so if you’re not busy watching the Italian GP, check out Nicky, Casey, “The Doctor” and Ben Spies at the Brickyard...

Brothers in Arms (Part 2)

Continuing on with our Trivia question of the week... Where I asked Y’all how many brothers have race in the top echelon of Open Wheel motorsports, i.e.; Formula 1, USAC, CART/Champ Car and the IRL...

And just how many of the 4 Formula 1 World Champions, seven USAC/CART Champions and six Indy 500 Winners did you name?

Anyways, here goes the second half of our impromptu virtual ballgame...

Open Wheel Racing*
(* = Driver’s to contest F1/USAC/CART/Champ Car/IRL)

Andretti; Aldo and Mario
Well, how many of you have ever heard of Mario’s less exalted brother Aldo?

While I knew about Aldo, I was unaware of the fact that they’re twin brothers and as we all know, Aldo’s brother, “Super Mario” is without doubt one of Open Wheel’s greatest ever! Along with holding the dubious distinction of being the only man to be kissed in victory lane by his team owner upon winning the Indy 500! (1969) Mario also claimed four Open Wheel titles; Three USAC (1965-66, ’69) and one CART (1984) Championship crowns along with being the oldest driver to win in Champ Car, being 53yrs old when he scored his last victory in 1993 before retiring in 1994.

Mario invented the word cool, with his attitude and zest for winning in anything he strapped on. Yet, he was also one of the BADEST BAD ASSES! Since he didn’t like being beat, especially by some God DAMN Movie Star! (As in Steve McQueen) And as previously mentioned, Mario is one of only three drivers to have won a Formula 1 World Championship, CART Championship and the Indy 500!

Aldo’s racing career was rather less successful, as he endured two major crashes, with the second resulting in 14 fractures of his face and ultimately leading to his decision to retire from the cockpit. Folklore suggests that Aldo’s most notable accomplishment was filling in for his brother Mario in Gasoline Alley for the obligatory photo-ops session, after Mario had been injured in a dirt track event and didn’t want his picture taken with two black eyes? Thus I’m assuming that Mario and Aldo were Identical Twins?


ANDRETTI; Michael and Jeff
Michael and Jeff are both the sons of Mario and everybody already knows of “Mikey’s” racing accomplishments... And according to OWR Curmudgeon Robin Miller, Michael Andretti was his favourite driver since he was always worth the price of admission just to see what he’d do on the track... While younger brother Jeff is the lesser known of the two, along with having a less successful career then Mikey.

Yet, Jeff was the 1991 CART Rookie of the Year, ironically the same year that big brother Michael won his only CART championship, with Jeff contesting the Indy 500 three times, but a violent crash in 1992 at the Speedway which severely damaged both legs effectively ended his career. Jeff also has a somewhat dubious connection to the Northwest, albeit not a preferred connection... Do you know what it was?

ANDRETTI; John and Adam
John and Adam are the sons of Mario’s twin brother Aldo. Elder brother John is the better known of the two, having contested Indy multiple times, most recently as Jay Howard’s reluctant replacement this past May. John also has a lone CART victory at the wheel of Jim Hall’s re-incarnated Hall/VDS CART/PPG Championship racing team, as well as having won in Top Fuel Dragsters and anything else with four wheels...

Younger brother Adam is currently plying the family trade in the Flinstone Indy Lites series, although I haven’t heard a peep about him this season, which makes me think perhaps he’s having a tough season, as I last heard him mouthing off about how great the IRL was on Autosport Radio.


BETTENHAUSEN; Gary, Merle and Tony Jr.
This truly has to be one of the most ill-fated families in Open Wheel Racing, as first father Tony Sr. perished and subsequently Merle had a horrible accident, followed by Gary’s accident. And ultimately Tony Jr’s death, while Tony Sr. raced pre and post WWII, winning the National Championship twice, along with 21 wins before perishing at the Speedway in 1961 while testing a friend’s racecar.

