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Will History Repeat?

When I was attending college, in a town seemingly just south of the North Pole—Potsdam, NY—I used to make annual trips to Watkins Glen and Montreal for the Formula One races. At that time, nothing compared with F1. The popularity of the sport in the US was at its height with Mario Andretti winning a World Championship, Long Beach becoming a reality, and ABC covering more and more races.

Gilles Villeneuve, Alan Jones, Nelson Piquet, Rene Arnoux, Carlos Reutemann, Jacques Laffite, Jody Scheckter, Keke Rosberg, John Watson, and Clay Regazzoni all captured the fans’ imaginations. Ferrari, Williams, Brabham, and Lotus battled it out with the 6-wheel Tyrrell, Arrows, Alfa Romeo, and McLaren always drawing interest.

I did not make the trip to soggy Watkins Glen my senior year. The F1 race was gone. The track near bankruptcy. That year, they replaced America’s racing version of the Fall Classic with a CART race. I had no desire to attend.

I followed CART at the time, but only peripherally. I didn’t even know that CART ran summer races at Watkins Glen for two years on the Short Course, probably because I spent my summers back home on Long Island and traveling to Watkins Glen was not a possibility.

In any case, F1 ruled my interest, and though I religiously followed the Month of May at Indy, CART was nothing more than a bunch of oval trackers with slow, overweight cars doing a few road races.

My reaction when I heard CART was going to run the Long Course in place of the F1 race was, "Why would I want to waste my money on a bunch of Indy drivers at Watkins Glen instead of Formula One?!"

As the years went by, my interest in F1 rapidly waned while my interest in CART grew exponentially, due mostly to the excitement on the track. In ten years time, I was a crazed CART fan while I still followed F1, but only peripherally.

By the early 90s, now living just an hour and an half away in Rochester, I would have killed for a CART race at the Glen. Instead, all I got were a few teasers from CART management.

Now, the IRL has announced they will run at Watkins Glen. In the Fall no less. My reaction is similar to what it was some twenty years ago, and is no surprise for those who know me: "There is no way I’m going to waste my money on that abomination of a series that has helped to destroy open wheel racing in this country!"

Nothing can get me to attend the IRL race at Watkins Glen.

However, there is a disturbing thought that keeps penetrating my mind, no matter how hard I try to shake it. In ten years time, will history repeat for me?

Copyright © 2004 by Russell Jaslow and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

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