Monday, December 16, 2013

RETRO: “Mansell Mania” invades the Speedway...



So its somewhat hard to believe that two decades have already passed by - especially since I lived thru I-T live, as these truly were thy ‘Salad Days ‘O Indy Cars predecessor Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) dominance Stateside, when if possible, CART/PPG World Series possibly dominated globally, Thanxs solely to ‘Ol Bloody ‘Nige’s arrival in ‘Americker - as arguably CART was more popular than Formula 1 thanks solely to its reigning champion having come across the pond!

Yet in all of its euphoria, perhaps because your humble No Fenders scribe has had the privilege of doing so DAMN much since then, not overly being a Mansell fan, or perhaps from dipping into thee proverbial Eggnog, hic; Hya! I must admit I really don't recall a whole  lot from that year's rapture 'O Mansell Mania, other than making my yearly pilgrimage to Portland International Raceway for the annual Father's Day classic CART race of which somebody I later took to calling 'Emmaloe, previously known as EMMO, nee Emerson Fittipaldi bested our hero Bloody Nige by a scant four-plus seconds with EMMO's (Penske Racing) sidekick Mr. Chrome Horn, aka Paul Tracy taking the final podium spot...


77TH INDIANAPOLIS 500
Whenever I think of this race I think of the Folklorish story of Indianapolis Bureau Chief Daniel Banes Cooper later asking thee "Flying Dutchman," nee Arie Luyendyk at a deserted Phoenix Int'l Raceway parking lot how they'd beaten Nige that day upon the restart to which Arie coolly said: Yeah, we really FUCKED him on that one! As both Luyendyk and eventual winner Fittipaldi both overtook Mansell on a late race restart promptly dropping the British Rookie leading the race to finish an eventual third place...

.(5) Rookies
Start      Driver                                  Chassis/Eng                        Qual Speed
6th: Stefan Johansson; Penske/Chevy (220.820mph)
Little "Stevie Johnson" running for the perennial Minnowesqe Bettenhausen team utilizing customer Penske Racing equipment not only out qualified both of the "Works" Penske drivers Paul Tracy (7th) and Emerson Fittipaldi (9th) but was quickest of the five Rookies entered this year, although the Swede' Would have to settle for eventually finishing 11th, one lap down, although he did finish ahead of the "Works" team's vaunted driver 'PT. (Paul Tracy)

8th: Nigel Mansell; Lola/Ford (220.250)
Driving for the vaunted Newman Haas concern, this audacious Brit had the gumption to lead multiple laps (34) at Mother Speedway before being snookered by two exceptional Indy 500 drivers - both having won this prestigious race twice to see Bloody Nige finish a dejected third, albeit obviously winning the Rookie Of the Year honours hands down...

13th: Nelson Piquet; Lola/Menard (217.940)
Can't say I really remember anythingy 'bout the Brazilian's lone I500 outing, as he was  in a perennial Back-marker and his ex-Buick updated Menard Stock-block V-6 simply "DONE BLOWN UP!" On lap-38, seeing Piquet finish a disappointing 32nd...

15th: Stephan Gregoire (220.851)
Since his speed was quicker than Piquet's - I'm ARSE-sumin' he was a second day qualifier, running one of those "Blown" Stock-block Buick's "Steven George" would finish 5-laps behind in 19th.

25th: Robby Gordon; Lola/Ford (220.085)
This rookie 'Yank's performance was surely overshadowed by his team owner's final appearance at Mother Speedway, as Gordon was piloting 'Ol 'SuperTex's (A.J. Foyt) second entry and Y'all could say Robby's debutant outing at thee Speedway was anything but mesmerizing, ultimately finishing two place s behind where he'd started, (P27) and retiring due to Gearbox failure - which sounds appropriate for the hard chargin' brash American...

F1 FRATERNITY
NO idea if this is the most ex-Formula 1 drivers to take the Green flag at Mother Speedway or not? But nevertheless, its remarkable to Mwah that one third of that year's field was comprised of past Gran Primo Piloto's, not to mention four of them being F1 World Champions, including: Nelson Piquet: 3; 1981, '83, '87, Emerson Fittipaldi: 2; 1972, '74 and Mario Andretti: 1; 1978 and Nigel Mansell: 1 1992.