Gary, the eldest of the three Bettenhausen brothers, was 19, with Merle 17 and Tony Lee 9 when their father died in a horrific accident that fateful day in May 1961, yet Gary would go on to race at Indianapolis a total of 21 times, earning his Rookie Stripes in 1968, with a best finish of third place in 1980.

Gary briefly drove for The Captain (1972-74) and while driving for Roger Penske immediately retired from the 1972 USAC Championship Car event at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) where his brother Merle was making his paved racing debut and would be seriously injured in a Kingfish, (McLaren knock off) losing his right arm in a violent accident on lap three, effectively ending his Indy Car career, although Merle would continue to drive Midgets.

The following year, Gary broke his arm in a Sprint Car race following Indy and Roger Penske offered the drive to some chap named David Hobbs, but the Englishman was unable to accept due to sponsorship conflicts and ironically, 1972 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Mike Hiss would fill-in for Gary, as it had been Hiss who had collided with Merle at MIS the previous year.

Tom Sneva, a fellow Dirt Tracker himself, was hired as Gary’s replacement at Penske Racing for the 1975 season after The Captain had grown tired of Gary being constantly injured in what Roger deemed unneeded Dirt Car accidents, as Gary would suffer severe nerve damage to his arm in one of these Dirt Track events.

Gary’s brother Tony made his Indianapolis 500 debut in 1981 and would finish seventh, his best finish of his eleven starts at the Speedway. Tony started his own CART team in the early 1990’s with ex-Formula 1 piloto “Stevie Johnson,” a.k.a. Stefan Johansson being his first hired gun from 1992-96, as the team would primarily campaign year old Penske equipment. Other such noteable drivers as Helio Castroneves and Patrick Carpentier would drive for the AMAX/Alumax sponsored team, with Gary and Tony last competing at Indy together in 1993.

After a very tough 1999 season, the team took on Michele Jourdain Jr. and his Herdez sponsorship for the upcoming campaign, yet sadly, Tony, along with his wife and two business associates would perish in a small plane crash enroute to CART’s spring practice at Homestead, Miami on Valentine’s Day, 2000.


FABI; Teo and Corrado
These were the last “true” brothers to race in Formula 1 together, prior to some “Mutt ‘N Jeff” act better known as The Schuey Bros...

Teo, the older brother is more likely known for his impressive racing career, having begun his sporting career as a downhill racer before switching to motor racing, inspired by his younger brother’s exploits. Teo rose quickly through the ranks and became a March Formula 2 works driver, a loose association he would keep throughout his career.

Teo made a total of 71 starts in Formula 1, claiming three career poles and having begun his Grand Prix career with the fledgling Toleman team which would later be bought out by Benetton and rebranded as such, ultimately leading to two World Championships (1994-95( along with the Constructor’s title (1995) with some cat named Michael Schumacher.

Yet, after an auspicious debut season with Toleman, Teo would spend considerable time crossing the Atlantic and finished as the CART championship runner-up in his 1983 Rookie season aboard the Skoal Bandit Forsythe entry, scoring four victories for the new March Indy Car chassis. Teo also became only the second rookie to capture the pole at Indianapolis that year, leading 23 laps before retiring with mechanical maladies.

After having split time in both Open Wheel Racing series the previous year, Teo decided to focus his energies solely upon F1, leaving Forsythe’s operation and returning to Brabham, before making a switch to Benetton where he’d finish out his Grand Prix career.

Yet, for me, Teo is most remembered as the piloto of the Quaker State green and white Porsche powered Champ Car, scoring the team’s lone victory at Mid Ohio... Albeit I find the latter Fosters liveried Porsches more astatically pleasing. Teo remained loyal to the team running March chassis until the operation was shut down largely due to the loss of team founder Al Holbert.

Teo then switched to Sports Cars, capturing the 1991 World Sports Car (WSC) championship for Tom Walkinshaw’s all conquering Jaguar’s, before moving onto Toyota’s Sports Car team and ultimately making his final foray in CART with Jim Hall’s reincarnated Hall/VDS effort before retiring in 1994.

