Sunday, June 19, 2016

30 for 30 Shorts: The Montreal Shoejob

In honor of the recent Formula 1 race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, let’s take a look back with ESPN’s acclaimed/self-important “30 for 30 Shorts” series at one of the most-memorable controversies in Nascar footwear history.

(Open with a shot of a shoe flying into the air)

Mike Myers Voiceover as Austin Powers: “Who throws a shoe, really?” (echo)

Narrator: Who throws a shoe, really?  Well, that’s just what everybody wanted to know that day back in 2012.  Danica Patrick was in the lead.  She had a real shot for a win.  Then someone threw a shoe in front of her car.  Who throws a shoe, really?  Everybody was wondering that—except the guy who threw it.

Title Screen: THE MONTREAL SHOEJOB, a 30 for 30 short
(Narrated by Spade Racing creator and former “Make the Grade” post-show contestant Mike Mackler)

N: Plenty of things can wind up on the track during a race—a gopher, all sorts of debris, heck, even a drunk if you’re at Pocono.  But at the Napa Auto Parts 200, there was a whole new animal…well, not an animal literally.

Marty Reid, ESPN broadcaster: I was working the race at Toronto and I saw what happened—I said to my fellow broadcaster, Richie Craven, “what the heck is that—it looks like someone threw a shoe on the track”—I have to tell you, that was the first time I’d seen that happen in a long time, since never in fact.

N: People say that Nascar “fixes” races so certain drivers will win, with well-timed debris cautions and such.  But there was no way Nascar would let Danica Patrick get screwed out of a win.  So who did it?  And why?

Billy Joe Smith, Huntsville Alabama native and longtime race fan: “Hell, I was onna those guys who threw the beer bottles at Jeff Gordon after he won at ‘Dega.  I dunno why we did it—we were drunk.”
I knew this would come in handy some day

N: I knew that I’d have to find the thrower to have any hope of getting any answers.  So I went to Montreal (stock footage of plane taking off from Philadelphia International Airport) and, with my knowledge of Canadian Football in the 90’s, was able to charm my way into the ticket records from the 2012 race.

(shot of me poring over sheets of paper all over a desk)

N: I had some suspects, but first I’d need to find a smoking gun—a shoeless race fan.

(shot of me and Marty Reid staring intently at stills from the race)

MR: There—look at that guy, HE’S not wearing a hat.

N: That’s not what I need, I need a guy without a SHOE.

MR: Oh, right—hey, THAT guy isn’t wearing a watch!

N: With Marty’s, um, “help”, I was able to pinpoint the one person in the stand with only one shoe on after the incident.  After I compared the seats to my ticket information, I knew I had my man.  But would he talk to me?

(stock footage of bus rolling through New England countryside, passing “Welcome to Quebec, Birthplace of Dino Bravo” sign)

N: It took a few phone calls and a lot of smuggled cigarettes, but eventually I was able to get the perpetrator to sit down for an interview.  I promised that I’d keep his identity a secret, and that I’d translate his words from French-Canadian to American-English for him.

(shot of perpetrator in shadows)

N: Did you throw the shoe?

(Translated from French): Yes, I’m the one who did it.
The title makes sense: Play it and
you'll be completely left alone

N: What were your reasons?

(Translated): Well, I was a big fan Jacques Villeneuve , since he as a very good year in IndyCar and ... as a very good year in F1. I guess I just wanted to see get the win in Nascar too.

N: But to win it like that?  With what was essentially cheating?

(Translated): People cheat all the time - whether race, taxes, or even on their spouses. It is just the way the world works.

N: Yeah, but, how could you live with yourself being such a, well, jerk?

(Translated): It's easy - I 'm French Canadian.

(stock footage of me in the stands at an Xfinity Series race this year next to Marty Reid)

MR: And Kyle Bosch with a commanding lead in the No’s Energy Toyota Corolla.

N: For the last time Marty, you don’t work for any network, and your “microphone” is just a chicken drumstick.

N: (voiceover) Who throws a shoe, really?  Who knows.  Maybe it’s a jerk.  Maybe it’s a cheater.  Or maybe it’s just someone who wants to see justice.

(fade to black)

MR: (voiceover) And an errant sandal takes out Kody Busch!