- The Washington Times - Monday, July 22, 2002

Cadillac Grand Prix notes

Stunt motorcyclist Robbie Knievel did a good job riling up the crowd before his first jump in the District, but his histrionics ultimately led to an anticlimactic finish and a hurried start to the Cadillac Grand Prix's signature race yesterday.
When he finally came around 10:45a.m. for his 200-foot jump, Knievel preached patriotism to the crowd, dubbing the first jump in the District by a member of the Knievel family "the Capital Jump."
Then, with new pal Ian Ziering of "Beverly Hills 90210" fame assisting him with his motorcycles (Ziering competed in the previous evening's celebrity race), Knievel turned the straightaway before pit row of the RFK Stadium Circuit into Wheelie Avenue. He took about four runs back and forth on one of his two motorcycles, mostly on one wheel.
Some teams, meanwhile, delayed bringing out their cars and fuel because of the explosives detonating just 20 feet from the pits.
But with Elton John's "Rocket Man" blaring from the loudspeakers, the son of legendary Evel Knievel finally switched bikes and easily launched his bike from the ramp and over 25 American flags.
And as soon as he landed, the music switched to "Freebird" and the cars started rolling down pit lane.

Serving notice
Race organizers feel the success i.e. the attendance, exposure and quality of races of the weekend outweighed the controversy that lingered over area residents angered by the loud weekend of racing in their backyard.
National Grand Prix co-founder Chris Lencheski and D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission president Bobby Goldwater said they would look at more options with sound walls before next year's race, and that the lines of communication with the city and the community would have to open even more.
But Lencheski pointed out they'd already made some neighbor-friendly gestures such as starting practice after 9a.m.: "Late for racing," he said.
"The fact that this was going to be a loud event was definitely not a news bulletin to us," he added.
Meanwhile, American Le Mans Series president Scott Atherton, who had predicted the ALMS would be the "envy of the motorsports world" by the end of this weekend's coming out party, reiterated that claim.
"We had people here [from IRL, CART and NASCAR]," he said. "And we have served notice: We are here."

Possible date switch
Atherton said he wants to move next year's event back a month to June in order to avoid some of the heat that plagued the drivers this weekend. At the latest, the event will run on the last weekend of June, Atherton said. The exact date will depend on television.

Attendance solid
The stands weren't quite full for the main event, but Lencheski estimated that 40,000 fans attended the last day of the Grand Prix. That includes fans in the paddock area, grandstands, luxury suites and those just sitting on the hill or walking around the facility. An estimated 25,000 fans attended Saturday's events.

Kirberg wins from the pole
In the final race of the Cadillac Grand Prix, Mark Kirberg won from the pole in his BMW 325is. Will Turner, who also drove a BMW, worked his way up from a fifth-place start to finish second, nearly three seconds behind Kirberg. Mike Fitzgerald, who started second in a Lexus IS 300, took third.

Nuts and bolts
Before the American Le Mans Series race, a snippet of "The Star Spangled Banner" was played over the loudspeaker, along with short sound bites from the 12 other national anthems from the countries represented by drivers. Shane Lewis wrecked his Dodge Viper during the morning warm-ups for the American Le Mans Series race. But he was treated, released and raced with teammate Marc Bunting to a last-place overall finish. Because of the necessity of counting the number of laps driven by each racer, official updated driver points in ALMS won't be available until this afternoon. Jonathan Hollif, a California resident who helped race organizers pick the celebrities for Saturday night's Pro-Am, proposed to longtime girlfriend Cora Friedman over the public address system. She accepted, to the delight of Hollif and the fans.

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