Friday, July 15, 2016

Remembering Jeff Krosnoff Twenty Years ago - Chequered Flag

Jeff Krosnoff and his famous "Superman" pose on the front wheel of his Arciero-Wells Reynard-Toyota for RACER Magazine in 1996. (Photo source: speed.com)


Although the stories gone now in my collective memory bucket, I do still recall finding Messer Pruett’s writing very powerful - as his written description of the events prior to and following Krosnoff’s and unheralded volunteer corner worker Gary Avrin’s deaths caused me to shed several tears, and probably is one of his best works I can think of...

Yet I wished that SPEED would have run the six-part piecemeal story in its entirety over the course of a single year's time!  As I finally gave up waiting for Part-4 in Thy Fall of Twenty-eleven', which Pruett had teased us about at the end of Part-3 published that July.

Alas, as time marches on, and Father Time creeps closer to Mwah, whilst my remaining vision continues dwindling... All I tend to recall now is that for reasons unknown I didn’t watch the 1996 Toronto Molson Indy, nor did I know who Jeff Krosnoff was, as previously mentioned.

Since after all he was just another back-marker pummeling around in a recalcitrant Toy-yoter that summer at Portland International Raceway.

Especially since my favourite driver then was Robby gordon driving for Derrick Walker Racing, before the brash Californian who'd been named Dirtmann when Taxicab racin' and became Gourdoun instead!

Thus, I suppose it is what it is, since what truly stands out to me from two decades ago is that irrevocably damaging thingy forever  known to your humble No Fenders scribe simply as The Split!

Driver Trilogy Introspective...
Hence, may be I’m still making too big a dealio outta the karma of having crossed paths with three racing drivers directly involved that very day at two of the past years Legends Day's outings at Mother Speedway thanxs to Carpetz' taking me to attend them at Indianapolis, Circa 2011-13.

Yet I still find it very symbiotic that I’ve briefly met “Stevie Johnson,” aka Stefan Johansson and Yo Adrian! (Adrian Fernandez) whilst DAVE snagged MAD MAX’S (Massimiliano Papis) John Hancock for Mwah when waiting some ninety-plus minutes to get Johansson's autograph five years ago.

When finally meeting Stefan Johansson, 'Wayback in Twenty-eleven, he seemed like an overly pleasurable Chap, who Pruett denotes simply saw a gap momentarily opened by ‘EMMO (Emerson Fittipaldi) and as any racing driver would naturally do - went for I-T! Unaware that the relentless Krosnoff in the underpowered Toyota also saw the same opportune gap and dove straight into it in hopes of overtaking Johansson...


With the ironies continuing, as it was Papis's Father-in-law that 'lil "Stevie Johnson" touched wheels with that fateful day, while Max's sons Godfather is Alex Zanardi...

The following year I met Adrian Fernandez in what's still my most memorable Legends Day outing, where he was the consummate Gentleman, standing to greet me personally by warmly saying Hola Tomaso! Along with answering all of my questions most politely - as he seemed to beam when I asked Didn't you win at Portland? To which he answered yes, it was my maiden win (2003) as a Team Owner.

Alas,  Adrian totally struck me from this very brief encounter like the type of person who wouldn’t have celebrated over-joyously for his debutant Open Wheel victory had he been cognizant of Krossnoff’s life threatening injuries that fateful July!


As sadly, Senor Fernandez has tasted Thy Agony 'O Fatality in not one, but two of his IndyCar win's, having also won the '99 season finale Marlboro 500 which was completely overshadowed by the gruesome death of Greg Moore!

And then there's the '98 Michigan 500, where Adrian who started from Pole lost control on Lap-175, smashing into the wall in a Mega 92G's incident! Ripping his front wheel off, then said wheel careening over catch fencing and ultimately killing three spectators and injuring six more...

Max Papis’s verve, flair and unbridled Italian passion towards life have always been undeniable to Mwah, as his moxie, or charisma are what inevitably drew me to like him so much during his formative Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) Days, especially when driving for Bobby Rahal...

- as it seems even more ironic that Massimiliano has had to deal directly with two fallen comrades, as he still wears red gloves in honour of the late Greg Moore, for which I asked him about when finally meeting him in 2013, which unfortunately is the last time I got to enjoy meeting these drivers of the past.


Thus I found Pruett’s insight’s towards Papis’s huge reservations regarding taking over Krosnoff’s seat not only terribly moving but typical Massimiliano.

Jeff Krosnoff piloted this beautiful Cal Well owned Reynard-Toyota during his far too short-lived CART rookie campaign in 1996. (Source: Speed.com)
The Final Chapters (Parts 4-6)
Originally when posting Thy final Krosnoff blurbs upon No Fenders four summers ago, I noted how I'd only gotten thru the first of Part Sixes three pages when the ironies kept drip-drip-dripping here in Nofendersville...

Karmically for Mwah, it just so happened that thee original ‘TK, Tommy Kendall was co-hosting Wind Tunnel the weekend following the 2012 Toronto IndyCar race, giving some great insights into his fallen friend - with the picture of the two teenagers  together during their Jim Russell driving school days being flashed upon screen.

Meanwhile there were two tidbits I wished Pruett had expounded upon further, as he mentions how the destroyed Reynard/Toyota sat impounded for seven years... Along with divulging the cold, harsh, callous world of Formula 1; where really Ferrari? You couldn’t have the decency to release Mr. Irvine from a FREAKIN’ test session in order to attend his fallen friend’s funeral; SHEISA! Talk ‘bout turning my stomach in knots towards la Scuderia!

Whilst Pruett's final trilogy also features some other magnificent antidotes  about Krosnoff - as I especially enjoyed Dan Layton noting how Jeff pounding ‘round in an obsolete Ralt Atlantic car made him realize he wasn’t cut out to be a racer!

Along with Adam Saal recalling him smiling whilst bundled up in a parka asking for some stickers for his niece during the snow-delayed U.S. 500 at Michigan, held on May 26, 1996. Y'all know where ALL the Starz' were, whilst some 'lil 'Ol racin' track at Indianapolis had ALL the Cars!

All six segments were originally broken into three-page stories - which surely Y’all can read way faster than ‘Lucy, my Screen-reader does, especially when trying to read 18-pages A-L-L at once!

Like I said before, I've got ZERO idea if Marshal Pruett will repose this hefty 18-page tome over at Racer Magazine this year? But I highly recommend reading the story in its entirety! As it not only gives an excellent look at this oft-overlooked driver, but also a snapshot at Open Wheel Racing's landscape two decades ago...

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