Dreams dashed By Bob Margolis, Yahoo! Sports March 26, 2006
Bob Margolis Yahoo! Sports Exclusive I met Paul Dana for the first time in May 1998 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
We were introduced by a mutual friend who thought I'd be interested in meeting a guy who was trying to be a professional race car driver but had been schooled as a journalist.
Paul had a unique perspective on his goals. Despite having gone to college to be a writer, he wanted to race cars. He knew that he was trying to break into a profession that at the time was becoming more and more dominated by young drivers who brought money to the show â€“ and money was something he didn't have.
What he did have was the passion and desire to make it to the big leagues.
That often translated into Paul coming across as a bit pushy, but I loved his overabundant energy. He was always fun to be around. I've always liked people with the kind of passion and energy that Paul exhibited and we easily became friends.
He started having some success driving in the open wheel Barber Dodge Series later that year, and I always got emails from him on Monday mornings after every race. It was part self-promotion (which was a good thing) and part confession that he wished he had done better.
He did well in that series, winning six times in his first professional racing opportunity.
He spent the next several years trying to get a break and find someone who would give him a chance without him having to buy it.
I suppose after realizing that the only way to open doors was with dollars, he began to use one of his strongest assets, his personality, and forge relationships with potential corporate sponsors who would financially support his dream.
We lost touch for several years, but then met up again last May at Indianapolis. He was cautiously excited about his first Indy 500.
While happy to have the opportunity to drive in the biggest race in the world, Dana was concerned that his race car perhaps wasn't the best on the track.
And after his first accident in practice for the 500, he was a bit gun shy.
He was right to be.
He had another wreck the following week, a more serious one that fractured vertebrae in his back and sidelined him from the 500, keeping him away from the thing that he loved the most.
He was able to come back to the track just a couple of weeks later on the weekend of the race, and despite the severity of his injuries he still had that optimism that was his trademark. He hated being sidelined, but he told me right then that he'd get back in a race car.
I last saw him in the fall of last year after his deal with Rahal-Letterman was announced.
It was like he had won the lottery. I'd never seen him so excited. His eyes were full of joy and we talked about how persistence and drive pays off in the end.
He was going to be teammates with Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice and the IRL's biggest personality, Danica Patrick.
I have to admit that at the time, I felt a bit of envy. It made me think about all the goals I had never realized and here was Paul living one of his.
We hugged and I wished him luck and he tried to make me promise that I would write good things about him.
With Paul Dana's death Sunday following a crash at Homestead-Miami Speedway, I've now had the misfortune of watching three young drivers that I considered friends have their lives cut short while living their dream.
Greg Moore, Tony Renna and now Paul Dana.
A close friend who also is involved with auto racing once told me that if I was going to be a motorsports journalist, I shouldn't get too close to the drivers.
"They're the ones who die here," he said.
I never did listen to him. Sometimes you can't help it.
Al Unser Jr. said Monday he is returning to drive in this year's Indianapolis 500 at least in part to pester Michael Andretti, his lifelong friend and rival. Andretti is returning to the 500 after a three-year absence. Unser last competed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2004. "Somebody's got to keep Michael honest," Unser said, confirming his ride with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. He will partner with Buddy Lazier on the Indianapolis-based team. Unser and Andretti, both second-generation Indy-car drivers, joined the sport within a year of each another in the early 1980s. In CART, they combined to win 81 races and three championships. Unser also won two 500s. Unser will be 44 and Andretti 43 when this year's race is held May 28. Unser said the lure of competing in his favorite race was too much to ignore. He sat out last year but found it difficult to watch on television at his home in Henderson, Nev. "It reminded me of the split (with CART and the Indy Racing League)," he said. "They weren't good feelings, let's put it that way." Unser said he decided to pursue a ride late last year, and he went with his son, Al, to Tampa, Fla., to train during the winter. "I also just miss the fraternity of (the paddock); I miss being around the racetrac
Here's the stuff I bought at the Panther Racing auction.
Fisher has work to do Cole Carter, son of 17-time Indy starter Pancho Carter, and Rocky Moran Jr. have been added to the Menards Infiniti Pro Series field for the May 27 Freedom 100. . . . SI.com - Racing - New perspective for Speedway, IRL boss George - Saturday May 21, 2005 7:27PM
Cole Carter, a third-generation driver whose father and grandfather combined for 28 starts in the Indianapolis 500, has entered the Freedom 100, part of the IRL's developmental Infiniti Pro Series. The Infiniti race will be on May 27, two days before the Indy 500. The 22-year-old Carter's father, Pancho Carter, drove at Indy 17 times, started from the pole in 1985 and had four top-10 finishes. His grandfather, Duane Carter, had three top-10 finishes in 11 Indy starts and was inducted into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame on Friday night.
Three rookie drivers, Cole Carter, Rocky Moran Jr. and German Quiroga, have been entered in Freedom 100 Menards Infiniti Pro Series race at the Speedway. Of the trio, Carter and Moran have links to the Speedway. Carter is a third generation driver at the Speedway. His grandfather Duane Carter started 11 Indianapolis 500s and his father, Pancho Carter made 17 starts.
Nineteen cars are entered for Friday's Freedom 100 Menards Infiniti Pro Series race at the Speedway. Al Unser and Marco Andretti will highlight the field that includes points leader Travis Gregg, USAC standout Jay Drake, Jeff Simmons, Chris Festa and third generation driver Cole Carter, who makes his debut in the series. *** Ronnie and Jeff Bucknum are the 19th father and son combination to have competed in the Indianapolis 500. Arie Luyendyk Jr. nearly added to the list of father son combinations but was bumped from the field on the final day of qualifying. Entries for the Freedom 100 include three third generation drivers: Al Unser, Marco Andretti and Cole Carter. Rocky Moran Jr., whose father competed in three Indy 500s (1988, '89, '90), makes his Menards Infiniti Pro Series debut in the Freedom 100.
Carter, 22, is a third-generation driver at Indianapolis . His grandfather, Duane, started 11 Indianapolis 500s, recording three top-10 finishes. Carterâ€™s father, â€œPanchoâ€�, won the pole position at Indianapolis in 1985 and recorded four top-10 finishes in 17 starts. Carter has competed in the USAC National Midget Series since 2000, finishing fourth in the points championship last year. He will drive the No. 77 American Revolution Racing entry.
That his Indy Racing League Menards Infiniti Pro Series rookie test was on the same day as his grandfather Duane's induction into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall wasn't lost on Cole Carter. "It's kind of a cool thing," said Carter, 22, a Brownsburg, Ind. , resident. "I'd love to have been there for his induction, but on the other hand I know he'd be excited that I was getting my first taste of Indy-style racing. It's kind of an "out with the old, in with the new" kind of thing. I know he'd tell me to go have fun and do my best. I'm sure he'd be really proud of me and confident I could represent the Carter name well."
I had a great time at the Indy 500 on Sunday. I'll post the rest of my pictures sometime this week.