Scuttlebutt from Michigan

A reader writes, As a subscriber of and a loyal Champ Car race volunteer and series supported I had stepped out of my comfort zone last Sunday and attended the IRL Michigan 400 out of respect to my friend whom asked me to go. After all we went to Surfers Paradise for the CCWS a few years back so that explains "the why" I attended not to mention that we live in Michigan.

What I heard and observed was quite interesting and I'll share it with you and your readers, however since I work as a volunteer for CCWS I ask that my name be withheld if you would please.

I found my way into the paddock about three hours prior to the original start to the race and looked up a few acquaintances that worked in Champ Car a few years back. One is a mechanic on a top IRL team and as we spoke he asked if I was still with CC and responded yes, he said "I wish I was too". As the topic of the new Panoz was addressed he mentioned that the IRL Panoz-G-Force cars were of very poor quality. No two cars were alike; body & chassis parts did not have the same tolerances from one car to the next and that the CC mechanics could be in for a nightmare if the Panoz Quality Control Systems do not improve (one would expect they have by now). He like every one else he currently works with, wants a merger and sooner than later.

Also spoke to John Anderson and he was his usual good natured self.

The grandstands were very sparse.

Marlboro-Penske were giving away the "red hats" as seen on camera. Quite a few motorhomes in the paddock but very little hospitality there unless it was located elsewhere.

Saw long lines by Danica's garage & transporter.

The IRL cars are not only ugly but while working on them in the garages the mechanic attach temporary mufflers to kill some of the noise. Speaking of which I was the only one in our group to bring earplugs and when the cars were turned loose at the start the volume of noise coming out of the Ilmor/Honda was deafening and I don't mean maybe. People all around were covering their ears, running down to the concessions for plugs and fashioning makeshift ones from paper towels. I was offered $100. (in jest) for mine.

I have got to believe that the extreme and constant exhaust noise has to keep people away over the long run. It is just awful. We as CC fans can only hope the turbocharged engines will remain in the series, due to not only a racy sound but non-ear piercing volumes. Name Withheld

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