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2001 Sneak Preview Diary: Day One
Deep Throttle Goes to CART's Sneak Preview

Fontana, CA, January 16 It was a beautiful, cool (mid 60's), Chamber of Commerce kind of day in Southern California, and Deep Throttle, through the offices of CART and California Speedway, were there. While CART's Sneak Preview is new this year, replacing Spring Training, Southern California has much experience with sneaks. We have a wide array if sneak showings of upcoming movies, for example. So, what's CART's version like? We'll try to show you in this and upcoming articles, written exclusively for Deep Throttle.

The first day, Tuesday, January 16, began with media tours to Honda, Cosworth, and Toyota. According to the Speedway, there were many requests to go on these tours, and we were selected to be one of the few. The media were divided up into two groups of about a dozen members of the media. Group I, which included ABC's Parker Johnstone, went to Cosworth and then Toyota Racing Development. Group II went to Honda and then to Cosworth. Deep Throttle was assigned to Group I, and Jeff Davidson visited both facilities and was permitted to take some terrific photographs at Cosworth, which are posted here.

While at Cosworth, Jeff saw Bryan Herta. Cosworth bravely left Jeff in a room with a Cosworth XF engine, with an admonishment not to take any closeup shots of this year's racing engine. Not wanting to cause any distress to the very gracious denizens of Cosworth, he took as many non closeup snaps of the XF engine as time would allow.

In the afternoon, it was on to Toyota and a generous buffet lunch and tour. No pictures allowed here, but the very personable Roberto Moreno was part of a behind the scenes look at TRD. We were told of the tremendous excitement throughout the facility when Juan Montoya delivered their maiden victory at Milwaukee last year. Most interesting was viewing the evolution of this year's RV8F racing engine. The folks at Toyota were equally gracious as those at Cosworth.

The evening brought us CART's All Star Extravaganza at the Sun Theater in Anaheim. For those who aren't familiar with this location, it's just a short distance away from Disneyland. The Theater hosted a reception and show, and was followed by a concert by the alternative rock band the Goo Goo Dolls. This extravaganza told us we were not in NASCAR land, Dorothy. It was high tech with plasma screens and some Hollywood-style production values.

We quickly found out how to spot the CART drivers, which was a fun way to pass the time. They were the shorter and younger gentlemen in the leather jackets. A nice group of guys who I am sure, as personable as they are, would rather be racing. We spotted, in addition to the All-Star honorees, Alex Zanardi, Bryan Herta, and Max Papis. There may have been others, but we did not see them. We did get more photos, though, and they are posted here.

The show was divided into segments for Toyota Atlantic, Indy Lights, and CART. The women who head up Atlantics are very enthusiastic about their series, and they introduced their first ever All-Stars -- Rocky Moran, Jr., Dan Weldon, and series champion, Buddy Rice. A film clip with musical accents served as an introduction to each of the talented young racing stars.

The Indy Lights segment was handled by a gentleman named Adam, who advised the crowd that Indy Lights chief Roger Bailey was recovering from surgery. At every big event, there's always a question that is on everyone's minds and which no one voices. At this event, that question was, how the heck did we let a talent like Casey Mears get away? The ever-popular young Mears received the largest round of applause of anyone at the event, and that includes the Champ Car All-Stars! And he was only third place in the All-Stars, being topped, at least in the voting, by Townsend Bell and series champ Scott Dixon.

Then it was on to the five CART All-Stars. Michael Andretti was up first, and pointed out that CART has the best fans of any racing series. I can't disagree with you there, Mr. Andretti. Adrian Fernandez, who I don't think wore a leather jacket, was up next and told the crowd he was honored to be included in this year's group.

Paul Tracy, a man who has his own personal style (the de rigueur leather jacket, dark orange hair, and great leather pants to complete his ensemble), was the third All-Star and had the second best line of the night. He told us that just a few years ago, we all thought he was a d!@#head. True, but what a talented and entertaining d!@#head.

The absent Juan Montoya was second in the voting, done by a group of drivers, celebrities, media, and fans. First place vote getter, series champion, and Mario Andretti trophy winner, Gil de Ferran, also had the first place line. He assured his associate Mr. Tracy that, "Actually Paul, we still think you are a d!@#head".

Deep Throttle's Lisa Davidson also had a long day of conference calls, budgets, billing meetings and the like, so we headed home before the Goo Goo Dolls. I'm sure they were terrific, but we need to be rested for day two at Fontana. Which is going to start sooner than I think!

Copyright © 2001 by Lisa Davidson and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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