Road America Diary:|
Somebody to Love
Elkhart Lake, Wisc., September 24 ó Itís a Queenís Greatest Hits morning. We may be the champions because "weíll keep on fighting till the end," in the words of the immortal Freddie Mercury. But, there are still practical matters to consider. Starting with, we arrive at the track at 7:05 AM for the 7:00 AM Photographerís Meeting. We are very tired due to the change in time zones and being away from home. Our children somehow went to San Diego even though they were supposed to be in LA. Fortunately, they are okay, even if we are not. We realize how incredibly fortunate we are to be able to do something we love doing, even though we are still figuring out the economics of this proposition. And, like fans everywhere, we cannot wait to find out what happens today on race day.
Saturday night, Jeff and I have dinner with our friend Kurt at the Seabird Restaurant in Sheboygan. Itís located right on the shores of Lake Michigan. As is traditional with DeepThrottle.com, we pick our favorites for the race. Kurt and Jeff both think that Bourdais will be unbeatable if itís dry, and we all think that Dan Clark will be a strong contender if itís wet. What has been clear all weekend is that Newman-Haas is very strong when itís fast. Predicting the future is, however, a very tricky business.
Time passes very quickly today. One minute, Iím noticing how beautiful it is hereóand it is. After miserable weather for most of the weekend, today itís sunny and clear but very cold for this California girl. Everyone would agree, there is a definite nip in the air as both Atlantics and Champ Cars go out on the track for morning warm up.
Suddenly, itís time to grid the Atlantics cars. Their race is disappointing in some respects, but itís hard not to be happy for a first time race winner like Jonathan Bomarito. Graham Rahal has an unlikely mechanical DNF, and admits that his rival for the championship, Simon Pagenaud, has a far greater need for the Champ Car sponsorship associated with the title than he does. Itís a good thing, then, that Pagenaud wins the championship, especially with his family in attendance. For a very short while, he is The Man.
The post race press conference for the Atlantics is no more over than itís time to grid the Champ Cars. The doctor who treated Cristiano da Matta is given special recognition by Bridgestone. A tape of Shortyís voice to start engines gets the field going. Thereís been no food for the press this weekend, so we are surprised by a sudden delivery from Pizza Hut of more than enough pies to feed the whole press room. The sun is very bright, and itís actually getting warm as the race begins, and we settle in for what is expected to be yet another day at the races.
Itís anything but. Dan Clarke and Charles Zwolsman both lead early on, but the incongruity of their starting positions is also made evident very early on. Then it looks like itís going to be a Sebastien Bourdais runaway. It doesnít last. Still again, it looks like itís going to be a fuel strategy race as Bruno Junqueira and Nelson Philippe charge to the front by pitting out of sequence. Just when we get comfortable with that, Nelsonís wheel comes loose after his second pit stop. This event proves pivotal in the race, for reasons Iíll learn later. Then somehow, some way, A. J. Allmendinger charges to the front. Was I the only one asking, how did that happen? And, the Safety Team deserves race points for the way they kept pulling drivers out of the gravel all day long. Amazingly, the only retirements were Legge and Kasemets. Tonis never really got a chance to run his race, he kept ducking into the pits.
All these questions become moot as I hear a scream coming from the broadcast booth! I turn and find out that Katherine Legge has had a horrific crash. Her rear wing came off as she entered the kink and then her car started to disintegrate. It was one of those crashes you canít imagine anyone living through. I am very worried for her and for her dad, who always comes to her races. Race Director quickly lets me know that she is injured but the injuries are not life threatening. The latter part proves to be true, but her injuries are minor, the worst of which is that she canít wear a skirt to the Atlantics banquet because of bruises on her legs. I can live with that.
Somebody to love? All in all, I think the people associated with this series are the champions. There are many series that get bigger television ratings and many where the drivers draw bigger paychecks. But, none compete at the level Champ Car does. Too bad I canít go to Australia, huh? Until next yearÖ
Copyright © 2006 by Lisa Davidson and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.