Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ciao, Emanuele.

ALMS finished up the season at Laguna Seca, and I still didn't get to go. Am hoping I can make it there next year.

The only real story of note was Emanuele Pirro leaving the Audi team. To many of you, you're probably thinking "Emanu-who?" but Pirro has been one of the most lively and interesting characters I've had the pleasure of getting to know these last few years. He's taught me a thing or two, and definitely made me laugh.

A few years ago, I was in the pits at Sebring with Lug and Gladys from the "Speed Freaks" TV show. We had just met, and were basically showing each other around the pit area. After they'd introduced me to Terry Borcheller (nice guy, good interview, and a damn fine racer in his own right), I saw Emanuele Pirro walk by and I asked "Emanuele, do you have a minute?"

I introduced him to the Speed Freaks, and we all got to talking shop with Pirro and Alan McNish. Alan was getting ready for a stint so he had to leave, but Pirro stayed with us. I like to ask the questions nobody else thinks of, so I put it to him: "Emanuele, I have a question - Ron Fellows said when Johnny O'Connell re-upped with Corvette, that 'he might as well, since we've been pissing in the same seat for so long'. How often does that happen?"

"Oh, it never happens - never! No no, never.... .... OK, one time it happens," he tells me "I am driving the car, early in my stint and I have to pee. I call on radio to my crew chief, I say 'I have to pee!' and he says 'it's OK, you go in the car.'" (We're all starting to fall apart laughing at this point) "I tell him, I can no pee in the car, I am driving! How can I pee while I am driving! He says too bad, you pee in the car or you wait. So I try and try, and I cannot pee... All the time, I am driving as fast as I can! IT TOOK ME 8 LAPS!"

When he got to "8 laps", I was literally clutching the fence wall to keep from falling down. He just delivered the story so matter-of-factly, so damn funny... It was one of the funniest moments I've had at the track, and I wish I'd been recording it at the time.

I took this shot of Emanuele last year at Atlanta, on the grid just before the start of the race:

Thank you, Emanuele, for being such a great driver, a fantastic interview, and a good friend.

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