I TOOK THIS IPHONE SNAP OF DALE CREASY JR. (LEFT LANE) AND CRUZ PEDREGON FACING OFF IN A MATCH RACE SATURDAY AT TORONTO MOTORSPORTS PARK NEAR CAYUGA. PEDREGON WON.
Posted at 11:38 AM in Auto racing, Danica Patrick, Drag racing, Ferrari, Formula One, Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series, IZOD IndyCar Series, James Hinchcliffe, NASCAR, NASCAR Canadian Tire, Ontario Formula Ford Challenge, Racing, Sports, Sports car racing, Sprint cars, Touring Cars | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Paul Tracy told CTV’s Beverly Thomson Tuesday that he was thinking of retiring in the aftermath of the crash at Las Vegas Speedway Sunday that killed Dan Wheldon.
Tracy, Canada’s fastest, badest, daredevil racing driver whose nickname is “the Thrill from West Hill,” said his mother and wife had encouraged him to consider hanging up his helmet.
Now, I don’t really know Paul Tracy. I’ve interviewed him a bunch of times, had dinner with him, hung around a little and so-on, but I don’t really know what’s going on inside his head.
Having said that, and knowing what I do about what makes racing drivers tick, I suspect at the end of the day that he won’t say he's quitting. Now now, anyway.
I wouldn’t bet my house on it, but if Paul Tracy decides to call it a day eventually, I think it will be on his terms and not in the emotional aftermath of tragedy.
Paul Tracy is 42 and has been racing almost his entire life. When he was a kid, his dad would drop him off at a kart track while he was on his way to work and pick the boy up on the way home. He was in formula cars as a teen (he was Canada’s youngest Formula Ford champion at 16) and drove in — and won — the last Can-Am Series race ever held when he was 17. He was a record-setting Indy Lights champion before he was 20 and then started driving for Roger Penske. He's been an Indy car driver ever since.
In his time, Tracy's been in races where people were killed, most notably Greg Moore in 1999. I don’t think he considered giving up then and I don’t think, at the end of the day, that he’s seriously considering giving up now.
Yes, this is a time of grieving for a racing life lost, a time of personal reflection and of respect for the wishes of others. But Paul Tracy is a racing driver. It’s what he does and it’s who he is.
And he’s still got races to win and projects to complete. He’s got a book in him (I’ve had my hand up to help him with that for awhile now) and sports car races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring to run.
And then there’s that little bit of unfinished business called the Indianapolis 500. He won it in 2002 but his name and mug still aren’t on the Borg-Warner Trophy and I suspect he’ll want to try to change that before calling it a day.
Paul Tracy has said he wants a farewell tour. He wants one more trip around the circuit to say goodbye. If that’s not possible — if the sponsorship isn’t there to support him and his team for a season — then he’ll likely settle for Toronto, Edmonton and Indianapolis.
For a guy like Tracy, you want to go out with your head held high. You want to do it your way.
With your fist in the air and the checkered flag flying.
Posted at 08:40 AM in Auto racing, Firestone Indy Lights, Honda Indy Toronto, Indy 500, Indy Racing League, IZOD IndyCar Series, Ontario Formula Ford Challenge, Racing, Racing on TV, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The IZOD IndyCar Series has lucked out yet again. An appallingly boring race in Japan Sunday (Saturday night here with the time difference) that probably put most people to sleep (it did me, anyway) was saved yet again by the complete and total incompetence of chief steward Brian Barnhart.
Instead of having the race consigned to the dust bin where it belonged – the guys who started on the front row, Scott Dixon and Will Power, finished exactly that way 63 eye-glazing laps later (official order of finish here) – Barnhart went and handed a perfectly justified penalty for passing under the yellow to Helio Castroneves and all hell broke loose.
Castroneves made it known in his past-race interview for the media that he wasn’t happy about being penalized and tore a strip off Barnhart for being inconsistent. Later, when he got hold of his Blackberry in the safety of his motorhome and out of sight of his media handlers, he really let loose and called Barnhart a circus clown, which was reminiscent of a crack Paul Tracy made about Chris Kniefel years ago that cost him $50,000.
(The ever helpful Tracy kicked in on Twitter: "Probably not the best idea to call (Barnhart) a clown, but what do I know . . .")
