The 1995 saga continues! This week, we plunge on to the shore of Lake Erie for the annual what-the-hell-am-I-watching runway spectacle at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio. Michael Andretti arrives from Toronto on a one-race winning streak having stoutly defended himself from the attentions of Bobby Rahal, who sort of materialized behind the leader at half distance in his typical way but went no further, as Michael used all his late-braking, wide-driving, backmarker-nudging skills to keep in front to score a first victory of the year. Jacques Villeneuve carries his points lead to Cleveland having been denied a home win by badly-timed yellows, but he did beat Teo Fabi and a charging Robby Gordon to a third place and humongous 25-point advantage over [checks notes] Rahal, this time.
This being the nostalgic, soft-focus 1995 free of the curse of labour and sin of property alike, we skate past the political stormclouds that were a-brewing in open-wheel racing that summer and instead head straight for ice cream stand selling the delicious confection that is 27 Indycars racing at a converted airport that from above sort of looks like a racing car. Expect passing, attrition, hopefully a big aeroplane in the background and the first-18-separated-by-one-second close competition that Indycar spoils us with. Best of all, you can watch it from your own home and not, say, from a temporary grandstand at the edge of an airport runway in the mid-July heat. You’re welcome!
What happened Friday and Saturday? Qualifying saw Gil de Ferran scoop up his first pole position with the attractive Pennzoil Reynard that never finishes races, with serial front-row hogger Jacques Villeneuve lining up second with his yet-more attractive Player’s Reynard, which has seen Victory Lane three times already this season. Bryan Herta continues his madcap year of attempting to start from each row of the grid with the third-fastest time, a mere four-hundredths of a second slower than De Ferran on pole. Top Lola is Paul Tracy in P6, and once again as Jacques prospers, his championship rivals are upper-midfield at best.
1. Gil de Ferran 57.815, Hall R/M/G
2. Jacques Villeneuve +0.011, Team Green R/F/G
3. Bryan Herta +0.039, Ganassi R/F/G
4. Teo Fabi +0.196, Forsythe R/F/G
5. Andre Ribeiro +0.203, Tasman R/H/F
6. Paul Tracy +0.233, Newman-Haas L/F/G
7. Scott Pruett +0.265, Patrick L/F/F
8. Robby Gordon +0.273, Walker R/F/F
9. Raul Boesel +0.406, Rahal-Hogan L/M/G
10. Michael Andretti +0.414, Newman-Haas L/F/G
11. Bobby Rahal +0.500, Rahal-Hogan L/M/G
12. Mo Gugelmin +0.503, PacWest R/F/G
Unser 13th, Vasser 15th, Emmo 17th. Parker Johnstone is back in the Acura-sponsored Reynard-Honda, and Eric Bachelart and Marco Greco continue their part-seasons with Payton/Coyne and Galles respectively.
Here we go then! Cleveland! Video below, regular start time of Sunday, 6pm BST if that’s alright with everyone.