(Veteran's Day is a holiday and the blog is taking the day off, sort of. Digging through my files I found an interview I did with my fictional character, Forrest Evers, years ago. Hope it makes you smile too.)
Forrest in the Rain
Rain break in the Barcelona Press room and Forrest Evers is staring out at the steaming track. Forrest is looking good. At six one he is as tall as Berger and broader than Mansell across the shoulders. His “leatherbeaten” face the same craggy setting for those intense, blue eyes that nail you from those mildly obscene ads for “Formula One, the pheromone ‘attractor’.”
BJ: So you had a frustrating year.
Evers: Yeah, you bet. Everybody that wasn’t holding a steering wheel that said Williams had a frustrating year. But next year with the new Judd power . . . .
BJ: There was one bright spot. You were voted number one sex symbol.
Evers: (laughing) In Indonesia, yeah. Match that, Nigel. Look, racing is in my blood and if I am not running in front I am not relaxed. This year the only running in front was from a pack of women in Estoril. You think being a sex symbol is fun, try it some time. It sure wasn’t my idea, I don’t deserve it and please, if you are female and feel the urge to ring me, don’t. Yeah, it has been hard.
BJ: How did your talks go with Eddie Jordan?
Evers: Talk, not talks. As in Eddie talking. And what he said, after you sorted through the charm, the stories, the compliments and the promises, was no.
BJ: But you’d be perfect. You are only thirty four, you’ve won five Grand Prix and you have ten years experience in Formula One.
Evers: Yeah, there’s no question in my mind that I am faster than Nigel now. I respect what he’s done. He was the world champion and they don’t give that away. On the other hand Christian Fittipaldi, Alex Zanardi, Gil DeFerran, Al Unser Jr., hey, Bobby Rahal is faster than Nigel now.
BJ: They’re all Indycar drivers.
Evers: Exactly. Johnny Herbert is way faster than Nigel now, no question. But Eddie isn’t hiring Nigel for his speed, he’s hiring Nigel for his marketing. Nigel draws crowds and sponsors. So on that level, I don’t blame Eddie for picking Nigel over me. If you want to win in Formula One, money comes first.
BJ: But that’s always been true.
Evers: Sure, the equation has always been there, but there is so much money now that it outweighs everything. They slow the cars down with rinky dink second gear corners on narrow little mickey mouse tracks so the TV cameras can lock on the logos when what you’d like as a driver is a balls out, wide open, flat out screaming track like Monza, like Spa. Like Silverstone used to be.
BJ: But drivers died.
Evers: Drivers died. Make all the safety changes you want, and I’ll be glad for them. But you won’t change the nature of the beast which is who gets closest to the edge without getting cut.
Listen, at Estoril, you know that bumpy uphill little straight where you drive into the sun and Micheal Schumacher slipped right by me? And then coming out of that little 2nd gear corner, we are going up through the gears and I am locked onto the back of Schumacher as he’s in fifth turning right into the Senna Corner; my car goes light and doesn’t want to turn in but I like the tow and think maybe if I can stay tight all the way around I can hitch a tow down the main straight.
Also I want to get in tight, avoid that wavy patch and suddenly Jacques (Villeneuve) is alongside me out of nowhere on the wavy patch, 170 mph, turning in. You know Jacques sits low in the car and I don’t think he saw Michael until he got alongside me. He wanted to get back in on the line but Michael was there so Jacques was forced to go around him. And he did. He could have backed off, played it safe, tucked in behind me. But he didn’t. I mean that is racing. The rest of it is marketing. Best moment of the year.
BJ: From an Indycar driver.
Evers: From a Canadian. Canadians are like Scots. They huddle on the border, cling to their history and drive like the thieves of God.
BJ: Thieves of God?
Evers: They steal scraps of time, pieces of track nobody else wants. Keep your eye on Coultard next year. If McLaren gets ever gives him a car that will go around a corner, he’ll be there with Jacques and Michael.
BJ: Wait a minute, Forrest. You’re saying Villeneuve passed Schumacher at Estoril because you were in the way? I looked at those tapes and I didn’t see you.
Evers: You media turkeys only see the first three or four cars on the track. Like the rest of us are see-through. If you are in the middle of the pack, it doesn’t matter how brilliant you are, nobody gives you credit. I made a mistake at Monaco, admitted it and everybody said, ‘idiot.’ Michael makes the same mistake, admits it, and everybody says ‘what a great guy.’ Well Michael is a great guy, but you guys could take your blinders off.
BJ: Are you saying you are as fast as Michael Schumacher?
Evers: Wait till next year. You are in for some surprises.
BJ: Seriously, Forrest, you think you have a shot at the world championship?
BJ: But you are a fictional character. Ink on a page.
Evers: Sure, but I’m still faster than Nigel.