Monday, December 19, 2011

RETRO: Phoenix’s last Grand Prix - Two-decades ago almost slipped past...

And as we get down to the wire on the end ‘O the year Twenty-eleven; YIKES! Your humble No Fenders scribe has almost failed to post this nostalgic tome harkening back two decades ago...

As it seems most symbiotic that another tiny bubble; Tiny Bubbles Don Ho, Anyone? Chirp-Chirp; Hya! That was a funny ‘Juan wasn’t it? As I flashed back to the thought after seeing the SENNA movie this August, that it was ironically twenty-years ago that I last saw the Brazilian Maestro live in-action poundin’ around the city streets of Downtown Phoenix - being my second-ever Grand Prix... As obviously I now wish I’d not forsaken the 1990 event, albeit I didn’t miss the rainstorm that obliterated Saturday’s ‘Qualie session and there were plenty ‘O chances remaining... As Phoenix had a five-year contract with Uncle Bernaughty! (RIGHT?) As I’ve previously scribbled my Debutant F1 race outing thoughts in:


Goin’ into le Wayback machine... I now vaguely recall being sent all of the Arizona Republic - Phoenix’s premiere ‘Fish-wrap (Newspaper) clippings regarding that ’90 middle-race I skipped... And was stunned to discover that these bits ‘O paper sent to Mwah courtesy of Mi Madre divulged the shocking results of Pierluigi Martini aboard the Minnowesqe Minardi - having been on Pole-position from Friday’s times, as I believe that Formula 1 then utilized an aggregate two-day qualifying time system and everybody was struggling to keep pace with the ‘Uber-sticky Pirelli ‘Qualie rubber... Of which Martini’s Minardi M189 Ford/Cosworth V-8 was utilizing.

Thus with the unexpected deluge of rain on Saturday, which obviously washed the track’s rubbered-in surface away, all of the drivers were not only struggling for grip; BUTT! Can you believe it? Trying to match the pace of the lowly Minardi - which only ‘Ol BLOCKHEAD Berger was able to eclipse! As the Austrian now Ayrton Senna’s Wingman at McLaren managed to snatch Pole from Martini by scant seven-hundreds of a second.

Yet I do recall watching the race live on TV on ‘Juan ‘O ESPN’s networks - with Bob Varsha and ‘Hobbo, aka David Hobbs calling the race - being most flabbergasted by a relatively unknown Frenchman named Jean Alesi aboard the Tyrrell O18 Ford/Cosworth DFR (3.5-liter) V-8 - utilized as a stop-gap measure before the unveiling of Tyrrell’s radical O19-model.

This was the blue and white Epson sponsored chassis that sported Dr. Harvey Postlewaite’s revolutionary Dihedral-nose front wing - with the high nose treatment ultimately becoming de rigor in F1, which Alesi chauffeured to a sixth-place finish on its debut in Imola, Italy; hence scoring a single point in the San Marino GP.

And as kOOL! As the Tyrrell 019 was - its high front-nose treatment making me think of the WWII Corsairs; I personally liked the following year’s Braun paint schemes better...

Yet the ’91 season wasn’t deemed an improvement over the previous year’s campaign; with Ukyo Katayama and Stefano Modena at the helm of the 020-model powered by the Honda V-10 lumps utilized by McLaren the season prior... While the mercurial Alesi had been lured to Scuderia Ferrari, but I’m getting ahead of myself here...

As Alesi not only led the 1990 Phoenix Grand Prix for some 30-odd laps in his lowly Tyrrell, but had the audaciousness to repass Senna’s McLaren after the Brazilian had originally passed the Frenchman for the lead! As Senna would go onto win the race, followed across the stripe by Alesi with Belgium’s Thierry Boutsen taking the final podium step in his Williams FW13B/Renault V-10...


Thus, the following March I did indeed make my second (and final) pilgrimage to the Iceberg Grand Prix in The Valley of the Sun and only have the following fleeting images of that glorious weekend in la memory banks...

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