Tuesday, February 24, 2009

USF1 Andretti & Truex

USF1 Andretti & Truex

Andretti and Truex - Marco Andretti and Martin Truex should be the drivers for the new United States Formula One team USF1 - who have officially announced their existence and are setting up Headquarters at Charlotte, North Carolina, home to NASCAR and are activelly seeking new, young, American drivers.

Marco and Marty are a natural combo that would make them competative immediately, though I'm sure it will take awhile for all Americans to get back into the International Formula One mode.

This is the greatest news in years, and Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor are now my new American heros, and I never even heard of them until today.

Having actually witnessed Graham Hill win the Formula One road race through the streets of Monti Carlo in 1970, and receive his trophy from my Ocean City, NJ neighbor Grace Kelly Gramldi, and then actually witnissing Mario Andretti become the first American to win an American Formula One Grand Prix at Long Beach in 1978, it has been totally depressing to see the Formula One circuit go by for decades without an American driver let alone an American team.

The same situation sadly developed along similar lines in America's Cup sail boat racing, leaving two of the most popular world wide sports without American participants at all, a really sad state of affairs.

But now, in the worst possible economic times, along comes two guys - Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor, both with serious Formula One experience, establishing a real, solid Formula One team without the benefits and drawbacks of a megabucks, dictitorial owner or corporate motorsport factory sponsor. In other words, a real, makeshift, freelance, independent American owned and operated team, God Bless them!

Charlotte is a natural USA HQ, and Spain is the place in Europe, specifically Valencia, where the F1 circuit recently instituted a new race, ironically replacing the United States Grand Prix, and where the America's Cup sailboat regatta is now held. The facilities there are perfect and unequaled for what USF1 wants to do.

In the USF1 call for drivers, Mario Andretti called the press conference at which they announced these plans over Speed TV, for whom Peter Windsor is a commentator, and threw the hat of his nephew Marco Andretti into the ring. The son of Michael, Mario's son, who I met in Long Beach in 1978, when he was not yet a teenager, Mario is anxious for an opportunity to drive in the international circuit, as his father did in the 1993 season. Uncle Mario was the last American F1 World Champion (1978).

And I think the other driver should be the young Marty Truex, a Jersey Piney, whose father owns a gas station on Route 9 at the Shore, and who used to race at New Egypt speedway when he was a kid. They want to recruit new drivers from NASCAR, and Truex, who had the pole position at this year's Daytona 500, just may want to see what it's like to make left turns in a real road race.

Whoever the drivers are, you know they'll be Americans, and they'll be racing in American built cars, and they'll be racing against the best cars and drivers in the world, and where the winner really is the World Champion.

I'm so glad this happening, I'm going to write a fan letter to Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor and ask them for a job as a janitor, just to be part of what should become a fantastic undertaking.

Someone once told me that bad economic times are best for starting a new business because things can only get better and once they do it all takes off, so maybe this is the perfect time to start a new, $64 millon enterprise.

All of this makes me think of Rob Walker, the journalist who covered the Formula One circuit for Road & Track magazine in the 60s and 70s, and whose avid descriptions of the scene made you feel like you were there, and it didn't matter that it happened a month ago and you already knew who won. He told the story in such a way that he made you feel like you too were part of that fabulous, exciting and historic road race.

While the United States has lost its Grand Prix, at least we now have a team, a real team led by some ingenious and determined Americans, who will at least get us back in the game.

Bill Kelly
Feb. 24, 2009

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