(11) Ex-F1 Drivers
Mario  Andretti, Raul Boesel, Eddie Cheever, Jim Crawford, Teo Fabi, Emerson Fittipaldi, Roberto Guerrero, Stefan Johansson, Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet and Danny Sullivan.

And as previously mentioned, four of these former Gran Primo Piloto's were F1 World Champions, while others in this group also reached glorious heights with a total of four becoming Indy 500 winners, along with four being crowned CART Champions and a further seven winning races - while sadly one has since passed away after retiring from racing...

(Driver/Starting position in parenthesis unless already noted)
Mario  Andretti (2)
What more can I say about 'SuperMario that hasn't already been said? Especially since he's one of the BADDEST BAD ARSES of All Time, as even Seb' Vettel called him a legend upon the podium at Austin, Texas...

Mario's best known for becoming America's second F1 world champion in 1978 for Lotus, having also driven for the likes of Vel's Parnelli Jones, March, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Williams, making 128-starts and taking the chequered flag 12-times, the most by an American driver.

Mario made an astounding 29-starts at the Brickyard along with winning the 1969 race, and notched up 52-victories in Open Wheel Racing single seaters, (USAC-CART) the second most all-time behind A.J. Foyt's 67, not to mention winning four championship titles.

Impressively, at the remarkable age of 53, Mario , starting from the inside of Row-1 led the most laps , leading six times for 72-laps during the 1993 Indy 500 before ultimately settling for fifth place in his penultimate race...

Raul Boesel (3)
Will forever be remembered as the "BOOM-BOOM BRAHMA BULL!" So nicknamed by Randal, thy Moniker King during those Halcyon Dazes of CART at Portland International Raceway.

And although Raul was never a winner in Open Wheel Racing, having run 23-races in Formula 1 for March and Ligier between 1982-83 before switching over to CART and later the rival IRL, nevertheless he won the 1987 World Sport scar Championship and '88 Daytona 24hrs both for Jaguar while toiling for mostly underfinanced teams in CART, taking his Dick Simon mount to a very respectable fourth place finish in '93...

Eddie Cheever (33)
Eddie hosts the dubious record of most F1 starts for an American driver - pipping Mario by four races with a total of 132, having driven for a host of midfield teams including the likes of: Theodore, Hesketh, Osella, Tyrrell, Renault, Alfa Romeo, Haas-Lola and Arrows between 1978-89.

Yet Cheever's most recognized for his unexpected win at Indianapolis in 1998 when sponsored by a potato chip maker - as Eddie contested 14 Indy 500's, finishing 16th in '93 and for the past few years has worked as the third ABC commentator for Indy 500 TV broadcasts...

Jim Crawford (31)
This likeable Scotsman made two appearances for Lotus in 1975 primarily based upon his  proficiency in Formula Atlantics which ultimately led to a test for Colin chapman's Formula 1 team

After his brief stint in F1, Crawford turned his motor racing attention Stateside, where he was well known for his exploits of speed with the fast but fragile Stock-block Buick V-6's, albeit piloting one home to an outstanding sixth place finish at the time, having recovered from massive leg injuries the prior year. (1987) Crawford later would be Guererro's teammate at King Motorsports in '92 where the pair were expected to fight for Pole position but Crawford's hopes dwindled with two "Done Blown-up" Buick's whilst Guerrero won that year's Pole only to spin out upon lap 1!

Crawford raced in his final Indy 500 in '93, finishing 8-laps behind in 24th with failed qualifying attempts the following two years before settling into racing retirement, purchasing a fishing boat for charters in Miami before succumbing to liver cancer in 2002...

Teo Fabi (17)
Probably the more famous of the Fabi racing brothers, Teo made 64-starts in F1 between the years of 1982-87 moonlighting for the Toleman, Brabham and Benetton teams in-between his CART racing career where he contended for the title in 1983 on the back of four wins along with Pole at Mother Speedway for Forsythe Racing, ultimately finishing runner-up to 'B-I-G AL. (Al Unser Sr.)

Teo  contested a total of eight Indy 500's and finished ninth in '93, but is probably best known for winning Porsche's lone IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio in 1989 for the since deceased Al Hobert...

