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Rain at CART races


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#1 ghinzani

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 15:32

Something thats been going over in my mind recently is an image of a wet CART race, possibly on World of Sport (ITV) in the early 80's. It set me to thinking does anyone have details of all the Wet CART races from its inception thru to the end of the 80's? I'd be interested in knowing who of the CART drivers benefitted most, and was it the guys with European experience and not the oval guys like JR and Foyt who handled the conditions best? I know AJ was pretty impressive in the damp at Silverstone in the USAC race but how did guys like these handle full-on rain plus the unfamiliar nature of road racing? BTW the race I am thinking of would probably have been between 82-84, altho I dont think it was Rebacques win in 82. Also it was'nt as late as the wet race in 85 where Jones came 3rd subbing for Mario.

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#2 marty8405

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Posted 06 June 2005 - 23:08

Could it have been the 1st race at the Meadowlands in 1984? Mario Andretti winning what I recall is a mostly wet race. I have this one on tape but can't access it now because I'm moving shortly and its packed somewhere in the pile! Seems to me the American oval guys didn't do to well in the rain, AJ in particular not liking road circuits in his later years.

Rich

#3 TheStranger

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 07:08

Originally posted by marty8405
Could it have been the 1st race at the Meadowlands in 1984? Mario Andretti winning what I recall is a mostly wet race. I have this one on tape but can't access it now because I'm moving shortly and its packed somewhere in the pile!


Though I haven't seen the video myself, the description does match photos of that race I've seen in Chet Jezierski's photomontage Speed! which focuses on that season.


Seems to me the American oval guys didn't do to well in the rain, AJ in particular not liking road circuits in his later years.


Funny thing about that is, when Foyt drove in the Daytona 24 Hours in 1983 (as a late-race addition to the Swap Shop team after his original Aston Martin ride suffered mechanical failure early), he ended up setting lap records under rainy conditions there, helping to propel Preston Henn's Porsche 935 to victory.

For that matter, AJ's last four or so professional wins - all after he stopped winning in the Indy circuit - were in IMSA sports cars, with Bob Wollek as co-pilot each time. His very last victory, Sebring 1985, also was Brilliant Bob's only triumph there.

#4 Mallory Dan

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 12:06

From afar admittedly, but I'd put AJ's IMSA 962 wins down more to Bob than him. Wollek was often sublime in those cars, on both sides of the water.

#5 ghinzani

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 16:53

Originally posted by Mallory Dan
From afar admittedly, but I'd put AJ's IMSA 962 wins down more to Bob than him. Wollek was often sublime in those cars, on both sides of the water.


Remembering the GPI report of the time the two of them were at loggerheads. But still they won. I recall them describing Foyt as having "feet of clay"!!

Meadowlands it could well be, that was the street race in New Yoik? I'm still not sure though. Anyone have any idea WHERE I could find out the weather conditions for all the CART races of the first 10 years? Also anyone know a link to the USAC races ran after 1980 when CART broke away?

#6 ghinzani

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 17:01

Twinny do you remember who wrote the report of the Daytona 24hrs in 84 for GPI? They were definately pro Wollek! Also can you recall anything about the car Kenny Acheson was due to drive in the 84 Indy 500 that was supposed to be a new March and turned out to be an 81 Eagle-Chevy? Another thread threw up the name Hall Properties and car number 92. Interestingly Kenny did run two CART races in 84, DNQing once:
http://www.formulaon...eson/index.html

His race being the one at the Meadowlands, in the wet. Shame he didnt get the chance to shine really.

#7 John B

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Posted 07 June 2005 - 18:15

Was Rahal's win in 1989 in a Kraco car, also at the Meadowlands, during a downpour? I realize that's late but within the end of the 1980s time frame.

I would imagine during 1980-82 Rick Mears would have thrived in rain or intermittent conditions (can't remember if there were wet events back then - there were certainly not as many non-ovals on the schedule).

#8 marty8405

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Posted 08 June 2005 - 02:11

Just a quick note about the 89 Meadowlands race, it wasn't run entirely in the pouring rain but rather finished 5 laps early because of it. I was there and IIRC the track was dry/damp at times then there was a monsoon in the end.

Rich

#9 ghinzani

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 15:12

Originally posted by John B


I would imagine during 1980-82 Rick Mears would have thrived in rain or intermittent conditions (can't remember if there were wet events back then - there were certainly not as many non-ovals on the schedule).


