Monday, October 29, 2007

Strange Similarities

How weird. Earlier, I pointed out that Lewis Hamilton is experiencing in his first year in F1 events similar to what American Supercross Champion James Stewart has weathered in his respective motorsport. The issue at that time was fan "backlash" over the growing media attention being focused on these two young men. That is, brown-skinned young men, excelling in sports that have been, until the 21st Century, the domain of white-skinned young men.

Now, these men (er, the brown ones) share another similar fate: illegal fuel used by a competitor cost them championships... for Stewart, the 2006 American Supercross Championsh, Hamilton the 2007 World Drivers Championship.

In James Stewart's case, he missed winning the title for Kawasaki by only two points, garnering 336 to the great Ricky Carmichael's 338 score. However, earlier in the season, Carmichael's Suzuki was found to be using illegal fuel. The penalty was a loss of 25 first place points. Suzuki and Carmichael both denied any wrongful intent, and Carmichael hinted at quitting the series. The sanctioning body, AMA Pro Racing, in an unprecedented move changed the penalty to a fine and re-instated Carmichael's 25 points. The Team Kawasaki manager reportedly tore up a copy of the rules in front of AMA Pro Racing officials.

Despite the re-instatement of points, however, James Stewart still had enough points to win the World Supercross Championship that year, becoming the first brown-skinned young man to do so.

And most of you already know what's up with Lewis, but here's my short and sweet of it: for lack of only one point, Lewis Hamilton missed becoming the first person in the history of Formula One to win the World Drivers Championship in their very first attempt! What a phenomenal season! Earlier this year, Hamilton literally changed the face of F1 by becoming the first black dude to contest the sport. Then he started the season by getting on the podium nine times in a row. And at the last event of the year, when the championship came down to the wire with three suitors, four cars were suspected to have illegal fuel. The race stewards "deliberated" the issue for hours, before admitting that it was "technically impossible" to enforce the FIA's rules.

Three of the four cars finished ahead of Hamilton at the Brazilian Grand Prix. If they were to be penalized for illegal fuel, their points would be taken away, the other finishers moved up, and Lewis Hamilton would be... well, among other things, the first brown-skinned young man to win the title of World Driving Champion.

The issue is being contested by McLaren. But if the decision by the FIA in November follows the same path of history that saw James Stewart denied a major motorsports title, who would be surprised? Nothing more than a strange similarity?

(Oh yeah. Another strange similarity is that they both suffered horrendous crashes on consecutive Saturdays in July, with both having to be taken to hospitals for checkups.)

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