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Keeping It Off the Wall
by Ed Donath

Once a winner…

Athens, NY—"Hello again Champ Car racing fans…Todd Wickerbill here welcoming you to another edition of Way Behind the Scenes in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

"If you’re still laboring under the misconception that, as a result of our series’ "identically equipped" racecars, all it takes for a team to win on race day is careful pre-race preparation, mistake-free pit work, and a talented driver—well, guess again. With us today, live via satellite, is former series champion and Portland race winner, Cristiano da Matta. Congratulations Cris!"

"Thank you, Todd. I’m happy to be with you and very happy to be back in a Champ Car."

"Prior to your two seasons in F1 things were somewhat different around here than they are now. Back then, you capitalized on a well-funded ride and an experienced team—one that continues to be the team to beat. After paying your dues as an engine developer you really tore up the competition once you joined Newman-Haas. You were able to win frequently and convincingly."

"This is true, Todd. I was pretty fortunate. It was tough to give all of that up when I went to ForMoola One."

"I’ll bet. Hey, how about answering some viewer e-mail for us today, Cris?"

"OK…what are the fans wondering these days?"

"Well, for starters, Philip D. Drinkpole up in Moose Jaw asks:
With so many gifted drivers all using such similar equipment, how do you win a Champ Car race in 2005?"

"This is a very good question—one that my teammates and I spent plenty of time thinking about, Todd. Here’s the plan that we came up with:

"Take it easy during qualifying…grid like maybe 10th or 11th …test the car for about half of the first stint…head for the pits, fill ‘er up, and let the crew dial you in for a long stint…work your way through the field as aggressively as possible…allow the race to come to you…expect the race leader to DNF and the yellows to fall your way."

"What about luck, Shorty? Didn’t luck play a fairly large part in this comeback victory?"

"For sure we got a little lucky at Portland, Todd. The stewards could have black-flagged me for a blend line infraction I committed as I was coming out of the pits, but apparently they missed it. I watched a video of the race and noticed that the TV announcers picked up on my mistake…they even re-played it. So, it’s a good thing that no one pays any attention to them."

"Well, at least we know that there are still a few folks out there who pay attention to us here at Way Behind. We just received another e-mail inquiry. This one is from Rod Knock in Indianapolis who is reacting to what you just said and asks:
How come you were never able to come up with a plan for getting on the podium in F1?"

"It’s funny you should ask that question, Rod. Knowing that I would never go back to F1, I recently shared a strategy that I had been working on with my friend, Tiago Monteiro, who, as you know, is a current F1 pilot and former Champ Car driver. Unfortunately, I could never execute this plan myself because my F1 car not only had the wrong engine but the wrong tires, as well."

"What amazes me, Cristiano, is that both of your winning open-wheel strategies came to fruition on the very same day. Remarkable!

"Please don’t touch those remotes folks. We’ll will be right back after this brief promotional announcement for a special upcoming edition of Ripley’s Believe it or Not!..."

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

Copyright © 2005 by Ed Donath and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

Ed Donath Archive

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