Friday, December 9, 2011

INDYCAR: A Decade of Despair and Rebirth

The Brackster - Kenny Brack’s Team Rahal IndyCar (Source:
As your humble No Fenders scribe tries mightily tearin’ himself away from those lingering images of WARM, DRY & SUNNY Hawaii - whilst in the midst of another DARK ‘N GLOOMY Pacific Northwest winter... A ‘llittle while ago; Whale HELL! A long while ago as in (2011) Pre-Indy 500 - whilst having a chat with CARPETS, we came upon an interesting subject – as in what drivers are still left from a decade ago? Or how many drivers from that first dubious Indy Racing League Indy 500 are still in the game? As all of this was derived from my comment towards I wish that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway would announce a listing of the confirmed 269 living drivers planning to honour their IMS invitations for this year’s world’s largest autograph session.

As I still question what will become the new demarcation line when The Split NO longer exists, albeit it may never truly go away, a la something known as The War of Northern Aggression...

Thus, what year will it be in the future when there are NO longer any (carryover) Holdover Champ Car/IRL drivers left from the Class of 2008 when the two entities became one again, and how technical do we become, i.e.; for example - do Simona de Silvestro, James Hinchcliffe, J.R. Hildebrand, Raphael Matos and Graham Rahal count as Byproducts of the Champ Car side of the ledger, having cut-their-teeth in Star Mazda, Toyota Atlantics and Firestone Indy Lights. (Pre-merger...)

And do names such as Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, Wade Cunningham, Jay Howard and Alex Lloyd count towards the Indy Racing League’s side of the ledger, i.e.; Indy Pro Series/Indy Lights, eh?

And where does Ryan Briscoe fall into this mix, having come directly from a Formula 1 Testing Gig, I believe... (Although I’d count ‘em as an IRL member)

And although the year 2000 stands out strongest for Mwah – as I still fondly recall watching that year’s Indy 500 from Up North Eh! In Vancouver, BC and rejoicing ALMIGHTY! As Juan Pablo Montoya kicked everybody’s ARSES... (Leading a total of 167-laps in a relatively unknown vehicle...) As I still firmly cling to the notion that the first seven finishers that day were ALL Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) BOYZ... (Nah-Nah Nuh Nuh Nana!)

Yet whilst the CART BOYZ were once again claiming the top prize at the Speedway, unfortunately my darkest memory of Twenty-Oh-one will always be that HORRIFIC day at the Lausitz Ring, where ‘Zorro’s life was forever changed... Although Ive previously scribbled my recollections upon Alex Zanardi’s fateful day in a Post Labour Day story; actually September 15th, which you can read in;

Thus, how can we compare ‘N contrast these two past Feuding entities? As according to my (somewhat?) quick research; Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) ran a total of four 500-mile events that season; Motegi, Japan; Lausitz, Germany; Rockingham, Great Britain and Fontana, CA. Meanwhile, the Indy Racing League (IRL) ran a total of four 500-miler’s – Atlanta, Indianapolis and Texas, twice.

And thus, I’ll use the Twin Rings Motegi race – run on May 19, 2001 as the yardstick to compare vs. the 85th running of that year’s Indy 500; May 27, 2001 to see just how many drivers from those two warring factions would be participating at this year’s Centennial of the Indy 500 – which contrary to the overly ‘Hyped babbling of the media, is NOT the 100th running – as something known as World War One & Two got in the way... With NO races being run in 1918 and between 1942-45, hence making this year’s Centennial the 95th running of the Indy 500.

