Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

April 29, 2008

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:26 pm

I will not be caroling, but I WILL enthusiastically be making several trips to my Hoosier home for the activities associated with the Month of May in Indianapolis.  Any racing fan who has not made the trip really ought to.  Each weekend is different, and any part of the month of May is among the best values in all sports and entertainment options. 


One of the frequent criticisms of those stuck in the previous century is their perception about lack of bumping on ‘bump’ day.  Last year when the weather was great the first weekend, the new fastest 11-per-day rule really got a workout.  Pole day in particular was much more intense than usual.    Looks like at least 40 folks will try for the 33 slots this year, and that should also add some storylines to the legendary event.  


As usual, the physical plant has changed again with the reconfiguration near the oval turn one of the road course in preparation for the arrival of the motorcycles later this year.  Changes in recent years including the moving of ‘Carb Day’ to Friday have resulted in even more fan options. 


As the field is formed one of the interesting aspects will be to monitor the placement of the ‘transitioning’ drivers.  Some of them have shown some respectable raciness on ovals.  How they do on the big one will be compelling. 


The recent race at Kansas was pretty good, but the IRL set the bar on 1.5 mile ovals very high early on.  The close action that made them racy needs to return somehow.  Michigan and Fontana need to be back on the schedule. 


The red-headed bastard stepchild treatment of the Indy Racing franchise by ESPN continues unabated.  If anything, it is worse this year.  May has a tendency to snap some from Bristol out of their complacency but the lead-in to the Indianapolis 500 could not possibly have gotten more shoddy treatment.  If Danica had not won in Japan there might be a big problem.  Not all the blame resides with the television ‘partner.’  I will never understand why a points-paying race in Japan must be run before Indy.  It defies logic.  Honda pays lots of bills and there is a certain subservience demanded, but the combination of ESPN indifference and momentum-killing scheduling makes building excitement for May more difficult than it should be.  


Here’s my early pick for the winner:  Tomas Scheckter.  Gut feeling.  I could get behind it.  Second choice:  Vitor Miera.  Underdog. 


See you in May!


April 18, 2008

A Yen for Controversy

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 5:04 pm

Sorry for the delay; it’s been a busy month at work and I’ve also had a few family commitments.  I am happy the racing season is underway, and Graham Rahal’s win in St. Pete is something that is great for the sport. The Long Beach/Japan weekend is upon us, and why the ICS wastes its time on a points-paying race on another continent this close to the 500 is a mystery that I am unable to get my arms around other than the obvious bend over for Honda.  I think Long Beach is a great opportunity to give champcar the funeral it needs.  We need to add closure to that series, turn the page and enjoy May!


Over the past for days I have received several e-mails from people asking why they have not seen my contributions on TrackForum.  The answer is because I am no longer allowed to post there.  I have not had privileges there for nearly one year.  There is a thread asking about it, and it appears their stance is unchanged.


Some of you ask me why? What caused it?  What did not cause it was anything I posted on TrackForum.  I believe what caused it was a post I made on a site known as SmackForum, a parody site where mainly cart-centric youngsters go to curse, taunt and write stupid things, mostly with incorrect spelling and grammar.  Most of them hide behind generally vague but mostly vulgar forum names.  Every once in a while one of them posts something funny, and my primary reason for infrequent visits is to use clever, biting humor to demonstrate the collective stupidity of that place. It reinforces the stereotypes people have always had about champcar enthusiasts.  It is fun in a juvenile way. In simple comparative terms, TrackForum is the stodgy gated Republican community, and SmackForum is the jealous trashy trailer park on the other side of the track at the very bottom of the hill, socioeconomic scale and comprehension level.  


That still does not explain why I am no longer allowed to contribute at TrackForum.  This is, I believe, the reason:  About a year ago I responded to one of a long line of threads on SmackForum that poke fun at Indy racing accidents.  My response was to post a Photoshopped picture of Alex Zanardi as the 70’s Tim Conway character Dorf.  Just a head shot.  Dorf with a racing helmet and Zanardi’s face.  Funny in a twisted way? Absolutely.  Much funnier, in fact, than most things posted on SmackForum.  Posting that Photoshop started a cascade of, in the words of one of the moderators on TrackForum, poo that resulted in my involuntary departure.  


There were/are allegations of ‘poo getting on them and some of their members.’  I am unsure what they meant by that; it has never been explained.  I suspect that SmackForum youth who re-posted the Photoshop on TrackForum were the tip of a poo iceberg they wanted to avoid.  The most simple way:  No more Defender.  


Their stated terms for my return are, honestly, laughable and not realistic. Essentially, their offered ‘deal’ involved me losing the ‘Defender’ name permanently, then re-joining as a new member with another name that does not point in any way to Defender.  Further, I would not be allowed to mention Defender or hint that Defender is me simply because I posted a marginally offensive (mostly to people who tend to set themselves up for being offended in the first place) Photoshop on a completely separate forum.  Should I apologize?  Why?  I do not believe I need to apologize to anyone for anything I have ever posted.  I think everyone should maintain a healthy sense of humor, even if it is borderline, and not any over-the-top puritanical zealousness.  


My personal feelings on this matter may surprise you.  I do not hold any grudges against anyone at TrackForum.  It is their forum.  They can do whatever they want with anyone where their forum is concerned.  Most of them are fine folks and some are friends.  There are plenty of places I can post, including this blog.  TrackForum is neither life nor death for me, nor should it be for anyone.  Defender critics should step back when something is posted to which they take exception.  No one forces anyone else to read it.  


