2007 ChampCar Commentaries.........

All about the Champ Car World Series (CCWS)

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2007 ChampCar Commentaries.........

Post by mlittle » Wed Mar 07, 2007 11:06 am

Winter of Confusion.........................

As the rock band Genesis aptly put it, its' been a "Land of Confusion" for the Champ Car World Series this off-season. What was supposed to have been a splendid off-season for the series has instead generated more questions than answers. With about 4 weeks or so before they light the engines in anger in Vegas, there is just one new team(Pacific Coast Mtrspts.), one new team sponsor(Gehl), no title sponsors for the much ballyhooed Vegas and Phoenix GP's, and just seven confirmed drivers at the moment. For the mathematically challenged on the last point, that's 11(eleven) drivers short of the 18 drivers expected next month....instead of the 22-24 drivers officials touted at the end of the 2006 season. Throw in the lack of series sponsors and it would look as though ChampCar is headed towards a cliff...... :shock: :shock:

To the contrary, says series co-owner and PKV Racing co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven. While he readily concedes that (in his words), "Champ Car probably got the PR side a little bit wrong in the off-season", he also points out that there are going to be several major announcements regarding drivers, teams and sponsors at the upcoming "Spring Training" open test at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this week. Or, as he put it:
In the last 12 months we've taken huge, huge steps forward, and the fact that we have not been going out and crowing about them was part of the plan. We had always planned to make a number of major announcements at Monterey; significant sponsorships have come in, and the series will continue to develop. I think you'll find there are a number of fully funded teams and it's going to be one hell of a season.
On a couple of counts, KK could be dead-solid-perfect. Major strides were made in the development of both the Panoz DP01 and XFE-3 Cosworth engine; the 2007 season appears to be lightyears ahead of past scheduled(with the exception of not having any ovals on the schedule...... :evil: :evil: ) and ChampCar has appeared to have made a major effort to rebuild its' television broadcasts by returning to ESPN and ABC for 2007 and beyond. It would appear that there is a lot of potential promise in the air for 2007.........

Therein lies the rub.......potential and promise. While no one can deny that the series has made some major(okay, HUGE!) strides in the off-season, there are still some potential monkey-wrenches to overcome. First off, there is the Panoz DP01 racecar. Although its' been tested....and tested....and tested, its' still a new car. As we saw last year at Long Beach, one multicar crash can ruin a potentially great race(and who wants to see 14 cars running at Vegas, Phoenix, Assen or Zhuhai, hmm?). There's also the funding question. KK has made it clear that the days of subsidizing teams are over, meaning that the teams have to run on their own monies. As expected, chances are that some(I'm guessing about half the grid) of the drivers for 2007 will be "ride-buyers" who'll bring money to the table. Although I am no fan of ride-buyers, there is a silver lining to this........if teams are able to find sponsors for, say, 2008, it could mean that teams could finally begin looking for drivers based on something that's been somewhat missing at times........TALENT. :shock2: :shock2:

Now, don't get me wrong.....the jury is still out on how 2007 will turn out; however, we will, hopefully, get a better picture of the year this time next week following Spring Training. One can only hope and wonder.
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Post by Julian Mayo » Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:14 pm

Whats the minimum they will accept for me to get a drive? 8)

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Post by cmlean » Thu Mar 08, 2007 10:19 am

Therapy would get you a drive for at least one race. :lol:

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Post by Julian Mayo » Thu Mar 08, 2007 3:45 pm

cmlean wrote:Therapy would get you a drive for at least one race. :lol:
I will stick with Therapy...she turns left And right :lol:

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Post by mlittle » Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:48 pm

Julian Mayo wrote:
cmlean wrote:Therapy would get you a drive for at least one race. :lol:
I will stick with Therapy...she turns left And right :lol:
And thanks to the geniuses in the ChampCar office(........ :evil: :evil: .............), there are no ovals on the schedule to challenge the drivers. :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
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Post by Julian Mayo » Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:56 pm

mlittle wrote:
Julian Mayo wrote:
cmlean wrote:Therapy would get you a drive for at least one race. :lol:
I will stick with Therapy...she turns left And right :lol:
And thanks to the geniuses in the ChampCar office(........ :evil: :evil: .............), there are no ovals on the schedule to challenge the drivers. :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
KK promises to never go talk to penguins for two weeks during the off-season, in the Antarctic, ever again :shock:

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British Columbia honors fallen driver..........

