Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

August 31, 2008

The Dark Side of Helio

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:40 pm

Helio Castroneves is a happy go lucky guy and a winner on and off the track. Not since Scott Sharp, however, has there been a more formidable blocker on the track. Today at that rat infested, sparsely attended waste of perfectly good Indy cars on Belle Isle outside Detroit for a Roger Penske bendover to manufacturers not even involved in open wheel anymore he danced as if he was with Julianne again, only right in front of Justin Wilson. From one side of the track to the other. Blatant.

When Helio gets called on his bad behavior he gets angry. Brazilian angry. And it is not a pretty site. The most entertaining part of the broadcast was Arute’s chasedown of Helio afterward.

Driving slowly enough to have the idiotic temporary circuit event degenerate into another of those contemptible TIMED events instead of anything even remotely resembling an actual start-to-finish, HONEST race was enough of a joke already.

When Barnhart demanded Helio let Justin Wilson pass, that should have put to rest the critics who have derided him all season for being a Penske homer who will let them get away with anything, particularly after the big fire. Looks to me like Justin Wilson deserved the win. He is the first so called transition driver to actually earn a win in Indy Car, and good for him. Good for the Newman-Haas team as well. Paul no doubt got a lift from that accomplishment.

The best news of all is that the points chase is still not over and moves to Chicagoland next week, and the Defender brigade will be there to enjoy every second of it.

Future suggestion for the entire Indy Car Series: Dump the gypsy street carnival for a real race track. There is a GREAT one not too far away in the Irish Hills. Penske can kiss the behinds of Detroit movers and shakers just as well over there. He has proven that time and time again in the past.


August 28, 2008

A Treasure in the Sport and in Life

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:29 pm

I believe it is probably best to pay tribute to a racing fan while that fan is still alive. The news reports about Paul Newman these days are almost always dire. His life has been more full than most of the rest of us. Combined. His broad charitable efforts (and the millions of dollars they have generated) speak for themselves.


He jumped into racing with as much ferocity as he devoted to acting. He was generally just as good. That guy raced into the very last part of his life. The recent story about his last drive around Lime Rock was touching. He helped operate a very successful racing team. The only potential downside of his career was his full blown participation in one of the most stupid boycotts ever bungled by otherwise smart people. I am thankful he chose to return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past May. It would be nice to see him there again in 2009, but that appears unlikely.



One of my favorite Newman moments occurred in 1993 at the Indianapolis 500. That was the last race my then 63-year old mother attended, and I sat with her. We were at the south end of the old Tower Terrace high above the Newman-Haas pits. At some point before the race, mom wanted to use the restroom but wanted an escort to the back of the terrace, a task for which I was recruited. As she made the turn to head toward the rear of the concrete stands, she bumped, literally, face first into Mr. Newman. Mom was at least a head taller than Newman, and having his head planted into her chest basically turned her into a teenaged-like groupie. Paul apologized for the collision and mom, starstruck, could only manage ‘Ohhh….Paauuuuuullllllll.’ He smiled, winked, then walked away. Mom was never the same and her concentration on what turned out to be a pretty good race was non-existent.



Thanks, racing fan, for giving generously to the sport and to life. Godspeed and best wishes as your fascinating journey continues.

August 26, 2008

Racing As Pure Entertainment

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:53 pm

It was a compelling week in motorsports. The latest WWE-style ‘feud’ in racing is the tiff between the two folks winning most of the races, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards, pictured below.


NASCAR really should hire Vince McMahon. It appears they could use the assistance given the fact that Daytona is shutting down an entire grandstand for their summer race next year and other legacy tracks such as Lowes runs full page ads for ticket deals in national publications every week.


Meanwhile, Indy Racings headlong regression to cart continues unabated. Now that every single fan constituency has been screwed completely at least once, management decisions now just constitute entertainment in and of themselves.


The urban renewal bendover for manufacturers not supporting the series occurs this weekend, on ABC no less, before a return to close fast oval racing mercifully returns to Chicagoland the weekend after Labor Day. Yours truly, family and friends will be there to watch it unfold in person.



Has everyone who can’t get Versus written and called and e-mailed their cable or satellite company to request it be added to the basic lineup? If not, it is time. If no action is taken, repeat. If no action is still taken, drop me a note.

