Wistfulness for champions of yesteryear, including racers and tough pickups

Who would rather see any driver besides Pato O’Ward win a race in the NTT IndyCar Series? 

On Sunday in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst, O’Ward broke the classy Josef Newgarden’s streak of two wins in a row. Taking the lead just after the final pit stop, he brought his Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet across the line .98-second ahead of defending series champion Alex Palou. Dominant until that final stop, Rinus VeeKay finished third. 

O’Ward celebrates. IndyCar photo.

With all the young talent in IndyCar, O’Ward emerges as grating protagonist. The native of Monterrey, Mexico, turns 23 years old on Friday and has already won three races. It’s impressive that his first win, a year ago, was on the oval superspeedway in Texas. He followed up a few weeks later by winning on the street circuit at Detroit’s Belle Isle. 

This time, besting the beautiful 2.3-mile course at Barber Motorsports Park east of Birmingham, O’Ward stepped from his car and just had to bring up the discord over his contract status. 

“It sucks to be at war within your own team, right?” he said. 

What sucks is hearing about it. How one must strain to imagine Newgarden flapping about business matters in Victory Lane. 

After O’Ward’s Texas win, he had evinced impatience, as if it was deserved after a long ordeal: “Oh, finally, man!” 

His reward for that victory was a postseason test in a McLaren Formula One racer. Last December, driving on the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, O’Ward found the car “bends the laws of physics.”

I pray for his continued mastery of physics and promotion to F1. Here in the boondocks, shrouded by interstellar plasma, physics keeps failing me, and the alarm clock never goes off in time to see those races. Anyhow, it’s impossible to adjust the rabbit ears to receive the live broadcasts. 

Racing drivers are so slick and media savvy, but sometimes I miss the old-timers who wiped away the grease and instead of saying what sucks, it was, “Aw, shucks, the team done real good.” 

Detroit and Las Vegas Highlights

Ford executive chairman Bill Ford celebrated a “Model T moment for the 21st century” as the company started making the all-electric F-150 Lightning in Dearborn. The pickup has a unique selling point, which is that it’s at its best going nowhere. Staying around the house and running the coffeemaker makes it happy.

What a contrast from the promotion of the 1970 Ford truck. Back then, it ran the gauntlet with pyrotechnics and hell to pay. The Twin I-Bean front suspension was the reason for its ruggedness.

Another of last week’s developments was that Ford will keep making internal-combustion engines for 20 years.

Meantime, look for an all-electric Chevy Corvette in the not-so-distant future. But don’t worry, because there’s still enough time to put in a new garage floor with extra rebar. 

Another eye-catcher is the headline about GM tying executive pay to the success of EVs. After the breakthrough performance of the Chevy Bolt, let’s tote up how many vacation homes Up North will be going up for sale.

NFL Draft magic moments:

  1. The Steelers picked QB Kenny Pickett first (the hometown kid couldn’t stop sobbing) and WR George Pickens second. I anticipate the first touchdown call of “Pickett to Pickens.” May they never be picked off.
  2. Mr. Cartoon’s Modelo commercials were in heavy rotation.
  3. Sam Prince made the exhilarating announcement of The New York Football Giants’ first-round selection of DE Kayvon Thibodeaux. Prince’s first game as play-by-play man should be sooner rather than later.

Leave a Reply