As IndyCar’s Magical Mystery Tour heads northwest for the first time in over a decade, IRR’s got your Ticket to Ride.
The legendary George Harrison couldn’t have been writing about Portland International Raceway in his 1968 song “Long, Long, Long,” as the facility didn’t yet exist. Besides, he and the boys were halfway ’round the globe in India with the Maharishi at the time. Nevertheless, it truly has been a Long, Long, Long time since big league racing turned a Revolution in the locale of . . . Oregon. Eleven long years, to be exact. One could say we’re Back in the P-I-R, though the northwest never fails to make us think of Rain.
Photo from portlandraceway.com
The Long and Winding Road in Portland – two miles long, in fact – contains twelve turns and sits near the banks of the Columbia River. Contrary to some reports, it’s not located Across the Universe, although when traveling there it may well feel like it. Hey, at least unlike other road courses its start/finish line’s in front of grandstands and the pit road’s not curvy. It has been a while since any upgrades have taken place, as the surface was last repaved in 2008. Hopefully – and assuming the series returns next year – they won’t continue to merely Let It Be. Frankly, too many similar non-oval tracks on the schedule already tend to make viewing for fans A Hard Days’ Night.
CART and Champ Car raced in Portland from 1984 through 2007, the date of the series’ demise. But that was Yesterday and now IndyCar in its eternal quest to become CART-Lite has decided after All Those Years Ago finally to Get Back. Speaking of the past, Michael “I’m A Loser” Andretti and Little Al Unser both won three times at Portland while Mario triumphed twice. Heck, A Day in the Life of Bobby Rahal even recorded a win there. Fickle Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais triumphed in ’04 and ’07, the only active driver to have won the GP – and that’s saying Something.
It’s worth noting James Hinchcliffe and his rookie teammate Robert Wickens both won Portland in the Atlantics (junior) series, in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Unfortunately the seriously injured Wickens remains out, indefinitely. If cars Come Together aggressively at the start as they have at Portland and similar courses in the past, then fans’ll have some action about which to Twist and Shout. In the spirit of livening things up out west this Sunday, we can only hope that’s What Goes On.
Check back soon for our ever popular Portland Predictions and Race Review.