Tag Archives: Champ Car

compare and contrast…

Still feeling kind of empty and unmotivated following that abysmal display on the Saturday…

So it’s into the mailbag to answer a question… (ooh, how Robin Miller/Curt Cavin of me…)

Just prior to the weekend I got an email asking me why I don’t like ovals, or I guess, more specifically why I prefer street/roadies over the roundy rounds. And what tracks are my favorites.

Well after this weekend I guess the short answer could be “that’s why” πŸ˜‰

but seriously…

It’s not that I don’t like ovals… it’s more that I prefer street/road courses.

Now of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t disclose or admit that there are/were some pretty shitty street/road courses out there too. Likewise, there are some ovals that are better than others.

I guess in terms of IndyCar, the flaws with the current formula are just that much more pronounced on the ovals.

Outdated, ugly, cars, that are in some cases undriveable, especially for the smaller, underfunded or newer teams, who, knowing that the formula is on the precipice of change, realize it would be like setting fire to money to do any worthwhile R&D at this point.

I don’t like how ovals are less about drivers driving skill than about the drivers surviving skill. You hear that all the time. “I was holding on for dear life” “I had no control”
Also it’s about windtunnels and technology, and drafting rather than actually racing.

I also truthfully feel that you don’t get a true sense of the oval experience watching them on tv. I find them mindnumbingly boring. Yet when I was in Vegas a few years back for the oval race (Champ Car), I could barely breathe or take my eyes off the track and the cars. It was a cross between exhilarating and terrifying. Only two races gave me that feeling last season. The Lights race in Kentucky I think (fucking insane racing by those kids) and the season finale in Chicago.

I guess as well that because my home race is a street course I am more partial to them. Also the bulk of my “in person” race experiences are street/road courses during the Champ Car years.

I like that on street/road courses (most of them) the drivers get to actually drive! They get to stretch their mad driving skills, and maneuver, left and right…

I also experienced the new DP01 during the final Champ Car season, which actually allowed for closer racing and actual passing on street/road courses, so the racing was actually pretty damn good as the series gasped it’s last breath… 😦

My preferred track would be neither a street or a road course, but rather one of the airport courses like Cleveland or Edmonton. It’s like the best of both worlds. Cleveland never disappointed! I can’t believe the brain trust is thinking of fucking with it if/when they bring it back.

Probably the most amazing track was the downtown temp street course in Vegas designed by the brilliant Chris Kniefel. That track had elements of all the genres of tracks. Long front straight, sweeping oval like turns, twisting and turning sections and elevation changes… Fuck it was awesome!! The drivers loved it. The fans loved it. It was gorgeous on TV, amazing in person. So sad that it ended up being a one off. After that race, I wished that “The Knife” would visit and revamp all of the street coures on the circuit.

I also loved Denver once they worked the bugs out and the drivers learned the nuances of the course and drove the shit out of it.

So there ya have it. I guess when it comes down to it, I have a love/hate relationship with all of the tracks on the circuit.

I also think the schedule is lending itself to setting up a hate hate relationship for many because of the clumps of genres together. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m ovaled out right now. After that yawn inducing display the other night, the thought of two more in a row is making me wish for time travel.

What say you my peeps? Weigh in, lets gets some chatter going..

Red gloves still rule…

At just 24, Greg Moore was a shining star, both on and off the track. Extremely gifted, mature beyond his years, and well liked and respected by everyone in the paddock… the surface had barely been scratched on his potential.

Just weeks before his tragic death, he had announced that he had signed with Penske Racing for the following season. One can only wistfully imagine what he would have accomplished in the years ahead…

In this day and age where drivers & teams make headlines for cheating, and petulant tantrums, and litigation, and mug shots, it makes looking back on what happened and what might have been an even more bitter pill to swallow.

Always composed, always gracious, always smiling.
Gone in an instant. Remembered forever.

Greg Moore: A Racer’s Story Part 1

Greg Moore: A Racer’s Story Part 2

Greg Moore: A Racer’s Story Part 3

Greg Moore: A Racer’s Story Part 4

Greg Moore: A Racer’s Story Part 5

Greg Moore: A Racer’s Story Part 6

The heartbreaking crash and live broadcast announcement

ESPN tribute on the day of the accident

Awesome tribute with tons of race footage

a different perspective…

It’s the middle of the night in Australia… and I’m impatiently waiting for some on track action… and I’m bored… so I’m blogging. Sue me. Oh and a shout out to the folks at Penskeracing Forum and Dooberville Forum. (what the hell is a doober anyway??)

Anyhoo…
So, many of you, like myself, probably watched the 2002 Surfers Paradise race this week, reminded of that terrifying crash at the beginning of the race.

I saw it unfold live. I watched it over and over again in clips for weeks following. It still gives me chills.
We were very lucky that day.

Today I was sent this link of the crash from a different angle. Holy fuck. Seriously. The overhead and onboard cameras did not convey just how insane that crash was.

