EFF ONE

Usually, this column is where you come to find out about all the things that went wrong at a GP weekend, the scrapes people got into and all the silly incidents that occurred. But after the Indianapolis fiasco, the entire grandprix.com website is full of that sort of stuff and we could discuss it for hours but I think the situation was best summed up by the US race fans during the podium ceremony, who seemed to think the words to the German National Anthem were: "Bulls**t, bulls**t, bulls**t, bulls**t!"

The worst part for the crowd had to be the start, when the 14 guys who had no intention of racing, formed up on the grid before driving into pit lane. It reminded me of my college days when a girl would invite me up to her room for a coffee and then give me… a coffee.

After the sophistication of Montreal, Indianapolis comes across as something of a hick town, but the locals have a wry sense of humour. I travelled out of the centre with a colleague who wanted to pick up a part for his old Facel Vega car. The clock in the auto-shop had evidently stopped back in around 1972, which was the last time the three ashtrays, one of them in human form, had been emptied. While a man in the oldest baseball cap in the world looked out the part, Helen the human ashtray dispensed advice and wit in the style of Noel Coward. "Call for Helen, line 2," shouted out a very pregnant woman who operated the switchboard while knitting a blanket. "Helen, you not talkin' to me today?"

"No honey," she rasped back. "I put you on ‘ignore' today."

Indy gradually came to life on Wednesday night, when we headed for our now traditional amateur night at the "Slippery Noodle" blues bar. Jarno Trulli took in a show there later in the week, particularly interested in the percussion, as he's a bit of a drummer himself. In fact, the previous week, he had laughed politely at my joke about the drummer who decides he needs more respect as a musician and so goes into a music shop and after stooging around points to the instruments he wants and says: "I'll have that saxophone and that accordion."

"Well let's see," replies the shopkeeper, rather mystified, "I can sell you the fire extinguisher, but the radiator is bolted to the wall."

The highlight of the night was a rendition of "Play That Funky Music White Boy," but sadly most of the previous acts had proved that not many "White Boys" were funky. I get the impression Country and Western has a bigger following in this part of the world.

The next morning, as I pulled into the media car park, I was reminded yet again that the locals all seem to talk in song titles. As I got out of my car, the attendant looked at my wheels and said, "Shucks, I gart a dawggie bigger un that."

I guess he was one of Indiana hayseeds who really believe that if you play a Country and Western song backwards, you eventually get back your girlfriend, your pick-up truck and your hound dog.

The FIA could not have known how many press releases it would be putting out later in the weekend, but the first document to wing its way from Paris to Indy concerned F1 rules for 2008. The proposed rule changes are so draconian that F1 will have all the appeal of a foggy Club meeting at Snetterton or Croix en Ternois. No doubt a further bulletin will appear in a few days time stating that drivers are not allowed to wear crash helmets, but that the use of a long white silk scarf is mandatory. Medical facilities will be reduced to one struck-off doctor and two midwives operating out of the back of a converted Land Rover and any driver not showing signs of having at least some alcohol in his system will not be allowed to race.

Although the document was unsigned, it is obviously the work of Uncle Max, who claims that "Formula One has become divorced from reality." But two lines later, his own grasp of reality is brought into question as he talks about F1 cars lining up on the grid 17 times per year. Which two races are missing from your list Max? I think we can assume Indy will be one of them. Actually, I reckon the whole new rule thing is a scam invented by former F1 team owners, Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley, to offload some old Brabham and March chassis they've got lying around in storage. Why else would the rules stipulate that you can buy parts or entire cars from other teams?

Before Indy's Bloody Sunday, the New World and the Old had been getting on like a house on fire, with Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan and especially Danica Patrick, all being very much the centre of attention in the paddock. The little girl was stalked all day on Thursday by the media, but given that she is not too shabby a looker, I wondered how many of the tape recorders thrust under her nose actually had a tape or battery in them.

America's Scott Speed was having his second run as a Friday driver and had his brother to keep him company in Indy, which meant I finally realised who "Beavis and Butthead" are modelled on. Speed had a bit of a crisis on Saturday in the Red Bull garage, when he realised Barbara had been kidnapped. Who is Barbara? Actually, she is a what, not a who, as she is a sheep. Okay, so Scott's eyes might be quite close to his nose, but spare me the "Deliverance" jokes. No, Barbara is a toy sheep that lives on Scott's drinks bottle. Speed might be cool on the track, but he lost the plot completely when he found that someone had switched the "real" Barbara for an impostor. The lamb lashed to his lemonade had a tag round its neck and so was obviously not the real one. At this point, enter Tonio Liuzzi with a pair of scissors, who tries to help and remove the tag. Only, oh no, horror or horrors, the operation goes hideously wrong and Tonio cuts the sheep's entire head off. Speed is welling up inside. Are those tears of despair?

All's well that ends well when Liuzzi pulls the original Barbara from his pocket.

No wonder Coulthard seems like a senior citizen when faced with these kindergarten capers. DC's name was being mentioned as a possible for BAR next year, partly because he is big mates with the team's new sporting director Gil de Ferran. But that friendship might now be on shaky ground. I bumped into Mrs de Ferran in the paddock, with the couple's two children. Normally very well behaved, they appeared to be running amok and their mother was none too impressed that "Uncle David" had given them each a can of Red Bull, causing a prolonged bout of hyperactivity.

Another friend of Coulthard's had a spot of bother at the weekend. Jacques Villeneuve nearly didn't make it to the garage for free practice as he was trapped inside his own personal motorhome. Apparently, a hydraulic failure of some sort had shut down all the systems, but after all the flack he took from his own team in Canada, one wonders if some Swiss sabotage might have been involved.

There are so many strange laws in Indiana that I was beginning to think the Land of the Free has embraced Communism, years after Ralf Schumacher crashed into the Berlin Wall and brought it down. The worst case of repression occurred at my hotel where I had to cause a hell of a stink to be allowed to buy a bottle of vino from the bar. I was then informed that if I wanted to open it in my room, I had to sign a "Corkscrew Release Form." Yes, this document really exists and I had to sign it twice, once to get the bottle opener and a second time when I gave it back.

The clubs in the city seem to close around midnight, when those in the more enlightened world are only just getting going. So, everyone was delighted when Red Bull had managed to get an extension for their end of weekend bash. However, they had not counted on the diligence of the Indiana State Troopers who shut the whole thing down early simply because they found a girl under the age of 21 at the party.

Evidently 21 is far too young to have fun, although younger kids than that are perfectly suited to being sent halfway round the world to be killed fighting a war.

As legendary F1 writer Dennis "Jenks" Jenkinson was fond of saying: "It's a funny old world."

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