Emerson Fittipaldi (9)
After winning two Formula 1 championships for Lotus and McLaren, "EMMO" made the very unwise and ultimately career ending choice to race for his own F1 Team with his older brother Wilson; Fittipaldi Automotive, before being coaxed out of retirement by first contesting a Sports Car race in Miami before blossoming into a second career in Indy Cars, successfully winning the 1989 CART championship and Indy 500 for Patrick Racing before moving onto Penske Racing where he successfully won his second Indy 500 for "The Captain" (Roger Penske) in '93...

Roberto Guerrero (10)
This affable Columbian made 21-starts in F1 between 1982-83 for the Minnowesqe Ensign and Theodore racing teams, the first being of Morris 'Mo Nunn's concern, as Mo would garner fame as a leading component of the four-time CART champions Target Chip Ganassi Racing team in the late 1990's.

Having found little success in F1, Roberto jumped over to CART the following year and promptly became the 1984 CART and Indy 500 Rookie Of the Year, (ROY) with his highlight/lowlight at Mother Speedway being his '92 Pole and subsequent crash upon lap-1.

Yet this Columbian was the driver to hire his first four years at Indianapolis before a horrific crash left him in a Coma in 1987, and although he fully recovered, suffice it to say, he really was never the same driver afterwards...


Stefan Johansson
This Swede will forever be known as 'lil "Stevie Johnson" thanks solely to Thy Moniker King Randal, who was part of our "Portland Gang" traipsing off to Oregon each 'N every Father's Day...

Johansson drove for two of Formula 1's biggest teams, first driving for “Il Commendatore,” nee Enzo Ferrari alongside the ebbing Michele Alboreto before becoming Alain Prost's "punching-bag" for one season at McLaren while thee 'Ronster was pursuing the services of Ayrton Senna.

Yet I tend to remember Stefan more for driving those brightly coloured Tony Bettenhausen AMAX Indy Cars and after a subsequent trip to Johansson's Hometown of Vaxjo, Sweden, and more specifically Anderstorp, I eagerly anticipated getting his "John Hancock" at Mother Speedway in 2011... 



Nigel Mansell
As we all know, "Il Lione," which the tifosi named him during his tenure at la Scuderia drove for three of the legendary Constructors in Formula One: Lotus, Williams and Ferrari - winning the F1 title in 1992 before shockingly coming Stateside to drive for the then Powerhouse Newman Haas concern, where he won on his debut at Surfers Paradise, claiming a total of four wins en route to the CART title in his Rookie season. Mansell then had a relatively lackluster sophomore campaign and finished off by returning to Williams to help lessen the death of Ayrton Senna...

Nelson Piquet
Piquet was Brazil's second world champion, along with being Ayrton Senna's arch nemesis, albeit not as strongly as Alain Prost, especially as Senna had clearly established his dominance over Piquet - besting him in Poles and victories whilst equaling his three world championships.

Nelson drove for a host of F1 teams, including the likes of Ensign, Brabham, Williams, Lotus and Benetton before finally retiring from Formula 1 at the end of the 1991 season. For '92 he decided to contest that year's Indy 500 and everything was going smoothly until he had a major shunt causing him serious leg and feet injuries... Upon recovering, although I seem to recall him walking with a cane? Piquet bravely returned in '93 to attend to unfinished business, most notably not letting Mother Speedway defeat him, yet his lone Indy 500 was hardly a rousing success...

Danny Sullivan (12)
Few  people probably realize that 'Sully actually was a Formula 1 racer for Tyrrell in 1983, making 15-starts for "Uncle Chopper" (Ken Tyrrell) scoring two points for a best placed finish of fifth at Monte Carlo before turning his attention Stateside where he flourished in the CART series, ultimately winning the title in 1988 for Penske  Racing, as I can still fondly see that beautiful gold liveried Miller racing car...

Yet 'Ol Hollywood will forever be remembered for his most  notable "Spin 'N Win" victory in the 1985 Indianapolis 500! Since by '93 his Open Wheel Racing career was in decline with Sullivan ultimately washing out of Indy Cars after a short lived tenure with the fledgling PacWest Racing team in 1995 - announcing his retirement whilst recouping from injuries sustained in that year's Michigan 500 Oval race...

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