Open-wheel personalities had plenty to say in eventful 2007
Whatchoo talkin' about, Willis? No, we're not watching reruns of "Diff'rent Strokes." We're just remembering some of the more quotable quotes from the 2007 open-wheel season.
The month of December doesn't feature too much racing action, so it's a good time to look back on what was said and done during the past season in the American open-wheel scene. Time to flip through those filled-up notebooks and sift through computer files in search of prescient, provocative or prophetic comments made throughout 2007.
And as always, it makes for interesting reading. Whether it was Dario Franchitti or Kevin Kalkhoven trashing Michael Andretti, or Paul Newman dropping another priceless one-liner, folks associated with the IRL's IndyCar Series and the Champ Car World Series had plenty of worthwhile things to say.
It was a down year for Paul Tracy on the quote front, but Robert Doornbos entered the chart with a bullet. And we could have compiled a whole feature's worth of notable comments from Mario Andretti, but managed to edit it down to one zinger.
So read on, enjoy, and always remember: What you say could come back to haunt you
• "I'm the invisible man of the IRL." -- More than ever, Indy 500 and IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, now that he's jumped ship to NASCAR
• "The cream always rises to the top, but I think now with the new car, we're going to show a lot better than we did in the past." -- Champ Car team owner Dale Coyne's January assessment proves absolutely correct
• "Even the teams that have money want you to bring money." -- Oriol Servia on Champ Car's economic conundrum
• "If that is what 61,000 people look like, I have to question the attendance numbers coming out of America." -- an impressed Bruno Junqueira on the attendance at TT Circuit Assen in Holland
• "You can smell it right there in the car -- you know, if you keep pushing, you'll get them and that's very motivating." -- Sebastien Bourdais on how he erased Justin Wilson's 15-second lead at Portland
• "I was happy I missed the prom and happy to be here. I'd much rather be doing this than dancing." -- 18-year-old Graham Rahal speaking from the Houston Grand Prix podium
• "I'm slow as a snail. I wish I was 81 again." -- Paul Newman on his performance in a club race at Lime Rock Raceway (the 82-year-old qualified sixth and finished fourth)
• "She's just being Danica. She'll be fine when she calms down." -- a bemused Dan Wheldon after being accosted by America's favorite female racer in the Milwaukee pit lane
• "Is it too much to ask a guy to hold his line so you can pass him?" -- Conversely, is it too much to ask a guy to shake the winner's hand if he beats you, Sebastien Bourdais?
• "I know everyone's name on the team, which is a lot nicer than calling 500 guys 'Mate!'" -- Robert Doornbos on the most basic difference between Champ Car and Formula 1
• "I know I'm committed to Gerry [Forsythe] and Champ Car, but right now I can't honestly say they're committed to me." -- Paul Tracy on the value of the five-year contract to drive for Forsythe Championship Racing he signed earlier this year
• "I can't speak for Michael, but I can't imagine that on a pure day, without all the politics, that Michael Andretti wouldn't have rather had Marco here, working on his race craft in road racing if one day he is going to follow the Andretti tradition and go to Formula 1. -- Champ Car boss Kevin Kalkhoven on his belief that Marco Andretti should be racing Champ Cars
• "Michael is in an awkward position being a team owner and a father. Sometimes he doesn't have as clear a view as he should have as a team owner, maybe." -- Franchitti, a few weeks before his departure from Andretti Green Racing
• "That's why dads should be in the grandstands, not in the pits." -- Tony Kanaan, after Sam Hornish Sr. charged him following the Watkins Glen IndyCar Series race
More on the Andrettis
• "I always get the impression with Mario that if I was to throw my helmet on pit lane, he'd try to jump in my car. He'd go tearing off and he'd be flat on his third lap." -- Franchitti
Open-wheel unification department
• "It is a completely dead issue. I don't think I can summarize it any further than that." -- Kevin Kalkhoven on his April denial
• "I got them to the altar more than once -- I just can't get them to say 'I do.'" -- Mario Andretti on his efforts to reunite the IRL with Champ Car
• "If Roger Penske and Mario Andretti can't get them together, I doubt that you and I will. But at least they are trying." -- Michigan International Speedway President Roger Curtis
• "Guys like Sam [Hornish] and Dan [Wheldon] are breaking records, but they're not becoming household names and heroes." -- IRL broadcaster and former racer Davey Hamilton
• "There is more interest and opportunity today than at any point in the last 10 years, and we are prepared to seize the moment." -- Tony George on the state of the IRL in October
John Oreovicz covers open-wheel racing for National Speed Sport News and ESPN.com.