Fontana, CA, November 2, 2003 — First, I'd like to say my heart goes out to all who have lost family, friends, and property in the California wildfires. No one deserves to lose loved ones or property to a fire. That the Grand Prix and “Old Fire” were set by arsonists fills this race junkie’s head with revenge fantasies.
Having said that, I turn my focus to the last round of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford King Taco 500 at California Speedway, Fontana, California. As I sit poised to watch The Great Race (highlights of the longest vintage rally in America) on SPEED Channel, I can only imagine what I was supposed to be doing today at this time—raising my trusty Nikon toward turn 1 on the first lap of the 500.
As a Southern California resident, I watched the "fire storm" develop. I knew that the 500 was in danger. The fire got within five miles of the speedway. Five miles from the speedway are brush covered foothills. Once the fuel was burned off, the fire changed direction. By Tuesday, it actually was looking like they were starting to get a handle on the fires. The weather was cooling with a chance of rain later on in the week. The Fontana Scarecrow Festival was going to happen as scheduled on Friday. So, of course it looked like the 500 would go on as planned. But, on Tuesday evening, I got the news that the 500 was postponed. On Wednesday, CART sealed the deal by canceling the event.
Fast forward to Sunday. There was significant rain on Friday night, the fires are dying down, the sky is blue, and it’s a perfect race day. Was the postponement /cancellation premature? It's not my call. I don't know what went on behind the scenes. Would this have happened, if this had been a sold out NASCAR event? We'll never know. Can we blame CART for canceling the event? No, they had no other option. The Championship Awards Banquet is scheduled for Tuesday. The first date given by ISC (California Speedway owner), to run the race was Thanksgiving weekend; what's the point?
Growing up in Southern California during the early sixties, I remember radio commercials heavily touting,
“Sunday, Sunday…!” All I heard on the radio about this race was,” Saturday, Saturday, Winston West, NASCAR, NASCAR, oh, by the way there's a cart race on Sunday.” Makes you wonder if they would have postponed it if someone had stubbed their toe.
Now back to your regularly scheduled program … I wish.
Copyright © 2003 by Jeff Davidson and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.