1997 Road America Thoughts
WEATHER: Damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Should they or should
they not have run in those conditions? Zanardi said they would have in F1.
However, I can remember some pretty disastrous races in Monaco and Australia
with those kinds of conditions. Then again, these are professional race
car drivers who are paid good money to perform. Unfortunately, in the era
of the IRL-CART split with a race that last year scored CART one of it's
highest TV ratings despite being on ESPN, CART is going to end up taking the
hit on this. At least they had the guts to make the safe decision.
TRACK: I hate to do this. I really, really hate to do this because Road
America is one of the premier road courses in the world. However, it has to
be said. Road America is not safe for Indy cars. Guardrails that fold over
because they are held up by wooden posts, trees up close to the track
separated by a mere single layer of armco, no debris fencing protecting fans
directly in high speed target zones. If these cars touch wheels like at
Toronto last year, we're not talking a tragedy. We're talking about Le Mans
RACE: Rain always brings out some of the most interesting "racing." I
enjoyed the race. It had a little bit of everything, and enough dry track
time to enjoy these cars at speed on this course which the European drivers
liken it to Spa.
ZANARDI: The more I watch him, the more he reminds me of Gilles Villenueve.
Now, he's even showing traits that Gilles had regarding the fans. Here is
what he said concerning his donuts at the end of the race despite CART's
insistence to stop doing them: "If they fine me I may be $30,000 less rich.
I just put myself in the fans' point of view. They stood there for three or
four hours in the cold and the wet and they were out there to see a show. I
had to do something to make the show better." Thanks, Alex!
SALLES: Who would have thought Gualter Salles would be Dr. Destructo?
First he bangs wheels with Vasser, spins, doesn't lock up his brakes, and
Tracy runs over his nose cone eventually hitting the tire wall and doing the
all too familiar Road America flip. Then he tangles with someone else, but
the cameras didn't pick up enough to lay blame. Finally, he slides wide and
causes Max Papis to run over his wheels sending Max flying down the escape
road. And after all this, Salles still finishes the race. Not exactly
FRANCHITTI: What was this guy thinking?! He looks brilliant with rain
tires on. Changes over to slicks with everybody else. Then, during a FULL
COURSE YELLOW, gets aggressive with Blundell, lights up his tires, and slams
into the wall. Talk about a major brain cramp.
ANDRETTI: Pulled a Paul Tracy.
MOORE: Was this some kind of conspiracy? To have all the championship
contenders take themselves out of the race?
MEIER: Outright scary. If his car didn't catch the armco the way it did,
his momentum was carrying him right into the crowd. Shudder!
SCHEDULE: A break then onto Vancouver. This is the last time you will
see this configuration. Next year, they will be using a new layout as
development has squeezed them out of their current location. The new course
is suppose to bring better racing. Zanardi only needs 6 points to clinch
the championship regardless of what his pursuers do.
KENDALL: Now we switch gears to Trans-Am where Tommy Kendall won his record
tying 10th straight race. All along I was wondering if this achievement was
due to Chevy's pull out of the series leaving only Ford factory support even
though there were still some top drivers like Dorsey Schroeder, Greg Pickett,
Paul Gentilozzi, and Brian Simo. However, after watching the Road America
race, I'm convinced that Kendall is a great driver. His runaway in the rain
and then his comeback from 51 seconds down in just 3 laps after switching to
slicks was amazing to watch. Is he really too tall for Indy cars? Would
somebody at least give him a test!
LEWIS: Still with Trans-Am and we're talking about Mike Lewis, a rookie
of the year contender and how he pulled the bonehead move of the weekend.
He spun off in the sandtrap. They pull him out. He begins to drive off, but
doesn't quite have the room to maneuver around the tow truck and guardrail
(though I thought he did). So instead of jockeying around a bit or waiting
(he already lost a lap) he proceeds to back up -- right back into the
sandtrap. He promptly got stuck. Again.
Copyright © 1997 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.