Thursday, September 28, 2017

INDYCAR: Ten years later, Portland's still on my Mind...

An 'Ol Postcard sent to Mwah from a much younger, youthful Scott Pruett during his Truesports CART Days. (The Tomaso Collection)
Sorta, barely, since like All thingys' in life, fairly certain I've moved on. As IndyCar better hope it can find its next generation 'O supporters El Pronto!

With the recently concluded Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park's 1.25m Oval at Madison, IL. It's first IndyCar race post Mergification, and first overall since 2003, potentially giving some minuscule hope of Portland's rightful return to the IndyCar Series calendar? Oh Never Mind!

As Y'all know if you've been reading my ramblings here on No Fenders, this June marked the tenth anniversary of Portland International Raceway's final Champ Car race...

Earlier this year, during our never ending winter, for which it still felt like during the Indy GP weekend in Mid May; CRIKEYS! But I digress...

Tacoma Bureau Chief Mary Ellen, her faithful co-pilot Pixie-the-Wonderdog!" WUF-WUF! and your humble No Fenders scribe Tomaso headed all places southwards towards the Other Florence, by land, sea and thankfully NO Air! Across thou Mighty Columbia River, for which I didn't even think of Portland International Raceway in the slightest.

As can it really already be ten years since my last trek to Portland aboard Amtrak for that mostly forgotten Chump Carz' race...

As it's pretty hard to imagine today, due to my faltering eyesight that I'd be capable of making another Solo outing to the Rose City for another IndyCar race, if the series was so brazen as to return? Chirp-Chirp; Bueller?

And it's even harder to imagine that it's almost two decades now since Mary Ellen used to tease me 'bout us attending All five of Championship auto Racing Teams (CART) West Coast races, which I've listed in seasons past order: Long Beach, Portland, Vancouver, BC, Laguna Seca and Fontana.

And A-L-L of those Wisecracks PT', nee Mr. Chrome Horn or simply Paul Tracy enjoys making bout Scotty Scooter' Pruett and his famed Pruett Fade during the IndyCar TV Broadcasts. Always makes me think of Pruett and CART's yearly trek to Portland, since ironically 'Ol Scooter' was my very first favourite IndyCar Driver during those formative Portland International Raceway Dazes of Mwah...

Thus for nostalgic lore, along with this year's IndyCar Series championship being pretty mundane! I began ponderin' who from this year's just completed season's cadre 'O drivers were where a decade ago?

Hence, for 2007, Champ Car's final outing at Portland, and the series as a whole, Thar were Team Australia's duo featuring Will Power, the '06 Champ Car World Series (CCWS) Rookie Of the year, (ROY) partnered with rookie Frenchman Simon Pagenaud.

Another rookie of note was the precocious Graham Rahal, then an 18yr old teenager, partnering le Hamburgular', aka SebastainBourdais at Newman Haas Lanigan Racing. As SeaBass was en route to his fourth consecutive CCWS championship crown - before running away to Formula 1.

While that year's Cooper Tires presents the Champ Car Atlantic powered by Mazda; try saying 'Dat Fast Five Times; Hya! Saw the Atlantics series fielded by a bunch of familiar names compiling it's entry list, with the likes of
Jonathan Bomarito, Ronnie Bremer, Simona de Silvestro
John Edwards, J.R. Hildebrand, James Hinchcliffe, Raphael Matos and Robert Wickens being names I recognize, but only part of the entire Atlantics grid.

As Rafa' Matos won the championship with six wins, while his Sierra Sierra team-mate, still campaigning to become thee Mayor 'O Hinchtown, aka James Hinchcliffe finished 4th.

Fellow Hoser' from Up North Eh! That Hinch' nicknamed "The Young Wicky," nee Robert Wickens finished 3rd, with his Red Bull Team Forsythe team-mate John Edwards being 9th.

Interestingly, the first driver I recall being coifed as "Captain America," a.k.a. J.R. Hildebrand, also contested the final three races of that year's Indy Pro Series for RLR Anderson Racing, before shifting to Indy Lights fulltime...

Frank Perera, remember him? Was the series runner-up with three wins, with Jonathan Bomarito 5th and J.R. Hildebrand 7th.

While another Kuhnaidiun' driver I was high upon, Kevin Lacroix, running a partial season finished P13, and "Symona-Symona," (De Silvestro) driving for Walker Racing wound up 19th.

As Hinchcliffe started from Pole both days at Portland but Saturday's race was won by Wickens and Sunday's by Lacroix, being their only victories of the season, whilst Hinch' went winless, but claimed three Poles...

As we all know, the '07 Indy Racing League championship, and Indy 500 were won by Dario "REO Speedwagon" Franchitti, part of Mikey A's Andretti Green Racing's IRL Quartet, including  TK' Follow-your-Schnoz! Kanaan, Queen Danica', (Patrick) and Marco Andretti, the 2005-06 Indy 500 Rookies Of the Year (ROY) respectively.

As my favourite memory of past AGR Super teams revolves around the Motley Crew 'O Franchitti, Kanaan, Dan Wheldon and Bryan Herta. When TK' squirmed thru an interview whilst behind him, Dario & Co. were taking a Hacksaw to his custom bicycle!

Team Penske fielded HULIO' (Castroneves) and reigning IRL champion Sam Hornish, Jr., who'd yet to depart for the Dark Side 'O Roundy Round Taxicabs...

While Target Chip Ganassi Racing feature eventual four times IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and the late Dan Wheldon.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was the series Rookie Of the Year (ROY) for Rahal Letterman Racing, having replaced Jeff Simmons for the final six races.

And lastly, Tony George's Vision Racing team was running Step Son FAST EDDIE', nee Ed Carpenter, who's subsequently won three IndyCar races, all on Ovals, his fortay, along with being Mother Speedway's Pole winner consecutively between 2013-14.

For another story revolving around Portland's forgotten Open Wheel Racing History, Y'all may wish to read the following No Fenders tome...