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San Jose Diary:
Day Three
God Bless the USA

San Jose, Calif., July 29 — If you don’t love the United States of America, you might want to do something else rather than read this. Like, maybe take a trip to Cuba or join Al-Qaeda. Or not.

At any rate, it occurred to me, while watching Brazilian Raphael Matos talk about the wonderful opportunities he’s had since coming to the United States in 2002, what other country on this planet offers such wonderful opportunities to race car drivers? Both Matos and his closest racing friend, Cristiano da Matta, come from middle class families in Belo Horizonte. According to Rafa, the story about him arriving in this country with $15 is a myth, but it is fair to say that he would not have been able to get this far without the help of his friends here in the U.S. – lead by Cristiano. As of today, Matos is the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic Series champion. He wins a $2 million sponsorship for Champ Car, virtually assuring that he will be a Champ Car driver in 2008. Could this have happened in France?

Speaking of France, the (arguably) best French driver of his generation was unable to get a Formula One ride allegedly because one Flavio Briatore doesn’t like him. What does he do? He comes to the United States and starts driving for Newman Haas, wins three championships, and now it does not matter if that Flav doesn’t like him or not. Sebastien said yesterday, “The United States is the greatest country for the chance it offered me.” Yes, it is, and even if he returns to France, he is highly appreciative of what has been offered to him here.

I am one writer who often complains that there are few opportunities for American drivers in Champ Car. I think that’s a fair criticism and if Jonathan Bomarito does not end up in Champ Car in 2008, you will hear from me about it. At the same time, racers throughout the world share a common desire—we want to see the best possible racing, no matter who is in the car. This system we have here helps somewhat to ensure this—drivers generally get hired because of their talents, not their nationality.

And so we get to see a great big smile on The Netherlands’ Robert Doornbos’ face as Bobby D tells us what an amazing country we have here in the U.S. While most in the room already know this, how refreshing it is that someone is pointing out something that’s maybe not so popular in the world right now. And yet, it isn’t often “foreigners” have to show us the many advantages that exist in America, because not everyone grasps the opportunities that exist here.

Right now, European drivers have the advantage over American , and even Brazilian drivers, when it comes to recruiting direct sponsorship. I have no doubt that enterprising young American drivers, such as Alan Sciuto, will learn from their example. It may take time, but in years to come, I expect we’ll have American drivers who are not only talented racers, but also adept at recruiting their own sponsorship.

Speaking of sponsors, the folks who are backing Bobby D are sure getting their money’s worth. The Champ Car race was unbelievably wild and unpredictable. I think very few people have much patience left for Dan Clarke, who drew ire for wrecking the ever popular Justin Wilson. Bomarito, competing in his home race this weekend in Atlantic, has also got to be keeping his sponsors happy.

Can’t wait to get to Wisconsin after a one week break!

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

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