Monday, April 07, 2008

st. petersburg grand prix

Yesterday’s IndyCar St. Petersburg Grand Prix goes down in history as one of my favorite road course races thus far. I became a race fan post infamous CART/IRL split. For my first several seasons as an IndyCar fan the league only ran on ovals. In recent few seasons more road courses have been integrated into the schedule. It took me a while to get used to them. It is different racing. For one, the speeds they reach are lower than on ovals ( around 100 mph compared to over 200 mph), there’s not as much passing on road courses, and they turn right as well as left.

Recently, CHAMP (formerly CART) and the Indy Racing League re-unified into one open-wheel race league (great for the sport). This happened not long before the start of the 2008 season, so not all of the former CHAMP teams have been able to move their operations over to IndyCar (sponsorships and other logistics at play).

Yesterday “transition driver” (thanks Marty Reid, or whomever, came up with that one) Graham Rahal, son of 1986 Indy 500 Champ and one of my favorite drivers/team owners Bobby Rahal, won St. Pete’s.
It was his first win.
He is the youngest driver to ever win an IndyCar race.
He is the first “transition driver” to win in the newly re-unified league.
He was the first non-Penske, AGR, Target driver to win in like, 800 million years, THANK GOD. He won a race before Danica Patrick-who used to drive for Rahal-Letterman.

It was great racing! He got the lead late in the race and just took off- having as much as a 4.6 second lead on 2nd place (Helio Castroneves).

One of the traditions carried over from CHAMP Car, that I love, is the return of the post-race podium. Today I found this picture on IndyCar.com and got quiet tickled at the conversation I imagined.
GRAHAM RAHAL: Hey Dad! Look at me!
HELIO CASTRONEVES: Hey TK, what are we supposed to do? Do we lift these up?
TONY KANANN: Yeah, that’s what the kid is doing. I think we’re supposed to lift these up kind of over our heads. Like this.
HELIO: Wow, this thing is kind of heavy. Like, almost as heavy as Julianne Hough.
TONY: Well, careful not to get a hernia there big boy........Are we almost done here?
HELIO: WOO HOO! IT’S GONNA BE A GREAT SEASON! WOOOO HOOOOO!!!
GRAHAM: The bottom half of my race suit looks like a giant oven-mitt.

1 comment:

John said...

I can really hear Helio and TK having that conversation. Funny!! Glad you mentioned Graham Rahal getting a win before Danica. How frustrated must she be -- even Vitor Meira?