Well Hector Rebacques win at Elkhart lake was in wet conditions and I guess he must have beaten Mears, altho I do remember reading it was a lucky or freak win. Why that is I do not know. Prior to 82 I think the experts on the road courses were Schuppan, Andretti, Rick Mears and Ongais. After that there was an influx of Europeans - Fabi, Daly or Yanks who'd been over here such as Rahal & Sullivan.

#10 FLB

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 19:23

'Uncle' Jacques Villeneuve's only CART win came in a wet-dry race at Road America in 1985. Al Unser, Jr. hit an ambulance (which was on the track for another driver) due to poor visibility and broke his leg.

#11 gbl

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 19:40

Originally posted by ghinzani


Well Hector Rebacques win at Elkhart lake was in wet conditions and I guess he must have beaten Mears, altho I do remember reading it was a lucky or freak win. Why that is I do not know. Prior to 82 I think the experts on the road courses were Schuppan, Andretti, Rick Mears and Ongais. After that there was an influx of Europeans - Fabi, Daly or Yanks who'd been over here such as Rahal & Sullivan.


Rebacque was running in 5th position and one by one the 4 cars before him ran out of fuel, so at the last lap he was suddenly the leader.

#12 Twin Window

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 21:04

Originally posted by ghinzani

Twinny do you remember who wrote the report of the Daytona 24hrs in 84 for GPI? They were definately pro Wollek!

Er, no I don't remember! Could it have been Jonathan Ingram? Gordon Kirby?! I just don't remember without having a major grope in the loft...

Regarding Bob Wollek, wasn't everyone a fan of his? There was an extremely long-running tradition on Autosport which began well before my arrival in 1979 whereby Bob was always described as being, or having done something, 'brilliant' somewhere in every race report - hence the nickname 'Brilliant Bob'. There was one occasion - at Brands I think - when Bob had done bugger all impressive during the entire weekend, thus putting Quentin Spurring in a real quandary; how to keep up the tradition when the man in question had been so mediocre? Problem solved along the lines of "...a not too brilliant weekend for Wollek"!

There was another similarly longstanding tradition whereby the 13th placed crew on stage 13 of the RAC Rally always appeared in the interim results issue as an entirely fictitious Japanese pairing with very dubious frenetic pronunciation.

Other (more random) instances of saw Scottish rugby results being incorporated within the 'flannel panel'!

Also can you recall anything about the car Kenny Acheson was due to drive in the 84 Indy 500 that was supposed to be a new March and turned out to be an 81 Eagle-Chevy? Another thread threw up the name Hall Properties and car number 92. Interestingly Kenny did run two CART races in 84, DNQing once...

During the inaugural Long Beach CART event in 1984, KA and I had a meeting with Bill Hall aboard the Queen Mary which, at the time, was a hotel. Hall offered Kenneth a drive for the season, beginning at Indy with a brand new Lola at his disposal. This was duly accepted on a handshake, and we spent a lot of the remainder of the weekend taking detailed photos of Andretti's Beatrice example in order that Kenneth could acclimatise himself with his new 'office' in advance.

KA was in Indy for the entire month, but the situation was not as promised - as I discovered when I arrived for the last ten days. The Lola hadn't arrived, only the 1981 Eagle Chev you mentioned - with one solitary bloke responsible for all its preparation, right down to hand-painting the numbers - PINK numbers, mind - on the flanks.

Quite rightly, Kenneth refused to drive the thing (we'd all seen the 1981 Ongais shunt in one of the same...) and, AFAIR, the others who did try it out failed to even break into the 190mph bracket. By the time I got there, the aforementioned Eagle (pink numbers et al) was in a roped-off enclosure along with another chassis and available for your very own cockpit shot for a measly dollar. When KA showed it to me, the chap selling the pics offered him the chance to sit aboard for his very own dollar photo! You can guess the response...

IIRC, the Lola did arrive at some later stage, and was sold on to Doug Sheirson who ran it in Domino's Pizza livery for Al Jr and I don't recall hearing of Bill Hall again.

My memory of the events which followed Indy have proved somewhat fallible, but basically he ended up with a deal with Team VDS. The only problem was that they never made a single race, and Kenneth spent severable miserable months in Texas just waiting, waiting, waiting... He (again) followed Emerson into the California Cooler seat, as he'd done at Meadowlands with Pepe Romero's WIT team. I remain convinced that at some stage in 1984 he drove - and crashed - a Skoal Bandit car during practice somewhere, but I'm just going to have to ring him and check as it doesn't appear in any record books apparently

#13 ghinzani

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Posted 09 June 2005 - 21:36

Thank you very much Twinny!! :up: Great stuff! I think you are correct in saying the Lola (why did I think March?) was sold to Sheirson to replace the dismal DSR-1. I also seem to remember Ongais crashing an Interscope not an Eagle, but as you say whats the point of risking your ass at 190mph. Such a shame for KA though, he would have gone well in CART at that time.

