Uncensored CΛRT Commentary
by Ed Donath
Age Before Beauty
NY—George Bernard Shaw’s famous quote “Youth is wasted on the young”
has been my personal motto since being thrust into independent living and
bachelorhood with the passing of my wife several months ago.
It’s not that I
haven’t been living youthfully for what many people would consider a
Note: Donath’s official bio lists him as a non-smoking, red wine-drinking,
aerobically weight-controlled vegetarian driveboy and roadrager. Ed is 5’8”/153
lbs and fits neatly into any formula car.]
doing almost anything fun at my chronologically-advanced age requires one to be ready
and able to use muscles that a man half my age might take for
granted—merely being willing, at age 54, counts for naught.
motivational shrinkazoids say that it is impossible for anyone to achieve
personal success, enact lifestyle changes, or overcome vices without first
visualizing the accomplishment of any particular goal.
In a rare agreement with such touchy-feely conceptualizations, I offer my
own simplified gestalt:
gotta see it to be it!”
During the summer of
1995, Bryan Herta was a PPG IndyCar World Series sophomore with merely a handful
of starts under his belt. He had
suffered serious leg and pelvis injuries in a mid-season practice crash at
Toronto during an abbreviated-yet-promising rookie stint with, of all difficult
people, AJ Foyt.
As a result of his
impressive Indy Lights and Barber Saab series championships and pre-crash CΛRT
performance, the limping Herta was offered a unique opportunity—a sponsored,
full-season ride with Chip Ganassi and champion-making engineer, Mo Nunn.
Having had a
reasonably close vantage point from which to observe the youthful Herta that
summer, you can believe me when I say that he made the perfect poster boy for
George Bernard Shaw’s adage. Suffice
it to say, the immature hot shoe was far too youthful then to appreciate the
career enhancements that toeing the mark for the Ganassi brain trust would
certainly have provided.
Nunn and Ganassi
appeared frustrated, perhaps because they perceived Herta to be disinterested
and/or uncooperative. Bryan’s
work ethic, apparently, fell short of their expectations and they set him free.
While Herta showed
flashes of brilliance in subsequent seasons—not the least of which was his
“Herta-Mania” dominance at Laguna Seca—he eventually became the odd man
out after losing his Team Rahal Shell Car seat to Kenny Brack.
With such outstanding supersubs as Pupo Moreno and Memo Gidley carrying
helmet bags around during most race weekends, Bryan’s Champ Car-driving
opportunities became fewer and farther-between.
Of course, just being
a family man—not to mention maintaining the upscale real estate, automobiles,
toys, and home furnishings that Champ Car drivers are known to accumulate—is
usually more than enough to morph almost any callow youth into a mature adult.
Bryan Herta’s ambition, maturity level and work ethic undoubtedly got
kicked up a notch as a result of the war between his personal responsibilities
and the lack of steady work.
To his credit, the
33-year-old Herta has been accepting racecar-driving jobs whenever and wherever
possible. From a ForMoola One test
last year to competing in this year’s 12 Hours of Sebring to driving a Winston
West stock car to f-inheritor sub work to this past weekend’s Laguna Seca
Champ Car deal, Bryan has established an admirable reputation as a quick study
who provides better-than-expected feedback and respectable results in a pinch.
Make no mistake, that
type of relief pitcher’s performance requires the acquisition of a great deal
of discipline, savvy and confidence. Obviously, Bryan has mastered the
“You’ve gotta see it to be it!” concept
much earlier in life than most of us—this renegade scribe included.
There is a good
possibility that Bryan Herta will return to Champ Cars for the remainder of this
season by continuing what began with his one-off Laguna Seca ride in the #27 PK
Racing Lola. In Bryan’s case,
“age before beauty” is a fitting motto and having him back where he belongs
would, indeed, be a beautiful thing.
Copyright © 2003 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.
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