Yesterday's USA Today ran the banner headline SPEED WEEKEND in letters big and black enough for the start of World War III.
Nearly half the paper was devoted to one of motor racing's biggest international weekends of the year. Things kicked off last night in Charlotte, NC, at Lowe's dirt track, with down-and-dirty World of Outlaws sprint-car racing. Today, first it's NASCAR trucks at the half-mile bullring in Mansfield, Ohio, and the short track will make it hairy for the trucks as well. Then it's the NASCAR Nationwide series at Lowe's. Tomorrow things go over the top with the Indy 500 at 1 p.m. ET, then the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's later in the day.
Meanwhile, in Europe it's F1 and the Monaco Grand Prix.
On some fronts, the teams battle with changing technology. In NASCAR, the "car of tomorrow" has everybody tearing their hair out -- it's reported to be tweakier than the old car, harder to keep on a fast, consistent edge. On other fronts, the fight is changing sociology. Three women start in the Indy grid, and there is huge pressure on Danica Patrick to prove that her first Indy Car win wasn't a fluke. Regrettably, the USA Today profiles virtually ignored the two other women drivers, Sarah Fisher and Milka Duno. Sarah, especially, is said to as talented as Danica, if not more so -- she deserves better sponsorship and a better car to drive. -- Patricia Nell Warren