Sunday, November 6, 2011
George Carlin and Formula 1
After the Ontario Speedway had been built, a non-championship Formula 1 event was staged as a preliminary to having the track approved for a championship event to be placed on the calendar the following year. It was an unusual race being run in two heats. There was an interesting mix of drivers with Mario Andretti and Jacky Ickx driving for Ferrari. In addition to the Formula 1 drivers of the time--Emerson Fittipaldi, Denny Hulme, Jackie Stewart, Chris Amon, Graham Hill, Ronnie Peterson et al--the field included American drivers A.J. Foyt, Mark Donohue, George Follmer, Swede Savage, Tony Adamowicz and Al and Bobby Unser. I attended the press/V.I.P. cocktail party held on an evening prior to the race. Jacky Ickx, in his blue blazer and grey flannels, looked more like a fashion plate from Gentleman's Quarterly or Vogue Hommes than a racing driver but everyone present knew his abilities.
On race day, I hired a limousine to take my girlfriend and me the forty or so miles to the racetrack. As we pulled into the parking area we found ourselves behind another limousine. After a traffic control staffer spoke with the driver ahead of us, that limo was directed to a priority parking area. As we pulled up, the staffer asked our driver if we were with the Nixon party. "Yes, we are," he replied ensuring a prime parking spot for us and a premium tip for himself. Apparently, the limo that had preceded us was transporting Tricia Nixon (and her husband, Ed Cox) who, I thought at the time, made for an unlikely race queen, but there you have it. I believe she presented the winner's trophy.
After a short walk from the car to our seats, we discovered that we were sitting right in front of George Carlin and his two beautiful companions for the afternoon. All this and Formula 1, too! George kept us entertained the entire afternoon with a few editorials and running commentary that were clearly not 'material' but off-the-cuff, stream-of-geniusness that made the day unforgettable. When the results of the two heats were combined, the winner was Mario Andretti in the Ferrari followed by Jackie Stewart in a Tyrell and Denny Hulme in a McLaren.
Strolling back to the parking area with our new friend and his companions, we said goodbye and got into our respective limousines that were next to each other in the private area. I guess George was with the Nixon party, too!