Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

May 23, 2016

The Glorious Month of May at IMS

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:28 pm

Howdy folks…it has been a while. Yours truly retired in early May and my now leisurely days have been spent primarily at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for the sold out 100th running of the great race.

Qualifications this weekend were fascinating. The old guy part of me who has been attending time trials since 1959 gets pretty disgusted there are not more than fifty entrants putting it all on the line to make the show over four days. Pole day on the last day? Wow. Time, however, marches forward. A micromanaged shell game of reality show-like manufactured drama with a bare minimum number of spec cars evidently appeals to a younger audience and that is what IMS must cultivate.

Hinch

Photo credit: Autoweek

Then an odd thing happened on Sunday. Drama. Sam Schmidt, a quadriplegic who believes he will one day walk again, drove a specially outfitted Corvette around the track in a special qualifying run with nothing more than his head. At one point a trap speed reported him traveling at 157mph. Instant standing ovation from the thousands in attendance. Then in the closing moments on the last run of the day Schmidt’s primary driver James Hinchcliffe put a Schmidt car on the pole one year after a near death experience at the track. He knocked off popular Tennessee native Josef Newgarden who also drives for a small team. Amazing. There are few Penskes or Ganassis to be found up front. Even the Andretti team had a rebound and talk of Chevy sandbagging was quickly quieted.

Many of us got a first-hand look at track improvements, including all the new seats, configuration and entrance around the first turn. Some traditionalists bemoan such changes but this one believes they are evolutionary, overdue and definitely respect the history of the joint. Spectacular work has been done.

JT and DB 2Frankly the biggest complaint from us old guys is not the physical plant. It looks better than it has in years. Even restrooms got makeovers. Improvements to the sound system were overshadowed by the crap funneled through it. Imagine throwing a couple of bowling balls and half a dozen cats into a commercial washing machine then setting it for ‘high.’ That is what a lot of the ‘music’ sounded like. Or imagine a group of roofers, some pounding nails while others clanged saws while shouting incoherently. What is that? Considering the place has been around for over 100 years would it kill them to employ a musical curator to weave in actual songs from past and present decades? Imagine weaving in clips of folks like Tom Carnegie, Sid Collins and others. I know, I know…it’s all about younger demographics. I was able to kill a lot of it with my scanner headphones. If music is my biggest issue we are doing great.

Now it’s on to race day. I will begin paying attention to the forecast about Thursday. Carb day should be great and the race looks to be awesome. Here in Hoosierland all is well!

March 7, 2016

The IndyCar Off Season Is About To End!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 5:20 pm

St PeteOur seemingly infinite patience is about to pay off. The off season in the Verizon IndyCar Series has plodded along far too long. St. Pete this coming weekend should begin to quench our appetites. For those unable to spring break it to the Florida gulf coast IndyCar’s cherry picking primary broadcasting partner will usher in the new season on over-the-air television via (ESPN on) ABC.  It is largely uncertain whether the event is being adequately promoted. Many of us do not watch ESPN or ABC much anymore.

If the past is any indication this race ought to be compelling despite it being contested on a temporary street circuit. Ever since IndyCar began tumbling itself down the slippery slope of less popular, lower rated non-ovals in 2005 to its current 70% non-oval orientation favored by the formula wannabees currently occupying and managing the discipline, the St. Pete event has become a nice bookend along with Long Beach. Predictably the venue that provided IndyCar fans with the most exciting race in the last few decades, Fontana, is absent. Phoenix, however, has returned. Despite its recent NASCAR-ization remodel that robbed it of its unique character there is genuine enthusiasm by participants and fans alike this time around. Tickets for out there are booked by the Disciple party.

If the past few seasons are any indication the racing on just about any circuit should be stellar. Nearly continuous micromanagement of specs aside the competition and rules making cast of characters are mostly different this year. Last year during May in the run-up to the Indianapolis 500 oval aero kits were tried for the first time. Cars that began going airborne whenever they got backward caused a significant amount of frayed nerves and bad publicity.

