SpeedTV's Robin Miller has released his review of the 2007 racing season. Unlike most other motorsports journalists in America, Robin covers all the major series. His passion is American open-wheel but he can chat you up on all of them. I've never met Robin but I've spotted him at the track a few times; including last year at Richmond covering the USAC races. Here is his review; with photos from my '07 racing season taken by racephan.
2007's Good, Bad and Hideous
Written by: Robin Miller
Before we shut out the lights on 2007, let's reflect on a year that gave us Stepneygate, three women in the Indy 500, one team dominating NASCAR, a few shoving matches, a god-awful motorsports show, an Indy winner drowning in applause and another Indy winner almost drowning.
Renault's Flavio Briatore predicts McLaren will struggle and Ferrari will be less competitive.
Tony George crashes on his second lap of practice for the Rolex 24 at Daytona after teammate and stepson Ed Carpenter tells him to "pick up the pace." Ed loses his allowance for the rest of January and is also grounded.
Robby Gordon wins the sixth stage of the Dakar Rally.
Teresa Earnhardt says Dale Junior needs to make up his mind whether he wants to be a "race driver or a public personality." Nobody has the nerve to tell her that it's very possible he could probably be both.
IROC is canceled after 30 years. Mark Martin sobs uncontrollably.
A year after busting his butt, Tony Stewart returns to win the Chili Bowl midget race.
Champ Car announces a three-year deal for a street race in downtown Phoenix. Vegas lays 3-2 odds it will never happen.
For the sixth straight season, Autosport magazine predicts this will be the breakout year Jenson Button and he will contend for the F1 title.
The Daytona 500 starting time is moved back to 3:15 p.m., which gives the infield Jethros a much better shot at DUIs on their way home.
Jacques Villeneuve releases his first CD. Celine Dion quivers.
After the crew chiefs of Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth are suspended for cheating, Brad Daughtery informs his ESPN audience: "It's going to be very difficult for those two drivers to make Daytona without their crew chiefs." No one has the heart to tell Brad they're already locked into the race because of that silly point standings thing.
A dozen drivers test the new Panoz DP01 at Sebring but only five of them have confirmed rides in Champ Car for 2007.
A foreign substance is found inside the intake manifold of Michael Waltrip's Totoya after qualifying and he's docked 100 points and $100,000. "When I find out who is guilty, they will pay," vows Waltrip, who immediately calls O.J. Simpson for advice.
Kevin Harvick nips Mark Martin to win Daytona. "I let it slip through my fingers," admits Martin. "But nobody wants to hear a grown man cry." Amen.
Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven proclaims: "We've got new cars, new teams, significant sponsorships and a series that is not being subsidized." He really said that. Honest.
Juan Montoya spins out leader (and teammate) Scott Pruett to win the Busch race in Mexico City. "That was no good, low, nasty, dirty driving," says Pruett.
Champ Car co-owner Gerry Forsythe says he will only field one car in 2007 unless sponsorship can be found.
Charges of disobeying and obstructing the Albuquerque police are dropped against Bobby Unser after his brother, Al, was acquitted by a jury. "Honey, that's a victory for the leeeetteeeelllll guys," shrieks the three-time Indy winner.
Two-time Cup champ Tony Stewart on Goodyear's tire at Las Vegas: "They don't care about the competition or the drivers or the teams, they only care about not having any bad publicity or not blowing tires. This is the worst tire I've seen in nine years."
Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon run 1-2 in the IRL opener at Homestead. Milka Duno announces she will begin running Indy cars at Kansas City. "I never imagined being an Indy driver," she gushed. Make that two of us.
Tristan Gommendy is named to drive a PKV entry in Champ Car. Phone lines are jammed in the Long Beach ticket office.
Danica Patrick refuses to pose for a photo with Milka Duno. I like that.
ESPN's nightly show NASCAR Now is a 30-minute train wreck I can't quit watching. They keep adding more people who are clueless about auto racing or NASCAR.
Champ Car opens the season on the most scenic and racy street course ever in downtown Las Vegas. Will Power wins but the promoters lose millions. "This will be the worst race you'll ever see here," says Dale Jensen, who underwrote the track and co-promoted the race along with Brad Yonover. He meant it would be the LAST race you'll ever see.
Jeff Gordon ties Dale Earnhardt with his 76th victory and salutes his old rival by carrying the No. 3 flag on a lap of honor.
Gerry Forsythe attends the Houston race -- his last of 2007.
Kyle Busch leaves the track after his car breaks but his crew repairs it and asks Dale Earnhardt Jr. to drive. Wouldn't that be an interesting match. Hmmmm.
Longtime logistics director Billy Kamphausen is robbed at gunpoint while getting gas on the morning of the Champ Car race in Houston. He then chases the thief through some bushes, where he jumps into a getaway car. And you think drivers are whack jobs?
ABC analyst Rusty Wallace calls the Indy 500 lineup the toughest he's ever seen and says "half of the cats in this field could win this race." Sadly, a breathalizer test is not administered.
Tony Kanaan led the most laps and had the fastest car but didn't win the race because his team inexplicably decided to pit him just as the clouds rolled in and soaked IMS.
Dario Franchitti got the W and paid tribute to Jim Clark afterwards in a rare appreciation of the old gunfighters.
Casey Mears scores a popular win at Charlotte in the 600. His first.
