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In Other News

In Other News... Conspiracy Abounds
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By Carol Einarsson | 09/15/2007
Category: In Other News
 

Welcome to a new semi-regular column at Race Journal Online. Since we primarily focus on NASCAR Nextel Cup, I wanted a regular place for news from other racing series. I never would have imagined, though, the tragedy that would mark the first edition of this new feature.

Colin McRae
It's never a good day when I open up my mailbox and see a racer's name. It just seems that's the way I always find out about a loss in the motorsports world.

Today it was Colin McRae.

He was one of two favorites that my race-loving son followed in World Rally Championship racing. The other was Richard Burns. Burns, you might remember, died less than two years ago at the age of 34 from a brain tumor.

And now Colin McRae has perished in a helicopter crash. Among the passengers in the copter piloted by McRae was his young son Johnny, just five years old. He leaves behind a wife, Alison, and a nine-year-old daughter Hollie.

Scott Pruett
In the final Rolex race of the season, the championship was on the line. Four cars were within three points, but two of the four fell out. With six laps to go, two notables remained: Scott Pruett and Alex Gurney. Whichever of the two finished higher would win the championship.

Earlier in the race Gurney had driven into the left rear of Pruett, puncturing his tires and forcing him off course. The Ganassi team (Pruett) didn't forget, and with a handful of laps remaining, Gurney checked up, Pruett bumped the back of him enough to get him out of line and then passed by.

Officials called for a pit pass-through penalty for Pruett citing "avoidable contact", which dropped him to 10th and cost him the championship. He was robbed by a bad call.

Maybe conspiracies aren't just for NASCAR, but Dan Gurney's boy took home the trophy after first wrecking his greatest competition and then setting him up for a penalty.

And Scott's summation of a guy slowing down like Gurney did: "Stupid people do stupid things."

Oddly enough, I was hoping Pruett wouldn't acknowledge the drive-through so that he'd have some ground on which to fight the ruling. Yet when NASCAR driver Robby Gordon did that earlier this year, I thought it was one of the most ridiculous things I'd ever seen.

Small Monetary Fine
The essence of the F1 scandal is this: The McLaren team reportedly has 780 pages of information that was illegally acquired from Ferrari. McLaren used it to build better cars and win races. FIA found out, and despite trying to cover it up, McLaren is in big, big trouble.

Now if you're a NASCAR fan, you might think "big, big trouble" equals about $100,000 and 100 owners' points. After all, what race-governing body could be more heavy-handed than NASCAR?

That would be FIA Formula One racing. The penalty for the theft and ensuing benefit is a mere $100,000,000. Yes, that's one hundred million dollars. But wait -- that's not all. McLaren has also been stripped of all 2007 constructors' points (the F1 equivalent of manufacturers' points), thus being disqualified from the constructors' championship.

The irony here is that it's likely going to be one of the McLaren drivers that wins the F1 Championship this year.

Lots of conspiracy theories here, too. Some people believe that former technical director Nigel Stepney gave the documents to McLaren in order to damage Ferrari, with whom he'd been growing more and disillusioned. Some others think Ferrari orchestrated the entire thing in order to damage McLaren.

However it shakes out in the end, there's proof that one of their team drivers (Fernando Alonso) and another test driver were exchanging emails about the information. McLaren's likely to do a bit of restructuring of top management over the off-season. And if I were Fernando Alonso, I'd be testing the job market for my next move.

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