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Uncensored CΛRT Commentary
by Ed Donath

Double-edged Sword

ATHENS, NY—While the demise of CΛRT can certainly be linked in part to the “loss” in 1996 of its marquee event—the Indianapolis 500—the fact that Champ Cars were formerly known as Indy Cars serves, unfairly, to set our side up as the co-sufferer when negative public relations slings and arrows are, from time to time, hurled at the counterpart all-ovals series.

Limited, alas, is the general public’s knowledge and subsequent perception of open-wheel racing.

Of course, had the major players in our own beloved multi-disciplinary speed sport distanced themselves from the recalcitrant inheritor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and concentrated more on keeping CΛRT healthy, it is possible that by now there would not be nearly as much of an identity crisis. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.

It is a sad fact that because the likes of Chip Ganassi, Roger Penske, the Andrettis and a whole host of driving talent are now so perceptually interchangeable between one series and the other, that the ongoing effort to morph our dying super-series into an entity that will resemble not only its former self but also a moderately successful sports/entertainment business will be made that much more difficult a task as a result of f-inheritor’s ongoing severe safety issues…

…especially in light of the tragic, untimely death of Tony Renna at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today, and the horrific disintegration crash and maiming injuries suffered by Kenny Brack at Texas Motor Speedway nine days ago.

Even open-wheel racing’s most interchangeable pundit, Robin Miller, saw fit to place general banter and rumor mongering on the back burner last week when he cleared his conscience with this compelling piece that chronicles the oh-so-sorry safety record of—specifically—post-split Indy Car racing.

Despite Miller’s efforts to help ESPN’s casual Motorsports Page readers differentiate between the two brands of American open-wheel racing, the names of Alessandro Zanardi and the late Greg Moore, Jeff Krosnoff, and Gonzalo Rodriguez will, nonetheless, continue to be confusingly intertwined with those of Felipe Giaffone, Kenny Brack, and Sam Schmidt.

Meanwhile, the IRL’s pr/propaganda machine continues spinning the very elements that make their racing so unsafe into golden fibers that will adorn the border of their future marketing tapestry.

One can only imagine that reading the following account will stimulate some watchdog group to pressure for the cessation of Indy Car testing and racing until which time as driver and spectator safety conditions are made at least as certifiably safe as our dangerous-by-nature sport allows:

The racer's gearbox sailed into the grandstands. The cockpit tub, which holds the driver, became ensnared in the catch fence and was dangling with Renna in it.

The crash was so severe that the first layer of grandstands in the south chute was mangled. During races, the grandstands are set back from the fence and are occupied by handicapped patrons in their wheelchairs. [Excerpted from a sports ticker report published today on Yahoo!]

Ironically, the Target Ganassi Racing semi rig that brought Tony Renna’s Indy Car to the Speedway this morning has the slogan Speed is Life inscribed on the flanks of its trailer—as per the longtime custom of the late driver’s last-ever team boss.

More ironic:

That those who will choose to disavow Chip Ganassi’s slogan and, instead, insist “speed automatically equals death” are not cognizant of the fact that Champ Car Champions Jimmy Vasser, Alex Zanardi, and Juan Pablo Montoya extracted as much “safe” speed from their own Ganassi machines as was humanly possible.

Much like the general public’s perception of open-wheel racing, how people relate to speed, unfortunately, is also a double-edged sword.

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

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