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San Jose Diary:
Day One
Me and Bobby (Mc) D

San Jose, Calif., July 27 — I have a lot to tell you, but before I forget, don’t under any circumstances, ever book a trip on Orbitz.com.

It all started out so innocently. I booked a package through Orbitz in December – that’s 7 months ago for the math challenged. On Wednesday night, I decided to check in online for our flight scheduled for Thursday evening. Except, I couldn’t. Called Delta Airlines – it seems that Orbitz made the reservation but never confirmed them, so we had no tickets, which is why we couldn’t check in – on line, at the airport – or anywhere else for that matter. I then decided I’d better call the Sainte Claire, because I didn’t want to worry about our hotel room on a race weekend. Guess what? When I called the Sainte Claire, I found out that Orbitz never even reserved our room. These kinds of problems are part of the reasons that many travel professionals cite for not using online travel services. After this Orbitz fiasco, I’m with them.

However, since I am tolerant of the fact that people make mistakes, I called Orbitz fully expecting that they would be as horrified by this turn of events as we were and that they would fix all the problems for us with abject apologies. Boy was I ever wrong. Not only did Orbitz never say they were sorry, they never took responsibility for their screw ups, they wasted 3 hours of our time, and oh, they never fixed any of their errors!

Instead, I booked our own room directly with the Sainte Claire, with the able help of their ace front desk staff, most particularly, Joseph. I booked our own airline tickets, with the dogged assistance of Delta Airlines. After all that, Orbitz gets to keep all the money they made off us by not doing their job, and I, Dear Readers, have learned my lesson. Fortunately, the email I received from Orbitz “confirming” my package ensured that I at least did not have to pay a second time for the arrangements they didn’t bother to make.

San Jose and particularly the wonderful staff of its Grand Prix, has consistently learned its lesson when it comes to hosting the Champ Car World Series these past couple of years. I can remember how tough it was to get around the track that first year and how bumpy the track was with its airborne Champ Cars. The next year, the track was smoothed out and track crossings were no longer a problem.

Since even a successful event needs to change it up, last year, the Grand Prix hosted the unveiling of the 2007 Champ Car. This year, the Grand Prix is giving awards in categories such as “Best Crash” at a driver party for the fans. The star of the event was undoubtedly Cristiano da Matta, who is planning a return to racing. Shorty took an award for “Best Podium.”

So, without further adeux, what follows are some random observations about the San Jose event, just to show you this is not all about Me:

  • Robert Doornbos has gone from unknown European driver at the beginning of the season to the new popular guy in Champ Car. Consider this, if you will: Sebastien Bourdais has been in the series for 5 years now, winning Rookie of the Year and then 3 consecutive championships, and he’s not doing too shabby this year. In all this time, never has he had a nickname. At least, not one that people can walk up and call him – no one ever says, “Good one, Sea – Bass.” On the other hand, Doornbos is called “Bobby D” to his face and all in a matter of months. He has the best engineer in Champ Car in Michael Cannon. He has a wicked sense of humor and loads of talent. Where this takes him is open to speculation, but I am going to go out on a limb and say, he’ll end up on a “top team” in Champ Car as the Brits say.

  • Remember a time when Champ Car was the destination, instead of just being the North American feeder series for Formula “Une”? Splashed across the front of today’s San Jose Mercury News Sports section was Graham Rahal’s declaration that he was going to spend only 2 years in Champ Car. Now, I like Graham and all, but this kid did not stay in Atlantics for another year as he should have to better hone his driving skills. He’s not an Atlantics champion, and because of Bobby D and the guy who is the reigning Atlantic champion, he’s not going to even be Rookie of the Year. Our very own series champion, that Sea-Bass guy, is waiting for a crappy, bottom of the pack F1 team to decide if they maybe, might want to hire him for next year. Just who does Graham Rahal think is going to hire him? Ferrari? McLaren? Well, not Bernie Ecclestone, who doesn’t think he needs the U.S. market and now conceivably, U.S. drivers. Unfortunately, Graham’s statement reminds me a lot of what our older daughter says – who is close to him in age – things that are not terribly realistic. Our daughter’s comments just causes us to shake our heads, which is probably the best way to take what young Rahal says.

  • When we said several weeks ago that the difference between a great driver and a phenomenal driver is “x” as pertains to Bourdais, we need to add another. Only a phenomenal driver could be in 16th place in qualifying and with 2 minutes to go, peel off a pole lap. Just when everyone was walking over, ready to congratulate Justin “Bad Ass” Wilson on a provisional pole, Sebastien showed us once again how amazing he is. It must be a bitch to race against this guy – just when you think you’ve bested him, he snatches it away, and we’ve seen variations on this many times.

  • The 2007 season has pretty much stabilized in that only a handful of drivers consistently run at the front (unlike CART in its heyday). It’s pretty much always Power, Bourdais, and Wilson. On occasion it can be Bobby D or Pagenaud, but it’s pretty much always the three, and Sebastien wins. Or DNF’s. Or pisses off the crowd by whining. Yawn. That’s our predication for the race. Pass the popcorn, please.

  • If Raphael Matos clinches the Atlantic title this weekend, and he very well could, he should send the male equivalent of flowers to Graham Rahal. After all, had Graham not jumped to the CCWS, he was the most likely Atlantic champ and would be the winner of the $2 million sponsorship prize. Thing is, unlike the Ferrari bound Rahal, Rafa really needs the prize to move up to Champ, and it is very likely he’ll get it, which is all to the good.

  • But, local racer Jonathan Bomarito takes the provisional Atlantic pole today. Still, as dominant as Rafa has been all year, the Atlantic series still offers more and better competition than does Champ Car.

Our evening concludes with a tour of Neel Jani’s hospitality suite high atop the Marriott overlooking the track from the 25th floor. Well, it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it…

Copyright © 2007 by Lisa Davidson and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

 
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