Whether or not you're a fan of the team, if you aren't occasionally peeking a the Panther Racing Q&A then you're missing out on one of the most interesting sites in IndyCar racing. Recently this unbelievable story of loyalty and friendship came courtesy of a question about former drivers.
There are lots of good memories from all the guys that have driven for us. But, I’d say Tomas Enge was one of the most popular of our former drivers. If you know Tomas, he is a real joy to be around, and you can’t be around him long before you’re cracking up with laughter – not always because of what he says, but how he says it with that crazy Czech accent. He’s a great person, and an even better racecar driver. Too bad a lot of his best runs in the IndyCar Series were marred with bad luck: Homestead (gearbox), St. Pete (fuel probe failure on pit stop), Indianapolis (Danica), Richmond (penalty), Texas (electronic), Kansas (dropped wheel nut on pit stop), Nashville (suspension failure), Infineon (fuel strategy), Chicago (suspension failure)...See what I’m saying? But to give you and idea how well-liked Enge remains years after he drove for us - when he had his nasty ALMS crash this year at St. Pete (broken ribs, shattered elbow, collapsed lung, broken ankle) former Panther owner Doug Boles was instrumental in getting Enge transferred to Indianapolis for surgery and proper medical care. Enge spent about three months in Indianapolis recovering and doing rehab (with Panther’s Tim Drudge), and the entire time he lived in the guest bedroom at Jane and John Barnes’ home. I think that alone gives you an idea how well-liked he was around here. Barnes still considers him one of the best drivers on the planet, and if funding was ever in place, you’d probably see him in a Panther car again.Wow. I mean, really - WOW! Especially considering how much equipment Enge tore up for them. It may not have always been his fault but he certainly drove like a cursed man. Not saying I believe in curses or anything, but...
Also in the news from Panther is this story in Motorsport by our buddy the ubiquitous Allan Brewer (sorry I'm a week late on this, Al) on how the Panther Team did some penance for pulling Vitor Meira away from a meet-and-greet at the last minute at Chicagoland. All of those in attendance who were stiffed will be receiving Panther keychains that were made from the carbon-fiber remnants of Vitor's trashed race car.
Memo to all teams: do this. Please.