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Keeping It Off the Wall
by Ed Donath

Back-up Cars

Cairo, NYŚWhen played in reverse the checkered flag, dices, pit stops, pro-nostalgia crowd and entrants from every important nook and cranny of the erstwhile Champ Car universe made for an entertaining, if not memorable, event.

With little to win and nothing to lose this was not a time for opinions about spec chassis and long-life engines or about red tires or the validity of P2P in a would-be drivers' series. This was not a time to discuss the merits of standing vs. flying starts or whether ovals should have been erased from the festival events schedule.

This was a time to root for an American, a Canadian, an old-timer, a long-haired kid, a super sub, a Mexican, Australian, European or South American. It was a time for purists and nostalgia buffs to wish only for driver safety and a win by the day's best pilot while hoping that the victory would be the result of a last-lap pass on a near-empty fuel cell with virtually no remaining tire life.

But talk of the over-hyped media darling from that even-more ridiculous offshoot of our beloved speed sport and of the show that was staged simultaneously an ocean away would never be placed on the back burner.

If the image of three generations of whine makers and the TV dance champ story had long legs then this concocted legend is bound to be driven through the media in a Humvee with a tank trailer full of fuel in tow.

Even after the magical siren sound of the turbos -- the sound that had transformed Long Beach over its Grand Prix years -- had permeated the city, the cacophony of disrespectful, ignorant interlopers was all that could be heard by a TV audience that came to pay its last respects to its dying old friend while there was still some breath left in his doomed body.

Like the sickening sound of scavenging seagulls encircling a seaside garbage dumpster they wailed on about the duplicity of championship points and of the future of their dumbed-down road machines at the very venues that their supporters vehemently derided just one day before the "unification" announcement. Long Beach, of course, always headed that list of hated street events.

They never stopped droning on about the media darling, incessantly reminding us that she would be leading the rest of the combined talent pool -- including our own hapless members of her contingent -- to the next speedway and ultimately on to Indianapolis and beyond.

Just when we thought that the final laps of our final race would be given their due respect as part of an historic motor sport event, the Speedway inheritor's special delivery package from Honda Mountain arrived. It was drop-shipped, along with a pitcher of hallucinogenic Kool-Aid, to the announce booth just in time to completely desecrate the finish of our memorial.

Muting the volume helped little as the amateur propagandists gushed over the media darling's specious accomplishment while she selfishly croaked on about herself and herself. At all times her un-glamorous, un-retouched mug occupied half of our TV screens.

It's odd how, once drunk, that particular variety of powdered soft drink makes the whole f-inheritor package, including the rat-faced girl, the flying insect machines, the splitter's new down-under-blunder partner, the fat old jumpers and the rest of the wannabe NASCAR sham circus look, at least to the undiscerning, like an all-new alternative to the pre-unification version.

Drink enough of the stuff and it's like playing the whole split in reverse. It looks like it's healing but un-drugged people can see that it's really getting sicker.

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Copyright © 2008 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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