The 100th running of the 500 is set up to be an historic event but mistakes could be repeated. Experimentation with skid plates to prevent airborne adventures has not gone as planned and does not have the complete support of those behind wheels. Since the stage this year is much bigger it would be nice to assume the brain trust will figure it all out prior to May. The clock is ticking.

Old ReynardsFor many squatting internet haters none of it will matter. Almost any topic devolves to dismissal of anything Dallara manufactures as ‘crapwagons.’ Instead of offering intelligent solutions to mostly self-perceived issues the loudest of the typists actually believe the way to go is simply to locate as many 25 year old Reynards as possible, dust them off, drop in a Cosworth and go racing. The internet is a great source for comedy.

Personally Dallara and all the other entities currently re-making Speedway in an admirable gentrification effort must be commended. Efforts of the Speedway Redevelopment folks in conjunction with nearly continuous improvements being undertaken once again at the Brickyard are outstanding.

We are looking forward to this weekend, May and another great IndyCar season!

January 17, 2016

Racing and Live Sports So Far in 2016

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:38 am

What event has drawn sold out crowds daily, features a lot of big names in an extreme form of auto racing musical chairs, races on an oval, gets lots of press and even featured a viral video of a drunken cop slurring idiotic hate speech toward Tony Stewart? The same event IndyCar chose not to have anything to do with. The Chili Bowl is always a slice of real Americana but that connection eludes IMS.

Guess what else was sold out, held in New York City and broadcast nationally on CBS? Bull riding, a sport built from scratch by Randy Bernard. IndyCar had no use for him either.

The only form of the sport this year inducing inattention and yawns from John Q. Public is road racing.

Food for thought.

MidgetsOn another note certain to lead to a childish conniption episode or two from the handful of obsessed kids who stalk me around the internet I saw this blurb on the Chili Bowl site. I knew about Rico but the rest of those folks? And hey Chili Bowl, isn’t that less than politically correct?

What should they call the vehicles? How about ‘Little Cars?’ Or ‘Size Challenged Oval Propulsion Vehicles?’ Does not really have the same ring to it.

Racing is off to a rip roaring start (well, other than road racing).

December 30, 2015

Happy New Year…and Happy Birthday Tony George

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 8:02 pm

Youthful AntonHappy birthday to Tony George, grandson of the late great Tony Hulman. 1959 was the birth year for young Anton and was the year I first set foot inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Unfortunately any mention of Tony George in just about any context these days inevitably draws willfully retarded people out of their mothers’ basements with Tourette-like ‘FTGs’ as primary epithets. Generally that is the extent of the thought patterns of such embarrassing ‘fans.’ Some of the slightly more educated of that ilk also spin history to fit their prejudices without much if any regard for facts.  Both general groups continue fighting a civil war they actually began themselves twenty years earlier. The ‘split’ was merely an expansion of class genital waving that began in the early 1960s.  Crowing about how great they believed things were remains as foolish now as it did in the late 1990s.

Many of my friends have asked why the blogs are not more frequent lately. The primary reason is actual daytime job related. It has been extremely busy at work the past few months. A secondary reason is that many of us legacy fans are simply less interested in an evolution back toward what those mentioned above have convinced themselves they had twenty years ago. Until those running the series actually begin to understand how to run the series fantasizing about becoming more mainstream will remain unattainable.

The schedule for 2016 is 70% non-oval. Despite unleashing the single most exciting oval race of the past three decades the braintrust decided Fontana is expendable. They cite the weakest of excuses: Television windows. Fontana is not alone. Milwaukee, the kind of ovals even squatting road racers enjoy, is also gone. Perceived problems at both venues are rooted largely in woefully inconsistent dartboard-like scheduling. IndyCar management continues to ignore the importance of date equity in building events. Phoenix was re-added after many years and that is great but as long as two Cup races are run at that track there will only be so much local fans can afford. Boston still appears to be in the wet dream phase and has begun to smell like another Baltimore scheme. Obviously mistakes are not things from which to derive learning.

