Friday, April 17, 2020

INDYCAR: Virtual New vs. Old Memorex Memories

But where will we be racing this week?

Seems a pretty Sad Commentary to Mwah that the NBC Sports Announce Crew of Leigh Diffey, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell instantly compared the beginning of the Virtual Michigan International Speedway IndyCar race to the 1996 U.S. 500, for which I still recall for some Odd reason being Billed as Open Wheel Racing's weekend of All The Cars vs. All The Stars...

Since both the '96 U.S. 500 and Indianapolis 500 were being contested on the same day of May 26th, after the Infamous IRL 25-8 Rule.

As that was the beginning of the El Stupidio Split which lasted an agonizing 12yrs, when Championship Auto Racing Teams , aka CART Feuded with Tony George and his rival Indy Racing League, when CART had all the Name Drivers and TG's IRL Circus Act was using year old chassis and whatever Drivers that couldn't get rides in CART during it's infancy.

As I'm trying to not show too much of my Disdain towards TG', who for years I took to calling 'lil Napoleon, Yikes! along with calling the IRL the Indee' Retirement League.

But I was a Dyed in thoust Wool CART Fanatic and know  I watched that inaugural U.S. 500 race nearly a Quarter Century ago - For which CART stuck both of its Nomex Driving Boots firmly in Thar Mouths!

When on lap One, coming to the Green Flag there was a massive pile-up a la Saturday's dubious start to IndyCar's i Racing's third round, and it's first on an Oval-track.

As I still vaguely recall 'Ol Top Jimmy', aka Jimmy Vasser winning the race in one of those iconic Target Chip Ganassi Racing Red Rocket-ships, but seem to more strongly remember El Zorro's, nee Alex Zanardi's engine Done Blown Up! As 'Ol Hobbo', nee HobbsCapp', aka David Hobbs would lament.

As the Italian IndyCar Rookie seemed to be the more Dominant car of the race and led for many laps before his Honda Detonated. Which I tend to recall also made me feel like the race was over, since it seemed like a Duel between Cheeps' two Hired Guns of Vasser vs. Zanardi for who'd be the eventual winner.

Yet I also seem to vaguely recall delighting in Zanardi's Demise since I was a FoMoCo' Blue Oval Fan and surely was rootin' for the Ford Cosworth XD Brigade. As Robby Dirtman' Gordon was then my favourite, before he became Gourdoun for several reasons...

Ironically it was Vasser starting from Pole position who triggered the first lap incident in Turn-4 coming to the Green Flag when colliding with front row starters Yo Adrian! (Fernandez) and Rookie Brian High Speed Hurdles' Herta. Which reportedly caused a Nine-car Pile-up that included a forgotten Swede', Ya Sure Yuh Betcha! As Y'all remember Fredrik Ekblom, Righto?

As Ekblom was most definitely Thee Other Swede', since my Numero Uno Favourite 'lil Stevie Johnson, aka Stefan Johansson was also in the race, with Fredrik driving for Derrick Walker's concern, alongside team leader Robby Gordon.

As I'd surmise that Ekblom definitely fits the mold of One Hit Wonders Ye elder Statesman 'O IndyCar Bloggers just Rolled Out on thou Blogosphere, and is probably why I failed to include him in a long ago No Fenders tome on Swedish Open Wheel Racers...

While everybody involved, with the exception of  Fernandez returned to the race in their Backup chassis, following the Red Flag period that lasted just over One hour.

Smooth Segway, Eh? As I bring up Swede's since it was good hearing that Marcus ericsson in the Huski Chocolate mobile was beginning the virtual race from Pole. which in turn has led me to discover that Huski chocolate is a Drink and not candy like I'd Arse-sumed! Originally as Hot Chocolate but now also as a cold beverage.

And I get the Swedish connection between Marcus and Huski, who apparently sponsored Alfa Romeo Racing at last year's Austin Formula 1 race, but Huski's also reportedly signed a multi-year agreement with the McLaren F1 Team too, Huh?

Although I quite enjoyed Leigh Diffey pointing out the irony of two former Sauber F1 Drivers racing in virtual lockstep when proclaiming that's Ericsson in the Red & White car and the Blue No. 31 trailing behind is Felipe Nasr driving for Carlin. Musing how he'd bet they never thought they'd be competing against each other several years later in a virtual IndyCar race!

Diffey also made much noise over 'Ol PT' holding the lap record for Michigan at 234.9mph, while Paul Tracy interjected more 'bout his relationship with his former Boss El Capitano's racetrack. Noting he broke his leg in his very first outing Thar and thought Roger Penske would Fire Him! Along with acknowledging he never won at Michigan, for which later (Townsend) T-Bell' implied he'd raced Thar in '05.

Interestingly Boobie Ruble', aka Bobby Rahal and his Rookie Team Rahal team-mate Brian Herta contested the '96 U.S. 500, with their sons running in the virtual race as well as both being current IndyCar Drivers.

While the virtual race itself made me think it had a major Mother Speedway vibe to it, with Sage Karam and Will Power trading the lead back 'n forth lap after lap, to the eventual leaders peeling off one at a time for needed Methanol; Err Ethanol - which ultimately saw the Top-3 Finishers coming to the front upon running on an alternate fuel strategy.

Yet having watched; Err listened to just over the last half of the re-airing of last year's Indianapolis 500, along with the great Mario Andretti Driven to Win TV Show both Thursday night on NBC Sports, I'd say the virtual Michigan racing event didn't have the same punch, or Spark as that fantastic Indy 500 did!

And Kudo's to 'lil E', aka Dale Earnhardt Jr. for doing a wonderful job in his IndyCar i Racing Debut! As third place was quite impressive, especially since he split the Penske's!

But it was Simon Pagenaud drinking the Champagne this time, which reportedly his wife Haley had bought for the occasion! Whilst my current favourite IndyCar newcomer, Kiwi' Supercars Bad Arse Scott McLaughlin finished P2, following his Round 2 victory at Barber Motorsports Park the week prior...