Meanwhile, Teo’s younger brother Corrado is the lesser known of the two Italian’s and his main claim to fame is being Teo’s fill-in at Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham F1 team whenever Teo had conflicting CART dates.

Yet, Teo owes his racing career largely to Corrado, who apparently became bored during one of Teo’s skiing races and went and drove a Go Kart instead, which ultimately led to his own racing career, along with sparking Teo’s interest.

Corrado, like Teo worked his way thru the Open Wheel ranks as a March team driver, ultimately winning the 1982 European F2 championship with Michele Alboreto as teammate, prior to spending his Grand Prix rookie season (1983) with the little Oscella team before filling in for his brother at Brabham.

Corrado also had a brief foray in CART with Forsythe before retiring to run the Family’s Talcum powder business after their father’s death in 1984.


FITTIPALDI; Wilson and Emerson
How can Emerson Fittipaldi not make the list of the BADDEST BAD ASSES! Since he’s the only person to be able to pull off wearing Elvis Presley “Mutton-chop” side burns so eloquently! EMMO also happened to be the youngest ever Formula 1 champion of his day, before some chump named “Ferdi the Putz,” a.k.a. Fernando Alonso stole his crown.

Emmo is also a member of the very elite trio of drivers to win Formula 1 and CART Championships as well as the Indy 500, a feat only accomplished by Mario Andretti, Emmo and Jacques Villeneuve, as Emmo’s resume speaks for itself; Two time Formula 1 World Champion, (1972, ’74) CART Champion (1989) and double Indy 500 winner. (1989, ’93)

Wilson, (Jr.) the older brother of Emerson, was a journeyman Grand Prix driver, with two seasons driving Works Brabham’s (1972-73) before focusing his efforts upon the Copersucar Fittipaldi Grand Prix team, which saw Brazil’s first F1 chassis making its debut in late ’74.

Wilson then spent his final season in Formula 1 (1975) with Emerson as his teammate, behind the wheel of the Fittipaldi brother’s unsuccessful F1 team racecar’s before handing the operation over to Emmo in 1976, deciding to focus upon the family’s business empire and son Christian’s race career instead...


NW Connection
Jeff Andretti took over Dominic Dobson’s drive for Bayside Racing in 1991, as Bayside Racing was based in Redmond, Washington...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Two years Old!

Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to Me, I look like a…
Today marks the second Anniversary of the No Fenders “Born-on Date.” (Of which I could NOT have picked a better day of the year, eh?) And it’s been a fairly hectic “Sophomore season” for mwah, as I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts on the Wurld der Motorsports with Y’all!

Yet, it seems like its been a long, long, time since the debut story of Christian Klien rejecting “Deeter Majestic’s” offer to race in Champ Car, eh? Anybody remember ‘dat? Uze know when Champ Car was still clinging to the notion it could outrun ‘lil Napoleon’s Oval Track ONLY circus...

Thus, I would like to thank everybody who encouraged me to try this endeavor. My most excellent Blogmeister Miguel (Who constantly supports me and keeps the site lookin’ sharp!) and Artiste Supremo Dave for the bitchin’ No Fenders logo!

I’d also like to thank my three Bureau Chiefs; Mary Jane, (Arizona) Danny B, (Indiana) and Mary Ellen (Tacoma) for all of their story ideas, contributions and Fact checking. (Danny)

But, most of all, I’d like to thank everybody out there for reading my scribblings over the past two years… Especially all of you who are regular readers as well as those who’ve commented on my stories…

Gratzi, Tomaso

Now would somebody cut the Frillin’ cake!


No Fenders is One year Old notice

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Support Lewis Hamilton petition

As many may be aware of, rightful Belgian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton was stripped of his victory this past weekend at Spa Francorchamps upon being given a 25 second penalty for short cutting a chicane in the closing moments of the race.

