Thursday, March 9, 2023

Tintop Pilotes’ Near and Far

As what did ‘Ol Bonn Scott of AC/DC Croon about “It’s A long Way to the Top, if You wanna Rock ‘n Roll!”


Forgive me for Dusting Off another languishing No Fenders tome. But what’s that ‘Ol sayin’ about whilst the Cat’s Away, those Mice definitely Play!


As I’m Hoping that last Sunday, I did indeed get to listen to the St Pete IndyCar race via the IndyCar Radio network, while “On Holiday,” again. Meaning No riveting race recap here Y’all. And that both Juncos Hollinger Racing Boyz’ had a good race! And that Argentine Touring Cars Standout Augustin Canapino had a good debut IndyCar outing.


Since by my very unofficial “rolodex,” I’m pretty sure that Canapino is only the second ever Argentine to race in Indy Cars, Ci? Following Juan Manuel Fangio II, nephew of the country’s greatest ever racer! Where all I recall of Fangio II was driving for Dan Gurney’s All American Racers (AAR) concern during 1996-97. First in an AAR’s Eagle Mk-V Toyota chassis, and then aboard a year old Reynard 96i Toyota.


Yet I’d forgotten that Fangio II’s Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART( IndyCar career actually began in 1995 when driving for my Home team Pacwest Racing as Danny Sullivan’s replacement. As ‘Ol Hollywood’ (Sullivan) broke His pelvis amongst other injuries at Michigan that year, leading to His retirement. With Fangio II beginning at Mid Ohio with a seventh place finish.


Yet after two Full seasons in IndyCar, Fangio II told his friend and Boss Dan Gurney He no longer could bring 100% commitment to the sport and left Open Wheel Racing, before completely retiring in 1999.


Forgive Mwah for also having sat upon this story for nearly some six years now, Aye Karumba! But Lucas Auer’s name came screaming to my Attenzione, like many others upon breaking His Back during practice for this year’s Rolex 24 behind the Keyboard of the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo GTD entry.


Since I’d previously begun scribbling about how another aspiring DTM Chauffeur was getting set to make His Formula 1 debut in a test outing for Force India, but would it lead to Formula 1?


Although I'd previously read some rumours of this F1 Test occurring Wayback’ in gory 2017, Yikes! I must say that I simply Knew Nothing! About this then 22yr old Austrian Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) Tintop driver Lucas Auer. For which you could say even having an Uncle named Gerhard Berger doesn’t guarantee you landing a Formula 1 ride…


As Auer tested alongside another “rising Star” that summer who ultimately earned the Dubious nickname of MazzaSpin’, Youch! Formally known as Nikita Mazepin. With the pair testing for Force India at the HungaBoring’, Err Hungoraring on August 1, 2017.


As Auer seemingly was “Peaking” in the DTM that summer. Having won two races and trailing Mattias Ekstrom by only two points in the title fight, before apparently fading. Since Auer ultimately finished sixth Overall that season with three wins, while Rene Rast won the title ahead of Ekstrom.


As the Austrian’s primarily spent His Tintops’ career racing in the DTM and other Touring Car categories. And finished a career best in the DTM last year driving for Team Winward Mercedes, finishing runner-up to Sheldon van der Linde. While His Team Winward links have enabled Lucas to race at the Rolex 24 on multiple occasions…


And it was interesting to Mwah back then, how the DTM seemed to have become somewhat of a training ground for Mercedes drivers to graduate to thoust Pinnacle 'O Motorsports, nee Formula 1. With the two Mercedes Werks’ DTM HotSchues’ Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon graduated to F1.


As Wehrlein who won the DTM title in 2015, was the first to be promoted to the Back marker Manor Racing team, albeit  naturally just plodding along as a Tail Gunner Charlie!


And then Pascal spent His second and final season in Formula 1 racing for Sauber, before returning to DTM. And since has found refuge in Formula E, where He currently competes for Tag Heuer Porsche. Having just won both rounds of the Diriyah ePrix, on the city streets of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Esteban Ocon was even “Faster” tracked into F1. With Mercedes also placing the Frenchman alongside Wehrlein at the struggling Manor Racing outfit. Beginning at the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix, following the traditional F1 Summer Break.


Ironically Ocon was replaced by current Indycar Driver Felix Rosenqvist in DTM. While Ocon went onto race for Force India between 2017-18.


Although Ocon had to sit out the 2019 season of Formula 1 after being the Odd Man out at what then became Racing Point. Ocon’s currently the only driver to graduate from the DTM that’s still in F1, now starting His fourth season for Alpine.


And there’s probably more than I can recall. As the names of Bernd Schneider, Gary Paffett and Paul di Resta come to mind as DTM Chauffeurs who made their way into Formula 1, albeit briefly. Although I tend to recall that Paffett only ever was an McLaren F1 Test Driver…


Fast forwarding to Indy Cars. Obviously Canapino has a rough transition to make. And having V8 Supercars Superstar, and Triple series Champion ScottyMac’, aka Scott McLaughlin on the Grid has to be somewhat Daunting to the Argentine driver!


But then again, and with No Disrespect towards Juncos Hollinger Racing. Obviously JHR Ain’t No Team Penske! And I just wish for both Canapino, Callum Ilott and JHR to have a successful season this year.


Oh Yeah, naturally along with Lucas Auer having a Speedy recovery and returning to Touring Cars racing shortly…