Instead of attending 6 to 8 events again this year my group may be down to Indy and one other; probably Pocono. We shall see. What a shame.

I genuinely appreciate the effort and contributions to the sport Tony George has made through the years. Obviously he was unable to go far enough.

October 27, 2015

IndyCar Schedule in 2016: The Good, Bad and Unvarnished From A Ticket Buying Fan

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 6:52 pm

ScheduleThe 2016 IndyCar schedule was formally announced today. As fervent long-term IndyCar fans we are gratified to have any sort of schedule. Formulating one is potentially the most difficult part of running IndyCar. For every great addition such as Phoenix or Road America, however, there are unfortunate removals such as Milwaukee and Fontana. There remains as much alienation as gratification again this year.

Perhaps that is one reason these blogs have become so infrequent. Despite their magnificent tendency toward flowery hyperbole with regard to product IndyCar is managing to turn fans that travel to venues and buy tickets into Indy 500-only fans, just like the ‘good old days.’

IndyCar touts the 5 oval-5 road course-5 street circuit balanced ‘diversity’ of the series. Sorry. Running 2/3 of the schedule on non-ovals is neither balanced nor aligned with IndyCar history. As CART’s pronounced and lingering death rattle led to the inevitable in the early 2000s the IRL version of IndyCar began being co-opted by those scurrying from that particular train wreck. The slippery slope for that iteration began when the first non-oval was run at St. Petersburg. Ten years ago the oval-centric version of IndyCar was 18% non-oval. The schedule announced this week is 67% non-oval, and there are two fewer races overall. Balance? Hardly. The once youthful supporters of IndyCar during the CART period applaud the addition of Road America. That is a nice legacy-type addition, but Barber is far more compelling to me. Additionally it post-dates the politics. And I would rather eat BBQ than brauts.

One potentially spectacular addition is Phoenix. That track (another built specifically for IndyCars but eventually given up/whored out for NASCAR) has been gone for a while and with two Cup dates it might have been safe to assume they would never return, particularly given past proclivities of IndyCar to just demand a lot of money to roll the transporters and not much else. Throw in events like counterproductive and ill-advised genital waving by another defunct CEO and Phoenix was always a recipe for dysfunction. But back it is and that is simply great.

Conspicuous by their absences are Milwaukee and Fontana. Those omissions seem to defy logic. Both have been victimized long term by the failure of IndyCar to schedule with date consistency and by a complete lack of presentation effort that gets more neglected with each passing year. The lame excuse for the jettison of Fontana in 2016 is that it will not fit into a neat television window.

Road America is Back!

Road America is Back!

Never mind the IndyCar race there was arguably the most exciting non-IMS oval IndyCar event of the past few decades.

‘…but ovals simply do not draw crowds anymore.’ Does that oft-parroted sentence of mortifying cluelessness sound familiar? Perhaps if IndyCar actually worried more about fans who attend and less about television windows, not to mention coherent scheduling, ovals might seem a little more popular. Slot Milwaukee in as the first event after Indy every year. Start it no later than 1pm local time. See what happens. Fontana is west coast and that presents problems for television. Exactly why is a mystery. Television partners have no problem not only bending over for NASCAR and Formula 1, but also airing all of their practices and qualifying live and on delay. Then the races are played back. Why should IndyCar not receive the same treatment?

It is an absolute miracle IndyCar managed to strike a deal with Pocono, but that is also welcome and great news. At least that is not scheduled using a blindfold and a dartboard. Tickets are being re-ordered this week.

Some events on the IndyCar calendar defy tradition. Frankly Roger Penske’s mercy hump to the manufacturers and city of Detroit could be slotted anywhere on the schedule with no appreciable difference in popularity. Never mind MIS is fairly close and is a lightning fast 2 mile oval with fresh pavement that provides for actual racing.

