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Uncensored CART Commentary
by Ed Donath

Back to the Future
8/8/03

ATHENS, NY—As I finish packing for my annual road trip to Mid-Ohio the eerie sense of déjà vu is rather strong. It’s always that same boring countdown — four hours to Buffalo, three more to Cleveland and, hopefully, an hour-and-a-half or less from there to Lexington — and it’s always that same room at that same little hotel a few blocks from that same house in Mount Vernon in which my stepson and his family have lived for several years.

The track in the woods out on Steam Corners Road hasn’t changed very much over the years either. In that respect, Mario and the over-the-hill Cobra Corps will feel right at home, as will Max Papis, Oriol Servia and ForMoola One returnees Jacques Villeneuve, Tarso Marques and Johnny Herbert. Townsend Bell will feel very much at home because that’s exactly where he’ll be as he watches the race on TV.

Of course, ex-F1 pilot Christian Fittipaldi won’t be around to watch his uncle Emmo dice with Danny and Mario because he’ll be Busching it at Michigan Speedway this weekend. Big Mo held a seat open for Fittipaldi until the very last minute but he finally gave it to Gualter Salles after not being unable to persuade Christian to stay in CART.

Then Roberto Moreno came through with sponsorship and a second Brazil Team Gugelmin car was added for the diminutive Pupo. Moreno, by the way, has the distinction of being both the smallest and the oldest Champ Car pilot in the FedEx Championship Series now that Cristiano da Matta and Michael Andretti have vacated.

There is a remote possibility that one of our New York Yankee sluggers would ding one out of the Jake as I drive by it on I-90 — just as it was in 1999 as I listened to the game on the car radio — but it’s highly unlikely since the number of Major League home run hitters suspended as a result of steroid test failure has reached double digits since the All-Star break.

And it’ll certainly feel just like the old days to see Jimmy Vasser back in his old Target Car and Kenny Brack back in the Shell car after that wild mid-season driver swap that Bobby and Cheep pulled off at Vancouver last week. The drivers gave two thumbs up to the deal in a post-race news conference after putting each other out — again — in a first-lap contact incident.

Another déjà vu thing: this will be two years in a row that the same CEO has presided over the press conference at Mid-Ohio. That hasn’t happened since the days of the Andrew Craig administration! I guess there is something to be said for sameness and stability, despite the excruciating boredom it creates.

Copyright © 2002 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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