Now I’m not one to post crash footage. But no one was seriously injured (thankfully) and it’s really incredible to see it from the perspective of the fans in the grandstand.

Here’s the footage we’ve all seen (no audio on this)

Now here is the new footage.

Un.be.lievable. You never saw from the original footage just how airborne Tags got or the barrel rolls. No wonder it took him a little longer to unstrap from his car.

I’ll say it again. We were so lucky that day.

Here’s hoping for a safe and sunny race this weekend.

And then there was…

Paul.

Ya, I saved all the PT stuff for it’s own post. (if you don’t like the man, trust me, just skip this entry)

It doesn’t take a mind reader to figure out that my race weekend revolves around Paul Tracy. I get all of my other work done before/between/after sessions, but if Paul is on track, I’m in his pit box. Period. I still take notes on the other drivers and on track incidents, but my allegiance is to my hometown boy. For that I make no apologies. Never have. Never will. This weekend it was even more important to me to be there for everything. This, for all we knew, was it, so I wanted to be there for every moment. And so I was. I was there when the car fired up for the first time on Friday morning and peeled out along pit row. And I was there on Sunday when it fell silent for the last time.

Seeing him in his nomex when I arrived in the paddock early on Friday morning, I breathed a sigh of relief. But damn my guy looked tired. You could just tell that he had the weight of the world on his shoulders and this situation he had found himself in post unification had aged him at least 15yrs. (the scruffy salt and pepper beard wasn’t helping either!)

Adding insult to injury, he was in the absolute last pit stall. (it was odd enough to find Forsythe at that end, but dang, this was just silly) Clearly he was odd man out on the Forsythe pecking order, their new golden boy Montagny getting the preferential treatment. (key crew, key pit order, key practice/track time) You could feel it. It was palpable. They were backing the French horse that weekend, and putting the Canadian horse out to pasture. Poor David fell somewhere in the middle. Even Paul’s crew was a mish-mash of people, some of whom he had never worked with. It felt to me like his presence was being treated as an afterthought. Hell, they sat him in his car (with no wheels) for 35mins of the first practice. Fuck off! Let the man out on track!

There was an eerie sense of loss and emptiness for the weekend. His support system seemed… sparse somehow. On Friday it was mainly Allen and myself, and a handful of passersby heading to towards the more populated part of the pitlane. Friday was not a good day. Paul was putting so much pressure on himself to do well that he made a critical mistake on the last lap. I’ve never seen him as gutted as he was that afternoon. Back at the motorhome after the first qualifying session, he looked at Nick and I and just said ‘I blew it’, with an expression that broke my heart. If I could have turned back time to that final lap to give him another shot I would have.

Saturday, however, Patty (wife) arrived, CJ (son) was allowed in, a few other former Forsythe folks gathered and TommyK showed up to support his pal! (still no Viv however, which made me sad) (trust me, hanging in the pits with Vivian Tracy (mom) is often more entertaining than the race itself)

Saturday was much better for our boy. There was an energy in the pits that had been missing. So many people willing him to just do well. He got out of the car feeling really good about the session and about the race. I felt privileged to be standing there, part of his inner sanctum. Funnily enough he and I rarely speak. I don’t like to get in his space on race weekend. But that day we exchanged some conversation. It was nice. (TommyK and I yakked for about an hour afterwards. I don’t think there are enough words to describe how awesome he is. Truly. It was one of those conversations that I will cherish but never share)

Sunday. Race day. I snapped picture after picture. I documented everything. Staying on the grid until the very last moment, then hopping the wall just before the engines fired up and he peeled out. Our boy couldn’t buy a fucking break that weekend. That tire was destroyed! I was actually surprised that his rear suspension was intact when he pulled into the pits. I thought for sure his day was done. It wasn’t done, but it certainly wasn’t going to be easy. The pit to replace the missing CV clip felt agonizingly long. A podium finish became an insurmountable mountain to climb, but he kept at it. Considering the start of his race, finishing 11th was pretty damn good.

As the clock ticked down to zero, and the checkers waved, everything went… numb. Paul pulled into the pits, started to get out of the car, then paused a moment, sitting with his back to us. I bit my lip to stop myself from crying and continued to take pictures. He quickly thanked his own crew then ran over to the Victory circle to congratulate Franck. Then he ran back over to the other Forsythe pit boxes and shook everyone’s hand and congratulated all of them. Pure class. That’s when my tears started to fall. The unfairness of the situation was almost too much to bear. I don’t care how “old” he is, or whether or not he is on the downside of his career, he deserved… deserves better. I wasn’t sad that this was potentially the end of his open wheel career, I was sad that it wasn’t his choice. He, at the very least, had earned that right. Ironically his wife ended up being the one to console me! LOL! (ya, I felt like a goof at that point) Her thoughts? She’s looking forward to having him at home of course! (in her shoes, I’m sure I’d feel the same way) I guess I’ve always felt like a protective older sister where Paul is concerned. Achingly proud, oft disappointed, sometimes embarrassed, defiantly protective.

