When the cars lined up on the starting grid at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal this past weekend, it was clear that the drivers were in for a wet race. Despite almost swimming to the finish line, the majority of drivers seemed to have enjoyed the change in conditions at the first truly wet conditions that NASCAR has ever experienced at a major points race.
With both the drivers and race officials having had little – if any – experience dealing with extremely wet conditions, a lot of accidents were to be expected. But none of them were terribly serious and in all it seems that the drivers had a lot of fun trying gain control of their slipping and sliding vehicles as they attempted to speed around the track. It seems the two biggest problems were the fact that the drivers invariably had low visibility and large puddles of water on the track meant more than one car hydroplaned. At 140 or 150 miles an hour, a hydroplaning car can be a scary and dangerous thing. Still it seems that for the most part, the drivers managed to take it all in their stride. And where the roads were just wet and not covered in water, the grooved Goodyear rain tires that finally got a chance to perform proved their worth by ensuring that the cars stuck to the road under the guidance of their hard-working drivers.
Unfortunately the lack of visibility caused quite a few collisions. Often drivers were unable to see a caution ahead and so they went straight into the back of stationary cars. This was what happened to both Jacques Villeneuve and Joey Logano – though they were only doing about 40 mph so the collisions were not too serious. Most of the teams installed a windshield wiper during one of the extended caution periods but there were a few teams who seemed to think they could manage without them. One example is Carl Edwards, whose rather amusing solution to the problem was to stick his arm out during cautions to squeegee his window clean. In the end the race was reduced from 74 laps to 48 laps. The race was won by Ron Fellows, followed by Patrick Carpentier and Marcos Ambrose respectively.
After decades of largely low-key but utterly important work in the motor racing industry, Rab MacDonald has finally been awarded for his commitment to the sport. Upon being presented with the Jim Clark Memorial Award for 2008, MacDonald was hailed as one of the unsung heroes of motor racing for his complete commitment to the sport.
Rab’s career has spanned a period of more than forty years. During that time he has acted as the MSA Scrutineer and FIA Technical Delegate, two roles that have taken him around the globe. His career was launched in 1961 when he gained his Scrutineer’s apprentice ticket. Over time Rab worked hard at his new career, steadily earning himself the recognition of being one of the UK’s top technical officials. The recognition was hard-earned and well deserved and it came as little surprise when Rab eventually became the first Scotsman to be made an FIA Technical Delegate. His new role for the Federation International de l’ Automobile meant that he was now working for the world governing body of motor sport – a prestigious and weighty responsibility that he shouldered with dignity. His job with the FIA means that he may have to officiate at events as far away from his home town of Lasswade, which is near Edinburgh, as Jordan and Japan. He may also be asked to travel to other countries at short notice if his services are needed at a particular event. Thus Rab MacDonald was an obvious choice for the Jim Clark Memorial Award which serves to recognize the time and energy that various Scottish recipients have put into the industry.
Though Rab has enjoyed a long and excellent career in his chosen field, one should keep in mind that it has not necessarily been an easy ride to the top. Volunteer officials and scrutineers are not the most liked individuals at a racetrack since they have the power to scrap a car from a race or pass it. Likely many drivers even resent them, since many of them do not race but rather focus on using their technical expertise to make an informed decision. Nevertheless, Rab has proven himself during the course of his career and this award is certainly fitting recognition of that fact. Rab accepted the award with his wife Sheila at his side. He was presented with the trophy during a ceremony held in Benalup, Spain, on Saturday night. On receiving the trophy Rab remarked that it was a â€˜true honor’ to receive the award and that he accepted it on behalf of all those amateur officials who work tirelessly and unpaid at ensuring that the motor racing sport continued to be safe and well-organized.