San Marino Jet-Set
Further Adventures of the BayWatch All-Girl Pit Crew
Article is written by and copyright (c) 1999 Jeff Rose,
by Inky Black
Breaking in to Formula One can be tough. And two races into the 1999 season
the BayWatch All-Girl Pit Crew had already crashed their '67 BRM and '58
Maserati. In doing so they had made few friends; they had gotten the FIA
pretty mad; and on top of everything else, their tobacco spitting was getting
out of hand. Yes, the pit crew from so deep in Georgia that they live in
North Florida, had dribbled so much "chew" down the sides of the rent-a-car
that the FIA thought they had tobacco sponsors.
The crew arrived at San Marino with four excellent tires and wheels; fitted
with some high-tech carbon-fiber brakes. These had stopped on a dime at the
Brazil GP; but the suspension snapped and the '58 Maserati tub stopped on a
quarter. Unfortunately the quarter was in somebody's pocket in downtown
At the nearby Rimini Beach army surplus and scrap yard, the crew looked for
something to race at Imola. Their budget was tight and there wasn't much
hope that the crew would find a race car. Yet as overhead cranes dropped
Minardis scatter-shot across the yard, the BayWatch All-Girl Pit Crew
glimpsed something. "Yes!" It was their ride for Imola. A 1949 Saab!
Now some of you are asking "How fast is a '49 Saab?" And others are saying
that "Saab didn't build cars that long ago!" The answer to both questions
is--- "They built jet planes."
The used Swedish Air Force jet was missing a few parts... missing almost
everything but the engine. Adding some hi-tech wheels, brakes, steering and
a seat would pep it up. Though it was going to take more than a bit of luck
to put the world's first Saab on a Grand Prix grid.
The jet engine had large left and right air intakes that became the side-pods
of the car. The intakes gathered right behind the drivers seat and fed the
compressor sections of the powerful fighter-jet engine. Fitted with tires,
steering, seat and nose-cone (borrowed from Team Borneo); the jet-car was not
as ugly as the some of the 6-wheeled stuff from the seventies and eighties.
In fact it wasn't even close.
The crew checked the car out with some midnight runs down Rimini Beach. It
cornered like a humpback whale on a sandbar. This is to say badly, with a
lot of tail flappin' and stuff flying. And 'though the car was fast; the
paint job was faster.
Done by local students it was Art Moderne, with stylized deco flames. The
flames leapt backwards from the nose and intakes, then swirled into a roil of
allegorical panels depicting sins of the flesh and subsequent eternal
damnation. It was a little light on the current "look" in racing, but the
eternal damnation scenes did capture the essence of racing a Saab in Italy.
Anyway, the idea was to attract sponsors, and this car would do that. And it
would toast marshmallows for everyone on the main straight!
Timing their arrival with the first practice session the crew rolled into the
pits with the jet-car parked backwards on the trailer for a quick "take-off."
Driver Cha Cha Chitwood, already in the car, kept the jet whining quietly
and ready to go.
The ramps dropped, Cha Cha eased the throttle forward, and "Scenes of Erotic
Lust and Godly Retribution" headed down pit lane. Wrenches dropped and eyes
widened as the car went out and the FIA went nuts.
Three quick laps and Cha Cha pulled it in. Nobody had passed her she
thought, "I must have been really moving!" The other 22 drivers thought,
"Nobody passed her, you'd have to be nuts to go anywhere near the jet
exhaust." Murray was on top of things by now and announced the "arrival into
the pits of Flight Number 23 from Hell!"
The FIA shook their head "no" and that was it. Their weekend was over after
just three practice laps. But folks were already wandering down to check out
the jet-car with the "fires of hell creeping into scenes of sex and death."
Eddie Irvine said the jet-car looked like "the Jordan team on 'pit babe'
day." Damon Hill said it looked like Eddie's hotel room last night. The
Italian Team thought it was next year's Ferrari. It reminded Coulthard of
opera. It reminded Jacques Villeneuve to change his hair color.
But, as Mika Hakkinen walked up, everyone stepped back and waited for the
reflections of the World Champion. Mika stared quietly for a minute and
stroked his chin. "Wow!" he said. "It looks like a Saab."
His other Travel and Humour Articles
can be found at Aloha from the Nervous Nineties.