I have an e-mail or two to write but they can wait because I need to finish up my Vegas weekend report! Okay, I've reported on Hoover Dam and the asshole plowing into tourists on the Strip, so what's next.
Ah yes, our goal on Thursday after Hoover Dam was to find a Cheesecake Factory. Even though they were started in Detroit and then moved to LA there is not one in Detroit, so whenever I go somewhere I hunt one down. It'd be nice if they'd open one here so I don't have to be so predictable. Anyway, the Vegas yellow pages listed on but in Henderson on Water Street. When in Henderson we asked the cashier at the Target ($1 yarn called my name – and we needed water for the track) where The Cheesecake Factory on Water Street was. She had never heard of Water Street but said that there was one at Ceasar's Palace!?!? When we got back to the hotel I called Caesar's and sure enough there is a Cheesecake Factory there. Oh, the excitement! It was pure bliss. I just love their food.
After dinner we caught a cab because the Champ Car drivers were having an autograph session at ESPN SportsZone in New York, New York. I had my Catalunyan flag with me and my TFG* shirt. I was going to get all of the drivers to sign the TFG shirt. Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men and all that shit. We get there and the line is a freaking mile long all the way to the curb. And we knew it was the right line because I recognised a few people. It's true, but there are actually bigger Champ Car geeks than me in this world. We didn't stay. I wasn't worried about getting the flag signed as we all know we had plans for that already established, right? Yeah, right.
Fast forward to Friday and we're at the track watching and timing cars as they went in circles. Canadian driver Paul Tracy *ick* is having trouble breaking the 27 second lap (the fast guys from Newman-Haas were in the low 26s) and HRH was getting all nervous as he's her driver (although she totally admits that if he weren't Canadian and from the Toronto area she wouldn’t like him as he's pretty much an asshole). I told her not to worry because I was sure the little fucker (I like him a LOT) was sandbagging. Turns out that I was right as he started the race 15th and within 7 laps he was first. You don't do that if the car is sucking. Trust me. Friggin' sandbagger.
Anyway, Friday!!! My friend Erock had set up the meeting with Oriol as I told you all last week. He was going to call his friend Greg (VP of Lola) to make sure it was all set. It was. At 2:20 I started getting anxious and said, "Shouldn't we go over?" We were to be over there by 3:00. Well, unlike Milwaukee where paddock access on Friday was free, it cost $30 to enter the paddock at LVMS. ARGH!!! 30 minutes later and much frantic running around and me being certain I was NOT going to get to meet Oriol, Roadrunner and I bought the paddock passes for $30 while Erock, rocket and Aero used their redemption passes and we all headed over. We finally found the Newman-Haas garage and Erock introduced me to Greg. Greg went looking for Oriol but while he was looking I saw Sebastien Bourdais (2004 Champ Car Champion – and probably the 2005 champion as well) walking toward me. I whipped out my TFG shirt and asked him to sign it and he did and I told him that I thought he was quite a good driver. He's not brimming in personality but he was very nice. And I'm all for a champion whose name is not Paul Tracy.
I didn't have to wait too long for Oriol to show up. He was very impressed with my flag and signed it VERY NICELY – it's neat, legible and he even wrote Las Vegas '05. I asked if I could get my picture taken with him and he said, Yes. I'm waiting for Erock and Roadrunner to send me the pics, but once I get them I'll post them. And just to show Oriol that I'm not a Johnny-come-lately fan (since he got the good ride with Newman-Haas earlier this year after Bruno got hurt at Indy), I asked him about his last race in Indy Lights at Fontana when Sergio Paese took him out. I was pretty sure I remember Sergio running over and punching Oriol, but since Sergio had been the cause of the accident I wasn't certain I was remembering it correctly. Oriol told me that it was Sergio who had tried to punch him, but he had evaded the blow and that Sergio had lost his license for that behavior, and he didn't think that was fair. I remember that Sergio's own father might have had something to do with the license yanking as he was scared that Sergio was going to kill himself. He was a bit of a wild driver.
I was too shy to ask him to sign two things, so Roadrunner grabbed the TFG shirt and got him to sign it right above the TFG – the place of honor in my opinion. After the incredibly momentous shirt signing, Greg took us on a little tour. We got to go into the Newman-Haas garage and watch them work on the cars (this is HUGE, people) but no pictures were allowed (of course). After the garage, he took us over to the Lola semi and showed us where they keep spare parts. I got to see spare suspension parts and unpainted carbon fibre!!! This is very exciting stuff to us race geeks.
My friend Tricia is the first person who introduced me to the saying "Be careful what you wish for…" and I mention it because I'm about to say that I would dearly love a ride in the two-seater Champ Car, but then I wonder if I really do. They go 200 mph at a place like Vegas. I'm scared I'd pee my pants and embarrass myself by screaming – although I don't scream on roller coasters, but only because I'm usually too scared for my vocal cords to work. But you can't say you're a Champ Car fan if you don't want a ride in the two-seater! Not that it'll ever happen, so it's all moot. *sigh* If I could just get a ride in a pace car, I'd be happy.
Time to go home and not go to the gym. I'm going shoe shopping with Martha at 4:00, and there's just not enough time to work out and shower and get all dolled up again before that, so I guess what I'm saying is Shoe Shopping Comes First! ;-)
Have a great weekend, all!
*Oh yeah, gotta explain TFG. TFG = Tony Fucking George. Quick history: TFG owns Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and he started the Indy Racing League (IRL) back in 1995 to run in 1996. His goal was an All-American Oval Series (or so he said) blah blah blah. Anyway, he is the direct cause of the problems facing open-wheel racing today in this country and I hate him with a passion that probably borders on obsessive. I started calling him TFG way back in 1995 when he first announced his "brainchild." And all my racing friends call him that too - although my new racing friends use FTG - I'm sure you can figure that out without the explanation. ;-)