Michael Schumacher Announces Retirement

Post ImageI just watched the Italian Grand Prix, which was won by Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari. It will be his last win at Monza, as he announced in the driver interviews after the race that he will be retiring at the end of this season. The decision has been expected for quite some time, but it’s still kind of shocking to hear him say it. He’s by far the most successful driver in Formula 1 history. Some people love him, some people hate him, but I think everyone respects him. He’s done so much for the sport, and it’s hard to argue with the records and accolades he has achieved. He holds just about every record there is, except for the most starts (he’s about 7 races behind).

With the win today, Schumi is just 2 points behind Fernando Alonso in the drivers championship with three races left. Should Michael finish ahead of Alonso, it would be his eighth championship. He has always been focused and driven by the challenge of winning, and he reiterated as much today. He made it very clear he is focused on winning the championship and leaving his sport on a high.

Who will replace Schumi now? Speculation is that it will be Kimi Raikkonen, but Ferrari has yet to announce anything. To be perfectly clear, no one can replace Michael Schumacher. Someone will drive his car, yes, but no one can replace Formula 1’s greatest driver ever.

I am sure there will be more to come on this story over the next few weeks. I’m glad Schumi is leaving on a high, but I’m still sad to see him go.

Wilson wins 2006 Grand Prix of Edmonton

Post ImageI am so glad I got to go to the race today – it was awesome! I only wish my Dad had been able to come (we always watch the F1 races early Sunday morning together, though virtually, as he lives in the north). Despite the heat, there was a packed crowd for the race today, and it was extremely entertaining. Bourdais led the first half of the race, but Wilson proved much quicker and eventually took the checkered flag, becoming the only driver besides Bourdais and Allmendinger to win a race this season (here’s the full story).

I have to say that watching a race in person is a much different experience than watching on television. Edmonton is probably unique too, in that you can see pretty much the entire track from your seat in the grandstands. In any case, I like that you see every car go by every lap, whereas on TV you are at the mercy of the producer and camera people. It makes it much easier to see visually who is gaining on whom, who is falling behind, and who is trying too hard. Sure the television has the times and stuff, but actually seeing it is pretty cool.

The race began with the parade of drivers, each in a Ford pickup. Some of the Edmonton Eskimos also took part, with their very yellow truck bringing up the rear. There were parachuters, CF-18s, Mayor Mandel, Premier Klein, and various other dignitaries to get things underway. Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish was the grand marshall, saying the famous words with a twist – “Katherine and gentlemen, start your engines!” (as Katherine Legge is the only woman driver in the series). It was neat to see MacT and Kelly Buchburger walking down the concourse with a couple other guys – everyone would walk past, and then stop and look at the foursome, wondering if they had really just seen MacT! He’s an Edmonton celebrity to be sure.

I’ve added a few more pictures to my photoset from today. I also have about ten minutes of video, just various clips that I recorded throughout the day, so I’ll post that at some point as well. You know, so you can hear the scream of the engines for yourself!

Anyway, great race, and I hope I can go again next year!

35 Degree Racing in Edmonton

Post ImageI really wanted to go to the inaugural Grand Prix of Edmonton last year, but never got around to getting tickets. This year though, I was lucky enough to get Silver tickets for today and tomorrow. Turns out that one of my very fashionable friends got tickets from work, yet found she didn’t like watching cars go in circles, so she was nice enough to give her pass to me. Needless to say, I was pretty happy.

I arrived at the track this morning around 10, just in time to catch the morning Champ Car practice. I stayed until after the afternoon qualifying, which ended at 3. I’m amazed I lasted that long – the weather in Edmonton today was an incredible 35 degrees celsius, which as I’m sure you’re aware, is much hotter when you’re on asphalt.

It was totally worth it though! I’ve always been a big racing fan, with my favorite being Formula 1 (and there was a lot of Schumacher and Alonso gear to be seen today which was neat). I used to watch Champ Car all the time too, back when it was called CART. I still remember Jacques Villeneuve racing for the Players team in CART before switching to F1 and winning a world championship. And I remember Paul Tracy, who was one of the youngest drivers in the field. He’s now the oldest, and clearly the fan favorite here in Edmonton. He starts the race second tomorrow, despite a little accident this afternoon. Sebastien Bourdais has the pole.

Watching in person is much different than watching on television. The sounds are obviously much louder, and you can hear certain things much more clearly, such as gear shifts or brakes locking up. And while it’s easier to keep track of what’s going on when watching TV, there are some things you just can’t see properly unless you’re in person. Things like the way the cars bounce around (well if you ignore on car cameras at least), or the way the downforce keeps them on track as they go through a corner at 100 mph. Everytime the cars go through turns 13 and 14, it looks like they are going to lose control, and except for one time today, none of them did. It’s incredible.

I’ve created a new photoset with a bunch of pictures I took today, and I’ll add to it tomorrow. A couple interesting ones are this forklift carrying packages of ice to keep drinks cool no doubt, and this jet engine mounted to the back of a pickup that blows debris from the track. Maybe I’ll bring my video camera tomorrow!

Read: Edmonton GP