The winter off-season when there is not a lot of racing going on is rough on me. For the majority of the late 1990s and early 2000s I passed this time Polar bear style, but the patience of those I share this house with in regards to hibernating from Interlagos until the Daytona 500 every year began to run out once I entered my 20s. And so I found a new hobby: endlessly Youtubing old races and reveling in the joy that comes with living in a day and age where I don't actually have to remember anything.
I've relived a lot of my biggest racing memories in the past couple months and so since we haven't had a thread like this in a while, I'd say it's about time to dust off some classics. In a desperate attempt not to feel too self-absorbed, I want y'all to participate too: what are the 5 most powerful moments car racing has given you in the last 5 years? Good and bad, important or inconsequential, achingly funny or achingly sad. No particular order necessary, and video links encouraged. Here are my five:
Juan Pablo Montoya versus the jet dryer at the 2012 Daytona 500:
By a wide margin one of the most hilarious things to have happened in NASCAR in a good few years, audiences all over the world returned from the 964th commercial that race to a rather different scene than they'd been used to the previous 963 times that night NASCAR had tried to convince you that Popeye's is the only acceptable place for white people to eat chicken, that you need Cialis even if glory shots of Danica Patrick in the pre-race a mere 2 hours before had proven your penis is working perfectly, and that you can't call yourself a man until you own a bigger truck than your neighbor.
The scene they came back to was of a plump Columbian in a blood-red firesuit squeezing out of the remains of his race car, while in the background the truck NASCAR uses to clear debris (the debris that isn't invisible, anyway) was burning to the ground. Though replays didn't give a great view, we saw enough to piece together what had happened: Montoya had pitted when he sensed something wrong with the car, the crew had smacked various parts of the chassis with a hammer to fix the problem, and then when Montoya hit 160mph on the back stretch in an attempt to catch up to the rest of the field under caution, a wild suspension collapse appeared!
For a brief, glorious stretch of time, it seemed Dave Blaney would be declared the winner, as the race seemed unlikely to restart. NASCAR however, in a rare example of common sense overruling actual rules, patiently used Tide™ to clean up the track, which had melted. Matt Kenseth eventually took the win, ahead of Dale Earnhardt jr. and Greg Biffle, the chequered flag flying at 1:00am on Tuesday, February 28th, 2012.
J.R. Hildebrand snatches defeat from the jaws of victory at the 2011 Indianapolis 500:
The Indianapolis 500 is consistently exciting, but in 2011 "500" would better signify the number of jaws broken as they fell out of the heads of fans watching the last lap of the race. J.R. Hildebrand, who was one of America's Next Great Talents, lead the 500 going into the final turn, when he attempted to lap backmarker Charlie Kimball. Five seconds later, Hildebrand was attempting to drive a three-wheeled IndyCar across the line in first place, and for the rest of his life will be attempting to forget that he was unable to do so. Hildebrand got loose on the marbles on the outer groove of turn four and clattered into the wall. He stayed on the throttle but the damage had been done.
Dan Wheldon, who had been looking set for an excellent 2nd-place finish, flew past Hildebrand on the straight before the flag and took his second Indy 500 victory. It was to be his last. Hildebrand finished second, 2.1 seconds behind the winner, with Graham Cracker Rahal third.
Jenson Button passes Sebastien Vettel on the last lap of the Canadian GP in 2011:
Championship-wise Button's last-lap pass on the Finger meant very little, but it capped off a tremendously strange race in an unlikely fashion and came at a time where many of us were aching for someone, anyone, to beat Vettel to the chequered. The race started behind the safety car, which I remember vividly because my wrist still makes a satisfying clicking noise when I move it after I punched the wall next to my TV when I saw the news of the safety car start. Hamilton and Webber collided early and both dropped back, Button then coming together with Hamilton in an incident that divided this forum more powerfully than if an earthquake had literally broken the Autosport servers in two.
Button was later nabbed for speeding behind the safety car and forced to do a drive-through, dropping to 15th. After a 2-hour rain delay in which David Coulthard entertained us all by commentating on birds playing in puddles, the race resumed. Lost in the excitement of the finish was the unfortunate cocking up of what would've been an even better story: for a time, it seemed Michael Schumacher might've won. As it happened, Schumi finished 4th, with Webber 3rd and Vettel 2nd. For once.
