Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

October 20, 2013

Fantastic Season Closer For IndyCar

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:27 pm

The 2013 IndyCar season has drawn to a close. That always leaves a melancholy feeling because what that means is that the sights, smells and sense tingling action must wait out winter before returning to the track. When racing fans distill what is really important it all boils down to how much the hair on your arms stands up when the racing begins.

The Fontana track (and for that matter the triplet Michigan and Texas World Speedway tracks) were built specifically for Indy Cars. It is a shame they do not also race at Michigan. TWS is way too far gone for Indy Cars (although Pocono is back and we used to say the same thing about that track), and we still have Texas Motor Speedway and Eddie Gossage. I hope Mark Miles has the sense to enhance that relationship. The level of patience Mr. Gossage has shown despite the consistent dysfunction of IndyCar is commendable, particularly given his boss now has open contempt for anything Hulman-George.

ChampionsThe 500 mile race at Fontana was utterly fantastic. There was close racing all around the track, dicing for the top spots and a down-to-the-wire battle for the championship with two guys who did not hold back. The big difference was Dixon getting lucky twice with yellows and Roger Penske making a rare miscue on a pit call to Helio. Carlos Munoz continued another amazing one-off. He was up front all night and fighting for the lead until he lost some air and put E.J. Viso’s car into the wall. Even then the crew basically gave him a standing ovation for the show he put on. That Colombian has a potentially big future. The one-offs by Tagliani and Hildebrand were also impressive before premature ends, and Charlie Kimball again showed he belongs. Will Power’s win was redemption of sorts, and Scott Dixon as a three time champion is certainly deserved.

As an enthusiastic fan I applaud Fontana head honcho Gillian Zucker for her equal enthusiasm about IndyCars on that track. It is justified and the crowd grew again this year. Here is some advice for Gillian and/or ISC: Train the people you put into authority figures, and spend money to make the track more accessible to fans. There was one instance after another in which untrained staff gave conflicting instructions or simply yelled at fans who know better. I know this is true of multiple ISC tracks but the level of ignorance, hostility or just plain confusion was especially pronounced all weekend there. I have always wanted to know what Roger Penske was thinking when he only installed one tunnel between turn three and four on a track that size. Would it have killed him to install at least tubed pedestrian tunnels close to the S/F line and/or near turn 1? Champ 3I felt sorry for folks without golf carts. One aspect of the experience that was pleasantly surprising was egress. It was remarkably easy to leave the facility and was well organized, which was refreshing considering ingress was highly disorganized. Should ISC wonder about reasons attendance is lagging for NASCAR events at all of their tracks they might consider using a mirror.

IndyCar has taken a bold step for 2014. A tightly compressed schedule with no huge holes that ends before the NFL begins is just what the doctor ordered. As an added bonus there are no off-continent excursions in the middle of the season. IndyCar obfuscation remains strong. In reality they make visits to fifteen places but tout an 18 race schedule. The schedule also remains unacceptably imbalanced toward non-ovals. The schedule imbalance remains at 70/30. History shows that approach leads to failure 100% of the time. After the performances we experienced at Fontana it remains stupefying that IndyCar is not still racing at Chicagoland, Kentucky, Richmond and others.

The off season/silly season will be interesting and additional future commentary will address potential stories. The one that intrigues from Fontana was the sudden illness of E.J. Viso. Was he sick of natural causes, the Conway Syndrome or some deep conspiratorial web of international intrigue in the wake of the recent departure of Hugo Chavez? All three are possibilities, and fleshing it out will be amusing.

Waiting until March for IndyCars is going to painful.

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8 Comments »

  1. Compressing the series into a few months simply means the pain is not prolonged. One must realize that no matter how quickly they wish to end the series next year, the core problems remain. For those that enjoy the series, I think they will find it refreshing. For those of use that don’t…..won’t matter because we won’t be watching anyway. Best wishes to them next year…they will need it.

    As for Viso……my bet…….Conway Syndrome. Or as most oval guys put it….a shortage of testicles! Commonly found in people who prefer turning right and left as opposed to those who just turn left. Where are guys like Gary Bettenhausen when you need them?

