His name is Vitor, not Victor

Posted by Iannucci | 8/12/2008 | 7 comments »
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There is no way to deny the compelling drama of Vitor Meira’s winless streak. His record-setting and ever-growing “oh-fer” has become his claim to fame, inspiring fans everywhere, as well as race announcers, to ask almost reflexively “Will this be the day…?” whenever Meira takes the lead in an IndyCar race.

Which only goes to show that we’re looking at the wrong number by focusing on the “0” instead of the “90”, because in order to not win 90 races a driver has to be in 90 races. To date, the streak includes:
• 2nd – 8 times (once by .0051 seconds)
• 3rd – 6 times
• 4th – 5 times
• 5th – 8 times
• Laps led: 421

That’s 27 times in the Top 5 (30%), a percentage bested by only a handful of his current competitors. Not too shabby. After thinking about this, the comparison of Vitor Meira to the Chicago Cubs is all wrong, because baseball is an entirely different type of sport to measure against. Teams only compete against each other in pairs, and as such no team has managed to go winless for more than 20 or so contests.

So in the interest of relating apples-to-apples, the comparison for Meira and his epic 0-90 career turns back towards racing. I’ve tried to research this but statistics are usually kept for accomplishments and not, well, non-accomplishements, so I may have missed some competitors. But after a little bit of searching I’ve uncovered a few record holders and hopefully some milestones for Vitor to aim. Not that he should try to lose, but a streak of any kind is a beautiful and precious thing. Most people focus on winning streaks, but losing streaks (or in this case a “winless” streak) have their place in our collective hearts and memories as well.

The all-time champion of winlessness in racing would appear to be JD McDuffie. By most accounts McDuffie was the prototypical “Good ‘Ol Boy”, racing predominantly in shoe-string budget entries in the Cup level of stock cars from 1963 to 1991. That’s right – 28 years! In that time McDuffie went without victory a mind-boggling 653 times, a number so staggering in scope that it is difficult to grasp. To try something 653 times and come up short everytime is somewhere between insane and hilarious. Let’s call it insanely hilarious.

Then again, poor McDuffie was killed in a violent crash at Watkins Glen, so maybe it’s not so insanely hilarious. Let’s have a moment of silence for the late record setter ... *pause* ... Alright, God rest his soul, but we’re back to the living.

Unfortunately for Vitor, even the title of “most winless open-wheel driver” seems to have out of Meira’s reach. That mantle is likely to be claimed by claimed by Andrea de Crasheris, err, de Cesaris, who in the cutthroat world of Formula One managed to accumulate 214 starts without a win between 1980 and 1994. At the current schedule of races still quantifying in the teens it would take Vitor well over a decade to get to that number, so the likelihood is Vitor will fall short of the record for falling short. Oh, the cruel irony.

However, the good news is there is an American racing legend who’s record Meira has a legitimate shot at equaling, and that legend is Zippy Chippy.

Zippy Chippy is a thoroughbred horse that managed to go 0 for 100 in a racing career that became a national sensation a few years ago. Technically speaking Zippy Chippy is not the “losingest horse ever” as racers such as Thrust (winless in 106 races) and Haru Urara (without victory in 113 races) have greater records of futility, but Zippy Chippy was notable because he was from a line of proven race winners and lost that 100th race only four years ago. And he finished second eight times just as Vitor has done. And the name “Zippy Chippy” conjures fun mental images of the car owner otherwise named “Floyd Ganassi”.

So here’s to celebrating Meira in his march towards Zippy Chippy and the century mark. With a little (bad) luck and some help from Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan, the Mirror Man can reach this monumental goal. And if by chance something goes incredibly right for Meira one race weekend, there are pretty good odds that Ed Carpenter (0 for 79, 3 laps led EVER) can make a run at whatever record Vitor leaves.

7 comments

  1. Joan // August 13, 2008 2:09 AM  

    Helio's a Bad example, Helio's finished 2nd like 7 times alone this season, and hasn't won in over a year, he's actually hindering Vitors chance at Zippy Chippy's record. XD

  2. The Ghost of Dennis Vitolo // August 13, 2008 5:56 AM  

    I think that's fairly disrespectful to speak of J.D. McDuffie in that way. I prefer to look at J.D. as someone who never gave up no matter how bad the deck was stacked against him and there is nothing insanely hilarious about that.

  3. mikebdot // August 13, 2008 6:18 AM  

    JD McDuffie is...Wile E. Coyote...never give up no matter how many times you fail...

    Vitor should replace Wheldon. It would be sacrilege and all, but it might give me a reason not to hate life watching Dixon win pit victory after pit victory, especially, in, say, the Indy 500.

  4. Jeff Iannucci // August 13, 2008 6:25 AM  

    I mean no disrespect at all to McDuffie. Going winless in 653races defies all odds, because if you can get into 653 races surely you could win once. Not winning that many races is hilarious, and had he not died in that crash (which is most certainly NOT hilarious) McDuffie probably would be a huge celebrity at N-Word events today.

  5. Anonymous // August 13, 2008 10:30 AM  

    I love Vitor...

  6. Tom // August 25, 2008 2:17 PM  

    Hi there,

    Nice blog... buuuut considering LiveJournal do free photo hosting, you couldn't NOT hotlink pictures from my site could you?

    Cheers!

  7. Jeff Iannucci // August 25, 2008 2:41 PM  

    My apologies. I have unlinked your photo.