Yet, fans around the world are so incensed by this grievous penalty, that they’ve started an online petition in support of Lewis Hamilton and urging the FIA to reconsider its decision. Having just signed the petition myself, (And I’m a longtime Kimi Raikkonen fan!) I noticed that there are now over 24,000 signatures...

For more information, see Grandprix.com’s; A petition supporting Lewis

Chicagoland


HOLY OVAL TRACKS BATMAN!
Being a road course devotee, I’d have to say that the 2008 IRL season finale at Chicagoland was a pretty DAMN fine race...

Albeit the typical internets snafu’s I seem to have to endure when tryin’ to listen to the IMS Radio Network “live” broadcasts, having missed the first four qualifier’s during Saturday’s coverage, while trying to get the freakin’ Microsoft win-DOUGH’s media player to respond, but I digress...

Well perhaps not, since reports claim that the chaos over the finishing order of the race between Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves was caused by Dixon’s TCGR chassis having a faulty transponder.

Faulty Transponder blamed for race confusion
Yet, what was that about Ryan “Burnin’ Inferno” Briscoe getting a smooch on the cheek from his girlfriend Nicole Manske upon capturing his third career pole and first oval pole position... As in the former IMS Radio Network “Cub” reporter and Speed Report co-host, who washed SPEED right out of her hair... In favour of getting paid big bucks to host ESPN’s RASSCAR NOW TV Show...

For a full, blow-by-blow very entertaining recap of the breathtaking race, see My name is IRL’s guest columnist; mmack's nnotes: Chicagoland 2008

Brothers in Arms


Whale! It’s that time again... When the Dog Days of August give way to September’s change ‘O colours, as the leaves of various trees make their yearly transition towards fall... Which of course inevitably leads to you know what? Yeah, that’s right, (besides all of ‘dem Brats goin’ back to school; Yippee!) the beginning of gridiron sports, as in Football... NO! NOT the real Foosball, but that All Americana pastime, a la College and Professional Football.

And having just begun the 2008-09 NFL season, I was struck by the trivia question... How many brothers have played the sports most important position; Quarterback? Isn’t it ironic?” That this subject would appear on the same weekend that four NFL QB’s would experience injuries... Assuming Y’all have heard ‘bout New England Patriot’s Tom Brady’s season ending knee injury, while opposing Kansas City Chief’s Brodie Croyle suffered a separated shoulder in the same hard hitting season opener. Tennessee Titan’s Vince Young injured his knee and SF 49ers Alex Smith was in street clothes due to being physically unable to play due to pain in his surgically repaired shoulder... Hmm? That’s 1/8th of the National Football League...

Yet, I’m guessing that most of you are probably aware of the most famous duo who’ve both won Super bowl’s and been named MVP’s; as in none other then the Manning’s, but how many more were there?

And with this quest over the brothers of the NFL gridiron, I was left further pondering how many brothers had competed in Motorsports? Of which I’ve compiled the following short-list. (Which may NOT be complete, Danny!)

So just who are our “Two” competing teams? In the midnight blue and yellow colours are the Europeans, a.k.a. Formula 1, while in the predominantly white jerseys festooned with red, and blue pin striping are the Americano’s, a.k.a. Open Wheel Racers...

And here’s the coin toss... The Europeans have won the toss and have elected to receive in this impromptu, imaginary pigskin classic. And it’s a touchback and the Europeans will start from their own twenty yard line...

Formula 1

BRABHAM; Geoff, Gary and David
Of these three brothers, David, the youngest of the litter was the only one to actually race in F1, upon having won the 1989 British Formula 3 championship and making his debut for the faltering Brabham team in 1990, albeit under Bernard Ecclestone’s ownership, as Gregor Foitek’s replacement. After being dropped from his namesake’s Grand Prix team, he joined the ill fated Simtek operation for the 1994 season alongside the departed Roland Ratzenberger.

Afterwards, he decided to concentrate upon Sports Car racing, having captured many major victories and is currently competing in the American Le Mans Series as Scott Sharp’s co-driver of the Highcroft Acura LMP2 entry.