Post by mlittle » Sun Mar 25, 2007 2:23 pm

When it was on the Champ Car schedule, Vancouver had plenty to offer its' fans.........add one more to the list, as earlier this week, the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame dedicated a permanent exhibit to late Champ Car driver Greg Moore. Located in B.C. Place Stadium, near the former racecircuit, the 800+ sq. ft. Greg Moore Wing features photographs, video footage and lots of racing memorabilia, from posters to helmets and all of Moore's trophies. There's even a few eclectic items of note, such as the gold-painted Radio Flyer Moore first raced in, Moore's first kart, a Fender guitar autographed by the rock band Metallica and the Player's/Forsythe car Moore drove to victory in at Milwaukee back in 1997. There was a somber item of interest, as well; next to the car was the racesuit and helmet Moore would've worn had he lived to race for Marlboro-Team Penske in 2000(Moore was killed in a crash 10 laps into the Marlboro 500 at California Speedway back in 1999; Moore's loos deeply stung the NA motorsports community and still does to this day. :cry: )

Attending the dedication on Monday were several of his former rivals and teammates, including his teammate on that fateful October 1999 day, Patrick Carpentier.......
I learned lots of stuff from him; Greg taught me how to get around Mid-Ohio where I won my first race in Champ Car. He was fast--very, very fast. On ovals, Greg could run very close to the wall in the marbles and for the rest of us, it was impossible. Sometimes I think about him and where he would be today, and I think he would have had amazing success. He was a great racer and a great personality.
Another driver with fond memories of the Maple Ridge, B.C. native is IndyCar Series driver Dario Franchitti, who spoke about how humbled Moore would be at the wing's dediciation........
I think he would be humbled by it--I don't think he realized how highly people thought of him and after he was killed, I think he would have been shocked by the outpouring of emotion around the world. Sometimes I'm sitting around with Tony (Kanaan) and Max (Papis) and with some of (my teammates) such as Marco (Andretti) and Danica (Patrick) and we tell them that if Greg were here driving with Penske, there would be days we shouldn't even show up.
Regardless of the challenge Moore would bring to the track, there's zero doubt in the mind of current Forsythe racer Paul Tracy's mind that he'd rather be fighting his old foe on the track than having to visit a memorial to see him.......
It's a shame that he's not here with us. But anytime you can commemorate someone for what they've done in racing is great. You know, for his fans and younger fans who never got a chance to watch Greg race can now learn about him and see a part of our history.
For everyone present, the memorial brought back memories, both happy and sad. One such recollection from the Scotsman, who recalled seeing Moore for the first time at Homestead in 1996 with Mereceds Motorsports boss Norbert Haug while Franchitti was then competing in the FIA Touring Car Championship in Europe w/Mercedes-Benz...........
I said to Norbert: "Who's this kid driving up against the wall in the marbles blasting by everyone sideways?" And then after the race this guy got out the car wearing these round little glasses and that was Greg Moore. From that day on, he showed the world what he could do.
There are times, since that fateful day at Fontana that I sometimes wonder what Greg Moore could've done......could he have won the Indianapolis 500? Could he have given the Captain, Roger Penske, CART and IndyCar titles? Who knows........one thing is certain, though; I'm willing to bet that, somewhere amongst the clouds, immortals like Ayrton Senna, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and Greg Moore are trading paint, wheels and rubber, watching over us mere mortals while we wonder what could've been.........we still miss you, Greg, and as he would always say before a race..............See you at the front!
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The Sunshine Boys............

Post by mlittle » Thu Jun 14, 2007 9:08 am

The Sunshine Boys...........one's a 77yo who chomps cigars and gets a little shaky at times; the other's an 82yo who recently retired as one of America's great actors. Neither of them can hear the other worth a d--- and they can speak so, so, so softly that you have to occasionally strain to hear them. Yet since 1983, Carl Haas and Paul Newman(a/k/a the Sunshine Boys..... :lol: :lol: ) have run one of the greatest teams IMO in all of AOWR(with the exception of the Captain's team, though..... :shock: :shock: ) To look at them you'd wonder, how in the h--- do they get along.........a Midwestern conservative who raced early on in life, then moved into the autoparts business; the other a Connecticut Yankee liberal who got into racing to get away from his day job. :shock: :shock: :shock:

Of course, to ask them, they still wonder how they've lasted..............
Paul Newman:
I never thought we'd be together this long; hell, I never thought we'd be around this long.
:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock2: :shock2: :shock2: :shock2:
Carl Haas:
Paul and I have a lot of good memories.
One more memory was added Sunday in Portland when driver Sebastien Bourdais won the Mazda Grand Prix of Portland, giving the team(now known as Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing) its' 100th victory dating back to Mario Andretti's win at Road America in 1983. In that course of a qtr.-century, the team's had some of the best drivers in the sport, from Mario Andretti, to Mario's son Michael, to Nigel Mansell, to Cristiano da Matta and now Bourdais. But where does their success come from. one might ask?