August 25, 2008

Pointed Question of the Day

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:16 pm

A few weeks ago when Indy Racing Series officials announced their scheduling plans over the next few years, Bruton Smith of SMI offered a proposal that included Indy Car races at five of his company’s ovals, including Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The ‘new blood’ former cart/champcar agenda seekers currently in charge at 16th & G-town basically dismissed the oval idea, particularly in Las Vegas, citing worries about negative publicity over struggling to fill a third of the NASCAR-sized grandstands and potentially suffering negative criticism afterward. As we all know, there are depraved, childish idiots out there who live for posting pictures of sparsely populated grandstands after any race that is sparsely attended. The IRL brass wants to instead pursue one of those God-awful temporary gypsy street parade carnivals instead.

Given that edict, why would Indy Racing choose to return to Sonoma for three more years after dropping an artistic failure turd like yesterday?

I am as happy as the next guy that Helio overcame a charred trailer, won his first race in the last 30, made the points chase a little less of a snoozer and got to hug a hefty, tattooed gal after climbing over a rail. That does not change the fact the television audience again had to wait on female golfers for twenty minutes, did not see any on track passing, and watched a single file parade in front of a very few people on a track that is cool for basically only the drivers. I enjoyed the palpable tension between Dan Wheldon and Chip Ganassi, both of whom looked like they were part of a staged hostage video confession.

I do not remain happy when the people in charge talk to me out of both sides of their mouths. I spend thousands of dollars a year on this difficult to justify hobby and I do not need to have it made even more difficult to enjoy. Why do these people not hesitate to drop poorly attended ovals but extend contracts for poorly attended non-ovals? I get the B-to-B aspects, geographic attractiveness and all that. If that is supposed to work, why is it so difficult to populate small stands?

How long will it be before the DP-01s are taken off the shelves and positioned as the Indy Racing ‘car of tomorrow?’


Next ‘race:’ The temporary Belle Isle bendover for manufacturers not even involved.


Inhabitants of Belle Isle Prepare for the Big Event

August 24, 2008

Another IRL Approach Gets Killed

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:04 pm

I love Indy Racing. I always have. Why the ‘leadership’ of the series continues to make fan support of it so difficult is beyond my level of comprehension. Their latest boneheaded move: Bringing back turbocharged motors in 2011. The only unresolved question is 4 or 6 cylinders.


Can someone who is a motorhead please explain to me the value of returning to an old technology, other than the higher pitched whine you’ll hear?

Barnhart says three or four additional manufacturers MAY show interest. While I understand that is good, why wait until 2011? He claims potential IRL manufacturers want to have technology that can be used in other forms of auto racing and is relevant to their consumer products.

I would think plans for 2011 would include something beyond merely internal combustion motors. The entire automotive industry is trying to save itself from oblivion using alternative technologies. Honda even recently announced it is going whole hog on hybrid technology. Electric cars, hydrogen power and other new technologies are becoming mainstream. Why would Indy Car choose to step so far backward at this point in time? Why would they not embrace new technology with as much effort as they have afforded alternative fuel? 



As Indy Racing continues rushing headlong toward cart, they will most certainly kill themselves in equally ignorant fashion if they keep that nonsense going. One of these days it would be interesting to formulate a list of things those in the IRL have done to screw its fans; e.g., pulling the plug on MIS to facilitate a bendover for manufacturers no longer involved on a rat-infested urban renewal challenged island outside one of the most decrepit, dying cities on the planet.



Oh well. It is almost time to grab some wine, slice some cheese, then watch the fast parade from California, where passes for the lead will occur in the pits. I am gratified I am going to Chicagoland. I wonder how long that great oval will be allowed to stay on the schedule?




August 22, 2008

The Goose and the Gander

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:50 pm




Folks at Daytona announced they will no longer use their 57,000-seat grandstand in the backstretch for July’s NASCAR event. They blame fuel costs and other economic issues, including the 200K it costs to put up a couple of big screens that face that direction, plus expenses related to shuttles and workers.


That story was neither as popular nor as funny as this one linked on the same page:




…which describes perfectly the behavior of many who provide opinions about racing topics on various Internet forums.

I read them whine about how bad the economy is, how much gas costs, and how all of this is merely a sign of the times.