Paul will be driving again at some point this year, this I know. Just what he’ll be driving remains to be seen at this juncture. There are many pokers in the fire. (heck he was in meetings immediately following the race) I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that whatever it is, it brings him much happiness and possibly another kick at the open-wheel can. You can also put money down that whatever he’s driving and wherever he races, I will be there in his pits, silently willing him to do well.

coming up for air…

This will be more of a personal brain purge. Apparently the final Champ Car race affected me on a much deeper level than I thought it would. I’ve barely been able hold a conversation since I got back. Only today did I peruse my favorite blogs and peek in on some forums. So, I’m going to just clear my head of the post race fog that I’ve been floating in since my plane landed on Tuesday.

Funnily enough, I was one of the one’s that jumped on the unification bandwagon almost immediately, willing to give it a fair shot. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still moving forward. I just didn’t realize how painful that would actually be post Champ Car’s demise. Going to Long Beach was like ripping off the band-aid. See, I’ve always been a let the band-aid fall off on it’s own kinda gal, so this was quite the step.

I don’t regret going, especially after seeing the bullshit broadcast TSN tried to pass off as a race. (unfuckingbelievable, seriously) Truthfully, I probably worked harder at this race than any other. (doing triple duty as managing editor, writer and PR rep stand in for a driver) Maybe that’s why it’s hitting me now, post race weekend. I just didn’t have enough time to really find the closure there.

There was such a weird undertone of emotions. I spoke with many of my friends on crews and employed throughout the series. Most weren’t as angry anymore, rather more disappointed and resigned to the reality of the situation. Understanding the why but not approving the how. Basically how we are all feeling. The hardest thing to come to grips with was that those amazing smiling faces I’ve become accustomed to seeing as part of my race weekend would no longer be there after Sunday. I just wanted to scoop them all up and take them with me.

And lets not forget the walking protest billboards. So many people spending so much of their time being angry. I didn’t want to waste a precious moment of that weekend on anger. I just wanted to celebrate all that we had with my friends. My racing family. It was really lovely getting the opportunity to chat with the crew members and drivers and staff at the farewell party on Sunday night. It was however strange separating the folks I would see at the next race from the ones I would likely never see again. Such a kick in the gut to get those last hugs.

Sunday morning I had the displeasure of overhearing a conversation between the IndyCar rep and the LBGP organizers. Seems they were flying Danica in for the race (duh… saw that coming a mile away) and had decided they were going to put her on the podium in our Victory Circle. I can’t even describe the rage that bubbled up from inside. This was OUR event. OUR farewell. She had NOTHING to do with this event. NOTHING. Face it, we are going to have Danica shoved down our throats all fucking year, we know that, we’ve accepted that. But to put her on OUR podium, taking that moment away from our drivers at our last event… no. fucking. way. Luckily Chris Esslinger felt the same way, and went about making several calls to prevent that from happening. The compromise was of course not much better, having her in the booth and taking away from the final moments of the race, but at least Will, Franck and Mario got to enjoy their podium on their own.

Sunday, in general, was heartbreaking. I walked to the track alone that morning, choking back the tears as I walked through the gates. I knew this day would be a tough one, but I didn’t realize just how tough until about an hour later. There was a moment of acknowledgment in the photographers meeting for Billy Kamphausen, one of the pillars of the CCWS, and yet one of the first to be tossed aside, that brought the emotions right to the surface. Then I overheard the Danica conversation… well, you know how everyone has a breaking point? Apparently that was mine. I headed back to my spot in the media room, and in the middle of handing out assignments to my photographers, just burst into tears. (what would Olsen say about crying in the press room???) It really was quite comical, thinking back on it, to watch their reactions! They immediately scattered with the most hysterical expressions on their face. If they had thought bubbles they would have read “OMG! Meesh is leaking! what do we do??”.

Look. I’m a broad. A large, loud, smack-talking broad. One of those “one of the guys” gals. So for me to lose it like that is very very out of character. It was a brief moment of release and it was over as quickly as it started. I basically told myself to “suck it up buttercup” and went about my business for the day. There was much to be done, and not a lot of time to do it in.

As with every race weekend, race day went by in a flurry of activity. A lot of running from grid to paddock to media centre, and back again, several times over. I was able to lose myself in the on track activity for the most part (that is, after all, why were are there in the first place) then spent the last few hours at the track running from hauler to hauler to say goodbye. Again, something I do every race weekend, but never with such a sense of finality.

This was a wake of sorts. A four day, post-mortem, celebration of the deceased.
Everyone was walking around almost in a state of shock. Like one does when you find out you’ve lost a loved one. As in that scenario, we will all move on. It will be hard at first, but eventually we may even find a new love. Even so, we will always hold a special place in our heart for our Champ Car years, and the memories and friends acquired along the way.