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Denver Diary:
Day One
Hot Child in the City

Denver, Colo., August 11 — Julie got this one right—she left LA for Denver on Wednesday evening, before the world went crazy again with Al Qaeda terrorist plots. Personally, I am sick to death of these terrorists, as their plots now deprive me of wearing proper footwear (thank you Mr. Shoe Bomber) and drinking water (the new bombers) while I’m traveling. And, thank you very much, I got even less sleep because, after last year when we missed our flight here due to a chatty skycap, I made sure I was at LAX with Jeff at 4:30 A.M. as suggested.

I think the President is fighting this war on terror all wrong. He should let us sleep deprived, shoe deprived, and water deprived women attack the terrorists. They won’t stand a chance, especially if we’re allowed to recruit the lip gloss deprived women in the US and the UK as reinforcements. However, in spite of Al, we arrive at the track in time for lunch and a chance to catch up with Julie.

How is it in Denver? It’s really hot and muggy. The street track is slippery according to all the drivers with little or no grip. By the time lunch is over, we attend the Atlantic’s press conference with Graham Rahal having earned the provisional pole, Raphael Matos in second, and David Martinez a surprising third. Young Rahal has set a new track record with his qualifying speed. And, according to Graham, his car was fast "right out of the box." The Atlantic series has continued to be a highly competitive place to race this year, so tomorrow’s practice and qualifying along with the race on Sunday should be some of the best on track action all weekend. We can’t wait.

As much as the Atlantics now have large 24+ car fields—a dramatic improvement over last year—Champ Car is clearly suffering with this tiny 16 car field. We understand that Tonis Kasemets cannot afford to run a full schedule and apparently in spite of the legions of drivers said to be "eyeing" Champ Car, none wants to put his eyeball, or rather his money, on the table and run for Rocketsports at Denver. And, we cannot be mad about RuSPORT’s decision to pull the #10 car from competition after Cristiano DaMatta’s terrifying accident last week at Road America. But, clearly, the future viability of the series rests rather completely on the orders that will hopefully materialize for the beautiful new Panoz DP01.

I have it on good authority that there are more than enough well funded drivers out there who could drive the 2007 Champ Car, but unless teams actually order the new cars, it’s not going to look pretty for the series. Already current equipment issues are impacting competition, and that’s not a good thing. Hopefully, we can get through the year without too much further ado.

In that vein, it is a pleasure to see American A.J. Allmendinger take the provisional pole on Friday afternoon. But, it’s a shame that Dinger’s dominance cannot seem to help out Paul Tracy, who today managed to damage his race car and not post a good qualifying time. Sebastien Bourdais finished second, and he seems to have adjusted his attitude a bit, because this second did not render him surly. The second surprising third place of the day was Alex Tagliani. After last week’s public altercation with Tracy, it was good to see Tags let his car and his driving do the talking for him. Also looking racy today were Justin Wilson and Bruno Junqueira, rounding out the top five qualifiers.

Still, it’s Shorty or Cris or Tonhio—whatever you call him—da Matta that everyone is talking about and thinking about today. Diana Junqueira tells us that this past week has been very tough on the Junqueiras, who like Da Matta are from Belo Horizante, Brazil. Bruno, who has been friends with Cris since they were kids, seems to be taking this especially hard. Because, while da Matta survived his accident, he’s still not out of the woods, and this happened just one year after Bruno’s accident in 2005 at Indy. It’s rather a strange existence following the Champ Car circuit, and one thing that makes it tough is the very real possibility that at any time, one of these young drivers can quickly be in mortal danger. It’s not easy to handle this—for any of us.

For any readers who were waiting for my Day Three Diary from San Jose, and a couple of you let me know you were, I must tell you I’m sorry. By the time I got caught up on my sleep enough to write it up, Cristiano had his accident, and so what I had to say about Sunday in San Jose seemed to be rather trivial in comparison.

However, trivia is something at which I excel—as anyone who watched me on Jeopardy! can attest. It’s the little things I notice and then write about that make these diary pieces something a bit different than the cut and dried motorsports reporting of which we see so much. I guess I should tell you, while I know Tracy messed up on the track at San Jose, it was Tags who was the real "hot child in the city" two weeks ago. I don’t like boxing to begin with, but athletes who are not boxers have no business settling disagreements with fists in public. Let them use fists in private … or not. But, please, there are already so very many people in this world whose emotions are so out of control that they have to kill other people with bombs or planes. We in the Champ Car community don’t need to do this. We need to do what we do best, which is provide some of the best racing this world has to offer.

Let us gripe about not having water or the high price of track food. Let’s ponder the mystery of why Long Beach cannot field beauty pageant contestants prettier than any other racing venues. Let’s go. Until then, I’m off to the races…

Copyright © 2006 by Lisa Davidson and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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