Saturday, September 1, 2018

INDYCAR: Looking Back at Portland, Sorta'

My Very Favourite picture I've taken from Portland's CART Glory Days. As still Don't know how I managed to capture Scott Pruett's Truesports racecar in the frame! (the Tomaso Collection)
As it's Funny thinking I've been Bustin' Out thou No Fenders Superlative on Ye Intrawoods' almost as long as the Indy Cars Kicked Portland Kerbside...

Originally I had ZERO intention of attending Indy Cars return to the Pacific Northwest, since I'd long thrown in the towel upon them ever coming back. Hence wasn't very excited over Portland saving Indy Cars "Bacon" by picking up the ever revolving Labour Day weekend racing slot.

Alas, in a slightly different nod to Portland's return, by my very unscientific research, unofficially I believe Thars' a total of Nine; Number 9, number Nein? current IndyCar Drivers contesting this year's return to the Rose City. With eight of them being IndyCar race winners. While six are Series Champions, and four have won the Indy 500.

#9: Scott Dixon
Chip Ganassi Racing
Engine: Honda

In 1999, a "Bashful" Kiwi' came Stateside to enter the Dayton Indy Lights Championship for 'lil Stevie Johnson's, aka Stefan Johansson Motorsports Indy Lights team. The following year, Dixon moved to PacWest Racing, where he crushed the opposition en route to the series title, winning six of the twelve rounds! With one of his fiercest Indy Lights competitors being Townsend Bell.

For 2001 Dixon graduated to PacWest Racing's Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) Squad alongside "B-I-G MO," or as Bob named him "googly eyes," aka Mauricio Gugelmin. As Scott would record the first of his Uber' impressive 43 IndyCar victories on his Oval track Debut at Nazareth Speedway, only his third start overall! becoming then the youngest ever CART race winner at the precocious age of 20yrs, 9mos and 14-days..

Dixon would also become the Championship Auto Racing Teams rookie Of the Year (ROY) in what was his one and only IndyCar start at Portland International Raceway that year. As PacWest Racing shuttered its operations the following season, while Toyota introduced Dixon to Chip Ganassi, who was contesting the rival Indy Racing league. (IRL)

As we All know, Scott's gone onto become the Indy Cars third All-time Career winner, having just eclipsed Mikey A' (Andretti) upon winning at Texas, and trails only the legendary A.J. Foyt (67) and Mario Andretti. (52)

As Dixon's won the IndyCar Championship four times to Date: 2003, 2008, 2013 & 2015,  along with the 2008 Indianapolis 500.

#12: will Power
Team Penske
Engine: Chevrolet

Will Power made his Champ Car debut appropriately at home, in the 2005 Surfers Paradise Champ Car World Series (CCWS) race for Derrick Walker's Team Australia Aussie Vineyards team, as its third entry, before replacing the long forgotten Marcus Marshall at the season finale in Mexico alongside TAG', nee Alex Tagliani.

As Marshall was Fired following the Oz' race for "serious' Breach of Contract, making way for Power to sign a multi-year contract to drive for Team Australia.

In his first full season campaign the following year, Power would go onto become the '06 CCWS Rookie Of the Year. (ROY) Having made two IndyCar starts at Portland, both for Team Oz', (Australia) where he was one of the few drivers capable of beating le Hamburgular' (Sebastian Bourdais) for victories.

Whilst ironically, since I got All 17 "John Hancock's" on offer, well sorta while making my way thru All of the Autograph "Congo" lines that June 2006 race, DJ WillyP', nee Will Power must have been one of the countless unknown Drivers to Mwah; but I digress...

Power joined KV Racing Technology in '08 during the IndyCar Reunification, and has never looked back after taking a Flyer with Team Penske originally as Helio Castroneves Stand-in during HULIO's Tax Evasion trial the following season. And has finally Broken his Indy 500 "Duck" this year, along with having claimed the 2014 IndyCar Championship.

And while Dixon garners much of the Spotlight, Power's now third Overall for IndyCar Career Poles with 52, as of Iowa. And trails only A.J Foyt by One digit, (53) and Mario Andretti with 67 Overall.

