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San Jose Diary:
Day Two
Some of the Dumbest Things I’ve Heard

San Jose, CA, July 30 — The highlight of Saturday was without a doubt the announcement of the 2006 Atlantic package. The dumbest thing I heard on Saturday is that it was still taking 30 minutes to cross the racetrack. This means, no matter who you are, no matter who you think you know, and no matter if the track is cold and going to remain that way for at least 12 hours, it still takes half an hour to go 15 yards. And, this at an event that celebrates speed.

It was that kind of day. Saturday is always the longest day of a three-day race weekend. In the press room, there’s the usual racing gossip, this time, a lot of it concerning former Atlantic driver Danica Patrick—now in her rookie season in the Imploding Racing League. And some of what I’m hearing about Danica ranks right up there with the dumbest things I’ve heard.

Let’s start with the new promotional campaign that features Danica—who we call “Ikea” around in our household because we grew up with Danica Furniture Stores—saying “get used to it boys.”

Just what are “the boys” (who by the way, if the roles were reversed, would be vilified for calling women racers “the girls”) supposed to get used to, Ikea? Should they get used to you getting the lion’s share of the attention when you haven’t produced any tangible results? Should they get used to you being treated like a queen while they get treated like a bunch of wanna be bums?

Maybe they would be burned up if you actually started winning races or finishing on the podium, but baby, you are a mid-packer in the Adrian Fernandez vein if I ever saw one. And the worst of it is, you are co-signing all of this nonsense by letting yourself get promoted beyond your accomplishments. It's The Peter Principal on steroids.

If Bobby Rahal really cared about Ikea’s career, he would have found a way to keep her in Atlantics for another year. Ikea needs more seasoning, and not in running ovals with crowds of 3000 looking on. If you think I’m being too hard on her, consider that she is the only driver to earn a pole and then immediately go into 10th place. She would still be a mid-packer, but at least she would have been fun to watch battling it out with Katherine Legge. Katherine ends up at mid pack on occasion, usually due to losing her fast lap by causing a red flag. Not to mention, a real rivalry between the two women would have been very interesting to watch, even though, of course, Katherine, like fine Devon cream, would always rise to the top.

Legge, on the other hand, has spent her San Jose weekend learning the new track, and earning a second row starting position for Sunday’s race. We also spotted her at the Noon press conference at which it was announced, to no one’s surprise, that Cosworth would supply engines to the Atlantic series beginning in 2006. The development series will now be called the Champ Car Atlantic Championship. Most encouraging is the $2 million in Champ Car sponsorship monies to be awarded to the Championship winner. We at Deep Throttle have always felt that the Atlantic Champion deserves a leg up in getting a Champ Car ride.

The folks running the San Jose Grand Prix are making great efforts to correct as much as they can, as quickly as they can. Accessibility continues to be a problem, and likely will be all weekend. But, adjustments are being made to the track, especially in the interests of safety. And, I notice there are no overflowing trashcans like there were on Friday. The crowds are large and enthusiastic—nearly 51,000 today, and they also appear to like drifting.

On the Trans-Am side, it’s interesting to note that even though this track is supposed to be tight (that’s narrow to non hardcore fans) and difficult to pass, the Trans-Am cars seems to have no trouble doing so. Boris Said, who’s not driving in the series on a regular basis, has a relatively uncomplicated win in Saturday’s race over veterans Greg Pickett and Randy Ruhlman.

Champ Car series owner and team Rocketsports owner-driver, Paul Gentilozzi, withdraws before the race, reportedly due to a shortage of personnel. My thought is, he probably couldn’t get across the track in time.

For our Champ Car fans, we had a single qualifying session, and it actually contained some surprises. Not a surprise was Bourdais winning his 13th career pole in Champ Car. Seb has been fast all weekend and should be strong in the race. As usual, he stays late after the press conference, patiently answering questions, many of them dumb, when I bet he’d love a nice shower instead.

Also not surprising is Paul Tracy splitting as soon as the formal part of the conference is over—Paul is not one to coddle to or cater to we media types. However, Catalonia’s Oriol Servia may drive the strongest car of all for the weekend, always a gentleman, and hopefully, this weekend, a race winner.

It was surprising, though, to see Nelson Phillipe qualify 6th, a career best. It was popular with the crowd to see hometown favorite A.J. Allmendinger qualify fourth in front of a crowd that doubtless contained people who were mean to him in high school. It would be a real Hollywood ending if Dinger could pull off a win here tomorrow.

What I am hoping for is not too much in the way of stupid things, although in racing, this is not always possible.

Until then, I’m off to the races!

Copyright © 2005 by Lisa Davidson and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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