Surfers revisited: 1996 & 2002…

So I watched the 1996 race on Saturday Afternoon… (taking full advantage of the 7 days of Paradise promotion on IndyCar.com) and all I have to say is this. Wow. Just wow.

I’ve never been one to watch races I’ve already seen, but being desperate for some racing and feeling rather nostalgic for the good old days in the face of all the change we have been forced to swallow this year, this has been a real treat and a fun stroll down memory lane.

1996 Surfers Race

Firstly it’s at the beginning of the season, not the end, so listening to the commentary of what might happen that season as opposed to what did happen was pretty cool.

The driver pic of Tracy they keep showing is cracking me up. (he was such a nerd!) DeFerran, Fernandez, Emo, all look pretty much identical to what they do now, just less gray hair!

The cone in Vasser’s roll bar… hilarious.

The on track push start by Rahal on Gordon, hysterical! Certainly more of a sense of camaraderie on track between the competitors. Or at least I perceived it that way. Funny, I have a beautiful framed, autographed pic of Gordon from 1996 in Long Beach on my wall. Love that livery.

Hey! It’s Jack Aroooooote before he looked like a leathery porn star! (seriously dude… ween yourself off the tanning!)

To hear “and Paul Tracy just got around Zanardi for 3rd spot behind Pruett, with Vasser still leading…” well, that just brought out the heavy sigh…

then the names on the scroll of those no longer with us: Moore, Krosnoff…
*heavier sadder sigh*

It stopped playing about 40 mins in again. FUCK!
I wonder if anyone else is experiencing the technical glitches?

2002 Surfers Race
It was supposed to be available on Sunday, but wasn’t uploaded until today. Since I am still unemployed currently, I’m watching it while surfing the want ads.

Ugh…. I remember exactly where I was watching that race. I was doing a gig, and the bartender put the race on the tv for me so I could watch between sets. We went on break just before the start and I bounded up to the bar to settle in to watch. As soon as I saw the conditions, I got a bad feeling in my gut and said to the bartender “I don’t have a good feeling about this” Seconds later massive chaos. I had to go back on stage still not knowing the fate of Takagi. I don’t know how I got through that set with the lump in my throat, and shaking as much as I was. (total adrenaline overload)

Watching it today, it’s still terrifying, and reminds me why I get nervous during rain races.

It’s wild to watch the drivers bounding down the track to help each other. Patreek was the first driver out of his car and running to Jimmy’s aid. In fact it was mostly drivers and pit crew members that got Jimmy out. And I still get chills when I see Jimmy’s dad throw his hands in the air in pure joy when he saw his son was ok and pulled from the car by his fellow competitors.

The looks on the faces of the drivers involved during their interviews, wide eyed disbelief.
They never should have started that race. We were very lucky that day.

Other observations:

Look how young they all are! They look positively cherubic. Cristiano looks about 14.

The brilliant broadcast team: These were the champagne days of coverage. SPEED broadcasts of qualies and race. (with repeats) Cart Friday Night magazine show. Varsha, Kendall (who looks like a baby too!) & Pruett in the booth! Daly & Fish in the pits. Oh how lucky we were.

The commentary, the pertinent questions asked on pitlane, the wealth of knowledge between the five of them. Unbelievable. I wonder if we will ever enjoy a broadcast team like that again in this lifetime.

Wow… it’s like a “where’s waldo” of my racing buds on camera. All the crew members, and CART staff. Kneifel, Kamphausen, even my friend Tom from Cosworth got some serious face time.

Gosh, little did we know how much would change months from then.
I remember at this point we were aware that Whindretti was leaving. (leading to many conspiracy theories as to the hows and whys of Dominguez winning that race over Michael) It was still only speculation at this point as to what was happening with DaMatta (heading to F1) It was being whispered that Bruno was heading to Newman-Haas. Little did we know that there would be a mass defection just prior to the 03 season.

Servia’s Car-B-Que. Wild. “find a place to pull over” LOL! How bout, “get the fuck out of the car now!!”

The booth became statisticians/mathematicians/comedians trying to determine how and when this race would be decided. Pretty funny looking back on it now and listening to the commentary. Talk about pressure to fill the broadcast time while the entire race is run in zero visibility behind the pace car. And yet, it was leaps and bounds more interesting than some of the broadcasts this summer… (at least commentary wise… just sayin is all…)

Again, despite the lack of actual racing, fuck those cars are gorgeous. Low and mean and fast, with some of the best liveries and look at all of those sponsors!

TK’s commentary was always the best! God I miss him in the booth. He just laid it out there, no edit button. He was the voice of the fan, saying what we were often thinking.

The smirk on CK’s face discussing the potential fate of Whinedretti was priceless. (God this is funny to watch knowing the political aftermath of that season)

the magic “41”, whether permitting… *snicker* (it was later determined that they wanted everyone to have made 2 pit stops, not just an arbitrary #pulled out of the sky)

“Keith would you rather be lucky or good?” LOL… nice question DD.

“fitting end to the weirdest race I’ve ever seen” TK. Amen to that.

sidenote: the player cut out again with about 10mins to go, luckily it had fully loaded however, so I was able to resume it and finish watching. So far, ironically, this has been the first race I’ve been able to watch from start to finish during this promotion. (and the best feed… LOL!)

Here’s hoping that Mother nature will be kind this weekend, especially since this may be the last. I guess tomorrow we get to watch 2003. I believe that was the hail as big as baseball’s year. Seriously freakish stuff!

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5 responses to “Surfers revisited: 1996 & 2002…

  1. Yeah, it stops on me, too. I was able to download it, though.

  2. I totally forgot about how vicious that accident was. Yikes. o_O

    As far as the commentary (and production value), I shudder to think how bored/disgruntled I would have been. It takes a lot for a televised race to bore me and this came close to doing it.

    While I’m not going to go on about the current IndyCars, I do miss those Champ Cars. For some reason, I wasn’t a big fan of the revised Lola radiator intake but that was a small complaint.

  3. I just watched as much of the ’94 race as they’d give me…it stopped suddenly, went black, then popped up a still photo of the top three. Kinda weird…BUT, the whole reason I came here to say anything at all was just the great local broadcast they used, with major segments without anyone yapping, while they were apparently at break or something. When PT (in the third Penske, how’s that for going back a ways?) got refired…the audio of him accelerating up through the gears, away from the camera as he exited some of the turns, hustling the car to get back to the pits, was like listening to a SWEET favorite song I hadn’t heard in such a long time. Sad to think I may never hear that particular sound again…but gotta love it while we have the chance to hear it and see it again.

  4. That’s like when you watch the internet feed (or the old international feed w/CC) When they go to commerical, they stop the chatter, so you are just left with the racing and your thoughts. And yes, that was a sweet moment.

    It’s been pretty funny watching all these old races. Poor Paul. He really was quite the spinny spaz on track! LOL!

    it’s been bittersweet looking back. (as it is in all aspects of life) but I appreciate IndyCar giving us the opportunity to do so.

  5. I’d love for this to be a feature for next season where they show old races in the lead up to an event. For Long Beach and Toronto, they could do something similar with old Champ Car races while they could mix it for events that sanctioned both series like Motegi, Belle Isle and Milwaukee.

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