Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sayonara Doctor Who...

Receiving another Brickyard brick for fastest speed ever at Indianapolis. From left to right, are Jean Alesi, David Byrd (son of the late Jonathan Byrd), Tim Wardrop and Arie Luyendyk. (Source: fanforceunitedindy.blogspot.com)
So I got the call from ‘CARPETS around 5PM yesterday - telling me that ‘Doctor Who had died over the weekend; SHEISA! As for those of Y’all who don’t know who that is, his name was Tim Wardrop and he claimed fame as the Flying Dutchman’s (Arie Luyendyk) Indianapolis 500 race winning engineer, amongst other Indy 500 victories...

As IndyStar’s Curt Cavin tweeted the following Monday.

@curtcavin: “The great #IndyCar engineer Tim Wardrop died over the weekend. Was IndyCar's car doctor. Really knew Indy, won with Arie.”

I first met Messer Wardrop ‘Wayback in Twenty-O-seven, appropriately at the Flagroom bar, where I was introduced. Tim was super easy going and willing to engage me in conversation, as we ended up having a great chat about all things motorsports; primarily Formula 1 before saying our farewells, which I tried chronicling in:

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a lot of information about Tim readily available, albeit I did run across somewhere that he’d worked for Newman Haas Racing on Bruno Junqueira’s 2004 Indy 500 assault as race engineer - reputedly coming within 10-minutes of winning...

Mark Shamberger, Tim Wardrop, Jim McGee and Bruno Junqueira pose with Newman Haas Racing’s 2004 Indy 500 entry. Photo by Anne Proffit. (Source: motorsport.com)
And as I previously scribbled; Wardrop was Willy T Ribbs Indy 500 engineer some two-plus decades ago, while Tim also alluded to working for Ganassi during Juan Pablo Montoya’s reign at Indy.

Yet for me, Tim was the quintessential Englishman, always nattily attired and containing an enormous amount of dry British wit, while always being a true gentleman to me. As he was always willing to talk to me, never tired of my asking silly racing questions and gave me rare insights into the world of Indy Cars I could never see...

As I still chuckle over the story of Willy T introducing him to Bill Cosby and Tim in his typical British witticism saying “I loved your song White Christmas...” Bing Crosby, Bill Cosby; you say tomato, I say toe-mato; Hya!

I last saw Tim this May naturally at the Speedway, first on Thursday night when he was busy hangin’ out with Buddy Lazier and another motorsports cat. As I still laugh at myself interjecting F1 answers into Tim & Buddy’s conversation; then the following day - Carb Day, Tim joined us late afternoon and gave us a frank assessment of just how terribly bad the ‘Luddi-lump (Lotus) was, by claiming it was extremely horsepower deficient! And we pressed him on how working with Jean Alesi was, which Tim was overly positive about - claiming the guy’s a real racer.

As I’ll never forget asking Tim how he thought Alesi would feel about attending a Last Row Party? Which Tim replied in his typical wit; what’s that? Before he decided he’d better go investigate. After all, as Fan Force United’s Chief Engineer he needed to keep up appearances, right?

As somehow I’m guessing that Tim Wardrop was a “throwback” engineer, having worked for a multitude of Indy Cars and Indy Lights teams, along with having been involved in the 2012 IndyCar chassis design contest with BAT, which I thought was a great looking design; I truly wish I could have written a book with him about all of his IndyCar travails, albeit I’m not sure how many could have been printed! As the following story seems somewhat typical of Tim, who’d somehow lost his Brickyard brick...

Fan Force United: Interlude

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