Long Beach Diary:|
Long Beach Rhapsody
Long Beach, CA, April 10 — Each day of the weekend has been better than the last—weather wise and crowd wise. For Sunday only, we are gifted beyond our expectations with a parking pass that is better than we have ever had, ever. It’s a quick walk to the Media Center for another early morning photographers’ meeting, a must for Jeff to get his terrific shots.
Jeff, our friend, driver Larry Mason, who is car pooling with us on Sunday, and me usually pick someone to win on our way into the track. This year, both Jeff and Larry think Paul Tracy will win, while I go with the longer shot, Justin Wilson.
We enjoy having breakfast after the photographers’ meeting at the Hyatt, which is enclosed by the track. We see a driver each time we approach the Hyatt, every day of the race and every year. Today, we spot Mario Dominguez. He looks thinner than last year and much happier. Then, it’s literally off to the races.
The Atlantic race starts normally enough. It’s about an hour in length. Then, we notice Rocky Moran Jr. moving through the field, even though he’s in the lesser class, but he’s smoking. Moving up through the field from seventh place is rookie Katherine Legge, a new British driver for PKV. More surprises as Rocky’s car breaks and Katherine is in the lead. In a stunning upset, Katherine Legge won the race and stepped into auto racing history.
At the press conference afterwards, we are once again treated with Larry’s friend, Justin Sofio, winning the C1 class for the second year in a row. There is palpable excitement as Katherine Legge enters the room. Being used to Danica Patrick, who was always less than friendly in person, Katherine is warm and genuine. When Justin asks for a water bottle, because they only supplied the top three, Katherine passes hers down the table to him. I’ve never seen any of the male drivers do this, and it is a refreshing change. The last Atlantic driver, we are told, who won his first TA race was last year’s champion, Jon Fogarty. We hope that this leads to more wins and an eventual Champ Car seat for Miss Legge.
Bubba Gump Shrimp has a seafood plate, a sandwich plate, and a chicken plate for lunch. It’s all very hastily consumed as everyone gets ready to be in place for the Champ Car race. We are expecting the usual parade laps all day with a win by the pole setter. Jeff is out at his turn, Julie’s in the grandstand due to a credential mix up, and I am in the Media Center.
Of course, as we now know, the Champ Car race was as exciting as a street race can get, with eventual winner Sebastien Bourdais coming from fourth place to the lead, managing to pass several very strong drivers, including Paul Tracy, along the way. Rookies Ronnie Bremer and Timo Glock post very strong runs. Justin Wilson again runs near the front nearly all race. We were hoping for stronger challenges from A.J. Allmendinger and Cristiano Da Matta. Both RuSports and PKV will undoubtedly be working hard in the coming weeks before Monterrey.
All in all, it was a perfect day, with perfect weather, exciting racing, and the chance to spend time with our racing friends. If Sunday were music, it would truly have been a rhapsody. We can only hope that Dover Downs is really listening.
Copyright © 2005 by Lisa Davidson and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.