SILVERSTONE, England, Sept. 30 The spirit of Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna lives on in British Formula Ford. No, not Schuey's and Senna's commitment to on-track excellence, rather the duo's legacy of winning championships by deliberately...
SILVERSTONE, England, Sept. 30 The spirit of Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna lives on in British Formula Ford. No, not Schuey's and Senna's commitment to on-track excellence, rather the duo's legacy of winning championships by deliberately crashing into their rivals. That's exactly what happened to Patrick Long last weekend at Silverstone, when the young Californian was robbed of the Slick 50 British Formula Ford Championship when rival Robert Dahlgren of Sweden, emulating the two Formula One greats, took Long out of race by ramming him. At the time, Long has just passed Dahlgren. Seeing his championship slipping away, Dahlgren crashed into Long, causing both to DNF, thus securing the championship for himself. Entering the race, Dahlgren led Long by two points.
"What can I say? I'm disappointed and angry at today's result," explained Long. "I had just passed Dahlgren after he collided with another car. I made my move. Then he made his, right into me on purpose. In my heart I know I earned the championship, and so does every one else who saw this race. Now, it's on to the Formula Ford Festival." Senna's and Schumacher's win-at-all cost mentality is legendary. Who could forget Senna's 160-mph kamikaze collision with Alain Prost at Suzuka in 1990? Schumacher tried the cowardly gambit twice. In 1994 at the Australian Grand Prix, he deliberately took out Damon Hill moments after damaging his car against the wall. As Hill swept by, Schumacher drove right into him. Three years later at Jerez in Spain, Schumacher tried to take out Jacques Villeneuve to win the title, but Schuey's Ferrari simply glanced off Villeneuve into the sand trap. Villeneuve went on the win the championship.
The British Formula Ford Championship is widely recognized as the most prestigious junior racing series in the world. Despite the disappointment at Silverstone, Long's second place in the championship is the highest-ever placing by an American. Over the course of the 13-race series, Long, 20, scored three victories -- Oulton Park, Brands Hatch and Knockhill -- two pole positions, six podium finishes, and nine Top Fives.
Traditionally, British Formula Ford has played an important role in the careers of successful drivers. Former series champions include Eddie Irvine, Roberto Moreno, Mauricio Gugelmin, Jenson Button, and the late Ayrton Senna.
Long's next race is the Formula Ford Festival, October 19-21 at Brands Hatch.