July 28, 2000: Substitute driver Memo Gidley made his first career laps around the Chicago Motor Speedway today, posting the 16th fastest practice speed in his second consecutive appearance with Della Penna Motorsports. Gidley spent Monday...
July 28, 2000: Substitute driver Memo Gidley made his first career laps around the Chicago Motor Speedway today, posting the 16th fastest practice speed in his second consecutive appearance with Della Penna Motorsports. Gidley spent Monday through Thursday at the Della Penna shop in Indianapolis, and is quickly developing a special relationship with his hard-working crew.
Gidley's first day in Chicago was a vast improvement on the first day of practice at Michigan just a week ago. "Last Friday we were so far off it wasn't even funny," Gidley explains. "Tonight we can sit on a good setup and prepare something even better for tomorrow. We haven't maxed out the change list yet. Most of these guys ahead of me spent two days here testing, so running 16th on our first day here is a good credit for the team."
Gidley is enjoying a fast-developing camaraderie with his Della Penna crew. "It's a good group, they've got good hearts. We're getting a lot closer, and it's turning into family. Racing's too hard work to not be friends with the people you are around. In my book, having the desire and putting in the effort is most of the battle, so they are as good as anybody out there."
Shortly following the afternoon practice, Gidley explained his initial impressions of the track. "It reminds me of driving Formula Ford 2000 on a 14-second track. You have to drive the whole time you're out there- braking, shifting, and sliding around the track. It's like the track's alive."
Gidley expects passing to be a tricky endeavor on Sunday, and offered this prescription for a successful overtaking maneuver: "The track doesn't have a lot up high, so it's difficult to rail around somebody on the outside. You are going have to exit the curve on the low side at the white line, get on the power a bit earlier, float across him, pick him up at the exit, get a tow, and draft by him." It sounds complicated, and it is, so please don't try this maneuver at home.
As usual, Gidley plans to attend some glamorous parties this evening. "I lead a boring life. All race car stuff. I'm just going to stay in my room go over setups with four notebooks spread across the bed."