OURSLER: The Rambling Road
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Florida tourist bureau has long promoted Florida as “The Sunshine State.”
That slogan can be found on every license tag issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Yet, despite the tourist inspired hype, it does rain in Florida — a lot in fact.
Just how much “liquid sunshine” the state’s skies can produce was on clear display this past weekend when the Grand Am’s Rolex Sportscar Series came to the Miami-Homestead Speedway for its third race of the season. So bad were the conditions that qualifying was wiped out in its entirety, while the race itself, which spent more time in full course yellow mode behind the pace car than under green, was shortened by some 45 minutes.
In the end, Wayne Taylor’s SunTrust Corvette Daytona Prototype with his son Ricky and Max Angelelli aboard prevailed, largely on the elder Taylor’s decision to gamble on the last full course caution not to pit for fuel as the other leaders had, betting the affair would be called by those in charge.
The young Taylor had taken the lead on an earlier restart when trouble struck the front of the pack, staying there until the premature finish. For the SunTrust camp, the victory was sweet after their early departure at the Rolex 24 and a star crossed day at Barber Motorsport Park earlier in the month. Additionally, while not necessarily representative of what might have been if the track were dry, the Rolex tour can boast three different winners in its first three rounds
Taking second were the reigning Rolex titlists, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas, while the Action Express Corvette of Darren Law and David Donohue took third. Rounding out the top five were the two early race leaders, the Starworks Ford-Riley of Alex Popow and Lucas Luhr, which was fourth, and the Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP of Antonio Garcia and Richard Westbrook, who claimed the victory at Barber, fifth.
Uniquely, it was the restart tangle between these two latter entries that resulted in Taylor slipping to the front of the field.
As for GT, it was a strategy call to leave the AIM Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia out and not take fuel that gave Emil Assentato and Jeff Segal first-place honors in the inaugural series GT triumph for the famed brand, which joined the Rolex championship at the beginning of the year.
This latest edition of the long-running Miami Grand Prix, which first ran in 1983, was ironic in that it took place in the same kind of weather conditions that forced that inaugural event to be halted after only 27 laps after a massive downpour had flooded the temporary street circuit on which it took place.
Sunday, the partial flooding of the combined oval and infield road course at Homestead was a major factor in the decision to cut things short. Unlike oval track series, the road racing community has long prided itself in racing regardless of weather conditions. While that may be commendable, in recent times not only has that caused adversity for both the Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series, which several spent the better of eight hours before ending prematurely the 2010 Petit Le Mans show at Road Atlanta after red flagging it because the track was flooded.
The question following Homestead is whether or not it is time to reconsider the posture that the program goes on “rain or shine” no matter had bad things get. Clearly the Grand-Am was right to retire to the dry garages of the Homestead Motorsport complex.
Yet, one has to ask whether or not it might have been better to postpone the race for another day in the first place.
For the few hardy fans and those watching on SPEED, this Miami Grand Prix was more an exercise in futility than it was a sporting event.
And, in today’s world in which racing is entertainment that is a consideration that does not necessarily play well with anyone. Ultimately it is just a thought, but perhaps one worthy of consideration.