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2006 Portland Champ Car Race

5

What a great weekend. Since 1985, my father and I have gone to the Champ Car (formerly Indy Car) race at Portland International Raceway on or around Father’s Day weekend. This year was a great one.

Saturday was a great day. We watched some on track activities, including a go cart race in which Rowdy Roddy Piper competed (not too well, but very entertaining to watch spin out all over). During the Champ Car qualifying session, we were sitting right at the beginning of the main straightaway. Paul Tracy was driving hard for a good spot, and threw the back end of his car out toward the wall. He saved the car from crashing by spinning the tires, keeping him in the center of the track and lining the car up so it was going backward down the straightaway. The tires lit up a whole bunch of smoke, and by the time the smoke cleared, he had spun the car back around and was off on his way. That was really impressive to see from only about 30 feet away.

Saturday evening, we took our annual trip to Malibu Grand Prix in Tigard. It’s a fun place to go. The main attraction is the road course that is behind the building. You can race high powered go carts around the track. The laps are timed, racing one at a time. We always battle to see who gets the best time. This year I got it at 53.886 seconds (within a second of the week’s posted fast lap).

Sunday was great, the weather was mid 70s and the sky was overcast: perfect race conditions. Before the race started, we were spectating from the pit area, where all kinds of crazy things were happening. First, we saw three women who looked like Chiquita Banana ladies strolling down the walkway while dancing, followed by a six-man band. Two drummers, a bass player, lead guitar, saxophone, and even a trombone. They were just jamming and having a great old time. I have no idea what it was for, they had no signs of marketing on them, it was great. After following them for a couple minutes, we made it to the start/finish line area for the opening festivities. While waiting, we saw a five-man mariachi band. They played right in front of us and were just great. They were every bit as into their performance as the Chiquita banana people were into theirs.

To start off the race, a recently deployed military troop from Oregon called out the command for the drivers to start their engines over a broadcast, that was very cool.

So we headed up to our seats in the grandstand by the first group of turns on the track. We were nearing our seats, looking for the best spot, and I noticed somebody. It was racing legend Bobby Rahal. I grew up watching him consistently finish Indy Car races in the top three, winning the championship three times. Both of us shook his hand, told him how we enjoyed watching him race, and proceeded to sit down right next to him for the first 20 laps of the race.

It was getting close to the first round of pit stops, so we headed back down into the pit area. We were right in the area of three pit crews. All three cars came in and had great stops, and were out quickly. Watching and hearing a Champ Car take a pit stop is something everyone should witness. Those engines are so powerful, and when idling, you can feel it in your chest. The pit crews are amazing as well. They work so fast, it’s crazy.

We watched the rest of the race from the East Bank, were the true fans have always sat. It was a great race, not one yellow flag came out, so it was high speed from green to checkered. AJ Allmendinger, the sole American in the race, got the lead early on and held it through the whole race to win the first of his career, as well as breaking Sébastien Bourdais’ streak of four victories in a row.

It was a perfect weekend with a perfect ending. I look forward to the race in 2007.

Comments (5)

So…Jealous…

Haha… that Chiquita Banana lady is hot. I had to bypass XStop to view it, even! Sounds like you had yourself a fine time. By the way… Jason Lytle is supposed to be playing at a club up in Salt Lake at the beginning of August.

Hey Frank,

Good article. Yes, a grand time was had by all. I think there was more highlights on this trip than any others I remember. The save by Paul Tracy on Saturday was something rare indeed and to be RIGHT THERE was awesome. And the all consuming roar of the Champ Cars in the pits was as good as it gets. Then the staight up big bang fire works that we heard/saw were perfect. And speaking of perfect, there was that moment when I recognized everything was perfect, you and I were standing next to the plethora of Ferraris when i was overcome with the feeling of total contentment, it dosen’t get any better than that. So… a great weekend! By the way, I think you just got lucky at the Malibu racetrack when you beat me (again, as like the previous 5-6 years). There is always next years (and I’m grateful for that)!

Bill

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