CART: Motegi 500k
DATE: May 19, 2001
Winner: Kenny Brack; Team Rahal

Team Penske: No. 1) Gil de Ferran, No. 3) Helio Castroneves; Chip Ganassi Racing: No. 4) Bruno Junqueira-R, No. 12) Nicolas Minassian-R; Walker Motorsports: No. 5) Toranosuke Takagi-R; Newman Haas Racing: No. 6) Cristiano da Matta, No. 11) Christian Fittipaldi; Team Rahal: No. 7) Max Papis, No. 8) Kenny Brack; Bettenhausen Racing: No. 16) Michele Jourdain Jr.; PacWest Racing: No. 17) Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 18) Scott Dixon-R; Patrick Racing: No. 20) Roberto Moreno, No. 40) Jimmy Vasser; Sigma Autosport: No. 22) Oriel Servia; Arciero/Blair Racing: No. 25) Max Wilson-R; Team Green: No. 26) Paul Tracy, No. 27) Dario Franchitti; Forsythe Racing: No. 32) Patrick Carpentier, No. 33) Alex Tagliani, No. 77) Brian Herta; Team Motorola: No. 39) Michael Andretti; Fernandez Racing: No. 51) Adrian Fernandez, No. 52) Shinji Nakano; Mo Nunn Racing: No. 55) Tony Kanaan, No. 66) Alex Zanardi.

Dale Coyne Racing only contested Rounds 1-2 with Michael Krum & Luiz Garcia, Jr.

Memo Gidley replaced Nicolas Minassian for second half of season at TCGR.

Townsend Bell made his rookie debut for Patrick Racing in Dale Coyne’s No. 19 during season’s final two events as a tuneup for his “Full-season Gig” at Patrick in 2002, after winning that year’s Indy Lights title.

Alex Barron replaced Max Wilson for season’s final two events at Arciero/Blair Racing.

Casey Mears substituted for Alex Zanardi at Mo Nunn for season’s final four races...

IRL: Indy 500
DATE: May 27, 2001
Winner: Helio Castroneves-R, Penske; (CART) 2nd) Gil de Ferran, Penske; (CART) 3rd) Michael Andretti, Team Motorola; (Barry Green) (CART) 4th) Jimmy Vasser, TCGR; (CART) 5th) Bruno Junqueira-R, TCGR; (CART) 6th) Tony Stewart, TCGR; (IRL) 7th) Eliseo Salazar; (CART) 8th) Ayrton Dare; (IRL) 9th) Billy Boat; (IRL) 10) Felipe Giafone-R; (IRL) 11) Robbie McGehee; (IRL) 12) Buzz Calkins; (IRL) 13) Arie Luyendyk; (CART) 14) Sam Hornish Jr.; (IRL) 15) Robbie Buhl; (IRL) 16) Mark Dismore; (IRL) 17) Greg Ray; (IRL) 18) Buddy Lazier; (CART) 19) Cory Witherill-R; (IRL) 20) Jarret Schroeder; (IRL) 21) Robby Gordon; (CART) 22) Jacques Lazier; (IRL) 23) Davey Hamilton; (IRL) 24) Jeff Ward; (IRL) 25) Donnie Beechler; (IRL) 26) Eddie Cheever, Jr.; (CART) 27) John Herb-R; (IRL) 28) Stephan Gregoire; (IRL) 29) Nicolas Minassian-R; (CART) 30) Al Unser, Jr.; (CART) 31) Sarah Fisher; (IRL) 32) Scott Goodyear; (CART) 33) Scott Sharp; Pole Sitter. (CART)

Scott Sharp spins on Parade lap coming to Green flag...

Today’s IndyCar Drivers
Below is the list of drivers remaining from the two warring factions a decade ago that were slated to contest this year’s Centennial Indy 500. I’ve included Townsend Bell, who only participated at the end of 2001 in a Dale Coyne/Patrick Racing project, while Bruno Junqueira once again did qualify for the race before being withdrawn by A.J. Foyt in order to assist Michael Andretti’s placement of Ryan Hunter-Reay and his prized DHL and Sundrop (Pepsi Co.) sponsorship into the series signature event...

As many may know, the 2001 season was full of turmoil, most notably the HORRIFIC accident that nearly claimed the life of Alex Zanardi, along with the crushing accident Davey Hamilton endured.

And the Texas Motor Speedway was a vicious venue that year, not only causing Hamilton to undergo some 21+ surgeries and reside in a wheelchair for a year... But it also caused CART to cancel its planned event due to the dizzying speeds causing drivers to experience vertigo and have many report blacking out from the continuously high speeds (G-Forces) they were achieving.

