This year carries a large significance in Formula One lore, as 2014 marks the 20-year anniversary of Ayrton Senna’s passing in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.
But while Senna is still a revered, global presence – and still considered by many the best Grand Prix driver who ever lived – McLaren is doing its part to pay tribute to the glory days when the two were paired together, and not dwell on the tragedy that was F1’s most horrible weekend.
The McLaren MP4/4, which Senna and Alain Prost took to 15 of 16 victories during Senna’s first World Championship-winning season in 1988, will head to Imola on the weekend of May 1-4 this year. It’s, as the team described on Wednesday, “a celebration of the life and times of the great Brazilian over the weekend of May 1-4,” and “will rekindle memories of a racing legend and a track that quietly slipped from the grand prix canon almost a decade ago.”
Indeed Imola’s last Grand Prix was held in 2006. In 2004, the 10-year mark of Senna’s passing, his teammate Gerhard Berger took one of Senna’s old Lotus chassis for a tribute lap (linked here; Italian commentary). Berger, who’s Austrian, also paid tribute to the other driver lost that weekend, his countryman Roland Ratzenberger.
The MP4/4, meanwhile, will also travel to Australia’s Top Gear Festival at the Sydney Motorsport Park March 8 and 9. That marks the car’s first return to Australia since winning the 1988 Australian Grand Prix 26 years ago, and coincidentally, the last win for a turbocharged Formula One car.
The next turbocharged F1 win will occur – fittingly – in the 2014 Australian Grand Prix curtain-raiser to the new season, with new 1.6L V6 engines.
The overpowering smell from nitromethane that powers Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars in the National Hot Rod Association oftentimes brings fans to tears after getting a whiff of the stuff.
Now there’s a new inspirational book that will also bring tears to the eyes of die-hard drag racing fans.
Veteran crew chief Jim Oberhofer has released “Top Fuel For Life, Life Lessons From A Crew Chief,” a touching homage to both his late wife and persevering and overcoming adversity in the highly competitive world of NHRA drag racing.
Oberhofer wears a number of hats as vice president of one of the sport’s most veteran and successful teams, Kalitta Motorsports, including serving as crew chief for Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta’s dragster.
Oberhofer relates a number of stories about overcoming adversity in the book, but none more touching than how he watched his beloved wife “Tammy O” lose a long and painful battle to stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.
While Oberhofer has spent his life using wrenches and tools working on 10,000-horsepower engines, his new book shows that he is also a very gifted writer.
Known in the sport as “Jim O,” Oberhofer describes the fight his wife went through in gritty and descriptive prose, but with a foundation built upon what the love of his life meant to him – and continues to mean to him more than two years since she passed away.
“When you take a long hard look at your life, I guarantee you that being a winner has little to do with crossing the finish line,” Oberhofer said. “After many mistakes and a whole lot of heartache, I learned that happiness comes from a deeper, simpler place. That’s the big win.”
“Top Fuel For Life” is available on Amazon for $19.95.
Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday said the racing series is up for sale and has as many as three potential buyers.
Ecclestone told The Associated Press that a deal could still be struck by year’s end.
“I think so, maybe this year,” Ecclestone said. “There are three people mentioned to buy. So it’s a case of whether CVC or Mr. Mackenzie wants to sell.”
Ecclestone was referring to F1’s largest and controlling shareholder, CVC Capital Partners co-chairman Donald Mackenzie.
But even if F1 is sold, the 84-year-old Eccelstone doesn’t plan on going anywhere.
“The people that I’ve spoken to … have asked me if I would stay,” Ecclestone told AP.