Justin Wilson Autographed "Hero Card" collected at 2014 Sonoma IndyCar race. (The Tomaso Collection)
As Y'all may know, Belle Isle is French for Beautiful Island, for which after all, there's more than Juan' Mon Cherie...
My initial plan for this story in Thy Aftermath of thou Magnanimous 100th running of some Oval-track in Indianapolis; Sigh. As Y'all know the drill, right? Which means I'm running behind and current stories here in Nofendersville are nebulously stuck in that dastardly No Fenders Wormhole Vortex!
Especially since I'm currently enjoying a much needed few weeks sojourn away from Thy A-L-L consuming Confuzer, as I'll be off to thee other Florence shortly...
AnyHoo, I'd read; Err 'Whale listened to Erik Larson's Thunderstruck in CD Audiobook format early this March, the story about the Mad Hatter Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen almost escaping from London before being caught nearby Belle Isle in the summer of 1910.
Alas, as hard as I tried to make I-T thee Belle Isle of Michigan where the IndyCar circus is headed this weekend, nevertheless it more likely was the other Belle Isle for which I was totally unawares' of, eh? Y'all know the one in Newfoundland and Labrador, right? Which makes perfect sense, since it's the shortest route across Thy Atlantic and the Great Lakes along Thy St Lawrence waterway; but I digress...
Hence, since I seem to gravitate towards the number three, and NOT because of 'Ol Ironhead, nee Dale Earnhardt; Hya! My three most poignant memories of the temporary street course, which I've never been overly impressed by, which seems notorious for lack of passing amongst other thingys are:
In 1997, my Homeboyz' outfit PacWest Racing Group, for which I've just recently scribbled labouriously about, nearly Broke their Proverbial Duck with ex-Formula 1 Pilote Mark Blundell coming up one solitary corner short of victory before running out of fuel in which he called his worst disappointment of his career!
As Blundell's team-mate known as B-I-G MO', aka Mauricio Gugelmin, also an ex-Formula 1 driver had also ran his tank dry when at the pointy end of the field ahead of Blundell & Co. As the late Greg Moore would sweep to an unexpected victory. As its weird knowing I watched the race on Thy Telescreen A-L-L those years ago - SCREAMING in Disbelief at both of the PacWest drivers misfortunes!
My other two memories relate to the fairly modern era of Indy Cars, albeit one's more to do with the racetrack's Ash-fault's demise, whilst the other regards a fallen racing Hero of mine.
There was that glorious day in '08 when Justin B-I-G UNIT' Wilson was rightly declared winner aboard his Newman Haas Lanigan Dallara-Honda, after 'HULIO had definitely BLOCKED him! As I'm fairly certain this was Newman Haas's final victory, as one of its namesakes, Paul Newman would pass away shortly thereafter, whilst Justin would record two further victories for Dale Coyne Racing before his untimely death at Pocono last summer.
Justin's team-mate then was a Weinerschnitzel named Graham Rahal who'd had the honours of winning for the team prior on his maiden IndyCar race at St Pete at the beginning of the season. As surely Graham, along with the rest of us really didn't believe it take another seven years to return to the podium's top step! Ironically having faltered to Wilson at Texas Motor Speedway NO less, in what was Justin's final IndyCar victory. Where a multi-times IndyCar champion sardonically offered to cut off one of his extremities after Wilson's win...
And lastly, there was the year that Thy Mayor 'O Hinchtown, nee James Hinchcliffe got snookered by a Snowball; Err Dinosaur sized Tar-ball when the track surface inexplicably broke up! Which resulted in a two-hour Red flag session, for which unbelievably I sat thru the entire Shemozzled, since I enjoyed the comedic relief 'Ol R, aka Robin Miller and crew provided whilst track workers furiously mixed 'N poured batches of "fix-It" quick drying concrete!
Otherwise, believe that 2012 race was a snoozer, for which Scotty the Iceman' Dixon won ahead of Wingman Dario REO Speedwagon Franchitti - who'd wisely not kept his previous surgical promise.
And suppose it's somewhat symbiotic that Penske Racing holds the record for most wins at seven and Helio Castroneves has the most wins with three, since after all, the race is El Capitano's Pet project.
Then again, I just thought of another Belle Isle Flashback, one A.J. Allmendinger will certainly wish to not be reminded of. When Roger Penske gave him a second chance after his mistake in 'RASSCAR as a Penske driver.
Y'all know when Roger put him in one of his Indy Cars after completing his rehabilitation and being reinstated by NASCAR. As thee Dinger' led at Indianapolis as a rookie before having a NIGHTMARISH weekend on thou Beautiful Island when carrying the races primary sponsor on his Dallara's flanks, i.e.; Quicken Loans; when A.J. wrecked not once, but both days Double Header Heat Races at the very beginning of each event!
As will Pageantry', nee Simon Pagenaud still be on his Hot-streak? Or will Graham Rahal find his way to the front of the Queue? Or will it be somebody else winning at Belle Isle, and can Conor Daly score his first IndyCar podium?
Although I'll not be privy to the races, nor most likely get to hear a race report since I'll be on thy merry way to Florence. And NO! Not the one in Italy! Where' I'll try remembering to ask our Good Friends to at least tell me the winners...