Well, IMHO, it's not neccessarily the drivers(though they help, of course.... :wink: ), it's two simple things............1--that, unlike most everyone else, they're based not in AOWR's "mecca" of Indianapolis but in the Chicago suburbs of Lincolnshire, Ill., and 2--the fact that they've had(and still have) some of the best individuals in the sport. Whether its' been Tony Cicale, Peter Gibbons or Craig Hampson as engineers, Jim McGee or Brian Lisles as managers or sponsor gurus such as Ralph Hansen, who pulled off the biggest steal in racing IMO by convincing 1992 F1 world champion Nigel Mansell to leave the glitz n' glamour(... :wink: :wink: ......) of Formula 1 for the sometimes rough-hewn world of CART, the biggest secret to NHLR's success has been hiring and keeping crews staffs for years. For instance, some of their pitcrew personnel(Kenny Siwieck, Colin Duff, Davey Evans, Trevor Weston, Tim Coffeen and Donnie Hoevel) began their careers turning wreches for the elder Andretti in the mid-1980's........there's also the enthusiasm that they exhibit, especially Newman, who goes to every ChampCar test as if it were the biggest thing in the world and who uses his philanthropy to help care for sick and terminally ill children through his Hole in the Wall Gang Camps and by supporting other worthy ventures such as the Victory Junction Gang Camps across North America.

In the end, though, it is the drivers who's work is the key............and they've had some of the best in the world whose accomplishments speak for themselves, as Haas will readily admit,
I can't rate them because we've had so many drivers. Mario and Michael are obviously two of the best and getting Mansell over here was the best thing we ever did. Nigel could be a pain in the butt but he really helped establish our series overseas. And I rate Sebastien highly also. (Although) the competition isn't as deep now as in the past, he'd be right up with the best of them.
Of course, it also helps to have drivers waiting in the wings.......if, as everyone assumes, Bourdais flies the NA motorsports coup and travels to the world of Formula 1, NHLR already has a good, young driver in rookie Graham Rahal ready to take the reins.......and freeing up one of the primo seats in NA motorsports for whoever's lucky enough to become part of their team.

Watching teams like NHLR, as good as they are right now, ironically reminds you of how much the CART-IRL split back in 1996 has hurt the sport.....can you imagine what a unified sport would look like, with teams such as their fighting other top teams like Forsythe, Andretti-Green, Rahal-Letterman and of course, Team Penske? :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
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Sad Times for Portland...............

Post by mlittle » Thu Jun 21, 2007 1:30 pm

When the official attendance figures were released for the recent ChampCar race at Portland, my first reaction(besides throwing my laptop into the Catawba River....... :shock: :shock: :shock: ) was along the :wtf: are they kidding? variety(as in who the ---- rather than what the ----?[apologies for the language..... :oops: ] Friday's attendance was spotty at best; Saturday's was apathetic(it didn't help that it was raining.....) and there was plenty of visible aluminum grandstands vicible on Sunday. With that and the fact that this was the final year of a three-year contract with Portland-based Global Events Group("promoters" for this event.............yeah, right! :evil: ) and chances are when this time in 2008 rolls around, Portland won't be around. :( :shock: :shock:

Why, you ask? Well, the usual suspects come to mind...........
--the continuing split btwn. the IRL and ChampCar that has fans confused(as in, hey where's this year's Indy 500 winner........? :shock: :shock: )
--the fact that event promoters this year ran the event the same weekend as Portland's annual Rose Festival
--the lack of a series sponsor for ChampCar or manufacturers willing to promote the series nationally
--a collection of drivers that, other than Sebastien Bourdais or Paul Tracy, no one's heard of(who's Neel Jani?....) :shock: :shock: :shock:
--specator amenities that continue to set a standard for patheticness(which could explain the sparse crowds over the weekend)

And it's not just ChampCar that either is growing or has grown tired of Portland; PIR used to be a stop on the IMSA championship trail, and neither the American LeMans Series nor the Grand-Am Rolex Series wants to come to PIR. It would not be a surprise to this commentator that ChampCar won't in all likelihood return to the Pacific Northwest. On the other hand, the above wouldn't seem to make sense; after all, ChampCar essentially enjoys a monopoly on the Pacific Northwest(NASCAR's tried and failed to build a speedway w/ISC in the Seattle-area; the IRL's only western stop is in Sonoma, and neither ALMS or Grand-Am visit the area) which they should try to exploit w/or without a merger with the IRL.

