mmack's nnotes: Sao Paolo 2010

Posted by Iannucci | 3/15/2010 | , , | 1 comments »
Bookmark and Share

(Ladies and gentleman, once again My Name Is IRL proudly welcomes guest commentary from a man who evidently spent the last six months learning Portuguese. Still at home and still enjoying the amenities of the comfy couch, it's the one, the only, the mmack.)

Notas do sofá comfy Sao Paolo Indy 300

Olá! e leitores bem-vindos! It' tempo de s para notas do sofá comfy.

(Hello and welcome readers! It’s time for notes from the comfy couch.) Mrs. Mmack and I were rudely awakened to the fact that today ends Daylight Savings Time. Luckily we got to see the end of the F1 race, and had time enough to prepare an American version of a traditional Brazilian breakfast. At first I thought this meant a sword with ten pieces of steak skewered on it, but Mrs. Mmack informed me that 1) we have no swords handy and 2) the meat on a sword dish is Argentinean, not Brazilian. At least we have mimosas made with mango-papaya to tide us over. Kudos to the Fabulous Mrs. Mmack for Googling what folks in Brazil have for Pequeno almoço.

From watching Versus on Saturday, I’ve learned that qualifications were suspended until this morning. Part of the track is used as the Sambadrome for Carnival, and the street was PAINTED for the samba parade! Even after removing the paint, that section of the track caused much mayhem in practice. After grinding the surface over night, qualifications were held today with Dario Franchitti (Oh não outra vez!) and Alex Tagliani (Que boa surpresa!) sharing the front row.

After some indecision over is it/isn’t it raining hard enough to postpone the start, the drivers are instructed to start their motores and after the pace laps, the first green flag of the Dois mil e dez IRL season flies!

And it’s soon followed by the inevitable first yellow flag of the 2010 IRL season. Cars are spinning, crashing, flipping, landing atop each other, Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria! Mario Moraes decides to even the score with Marco Andretti by leapfrogging his car atop Marco’s #26 machine. During replays of the first lap crash we see the dreaded accordion effect at the head of the field, with Sato torpedoing another car and then getting caught up with Dixon and Castroneves. Helio even runs over Sato’s front wing. At this point the survivors head to the pits for service while Jack Arute, looking less like a human and more like a walking stick of beef jerky (Jack, George Hamilton called, he wants to warn you about the effects of too much sun) tries to interview Mario Moraes and Marco. Mario is evidently too angry to talk, but Marco calmly talks to Jack about the big wreck. Mrs Mmack thinks he got some Thorazine in the track medical center. I think that after 100 million interviews about crashes he’s started or been caught up in, Marco is pretty blasé about these things. A replay shows Moraes going sideways trying to slow down before he vaults over Marco.

At this point, with hardly any racing at all, obviously pole sitter Franchitti leads, followed by Tags. On lap 9 the race restarts and everybody left is a good boy or girl and follows single file through the turns of the first actual green flag lap. Going from memory (Hey, YOU try writing notes with one hand and drinking a mimosa with the other and see how much you get written buddy!), the front two positions were pretty set for the next ten laps or so, but from third on back, dare I say it, we saw some passing. On a street course no less. Now granted, some of that was Castroneves and Dixon fighting their way up from having to pit for work on their cars, but Dan Wheldon (!) and Ryan Hunter-Reay(!!), you know, two guys better known for their oval prowess, were actually making moves and advancing to the front. Within a lap of each other, Ryan took second from Tags and Wheldon took fifth place.

And then Milka Duno stalled on the course. Que surpresa, or for Milka, en español: Una qué sorpresa. For some reason this means we have to have a full course caution. Everyone pits except for Simona de Silvestro, who stays out to take the lead. Her first race and she’s already ahead of Danica Patrick! Hey, maybe one prediction I made will be correct.

Speaking of predictions, Jack Arute breaks in to tell us those dark clouds we keep seeing in the distance are rain clouds, and they’re headed right for us. Ah, sunny Brazil!