What led to Castroneves’s blowup was the severity of his penalty. For passing under the yellow (a local yellow, by the way; not a full-course yellow), he was moved from his seventh-place finishing position to 22nd (last car on the lead lap). As I said earlier, it was justified, but . . .
This cost him a lot of money, lost him a lot of points and by being moved back so far it allowed defending champion Dario Franchitti to advance one position, thus reducing the number of points now separating him from series leader Power, who happens to be his (Castroneves's) teammate.
When I said it was an awful race, I mean it. These people are supposed to be professional racing drivers with the ability to handle the cars they drive and I guarantee that you would have seen better racing and better car control if you’d gone out to Mosport at the weekend and watched the Ontario Regional races.
For instance, Simona De Silvestro ran into Giorgio Pantano while trying to pass him. She didn’t stand a hope in hell of pulling it off but that didn’t stop her and she plowed right into him. No penalty.
A few minutes later, driver Joao Paulo de Oliveira smacked into Takuma Sato while trying to pass. Again, no chance of making the pass but full speed ahead anyway. No penalty.
Now it gets interesting.
Franchitti decides to try an impossible pass up the inside on Ryan Briscoe and runs into the back of him. Briscoe spins and bashes into Charlie Kimball and Graham Rahal.
Franchitti stalls but is able to get his car going again and goes to the pits where he gets a new nose for the car and some fresh tires. He’s in there for between 25 and 30 seconds and when he leaves the pits and falls in at the back of the field, he is dead last.
Remember that. There will be a test later. In review: Franchitti hits and ruins the races of three cars – all racing in the top five, by the way – and is dead last on the track after spending so much time in the pits.
Barnhart brings down a penalty. For avoidable contact, Dario Franchitti is sent to the "back of the line," where he already is.
Virtually everybody who has been penalized for "avoidable contact" this year has been given a drive-through penalty under green. But not Franchitti, and you can bet this had much to do with Castroneves’s outburst after he was given Life in Prison for something he shouldn’t have done but what was certainly far from being a hanging offence. So here, exactly, is what Castroneves Tweeted:
"Very disappointed for finishing 7th and being put to 22nd. This is just ABSURD."
"Making the famous @paultracy’s words mine: Brian Barnhart is a circus clown."
"In the same race in International television, he penalizes some but not others."
"Brian Barnhart is inconsisent and even changes the rule book when is convenient for him and his own personal interests."
"It is sad to see one person being responsible for bringing down an entire series."
Okay, I suggest Castroneves – who was livid when Barnhart robbed him of a win at the 2010 Edmonton Indy – is really in big trouble this time. Tracy was fined fifty large, had points taken away and was put on probation for the last two races of the year when he let his emotions get the better of him.
But all he did was call Kneifel a circus clown.
Castroneves called Barnhart a circus clown but then accused him of being biased and suggested he is doing what he’s doing on purpose. I suggest a $100,000 fine, the loss of championship points and suspension for the last two races of the season will be the penalty handed down to Helio Castroneves.
Brian Barnhart is incompetent. That’s a long way from being subversive.
– Castroneves might just have saved Ryan Briscoe his job. Before the outburst, it was generally agreed that Briscoe was the odd man out at Penske Racing for 2012, when it’s expected the team will cut back to two cars from the three it’s running now. This outburst might very well have put Castroneves on the bubble.
– To his credit, Tracy tried to calm down Castroneves. Paul Tweeted: "calling a chief steward a circus clown cost me 50k . . . take it easy. . ."
– To all their credits, the Versus broadcast crew was terrific in their analysis of just about everything that was terrible about that race in Japan as well as the awful officiating.
The start was a shambles and Wally Dallenbach Jr. said so, often and loudly. (By the way, he would make a good chief steward, y’all. Why? Because his father was the only chief steward in the history of Indy car racing who could do the job properly and the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.)
Dallenbach, John Beekhuis, Bob Jenkins and Robin Miller called a spade a spade throughout. When Franchitti made his banzai (kamikaze?) move, Dallenbach said: "He’d better get a penalty for that."
Then, after Franchitti got no penalty (being made last when you are already last is not a penalty), they were all forthright in pointing out Barnhart’s inconsistencies.
– Although they were properly critical of many things about that race, they missed something pretty important. There was an awful lot of exposed concrete around that circuit. At least one of the underpasses (Twin-Ring Motegi twists and turns and goes over and under at several places) had no protection, not even a tire.