So it comes down to a simple question.........should they try to make a quick buck and ditch Portland, or should they plow hard-earned money into revitalizing a once-great venue into what could be a keystone event on the ChampCar circuit?

My guess...........if the Three Wise Men are smart, they'll do the latter.....then again, their batting record hasn't been that good of late, has it?

That's my say................what's yours?
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Why we need tracks like Mt. Tremblant and Road America......

Post by mlittle » Sat Aug 04, 2007 5:29 am

Ever find yourself feeling cold and detached everytime you watch a race on one of those Hermann Tilke-designed courses.........tracks so d----- antiseptic you could use them as hospital operating rooms? Well, there's at least one ChampCar driver who agrees with yours truly on that--RSports driver Justin Wilson. If you think about it, Wilson's a throwback to the sport's golden era--soft-spoken and sparing with words, Wilson's one of the bravest drivers on the ChampCar circuit who never complains or whines about racing's ups and downs; he just goes out there and gets the job done, week in and week out. One topic, though, that gets him started is that of racetracks that have been, to quote the lanky Brit, "sanitized". (Mod's note..........when he said that at Houston earlier this year, I replied, "more like 'castrated'..... :lol: :lol: :lol: :shock: :shock: )

One of the better benefits of traveling to ChampCar and IndyCar Series races during the year is getting the rare occasion to talk(YES, TALK!!) to the drivers, engineers and crews on their 'down-time' during race weekends, like at San Jose this past weekend. Normally quite and reserved, Wilson became animated with excitement when the conversation turned to tracks like Mt. Tremblant, which the series visited a few weeks ago........"It's a fantastic circuit, very quick and flowing with a lot of elevation changes. Inside the car, it's like a roller-coaster; it's cool. I enjoyed the track; it's a good challenge and lots of fun." When I mentioned to him the fact that some of the drivers, most notably series champion Sebastien Bourdais, complained about the lack of runoff there at some of the faster sections and so forth, Wilson just scoffed at the concerns. "It bothered me a little when I first went there for the test (in June). But when we went back (to mt. Tremblant) for the race someone pointed out that it's not much different than Road America." And as the astute Brit pointed out, "there's actually more runoff at Mt. Tremblant than at Road America. It gets your attention at first, but that seems to be the way most of the road courses over here are like." Wilson brought up an excellent point in the conversation, as I've heard many of the sport's European drivers complain and nag about the tracks in Europe being eviscerated to meet safety standards, only to remark at the safety features that have been built into many of America's great road courses(which, I'd point out to them, have been built into the tracks at the time they were built).

Indeed, Wilson pointed out that back in Europe, many of the tracks have gone over-the-top with safety features, adding expansive(or he put it, excessive) amounts of run-off and gravel areas to the circuits, as well as paving over certain areas at various tracks throughout Europe that, while making the tracks safer, "ruined" some of the racing. Case in point, Magny-Cours, which Wilson visited during his time in F3000......"I remember the first time I went to Magny-Cours in Formula 3000. It was a challenging track because it had some quick chicanes and if you dropped a wheel off wrong you were going to have a big moment or you were going to hit the wall. However you went through there, it was tough to get it sorted through and get on the brakes for the hairpin." When F3000 returned the next year, the chicane's runoff areas had been paved over....."So you went through the chicane five miles faster than before; everyone could get through just as fast because you could run wide there and you weren't worried about making a mistake there. To me, that took the life out of that circuit. Suddenly, everyone was committed at the same level.", quickly adding, "Obviously, we don't want to see drivers getting hurt, but at the same time you want to see the difference between the drivers out there going for it and those just driving around."