Oddly, when the topic is empty seats at Indy Racing events, there is never any discussion about the bad economy or high fuel prices. Those are considered weak excuses to mask something else. Those obsessed with Indy Racing who adopt a chicken little approach in their commentary inevitably blame such problems on Tony George. It is completely laughable.


One of the reasons I so admire and enjoy Indy Racing is because despite some of the most stupid rhetoric ever cackled by hysterical children (usually on a couple of pointless cart-centric hate sites) that always portend doom for Indy Racing, the series keeps on going, growing and making abject fools of idiots who do not have even an inkling of a clue about what Indy Racing actually is. This happens year after year. Logic might dictate the benefits of advancing age might be enough, but it is obvious many never grow up.

Meanwhile, back on topic, in NASCARland attendance is dropping, sponsors are leaving and teams are being even further financially challenged. ESPN will never make a penny on that deal despite their deep, rich, pungent brown corporate nose. Not many seem willing to chide the ‘sperm lottery winning idiot grandson inheritor’ at the top of that series.


Tony George probably will not be appreciated until both he and his moronic critics are deceased. That is unfortunate.

August 21, 2008

Heelllooooo…The ‘Split’ Ended Months Ago. It’s 2008.

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:26 pm

The pointless article of the week goes to Car and Driver, an organization still not quite ready to let go of the past.


It reminds us all of the colossal failure of champcar that cost it $100 million. The ‘loss’ of turbochargers was lamented. It grudgingly positioned the IRL (actually called the Indy Car Series these days) as the last man standing, then once again haphazardly tossed around the pure supposition the IRL has spent $250 million dollars (or perhaps, gasp, DOUBLE that) to ‘subsidize teams, television and promoters. The last time I checked with my contacts at IMS, they indicated they have never chosen to share the finances of their privately held company with columnists. Ever. 

Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc.


Whoever wrote the article opines that without the Indianapolis 500, the IRL may have met the same fate. Duh. To their credit, C&D called BS on the lies champcar and ALMS told regarding attendance. The article then seems to position ‘races’ in Australia and Toronto (on one of those God forsaken temporary street carnival abominations that tend to pervert the very purity of the sport) as vital parts of a ‘unified’ schedule. 

Bridgestone Presents the champcar world series Powered by Ford. No Wait. Mazda. No Wait....


The next predictable, myopic stupidity card that gets played is the lament of television ratings that compares the audience and ratings for the Indianapolis 500 in 2008 with numbers from 1976! 1976!? Huh!? In the television and advertising businesses, trends are measured over one to two years. Not 32 years. Lots of things have happened in 32 years. Not even what they call the ‘Danica effect’ or Helio’s DWTS win can help bring about 1976 numbers (which was tape delayed in prime time). With this weak nonsense they attempt to portend doom for Indy Racing. How desperate and ridiculous can otherwise bright people delude themselves into appearing?   

Also No Longer Receives Blockbuster Ratings on Television. Why? Because the ENTIRE WORLD HAS EVOLVED!


Predictably, the article then spent several paragraphs singing the praises and glory of the champcar approach, even hinting at widespread popularity.

The bottom line, as the article indicates, is the end of champcar in bankruptcy court. Anton picked up the entire kit and caboodle for slightly north of $6 million, plus gratuitous mercy humping to the tune of nearly $4 million to run the last cart-like Long Beach deal, then a few million to facilitate the integration of champcar teams to the ICS. All this so, essentially, the whiners would finally stop pointlessly running their arrogant yaps. It has not worked as evidenced by the linked article above.

Like all cart/champcar apologists, the article attempts to portray the ‘unified’ series in some sort of dire straits. Meanwhile the ICS quietly goes about making bold moves, including dumping their counterproductive, abused victim relationship with adulterous unprofessional buffoons at ESPN in favor of actual commitment with an up and coming, aggressive group of actual sports television professionals at Versus. Hopefully Indy Racing loyalty to ABC (now run by ESPN) will not blow up in their faces.

August 20, 2008

Defiance of Common Sense: Potential Repetition of Failure

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:59 pm
There exists some Canadian writer who ‘has been a fan since 1980’ named Luc Fradette, who writes for some site north of the border. His picture makes him look like a hairless yet much more finely groomed Robin Miller. It appears Fradette is another IRL-obsessed person who prefers the failed cart/champcar series and works that slant into his writing. 


