No Mas Tomas
August 30, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Tomas Scheckter called in sick last weekend in St. Louis. Actually, he wasn't the one calling however. When the driver didn't show up for the Indy Racing League Gateway Indy 250 in St. Louis last weekend, the Red Bull/Cheever Racing Team actually had to call him.
They found the AWOL driver on his cellphone with no real excuse but to say he wouldn't be driving at Gateway International Raceway that weekend. No illness, no dead grandmother, no apologies. Forget that he has a contract for the season or that his crew spent hours and thousands of dollars to prepare his car for the weekend. Nope, little Tomas didn't feel like driving.
Reports had Scheckter walking the paddock at the CART event in Montreal trying to drum up a ride for next season. Now mind you, not only is he under contract to drive for Cheever this year but the agreement runs through 2003 as well. But there was Scheckter, strolling around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve peddling his wares.
Poor Eddie Cheever. His decision to put Scheckter in one of his cars has been almost disastrous since day one. You only need to look at the season opener in Homestead when Scheckter crashed into Cheever to get the entire picture. The young driver has a great deal of talent but absolutely no tact.
The Homestead crash was only a precursor to a season's worth of accidents that destroyed millions of dollars of equipment. Always fast and usually in the hunt for a win, Scheckter brought a "Days of Thunder" mentality to IRL racing which as we all know, doesn't work in open-wheel.
Not only has Scheckter crashed his way through the season, he usually showed abosultely no remorse. Even after taking out his boss several times, Scheckter would just shrug his shoulders, answer the television reporters with an "oh well" attitude and walk back to the hauler.
Sure he finally won a race for Cheever. But one win, dozens of crashes and a total disregard for most anyone on the track but himself doesn't add up to a positive first year. And the latest escapade puts the frosting on the cake.
Cheever says he expects to enforce Scheckter's contract for next season. But with an iffy 2003 sponsorship situation and the emergence of Buddy Rice as a capable and talented teammate, Eddie would be better off to let the volatile Scheckter find employment with CART or return to Formula One.
I always wondered why Scheckter spelled his first name Tomas - the H must stand for humility, which is obviously missing.