Somwhere "Over the Moon"

Posted by Iannucci | 4/05/2006 | 1 comments »
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Rahal Letterman officially announced that Jeff Simmons will take over the No. 17 Ethanol ride for the remainder of the season. That would be the car Paul Dana drove. Simmons appeared at a press conference with new teammates Buddy Rice and Danica!, whom Simmons reportedly met 5 minutes beforehand for the first time. Sadly, it was not reported if he is any relation to “I Am Mindy” composer Gene Simmons.

Speaking of Dana, two notable IRL journalists – and really, there aren’t that many – have taken the opportunity of Dana’s death to trash him as a driver. Robin Miller of SpeedTV says Dana was “over the moon to be running an Indy Car,” while John Oreovicz of writes Dana was not “skilled enough to compete in the IndyCar Series.” Oh, how hindsight is 20/20, where an author can write about how obvious something was to everyone even though no one had previously mentioned it. I realize these guys have a vested interest in looking smart, but the fact is neither of them published a piece about Dana’s inability to drive BEFORE his fatal accident.

And really, that’s what happened on March 26th; Dana had an accident. A lapse in judgment, a brain cloud. And as Brian Barnhart pointed out similar lapses have occurred in the heads of Indy 500 champions like Jacques Villeneuve and Mario Andretti. Also, no one seems to mention that Dana hit some debris 30 yards before striking ECGs car, which may have turned an otherwise close call into a fatal mistake.

I don’t know whether or not Dana was “skilled enough” to drive in the IRL, but I do know before March 26th enough people had decided he was. So for now let’s just stick to facts. Did he fail to slow down when other cars did? Yes, that was clearly his mistake. Did it cost him his life? Sadly, it did. Did a single mistake make a him an unqualified driver? No. Did he get his ride in the No. 17 because the sponsor wanted him? Of course, and you can be quite sure that Jeff Simmons was given the nod by Ethanol before the press announcement.

Miller and Oreovicz are otherwise fine writers, but with these pieces they are no more than vultures picking over Paul Dana's remains…and for what it's worth, I haven’t yet seen any articles from either of them about how unqualified Simmons is to be racing in the IRL.


  1. Anonymous // April 06, 2007 1:56 PM  

    I both agree and disagree with you. It was in bad taste for them to write these articles after Dana's death, but to say that no one questioned his ability before the accident is just wrong. I remember multiple time hearing that he wasn't ready for the IndyCars, and he even had his license revoked after his Indy crash in 2006. There were questions of his ability well before his wreck.