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Long Beach Diary:
Day One
War Is Hell

Long Beach, CA, April 11 War, as William Tecumseh Sherman told us, is hell. Now, we normally don't think about war in the context of the Long Beach Grand Prix. We usually write about the beautiful weather, the world class girl (and boy) watching that goes on there. But this year is different. Not only is the United States at war with the government of Saddam Hussein as I am writing this, but the IRL is still at war with CART and the usual war rages for the Vanderbilt Cup. Whew! And here I thought I was just covering the first day of our annual Spring Break for Gearheads.

Jeff Davidson and I both come from the kind of families where every war has seen a member or members of our families go off to fight whatever war is happening. This one is no exception, and we all know the currency that has paid for our freedom. If you think it's greenbacks, forget about it! Deep Throttle salutes our men and women in the armed forces, and the police and firefighters who keep our homeland safe. We understand that this year's Long Beach Grand Prix will be dedicated to them. Good move, CART. I also noticed lots of flags along the fences on the track yesterday - reminding us that war is hell.

Of course as with every race, gossip is rampant. Will Bernie Eccelstone show up? What do you think of Danica Patrick's photo spread? Do you miss the CART defectors? My answers are perhaps mixed.

I have to admit that I miss a lot of the defecting drivers -- particularly, Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, and Helio Castroneves. It's not that I don't like the newer drivers this year -- it's just that there are so damn many of them, it's a bit overwhelming for someone who has covered the series for years. I don't miss the team owners who made their money in CART and then turned their collective backs on all of us at the end of last year. There is a word for people like that, and my full bird colonel uncle would wash my mouth out with soap for using it, so we'll all just have to think it, okay?

Danica, Danica, Danica. Here I thought your parents were just incredibly clever for naming you after a furniture store. I know you don't give a rat's behind what other women or I think about your provocative photos. I'm glad you are a talented racer and are getting press. But, I honestly think you have to make a choice here. Do you want to be eye candy -- a model slash hyphenate kind of person? If you do, there is nothing wrong with that, but please don't do that and persue a career as a race car driver. By doing so, you will condemn every other girl who wants to drive with the necessity of either doing cheesecake work or having to at least deal with the possibility of it. I know it's not fair, but baby, this is a man's sport. Even though girls are invited, it doesn't work to send mixed signals, especially to men. Trust me on this.

As for Bernie, or Mr. Eccelstone as Chris Pook calls him, it remains to be seen if he will show and if there will be enough long term money invested in the series that will somehow bring an end to the nearly decade long war in open wheel racing. The situation at the front is a bit strange right now, to say the least.

Who'd have thought that the Indy 500 would likely be running with a nearly full field, and that neither CART nor the IRL could offer young American drivers a chance? Alex Gurney, the talented youngest son of racing icon Dan Gurney, is without any kind of ride this year. All of this, I suggest is a function of the CART/IRL war. The thing is, no one seems to be winning.

I will tell you that I don't see any chances of peace breaking out any time soon in this turf war. And, unlike other pundits, I am not sure what the best solution would be here. While we open wheelers have been squabbling with one another, NASCAR has taken the lion's share of the market. I know there is a future for open wheel in North America, but I have to tell you, I hope it includes the Indy 500, Road America, and of course Long Beach. Whether all those races are included in one series or three, I still want those of us who love racing to have the chance to attend these events.

Fortunately, most of the fans attending the race weekend are fairly oblivious to the CART/IRL war and its impact on the series. For CART, the cars are really the show. And the racing championship of CART. Paul Tracy continues to be the most popular Canadian in town, and yesterday's taking of the provisional pole confirmed this.

So, let the racing replace all this war crap on Saturday!

Copyright © 2003 by Lisa Davidson and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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