Meanwhile, this combined group of drivers have some pretty amazing credentials behind them, with some arguably claiming the most prolific to be ‘HULIO’s feat of winning three Borg Warner trophies for The Captain, (Roger Penske) although I’m guessing somebody named PT will still dispute that, eh? Hya! And Y’all don’t think Bryan Barnhart’s letting Paul Tracy complete his qualifying run to make this year’s Indy 500 before going Yellow due to RAIN was Payback for their Officiating MUCK-UP at Long Beach, eh - Dooze Yuh? Which obviously PALES in comparison to either Edmonton or Loudon - take your pick!

(3) Helio Castroneves; Penske: 2001-02, 2009
(2)  Dario Franchitti; Andretti Green Racing: 2007, Target Chip Ganassi Racing: (TCGR) 2010
(2)  Arie Luyendyk; Doug Shierson Racing: 1990, Tredway Racing: 1997
(2)  Al Unser, Jr.; Galles Racing: 1992, Penske: 1994
(1) Scott Dixon; TCGR: 2008
(1) Sam Hornish Jr.; Penske: 2006
(1) Gil de Ferran; Penske: 2003
(1) Kenny Brack; A.J. Foyt enterprises: 1999
(1) Eddie Cheever, Jr.; Cheever Racing: 1998
(1) Buddy Lazier; Hemelgarn Racing: 1996
(Stats ONLY include Class of 2001 Drivers, i.e.; CART v IRL)

(4)  Dario Franchitti; Andretti Green Racing: 2007, (IRL) Target Chip Ganassi Racing: (TCGR) 2009-11  (INDYCAR)
(3) Sam Hornish Jr.; Panther: 2001-02; (IRL) Penske: 2006 (IRL)
(2) Scott Dixon; TCGR: 2003, 2008 (IRL)
(2) Gil de Ferran; Penske: 2000-01 (CART)
(2) Al Unser, Jr.; Galles Racing: 1990, Penske: 1994 (CART)
(1) Tony Kanaan; Andretti Green Racing: 2004 (IRL)
(1) Paul Tracy, Forsythe Racing: 2003 (CCWS)
(1) Cristiano da Matta; Newman Haas Racing: 2002; (CART)
(1) Buddy Lazier; Hemelgarn Racing: 2000 (IRL)
(1) Greg Ray; Menards: 1999(IRL)
(2) Alex Zanardi; TCGR: 1997-98 (CART)
(1) Kenny Brack; A.J. Foyt enterprises: 1998 (IRL)
(1) Jimmy Vasser; TCGR: 1996 (CART)
(1) ) Buzz Calkins; Bradley Motorsports: 1996 (IRL)
(1) Scott Sharp; A.J. Foyt enterprises: 1996 (IRL)
NOTE: Scott Sharp & Buzz Calkins were ’96 IRL Co-Champions
(Stats ONLY include Class of 2001 Drivers, i.e.; CART v IRL)

2011 INDY 500 Competitors
CART (9)
No. 2) Oriel Servia; Newman Haas Racing
No. 3) Helio Castroneves; Team Penske
No. 9) Scott Dixon; Target Chip Ganassi Racing
No. 10 Dario Franchitti; Target Chip Ganassi Racing
No. 23) Paul Tracy; Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
No. 77) Alex Tagliani; Sam Schmidt Motorsports
No. 82) Tony Kanaan; KV Racing Technology
No. 84) Bruno Junqueira*; A.J. Foyt Enterprises
No. 99 Townsend Bell; Sam Schmidt Motorsports

* = Junqueira gets HOSED by Mikey Andretti’s decision to BUY Bruno’s ride in order to install “BULLY-RAY” (Ryan Hunter-Reay) in order to make sponsors DHL & Sundrop happy; BARF!

IRL (1)
No. 11) Davey Hamilton; Dreyer & Reinbold Racing