The maliciousness that often occurs after I post something is unfortunate and stupid.  If someone wants to gripe, direct it at me.  I am easily available:  IRLDefender@aol.com.  Granted, the elimination of Defender posting privileges is creepy, heavy-handed, largely unexplained, pompous and lacks logic, but is not something about which anyone should worry.  It is what it is.  Fair?  Unfair?  Who cares?  Not me.  It is not my site.  If anyone feels they are being cheated by being deprived of Defender contributions, I am still out there.  Just not at TrackForum.  I gave thousands of contributions there, and perhaps I will again.  Whether I do or not as Defender is out of my hands.  


Would I like to contribute as much as many of you enjoy reading?  I certainly would.  But only as Defender, or (under special circumstances) perhaps one of the other two primary names I have employed in cyberspace in the past; ‘The Late Harlan Fengler’ or ‘Hooter Morgan.’  I could change my name to something innocuous (I have plenty of possibilities), but I remain firm in my principles.  It needs to be ‘Defender’ at TrackForum, and with no apology to anyone.  It is their loss.


Meantime, let’s get ready for a full weekend of racing, including a late night!

April 10, 2008

Stupid Tree

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 5:32 pm

I have been MIA for a few days and there is a good reason. More in a moment. The ‘race’ in St. Petersburg was probably the least exciting of them all. It had been blessed with good weather the past couple, including the one where the IRL first took right turns. I was happy to be there, but was glad I was not in the rain.

Believe it or not, as militantly against the champcar existence as I was, I must admit I was excited for Graham Rahal. He is a young, charging American name with a family legacy in the sport. With folks like he and Marco Andretti and others (yes, even Danica) Indy racing has a bright future.

Street and temporary circuits, however, still cannot suck enough in a general sense. Racing needs to occur on proper tracks purpose built for such things.

Last Sunday my very best high school friend was killed in a way he would probably laugh about. A tree fell on him. My high school graduating class contained just over 30 people and we were (and still are for the most part) remarkably close. My friend is the first from that class to leave the planet. There are so many stories, and I may relate a few of them after he is buried. I could supply words for a blog for years just telling the tale of a very magical four years that occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

We are looking forward to Motegi/Long Beach-the doubleheader, but REALLY looking forward to Kansas (working on the travel arrangements) and the month of May in INDY!

April 5, 2008


Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:13 pm

Aside from the onerous religious overtones, 6-6-6 has another meaning in Indy car racing.  Tony George has not ruled out a future configuration of eighteen events a year.  Six ovals.  Six natural terrain road courses.  Six temporary/street circuits.  6-6-6.

As a lifelong fan of the sport, I have one word:  UNACCEPTABLE.  First, the obvious.  Street courses are an abomination in general.  The ONLY event that comes close to being an actual event is Long Beach, and that is only due to a long history with the defunct CART series and Formula 1 before that.  Street courses result in lawsuits, bad relationships with governmental entities, pissed off fans, limited access, and nothing more than fast parades where ‘overtaking’ only occurs in the pits.  That is not racing.  That is a traveling gypsy carnival not regarded with much more respect.  If there is a God in heaven, there will be no street racing in Indy racing EVER.

Racing needs to occur on proper courses.  Natural terrain road courses are proper and have a place in the sport.  There is a diversity of courses in North America, and that niche can be fully exploited.  ‘Mergification’ makes it even more attractive a possibility.  What would be wrong with killing temporary circuits in favor fine legacy circuits and even great new venues such as Miller Motorsports Park in Utah?

Ovals are the backbone of American racing and open wheel should not just concede them to NASCAR.  That would be an insult to the sport and fans of it.  I’ve seen NASCAR and Indy cars at many common tracks in person, including Texas, Richmond and Indianapolis.  There is no comparison.  Indy cars are so much faster that I am admittedly spoiled.  I LOVE speed.  Your mileage may vary, and that is fine.

Ideal compromise balance:  10-5-3.  Ten ovals, five natural terrain road courses, and three temporary abomination gypsy carnivals.  Although 21-22 races a year is more optimal, and ZERO temporary courses would be perfect.

As a racing fan, I am beginning to grow weary of having my trust (if not private orifices) violated by goofy decisions.  I know the Penskes and Ganassis and the Andretti Greens of the sport are important, but when did they get put in charge?  During the life of the IRL, fans have been screwed out of legacy ovals Phoenix, Fontana and, most egregiously, Michigan—in favor of a temporary circuit in Detroit.  Oh, you say, we need to have a presence in Detroit.  What has Detroit done for Indy car racing lately?  Losing the oval in the Irish Hills is NOT acceptable and needs to be back on the schedule in 2009.

Here is something else that I might as well get off my chest.  For the past few years my brother and I have included the annual Last Row Party for the slowest drivers as part of our annual tradition.  A bunch of folks and fans get together, toss $30 bucks into a hat, then buy a table for ten.  It’s fun.  It’s even for a good cause.  This year, however, the price went up.  $37.50 a person.  That’s not so bad, but when you combine that increase with everything else; e.g., ticket service charges, high fuel prices, etc., I need to ask myself the following question:  Should I really spend the money on what is, at best, a protracted fifteen minute argument with one or more essentially clueless and indifferent, surly yellow shirts about simply parking for the event, wait in line for average food that clogs my already hardening arteries, pay extra for alcohol, listen to Bob Jenkins cuss and tell a few bad jokes, then watch drivers and Indy racing folks hurry up and bail so they may attend the Firestone party?   If it were a $10 party, or hell…even $30, I would probably do it again.

There are other parties that are free, and that may have to do.

I do not know whether anyone reads these meanderings or not, particularly inside Indy racing. But if so, this is a fan speaking.  A guy that spends hard earned money. 

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