Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Day I Took the Pole from Rahal and Mears

       You know how cold it gets in Northern California this time of year.  Gets all the way down into the low fifties.  It gets so cold I wear my heavy black leather jacket with the Marlboro Pole Award stitched on the front when I walk the dog. 

             It’s the jacket I won when I took the pole from (Indy 500 winner) Bobby Rahal and (4 time Indy 500 winner) Rick Mears.

             It was at a press event, organized by Penske’s PR staff in beautiful City of Industry, CA. 
Beautiful downtown, City of Industry, California.

Where there was a fairground go-kart track.  And the idea was to let the racing journalists race the real racers in fairground go-karts.  Which was a wonderful idea in the off season.  Because the only reason racing journalists write about racing (it sure isn’t the pay or the fame) is because they love racing.  So the chance to be on the track, even a fairground go-kart track, with real racers was a hoot and a holler.

            Before I get very far into this I should point out the similarities between fairground go-karts and 250 MPH Indycars
fairground go-kart

250 MPH Indycar

            There is no similarity between fairground go karts and 1,000 horsepower (as they were at the time) Indy cars.  

           It’s like trying to compare bananas and the icy clumps formerly known as the Planet Pluto.  No relationship whatsoever.

            Never mind.  I spotted a go-kart with fresh tires and hopped into that one.  I strapped on a helmet and we were off, stonking around the little track for our qualifying laps.  Turned out my little buggy was the only one with fresh tires.  Plus it must have had a fresh engine too.  Or a bigger engine.  Definitely more grunt than the other fairground go-karts. I mean anybody can put their foot to the floor.  I was passing everybody.

Was it Rahal who had my go-kart impounded?
   I passed Rahal going into the corner at the end of the back straight.  (Let me tell you, Rahal has a really mean dead-eye stare when you pass him.)

              I passed Mears on the front straight. Just rolled right by him. 
              It was a great feeling and for a few milliseconds there, turning into that corner after passing the four time Indy 500 winner, I toyed with the thought that I too could be a racer.  Except, of course for being the wrong size (way too big), too slow (way too slow) in my reaction times and my mind wanders.
             Darlin', none of that didn't matter at all. When they posted the lap times, I had the fastest lap and I was on pole for the feature race.  Plus the proud owner of a new black leather jacket with Marlboro Pole Award stitched on the front.

            I wandered off with Rick Mears to try out a drag race simulator.  A half hour later I was still trying to get the hang of dra gracing when the feature race started without me.  Turns out I wouldn't have started anyway.   They had impounded my go-kart for obvious fraud.   

           Yeah, I could have been a racer.  If only I had a car that was a lot faster than everybody else’s. 

           In the meantime, I’ve got the jacket. 

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