Monday, January 9, 2017

RETRO: Kendall’s “Day Job”




The NASTY Roush TA Mustang that Tommy Kendall kicked ARSE in! Scoring eleven consecutive W's en route to the 1997 Trans Am title. (The Tomaso Collection)
Ah, thee life 'O a multi-times SCCA Pro Racing Trans Am champion, eh? As perhaps we'll be hearing his voice shortly from Daytona during another Rolex 24 cameo as Expert Analyst...

AUTHOR'S NOTE
Hard to believe that this story's been Fermentin' in Nofendersville for nearly ten Bloody years! Having originally written  I-T the summer of Twenty-oh-six just before this very BLOB' went Viral; YIKES! Then I finished tidying up the story in the Month 'O May, 2007...

Yet in deference to my having just visited America's Car Museum this past October, who were celebrating BMW's Centennial, this story seems aptly suited...


Last summer prior to starting my blog No Fenders, (September, 2006) I seemed to have spend a lot more time staring at Ye 'Telescreen.” And one Saturday evening I was in search of some entertainment and stumbled upon an episode of The Speed Channel’s “Test Drive” with Tommy Kendall.

Y'all recall Dem Halcyon Dazes 'O Duh Speed Channel; Uhm, think I-T was simply known as SPEED in its final iteration. Before the BASTARDOES at FOX decided we needed another FRIGGIN' "Stick 'N Ball" Sports channel; BARF!

Hence, I had to watch Tommy Kendall “schlepping-it” in Germany, Austria, Seattle and back east somewhere. First up was the re-run of AMG, (Test Drive) where Klaus Ludwig hammers an AMG SL65 V-12 twin turbo past 300kph on the Autobahn! The SL65 has 604bhp… More horsepower then a Lamborghini Murcelago and more torque then… Definitely not your everyday four door sedan!

Yeah Kendall’s job really SUCKS!!!
Kendall had to road test ALL of AMG’s current product line-up in der Fatherland… Along with riding in the DTM “Taxi,” a two seater race car being chauffeured by his boyhood idol Klaus Ludwig: 3 time 24hrs of Le Mans winner & 5 time DTM champion.

Ludwig also spent nine years in America's IMSA; racing such vehicles as the A-L-L Mighty Porsche 962 Panzerwagon! Yeah, some dudes named Ludwig & Rahal used to drive for Bayside Motorsports.

Which if Y'all cannot guess, I'm kinda partial to the sodden, gray Pacific Northwest. As Bayside Motorsports, or as I know I-T: Bayside Disposal Racing was one 'O my fondest Home-team IndyCar outfits, which I scribbled 'bout labourisly in homage to last year's Magnanimous 100th running of some 'lil Oval race!


The half hour AMG Test Drive program was followed by a “special long-play” 1hr BMW M-Sport (Test Drive)  episode. Kendall started in Germany once again. This time Tommy was behind the wheel of a Z4 M Coupe chasing Hans Stuck in an M6. Stuck pushed the seven speed M6 towards terminal velocity along the Autobahn calling out gears and mph, having to back off for traffic at a paltry 192+ mph; SHEISA!

After a visit inside the private BMW Motorsport restoration museum, peaking at past famous racing cars. They played “follow the leader” to Stuck’s home town in Austria, Kitsbul.

"Ja, those are ALL 2-3 million dollar houses!"

Herr Stuck told Kendall. Standing on the top of a mountain peak, with beautiful scenery behind them, Kendall asked Stuck to yodel us into a commercial break.

As I still fondly recall TK'; not sure which Juan' came first? TK' Follow-your-Schnoz! Kanaan or Tommy Kendall?

But recall Kendall stumping for his "Good Buddy" Oriol "Suitcase" Servia getting a ride during an interview with Ye 'Ol Windbag, nee Dave Despain on Wind Tunnel years ago; during the early Reunification Phase Me Thinks.

As there may have even been jokes 'bout TK's "Pool-boy" as Servia flitted by in the background during the Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain TK' segment...