Then Power tied 'Ol SuperTex's Career Poles "marker" upon scoring his 53rd Pole position to date at the Pocono 500 this season, and will become the Sports Number 2 All-time Career IndyCar Pole positions upon scoring his next P1 Award...
Assorted Portland IndyCar ticket stubs saved from My yearly Father's Day weekend outings. (the Tomaso Collection)
#14: Tony Kanaan
A.J. Foyt Enterprises
Engine: Chevrolet

Tony Kanaan made his first start at Portland in 1996 from Pole position for Steve Horne's Tasman Motorsports Indy Lights concern, where his team-mate was fellow Countryman Helio Castroneves. Kanaan led three laps before ultimately finishing P5.

Kanaan won the '97 Indy Lights title by four points ahead of Castroneves, before graduating to Tasman's CART B-I-G CARZ' effort for '98, making the first of his five IndyCar starts at Portland, while driving for Tasman, Forsythe Championship Racing and Mo Nunn Racing. As Kanaan made his Indy 500 debut for the latter in '02.

TK' Follow your Schnoz! Kanaan then jumped to the "Dark Side," a la the IRL for '03 and Mikey Andretti's Andretti Green Racing concern. Going on to claim the 2004 Indy Racing League Championship, and finally the Indy 500 in 2013 for KV Racing Technology!

Afterwards, TK' drove for Cheeps' team, then Target chip Ganassi Racing before switching to A.J. Foyt Enterprises this year, in what presumably will be his Swan Song in Indy Cars, as the Brazilian Fan Favourite turns 44 on December 31st.

As Scott Dixon has already mockingly lamented that the only way he'll ever catch TK for most consecutive races contested is for Kanaan  to retire!

#15: Graham Rahal
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Engine: Honda

As a 16yr old teenager, Graham raced in the 2005 Star Mazda Championship and won at Portland's American Le Mans Series (ALMS) event, in the support race, along with finishing fourth Overall in the season standings.

Next, he moved up to the Champ Car Atlantic series in '06, having a "Breakout Year" finishing runner-up to some "Frenchie" named Pagenaud by 16 points after scoring five wins vs. Simon Pagenaud's single W'.

As the younger Rahal, who I'd neither taken to calling Grahamcracker' or GRAMINATOR' yet then, began that year's Portland Atlantics event from Pole before finishing a lowly P27! As I can only ARSE-Sume Thar' must have been some contact involved, Eh?

But I'd actually see the young Rahal in action twice that year, when he started in a "One-off" outing from Pole in the Liberty Challenge Indy Pro Series support race for that year's USGP at Mother Speedway.

As Graham would eventually be passed by Alex "Pink" Lloyd for the win, and finish as runner-up.

Yet it should have been obvious that Graham was being groomed for an IndyCar career, as I found it slightly odd that he was part of that year's Portland Champ Car Drivers Autograph session.

Graham graduated to Champ Car in '07 with the vaunted Newman Haas Lanigan Racing team alongside SeaBass', nee Sebastian Bourdais, as a Rookie, making his only B-I-G CARZ' outing at Portland that year.

In '08, Graham scored his maiden IndyCar victory in a chaotic event at ST Pete. Where Rahal, then only 19yrs, 93-days old, surpassed Scotty the "Iceman 2.0" Dixon for youngest ever winner. Although Dixon's record had actually been previously usurped by Marco Andretti's 2006 IRL victory at Sonoma.

After Newman Haas, Graham's driven for his father Bobby's outfit twice, with a stint at the "Cheepster's" (Chip Ganassi) sandwiched in-between. along with a few outings for Sarah Fisher Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Having actually driven for four teams during the 2010 season.

As Graham who's now 29 years old, and an 11 year IndyCar veteran. Has made a permanent home at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, having just inked a 5yr contract extension, where he's scored the majority of his six IndyCar wins to date.

To continue reading, see; INDYCAR: My PortlandFlashback Rolls On