1997 Detroit Thoughts
THE TRACK: My information was incorrect last week. The changes to the
track -- lengthening one straightaway and taking out some tight turns --
is going to be done for next year, not this year like I had originally read.
Thus, we were stuck with the same old Detroit -- tight, narrow, and impossible
to pass. In fact, it was even worse since they ground down the surface to
smooth out the bumps. This made it rougher on the tires, and we had an even
larger marbling problem. If it wasn't for the fact that this venue exists
in the Motor City, it would be the first to go. Instead, we're stuck with it.
A new contract has been signed through the year 2002.
THE RACE: See above. Was it exciting to see an 18 car train at the end?
If you like high speed parades. Otherwise, you knew nothing was going to
happen without a mistake. Supposedly the initials of the race's sponsor,
ITT, don't stand for anything. Well they do: Incredibly Terrible Track.
DE FERRAN: In normal circumstances, his pass on Moreno would be called
stupid, dangerous, and insane. But this is Detroit. Thus, his pass should
be hailed as a welcome relief and a sight to behold.
TRACY: They're saying his illness may be related to the extremely high
g-forces he experienced at Gateway. If this is true, that is scary. Gateway
may have to consider reconfiguring. The human body can only put up with
PACWEST: Can you imagine a worse heartbreak? Running 1-2 on the last lap
trying to seek their first ever win, and both their drivers run out of fuel.
Sure they were taking a huge gamble, but you still had to feel for them.
MOORE: A little more than a week ago, Greg Moore had two races left to
break the mark for the youngest winner in CART. He ends up winning *both*
races. First he plays the fuel gamble and wins, then he takes advantage of
others playing the fuel gamble unsuccessfully. Will he be the youngest
FUEL: Speaking of fuel, is something going on here? After Milwaukee,
Michael Andretti hinted that Moore lasting so long was a bit strange.
Gugelmin, off camera, was more blunt saying, "there is no way a car can last
92 laps on one tankfull." This week, the Pacwest team, with ironically
Gugelmin, go for broke and try just one stop. Moore, Andretti, and Vasser
all said afterwards they don't know how those cars lasted so long. Has
Mercedes invented a better mousetrap in fuel management? Or have the teams
discovered a way to stay one step ahead of the tech inspectors?
MATSUSHITA: There we are in the middle of the race getting ready for a
restart, and what do you know, Hiro is out in front of the pack. This could
be a disaster. But wait! Hiro gets a great jump. He's pulling away from
the rest of the pack. He's staying in front! He skipped his pit stop, is
running a light load, and is looking for all the pictures to be sent back to
Japan where he is very popular. But alas, the pressure is too much, and
halfway through the lap, he bobbles, and is overrun. It was fun while it
TOYOTA: All four Toyota's finished the race. Two of them score points.
This is the first time they are all using the newest incarnation of their
Indy car engine. Has Toyota turned the corner? Well, not so fast with those
accolades. This is Detroit, and you don't need horsepower -- just handling
and the ability to block. Let's wait till Portland.
RPM2NITE: Okay, which one of you gave my commentary last week to ESPN2?
There I was watching RPM2Nite on Sunday, and they ran down how great the
Canadian drivers did, and then said, "Canada may be getting so confident they
may invade the US." Whereupon, I immediately shouted out, "Hey, that's my
line!" So, fess up, which one of you guys fed ESPN2...?
PORTLAND: This track has produced it's share of interesting races. There
was the time Michael Andretti ran out of fuel on the last turn of the last
lap handing the victory to Mario -- on Father's Day. There was the skid plate
fiasco with the Penske Team. There was the interesting battle between Unser
and Zanardi -- one on rain tires, the other slicks on a partly wet track.
IRL: Believe it or not, I was going to say something good about the IRL.
Okay now, everybody pick yourselves up off the floor, and get back in your
chairs. Notice I used the word was. I was curious enough about this track
that during some of the commercial breaks of the Stanley Cup, I switched over.
I was intrigued enough that after watching Detroit hoist the Cup, I tuned in
the rest of the race. The cars looked interesting on the high banked oval at
night, and some of the camera angles showed the speed and sound quite nicely.
The side by side battle between Stewart and Lazier was great stuff. Does this
mean I'm considering converting? Not exactly. Even a broken clock is right
twice a day. And the IRL did not disappoint me as they quickly succumbed
back into their busch league status. Where do we start? The constant engine
explosions? The fact that the initial winner won because just about the
whole field dropped out? This isn't parity; it's shooting craps in Vegas.
The fact that just about nobody was on the lead lap? The fact that the race
had more fisticuffs than the hockey game (there is no truth to the rumor that
Don King Productions will be sponsoring AJ Foyt's cars)? Or how about the
clincher -- the fact that USAC is totally clueless in scoring a race? The
fact that Arie was 2, count them, TWO, laps ahead of everybody else, yet
he was scored as being a lap behind the leaders?! I love what Ed Gossage,
GM of TMS, said: "The performance of USAC has been unacceptable." Mr. Gossage,
welcome to the reason why CART was formed.
Copyright © 1997 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.