Next Kendall joined ex-Seattleite Kim Wolfkill, a Road & Track Magazine Editor to play tag in the Z4 M Roadster. (Convertible) The Z4 utilizes the old M3 straight six “lump,” pumping out 330bhp. After introducing Wolfkill with a sunny backdrop of Seattle’s downtown waterfront skyline and a quick buzz along the waterfront. They set off for the shores of Lake Washington.

The show wrapped up with Kendall chasing Joey Hand in identical M5 coupe’s during a PTG test day in Birmingham? Tom Milner’s Prototype Technology Group has been the US “factory” BMW race team for the past 11yrs… While Hand chased Kendall in a blue M5, Joey commented that he wished they both had matching silver cars, Kendall chortled so there’s NO tattle-tells? (“Racin is Rubbin”)

Bill Auberlen BLEW past both cars in the PTG M5 race car. Then Kendall chatted up Auberlen who’s now been a “factory” BMW driver for 10yrs.

Ironically during last year’s ALMS race at Road America, which followed my viewing of Kendall’s Test Drive by one week. Quite a bit of airtime was spent on Auberlen leading the GT2 class against faster rivals, sharing driving duties with Hand… They got passed by the more “aero slippery” sinister looking black Ferrari F430 and later by the GT2 class winning #31 Porsche 911 GT3R. Yet Auberlen & Hand finished second in class. This year PTG has switched to campaigning Panoz Esparante's in the Grand American race series.

As DON'T even get me started on FUCKING comca$t NOT being able to provide me Fox Sports Douche' (FS2) or MAV TV on my exorbitantly Overpriced Cable TV service Ja Volt!  

EPILOGUE...
Tommy Kendall was one of the BADEST BAD ARSES' in Tintops during the late 1980's up to the Y2K Millennium. Having become the youngest ever IMSA champion at age 18 upon winning the first of his three consecutive GTU (Under 2.0-litre) titles between 1986-88 in a Mazda RX7!

TK' was the first driver to ever win two SCCA championships in a single season when claiming GTU and Firestone Firehawk crowns in '86, before graduating to the bigger, NASTIER Trans Am machines in 1989 after decimating the GTU class.

And although my earliest memory of Kendall centers round him driving that somewhat awkward looking Chebbie' Intrepid GTP chassis, which I most notably recall him having a nasty Shunt in 1991; breaking feet, legs and multiple bones in a head-on crash against the Armco at the famed Watkins Glen road course; YOUCH!

Instead my fondest memories of TK' come from witnessing him kicking ARSE aboard that iconic narly BAD ARSE Roush Trans Am Ford Mustang at my forlorned Home-track, nee Portland International Raceway during the mid-1990's.


As Tommy first captured the GTS crown in '93 - along with a class victory at the 24hrs of Daytona, his first season with Roush Racing. Before ultimately claiming four Trans Am titles between 1990-97, the latter three consecutively from 1995-97 for thee "Cat in The Hat," nee Jack Roush.

With '97 being his finest Trans Am season, winning eleven consecutive races! Smashing the late Mark Donohue's record of eight, which stood for nearly three decades, before at age 31, Kendall simply walked away, albeit with pronounced limp from motor racing...

Thus TK' slipped away from my radar screen, before he popped up again, now as a colour commentator for CART/IndyCar, and then doing that SPEED Test Drive Show, which was the impetus of this story.

Although Tommy made quite a Stir after losing a bet with Queen Danica, with Miss Patrick leading the lanky Californian down the Pitlane wearing a Doggie Collar and being pulled by a leash!

Although Kendall made a fulltime return to the cockpit in '04, when he finished as runner-up to his boss Paul GOOFY! Gentilozzi in their Rocketsports Racing Trans Am Jaguar XJR's, I'd given up on CART/Champ Car for a few years and therefore had zero clue 'bout Kendall's racing resurgence.

Afterwards, TK' sporadically showed up for Sports Cars events along with his television career before at age 45, nearly sixteen years after walking away from full time racing, he won a Shoot-out to become the Riley led Dodge Viper GTR's fourth driver, making his comeback for the 2013 AMLS season.

The year was tough for Tommy, but was highlighted by his second outing at Circuit de la Sarthe in the crowd pleasing Viper's, thirteen years after his debut at Le Mans...

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