When you’re a race-car driver, and you don’t own the car you’re racing, it doesn’t bother you all that much if you wreck it. Sure, you might get balled out by the boss and you might feel a little foolish, but the cheque still arrives in the mail without deductions.
(I guarantee you that if a certain Canadian racing star that we all know and love had had to reach into his pocket and fork over cash to pay for the damages every time he crashed (which would add up to millions of dollars, by the way), he flat out wouldn’t have gone off on the hook as many times as he has and might even have won a whole bunch more races. But I digress.)
If you happen to own the car you’re racing, it’s a whole different ball of wax, which likely explains why Montreal’s Alex Tagliani got more upset two days after his accident in Brazil on Sunday than he did at the time.
Tags was running in the top five in the IZOD IndyCar Series opener in Brazil when Dan Wheldon missed his braking point going into a sharp turn and ran into the back of the Canadian’s car. Tagliani, in turn, ran into Tony Kanaan. Everybody kept going except our boy, who was eliminated on the spot.
Tagliani, a part owner of the Fazzt Race Team of Montreal, was interviewed on TV after the crash and, despite expressing his annoyance, more of less let on that it was probably just one of them racin’ deals that happen all the time.
Wheldon reportedly apologized to Tagliani and the team after the race ended, in which he finished fifth.
On the plane on the way home, though, Tags had some time to think. (As the owner of racing cars that were frequently crashed by others, I know how the thought process works.)
“Well,” thought Tagliani, “not only did I miss the payoff on what would probably have been a top five finish, the jerk who clobbered me was paid handsomely and I have serious damage that has to be repaired. So I went into the race even and now I’m in the hole. I’m pissed.”
Which was the mood he was still in on Tuesday afternoon when a reporter from the Canadian Press wire service gave him a shout and when the questioning got around to the wreck, Tags said Wheldon did it on purpose.
""He comes to me at the airport, apologizes and says, ’Oh, I’m sorry. I hit a bump and locked up and slid into you.’ And I said, ’Okay, no problem. You’re okay. Thank you.’ And I shake his hand. Everything’s good. And then I come to Indy and I watch the replay and it’s (B.S.). I’m not happy.
“I’m not stupid. You bump me off the road. You hit me. You crash my car and then you lie to my face?”
Now, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can watch the accident. I, frankly, think Tags might have been a little too far out in the middle of the track and kinda in the way of the faster Wheldon when he got hit, but what do I know? Take a look and then you decide:
So the harsh economic realities of Indy car team ownership caught up with Tags and probably explains his eruption.
On the other hand, on the other hand, Alex Tagliani is a wiley guy. He is a remarkable self-marketer and self-promoter and he knows the ins and outs of public relations to a T.
He is, as is everybody connected to the IndyCar series, very aware of the publicity surrounding NASCAR’s “have at it, boys” philosophy and knows that a large portion of the U.S. population will have its eyes on Bristol, Tenn., this weekend to see who’s gonna get theirs, who’s gonna lay down a little payback, who’s going to get roughed up out there?
So Alex Tagliani’s outburst very possibly could have been something else.
He might have simply been trying to inject a little NASCAR into IndyCar.
A little feudin’ ‘n’ fightin’ in car racing never
really hurt anybody and if it helps with the publicity for the next race in St.
Petersburg, Fla., a week from this Sunday, so much the better.