CSI: Miami

"Grand Prix"

CSI: Miami, Season 2 -- Episode 7, first aired on11/10/03. James Morrison plays Charles Jeunet.

It's practice day at the Miami Grand Prix. The Team American Spirit car pulls in for a routine pit stop. The driver, Jimmy Hutton, is keen to keep it short and get back out on the track. However, once out there, his engine blows and he starts to slow down, smoke pouring from his car. Meanwhile, one of the pit crew - the fuel man - pops his visor and starts looking at his gloves in bemusement.

Jimmy's car comes to a complete stop. The crew chief calls for the crew to go and retrieve the dead vehicle. The pit crew goes out for Jimmy, leaving the fuel man crying out in agony as he starts to burn up.

Horatio Caine and his people arrive at the tracks to begin processing the crime scene. The fuel man whose name was Christopher Petrie died, and Jimmy Hutton is nowhere to be found.

Petrie's body has 3rd degree burns to his hands and face. Considering that the cars use methanol for fuel; and that this can be put out with water; neither Caine nor Alexx can understand how or why this death happened. There is a water hose just a few feet from the body, which should have worked.

Alexx asks the track doctor what time he pronounced death. He replies that he hasn't. They are waiting to get the body in the ambulance and on the way to the hospital where this will take place. No death has ever been announced at the track.

Caine meanwhile has been checking the water hose. Something seems to be obstructing it. When he removes the nozzle he finds a socket wrench. The doctor, who has noticed his actions, starts to say that racetracks are dangerous places and that mistakes happen. Horatio shuts him down, commenting that he is sure they can both agree that this piece of equipment does not belong in a hosepipe. The doctor tries again by saying that accidents happen. Caine agrees, and then adds "...but so does murder".

Caine has just assigned his team to the various parts of the investigation; the hose, the autopsy on the dead man and the car with it's missing driver, when a woman walks up to him. She is Hayley Wilson, the owner of Team American Spirit, and she wants to know when she can have her pit back. Even if one of her people is dead the rest of the team has a race to prepare for. Horatio can't - or won't - give her an answer. She asks if they can go somewhere else to talk. He agrees.

Speed is taking crime scene photos while Calleigh and Eric have to process the car. They get to talking about racing, where the fastest guy around the track wins - no if's and's or but's. Calleigh disagrees. Jimmy Hutton hardly ever wins races, but he sure is cute. Eric tells her that Hutton is missing in action. Speed is more interested in the fact that a man burned to death in the pit without anyone seeing it happen. Eric reminds him that the fuel was methanol, which burns with an invisible flame. However, the heat source that started the fire has not been identified.

Caine is getting the hard sell from Miss Wilson on how she needs her pit back in order to get a good finish in the race and satisfy her sponsors. Caine ignores that, and presses her for the location of Hutton. Wilson is reluctant to give him up, saying he doesn't need any more unsettling the day before a race. Caine simply tells her that there may not be a race if the CSI can't solve the crime. Wilson counters that if she knew where to find the man who just blew up an engine the day before a race she'd be there and Caine would be able to hear her.

Horatio gives a little. Team American Spirit can continue to prepare for their big day as long as they don't prevent his team from doing their job. Wilson agrees. Caine then asks if he will see Miss Wilson at the memorial. She seems puzzled. He reminds her about Petrie; someone she had claimed was like family; and then walks away.

Alexx is going over the cause of death with Calleigh and comments that she thought the fire suits were supposed to protect people. The CSI work out that an accelerant must have been used that caused the heat resistant material to break down. They decide to run tests to find out what it might have been.

Speed, meanwhile is interviewing Ron Elmer, the crew chief. When Speed comments that the crew doesn't look too upset by Petrie's death the reply is basically that Chris wouldn't want them to risk losing a place or more in the race by moping around. The Tee shirts the crew is wearing say it all: Win at all costs.

Eric is investigating the team trailer. He calls Speed when he finds that there's a socket missing from a toolbox. It would be the same size as the one found in the hosepipe. The only problem is that it's missing from Chris Petrie's tools, and fingerprinting the area would probably bring up most of the crew's prints. As they are discussing this, Speed notices a footprint in oil next to the toolbox. It's from a racing boot - the kind drivers wear to keep their feet from burning up. It seems that Hutton is a major suspect.

Horatio pulls Hutton in for questioning. He was picked up doing 120mph whilst heading out of state.

It turns out that Jimmy attacked Petrie two weeks previously. Jimmy says that Petrie was a loser, and when Caine points out that he was now a dead loser, Jimmy answers, "Better him than me."

Petrie cost Hutton 3/10ths of a second in a race, or more precisely, $150,000. But Jimmy insists he didn't want the man dead, just off the team. When asked for his racing shoes, Jimmy demurs. Horatio makes the point that they are evidence, and that there is a distinct possibility that Hutton won't need them for the race anyway. Hutton reluctantly gives them over.

In the lab, Speed prints Jimmy's shoes, while Caine lets the driver stew. Unfortunately for the case, the shoe is not a match for the print from the truck. This means that now there are 19 other suspects at the track and: the drivers from the other teams.

Speed, however, thinks he can narrow it down a little. He tested the substance that left the shoe print. It's motor oil. He can check the make up and see if it leads to any specific brand. This all means that Horatio has to let Jimmy go, for now.

Back at the track, Eric has been busy. He's collected together anything that Petrie might have touched and has sealed them in cans in order to trap any vapors that might give them a clue as to the accelerant in the fire. But he hasn't been able to get control samples. None of the other teams will help. Calleigh says he's just been asking the wrong way and goes to the next team to see if she can do any better. This happens to be Team Jeunet. Paulo, one of the drivers, seems very taken with her and offers to help if she will come take a look at his car. She agrees and the pair disappeared into the pits.