Yes, this was the last race but it shouldn’t have been allowed to take place without the proper safety precautions.
– Sebastien Bourdais runs into Ryan Hunter-Reay and beaches him. No penalty. (Oops, are we back to that stuff again . . .?)
– Dario Franchitti will win his - what? - fourth IndyCar championship because the last two races of the year are on ovals. Franchitti runs well on ovals and Will Power does not. End of story.
Technorati Tags: auto racing, Brian Barnhart, circus clown, Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves, Indy racing, motor racing, Paul Tracy, racing, Robin Miller, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais, Wally Dallenbach Jr., Will Power
FORMULA FORD DRIVER HURT HAVING 'BEST RACE' OF HIS LIFE
Shane Jantzi, the Formula Ford driver from Ayr who was involved in a mighty crash on the last lap of the Can Am Cup Challenge race at Mosport on Sunday, is back home today with a king-size headache as well as a badly wrecked race car but the desire to keep racing appears to be burning as strongly as ever.
“I’ve got a big concussion,” said Jantzi, who crashed while trying to win the Can Am trophy for the sixth straight time.
“Thank goodness we put in a new seat over the winter, and I was wearing my HANS device, or I would have broken my neck” he said about the accident in which his Formula Ford race car flew backwards off the track in Mosport’s Turn One and ploughed straight into a tire wall at just about full speed (the F-Fords average about 100 mph around Mosport).
Track safety officials and medical personnel took between 15 and 20 minutes to get Jantzi out of his car and onto a backboard before taking him to the Control Tower medical centre for evaluation.
“My head really hurt and I was dizzy so they took me to the hospital in Bowmanville where I had an MRI,” he said. “The doctor there told me I had a big concussion but that there wasn’t any swelling, so that was good news.”
Now that he’s on the road to recovery – and he’s got some time for that because he’s on parental leave from his job until Labour Day – Jantzi is disappointed he didn’t win the Cup again and critical of race officials who, he says, may have contributed to his accident.
First, the competition.
Six years ago, EFormulaCarNews.com put up a trophy – the Can Am Cup – for a special, once-a-year, Formula Ford shootout race open to anyone with a race-legal Formula Ford 1600 car and Jantzi won that first race going away. Nobody else has ever won it; he’s successfully defended it ever since.
Sunday at Mosport, Jantzi was aiming to make it six straight. At the beginning of the last lap, and running second at the time, Jantzi went to pass eventual winner Mathew DiLeo of Innisfil, only to have his car clipped by a spinning backmarker.
Said Jantzi: “I really wanted to win that Cup. Somebody else could have it after I retired; that’s how I felt.
“So I went to pass the backmarker who was also being passed by Mathew. Mathew was on the inside and was as close to the pit wall (that runs down through Turn One) as he could be because the fellow kept moving down on him.
“Suddenly, there was a puff of smoke, because their cars touched. The backmarker started to spin. I thought I’d cleared him but the back of his car just touched mine and that spun me around.
“I hit the wall a ton and I knew I was hurt. I thought right away that this wasn’t good. It was the hardest thing I’ve hit in my life. I blacked out for a second but otherwise I was aware of everything going on. I’ve been hurt before, so I didn’t move because I didn’t want to maybe aggravate something.
“I wasn’t sure exactly where on the track I was and the safety people took away my glasses. I can’t see a thing without my glasses so I couldn’t tell where I was.
“It’s a real bummer because I was having the best race of my life. I started seventh and I know I could have passed Mathew on that last lap and kept the Cup.”
Now the criticism: Jantzi, a veteran racer, is concerned that no blue passing flags were apparently waved.
“I didn’t see any blue flags,” he said, “and I’ve asked some of the other people involved and they didn’t see any either. It wasn’t the backmarker’s fault (Jantzi never identified the third driver) because I’m not sure he knew he was about to be lapped. That's what the blue flags are for - to tell people they're about to be passed.
“I know there was no blue flag shown at the start/finish line and nobody can remember seeing one at Turn One. What’s that all about? But, as Brian (Stewart) says, ‘it is what it is,’ I guess.”
Jantzi said because his racing is a hobby that involves his whole family, he has to talk to his parents about repairing the race car. As of last night, he wasn’t sure there would be money to race again this season.
But he said, one way or another, he'd return to race again.
He was also quick to quash a suggestion that he might be finished for the year.
“I’m really not sure about that,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”