Moore Accident A Reality Check - by Gordon Kirby Writing a race report and obituary in the immediate aftermath of the death of any driver is always a grim business. For we scribblers, the work goes on well into the evening, after talking to ...
Moore Accident A Reality Check - by Gordon Kirby Writing a race report and obituary in the immediate aftermath of the death of any driver is always a grim business. For we scribblers, the work goes on well into the evening, after talking to whomever we can in our most respectful, if hounded ways.
After the interviews it's tough to focus on the work of writing when you're grief-stricken yourself, as everyone in the press room was last Sunday night, particularly those of us who had the pleasure and great honor to get to know Greg Moore and his father Ric.
Greg and Ric's tiny family team started racing an Indy Lights car in 1993 in company with longtime friend and race engineer Steve Challis. The Moores quickly became essential members of the CART community, as Greg took the Lights title in 1995 and became the youngest man in history to win a Champ Car race when he scored his first victory in the big cars at Milwaukee in 1997.
As everyone knows, Greg was a remarkably unpretentious young man with a great sense of humor, able to lampoon himself as much as anyone else. He was also proving himself a truly great driver, one of the best of our times, with high hopes for a new future with the revamped Penske team.
My colleagues and I dealt with the tragedy in our own ways as we thrashed out our stories on Sunday night, and my thoughts kept returning to some comments Chip Ganassi made in the interview room after the race. "I think everyone that's ever driven one of these cars will tell you why Greg is not burdened with these things anymore," Ganassi said, fighting back tears. "He's not worried about these senseless things we do, messing with shock absorbers and wings and fuel mixtures. The fight we have in our sport, for example, seems fairly insignificant at a time like this.
"Maybe it's time for us to take a step back," Chip added. "I think everybody in this sport needs each other. Maybe we need to get back together like everyone knows we need to."
When I bumped into him at the Century Plaza prior to Monday night's somber awards banquet, I told Chip how impressed I had been by the wisdom in his words. He looked at me, sad-eyed, like all of us.
"A lot of people have said that to me," he mused. "And, I can't remember what I said. What did I say?"
The fact that Chip didn't really recall his words emphasizes how spontaneous they were, and it took a little conversation on Monday afternoon for him to focus his thoughts.
Neither Chip nor myself are deeply religious men, but as we talked we both agreed that the split between CART and the IRL has torn the spirit from the sport and created some seriously bad karma. And at the California Speedway last weekend we were enveloped in grief once again, unable to properly enjoy or celebrate a fantastic, down-to-the-wire championship duel with Juan Montoya and Dario Franchitti finishing the season tied on points, the first time in history that's happened.
"You're right," Chip remarked. "The mojo isn't working. It's working for my team, but it's not working for the sport."
The record-setting, four-time-champion team owner repeated his comments at the awards dinner that evening, reiterating publicly his plea for everyone to find a way to work together. How that can happen, given the clear message from this summer's failed reunification talks, I don't know. I do know that a great deal of energy has been spent in recent years, and there is strong support for Chip's heartfelt wishes for a better future.