Speed has managed to identify the oil. It's 'Slick Defense' and is only used by one team on the circuit - Team Jeunet.

Horatio decides to go talk to their drivers at a VIP party that Charles Jeunet is throwing that afternoon.

At the party, Horatio runs into Hayley Wilson who's there to schmooze and try to attract a new sponsor. Jeunet Champagne just happens to be the largest sponsor on the circuit.

While Hayley and Horatio are talking, Charles Jeunet walks up, gives her a kiss on the cheek and asks to be introduced to her 'new friend'. He's charming and debonair, greeting Horatio with "Hello Lieutenant, welcome to the House of Jeunet." Jeunet is a little concerned, correctly guessing Horatio is there because of Petrie's death. While Caine tries to get on with his job, Hayley tries to make light of matters, which goes down like a lead balloon.

Caine says again that he is there to question Jeunet's drivers. Charles replies, "Just look for the most beautiful women."

Out on the terrace, Calleigh is with Paulo again. As one of Jeunet's drivers, he is a suspect. However, she manages to quickly rule him out, as his feet are size 13. The shoe print is a size 9.5.

Horatio finds Ernest, the other driver and arrests him when he proves to be anything but helpful. During interrogation, Horatio suggests that Chris Petrie saw Ernest sabotage Hutton's engine, and that was why Ernest murdered the fuel man.

Ernest doesn't seem too bothered, implying that they can't prove anything. Caine comments that they might if they had the engine. Ernest is even less bothered. It seems all practice engines are removed after each session. The engine in question is probably out of state by now.

The truck with the engine aboard is found and stopped. In the lab Eric proves that the engine has been tampered with - but not sabotaged. Someone made it run better. That rules out Ernest, as he would hardly improve his rival's performance. All of which leads back to Jimmy Hutton and Team American Spirit.

Caine goes back to Hayley Wilson's trailer. She's very cold towards him this time, but Caine is just as frosty. He accuses her, and Jimmy who also just happens to be there, of tampering with the engine. They both deny it.

Eric and Speed go to investigate the valve that was supposed to regulate the engine to see if they can find evidence of tampering. They find it was stuck down with superglue. Things are looking bad for Jimmy.

Under further questioning Jimmy admits to tampering with the valve. He wanted to earn his media and fan attention for once. He says Miss Wilson wasn't aware of it, because they don't do a lot of talking when they're together. Horatio surprises Hutton by telling him to keep this conversation secret for now.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Petrie's gloves were treated with potassium chlorate and the fuel nozzle had traces of sulfuric acid present. Mix the two and you get an exothermic reaction, and fire.

The CSI's check the crew's hands for evidence of burns and find one on Elmer. He gets angry and demands that they arrest him if they believe he did it. Horatio tells him he will, in due time.

Back at the lab Eric and Speed are checking race footage to see if they can prove Elmer is guilty. They notice that Jimmy's lap time gets worse right after his pit stop. It seems that Elmer raises the wing on the car during the stop, tilting it too high and slowing the car down. But the car had seemed fine when they checked it. Horatio tells them that's because they were looking at another wing. They head back to the track to find the original.

They find the wing on the scrap heap and are able to identify it because there are traces of asbestos on it. Chief Elmer is the only crewmember to still be using asbestos gloves. Chris Petrie had caught him messing with the wing the night before the practice, so Elmer treated Petrie's gloves and the fuel nozzle, and sabotaged the water hose so that the fire couldn't be put out. The only puzzling thing left is why a competitive man like Elmer would try to make his team lose.

At another fancy party, the papers have just been signed on a deal to make Jeunet Champagne the exclusive sponsors of Team American Spirit. Hayley Wilson's plan has gone off without a hitch. Her 'low rent' sponsor dumped her because she was losing, meaning she could sign on with the big boys. All Ron Elmer had to do was keep Jimmy Hutton from winning any races.

Hayley insists that it was Elmer who broke the law. Horatio tells her she stood by while probably the only honest man on her team was murdered. Charles Jeunet chooses that moment to join them. Horatio congratulates him on his new signing, and wishes him luck finding a new crew chief.

Jeunet is puzzled. When he hears about Ron Elmer's arrest he seems a little upset. Hayley reminds him that they have already signed the papers. "I know. I'm sure this is just a bump in the road..." Hayley seems relieved. "… But I'll have to speak to my attorneys." With that he turns away. Hayley is now visibly upset. She calls across to Jeunet that if there's no deal, he doesn't get Hutton to drive for him.

Charles isn't fazed as he approaches Jimmy. "Mr. Hutton, it's hard to race without a crew chief and a fuel man. My team is still available to you." Jimmy asks, "What about Earnest?" Charles shrugs. "I'd bump him. It's your choice." And with a predatory smile towards Hayley, he walks away.

Jimmy makes his choice and follows Charles. When Hayley pleadingly tells him "I made you..." He shrugs and says, "Then be proud of me". She is left standing alone.

Elmer is last seen in handcuffs, being escorted into the back of a police car.

Earnest is signing autographs for hordes of adoring female fans. He is wearing the colors of his new team. When Jimmy Hutton arrives in Jeunet's uniform the women flock to him instead.

Horatio joins Miss Wilson as the Jeunet stickers are being removed from her car. She tells him she'll soon be back on top, and asks him if he'd like to watch the race with her. Horatio declines. He has a funeral to go to. He asks if Hayley would like to accompany him. She says nothing. Horatio bids her farwell and walks away.


This review and captured pictures is provided solely as a record of James Morrison's work as an actor, and does not intend or imply any infringement of any copyrights or trademark.

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