IndyCar 2016 ScheduleHopefully IndyCar also has a back-up plan in the event Boston goes awry. Given the fetid stench that typically accompanies IndyCar festivals o’ speed it is unsafe to count Boston in until wheels begin turning. Skepticism is magnified given the brutal politics of the region. Things like demands for fresh pavement could easily scuttle this latest over-glorified wet dream. Better idea: How about a doubleheader? The streets of Boston and the oval at Loudon, only promoted and presented coherently this time.

ONE event in August? That is neither sane nor rational. In addition to consistency the schedule also needs a minimum of twenty events. Based on available ovals alone that number could easily be met, especially in August. Gateway and Memphis are unique small ovals in areas with sizeable potential audiences and IndyCar geographic holes. Those two would make 17. Schedule Milwaukee and Fontana consistently and with sense and we are back up to 19. Pick the twentieth: MIS, Richmond, Chicagoland, Kentucky, Atlanta, Homestead, etc., could all be successful again.

Our travel plans so far include Indy and Pocono for sure. That may be it other than perhaps Texas. Congratulations to IndyCar for stumbling on to a slightly extended but reduced event schedule. The rollout is predictably cloaked in obfuscation and spread heavily with hyperbolic buzzwords.  Would oft-neglected IndyCar fans expect anything else?

September 2, 2015

IndyCar Is Over Already?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:08 pm

RIP RacerThis racing fan and like-minded peers are not nearly ready for the IndyCar season to end. We remain willing to watch and attend but we are unable to do so. We remain saddened by the freak accident that claimed the life of one of the truly great people in the sport. The good news according to many of our spouses is that we do not get to spend as much money and are available for chores around the house for the foreseeable future.

Many fervent racing fans are merely casual fans of the stick and ball variety of sports whose seasons are spinning up. The fact that football season is on the doorstep is exciting to many, but to many others it is yawn inducing and merely a harbinger of cold weather ahead.

IndyCar brass tries hard to concoct memorable IndyCar seasons and everyone who has ever attempted to put one together cites the nearly impossible degree of difficulty that is involved in architecting the next one. My group is of an age that takes advantage of attendance opportunities whenever possible. Tickets are not difficult to acquire and travel/lodging deals abound. Yet whether intentional or not folks like us are being reduced to Indy-only attendees. Events we attend(ed) every year are being removed with alarming frequency.

Endangered SpeciesThe list of races we USED to attend every year continues growing rapidly. Their replacement venues do not have the same luster. What do we miss? Michigan. Kentucky. Chicagoland. Richmond. Pike Peak. Gateway. Fontana. What do venues have in common? Ovals of all sizes and quirks. Betting money says we will say goodbye as well to either Milwaukee or Pocono, or both. It is not as though we do not attend others. Barber, for example, is a wonderful facility and we have always had enjoyable weekends there. We even flew to New Orleans for the one and done misadventure in the wet at NOLA this year. Jeans creaming over the revival of Road America has enthusiasts of the twisties worked up into a foamed mouth frenzy, and they also want Burke Lakefront back in Cleveland. Non-ovals, however, simply do not provide the visceral, consistent thrills that quality ovals do.

Long Beach has earned its legend and the party is nice but the racing is nearly always forgettable. St. Pete in the early Spring is an appealing getaway, but touristy Florida activity and checking out hard bodies in bikinis is as important as seeing what is generously positioned as professional racing on a turn or two of a temporary course.

A bone that has been thrown is Phoenix. The problem is no deal actually exists at this moment. Even if one is struck that track still has two Cup dates and open wheel attendance plummeted during a period when the sport was arguably more popular. I love the city of Boston but cannot imagine traveling there to attend a street event on Labor Day weekend. Travel to Loudon could be arranged in a heartbeat though.

