One by one, 14 Formula One cars ducked off the race track and parked in a unified protest over safety concerns at the United States Grand Prix in Indianapolis.
From their seats in the grandstands, the few American fans of the globe-trotting racing series watched in disbelief as just six cars started yesterday's event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"I have a sick feeling in my stomach," David Coulthard said after pulling out of the race. "I am embarrassed to be a part of this. The reality is that mature adults were not able to come to a resolution that would have allowed us to put on the show that everybody wants to see in Formula One."
Michael Schumacher bested five other cars on the track to win his first event of the season. It was his third consecutive victory in the U.S. Grand Prix and fourth in the six years it has been held at Indy.
But it will forever be tainted. He was booed on the podium, the traditional champagne celebration was canceled, and the public address announcer implored the few remaining fans in attendance to stop throwing things.
"Bit of a strange Grand Prix," Schumacher said. "Not the right way to win my first one this year."
The event was in jeopardy from the start because Michelin advised the seven teams it supplies that its tires were not safe to race through the high-banked final turn at Indy.
The world's largest tiremaker worked endlessly with the teams to try to persuade FIA, the series' governing body, to make allowances that would ensure the 14 drivers using Michelins would be safe.
FIA wouldn't ease its rule that forbids teams to change tires after qualifying. And it absolutely refused to consider installing a chicane in Turn 13 to slow the speeds.
So Michelin advised its teams not to compete after a lengthy morning meeting between the seven team bosses, F-1 boss Bernie Ecclestone and FIA. In the end, nine teams decided they would not race without the chicane. Ferrari, which fields cars for Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, was the lone holdout.
Already lined up on pit road, the drivers all completed the warmup lap. Then they pulled off and parked, climbing out of their cars at the same time the remaining six drivers started the race. The cars that did compete all race on Bridgestone tires.
Among those refusing to race: World championship points leader Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, who trails him in the standings by 22 points.
* NASCAR: Greg Biffle won for the fifth time in 15 Nextel Cup starts this season, outdueling Tony Stewart to take the Batman Begins 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich.
Roush Racing, which has claimed the last two season championships, won its eighth race of the season. It was another strong showing for the team, with three of Biffle's four teammates finishing in the top five of the 200-lap event. Stewart led a race-high 97 laps.
* CHAMP CAR: Cristiano da Matta cruised to victory at Portland International Raceway in the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland, Ore., to repeat his first-place finish in 2002 -- his last season with the series before switching to Formula One. Da Matta, the 2002 Champ Car champion, finished 10.128 seconds in front of defending champion Sebastien Bourdais.