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Uncensored CΛRT Commentary
by Ed Donath

Cinderella Saturday Night

ATHENS, NY—By the time the clock had struck midnight (EDT) this past Saturday evening, the Milwaukee Mile’s bright lights had made completely visible a great many positive elements of the current iteration of CΛRT.

Namely, the extremely competitive nature of the Champ Car World Series Presented by Bridgestone Powered by Ford; a result of equal and dependable spec engines and tires that have not only contributed to better showcasing of drivers’ talents but which have also empowered the return of racing-reasonable aerodynamics, lowered costs, and have given the series a needed respite from detrimental techno-politics.

As well, the making and enforcement of rules has undergone positive tweaking of late, not the least of which is improvement of pit stop guidelines so that they better promote the strategic creativity that has always been a hallmark of our beloved speed sport. No rules—except perhaps for those that promote driver and pit crew safety—would certainly be better rules.

“Salagadoola, menchicka boola, bibbidi-bobbidi-boo,” a Mexican fairy godmother chanted into the unseasonably frosty evening air out behind Team Rahal’s transporter. And when her nation’s newest frog-turned-prince slipped into a magical pair of red Nomex driving shoes it was, at long last, a perfect fit and a wonderful human-interest subplot for this historic evening of racing.

However, the powerful illumination also served to neutralize shadows that had obfuscated some of CΛRT’s most lamentable shortcomings.

While it was the best of times for Champ Car racing in the sense that our so-called American open-wheel racing series brought a new level of performance to Saturday-night-at-the-fairgrounds-racin’ in an agricultural state, it was also the worst of times because so few American families—especially those who dwell in remote areas such as dairy farm country—are able to supplant insipid weekend prime time TV fare with the novel entertainment provided by screaming turbocharged land rockets and a cadre of personable driveboys with cute accents.

And while CΛRT’s wheel-to-wheel action was certainly as familiar as a rural clan’s visit to the local short track, the only “Junior” on the circuit was the aforementioned Mexican prince. Sadly, the hometown hero—by default—was French Canadian Alex Tagliani, whose sponsor lives in Milwaukee. Only one of the series’ two generally snake-bitten American drivers, former champion Jimmy Vasser, actually finished the race.

Personally, I’m grateful that my cable system offers SPEED and that there were no cable service lapses during the race and, moreover, that my VCR performed flawlessly and was loaded with enough videotape to capture the entire over-length event and its concluding driver interviews.

As a result of my own Saturday night good fortune, both at the ball and with often-touchy TV technology, it was still most enjoyable to watch the race in the traditional manner—on the couch after lunch on Sunday afternoon.

But I wish I could figure out how and when my car turned into a pumpkin during the wee hours of Sunday morning. And I wonder if Michel Jourdain Junior’s motor coach might have met the same fate.

Copyright © 2003 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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