My party attended Michigan, Kentucky, Chicagoland, Richmond, PPIR, Gateway, Fontana, Pocono and Milwaukee nearly EVERY year. We still would if they were available. We even made the trip to Vegas. If you figure a weekend away cost between $400 (if we drove) and $800 (if we flew) minimum, and there were 4 to 6 of us, the economic impact of just us ended up between $28,800 and $43,200 every year, with a percentage enriching IndyCar and the tracks.

Miles AheadAs long as IndyCar is unwilling to apply either the full May-in-Indy experience or the full street course vibe/hype to great ovals, attendance at them will continue to suffer. The predictable ‘ovals are just not popular’ excuse will remain nothing more than an intended but woefully misguided self-fulfilling prophecy. Intense oval racing tends to separate men from boys, and IndyCar does not have nearly enough men. The entity that invented oval racing presentation abdicated to the southern folks long ago and do not seem interested in reclaiming it. The wasted potential of great oval racing, triple crown glory, high speed and thrills is lost on both the suits and the road racers who have long co-opted the series with F1-like fantasies dancing in their heads. It is beyond maddening.

No doubt we will enjoy the 100th running and beyond in May but being relegated to one and done as a fan is entirely unfulfilling.

August 17, 2015

Open Contempt by IndyCar for Fans Continues Unabated

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:28 pm

The latest indelicate groin kick IndyCar Management delivered to some of its best fans was the far-too-casual announcement that California’s Auto Club Speedway annual IndyCar event would not be on the schedule in 2016. Never mind Fontana this year unleashed one of the most compelling, exciting IndyCar races in thirty years and possibly ever. That does not seem to matter and is not even acknowledged.

BuhByeNowThe concocted excuse trotted out involved an inability to identify a start time and broadcast window that would not adversely affect east coast viewership. Huh?

IndyCar evidently feels its fan base is stupid and will accept most any flowery press release lip service as gospel. A safe bet is to surmise that despite hard work proclamations by both sides no midnight oil was burned, no sweat hit brows, and arrogance no doubt surpassed intelligence.

The ‘window’ copout is particularly disingenuous. If the big Cup weekend is factored with ample space on either side that STILL leaves about 150 possible days in a year in which to consider CONSISTENTLY scheduling an IndyCar event at that track, especially if you get creative with perhaps a Friday night approach. Who says television has to be live on the east coast in a desirable time slot? Why not run a night race, broadcast it live, then re-air in a favorable time slot a day or two later? The replay approach can work well, as it did for the most recently held IndyCar event at Mid-Ohio. It also works for F-1, NASCAR and others who have broadcast partners who take those partnerships seriously. And oh, by the way, no one else has a problem running in the early portion of football season.

IndyCar must also realize that in the case of Fontana use of the ‘drunk guy throwing darts’ approach to date and time scheduling will almost always guarantee failure over time, and Fontana has been victimized by such carelessness more than about anyone (and they are far from alone). Failure also occurs when not meaningfully marketing/promoting the event in the second largest domestic media market. Half-assed presentation effort is also a precursor to failure. It is simply not enough to charge a lot for tickets then have just IndyCars, a handful of vintage hobbyists and Michael Young with a microphone at a track that great. Presentation of both Fontana and Pocono over the past three years is an embarrassing exercise of abysmal. ‘Triple crown’ potential is limitless but has been completely squandered.

MilesIt would not surprise me to see the same atrocious management remove Pocono for equally logic defiant reasons. The glimmer of hope meant to appease folks is enthusiasm about a possible return of Phoenix. I prefer to ground myself in reality. Phoenix is not a done deal and given the contentious relationship that track and its owner have with IndyCar, not to mention the fact that track still hosts two Cup events, wide eyed optimism about Phoenix is on par with the fantasies a three year old might have about Santa Claus, chimneys and toys. Even if the politics get squared away IndyCar will not suddenly develop an ability to market/promote professionally, create presentation efforts worthy of the Indy brand or offer fan pricing or amenities packages that will inspire fans to appear in droves. Given current management proclivity Phoenix is far more likely to resemble the last time IndyCar tried Loudon.