Fradette claims “Indy Racing League officials are on the verge of imitating the former Champ Car series by adopting Firestone’s optional tires for its street circuits and road courses starting in 2009. Those tires used in the Champ Car events were the ones with red stripes.”


Further, “Those same officials are also in the process of evaluating the use of standing starts on those same types of circuits as soon as next year. They proved to be safe and exciting when they were used on road courses and street circuits in 2007.”


Let us get back to absolute Indy Racing basics for a moment, shall we? Indy Racing has generally always been:


-Open cockpit racing at high speeds all the way to mechanical limits of machinery.

-Predominately raced on oval tracks.


-Mostly American participation on American tracks but always with the diverse flavor of foreign participation for spice.


If there is actually someone within the Indy Car Series actively proposing gimmick tires and standing starts, that person should, at the very least, have his head examined. Or fired.


F-1 has failed over and over in the United States except at Indy, and they tried hard to fail there. They finally pulled out after Anton failed to meet the vig. One road racing series after another has failed in North America. cart failed in bankrupt shame. champcar failed in bankrupt shame.


Advice for road racing, gimmicky apologists: Let it go. Advice for Indy Racing brass: Think about the basics for once. Stop trying to emulate failure. Leave eurocentric gimmickry in Europe where it is successful. Get back to the basics.

August 19, 2008

One of the Reasons Folks Think of Frenchies as Cowards

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:40 pm

Sebastien Bourdais is a very talented race car driver. I once saw him go from the back of the field to the front of the field in a Denver champcar street deal when they used to rent the Pepsi Center parking lot. In his only Indianapolis start he caused a crash mostly due to over aggressive driving. After making mincemeat of the ‘competition’ in champcar for a few years before just before that series killed itself, he flew across the pond to bring up the rear in F-1.


Naturally, rumors are running rampant about what could soon be his also-ran status. A natural speculation is whether he will join Indy Racing. One of the forum contributors located and linked a German article that asked about such speculation.




Evidently Bourdais is not a fan of the ovals even though he has only raced on a handful of them and won a lot. Loosely translated, one of the paragraphs indicated that he discussed Indy Racing with his pregnant wife Claire but neither thinks it is a good idea because evidently they stupidly believe that if you crash you will end up in a wheelchair, and he would not enjoy that. Who would? Hell, it could be worse. Just ask Alex Zanardi. Oh wait. That happened in cart.


Here is something that is amazing to me. He is married? To a woman? And she is pregnant? I sort of had other thoughts about his, um, orientation. Not that there is anything wrong with that. What is annoying is his propensity for being cowardly, made obvious simply through arrogant rhetoric.


It is a genuine shame ignorance and poor sportsmanship exuded by the Bourdais rhetoric pollutes the greatest sport in the world. Maybe he will really be a hypocrite and join NASCAR to fail some more.


He could have been great.


August 18, 2008

Monday Monday…Can’t Trust That Day

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:37 pm

It is a slow day on a Monday between Indy Racing weekends. We could shoot the breeze aimlessly about this, that and the other, but what would be the point? We should be people of action. They speak louder than words. In that spirit, I present today’s ‘to-do’ list:


ü Call your local cable or satellite provider if you are unable to locate Versus. That is a channel you must have added prior to the start of the 2009 racing season. Demand it even if you have to be on hold for two hours. Do not take no for an answer.


ü Contact Versus and strongly suggest that Jack Arute, Bob Jenkins, Gary Gerould and Vince Welch be a part of the coverage.


ü Just for giggles, chide one of the remaining handful of cart ‘fans’ still residing in 1995 or before and suggest they grow up and join the rest of the planet here in 2008.


ü Contact the Indy Racing Series and point out how overwhelmingly popular it is to root for Americans considering the record ratings and revenue NBC is shoveling in for Olympics coverage.


ü While you are in contact with the ICS, tell them street parades cannot suck enough and should be avoided like the plague. A real series should always run on real and proper race tracks. Temporary courses are a twisted perversion of a pure sport. An abomination.


ü Actively seek and suggest tangible ways to make participation in the IRL easier, more accessible and less expensive.


ü Make fun of lowest common denominator NASCAR stooges just because you should. J

NASCAR 'Car of Tomorrow' As Configured for the Brickyard 400

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