Rookie Lewis Hamilton becomes the first black driver to win a Formula 1 race as he sweeps the Canadian G.P.
Danica Patrick confronts Dan Wheldon on pit road following the Milwaukee race, blaming him for her spin in Turn 1. "She's obviously feeling a lot of pressure because everyone else on that team has won a race," says Danny Boy. Patrick counters: "He must still be mad because I passed him at Indy."
Sebastien Bourdais gives Paul Newman and Carl Haas their 100th win at Portland and the first standing start in Champ Car is flawless.
The inaugural IRL show at Iowa is a smashing success with a legitimate 36,000 in attendance.
For the fourth time in six years, Chad Knaus is suspended for cheating. Rick Hendrick is upset -- with NASCAR.
Robert Kubica survives a ghastly crash during the Canadian GP and should have called HANS creators Jim Downing and Dr. Bob Hubbard to thank them for saving his life.
Champ Car announces a Canadian Triple Crown for Toronto, Mt. Tremblant and Edmonton. It doesn't pay a penny but you get a nice plaque.
Juan Montoya saves fuel and takes his initial Cup win at Sonoma. That just ain't right.
Bernie Ecclestone says a race in the USA isn't vital to F1 and Tony George agrees -- canceling the U.S. Grand Prix at Indy after eight years.
Michael Waltrip finally qualifies for a Cup race but he still hasn't found that cheater.
Sam Hornish Jr. and Tony Kanaan are screaming at each other following some on-course contact at Watkins Glen when Sam Hornish Sr. gives Kanaan a shove. An Andretti Green groupie tackles old Sam and the IRL finally makes it into SportsCenter.
Sebastien Bourdais refuses to shake hands with winner Robert Doornbos on the podium at Mont Tremblant. Hate is good.
After being shunned by Champ Car, handsome, articulate, talented (did I mention American?) Ryan Hunter-Reay is snapped up by Bobby Rahal's IRL team.
A.J. Foyt drives a bull-dozier (his word) into a pond on his ranch outside Houston and it plunges to the bottom. The four-time Indy winner is saved by the cage and swims to safety after dodging a water moccasin. Race cars, killer bees, raw steaks, butter, water, snakes and Marco Greco -- Tex has survived them all.
Harvick and Montoya tangle at Watkins Glen, climb out of their cars and nothing happens. A finger in the chest and a little shove. Both keep their helmets on. Sissy stuff. Where's Paul Tracy when you need him?
Champ Car cancels the season finale in Phoenix. But there's still hope for China, right?
In quite possibly the worst display of strategy and teamwork, Andretti Green Racing tries to get Marco Andretti a cheap win instead of trying to preserve Dario Franchitti's lead in the championship. Their collision costs Franchitti a sure win and drops him to second in the point standings. He decides right there he's done at AGR.
Bourdais is finally, and rightfully, given an F1 ride with Toro Rosso for 2008.
Champ Car calls SPEED's attorneys and informs them they are pulling my hard card for the rest of 2007. I put it on eBay but the highest offer is only $1.65.
Joe Gibbs announces he's leaving General Motors for Toyota and Jack Roush predicts doom and gloom for everyone else.
Scott Dixon runs out of fuel on the last lap at Chicago and Franchitti flashes by to take his first major championship. But the IRL king won't deny he's headed for NASCAR.
Little E, who moved to Hendrick Motorsports a few weeks earlier, kindly gets No. 88 from Robert Yates and thousands of people with No. 8 tattoos breath a sigh of relief.
Champ Car has its second straight race in Europe air at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning on ESPN Classic. There is no rating because not enough households get Classic but, trust me, it's test-pattern bad.
McLaren is found guilty of stealing Ferrari's intellectual property and fined more money than IRL and Champ Car have combined. Ron Dennis looks like he might burst into tears. That makes me smile.
Franchitti makes his stock car debut in an ARCA show at Talladega where an official asks him: "Do you speak English?"
Ecclestone says he wants Hamilton to be world champion because Fernando Alonso “hasn't done anything for F1 in two years" and Kimi Raikkonen "barely talks to anyone."
While SPEED's Bob Dillner is starting to interview Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards moves his teammate away from the camera and then cocks his wrist like he's going to drop him. No punch thrown but great television.
In the GP of China, Hamilton's tires are shot but the great Ron Dennis leaves him out lap after lap until he spins into the sand trap and out of the race. That arrogance will cost Hamilton the title.
Raikkonen wins the last race and beats the McLaren duo by one point for the championship. In the post-race press conference, Alonso is almost grinning.
Jimmie Johnson wins his fourth consecutive race (at Phoenix) to all but clinch his second straight crown. Jeff Gordon winds up second as Hendrick Motorsports makes a mockery of the championship -- winning 18 of the 36 races.
Hornish makes it official, he's moving to Roger Penske's Cup team and Ryan Briscoe is keeping his IRL seat warm until he comes back in a couple of years.
ALMS announces a 40 percent increase in attendance and, unlike most crowd figures, this one is believable because road racing fans dig the Audi, Porsche and Honda.
USAC hires Kevin Miller away from MOPAR to try and bring the best racing in the country into the 21st century of marketing and promotion. Hopefully that crusty old USAC board will stay out of Miller's way.
Bourdais wins his last Champ Car start in Mexico City, where I attended with my 2007 IRL hard card.
And Waltrip still hasn't found that cheat.