The ticketing issues that bedevilled the beginning of the Cricket World Cup not only beggar belief, but also serve to remind us that everyday spectators – or, in some cases, would-be spectators – can often be treated with utter contempt. Continue Reading…
Pakistan have always managed to get under England’s skin, even when the form book has pointed its thermometer towards a sickly no contest. From the Gatting tour of ’87 to the Cardiff caning of 2017 in the Champions Trophy semi-final, the Cornered Tigers have generally found a way to inflict wounds on the Three Lions. Continue Reading…
The Champions League final is the showpiece of European football. The continent’s two finest teams do battle to win Europe’s most cherished trophy. After slogging it out in their domestic leagues with plenty of travelling, playing two games a week for most of the year, both teams reach the season’s climax ready to prove that they are Europe’s top dogs. Continue Reading…
And so the Cricket World Cup is very nearly upon us. Yes, the blue riband event of global 50-over cricket – a tournament that takes place every four years – gets underway at The Oval tomorrow when hosts England play South Africa and will culminate in a final at Lord’s on Sunday 14 July. Continue Reading…
As the final whistle blew at Wembley, Aston Villa threw their arms up in the air to celebrate. Their decision to sack Steve Bruce earlier this season was justified. Yesterday’s play-off final was reportedly worth £170m to the winner – their financial future now secure. Continue Reading…
Fifty years ago, Mario Andretti won his first Indianapolis 500. Unfathomably it proved to be his only trip to the IMS Victory Lane – and even that was a close-run thing.
Autosport magazine’s Indy 500 preview featured Eamon ‘Chalkie’ Fullalove, Mario’s mechanic and the (until now) untold story of the modification to make the best of a bad situation. Andretti, the 1978 F1 World Champion, was delighted that his ‘comrade’ was getting the credit he finally deserves. Magazine space being at a premium these days, and with so much recent topical news means that Autosport’s loss is Sport500’s gain. Here’s Mario’s own version.
It’s awesome that Autosport has given the attention to Chalkie. A career like his has touched the many teams he was with in a very positive way. I know the camaraderie that he optimises among mechanics. Everybody loves him. Whenever I think of Chalkie, he brings a smile to my face. He’s the man I definitely want to have a beer with! He has a proper surname, Fullalove, that sums him up.
Chalkie is clearly one of my very favourite mechanics that worked on a team I was on. Ultimately the biggest thing that you have is an appreciation for his ability as a mechanic to solve any problem. He’s clearly the fabricator extraordinaire. We had that huge issue after qualifying at Indy in ’69 because we had overheating oil. We were going to add an outside radiator after we qualified, but they wouldn’t allow us to do it.
Chalkie solved the situation. He managed to install a radiator out of sight behind the seat! It was a bit inefficient, but it was the only thing you could do. It was hot! I ended up with blisters on my back, but it got the job done and kept us in the game for the 500 miles.
We were worried it wouldn’t last. I took the lead at the start and already about six or seven laps in my oil temperature was in the 270 degrees range and that’s when I backed off, letting Foyt and Roger McCluskey by. I stayed with them, I wasn’t going to let up. I was never worse than third in the race, and I knew that – at will – I could lead, so I figured I should just keep staying the way I was.
We had another issue with the right rear tyre. We couldn’t take it off! If we’d messed about in the pits with that, we’d have fallen behind and never recovered. We did 500 miles on that one set of tyres – and we won it.
I remember the party after and I’m laughing now at the memory… It was huge, as you can imagine! Andy Granatelli-style, everybody kissing. There was a lot of emotion, no question about it.
It made so many people happy. Many deserved this prize at times before, but for one reason or another it didn’t happen. Especially for my chief mechanic, Clint Brawner. Jim McGee was the co-chief, but he was young like me, so he felt he would have many other opportunities. Brawner was at the end of his career and we were finally able to bring it to him. Of course, we know how hard Granatelli worked, and how much the win meant to him. Indy was the only race he cared about. He didn’t care about the championship or anything else. Not like us you know?
That Indy win in 1969 was still one of the most satisfying moments in my career. For me and the team behind it.
Mario Andretti was talking to Andy ‘@Hallbean’ Hallbery & Johanna ‘@writebend’ Husband
To read Autosport’s story “The man behind Mario Andretti’s luckiest day at Indy” with Chalkie, you can purchase the e-issue here:
I’m a 22-year-old racing driver, competing this year for FA Racing by Drivex, Fernando Alonso’s team, in Formula Renault Eurocup. It’s an international series, comprising 20 races on 10 weekends in nine countries. I’m from South Africa – although I live in St Albans, UK – so I guess that makes me something of a rarity: a South African single-seater driver on the international racing stage. Don’t get me wrong: there have been some very good South African drivers, but there’s been only one truly great one. He last started a Grand Prix at Watkins Glen in 1980, and no South African has started one since. I’ll tell you a bit more about him later.
