1997 U.S. 500 Thoughts
RACE: This is the true definition of irony. In 1996, everybody talked
about how the Indy 500 would be a disaster at the start with all the
inexperienced drivers in the field. It was the U.S. 500 that ended up with
the multi-car crash at the start. This year, everybody talked about how
nobody was going to finish the Indy 500 because of the unreliability of the
new engines. It was the U.S. 500 which almost saw this scenario unfold.
Just 10 cars running at the end and only 2 on the lead lap.
TRACK: Michigan always has been a track where attrition is the main story.
Last year, after the repaving, it appeared that would be a thing of the past
after two successful races where the attrition rate was a wee bit better.
But, the Michigan curse is back.
SCHEDULE: This race is the exact reason why I don't want the season to end
with a 500 mile race on a superspeedway like they are going to do with Fontana
this year, and apparently next year as well. It is too much of a crapshoot
to possibly decide a championship.
POINTS: You know it's a bizarre race when Vitolo, Matsushita, and 3 Toyotas
all score points in the same race.
ANDRETTI: Pretty much the fastest car on the track during the race. I
guess since the Indy 500 no longer exists, the Andretti "luck" has been
shifted to the U.S. 500.
ZANARDI: Another penalty, another win from last place. This is starting
to become ho-hum... Alex has the points lead, and I'm wondering just who
is going to stop him now.
TOYOTA: Give credit where credit is due. Despite Jones' explosion, the
other 3 Toyotas finished the race. Then again, even the NY Jets won a game
RAHAL: Maybe Bobby was another victim of being Vitoloed, but Rahal seemed
to put himself in a position with no escape, and he should have known the
unpredictable nature of the driver he was about to attempt a pass on.
CHASSIS: Three wicked wall slamming crashes, and all three drivers get out
and walk away. A major testament to the safety designs of these CART cars
(although the Parker crash was way too reminiscent of Senna's fatal crash).
Perhaps the only thing that CART can brag about in this race.
DE FERRAN: Don't look now, but de Ferran is third in points despite not
winning a race this year. He has quietly collected his points, and finishing
second or third in 4 of the past 5 races certainly helps.
TRANSMISSIONS: Seven cars dropped out due to transmission problems. Only
three dropouts were caused by engines, two by turbos, and two by electrical,
seven in total. When have you ever seen transmissions causing just as many
DNF's as all those others combined? Especially on an oval.
BERGER: Forget the U.S. 500. Formula 1 is where it was at this past
weekend. When was the last time we saw those teams and drivers on top
a Grand Prix? And the Berger saga was one for Hollywood. First he suffers
from a sinus infection forcing him to take very powerful antibiotics. They
are so strong, he is forced to not taking them on race weekends because of
the side effects. That only causes his infection to run rampant, and he
is forced to undergo surgery. That only causes the infection to get worse,
and he is forced to miss 3 races. In the meantime his father is killed
in a plane crash, his replacement turns in some amazing results, and he
announces that he will not return to Benetton next year and may not return
to F1. He finally returns to action in the race he considers to be a
home-like Grand Prix. He then goes out and wins the pole and dominates the
race from start to finish. Fact is truly stranger than fiction.
Copyright © 1997 by Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.