    Comment by oldwrench — October 21, 2013 @ 3:09 am | Reply

  2. Exciting, though destructive, season finale. Feel sorry for Helio; wish it had been him to win the championship–lord knows he deserves it after all these years. I’m glad to see Marco and Hinch have retained their good rides for next season, also. Were you at Fontana, Disciple?
    Editor’s Note: Just got back from the west coast and had a GREAT time.

    Comment by DOUG — October 21, 2013 @ 1:57 pm | Reply

  3. Defender! A great blog i just read. I too am curious about ej viso and his mysterious disappearance. I am also dumbfounded why we don’t have more ovals, Chicagoland, Richmond and Phoenix… Even Michigan! Especially now that we don’t have that mindless boring pack racing! True racing at Fontana, Indy, Texas, Milwaukee and Iowa this year!i even put my money where my mouth is. I attended Indy, Milwaukee and Iowa this year. Texas and Fontana because of prior arrangements but sure did dvr them! Sad that the season is done too, the long boring offseason now kicks in! Can’t wait to see Montoya testing an Indycar! Can march hurry up!? Also I already have my tickets for Indy and the Indy gp (even though I hate the concept) I just wanna support Indycar

    Comment by Bryce williams — October 21, 2013 @ 3:55 pm | Reply

  4. To answer your question about E. J. Viso–after the fantastic performance Carlos Munez put on during both Indy and Fontana, wouldn’t you want him driving your car too? Viso was a mid-packer–nothing more, nothing less. Michael should dump him and sign Carlos immediately, if not sooner. Even if the young Columbian makes a mistake once in a while, at least he’s not afraid to race. And about having the Fontana finale at the end of August, I don’t know. I remember being at the Ontario Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend, and the heat was stifling. And Fontana is even further out in the desert. Good luck with that.

    Comment by DOUG — October 23, 2013 @ 6:09 pm | Reply

  5. Great Race? I will give you that, alot of excitement for sure. Helio’s title chances though were not blown by the call made by Penske, as he battled back to the front right after that. As for the attendance…on TV, it was an utter embarrassment. For a series finale, with a title on the line, it did not make the series look all that good. You say the attendance grew this year? How utterly bad was it last year then, may I ask? Y2J
    Editor’s Note: The 25K or so they had last year was not bad in this day and age. The 30K to 32K they had this year was a definite improvement. Perhaps next year they can get 40K or 45K. Who, precisely, is foolish enough to judge how good or bad a series looks by paying attention to how many people they believe are in the stands? That is a stupid notion. Those of us who actually attend had to wait in line to get in and wait in line to leave. We had to wait in line at the concession stands and did not have as much leg room as last year. Some of us also had a chance to talk with the lady who runs the track, who, by the way, was very happy with the turnout both last year and last week. The only ‘people’ to whom attendance chest pounding seems important are the same handful of blithering idiots who are obsessed with the series in a darkly retarded way.

    Comment by Y2J — October 24, 2013 @ 3:11 am | Reply

    • Not as much leg room as last year…HAHAHA. You did notice i actually replied to you in a very polite manner, acknowledging the good racing, but also acknowledging the very bad crowd. I am friends with some of the guys who work in the pits, and seeing their pictures from the race, as well as from their own accounts, the crowd was very weak. The pictures on television also do not lie. If there was more than 20,000, i would be surprised, and even then, i am being generous. Stop thinking everyone who points out the obvious is against you, and start admitting the truth for a change. Even if i took your BS at face value, 30,000 for a season ending race with the driver’s title on the line is not good at all. The sponsors are even pointing out the very obvious, with Go Daddy and IZOD reps both stating it is hard to justify their expenditures on the series with the lack of people who attend or watch on TV.

