As I write this, we’re about
to find out who the NFL’s two Super Bowl teams will be, with the Big
Game a couple of weeks away. But while most in my family try to root for the
New England Patriots on to another title, I’m setting my sights on
warmer climes. It’s almost time to put race cars on race tracks for real
in 2005, and that’s a thought that should warm the heart of anyone who
loves our sport.
I’ll have the distinct pleasure of heading to Phoenix at the end of the
coming week for my first broadcast of the new year, the NASCAR West
season opener at Phoenix International Raceway.
Yes, the West series has
struggled of late, losing its title sponsor when Winston had to leave
the sport two years ago. And yes, there’s no schedule for NASCAR’s Grand
National series announced as yet, other than opening weekend at the
rejuvenated Copper World Classic next Saturday and Sunday.
But just the thought of
visiting the Valley of the Sun in January and hearing motors fire surely
quickens this fan’s pulse. Hope you can join us on HDNet Sunday
afternoon, to close January.
For those of us who are rooting hard for the Champ Car World Series to
continue on its new growth curve, the following weekend is even more
enticing. The Rolex 24 will play to mostly empty grandstands at Daytona,
but I say a ticket to the Rolex is one of the great bargains in the
You never know what the
weather in central Florida will be the first weekend in February. But
again this season the France family and the Grand Am hierarchy has done
a wonderful job bringing together a terrific cross section of driving
talent from many top series. Champ Car will be well represented at the
Rolex, given that the past three series champs will drive.
PL Newman at
I can’t wait to see Cristiano da Matta in action alongside Sebastien
Bourdais at Daytona. Da Matta might be a bit rusty, but pairing with Seabass surely makes the Newman-Brockman Daytona Prototype team one to
I think, though, that the
best shot for a Champ Car win in the Rolex lies with Paul Tracy’s effort
for the Bell Motorsports team. The Kodak squad is the defending Daytona
champ, and they’ll also field former Champ Car star Christian
Fittipaldi, Ralf Kelleners, plus the incredible Terry Borcheller…who
might be the best American racer you’ve never heard of. Despite the
presence of three of Roush Racing’s finest in a Ford-powered Daytona
Prototype, and another 25 or so DP teams, my money’s on Tracy in his
return to sports cars.
Given that the Rolex field also includes other NASCAR champions and
several IRL stars, a win by either the Newman team or the Tracy-led
squad will give Champ Car fans plenty to cheer about all summer long.
And even though the season’s first road race is one of the toughest
tests in the sport, I wouldn’t bet against it. The best part is we’ll
find out in just two weeks.
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