In a sense, Wilson hit the proverbial nail on the head when it comes to things like driver safety. For the past 30-40 years, most every major racing series, whether it was Can-Am, Formula 1, USAC, CART, ALMS, IMSA, etc., has had to balance the equation of safety vs. speed--whether its' better to slow the cars by restricting performance or by designing/redesigning tracks to slow the cars down. In NA motorsports, both the American LeMans Series and the Indy Racing League are currently working on future car/chassis/engineering specs and there are legitimate concerns as to whether, in making things safer, the sport's starting to become sanitized and "safe".

Now, before the spears start to fly, don't get me wrong; safety should always be paramount and series officials, regardless of series, should NEVER compromise on that, ever. But....as Wilson IMHO rightly points out, tracks like Mt. Tremblant should remind drivers and fans of the dangers inherent in the sport, that drivers need to be on the razor's edge every moment without going over said edge....and that the racetracks drivers compete on should reflect that attitude. Look at tracks like Road America; a track such as that would NEVER get built in Europe nowadays because people would lament about the seeming lack of runoff, for instance, as you head down the Kink towards Canada Corner. It is challenging, then, for series officials trying to walk that tightrope between speed and safety, but if it is done right, as ChampCar seems to have figured out, the drivers will be able to go all-out every lap and the fans will get to see the cars stretch their proverbial legs. That's all anyone who follows the sport should have to ask, that they find the balance.
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Open Wheel Musings................

Post by mlittle » Fri Aug 10, 2007 12:14 pm

Time to open up the ole' ChampCar notebook and answer some of the musing questions.............. :lol: :lol: :lol: :shock: :shock: :shock:

~~How do you see the driver lineup shaking out in 2008?
--About the way 2007 shook out......if I had to take an educated, no-BS guess, though........since it's all but announced that Sebastien Bourdais is F1-bound, his seat at NHLR is open; chances are they'll slide Graham Rahal into that seat and leave the second seat open, most likely for current RuSport driver Justin Wilson. After that, your guess is as good as mine.

~~If ChampCar wants to attract American fans, why are a lot of its' races outside the U.S.?
--A couple of reasons......1--a couple of those races(Toronto and Surfers Paradise, for example) are crown-jewel events on the calendar that bring in lots of fans and lots of sponsor interest; 2--ChampCar collects, from what I've heard, about 20-30% more in sanctioning fees from overseas promoters than from stateside ones, and 3--ChampCar believes that its' long-term survival depends on becoming an international series that, ultimately, could compete with Formula 1 for drivers and venues, especially if they don't return oval tracks to the schedule.

~~Back during the month of May, there was a persistant rumor going around Gasoline Alley that a fourth woman was going to compete at Indy in the 500; any idea who they were referring to?
--Yeah; they were referring to current DCR driver Katherine Legge. Ironically, she almost got to compete in the IndyCar Series back in 2005.....prior to running into Kevin Kalkhoven at Cosworth HQ's in England, Kat tested an Indy Pro Series car at Texas as part of an open test Kathryn Nunn ran; Legge was the fastest of the seven that tested there, and had sponsorship issues not derailed everything, chances are she'd be racing IndyCars now rather than ChampCars'. Had everything worked out according to plan, Kat would've run the IPS campaign in 2005 and moved up to the ICS in 2006. On a related note, rumor has it Legge has been talking to several ICS teams, trying to set up a test later this year in hopes of landing a seat in 2008, since, at the moment, it appears she is driving for her proverbial career in ChampCar at the moment.
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Open Wheel Musings................

Post by mlittle » Sat Aug 25, 2007 3:50 pm

Time to open up the notebook............... :shock: :shock: :shock: :lol:

~~What's the deal with R-Sports splitting up and Rocketsports and RuSports resuming their places as one-car teams in ChampCar the rest of the year?
--It has to do with sponsorships......essentially what happened is this: when they loaded the #8 car onto the transporters for the flight to Europe, series co-owner Gerry Forsythe noticed that the #8 car(Tagliani) carried the sponsorship of adult entertainment magnate Larry Flynt's Hustler Magazine on the sidepods; he then proceeded to read Rocketsports team principle Paul Gentilozzi the riot act a few days ago, telling him that he couldn't have Hustler as a sponsor due to concerns from several other companies(namely CDW and McDonald's). In addition, current RuSports owner Dan Pettit was notified of this by Forsythe, which then caused Pettit to reconsider keeping a joint operation w/Gentilozzi, culminating in the breakup of RSports. Bottom line....better to not have a sponsor like Hustler than lose sponsors like McDonald's and CDW[who, if Hustler had been allowed to sponsor the #8, would've heard protests from social conservatives in North America over it..... :shock: :shock: :shock: ], and might've been tempted to drop their sponsorships, which would hurt ChampCar overall.