      When guys such as yourself wake up and actually admit there are serious issues with the series, instead of employing your “head in the sand-everything is alright” stance, blame it on CART, yadda-yadda nonsense, then maybe the series will have a chance to move forward in a positive manner. Until then, the series will continue to run on a shoe-string budget, only surviving because of a few select owners…but how long will Penske, Ganassi and Andretti continue to run 3 and 4 cars, and how long until they leave for other series? Think it is not possible? You once stated IMS is bullet proof, yet now we see that is not the case. You stated Chevy would never leave, or Toyota, and lo and behold, what happened there? IZOD gave up, and Honda has fired early warning shots. The signs are there, but until positive change is effected, Indy Car will continue to inch towards complete irrelevancy with todays generation of fans. The days of simply stating IMS saves all are gone as well. The key to a strong series and a strong Indy 500, was for both entities to be strong and help each other along. A strong series made IMS look better, and in turn, a healthy IMS made the series look good. Enjoy your might IMS buddy, but remember, they also once said the Titanic was unsinkable, and what happened there.
      Editor’s Note: Congratulations on a mostly well written reply. That said, I actually attend these races, watch the replays, talk to the folks in charge at tracks and inevitably enjoy myself greatly. I do not see the point of glass-half-empty self-crucifixion in almost every thread that gets polluted by such foolishness. I choose instead to do something about real and perceived problems. The three things that make the biggest difference: 1) Attend the races and bring friends. Check. 2) Watch the races on television. Check. 3) Support the sponsors. Check. Pontificating doom from the sidelines requires neither sense nor intelligence. Learn from all of history, not just one pigeonholed part of it.

      Comment by Y2J — October 25, 2013 @ 1:24 am | Reply

      • I do attend races, not as much as in the past, but still try every now and then, and i do bring friends..nice try.
        Editor’s Note: Good for you. Bringing friends is good. Too bad you were not at Fontana. It was a GREAT time with perfect weather.

        I watch races on television as well, and there actually have been a few good races the last two years, but no one is really paying attention anymore.
        Editor’s Note: With all due respect, that is a typical subjective blanket observation borne of attitude more than fact. Facts include: Over a million paid attendees attended racing activities this year in IndyCar. Television 12+ overnight estimates are down (as they are for the vast majority of sports and entertainment offerings on traditional television) but millions watched, particularly the marquee Indianapolis 500. So in actual fact, a claim that ‘no one’ is paying attention is false.

        Attendance at pretty much every track is down significantly,
        Editor’s Note: Again, factually incorrect. St. Pete was slightly higher than 2012. Barber sold out again-steady, as were Long Beach and Brazil. The 500 was down slightly. Detroit was up. Texas was down slightly. Milwaukee and Iowa were steady (Milwaukee slightly up and Iowa slightly down–a wash). Pocono was new and drew a phenomenal crowd. Toronto was up. Mid-Ohio was up. Sonoma was even. Baltimore was down slightly. Houston was new and drew well. Fontana was up from last year. So when you say ‘pretty much every track is down significantly’ that does not jibe with actual facts, which is 22% of venues are tracking slightly lower in attendance.

        and their have been some races that have really made the series look amateurish.
        Editor’s Note: By whose standards? Who is the judge? The only thing amateurish I continue noticing is the aberrant behavior of squatting malcontents in addition to the folks who have taken turns running the sport.

        TV ratings keep getting close to pretty much non-existant levels, and don’t give your usual BS that it is due to the times we live in. Most other sports still sell-out their product.
        Editor’s Note: Another colossal swing and a miss. Most other sports are pretty far from selling out their sports. Eight major league teams reported all time low attendances this season, and anyone could get a ticket to any game in any city on any night. The NBA rarely sells out. Hockey does well in a few cities. The NFL depends on the city. Can’t get a ticket in New England, but you can in Jacksonville. NASCAR has not sold out a race in two years. I have seen aluminum on every F-1 race this season. NASCAR attendance drops are particularly startling. This ‘all is doomed’ bullshit is not confined to IndyCar. Get real.

        Support the sponsors? I do go out of my way when it suits my needs. For the most part, not too many real sponsors left anyways, and those that are there, again, not in any field that would be of interest to me.
        Editor’s Note: You must reside in a cave and rub sticks together for fire then. It is no problem for me to fill up my Honda with Shell or Citgo, use Pennzoil regularly, get good ride and mileage on my Firestones, quench my thirst with Snapple, Dr. Pepper, RC or Sun-Drop, I can’t use my phone without routing through Verizon, I really enjoy my new Go-Pro, DHL is as easy to use for shipping as FedEx, my home has primarily Bosch appliances, I have way too much Izod apparel for a man my age, the last time I repainted my house I used Sherwin-Williams and my computers are protected by McAfee. Shall I continue?

