You’re Number One! (But Please Reset Your Meter)

The sign that would be held out for Team Penske driver Gil de Ferran as he pulled into the pits at the 2001 CART race in Portland

The sign that would be held out for Team Penske driver Gil de Ferran as he pulled into the pits at the 2001 CART race in Portland. He earned the number 1 by winning the championship the year prior, and for good measure would win it that year too. I could use signs like this to help me get ready in the morning. “Pants first, then shoes!”

Gil de Ferran

Gil de Ferran prepares to leave the pits during Friday practice for the 2001 CART race at Portland International Raceway

Gil de Ferran prepares to leave the pits during Friday practice for the 2001 CART race at Portland International Raceway. I wish it wasn’t cropped so closely but I had a tough time getting a shot of Gil all weekend and only got this one as his crew moved out of the way. Sadly I never got to see him race again as his team never returned to Portland, and while he didn’t have a great race I was happy when he won the championship for the second year in a row, as I was a fan from his rookie year.

Oh Hello Helio

Helio Castroneves prepares to climb aboard his Team Penske racing car at the CART race at Portland International Raceway in 2001

Imagine my surprise a few weeks back to be watching TV and hear that Helio Castroneves was on Dancing With The Stars. I don’t normally watch the show, but Helio was one of my favorite drivers back when I followed open wheel racing. I caught a couple of his appearances and he had the same great attitude and winning smile from when he stormed on the Indy car scene way back when.

This picture of Helio is from June of 2001 at Portland International Raceway, taken as he prepared to climb in the cockpit. He was driving for one of the most storied teams in Indy car racing, Penske Racing, and had just won his first Indy 500 a few weeks earlier (he’d win another the following year). The Penske team switched to a rival league the following year that didn’t race at road tracks like Portland, so this was the last time I got to watch Helio drive in person. I eventually lost interest in racing due to the ridiculous fighting between the rival leagues, but it was still fun to see one of my old favorites pop up in the news again (and go on to win the dance competition no less).