CHAMPCAR/CART: Motegi Memo Gidley qualifies, bird looses

May 12, 2000, Motegi Japan: American Driver Memo Gidley qualified 16th for the Firestone Firehawk 500 at Motegi today, but the finch he hit wasn't so lucky. In a bizarre racing incident, Gidley made contact with a small bird at over 200 miles...

May 12, 2000, Motegi Japan: American Driver Memo Gidley qualified 16th for the Firestone Firehawk 500 at Motegi today, but the finch he hit wasn't so lucky. In a bizarre racing incident, Gidley made contact with a small bird at over 200 miles per hour, causing minimal damage to his #32 Players Ford-Reynard-Firestone but bringing out the yellow flag for a rare biohazard of feathery debris on the track.

"I guess the bird didn't get the notice we are racing here today," Gidley laments. "Well, the bird wouldn't get out of my way and I couldn't change my line. I guess the rule is he who is biggest wins. I knew it was a pretty small bird and I was not going to dodge it, that's for sure."

Making his first-ever trip to the far east, Gidley has been enjoying the surprising familiarity of the Japanese countryside and the warmth and enthusiasm of the local fans. "The track is great. It's really fast and quite smooth. The facility is surrounded by woodsey, hillsey Northern California-type scenery that feels very much like home. The people are great; they have a lot of interest in racing and always want an autograph."

The Motegi race is Gidley's thirteenth CART event, and his first using the small speedway wings. "We could have used some more practice time, especially with my lack of track time at Motegi specifically and with the speedway wings in general. At first the car had a nervous twitchiness on entry, but we have improved it quite a bit and I think the car will be good for the race tomorrow."

Immediately after tomorrow's race, Gidley will fly to Indianapolis to begin practice for his upcoming effort to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 next weekend.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Memo Gidley