H-Town Double Down, Round 2
Day 2 of Father-Daughter Grand Prix of Houston Weekend dawned rainy and cold, the USF 2000 cars throwing spray into our faces as they skittered past on the soaking track. The rain had mostly stopped by the Pirelli World Challenge race, and gave way to beautiful blue skies and a very comfortable breeze for the second IndyCar race of the weekend. Quite a contrast to the 100-degree heat and high humidity of the day before!
Our day began around 10 a.m., as Dad and I tromped through the rain puddles onto the race grounds and made a beeline (well, I did, and he followed) for the Cadillac Racing stand. Bright red Cadillac Racing t-shirts in hand, we made another beeline (me again) for our seats in the Main Grandstand to catch my very favorite race, the Pirelli World Challenge. I introduced Dad to the Wagnerian wonder of the Cadillac Racing exhaust note, and I am proud to say that he gets it.
I do dearly love the Pirelli World Challenge series. The cars are beautiful, the noise is sublime and the intensity is…well, intense. The race in Houston was the last of the season, and determined who won the championship. With multiple lead changes and unpredictable developments (a tire puncture here, a wall meet-and-greet there), the outcome was uncertain right to the end. Ultimately, Cadillac won the race and the championship, although Volvo Racing made an excellent showing.
I’m editing a series of photos from this race, and can’t wait to show you!
The course had mostly dried by the time the IndyCar race started, and the beautiful weather made picture-taking quite a bit easier than the sweltering day before. Here are some unedited photos of the race (click each for a larger version with much more detail):
We had a great vantage point right at Turn 10, the final turn before the Start/Finish line. Because of the rough condition of the track and the downhill, off-camber nature of Turn 10, we kept half expecting a spinout and wall collision right in front of us, particularly after the #55 car did just that in Saturday’s qualifying. As it turned out, and as you may have read, the wall collision happened, not on top of us at Turn 10, but on top of quite a few spectators at Turn 5, when, on the final lap of the race, Dario Franchitti’s #10 car went airborne, splintered the catchfence and somewhat disintegrated, catapulting chunks of car, fence and tire into the Turn 5 grandstand. Franchitti and a few spectators were taken to the hospital, and all of us took a deep breath, mindful of the stark reality that milliseconds and millimeters are all that separate the beauty of this sport from the potential for devastation that always lurks when you flirt with the edge.
I was actually interviewed by the Houston Chronicle regarding the Franchitti accident and will post the article if I can get my hands on it (and if they did actually quote me – ha!).
This was a weekend of great experiences and memory-making, and I feel so fortunate to have been able to share it with my dad. Thanks for the memories, Covey 540. Let’s do it again sometime.
Ah yes, we’ll do it again. Great fun. But you missed getting a photo of the B-17 fly-by on Saturday! The B-25 and friends are good, too, but your great-uncle flew the B-17. Those radial engines have a note as sweet to a pilot’s ear as the Caddies’ note was to yours. (I liked them too.)
I think you’d better explain the Covey 540 thing… I’m too modest and retiring. Well, at least I’m retired…
Folks, allow me to explain the Covey 540 thing. The author’s Dad flew hundreds of air combat missions during the Vietnam War, as the pilot of a small FAC (Forward Air Control) airplane called the OV10 Bronco. He flew over the heavily defended “Ho Chi Minh Trail” in Laos, controlling air strikes and dodging anti-aircraft fire. She so perfectly described the sport of auto racing with, “the potential for devastation that always lurks when you flirt with the edge.” Her Dad, Tim, did indeed,
“… flirt with the edge,” as a young Air Force pilot.
Thanks for that, Paul. You said it better than I could have.
And Paul would know, folks. We served together doing the same job. But, hey, this is Motorista’s gig.