Thursday, February 2, 2012

Allmendinger and Wilson: The RuSPORT Years

I’ve been a ‘Mega fan of Justin ‘BIG UNIT Wilson’s ever since he came Across-thee-Pond to Champ Car and joined RuSPORT in 2005, although I’d actually first witnessed him in action at Suzuka Circuito back in 2003 when he was Mark ‘Handlebarz Webber teammate at Jaguar, next taking a shine to the lanky Englishman driving the wheels off of the MiJack Champ Car in 2004...

Thus I seem to recall that Justin had been brought into RuSport to mentor a fresh faced Californian named A.J. Allmendinger towards potentially becoming America’s next great F1 Hope... As Carl Russo had lofty ambitions for Allmendinger after AJ had won the 2003 Champ Car Atlantics title along with the ’04 Champ Car World Series (CCWS) Rookie of the Year, ironically ahead of eventual teammate Wilson, who began his CCWS career with Eric Bachelart.

Yet it was Wilson instead of AJ who gave RuSport its first Champ Car victory, as Justin simply “waxed” Allmendinger in their first year as teammates with his two victories to the ‘Dinger’s Goose-egg...

Yet it was quite shocking when Carl Russo effectively fired AJ in the summer of 2006, replacing him with ‘Shorty, aka Cristiano da Matta - with Allmendinger being hired to replace Mario “Boom-Boom” Dominguez at Forsythe five days later...

Thus it was with great glee that I witnessed Allmendinger’s first major (CCWS) Open Wheel Racing victory at none other then... Wait for I-T ‘Carpets. Drumroll please; Tuh Duh! Portland International Raceway! Hmm? Which means I may have his John Hancock from that year’s Autograph session? The year that Champ Car left me fuming! Oh whait a ‘My-nute, never mind! We’re supposed to be all slap happy heres in Bloggerland now, right Mr. Bernard?


Upon his initial victory for Gerry “WHHHAAAA!” Forsythe, Allmendinger reeled off a victory Hat-dance; Err Hat-trick of victories standing atop the Podium’s top step at Portland, Cleveland and Toronto - before going onto take another two victories at Denver and Elkhart Lake whilst outshining some elder teammate named ‘PT, thee Thrill from the West Hill, aka Paul Tracy...

Yet AJ jumped ship to ‘RASSCAR with the promises of a three-year $9m contract from Red Bull for ‘07, where he struggled mightily, tearing up equipment in not only the Nextel Cup, but Craftsman Trucks too - where I’d guess the tag ‘WallDinger came from?

Meanwhile Wilson continued on with RuSport which although reportedly saw its founder leaving for “Business Reasons,” I believe it ultimately floundered after Da Matta’s freak collision with a runaway Deer during a test session at Road America in August, 2006.

Yet, I really enjoy how Justin & AJ seemed to have formed a really deep rapport with each other, as it was Allmendinger who requested Justin’s services for Michael Shank Racing as a co-driver of its Daytona Prototype at the Rolex following his Chip Ganassi drive - and the two drivers just really seem to enjoy jousting verbally with ‘Juan-another. Like when AJ said he’d ‘LUV to have “Two Tall Jones” (Justin Wilson) as his driver for MSR Indy, the IndyCar team he co-owns with Mike Shank ‘cause then he’d OWN Justin!

And I’ve wanted Wilson to win a Rolex wrist-piece at Daytona ever since he seemingly got crucified for pulling his then leading Chip Ganassi DP into the garage when he thought he’d heard ‘somme-thun go bang! Ultimately finishing runner-up and summarily not being invited back to drive for the ‘Cheepster in Florida. Not to mention this was effectively his first drive back since breaking his back last year at Mid-Ohio...

While Allmendinger seems to have blossomed as a driver, having just won his first major race in nearly six-years, along with having landed a ride with Roger Penske as Curt Busch’s replacement (GOOD RIDDENCE!) in RascarLand... As I DON’T watch that series; BUTT! I’ve just gotten a new favourite driver in Fenderzland, and his first name is AJ!

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