        I also converse with friends i have made who actually are employed in the series, and their words and opinions carry much more significance to me, than those of a guy who is left to pontificate his own biased opinions (not facts), on his own blog, because he has seen himself kicked off of pretty much every motorsports forum there is on the internet.
        Editor’s Note: So whatever your friends say should be trustworthy because you say some are employed in the series. LOL. I do have opinions, but try to base most of them in fact, which drives some folks nuts, particularly those who either don’t get or can’t stand an IMS-run IndyCar. Generally speaking those type of folks are beneath contempt. And the primary reason I get excluded from forums is because the proprietors don’t want to deal with the vulgar stalkers that follow me around. They have a tendency to pollute forums they enter. It would be nice to find a forum run by a person that possesses both testicles and ethics but I am not holding my breath.

        People have tired of your rants and biased opinions, and your overall general lack of willingness to engage anyone in meaningful banter, before reverting to your drivel, as well as your spin and deflect nonsense, with your subtle jabs at them and CART. You are that guy who will be all alone sitting on his porch complaining about anyone and everything all by your lonesome, as you continue to get older.
        Editor’s Note: The more you jabber the more idiotic you appear. You have zero idea who I am or what I do, and neither you or your pals have approached anything near requisite intelligence to banter, which is worsened by the obvious fact that you do not bother to even read much to even prepare to debate intelligently. You want respect? Earn it by approaching dialogue like an adult.

        As for your response, you did not engage me on anything i said. I do not care if you attend live, watch on TV or buy sponsor’s products? What the holy hell does that have to do with anything i wrote? Typical juvenile response from you. Read my post again, and try and engage in some useful banter. If you have nothing to say but jump up and down like a two year old waving your penis around looking for attention, then i hope you just not bother commenting at all.
        Editor’s Note: Your wish is my command:

        Not as much leg room as last year…HAHAHA. You did notice i actually replied to you in a very polite manner, acknowledging the good racing, but also acknowledging the very bad crowd.
        Editor’s Note: There are only a few people whose opinions actually matter. One is Gillian Zucker. She runs the place. She was quite happy over the weekend. How do I know? I asked her. You know what else? The race returns next year. Again. Saying 30K+ is a ‘bad crowd’ is clueless, classless, stupid and immature and does not even constitute a point.

        I am friends with some of the guys who work in the pits, and seeing their pictures from the race, as well as from their own accounts, the crowd was very weak.
        Editor’s Note: Hang on a second. You have friends who work in the pits who took pictures during the race? If they were supposed to be working why would they take pictures? Again, the word ‘weak’ is borne of either willful ignorance or outright hostility, again with no point, and definitely does not reflect the opinions of the people who actually operate the track. I believe I will trust them and pass on putting any credence on anything your insubordinate ‘friends’ spew.

        The pictures on television also do not lie. If there was more than 20,000, i would be surprised, and even then, i am being generous.
        Editor’s Note: If you stopped to use your brain for even a few seconds you might recognize how utterly ridiculous you actually sound. The number of grandstand seats outside the track that were available for seating was 46,850 and change. Available seats were approximately 65% filled. That is a number that is around 30,000 fans. The number does not include those in suites, which were 80% full. It also does not count the infield suites and stands which were also about 65% full. Guess your busy friends in the pits could not bother to turn around. LOL. There were also more infield campers than last year. I am certain IndyCar appreciates your viewing, but we would all appreciate honesty even more. I could easily make a case for 40K but the little heads of the six or seven you on this quaint little crusade would probably explode.

        Stop thinking everyone who points out the obvious is against you, and start admitting the truth for a change. Even if i took your BS at face value, 30,000 for a season ending race with the driver’s title on the line is not good at all. The sponsors are even pointing out the very obvious, with Go Daddy and IZOD reps both stating it is hard to justify their expenditures on the series with the lack of people who attend or watch on TV.
        Editor’s Note: GoDaddy has a point. IZOD has never, ever made a similar statement. They fulfilled the original deal, were happy with the results, and ended their sponsorship solely due to a management change at the executive level of PVH and a change of focus to something less ‘redneck’ and more ‘primpy.’ You actually did manage one valid point, however. Racing sponsorship is tough all over. Even NASCAR sponsorships vary from week to week. Motorsports sponsorship has always been about vanity and ROI has NEVER been ‘good’ at any time in the history of the sport. Those of us with an appreciation for history understand that.

