September 30, 2000, Houston, Texas: American driver Memo Gidley was the victim of bad luck early in the race today, ramming the stalled car of Max Papis and damaging the front wing of his ...
September 30, 2000, Houston, Texas: American driver Memo Gidley was the victim of bad luck early in the race today, ramming the stalled car of Max Papis and damaging the front wing of his #10 Toyota Reynard. The incident occurred in the exit of Turn 2 just after the Lap 6, when the throttle broke on Papis' Ford-Reynard.
According to Papis, "I came around turn two and the engine shut off. I feel bad for Memo because he had nowhere to go. I looked in my mirror and just laughed. I saw Memo's car on top of mine the front wing locked with my rear wing."
Gidley picks up the story at the moment the safety crew arrived. "There's like nine safety guys busting veins trying to separate our cars. They tell me to get out of the car, and I say 'just lift me off him and send me on my way.' I just didn't want to budge, and neither did Max. So finally they used a crane to lift my car up and out, and I headed on down the road."
The dis-entangling process burned up three laps, and Gidley still needed a new front wing assembly. Gidley's Red Menace pit crew did an admirable job inspecting the car for damage and quickly replacing the nose piece, and he emerged back on course on Lap 10 in 23rd position, four laps behind the leaders.
Gidley settled into position between cars of Patrick Carpentier and Roberto Moreno, and was running competitive lap times throughout the initial portion of the race. The first 21 cars were on the lead lap, Carpentier was two laps down, and Gidley was four laps down.
The leaders began to pit on lap 46, and five laps later Gidley headed onto pit lane for routine fuel and tire service. Once the car came to a stop, team owner John Della Penna gave the order to kill the engine and withdraw the car from competition.
According to Della Penna: "We were four laps down, and had nobody to race for position. There were no yellow flags that could have offered opportunities to earn a lap back, and with the Australia event and a five-hundred mile race ahead, we just couldn't afford to risk damaging the car."
Gidley was disappointed, but had no complaints about the decision to retire. "As a driver, I never want to quit until the checkered flag flies, no matter what happens. In fact, with this team we have had some great charges from the back. But I understand the team's situation and I respect all of the difficult decisions John has had to make, including this one."