BTW what does he do know? Didn't his family have a building business? Just watching the Daytona Prototypes on Sky, Kenny would fit nicely into a series like that I reckon. One of the lost generation of British F1 drivers around that time along with Lees and your man Byrne IMO.

#14 TheStranger

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 02:15

Originally posted by ghinzani
I also seem to remember Ongais crashing an Interscope not an Eagle, but as you say whats the point of risking your ass at 190mph. Such a shame for KA though, he would have gone well in CART at that time.


Yep, it was the Interscope "Batmobile" that Ongais nearly lost his legs with in 1981, the car that if I'm not mistaken was originally designed around the Porsche engine that would be used at LeMans in the 936 that year...it ended up using a Cozzie instead when USAC rule changes essentially forced Porsche out.

#15 Twin Window

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 07:24

Well, I must admit that I'd completely forgotten about the Interscope chassis! :rolleyes:

Whatever, the generic aluminium chassis of just a few years earlier were scary pieces of kit...

#16 ghinzani

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 18:20

Originally posted by Twin Window
Well, I must admit that I'd completely forgotten about the Interscope chassis! :rolleyes:

Whatever, the generic aluminium chassis of just a few years earlier were scary pieces of kit...


I dont know whether I'd prefer pulling aluminium honeycomb splinters or carbon shards out of my ass for the next few years to be honest. But I guess I'd prefer to hit the wall in a carbon suit!

You mentioned they were taking shots of the Eagle at a buck a time, I wonder if any of those photos are floating about? I have heard mention of a good Indycar forum on the net, but I forget its name. Anyone got any suggestions as to where I could go to search a picture of Mr Halls mythical pink Eagle. Twinny I take it the car was another color and only the numbers pink??

We do like to stretch your memory here, keeps you from going senile  ;) :up:

#17 TheStranger

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 18:56

Originally posted by Twin Window
Well, I must admit that I'd completely forgotten about the Interscope chassis! :rolleyes:

Whatever, the generic aluminium chassis of just a few years earlier were scary pieces of kit...


The Gordon Smiley crash tragically proved just how bad of an idea aluminum construction was (and in sports cars, Rolf Stommelen a year later at Riverside).

Was there an interim material between aluminum and carbon fiber? (CF didn't come into use until Porsche's arrival in CART in the late 80s, and didn't become the material of choice until after the political battle that Porsche found itself in before packing up from the series.)

As for the Interscope...it was designed by Roman Slobodynsky (or however his name is spelled), who had designed the Lightning earlier if my memory's correct...Interscope Racing went through a bunch of different chassis in that time, they had run Parnellis in the late 70s and I think they eventually switched to Marches after this crash.

#18 Twin Window

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 19:49

Originally posted by ghinzani

Twinny I take it the car was another color and only the numbers pink??

It was black.

We do like to stretch your memory here, keeps you from going senile  ;) :up:

Er, thanks Ghinza... :lol:

Originally posted by TheStranger

Was there an interim material between aluminum and carbon fiber? (CF didn't come into use until Porsche's arrival in CART in the late 80s...)

I saw the wreckage of Pat Bedard's March after he's demolished it (between turns 3 and 4, IIRC) in 1984 and that definitely had carbon fibre in at least the upper part of the monocoque, as we remarked upon how it had split vertically around the shoulder area!

#19 TheStranger

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 09:10

Originally posted by Twin Window
I saw the wreckage of Pat Bedard's March after he's demolished it (between turns 3 and 4, IIRC) in 1984 and that definitely had carbon fibre in at least the upper part of the monocoque, as we remarked upon how it had split vertically around the shoulder area!


That was an unbelieveably huge crash - and even more amazing that Pat came out of it with only a broken jaw.

He had just finished well in the Group 44 Jaguar a few weeks earlier at Charlotte in IMSA...but this pretty much put an end to his driving half and put him right back behind the typewriter for good. Must say that when I think of the name "Pat Bedard," I think of that black Escort Radar Warning Receiver car first...

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#20 gerrit stevens

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 16:50

Originally posted by gbl


Rebacque was running in 5th position and one by one the 4 cars before him ran out of fuel, so at the last lap he was suddenly the leader.