        When guys such as yourself wake up and actually admit there are serious issues with the series, instead of employing your “head in the sand-everything is alright” stance, blame it on CART, yadda-yadda nonsense, then maybe the series will have a chance to move forward in a positive manner.
        Editor’s Note: And when you learn to comprehend what you believe you read you will readily find a list of issues and my proposed solutions. They are out there and very easy to find.

        Until then, the series will continue to run on a shoe-string budget, only surviving because of a few select owners…but how long will Penske, Ganassi and Andretti continue to run 3 and 4 cars, and how long until they leave for other series? Think it is not possible? You once stated IMS is bullet proof, yet now we see that is not the case.
        Editor’s Note: Where would they go? They have already proven, twice, that disconnected from Indy they simply do not survive. They could go to some road racing thing, but not one big series has ever made it long term in America. I Do not believe Penske, Ganassi or Andretti will ever be willfully stupid vis-a-vis primary series, ever again.

        of those teams You stated Chevy would never leave, or Toyota, and lo and behold, what happened there?
        Editor’s Note: I have been actively watching since 1959. Do you know how many times manufacturers have come and gone over that period? Trying to position manufacturers leaving as endemic to IndyCar is one of the top five most stupid taunts your kind trot out. Get real pal.

        IZOD gave up,
        Editor’s Note: More correctly, IZOD changed their marketing focus to something more ‘metrosexual’ because the executive level changed. Mike Kelly, still there, continues endorsing the positive experience the brand had in IndyCar.

        and Honda has fired early warning shots.
        Editor’s Note: Let me get this straight: Honda indicating they want additional manufacturer competition is a ‘warning shot?’ LOL. To me a warning shot is Robert Clarke screaming at cart idiots in a Toronto elevator around ten years ago with veins bulging out his forehead, than actually pulling his entire company out. That is not even close to happening in IndyCar. Wet dream on, though. LOL.

        The signs are there, but until positive change is effected, Indy Car will continue to inch towards complete irrelevancy with todays generation of fans.
        Editor’s Note: Best point you made in this entire colloquial exercise in wordplay. IndyCar, and racing in general, fails to resonate with millenials, and is probably the most series threat to the sport. They need to find a way to connect.

        The days of simply stating IMS saves all are gone as well. The key to a strong series and a strong Indy 500, was for both entities to be strong and help each other along. A strong series made IMS look better, and in turn, a healthy IMS made the series look good. Enjoy your might IMS buddy, but remember, they also once said the Titanic was unsinkable, and what happened there.
        Editor’s Note: I appreciate the ‘strong series’ mantra, but without a huge, viable marquee none of it matters. That has not ever changed.

        Comment by Y2J — October 25, 2013 @ 4:46 pm

  6. I contemplated replying to all your long-winded replies, but once again, it is a complete waste of time to try and debate anything with you. All you ever do is resort back to your tired and old retorts. Good luck being reduced to your little special blog. That is what is good about the internet, it does not discriminate against “special” people such as yourself. And, for your own edification, you are not being kicked off of most forums because of people you claim are stalking you, but because people are just plain sick of your BS. You purposely come out to various forums just to stir the pot…you going to deny that? Alex Hoppes? Need i continue? And do not for one moment think you have people hanging on your every word, they just feel compelled to help point out your own abject stupidty to you. The series is in trouble, anyone can clearly see that, all except you and the five or six of you who still think it is all about Indy and nothing else matters. Enjoy the product as it is today, as you guys who supported the split and TG are every bit as guilty as they are, for where the Indy Car product stands today.
    Editor’s Note: The reason you are unable to debate with maturity and precision is because you are intellectually incapable of pulling it off. Unless you suddenly grow up or would care to contribute something on topic instead of whining and acting like a fourth grader it might be best to confine yourself to one of the hate sites.

    Comment by Y2J — October 26, 2013 @ 2:00 pm | Reply


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