A CAREER TO ENVY
Mario Andretti’s Lotus 49 at Watkins Glen in ’ 68. His first F1 race and he’s
on pole. Fourteen years later, at Monza in a turbocharged Ferrari, he’ll be
on pole for his penultimate F1 race. Being ultra competitive in such varied
cars came easy for Mario, given his versatility over a 41-year career.
Hightail it out of Indy on Memorial Day, and you can catch the Coke 600 at Charlotte, too…if Roger or Chip gives you a ride. (BELOW) Pass master Zanardi at Long Beach in ’98 – one of CART’s classic races.
Honda engine lunched itself and, on the
penultimate lap, Ayrton Senna collided
with a backmarker. Thus, fate decreed
that Gerhard Berger and Michele Alboreto
swept home to a Ferrari 1-2. It would be
the only grand prix not won by McLaren
in that 16-race season.
At last year’s Indy 500, the sympathy
vote went to rookie JR Hildebrand, whose
final lap, final turn crash snatched defeat
from the jaws of victory. But on the
flipside, Dan Wheldon’s win was a
triumph for the underdog – a part-time
driver (albeit a former “500” winner) in a
team – Bryan Herta Autosport – running
in only its second-ever IndyCar race.
The drama of that final lap made the
world’s biggest race one of the world’s
biggest sporting news stories for the next
24 hours. And, in light of the tragic
events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last
October, we now have no hesitation in
saying that result at the Brickyard on
May 29, 2011, was absolutely perfect.
momentum to swing around the pair of
them, snatch the lead and go on to win.
Just two years later, at the Indy 500,
Rick Mears pulled off what may have been
the perfect pass for the lead at the Speedway
with 13 laps to go, swooping around the
outside of Michael Andretti and, for the
first time that day, not lifting off the gas
in Turn 1 as he did so. Such was the power
of the Penske-Chevrolet, his right-rear
tire left a black mark through the turn.
The majority of great passes involve the
element of surprise. Alex Zanardi’s pass on
Bryan Herta at the Corkscrew at Laguna
Seca in 1996 is an extreme example, but the
Italian’s brilliant charge from the back at
Long Beach in ’98, when almost all his
passes came as a result of catching his rivals
sleeping, was like a “Passes 101.”
If it’s stage-side appreciation you’re after, let’s bring in
Argentina. Up high in the foothills of the Andes, there’s a road
called El Condor, a technical, twisty test, calling for the utmost
patience across the rope bridges, where thousands line the
route. Then, off the dirt and on to asphalt for Col du Turini, in
the French Alps, for a rousing finale.
Executing the perfect pass can take opportunism, instinct, great
forethought, and an understanding of yours and your rivals’
strengths and weaknesses. Or a combination of all those factors.
In 1989, driving the Ferrari 640 in F1, Nigel Mansell had the best
handling car for the tight twists of the Hungaroring, but race
leader Ayrton Senna’s more powerful Honda engine was keeping
his McLaren out of range on the straights. However, Stefan
Johansson’s expiring Onyx up ahead caused a momentary
hesitation from the Brazilian on the exit of a corner. Before you or I
would have had time to consider the options, Nigel used his extra
The perfect rally has the curves and the
cambers of a super-smooth gravel road in
New Zealand, plus the fast dirt of Finland,
including Ouninpohja, probably the most
famous stage in the world. Then let’s throw
in some of the endurance elements of the
old Safari Rally, when man and machine
vs. environment determined the victor.
DAY AS A FAN
Money no object, “doing the double” on
Memorial Day, with the Indy 500 in the
morning and early afternoon, followed
by your private jet (we did say money no
object) to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600.
It doesn’t matter if you hang on for all
the post-race hoopla at Indy, because the
Coke 600 isn’t going to be at the meaty
end of the race for a while.
When the Monaco GP falls on the
same day – as it will once again in 2012 –
not even the five-hour time difference
and an unretired Concorde would make