You know what would be refreshing? Honesty and transparency. One cannot help but wonder how much of an effect the incessant cackling of the current crop of squatting road racers after Fontana’s latest IndyCar race has to do with the decision. The emergence of young talent like a Josef Newgarden makes many miss a Dario Franchitti far less. It is also my belief that the inevitable retirements of the last of the cart contingent will be better for the sport.

My advice for Mark Miles and Dave Allen: Spend more time powering through and solving arbitrarily created problems and less time publishing flowery, excuse laden press releases. You will never retain fans by alienating them so completely. Adding road races like Road America is fine but series popularity will not be enhanced long term by adding non-oval races and dumping ovals, particularly when virtually no effort is spent building the latter.

August 12, 2015

IndyCar Expands Its Wisconsin Presence

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:47 pm

Wet DreamDuring the past week Road America was announced as the latest addition to the IndyCar schedule. The event will take place about one month after Indy the weekend of June 24. On the surface this is a good thing. It adds a legacy natural terrain road circuit known for its hospitality and has caused widespread glee among the IndyCar enthusiast faction that prefers that type of track activity.

The management has even openly discussed some sort of package plan with the legendary oval at Milwaukee. That particular situation became more complicated with news the principals involved in Andretti Sports Marketing are suing Michael and the parent organization after the top brass got let go. This follows litigation involving what turned out to be a fiasco in New Orleans. If Milwaukee is to return (and we all hope it does) it will no doubt be promoted by MoneyGrabanother entity.

As bits and pieces of the 2016 schedule are trickled out there is newfound enthusiasm for yet another street circuit in Boston. The IndyCar visions of creating a new Long Beach must be tempered by the reality that odds are stacked against it. A new Baltimore is far more likely.

All the while quality short ovals in geographically underserved markets just sit there. Gateway. Memphis. Richmond. That list is long. I would be very curious to see what kind of deal was struck with Road America, and why whatever model they crafted could not be used for ovals.

It is the hope of many that this year will not be the last for Pocono. That is my next stop. Can’t wait!

July 30, 2015

Alex Zanardi in the 100th Running of the Indy 500…Is It REALLY a Good Idea?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 9:00 pm

WheeeeeMany racing fans have worked themselves up into wet dream level anticipation over the whiff of a rumor based on an Alex Zanardi comment that he would like to try racing in the Indianapolis 500. Now all of a sudden the racing-centric Internet typists assume the 100th running would be the perfect debut with no doubts about either quality teams and equipment or sponsorship. It is over the top.

This author has been accused in the past (mostly by people without a high degree of reading comprehension or the ability to pick up on subtle nuance, much less lighthearted humor) of certain insensitivity with regard to Mr. Zanardi. The hypersensitivity of critics often clouds their judgement. In reality as a racing fan I enjoyed watching him race in his prime as immensely as anyone else. The accomplishments he has mastered since his accident is the stuff of inspirational legend. What is not to like or admire?

Wishful thinking regarding a 500 run, especially the 100th running, must be tempered by pragmatism. Zanardi never raced at Indianapolis. He was part of teams that actively boycotted the 500. He walked away from IndyCar twice for marginal attempts in Formula 1. His best known on-track move (other than that ill-fated right turn in Germany the weekend after 9/11) was a pass that would be considered illegal today. Most racing fans of any prejudice can get past the politics and overlook bad times. After all, it is 2015. Before he is anointed to IndyCar sainthood without having ever turned a hot lap at Indy I encourage more objective viewpoint.

In May of 2016 he will be pushing 50. His physical conditioning, especially in the upper body, is remarkable. But his body will be almost 50. And he has no legs. Or Indy 500 starts. Or much IndyCar driving since 2001. And no butt time in a DW12 with the fancy schmancy aerokits.  Odds are stacked against him. Perhaps that level of challenge is what has his fans creaming their dungarees over the mere possibility of conquering it. It would really be difficult to see what is essentially a stunt going awry. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is often thought of as a living, breathing spirit that can just as easily chew up and spit out a driver as bestow good fortune regardless of pedigree. No one wishes the former on anyone but such an attempt would become a media freak show regardless of outcome.

