View from the Topside
Road America postscript and 2007's new venues

   by Rick Benjamin
September 28, 2006

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Katherine Legge is one tough cookie
Champ Car

Maybe the most welcome sight of the 2006 racing season came not during Sundayís Champ Car return to Road America, but afterwards. Katherine Legge, who somehow came through one of the most frightening wrecks Iíve ever seen with just a few bruises, was seated at the next table for the Champ Car Atlantics banquet.

Weíd already seen Lady Katherine on television emerging intact from the Champ Car Medical Unit, before chatting with my colleague Jon Beekhuis. I knew that her toughness and her real racerís attitude had stood her in good stead during the wreck.

But somehow seeing her myself, in person, was a great relief anyway. Katherine may not yet have won her first Champ Car race but her charm and determination are confirmed. And I believe her talent has been as well. Her Bell Micro/Warriors in Pink Lola was at its best Sunday and Katherine was poised to register her best road course finish of the year.

Knowing that her wreck was not caused by driver error was also a great relief. Everyone, even world-class racers, makes mistakes. But in a high-stakes, high-speed game like big-time open wheel racing, driver errors by their very nature can carry a very high cost. The late Red Smith once said ďthereís no cheering in the press boxĒÖbut I donít think Iíll be the only one applauding Leggeís first Champ Car victory. And there were plenty of us applauding Sunday as she emerged from the big yellow and green Champ Car trailer in the paddock at Road America.

Hereís hoping PKV can put together an even better ride for Katherine at Surfers and at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez to close the season.

Nearly as impressive was the appearance in public for the first time of Champ Carís new DP01 race car, set to open the new season in Vegas in April. Iíd of course seen the car before, in its San Jose unveiling. But to watch the beautiful new machine actually on track and at something close to race pace was electrifying. Maybe the most amazing part of the effort to bring the new chassis to the grid is the realization that the car you might have seen Saturday and Sunday was the same car that was in the spotlight out in California at the end of May, and the same car thatís run more than 2000 test miles at muggy Sebring at the hand of veteran Roberto Moreno. Iím hoping the aero tweaks included in the design, aimed at allowing closer competition, will really pay off come race time next year.

Now that the dust has settled in Phoenix, the new Champ Car schedule is out. While Iíll miss the Milwaukee Mile, Monterrey, and Montreal, I think Champ Car and its new VP of Venue Development John Clagett have done a terrific job expanding Champ Carís reach while developing key new markets. Street races in Vegas and Phoenix plus the move to Mt. Tremblant in Quebec will be big winners, I believe, and the trip to China next May will be one for the ages. Iím among the fans of natural-terrain road courses whoís pleased to see Road America back for another season, as well.

Thereís obviously a gap in the slate in September. Thatís where the much-discussed European rounds were supposed to end up. Word late in the Road America weekend was that financial arrangements with the local promoter hadnít been completed. At this point thereís no firm word on whether that will happen, so the schedule may be complete at 15 events next year. But that gap between August and October is pretty long and should be very inviting to prospective promoters, so logic suggests we could well see Champ Car in action somewhere during that stretch.

There are of course still plenty of blanks to be filled in regarding the coming season for the Champ Car World Series, but with new teams on the horizon set to take on the established squads, the new venues, and the new race car nearly ready for delivery, I suspect weíre on the verge of a new golden era for the Champ Car World Series.. and Iím really looking forward to the ride.

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Columns by Rick

Las Vegas GP Preview

Champ Car Laguna Seca postscript

Champ Car on verge of significant announcements

2007 NASCAR Media Tour Day 1

We enjoy the PRI Trade Show

A joyful holiday season this year for Champ Car teams

Who will have rides in Champ Car in 2007?

Looking ahead to Mexico City

What will Champ Car look like in 2007?

Road America postscript and new 2007 venues

Looking ahead to Road America

Looking ahead to Montreal

 Looking ahead to Denver

Looking ahead to Edmonton - Many storylines

For Allmendinger, life could not be any brighter

A big sigh of relief

Bourdais threatening to make it a runaway

Houston postscript

Looking ahead to Houston

Long Beach postscript

Paul Dana was living his dream

2006 Champ Car seats filling up

A view from the top - Miscellaneous pres-season ramblings

A look at the All-American Driver Challenge

2006 NASCAR Media Tour - Day 4 Wrap-Up

2006 NASCAR Media Tour - Day 3 Familiar Faces

2006 NASCAR Media Tour - Day 2 Toyota announces teams

2006 NASCAR Media Tour - Day 1

Some off-season thoughts heading into the holidays

A look at the collapse of the National Sprintcar League

Champ Car: Miscellaneous Ramblings

Champ Car teams/drivers in transition over the winter

A well deserved 2nd title for Sebastien Bourdais

We look at the benefits of the new Champ Car

Who will win Champ Car's only Superspeedway race?

A look ahead to Las Vegas, Champ Car's only Superspeedway race

Bourdais' winning percentage stacks up with the best of them

Looking ahead to Denver and Paul Tracy's first NASCAR race

Looking ahead to San Jose

Champ Car hits a home run in Toronto

Send F1 far from these shores

Milwaukee musings

May Happenings

Newman/Haas has a good chance to win Indy 500

Sebastien Bourdais and ALMS are making news

Bristol review, Long Beach preview

A look back at Sebring

A peak at Champ Car TV for 2005

IROC is foreign for the open wheel drivers

Rolex 24 Recap: A short day for Champ Car drivers

Champ Car drivers take on other stars in Rolex 24

Champ Car is in the driver's seat

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