Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Portland Day - 2016 Edition

A very surprised, but joyous and definitely delighted Tomaso poses for an impromptu Photo-op with Alex Zanardi, who scored his maiden IndyCar victory at Portland - at Mother Speedway on Carb Day, 2013! (The Tomaso Collection)
Can I-T really already be a decade ago that I attempted partaking in my very first ever (Champ Car) Drivers Autograph session. Or even worse yet, that the selected Molson Indy Vancouver BC poster still resides in said poster tube; YIKES!

Today marks the Ninth year: Number Nine, Numeral Nein, No. 9? That NO Ford/Cosworth's, Honda's,  Mercedes or ToyYoter' (Toyota)  2.65-liter V-8 Turbocharged 'lumps bolted to the backsides of Eagle's, Lola's, Penske's, Reynard's or Swift's will be heard snarling in anger before the green flag waved at Portland International Raceway!

As PIR for nearly a quarter century hosted its annual Fathers Day IndyCar race, sanctioned first by Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) and followed by the Champ Car World Series (CCWS) from 1984 to 2007, along with having celebrated its Centennial over two months prior to Mother Speedway's first automobile races 'Wayback in 'Nineteen-oh-Nine.

Hard to believe that ten years ago I was on my second Solo outing to Portland's Champ Car World Series (CCWS) race via Amtrak! As I too, in a different sort of way had  endured my own Split, having been evicted from my longtime West End grandstand seat, and then electing to skip the first two years of the Chump Carz' era, probably 'cause I still wasn't willing to come outta my shell completely and acknowledge my blindness - before resuming attending said race now ensconced in the Festival Curves chicane; but I digress...

Although perhaps I wasn't alone in this experience? As I'll never forget the female concession stand worker complementing me upon my nice walking stick! (My white cane)

Alas, for A-L-L of the good times I've had at Portland International Raceway over two decades, it's S-A-D that whenever I think of the '06 event, I immediately recall being STIFFED at the Drivers Autograph session, not to mention a very uncouth female volunteer(?) telling the ONLY Blind person in the entire line, and more likely vicinity or surely the premises - to move along, you're holding the line up; SHIT LADY, ARE YOU KIDDING!

Yet in fairness to CCWS, albeit too little, too late! The following year Champ Car vainly tried atoning for its past mistakes by honouring A-L-L "Season" Ticket Holders with a Free Beer Pre-race Fan Primer Thursday evening - which featured Mr. Chrome Horn NO less, which totally changed my attitude towards Messer Tracy due to his NO Holds Barred Straight Shooting, being Hilarious & congenial during his evening's revelry!

Grand Prix of Portland Presented by G.I. Joes
Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Winner: A.J. Allmendinger, Forsythe Racing
Second: Justin Wilson, RuSport
Third:  Sebastian Bourdais, Newman Haas Racing

SORRY AJ! How could I forget I was at your Debutante IndyCar victory at my Home track NO less! As that was awesome seeing you DEFEAT everyone that day! And must have felt especially gratifying to not only beat your close friend Justin B-I-G UNIT' Wilson to the stripe, but show Carl Russo he'd made a mistake!

Out of that '06 Portland field, there's a GURR-RAND Total of two participants still competing fulltime: Team Penske's Will Power and KVSH Racing's Sebastain Bourdais. With two part-timers, i.e.; Oriol Servia and Alex Tagliani, while Katherine Legge had hoped to contest this year's Magnanimous 100th running of the Indy 500 for the Female based Grace Autosport squad.

And with the advent of this year's Boston GP cancellation, although I knew I-T wouldn't happen, nonetheless, I can dream, right? That Portland would surprisingly take its place, as it would have made perfect sense to twin Indy Cars drive to the Left Coast with Portland, perhaps a week prior to the season finale at Sonoma; Hey! If Phoenix can come back after an eleven year hiatus then why not Portland?

Although I think the Die's been cast, as I'm really not very sure if I'd want to bother with the ambiguities of traveling, lodging, etc today to go to Portland anymore for an IndyCar race...

Long forgotten assorted Portland CART ticket stubs, circa' 1987-96. (The Tomaso Collection)
As Portland's steeped in IndyCar lore, having joined the Open Wheel Racing Circus over three decades ago! As I can think of at least three drivers off thoust Top 'O Thy Noggin' who claimed their maiden IndyCar win in the "Rose City." 

With the first being none other than El Zorro, a.k.a. Alex Zanardi in 1996 followed by Mark Blundell for Homeboyz' PacWest Racing in '97. And then the aforementioned Dinger' in '06.

OOPS! Having just reviewed my long ago scribbled Portland Centennial post, I was reminded that 'lil Al (Unser Jr.) before his presumably free BAD HABITS "Smokey Smokes" era won his maiden IndyCar race for Galles Racing at Portland's inaugural CART race...

And who could forget Michael giving Poppa Mario a Father's Day presento by running his tank dry 'O Methanol on the final lap in 1986!

Other notable names from the past include: Thee Thrill From the West Hill, aka Mr. Chrome Horn, nee Paul Tracy or simply 'PT! Who's now become my Numero Uno IndyCar TV Announcer.

Another driver who scored his final IndyCar win at Portland was Shorty', aka Cristiano da Matta who took a surprise win in '05 for PKV Racing. And on Pole for the '06 race was Bruno Whiney Bags' Junqueira, as le 'Hamburgular's Newman Haas Wingman.

Another name from the past was the recently demoted Mario "BOOM-BOOM!" Dominguez who'd been dropped by Gerald Wimpey' Forsythe to make way for Allmendinger who'd just been fired by Carl Russo's ruSport team, with Dominguez taking refuge at Dale Coyne Racing.

Also present that day were Andrew Ranger, Dan Speedy Dry! Clarke and Jan Van Hagar Heyland to name just a few more forgotten names. Whilst we all know that thee Dinger', nee A.J. Allmendinger's gone Taxicab racin' fulltime instead!

Photo Courtesy of No Fenders ‘Offical Photographer ‘CARPETS.
Ticket Stubs from Dusty Shoebox in Tomaso Manor.