Stubbs BBQSome have suggested a perfect pairing might be with Sam Schmidt. Perhaps, but that version begins to veer into ‘step right up’ sideshow territory even more. I am certain sponsorship would not be an issue. I look forward to the 100th running for its intrinsic historical value and not whimsical novelty. Sam Schmidt did run in the 500 multiple times and has become a successful IndyCar owner. Oh, and he works just as hard trying to wipe out paralysis. Like Zanardi his post-racing accomplishments are even more impressive than what he did on track. Schmidt inspires me. I love the fact he has used his passion for the sport to both participate and attempt to make it better.

I know Zanardi has long been crowned as one of the best ever (despite no laps at Indy). My biggest disappointments are: A) That he allowed his career to be guided by the idiotic arrogance of boycotters who mistakenly believed they were bigger than Indy and forced him and many of his contemporaries to miss the one event that gave them all legitimacy in the prime of his career, and B) That he did not attempt this stunt while ten years younger when he would have been about the same age as today’s consistent winners.

BuhByeThere are no losers in this fantasy and I encourage continuing enthusiasm. It is nice to see that in IndyCar for a change. Given the ‘resignation’ of Derrick Walker (I thought he was supposed to be an owners guy) it is easy to see the clown act that has passed for management of the sport has remained unchanged essentially since the late 1970s plane crash no matter which warm bodies occupy the big desks. The fact that Mark Miles is so well insulated will stick in the craw of critics for a long time. Never is there a dull moment.

July 18, 2015

The Dark Side of Motor Racing

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:21 pm

BianchiSome will give me grief for going here (too soon and all of that) but I am sufficiently bothered so here goes. Tributes to Bianchi are deserved, respectful and somber, as they should be. Almost conspicuous by its absence, however, are fellow participants crapping all over a series and a sport that allows them to ply their trades. There is no mass hysteria or rush to judgement about speculative causes. No urgency to solve perceived problems.

When contrasted against the equally tragic death of Dan Wheldon the silence is deafening. Both died as the result of freak accidents in racing. One striking difference about respective aftermaths is absence of the cacophony of mostly meritless criticism that spewed forth before Wheldon’s body even got cold.

Now that Jules Bianchi sadly passed why are there not panicked, shrill yelps to ban this or change that to sanitize the sport? Is Formula One immune from criticism? In many ways it seems some have convinced themselves Formula One is not dangerous. Turns out it can be. Bianchi’s ultimate death could definitely have been prevented. But where is the outcry?Danny Boy Suggested hysteria as justification to ban things using the same twisted, rationalized logic that eliminated IndyCar at Vegas:  1) No more racing at Suzuka. 2) No more racing on natural terrain courses because they are not immune from death. 3) Racing while it’s raining? Are you crazy!? 4) We need to slow down F1 cars by about 50 mph. 5) While we’re at it how about no more street courses since there are fences and trees and people are near those fences. 6) Racing while there are tractors near the circuit must be banned. 7) Hell, why not just stop racing altogether? It is just too dangerous.

Sound ridiculous? It is. So is the double standard. How many tracks has IndyCar been forced away from due to either accidents or fear something MIGHT happen? Why does that not happen in any other series in which death or other mayhem are possibilities?

Pack racing in NASCAR is not considered dangerous until one driver kills another or a car penetrates the fence and either kills fans or comes close. Even IMS is touting aero changes to Cup cars to enable closer racing during the Brickyard 400. Yet ‘pack racing’ only seems bad when it involves IndyCars, and has had its definition (which is subjective to begin with) twisted to include essentially all oval racing that is not single file.

Sorry. It just pisses me off.

RIP Jules Bianchi.

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