Meanwhile, middle brother Gary had a very brie tenure in the rarefied stratosphere of Formula 1, with the stillborn LIFE project, which he quit after failing to qualify in two races and focused his driving efforts elsewhere, predominantly in Sports Cars, of which he won Sebring for Nissan in an NPT-90 Prototype with co-drivers Derek Daily and Geoff Brabham. He also contested two Gold Coast CART races in 1993-94 for Dick Simon and Bettenhausen Motorsports respectively.

Elder brother Geoff could be considered to be the most successful of the Brabham trio, although he never actually attempted F1, he did contest several seasons in CART, along with racing in the Indy 500 ten times, with a best result of 4th in 1983. Geoff won the Can Am title in 1981 and then thoroughly crushed the opposition aboard the Electromotive Nissan Prototype enroute to four successive IMSA GTP Crowns from 1988-91. Geoff also won the 1993 24 Heurs du Mans.


RODRIGUEZ; Pedro and Ricardo
As I previously scribbled in Cinco de Mayo, it was the younger (19yr old) brother Ricardo who sparked the Nation’s lust of hosting an International Grand Prix with his rise to prominence during his various Sports Car drives, having finished second at Le Mans and third at Sebring. These performances apparently caught the attention of Enzo, thus being invited to drive for the Scuderia Ferrari in the 1961 Italian Grand Prix before graduating to a full time works drive in 1962.

Although 1962 wasn’t a hugely successful year for Ferrari in F1, Ricardo did win the Targa Florio aboard a 246 Dino SP, while making five starts in Formula 1 (1961-62) and scored points in the Belgian and German Grand Prix’s before Enzo decided not to send his cars to Mexico City. Sadly Ricardo would perish during practice for the 1962 non-championship event while driving a rented Rob Walker Lotus 24 racing car.

Thus, while Mexico was deeply morning the loss of 20yr old Ricardo, elder brother Pedro was now contesting major Sports Car events, having won the 1963 Daytona Continental for Luigi Chinetti, behind the wheel of an N.A.R.T. Ferrari 250 GTO, as the Continental was the forbearer of today’s Rolex 24 and originally began as a three hour race. In 1964 Pedro would win once again, this time sharing the N.A.R.T. Ferrari 250 GTO with Formula 1 World Champion Phil Hill as the event had been lengthened to 2,000 Kilometers.

Pedro had also made his way into Formula 1 by 1963 and would blossom into Mexico’s most successful Grand Prix driver, ultimately contesting 54 Grand Prix’s for Ferrari, Lotus, Cooper and BRM, (1963-71) as Pedro would win two events, the 1967 South African GP for Cooper and the 1970 Belgian GP for BRM.

Pedro was also a gifted Sports Car pilot, having contested Le Mans 14times; Pedro was victorious for John Wyer’s Gulf Ford GT 40 effort in 1968 before signing a contract with the Englishman and winning the World Sports Car Championship aboard the all conquering Porsche 917 two years in a row.

Pedro also won the North American Ice Racing title in 1970 as well as finishing fifth in that year’s Charlotte World 600 RASSCAR event before his untimely death in a Sports Car event at the Nurburgring behind the wheel of a Ferrari 512 in 1971.


SCHECKTER; Ian and Jody
I was actually unaware of the fact that Jody’s elder brother Ian had competed in Formula 1, albeit a very brief career, making his debut in his home countries event, the South African Grand Prix in 1974 aboard a non-work’s Lotus. He also contested the same event aboard a privateer Tyrrell, before securing enough funds to land a full season’s drive for March in 1977, but poor showings for the team brought an end to his F1 career after 20 Grand Prix’s, with his final race being that season’s Canadian GP.

Younger brother Jody was the more successful of the two, scoring a total of 10 wins, 3 poles and claiming the 1979 World Championship for Ferrari, the Scuderia’s last Driver’s crown prior to some dude named Schumacher...