I’m writing this from my hotel, which is in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France. I flew here Wednesday morning, by easyJet, from Luton Airport. I’m super-excited. Have you worked out why? OK, I’ll give you a clue. My hotel is a 15-minute walk from Casino Square. That’s right: this weekend I’ll be racing at Monaco. I’ve never set foot here before, let alone raced here, but I walked the circuit Wednesday afternoon, and I don’t mind telling you that I got shivers up my spine as I did so… but in a good way.
I’ll be qualifying today, all being well, and racing on Saturday and Sunday. I’m not going to make any outlandish predictions, but I’m going to give it my all. On social media I call it #SchoolOfSend – absolutely flat-out in other words. And, while I’m ‘sending’ it, I’ll be inspired by the great South African I mentioned in the first paragraph, because he was always mighty here.
His name is Jody Scheckter, and he won the Monaco Grand Prix twice, in 1977 and 1979, the second time in a Ferrari, from pole position, leading all the way. It really doesn’t get much better than that, does it? Monaco, Ferrari, pole, victory, leading every lap.
Moreover, Jody was fantastic that day. He’d outqualified his Ferrari team-mate, the brilliant Gilles Villeneuve, a man whom Jody himself has described as “the fastest driver in the history of motor racing”, and the two hurled their brutal but elegant Ferrari 312T4s around the super-tight confines of Monte-Carlo, nose to tail, lap after lap, until Villeneuve’s race was ended by transmission failure on lap 55. Jody then reeled off the last 21 laps, judging his pace perfectly and taking the flag half a second ahead of Clay Regazzoni’s fast-closing Williams FW07. Oh and this coming Monday, the day after the second of our two races here, it’ll be 40 years to the day since that famous victory.
Jody’s race helmet was one of the best: a white Bell with an orange band, ‘Jody’ bold and clear on each side, and a ‘Brooklyn’ logo on the visor. As a tribute, my helmet this weekend will be identical, but with ‘Callan’ in place of ‘Jody’. You’re an inspiration, Mr Scheckter, sir, and, 40 years on, I hope to follow in your tyre tracks.
As Simon Pagenaud topped the podium at the Indianapolis GP this month, you could clearly tell he was savouring every drop of champagne. And who could blame him? After all, it had been a long time between drinks for the likeable French driver. Before his breathtaking masterclass in the challenging, changeable conditions on the Indianapolis road course, Pagenaud’s last victory was at the Sonoma season finale… two years ago.
For the 2016 IndyCar champion the win drought was hard to swallow and even harder to comprehend, making his victory last time out all the sweeter.
“I guess this is the sweetest victory I’ve ever had. We did everything right this weekend and slowly but surely we got there” said Pagenaud.
With the monkey firmly off his back and his confidence riding high, Pagenaud is now keen to follow in the footsteps of his team-mate Will Power, who went on to clinch his first Indianapolis 500 victory after dominating the Grand Prix last year. He’s certainly made a good start towards bringing Roger Penske a staggering eighteenth victory at the Speedway, putting his bright yellow Chevrolet on pole during a tense qualifying weekend.
“This is the best day of my life so far,” said Pagenaud. “Obviously, it’s one of the most stressful days in racing, but being able to get it done today is just awesome. We’re in racing to win and Penske aims to dominate, it’s just an honour to be a part of this team. I’m ready to win this thing now, let’s go do it.”
Despite having grown up in Europe the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is still special to Pagenaud. He gets the tradition, the history and that indescribable ‘something’ that makes this place and this race something different, something beyond a regular event.
“The attendance here is amazing, being the biggest sporting event with regards to so many people in one place. But there’s also a kind of aura around the race track, almost like an electricity. It’s a legendary place where speed records have been broken, and it’s the fastest anyone goes on a closed circuit. For all those reasons and more, it makes this above any other race.
“You get a real buzz here. My first time was actually very intimidating, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I got very emotional before the start, just being part of it. And now being able to fight for the victory is even more special. I think for me as a racer and a competitor I want to race to win, so being able to master this unique place and have a car to do it with is incredible.”
It’s fair to say that Pagenaud’s turn around in fortunes, and on-track entertainment, has already been pretty incredible this month of May. It might be almost 100 years since a Frenchman last won the Indianapolis 500 but, on current form, it’s hard to bet against ‘Pags’ adding his likeness to the iconic Borg Warner Trophy on Sunday afternoon.
There will have been some head-scratching in Indianapolis and Woking, and maybe even at 36,000 feet somewhere between the two, after Kyle Kaiser and under-funded Juncos Racing bumped the all-star combination of McLaren and Fernando Alonso out of this year’s Indy 500. How did it come to this? How far can a team fall? Continue Reading…
Now that the newly qualified Jofra Archer is a racing certainty to be included in England’s 15-man squad for the forthcoming Cricket World Cup, one of the seam bowlers who was named in the preliminary squad last month – and a player who will have been part of the fabric of the England ODI squad for at least the past 18 months (and rather longer if Tom Curran makes the cut) – is going to be mighty disappointed. Continue Reading…