Remember this. It may never happen again.
EDIT: WE GIF NOW!
The 2011 IndyCar World Championship and the death of Dan Wheldon:
The final round of the 2011 IndyCar Series was not the first time I had seen a racing driver forced to pay the bill for the happiness the sport brings all involved with it, but it was the first time I had been old enough to understand the severity of the situation. For those that don't follow IndyCar, this race was the final race for the current chassis, and the new Dallara coming for 2012 meant that this race would be the cheapest to enter for a long time before and after. 34 cars started the race, a large number of which were part-timers and one-offs. It's easy to say now, but 34 cars on a 1.5 mile track where it is aerodynamically speaking almost impossible to separate from the pack was never going to end particularly well. In the event, it ended profoundly sadly.
A note: that is Will Power's car and he was not seriously injured.
Tony Kanaan was leading on the 12th lap when contact towards the head of the field began a chain reaction which would take a man who was by all accounts a fine human being away from the racing world. What I took away from the race that day was more than I wanted to, not the least of which how badly the situation was covered by the broadcasters (at one point, before the announcement of Wheldon's death was made, there was a graphic shown and discussed listing all drivers who had passed away the same year they had won the Indy 500), and then the announcement itself was botched when the live feed cut to IndyCar's official statement halfway through it. I also learned that the opinions regarding IndyCar from people like David Coulthard are rarely troubled by knowing anything at all about the series. The entire ordeal was heartbreaking to the last: Wheldon had been competing for $5,000,000 bonus if he had been able to win, which would've been split between him and a fan. Several drivers like Paul Tracy and Davey Hamilton were likely in their last races in the series and hoping for a respectable sendoff. What affected me most was seeing live something we all already knew in the back of our minds: that accidents happen and it doesn't have to be anyone's fault. That someone who was here in front of your eyes sixty seconds ago is now gone forever, and how you can be crushed to "lose" someone you've never even met. Wheldon didn't make a mistake: it was simply out of his hands.
There was a five-lap salute and that was that. The new Dallara which Wheldon had helped test was named the DW12 in his honor, and IndyCar has been ten out of ten exciting since then.
2013 Aaron's 499: David Ragan wins at Talladega:
If you want to talk about some God damn awesome finishes from last year this one is the benchmark. With darkness falling and insufficient lights around the track, NASCAR cancelled the customary 3 attempts to finish the race and announced there would be only one attempt to finish, the green flag flying with two laps to go.
David Ragan, driving for backmarkers Front Row Motorsports, got a push from his teammate David Gilliland. Both were at the right place at the right time and with half a lap to go, blasted past Carl Edwards. Though Talladega is well-known for throwing up unexpected results, it would've been less surprising to those watching the race that day if the sky had fallen down.
It was one of those rare moments in racing where even cynical bastards such as myself can find nothing to complain about, and I for one wandered around grinning ear to ear all day for the week after the race. It was simply an awesome result after a heart-in-throat finish.
- The two Hondas do a Red Bull: Matt Neal takes out leader and teammate Gordon Shedden on the final corner of the BTCC race at Oulton Park in 2011.
- Japanese commentary dubbed over the enormous Trucks crash at Talladega a few months ago.
- James Hinchcliffe in one of the best finishes of the year steals victory at the last corner in Brazil, 2013.
- Jacques Villeneuve lives the dream of every motorsports fan: giving Danica's ass a little attention at the Nationwide race at Road America in 2012.
- Franchitti vs. Sato, Indy 2012.
- The sad passings of Allan Simonsen and Georg Plasa.
- Who throws a sledgehammer? Honestly?
- Takuma Sato becomes an IndyCar winner at Long Beach in 2013.
- Max Slapis, part 1 and part 2.
- A lucky escape for Memo Gidley at the 2014 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
- Something's ****ed up: Danica Patrick leading the Nationwide race at Montreal, until a wild Shoe appears! Wild Shoe uses Laces! It's super effective!
Well, enough of that. What is your top 5?
Edited by Andrew Hope, 05 February 2014 - 08:27.