Brant James
Wednesday July 29th, 2009

Michael Schumacher can have his Formula One comeback. Kenny Brack has no such desire to return to open-wheel racing. This rally car thing is all for fun.

The 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner and 1998 Indy Racing League champion learned the limitations of his physical abilities four years ago when he returned from a horrific 2003 crash at Texas Motor Speedway that left him with broken bones in his back, leg, ankles and sternum that required eight surgeries to repair.

And he learned he could handle it. And that was good enough.

Despite posting the top qualifying speed at the 2005 Indianapolis 500, running as high as 11th -- but finishing 26th when a steering-column-nut failure forced him to the garage -- Brack walked away when he was still able to walk away.

"I came back and it was a great receipt for myself that I was back to where I was before the accident," Brack said. "For any athlete, you need to get that receipt that you are back to normal, especially after a big accident like that. I felt I can do this as competitively as before, however I was in a different position. I'd gotten a family, a little daughter and I just felt to race consistently, it requires such an effort I didn't feel I really had room for anything else in my life.

"I just came to the conclusion, 'Hey, I won Indy, I won the championship, I've had real success in my life, now I have a family, let's focus on those things instead of going around in circles.'"

So the Swede's jaunt this weekend in a rally car for Olsbergs Motor Sport at the X Games should not be misconstrued as anything more than a lark. But its been a pretty fun one.

Brack, 43, will team with two-time X Games rally competition medalist Tanner Foust and freestyle motocross rider Brian Deegan in Olsbergs' Ford Fiestas. Not much translates from the high-speed, razor-precise open-wheel regimen, Brack said, but that's been part of the fun.

Foust said Brack, who raced his first rally event last month, has been impressive, even educational so far.

"Kenny looks awesome in the car, as you'd expect," he said. "The thing you don't get to do in rally racing very much is watch your team and competitors. Kenny is very precise. So I've gone to school and resisted my urge to drift and slide so much."

Brack was lured to the made-for-ESPN event by Olsbergs, which sponsors his driver development school in Europe. He found the powerful little Fords immediately "accessible," he said, without the complete dedication to physical and mechanical honing open wheel racing requires.

"I couldn't drive an IndyCar anymore because I'm not fit enough," he said. "You have to spend two hours in the gym every day just to be able to drive those cars.

"These cars are fast, they're explosive, but the actual Gs of the runs, they're short, so you can get in these cars and you can actually use the car's potential. Even [though] I haven't been racing for four or five years, but I can get in there and physically have no limitations, which is a great thing."


Juan Pablo Montoya's catastrophic pit road speeding penalty at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday was grist for a hungry NASCAR conspiracy theory cult. Satellite radio and the blogosphere -- all repositories of anonymous absurdity -- practically crackled with it.

Certainly, Montoya's adamant protests on a day in which he had done most everything else flawlessly provided some credence to the questions. And NASCAR's unwillingness to make pit road speeds available live during racecasts created the opportunity for would-be scandal to bloom.

But seriously, Joe from Wherever, what's with theories like: "NASCAR doesn't want a foreigner to win."

They don't? Wouldn't a literally world-famous Colombian replicating the dominance he displayed in winning the 2000 Indianapolis 500 -- in a stock car, on the same track, no less -- be a good result for NASCAR?

Wouldn't it have been more compelling than Jimmie Johnson winning the race for the third time? And if money is NASCAR's true motivator (OK, maybe there's a point to be made there), consider how many Latin Americans world-wide, otherwise uninterested in NASCAR ,might have bought their first gaudy red '42' hat had Montoya won.

Yet there is one conclusive piece of evidence that the great, over-arching, X-File conspiracy does not exist: Dale Earnhardt Jr. has not won a Sprint Cup championship, and no amount of contrivance appears capable of getting him anywhere close these days.

Or is that all part of the devious plan?

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