Ex-F1 and Indy car driver Derek Daly said years ago that one of the ways for a driver to move up auto racing’s ladder is to be ready to step in if another driver gets injured.
Although that might be reality, you’d kind of hope that Daly was talking about waiting a few days before making the phone call.
See if the guy was going to be okay. That sort of thing.
Apparently, the phone calls and the speculating started Sunday while Lotus-Renault F1 star Robert Kubica was still in the operating room following a dreadful accident during a rally in Italy in which he suffered multiple fractures to his right hand, arm and leg.
Late Sunday night, it became apparent that Kubica's injuries were even more severe than originally thought. Here is a link to the most recent update
F1 is a cut-throat sport but you really have to wonder when online reports initially suggested that Renault reserve driver Bruno Senna might have to start the season if Kubica can’t recover in time (which sounds to be the case) but that if his injuries are sufficiently serious to keep him out of F1 racing completely in 2011 that he could be replaced by . . . (the names of most of the current unemployed F1 drivers).
It’s very interesting that one of the major F1 sites – which was among the first to publish the news of Kubica’s accident and included speculation about who might replace him – removed the speculation as more information about Kubica’s condition became available. Other sites didn't immediately and you wonder what happened to good taste.
Kubica is the first Polish driver to compete in F1 and he lived through an incredible accident at the 2007 Canadian GP in Montreal while driving for BMW Sauber. He returned to Montreal a year later and won the race – his first F1 victory (which is one of the many reasons he's a favourite among Canadian F1 fans).
He moved to Renault last year after BMW withdrew from Formula One at the end of 2009. In group testing of 2011 F1 cars at Valencia last week, he set the fastest time in the final session, then entered the Ronde di Andora Rally in Italy where the car he was driving ran into the end of a wall protecting a church.
According to his manager, Daniele Morelli, the impact caused serious harm.
We wish Robert Kubica all the best. When, and if, it’s confirmed that he will be not be able to drive for Lotus-Renault in the 2011 World Championship, let the speculation about his replacement begin.
But not before.
(Postscript: To be fair, as more information about Kubicia's injuries became available, most sites removed the speculation and by late Sunday night it had all but disappeared.)
More sad news
Leighton Irwin, a true original of early Ontario post-war road racing, died in Orillia this past week of kidney failure.
He started in racing as a corner marshal at Mosport, then became a club racer, did some rallying and was a mechanic for Bruce Jensen (father of Indy Lights team owner Eric Jensen) in Formula B and then Formula Atlantic.
Gary Grant, who runs thegarageblog.com, and long-time Canadian open-wheel racer Gary Magwood were up to see Leighton shortly before he died at Solders Memorial in Orillia. Grant has written a lovely tribute on his website and has links to photos and articles by and about Leighton.
You can find them here
Meantime, supermodified ace Don (Big Daddy) McLaren died at age 75 in Lowell, Mass. He qualified for 10 International Classic 200 races at Oswego Speedway in New York, where he won three regular-season features. He won 20 features with the New England Supermodified Racing Association and one with the International Supermodified Association.
In all, he won more than 200 races between 1951 and 1984. He was elected to the New England Racing Hall of Fame in 2002.
Speaking of the New England Racing Hall of Fame, my old friend Stanley (Skip) Matczak was inducted in January. Skip did most of the hard, physical work over the years but the brains behind Matczak Racing belonged to his late wife, Lois.
And Skip knew it. As he stood up to receive his applause, he asked those in attendance to “clap loud enough for Lois to hear you.”
And finally, Edward (Big Eddy) Piersal, who sold programs at Oswego Speedway for 45 years, died recently. Piersal and the late Pete Trenca were great ambassadors for that track. Now both are gone.
Dynamic duo back again
Antoine L'Estage of Ste-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and Nathalie Richard of Halifax won the Rallye Perce Neige at the weekend in a Mitsubishi, defeating Bruno Carre and Yvan Joyal of Laval, Que., by nearly 30 seconds in the first event of the 2011 Canadian Rally Championship.
2010 Canadian Novice Champion Ugo Desgreniers of Orford, Que., and Erik Kirby of Sherbrooke finished third.
The Canadian championship, won last year by L’Estage and Richard, is made up of six events. The next rally is the Rocky Mountain Rally, May 26-27, in Calgary.
In closing . . .
They penalized a Green Bay Packer player for showing off after he scored a touchdown in last night’s Super Bowl. Good grief. Professional racing drivers do that sort of thing all the time.
It's a good thing that Alex Zanardi and every NASCAR race winner (donuts), fence climber (Helio Castroneves and Tony Stewart), Polish Victory Lap driver (started by the late Alan Kulwicki) and mosh-pitter (Carl Edwards) don’t play football . . .
If those guys were on the field, it would be a sea of yellow out there.