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Keeping It Off the Wall
by Ed Donath

Playing Marco Polo
1/21/06

Athens, NY—Just when you thought it was safe to visit a CCWS paddock without the possibility of encountering turncoat monsters, your favorite retired racing grandpa is once again laying the groundwork for his son’s next self-serving money move.

This time around Mario’s Worst Case Scenarios crystal ball contains glimpses of the son-of-a-whinemaker returning to Champ Cars in 2007 when his f-inheritor Honda money runs out. According to Mario Andretti, as quoted in a 1/20/06 autosport.com story by Michele Lostia, Michael will be closely followed—if not preceded—by the likes of fellow traitors Chip Ganassi, Bobby Rahal, and perhaps even the original jumper, Captain Kangaroo Roger Penske himself.

To play down the déjà vu-ness of his son’s latest potential reversal of allegiance Mario employs this kind of hackneyed drivel:

"There are many reasons why Michael has a team in this series [IRL], due to the support he's had from Honda up to now and to the importance of being present at the Indy 500 for his sponsors."

Apparently, however, gramps has chosen to save the biggest—and perhaps most sponsorship lucrative—reason for a Team Andretti-Green return to Champ Cars for later. Namely, that the Andrettis need their third generation heir, Marco, to be provided with an appropriate open-wheel format in which to ply his trade, thereby insuring the perpetuation of the family’s racing legacy.

"Champ Car nowadays is more interesting for the circuits they race on, both geographically-speaking and for being more various and complete, because you have street circuits and ovals, while in IndyCar almost all races are on ovals," Mario invokes the obvious to spin us away from the dreadful prospect of a returning facia bruta. "And [IRL] having just Honda is a signal of technical decadence."

It’s a crying shame that Mario can’t just shut up and let Mikey shill for himself, because each time he stands up for his son it forces him to contradict his own earlier philosophical statements to the point of extreme hypocrisy.

Unfortunately, because of his former greatness, most people are reluctant to admit that the biggest issue with Mario’s two-faced Indy antics and reunification speeches is that his "good name" lends nothing but credibility, free PR, and invaluable promotional press to the shamvision that he otherwise shuns in favor of Champ Car’s traditional values and diversity.

With both Mikey and his son Marco signed up for the next Indy 500 it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Mario pull yet another publicity stunt reminiscent of the one that nearly killed him a few years ago when he had a massive "testing" crash in one of Andretti-Green’s Indy 500 machines. If you choose to recall, that unbelievable incident occurred while Mario was still receiving paychecks as a director on the board of the nearly dead, money-hemorrhaging CART!

Racing’s current and upcoming generations are decidedly more globally motivated and, as a result of the post-split deterioration of the Indianapolis 500, are bound to be are far less concerned with Indy and oval racing in general.

Mario’s grandson would undoubtedly prefer to revive any Andretti-Unser-Rahal rivalries in a more meaningful and international milieu like that of the Champ Car World Series. So aside from praying for Marco’s safety, we can only hope that the Andretti family’s two-facedness has skipped his generation.

Road Rage! An op-ed feature by Ed Donath.

Copyright © 2006 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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