I expected this week's column to be one of our usual 2006 things - shooting the breeze about some positives and negatives from our last couple of races, and hopefully giving you fans a bit of insight that you can't get in regular race reports. That's the basic idea of this stuff.
But this time around, it just can't be that way: our little Champ Car world has a big, dark cloud over it because of what happened to one of our ex-champions during our test at Road America last week. Cristiano da Matta hit a deer at almost 100mph. As I write this, he's being gradually brought out of his induced coma, a process which I understand can take three or four days. And we've all got our fingers crossed for him.
In 16 years in Champ Cars, I've seen some huge accidents, even some fatalities. But what happened to Cristiano was the craziest freakin' thing I've ever seen in my life. I was in the pit when it happened, and first thing I heard was that he'd hit a baby deer. I thought 'oh, no big deal'; it had taken a corner off the car, but cars are fixable.
Then I heard it was a full adult deer, and it was a lot more serious than just a wreck. I jumped in my hire car and went up to the corner. But the Champ Car Safety Team told us 'don't come by'. When Dr Chris Pinderski, [Champ Car's Director of Medical Affairs] came down the pits later, everyone was all over him asking him how da Matta was, and he said, 'It's not looking good.' Apparently Cristiano never regained consciousness, and had a huge contusion on his forehead, where the deer had hit his helmet.