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The Raining World Championship Bowling Blues - part one

The Escort Service
Instead of riding over with the Jaguar gang, I have been hitching a ride with Steve
Earle of the Monterey Historics fame…. He has been one of the three FIA Stewards
for each of the U.S. Grand Prix races. For the past three mornings it has been the
same drill at the Westin. Who ever gets to the lobby first before departure time,
buys at Starbucks. Then outside where the valets have the car ready. Most of the
Ferrari team are waiting about and I have entered a daily game of banter with the
red brigades of Maranello. Those silly red head to toe uniforms make them look
like a traveling bowling team.  One of the better verbal exchanges had to do with
the imminent arrival of a fleet of Fiat Multipla’s to take them to the track.

Since the inception of the return of F1 to the U.S. in 2000, the custom has been for
the teams to have a police escort. Over the years this has ballooned in to including
everyone including sponsors and the media. I find that to be embarrassing and
thankfully avoided it by leaving with Steve a bit earlier as he had other steward
duties at the track. Just as I was leaving for the door, Schuey rushed past me and
made a beeline for a Jeep and dove in behind the wheel. Turns out he wanted
nothing to do with the escort either. I yelled at Steve to hurry up so we could get out
of the driveway before him… we didn’t. Following his swerves in traffic was pretty
funny and we did get by when he was blocked by a BMW 325…how prophetic. Of
course Steve never went over the posted speed limit and the gesture I made to the
driver of the Jeep did not go unnoticed and earned one in return.

Red, white and Phil Hill. And that was just the wine…..
The driver parade was the usual scramble aboard a bunch of old vintage cars
surrounded by the usual go go dancer salt shakers. Oddly enough, no one ever
checked their credentials to see if they were in a restricted area. Damn, it is too
cold out here and I have time to pack up my laptop in the media center and go visit
Jaguar’s Paddock Club Suite to see what is on the menu. Phil Hill was in for a
visit, and it is always interesting to ask his opinion of things. It is doubtful that there
will ever be another World Champion from the U.S. aboard a Ferrari.
He came from an era where things were a matter of personal style and character.

And precipitation is expected…..
Oh no, not again…. Spin city and only a few laps in to the race, it appears that it will
be another Schumacher championship. That’s bad enough but the sheer audio
torture of the bias of the imported hacks in the pressroom would make me hate
the guy even if I liked him. He has talent, lots of drivers do, he just has that glow
around him that nothing bad will happen. The F1 equivalent of Kilgore in
Apocalypse Now. Even those in front of him for position seem to easily give way…
after you Michael. The race was anticlimactic, I won’t bother with the Montoya
situation because I don’t want to, there was enough about that going around that it
will linger for a long time. Some very unhappy people. In the case of my hosts, it
could have been better for Jaguar but it also could have been a lot worse. Justin
Wilson had some big moments on a track he had never seen and in a car he does
not exactly know all that well. He played it safe and brought the car home thus
earing a point for Jaguar and his first ever point for himself. What was noticed is
that he gave a good account of himself, drove smart and with the amount of money
that other teams might be willing to throw at Mark Webber, signing up Justin
Wilson on a long term could be a good business move. The problem is that being
in F1 ifor Jaguar is not a good business move and never was. They belong in
sports cars and Le Mans is their pedigree, not Indianapolis. The view from
everyone I spoke with at Ford is that as long as Jaguar are in F1, Le Mans will not
happen. I’m not so sure, it may get to the point where they have to go back.

As seen and heard on a TV near you…
The most amazing statement made in the press conference by the normally
honest Peter Windsor, was to Michael Schumacher about the incredible
atmosphere here in Indy for himself, the title contenders and the USGP itself. It
should be noted that Peter is now employed and paid by F1 to ask the questions of
the top three drivers for the post qualifying and race TV conferences. Most of the
noise and support came from the grandstands directly from the contender’s
respective pits. And television played that up big time. I will deal with that topic

Kerry Morse

Phil Hill, gentleman and champion
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