I don't call that luck, bud bad strategy of the other teams

Gerrit Stevens

#21 gerrit stevens

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 16:55

The Portland race of 1997 (June 22) was certainly a rain soaked race won by Mark Blundell. The race lasted 2 hours. The race was stopped at the 78th lap, the race was scheduled for 98 laps.


Gerrit Stevens

#22 TheStranger

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 17:30

Originally posted by gerrit stevens
The Portland race of 1997 (June 22) was certainly a rain soaked race won by Mark Blundell. The race lasted 2 hours. The race was stopped at the 78th lap, the race was scheduled for 98 laps.


That finish was the closest three-way finish in series history (he JUST beat out De Ferran and Boesel at the line).

#23 ghinzani

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 13:31

Originally posted by Twin Window


Quite rightly, Kenneth refused to drive the thing (we'd all seen the 1981 Ongais shunt in one of the same...)


Did any of thsoe chassis survive?

#24 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 13:40

Originally posted by gerrit stevens
The Portland race of 1997 (June 22) was certainly a rain soaked race won by Mark Blundell. The race lasted 2 hours. The race was stopped at the 78th lap, the race was scheduled for 98 laps.


Gerrit Stevens


Max Papis won the 2001(race?) in equally stupidly wet conditions, so bad that they barely managed (no joke) more than 5 laps at a time without a safety car.

#25 Pikachu Racing

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 17:01

Australia 2002 race comes to mind when Mario Dominguez took the checkered flag of the farce complete with the words, "Does that mean we win?"

Race was ran 41 laps with 36 under yellow. Some believe the race was fixed out of loyalty since the leaders, drivers, and teams behind Dominguez were leaving in some way (jumping to IRL or NASCAR).

#26 B Squared

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 17:41

I can get much more on this subject once home, but two things that immediately come to mind:

"Al Unser, Jr. hit an ambulance (which was on the track for another driver) due to poor visibility and broke his leg." per FLB.

Not true! I was working this race, the rain was coming in to different areas of the circuit. Al was first into the area that became his accident site as the showers started. He started braking for the corner, the car got away from him, it took a hard right into the Armco. I'll have to look at the details (these may be slightly askew, but far closer than FLB's) at home, but I repeat, he did not hit a safety vehicle of any kind. That was Mario & Michael Andretti at Detroit - year unrecalled from the top of my head.
Secondly, I was well aware of Dario Franchitti in his first season of CART for Carl Hogan from his European resume'. Very few others were until his sublime performance in the rain at Road America. He was leading and kept pushing hard. Eventually he stuffed it into the barrier, but he made his name that day for the casual spectator of American single seaters.

Edit: I reviewed this RA race with the August 21, 1997 Autosport and with race video that I filmed from spectating at Canada Corner with an ex-girlfriend. After reading the review, the Franchitti driving looked much better from where we were seated. Reporter Gordon Kirby succinctly states: "Also among those failing to finish was Franchitti, who moved from fourth on the starting grid to second in the opening 11 laps. Four laps later, however, after stopping in the pits for a full-course yellow to change from rain tyres to slicks, the Scot made a mistake while exiting on cold tyres. He was right behind leader Blundell, but tried to accelerate too hard, too early. He lost control, slid across the grass and hit a crash barrier, ending his race." Wow, did I attend the same race? He looked great by us! He was making up great time through our area. Must have been the company that I was with, the cocktails, or both. The '97 Autocourse yearbook stated that Franchitti owner, Carl Hogan, "was not amused" of Franchitti's race exit. Zanardi won his third race in a row, it was his fourth win in the last five races. When Franchitti passed Alex early he got in the wet & spun without damage. Zanardi recovered, dealt with brake issues, and won.

I'm off to review my Al Jr. comments. I was definitely memory challenged on this '97 race.

Brian

#27 red stick

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 19:02

The 1998 Houston Grand Prix through the downtown streets ended in a monsoon, won by Dario Franchitti. It was the first IndyCar race I attended, and I remember the end vividly. In fact, I think the clothes I was wearing that afternoon are still damp.

#28 Jim Thurman

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 19:10

Originally posted by Pikachu Racing
Australia 2002 race comes to mind when Mario Dominguez took the checkered flag of the farce complete with the words, "Does that mean we win?"

Race was ran 41 laps with 36 under yellow. Some believe the race was fixed out of loyalty since the leaders, drivers, and teams behind Dominguez were leaving in some way (jumping to IRL or NASCAR).

I recall those allegations as well, which was pretty funny in comparison to some NASCAR and IRL races. It seemed to mainly be squawking from IRL and NASCAR fans who were desperate to accuse who they felt were their accusers.