Quotes of the Week

“I would like to give thanks for everything to everybody who is watching this right now. I give good luck to everybody. I appreciate everything. Thank you very much." And then Cristiano gave the command to start the Grand Prix of Road America Champ Car race at Elkhart Lake where he had his serious accident on August 3 when his race car collided with a deer during a test session, "Drivers start your engines!" (Cristiano expressed his sincere gratitude to everyone for their concern and support during his hospitalization. He has now returned to his Miami home to continue his rehabilitation.)

ANTONIO DA MATTA, Father of Cristiano da Matta, RuSPORT Champ Car driver
"We are most thankful to have our son back. As we all know, he was hurt very badly and almost died. When he started to get better and to wake up, then you just pray that he can be normal again, or close to it. But this is just amazing. As you can see, he's the same old Cristiano. Dr. Johnson calls him 'A walking miracle.'" (Antonio da Matta, the patriarch of this close-knit Brazilian family, with wife Maria and sons Felipe and Gustavo, camped outside Cristiano's hospital room for the better part of seven weeks after Cristiano's serious accident when his race car collided with a deer during a test session at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.)

KATHERINE LEGGE, PKV Racing, Champ Car driver
“I am a bit shaken, but I’m okay as you can see. All my bits are intact so that’s good. That goes to show how strong Champ Cars are. It was a big impact, but hopefully everything will be fine for the next race at Surfers Paradise. I don’t think I was really aware of what was going on. All of a sudden the car just sped up and hit the wall. Then I saw ground and dirt was coming in and I saw the fence. Honestly you are thinking what is going to happen next. I think I saw bits breaking off and going all around me. And I think that I saw the engine split away because the car caught on fire. The thing that scared me the most was, Oh my God it’s going to catch fire. Then when the engine went away, I thought okay that’s good. So it was a bit scary. I think I had my eyes closed for a lot of it to be honest. I just banged my knee. When you get thrown around in the car upside down, you bang your legs on the bulkhead and on the steering column. Just a bit of bruising which won’t look too attractive in my dress at the Atlantic’s banquet tonight." She asked kiddingly, “I don’t think the crew will be able to fix the car, will they?" When she was asked to explain her mindset of getting back in a race car that can do that, Katherine said, “I’d get back in and finish the race. I think you have to be a bit detached to be a race car driver, right? You have to have a bit of a screw loose. Honestly, it’s just one of those things. It goes to show how strong the Champ Cars are. Yes, it was scary. And yes, that’s the chance I take when I drive one of these cars. It’s what I do. It’s probably more dangerous riding horses or something like that. You just have to put it to one side and have a healthy respect for it, but meanwhile keep doing what you do." (Commenting about the horrific accident in the Grand Prix of Road America Champ Car race at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin when the rear wing came off her car.)

NORBERTO FONTANA, former Sauber F1 driver
''Jean Todt came to my motor home and said that we must block Michael Schumacher's title rival, Jacques Villeneuve, if he comes up behind me. It was a strict order. And I did it. To this day I regret what I did. Schumacher and Todt never thanked me, because they lost.'' (Nine years after the fact, former Sauber racer Norberto Fontana has threatened to deepen the saga of F1's championship finale of 1997.)

PETER SAUBER, Advisor (former Team Principal and Owner) BMW-Sauber F1 team
''In the nine years that we cooperated, Ferrari never expressed the desire that we should obstruct an opponent of Michael Schumacher on the track.'' (Sauber has denied former team racer Norberto Fontana's claim that he was ordered by Ferrari to block Jacques Villeneuve at the 1997 championship finale at Jerez. Sauber, since bought and renamed by BMW, was powered by customer Ferrari engines until 2005.)

FLAVIO BRIATORE, Managing Director, Renault F1 team
''Why do these teams build such enormous and expensive motor homes? We don't and Ferrari don't (because) TV viewers never see them. I also don't understand Ron's new (McLaren) factory. What good did it do his team? The bigger the factory, the less efficient it is." He also asked, "Why always (start the race at) 2 pm? It's a stupid time — to watch a grand prix you have to f*** up your whole Sunday.'' Briatore then revealed that, despite recently dumping the British engineer, Toyota multiplied Mike Gascoyne's $760,000 Renault salary by a factor of ten when the giant carmaker poached him. (Flavio Briatore has launched an attack on McLaren and other Formula One rivals by accusing them of not focusing on winning races or improving the sport, singling out fellow team principal Ron Dennis, and Japanese giant Toyota, as money wasters.)

ROBIN MILLER, Journalist and TV Analyst
"What really agitates me lately is all these NASCAR teams acting like they really want some of these open wheel kids like Sam Hornish, Jr., AJ Allmendinger and Patrick Carpentier to come down and be Nextel Cup drivers. What a crock! These guys could care less about open wheel drivers. And these poor open wheel drivers don't make a lot of money so they see all those dollar signs in NASCAR. It's like what Paul Tracy said. He kind of experimented in the Busch Series. He's as good a race driver as there is, and he knows there is a big line of demarcation between the guys they want to make it and the guys they don't. They don't want AJ Allmendinger. He's an open wheel California guy. Just like Sam Hornish. He's from the Midwest and he's an Indy 500 winner. Hey, you know what? Go out and run a couple of Truck races and they'll pat you on the back, and if they need you like they needed Michel Jourdain, Jr. and Adrian Fernandez, they'll make you a star for one race in Mexico City. But as soon as the real season starts, you're going to end up like old Christian Fittipaldi. You're going to be driving three or four races, and trying to sell your T-shirts out behind the woodshed. And they're going to say, 'What ever happened to that guy?'"

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