SI Vault
Bob Ottum
June 23, 1980
It has been just about a year since the following historic scene took place at Monte Carlo. The dialogue will be paraphrased a bit, since even the principals recall the talk as being a bit fanciful. David Thieme, the shadowy financial genius who is head of Essex Overseas Petroleum Corp., looked levelly at his friend, the great chef Roger Verg�, and murmured, "Tell me. what kind of wine would you say goes with the Indy 500?"
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June 23, 1980

A Lush Grand Prix Ambience Dazzled The Freeloaders At The Brickyard

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Thieme brought along Verg�, whose restaurant, the Moulin de Mougins, near Cannes, was awarded its third star in 1975. Verg� flew in for one day to supervise a prerace banquet at Indianapolis' brand-new Mon R�ve restaurant, which promises to be a mind-blower in months to come. On other days, food was rushed from Mon R�ve to Thieme's suite at the track. Simply because it was convenient, the crystal, china, linens and fine silver service were rented for the occasion.

And when it was all over, when the last morsel of duck galantine was gone and the last glass of Chateau Haut-Brion 1970 had been poured, everyone agreed that this had been an extra-special, a vintage year at Indy. (In terms of hospitality, that is. Sadly, in terms of racing, Mario's car dropped out after 71 laps.) Thieme allowed that he just might decide to do it all over again next year.

One certainly hopes that he does. He had indeed accomplished his goal: to bring a bit of Grand Prix ambience to the Brickyard. Which, by the way, is not to scorn anybody at Indy. The Formula I crowd might dress fancier—nubby linen sport coats instead of nylon Pennzoil jackets—but when you get right down to it, gang, they're still just plain freeloaders like anybody else. You know who you are out there, you rascals.

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