The race restarts around lap 27 with Simona being chased by Dario and O-Ryan the Hunter. RHR takes Mr. Ashley Judd and then sets off after Simona. On the next lap he forces his way past her with a shower of sparks from the undertray of his car. With rain coming in Penske pulls in Ryan Briscoe to change to rain tires. On track, suddenly Tony Kanaan and an unseen car go skidding off into a run-off. A replay shows Dan Wheldon prefers slam dancing to the samba, and shoves Alex Tagliani into TK. TK gets back on track but no Tagliani.

After that the rain comes. And with it, those that stay out on slicks perform beautiful pirouettes on track for the fans, including Danica Patrick. Perhaps if Danica had more experience in stock cars, she would have avoided that spin. Sorry, I must have channeled ol’ DW there.

Now it begins to rain harder as we see Alex Lloyd’s car in the wall. The rain is now mixed with HAIL, and timing and scoring is knocked out! So on lap 36, the race is red flagged so we can dry the track and the drivers can have a siesta. I should NEVER have made fun of NASCAR for the delays in this year’s Daytona 500. Karma, it’s a buzz kill.

When the race restarts, it will be a timed race. Before the rain came teams gambled on when to put on the rain tires. With the track starting to dry out, now teams have to decide when to go back to slicks. Briscoe Inferno, O-Ryan the Hunter, and Will Power blink first and duck in for slicks. This gives the race lead back to Franchitti. The race restarts and there’s a lot of position shuffling as cars hit the pits to get slicks back on. RHR takes the lead and there is an actual battle from second to fourth with Power, Briscoe, and Matos. Castroneves is also trying to move up.

Somewhere in here Bob Jenkins announces this race is now the most viewed telecast in Brazilian television history. I think to myself of course it is. Everyone is calling everyone else saying something like “Hey, turn on channel 12, yeah, the Indy Car race. This one car jumped on top of another, yeah, IT WAS GREAT!”

At this point Ryan Briscoe comes up to second as we are told Ryan Hunter-Reay must MAKE FUEL. It is now a timed, fuel conservation race. Great! The announcing staff debates the merits of RHR staying in the lead versus falling back to second and pacing off Briscoe. Soon the point becomes academic because Briscoe passes RHR, but then RHR passes him back to retake the lead! Except that both drivers cut the corners and took short cuts through the turns while trying to pass each other. RHR has to give the lead back to Briscoe, and falls into the clutches of Will Power. A few laps later Briscoe plucks defeat from the jaws of victory and flies straight as an arrow into the tire barriers. With the resulting yellow, all that race leader RHR needs to worry about is Will Power.

With about six minutes to go, the race restarts with Ryan Hunter-Reay being chased by Will Power. Somehow, Vitor Meira, in the AJ Foyt Racing #14, has gotten up to third place. Behind him is all manner of slicing and dicing that portends mechanized chaos. Up at the front, Will Power makes a move and takes the lead from RHR. Ryan can’t get close enough before the finish to try to retake the lead, so the finish is Power, Hunter-Reay, and Meira for the podium. Although it’s not a win, hopefully Ryan’s strong run convinces Izod to write a full season check to Michael Andretti.

And for all the talk about Simona de Silvestro, let’s give a hand to Brazilian rookie Ana Beatriz, who finished ahead of both Simona and Danica in 13th spot, and is also the highest finishing rookie in the race.

In closing, even with all the rain, some dreaded “lock-step”, and a first lap that would embarrass the field in a bomber stock race at the Grundy County Speedway, the Sao Paolo course offered some actual racing, with at least three good passes for the lead.

Adeus do sofá comfy, everyone, until the next race at St. Petersburg.


  1. Filipe Furtado // March 15, 2010 2:40 PM  

    Mrs. Mmack was wrong that is tradional on Brazil as much as in Argentina.Brazilians and Argentineans just have different ways to cut the meat.