Jody made his F1 debut for McLaren in the 1972 USGP at Watkins Glen before moving to Tyrrell for his first full Grand Prix season in 1974, following Sir Jackie Stewart’s retirement and Francois Cevert’s death, scoring his first two Grand Prix victories at Sweden and Britain and giving :Uncle Chopper” (Ken Tyrrell) a much needed boost. In 1975 Jody claimed victory in his home Grand Prix.

For the 1976 season, Tyrrell unveiled the radical P34 six wheeler, which Jody drove to victory at the Swedish Grand Prix and finished an amazing third in the Driver’s championship, before leaving to join the start-up team of wealthy industrialist Walter Wolf for the 1977 season, shocking the field with a debut victory aboard the team’s Wolf WR1, which the legendary “Doctor Who’ contributed upon and Jody finished runner-up in the championship to Niki Lauda on the strength of three Grand Prix victories.

For the 1979 season, Jody joined the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro alongside Gilles Villeneuve enroute to his finest hour in Formula 1, taking the World Championship aboard the 312T4 with three wins, yet his title defense in 1980 wasn’t a success, struggling aboard the 312T5, even failing to qualify once and he retired from F1 at the end of the season.

since retirement, he made a sizeable fortune selling his Firearms simulator business, along with overseeing the racing career’s of his sons Toby and Tomas and currently spends his time as an Organic Farmer upon having bought Laverstoke Park farm and can sometimes be seen during Peter Winsor’s grid walks.


SCHUMACHER; Michael and Ralf
What can I say about this most legendary Formula 1 driver! As my esteemed Blogmeister Miguel commented: Michael Schumacher is simply BAD ASS for kicking everyone’s ASS in F1 so long! And he’s undoubtedly one of the sports greatest drivers of all time and leads all categories statistically...


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

Of course younger brother Ralf pales in comparison to his legendary brother, as I’ve fondly taken to nicknaming him Ralfanso, since he continuously boasted about being the third best driver on the F1 grid... Hey Ralfanso! You’re NO Michael Schumacher, so sit down and SHUT UP!

Although I suppose I should cut him an ounce of slack, eh? Having after all been a Grand Prix piloto... NAH! As Ralfie was even outscored in career victories by his more enamored (and successful) teammate, some Roundy-round boy named “MAC” Montoya... As Juan Pablo scored a total of seven wins for Williams-BMW and McLaren, not to mention his Indy 500 victory, CART/Fed Ex Championship and F3000 title...

While Ralfanso managed to score six wins for Williams-BMW, before ex-manager Willi Weber enticed Toyota into paying an outrageous retainer for his services before being fired by the German, as Ralfanso has now schlepped his way into the DTM to compete against the likes of Katherine Legge.


WINKLEHOCK; Manfred and Joachim
Unfortunately I know very little about these two brothers from Der Fatherland, except that Manfred was an aspiring Grand Prix piloto before his death at the wheel of a Porsche 962 at Mosport.

Reportedly Manfred’s biggest set-back to his racing career was starting too late, having been a mechanic before being noticed by BMW upon winning the 1976 VW Junior Cup, as BMW would ink him to a deal to race their 320 Saloons alongside other eventual F1 drivers Eddie Cheever and Marc Surer.

Manfred, made his Grand Prix debut in 1980, standing in for the injured Jochen Mass at the minnow-esce ATS team, which apparently was a BMW “Farm” team... Manfred would soldier on with ATS until new kid Gerhard Berger showed up towards the end of the ’84 season. Manfred then switched to the RAM team before his unfortunate death.

Upon his older brother’s death, Joachim briefly halted his career, before resuming and winning the 1988 German Formula 3 and Eurocup championships, before turning his attention towards F1. For the 1989 season, Joachim joined the little AGS team and after failing to pre-qualify for seven events, focused his energies on Touring Car racing with BMW instead,

“Smokin’ Joe” then went on to a very successful Touring Car career, first winning the Nurburgring 24hrs race twice, before capturing multiple Touring Car championships, along with the Spa 24 Hours before capping his career with victory in the 1999 24 Heurs du Mans for BMW...