~~Just as there are rumors of Indy Pro teams moving up to the IndyCar Series, are there any Atlantic Championship teams thinking of moving up to ChampCar in 2008?
--If there are, let me know..... :wink: :wink: :shock: In all seriousness, only one team comes to mind, and that's Sierra Sierra, but as with any business endeavor in motorsports, unless they find sponsorship, don;t expect it to happen.


~~With Dan Clarke cooling his heels for the Zolder and possibly Assen races, who do you see Minardi Team USA tapping?
--Reports are from Zolder that either Mario Dominguez or Minardi's reserve driver Zsolt Baumgartner will drive Clarke's ride the remainder of the weekend.
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Post by mlittle » Sun Sep 23, 2007 10:09 am

Julian Mayo wrote:
mlittle wrote:
Julian Mayo wrote: I will stick with Therapy...she turns left And right :lol:
And thanks to the geniuses in the ChampCar office(........ :evil: :evil: .............), there are no ovals on the schedule to challenge the drivers. :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
KK promises to never go talk to penguins for two weeks during the off-season, in the Antarctic, ever again :shock:
Now that I think of it, Julian.....with all the negative press ChampCar's gotten this year...............FWIW, Kalkhoven CAN STAY with the penguins too! :evil: :evil: :shock: :shock: :shock:
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The Mexican Screw-Job...............

Post by mlittle » Sun Sep 23, 2007 10:36 am

They say in life and autoracing that there are two sides to every story........tell that to ChampCar drivers Oriol Servia and Ryan Dalziel, who saw their 2007 seasons end suddenly so that series officials could fulfill a contractual obligation to have two Mexican drivers on the grid for the 2007 season finale in Mexico City........ :evil: :evil: :evil:

Performance on-track wasn't the reason both of them got served up like slabs of meat on the proverbial barbie, but it's another example of how what was supposed to be an exciting 2007 season has become an endless chain of negatives upon negatives(cases in point.......(1)three races cancelled this year[Denver, Zhuhai and Phoenix; (2)continuing problems w/the DP01 chassis and (3)the IMNSHO revocation of the hardcards of AOW's two top motorsports journos', Robin Miller and Gordon Kirby[rumor has it Racer magazine's David Phillips and ESPN journo John Oreovicz also lost their hardcards.....and you wonder why ChampCar gets so much negative press, hmm....? ) :shock: :shock: :shock:

With Mexico City in the distance, you'd think Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerry Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi would've known about their agreement w/OCESA, the Mexico City event promoter, that for the race to be held, 2 Mexican-born drivers had to be on the grid(Mod's note....having been to the AHR circuit to watch the ChampCars race, I can tell you Mexican racefans aren't idiots; they'll see this for what it is......just read the title of the commentary! )

To make matters worse, Pacific Coast Motorsports(which "released" Dalziel for Mario Dominguez) issued a press release which said, "PCM sign Mexican superstar Mario Dominguez".............it should've said, "PCM sells out Dalziel"; when asked about it by Speed's Robin Miller, the Scotsman answered,
I was in the (PCM) shop Tuesday night talking about some changes for the upcoming test next week. I flew the redeye home to Florida and Wednesday night I got the call from Tyler Tadevic(PCM's team manager) and he told me I was through. All I can figure is that Mario found a big sponsor or ChampCar needed two Mexican drivers for their contract so PCM whored me out for the money.
While it is common in motorsports to see teams switch drivers late in a season, this apparent blood-letting by PCM and Forsythe, to me at least, is disturbing on several counts.......
~~Loyalty to ChampCar no longer matters......for the 33yo Servia, who was without a ride until Forsythe tapped him to replace Paul Tracy at Long Beach and Houston, then slotted him into the Indeck #7 car up to now, this has to hurt; Servia's been one of the most loyal drivers the series has and is a decent driver who brings talent to the seat and not just large amounts of cash.......for the rookie Dalziel, this to be the insult of insults; after two Atlantic seasons w/PCM, Ryan didn;t get so much as a sniff from the ChampCar paddock, so he headed to Grand-Am w/PCM......and then got his chance in ChampCar this year.
~~It reinforces the sense of desperation that has seemingly settled on ChampCar this year; how else could you explain three cancelled races, revoking the hardcards of AOW's top journos' and swapping out good, decent drivers for others just to fulfill a contract requirement
~~It makes on-track performance meaningless.......in other words, some drivers might think, "Why should it matter if I do well......if Servia and Dalziel can be fired for that, could it happen to me?"


