Two for the Road is a hangout for mystery writers Tammy Kaehler and Simon Wood to chat, reminisce, gossip, speculate and argue about all things motorsport.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rivalries Great and Small

I'm chatting with a guest today, while Simon Wood recuperates from a bicycle mishap. Welcome, Steve Ulfelder!

What would sports be without rivalries? To the true fan, which side you're on says something about you as a human being. Yankees or Red Sox? Lakers or Celtics? Raiders or ... well, any other team?

Motorsports has known its fair share, as well. Consider Foyt v. Andretti (Mario, that is). Senna v. Prost. Dale Earnhardt (Sr.) v. Wonder Boy (aka, Jeff Gordon). GM v. Ford. Bridgestone v. Goodyear v. Michelin. So here's the question, what's your favorite rivalry?

TAMMY: I'm a recent convert to motorsports fandom, so I don't know much about great rivalries of the past. But of the current or recent scene my favorites are the following:
  1. Porsche v. Ferrari in sportscar racing. I may be new to this, but I'm going to bet you've rarely seen last corner action quite like Sebring 2007, Flying Lizards v. Risi Competizione. Unbelievable wheel-to-wheel action after 12 solid hours of racing! The plucky Porsche just couldn't stay ahead of the evil Ferrari ... well, you see where my sympathies lie.
  2. Audi v. Peugeot at Le Mans. I admit, the Peugeot diesels look cool. But I've been an Audi fan since I started watching racing, so I've got to go with Audi here. The two marques have gone back and forth for years at the big races around the world (see photo at top of page). But I loved, loved, LOVED seeing Audi win at Le Mans this year with the first ever female race engineer to win the event, Leena Gade. That rocked!
  3. Hamilton v. Alonso, McLaren, 2007. I've stated it here before: I'm not a fan of Fernando Alonso. Brilliant talent for driving, whiny git in personality. The bloom is off my Hamilton rose a bit this year, but in 2007, his first year, he was phenomenal and unspoiled. The comparison--and the friction--between the two team drivers was amusing to watch.
STEVE: You’ve got to love a rivalry, especially when there’s genuine bad blood beneath it! Here are a few that spring to mind for me:
  1. Carl Edwards v. Brad Keselowski, 2010. These NASCAR stars hated each other’s guts. The rivalry stemmed, I think, from the fact that Keselowski did not yet have a fulltime Sprint Cup ride. Stuck in the Nationwide Series, he had to watch each Saturday as pretty-boy Edwards grinned his way to his own Nationwide car – which, for Edwards, constituted slumming – and raced (hard and well, I might add). The two never cut each other an inch of slack, and indeed often ran their own personal demolition derby in the middle of a NASCAR race. But after one especially horrifying wreck, Keselowski and Edwards were called to the principal’s office, and the rivalry has since been dormant.
  2. Ford v. Ferrari, Le Mans. In the 1960s, Ford Motor Co. (under the leadership, if memory serves, of Henry Ford II) tried to buy Ferrari – and damn near did. But in the end, Enzo said no. Furious, Ford responded by pumping cubic dollars into a crash program with one goal: beat Ferrari at Le Mans. The resulting car was the legendary GT40, which indeed dominated the world’s greatest sports car race with four wins in a row.
  3. Ferrari v. McLaren/Senna v. Prost, F1. For me, the golden age of Formula One is the early 1990s battle between these two marques. The other manufacturers might as well have stayed home, so superior were McLaren and Ferrari. The fact that Ayrton Senna (Ferrari), the greatest driver I ever saw, was going at it hammer-and-tongs with Alain Prost (McLaren) only made it better.
And I haven’t even mentioned THE rivalry: Ford v. Chevy! But let’s open the floor to others …

TAMMY: Thanks, Steve! What do the rest of you think? What's the greatest rivalry of all time, or just your favorite?

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