1997 Gateway Thoughts
Well, I skipped Rio, and it looked like I was going to skip Gateway as well,
but I have some time and some thoughts to spit out, so here goes.
THE RACE: Wow!! After what looked like a rain infested yellow flag parade,
things cleared up long enough for the drivers to put on the best race of the
year. Where do we start? How about that Tracy-Unser duel, side by side for
an entire lap? Or what about the Tracy pass on de Ferran with wheels inter-
locked? Or perhaps the Tracy pass on Zanardi? Maybe the question mark over
whether Andretti could nurse an ill handling car to victory? Perhaps the
question of whether Carpentier would not run of fuel? Would Tracy have time
to carve his way through the field and still catch up and pass Carpentier?
No matter how you look at it, there was enough action to take my breath away.
THE TRACK: No complaints, except I really have to wonder about the wisdom
of rushing a track to completion. This goes for all sanctioning bodies --
IRL at Las Vegas, NASCAR at Texas, CART at Rio last year. They got lucky
this time, but I really think they should test these out. The dust created
by the lime could have been a problem. It could have turned into a one groove
track. Lack of parking spaces for the crowd could have been a disaster if the
dirt lots got flooded from rain like at Texas. Overall, the track looks very
"racey" and it appears to favor those with an aggressive driving style.
TRACY: Well, that does it. I'm convinced. I think CART should open a
booth up at Long Beach and offer any driver a fine and probation if they want.
Be careful. No running to get a spot. Please form an orderly line.
UNSER, JR.: Hmmmm.
VASSER: This has got to be the best, and most aggressive, drive I have ever
seen Vasser put in. It was great to watch. Too bad circumstances prevented
his effort from being rewarded. He still finished, and this extends his
streak of finishes to an amazing 23, with 22 of those in the points. Pretty
interesting considering when Bobby Carville beat Vasser in the Canadian Pro
F2000 series (the big one at the time), he did so despite only winning once.
Vasser either won or dropped out. He must have learned what a lack of
CARPENTIER: Starting to fulfill his promise. Too bad Bettenhausen couldn't
pull in that first win. As it is, the second place is the best finish for the
MOORE: He has just two races to beat out Al Unser, Jr.'s record for the
youngest winner in CART competition. He is always so close, yet so far.
Even at the end, he was turning in some of the fastest times. Interesting
how his career seems to parallel fellow countryman, Paul Tracy.
ZANARDI: You knew you couldn't keep this guy down. A fine run after two
BOESEL: The spark returned. Pole and a fine early run. Now get rid of the
HERTA and RAHAL: Talk about a team putting their drivers in the hot seat...
I heard there is a job opening for an electrician.
JOHNSTONE: Well, he finally stayed out of trouble, ran consistently, and
got a good finish.
TOYOTA: One word: "Boom!"
CANADIANS: They take 1-2 at Gateway. Lee Bentham wins Indy Lights.
Villenueve wins the Spanish Grand Prix. Can you imagine if Goodyear took
Indy? The country may have gotten so intoxicated with victory, they may have
decided to invade the U.S. (This last statement is based on an actual event
back in the 60's when after a World Cup qualifying match, a particular Central
American country got so pumped up with their win over their neighboring
country, that they decided to take it one step further, and invaded it!)
That Player's program is sure paying dividends. Glad to see KOOL is going
to do the same in this country.
SAVANNAH: What the heck does this have to do with Gateway? Nothing, but
I had to say something about it after watching the Indy LIghts race from
there. What a great street circuit! Best one I've ever seen since Adelaide.
There is runoff areas everywhere. No wall is up against the track. Plenty
of passing zones and really nice sweeping turns instead of those point and
squirt ones and *no* chicanes. They sure did this right, and I heard they
are going to make even more improvements. I sure hope the big boys end up
there eventually. They basically want to turn this into what Montreal is
like -- a road course in a street locale on an island otherwise used for
touristy type stuff. At the beginning of the century, Savannah did everything
right when they hosted major racing events (you can read about it in my column
whenever the next North American Motorsports Journal appears), and it appears
they are once again doing everything right. If you get a chance to see any
of the racing action repeated on ESPN2, check it out, and pay attention to the
Copyright © 1997 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.