Spring Training Buzz
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A certain amount of excitement buzzed around the paddock at
Spring Training. One of the most important events received little
notice. Kirk Russell took over the job of Chief Steward from
Wally Dallenbach. Kirk moves up from V.P. of Competition. The
Chief Steward position is the most important job in CART. Kirk
is a good guy and competent but he's going to need all the luck
he can get. If the drivers and/or owners challenge him and things
get nasty the series will suffer. Wally stays on as a consultant.
I hope these guys are still smiling at the end of the season.
Kirk and Wally
Sylvester Stallone showed up announcing a new movie based
on CART. He made a run at Formula 1 but they treated him crappy,
as they treat everyone. His movies are mostly awful. Movie producers
have the same sickness as TV producers, they have to spin and
color and hype the subject. A simple documentary on racing would
be wonderful. It's already exciting enough and full of interesting
characters for sure. Sly will screw it up. I hope I'm wrong.
Mo Nunn was, reportedly, making a million dollars a year engineering
for Alex Zanardi and then Juan Montoya at Ganassi Racing. Ganassi
won four straight championships. Mo started MoNunn Racing and
hired Tony Kanaan away from Steve Horne at Forsythe Championship
Racing. Mo's first driver choice was Helio Castro-Neves but he
went to Penske.
The Ilmor/Mercedes-Benz engine had a disastrous '99 season.
Players/Forsythe switched to Ford/Cosworth power and Penske changed
to Honda. That left PacWest as the lone M-B entry. So M-B funded
Mo's team. He's looking for sponsors with some clever logos on
the car. The big one on the sidepod says "mo speed."
Others are "mo grip," "mo power," and "mo
Paul Page and Parker Johnstone will be back as CART announcers
on ABC and ESPN. That's Mr. Page in the middle talking to Shawn
Murphy, the producer. Shawn grew up in Indy and started going
to races when he was five. "We won't change much this year,"
he told me. "It's mainly the same people in the booth and
in the pits (Gary Gerould and Jon Beekhuis). We'll try to make
things more crisp. It's impossible for us to show a race on television
that looks the same as a fan can see in the stands. Your eyes
can switch back and forth from car to car and turn to turn much
faster than we can switch cameras. But we try."