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In pursuit of a childhood dream, I finally set foot at the Mecca of motor sports racing and was lost right away into the sea of screaming fans from all over the world. I wandered into the bleachers and was awed by the scene unfolding before my very eyes-- walking right in front of me were the world’s biggest names in motor racing, the spectacle is mind- boggling, the noise ear-shattering in the hallowed grounds of the brickyard in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The 2004 edition of the Formula1 Grand Prix held at the International Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana, the home of the Indy500 is the only Formula One race in the F1 calendar for the United States.

The much-awaited event witnessed live by thousands of Formula One fans on this side of the globe started at 12:30 pm Eastern Time with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner by the much- heralded Indianapolis International Children’s Choir highlighted by a fly-by of four fighter jets of the Indiana Air National Guards.

The 73- lap race in the 2.685 mile circuit proved true to its billing as an exciting and fast- paced battle from the 20 deep- throated roaring V-10 engines vying for F1 glory that left many of the die- hard fans’ adrenalines high for days on end.

It doesn’t really matter whether Michael Schumacher once again proved and showed to everyone that the Brickyard is his own stamping ground having won the US Grand Prix series in 2000 and was now crowned a back-to-back winner in the circuit by also topping the 2003 edition.

It doesn’t really matter if the Ferrari once again dominated the opposition by going on a 1-2 finish at the podium.

It doesn’t really matter if Takuma Sato finally ended Jenson Button’s claim to the podium at the BAR- Honda camp by claiming his first podium finish and only the second one by a Japanese driver in Formula One history, a distinction held by Aguri Suzuki at the season- ending Suzuka Grand Prix in 1990 thus ending the 14- year drought for Japan.

This is Formula One, the best and most prestigious motor competition in the world!


Michael Schumacher as of last count has now dominated 8 out of the 9 races halfway through the 2004 Formula One calendar, count that a perfect nine if not for that freak accident in the tunnel in Monaco involving his rival Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia thereby losing his chance to break out of the tie and eclipse Nigel Mansell’s Formula One record of 5 consecutive wins.

No disrespect of course to the daredevil Colombian who was vying to be the first man to win the Indy500 and the F1 US Formula Grand Prix and the hard- lucked BMW- Williams team who once again was disqualified from the race for the second consecutive race. For this time, Schuey showed him who the king is and that he is way above his class. He is the best Formula One driver of all time, no question about that.

The race was full of drama what with Juan Pablo Montoya’s frantic dash into the pits of BMW- Williams for his spare FW26 car when his racecar failed to start at the grid. The fans were treated to an adrenaline- pumping drama right at the first turn when a massive pile- up involving four cars occurred that left Christian Klein of Jaguar- Cosworth, Felipe Massa of Sauber- Petronas, Gianmaria Bruni of Minardi – Cosworth and Giorgio Pantano of Jordan- Ford out in the very early stage of the race.



It was just an omen of more things to come…

The drama continued when the Safety- Car went out and the youngest winner in Formula One history, the fiery Fernando Alonso of Renault busted his Michelin right rear tire at the turn down to 64th lap and crashed into the Styrofoam HSBC markers and went out of the race as the yellow flag went up. When the race was re-started the hot trying tracks proved to be a challenge to men and machine as just one lap down at 63, Ralf Schumacher’s Michelin rear tire bursts into a loud bang as he made a turn that sent his speeding BMW- Williams car back- spinning and crashing at high- speed into the concrete walls!

The blistering pace of the race suddenly stood to a standstill as Ralf Schumacher’s wreck car just stood there in the middle of the smoking tracks and no movements was visible from the wreckage. The scene was surreal for almost an eternity as pictures of the late Formula1 great, the Brazilian Ayrton Senna flashed into everyone’s minds...



It was not until when the Ambulance arrived and the younger Schumacher was seen waving his hands up that made the spectators heaved a sigh of relief as they spontaneously erupted into a deafening applause.

Amid the confusion, the Ferrari team made a crucial decision that made Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello pit- stopped consecutively ahead of their rivals thus preserving their lead in the race that proved to be a masterful stroke of genius as they left the entire field literally eating their hot fumes and dusts.


It was Christiano Da Matta’s turn to bite the dust as the lap was down to 55 when his Toyota developed engine got into trouble, putting to waste the money and hard work that were poured into the racecar by Formula One’s richest team that was followed by a 10- lap Safety Car period.

By the time the race was down to lap 46, Briton Jenson Button’s hopes for another podium finish evaporated in the hot afternoon air as his BAR- Honda developed a Gear Box problem and retired.

Nick Heidfield and his Ford- Jordan were unceremoniously retired down in Lap 29 because of pneumatic leaks on his V10.

Four Laps later, Giancarlo Fisichella of Sauber- Petronas suffered tire problems and headed to pit lane and went back to the tracks as soon as his tire were changed but slowed down to a halt when the race was down to 6 laps.

The countdown continued as the exciting race was winding up until Montoya, who was running third at the time was told that his team, BMW- Williams was “Black- flagged” by the F1A race authorities for taking his spare car within the 15 seconds grid formation lap in violation of the race rules thus ending his high hopes and dreams that added more to his frustrations in Formula One racing.

Australia’s Mark Webber in his Jaguar ran out of luck down between Laps 13 and 12 as his engine developed an oil leak and caught fire in another uneventful race for his team.

The 2004 US Grand Prix at Indy will be remembered as one of the most electrifying race in history of F1 racing in the United States. Out of the 20 most technically expensive and superior racecars in the world that started at the grid, only 8 cars managed to survive the hot tracks of the Brickyard unscathed.

It will be also remembered as the coming of age of one of the youngest and most exciting drivers at present in F1, BAR- Honda’s Takuma Sato and that of Zsolt Baumgartner’s precious lone point for the hard- lucked Minardi- Cosworth team that ended a 27- month drought.



The biggest story of course is Michael Schumacher’s 59th career win for Ferrari that accounts for the Italian Constructor’s total victories in F1, underscoring the Prancing Horse’s exceptional dominance in Formula One.


Lopsided as it may seem, the millions of F1 fans around the globe does not really care and they are still thirsty and hungry for more of the best show in car racing.

The Michael Schumacher enigma and Ferrari mystique continues…

*Posted in Lagalag
C2004

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