Personally........if things like this continue, Don Meredith's Monday Night Football words' might be truthful.........
Turn out the lights, the party's over......
:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :evil:
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mlittle
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The return of the man nicknamed Junky..............

Post by mlittle » Thu Oct 25, 2007 10:44 am

0.1 tenths' of a second; that's what separated Bruno Junquiera from an F1 ride with Sir Frank and the Williams squad back in 2000. He's driven for two of the best teams in NA open-wheel racing and had tons of engineering support and all the latest gadgets and tricks to get to and stay at the sharp end of the spear. He got to ride in private planes and fly first-class all the time.

That was Bruno Junquiera's life from 2000-2006; when the 2007 season approached, he was at the bus station of his career, having been cut loose by Newman-Haas Racing and he showed up at Sebring, all he had was his driving suit and helmet, looking for a ride. After waiting for over a day to test, he got his shot and found himself with a ride from Dale Coyne Racing this year. If the past half-year has showed anything, it's that Junky still knows how to pedal a racecar around. For a team with one engineer, three mechanics and pretty much no sponsorship other than Sonny's Real Pit BBQ(owned by the team principle, Dale Coyne), Junquiera has reinvigorated the little team that could with a spirit long absent from the paddock. After scoring his third consecutive podium over the weekend Down Under(along with podiums at Zolder and Assen), he was asked how it felt to be back at the front........
I'm just happy to still be racing and its' fun to help a small team because they work so hard. They're used to being 16th or 17th and, other than a few races, we've been qualifying up front and racing up front.
For the Brazilian, his original goal, like so many others, was Formula 1. Back in 2000 after winning the F3000 title, he was part of a shootout held by the Williams F1 squad and he missed being a part of Sir Frank's squad, losing out to current Honda runner Jenson Button by less than 1/10th of a second. Failing that, he came over to CART with Target/Ganassi Racing, sliding into the seat formerly held by Juan Pablo Montoya and by the end of 2002, he found himself within earshot of the Vanderbilt Cup, losing out to NHR's Cristiano da Matta. The following year, NHR tapped him for Shorty's seat, where he found himself the bridesmaid to Paul Tracy in 2003 and Sebastien Bourdais in 2004. Going into the 2005 running of the Indy 500, Junquiera found himself leading in the ChampCar standings, only to see his season end courtesy of a broken back suffered in a crash during the 500. After missing the remainder of 2005, he returned to the track in 2006, only to struggle for most of the season. By the end of 2006, Junky found himself unemployed from the track. Then, as they say, fate stepped in....in the form of the little team that could, Dale Coyne Racing. As Coyne, considered by many(myself included) to be ChampCar's biggest stalwart, put it,
We were excited to get him and he made a commitment to us as a team. It's been real special having Bruno this season. He's made racing a lot of fun for us.
In all honesty, their performance this year is IMO the biggest argument in support of the new Panoz DP01 chassis. Long considered ChampCar's version of Minardi in F1, podiums were like a mirage to them.........that no longer applies; just look at the three Junquiera's reeled off in the past three races(2nd-Zolder, 3rd-Assen and 3rd-Surfers Paradise). It also helps to have good chemistry, too; Junky has melded well with engineer Adam Schaechter and mechanics Arturo Morimoto, Erick "Chips" Estrada and Dale Fife. There's other benefits as well.....for instance, there's no PR flaks around to hustle Junky off from one gig to another....unlike some other teams on the paddock, like.....NHL Racing, for instance.

When asked how he felt about the season and how he's done this year, Junquiera wistfully said,
Before my accident at Indy, I always thought about just myself. But now I want to make other people happy as well. It makes me feel good to see my mechanics smiling because I know they haven't always had much to smile about. I made OK money in Champ Car and I'm not rich, but right now I'm driving for passion. I'm not the greatest driver ever but I think I'm one of the best drivers in this series and I still want to race. I'm back near the front where I belong, but we can get better.
For what its' worth..........as much as I like seeing some of the other drivers in the sport, if i were a team owner, I'd hire Junky in a New York minute; he is IMO the most humble driver in the paddock and he's seen, to quote a certain sci-fi character, "both the Elysian fields and the depths of Hades." His story this year is one truly worth telling.
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