Earlier this month Business Week released its annual list of the top 100 most influential sports figures in the country. They also compile one for international figures, and folks like Bernie Eccelstone, Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher are on it. Domestically there is a significant presence of NASCAR folks, including Brian France at 6, Dale Jr. at 38, Jack Rousch at 60, Mike Helton at 71, Lesa France Kennedy at 75, and even Richard Petty at 80. Indy Racing is represented by Danica at 50 and Roger Penske at 90.
Perhaps not so conspicuously absent: Tony George. I would bet money he is OK with that. His money continues to get plowed right back into the center of motorsports, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Those who get publicity tend to like to get more of it. The Hulman-George family is concerned about only two things: Operating the finest facility in the entire sport and keeping it self-sustaining (and profitable). I hope they keep it up. Under the radar is probably even better.
As a ticket holder who renews every year no matter what, IMS began sending highlight DVDs a few years ago that revisits the month of May at Indy including race recaps featuring the great on-air team of the IMS Radio Network. These have become collectors items and are great.
How long until next May?
Mike Hollander, a man who can legitimately claim a founding role in Internet racing discussion, passed away at 61. Those of us who regularly exchange banter on various Internet outlets today and who used to discover interesting things including Compuserve’s Racing Information Service way back when owe Mike a debt of gratitude for blazing that particular trail. RIP, Mike.
Racing evolution continues unabated. The leader, as always, is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. One now traditional fall event is disassembly of a grandstand to refurbish it prior to reassembly in time for racing in 2009. The grandstand being shined up this time is part of the NW Vista.
Thanks, IMS, for keeping that place the landmark it is. I am unsure whether it is too late for folks to take advantage of the behind the scenes grounds tour, but if it isn’t that is also a great value and very informative.
Depending on the silly season rumor you pay attention to the most, it is possible Rubens Barrichello, a current Honda Formula One driver and former winner with Ferrari, could drive an Indy Car in 2009. The rumor mill has him joining Andretti-Green Racing or testing with Roger Penske.
Whether either is credible or not depends upon a lot of things. The F-1 season is not over yet (and for that matter neither is Indy Car) so it is always best to take a wait and see attitude. That kind of move would not be unprecedented (Nigel Mansell) and Rubens would be most welcome given the Brazilian welcoming committee that would be there to greet him.
There would, of course, be a faction screaming about the lack of Americans. It is fairly confirmed that a NASCAR journeyman, Stanton Barrett, is also joining Indy Racing next year. Frankly, I’d rather have a Stanton Barrett than a Marty Roth behind the wheel any day, although it is not a stretch to believe a Marty Roth OWNED team could make a mark.
Silly season is shaping up to be rather enjoyable for a change as the chicken little idiots who portend doom year after year continue to be silenced in increasingly embarrassing ways.
Here are some astute Defender observations:
Jeff Burton won that Charlotte deal Saturday night…there were a lot of people there, but also a startling number of empty seats. The bloom is off that rose. Even with the ‘chase’ they can’t sell out a great track right there in the buckle of the NASCAR belt?
The best action of the weekend took place in ARCA. When you’re talking ‘stock’ cars, those guys are passionate racers. As an open wheel enthusiast I wanted to see Scott Speed win the title. He, after all, is serving the apprenticeship to get it right down the road. Unfortunately, some redneck idiot from Mississippi who has driven for Tony Stewart chrome horned Speed a few times damaging Speed’s car to the point where there was no hope for a championship. Speed’s crew attempted to repair the car and he was making token laps. In ‘stock’ car racing, revenge is often the best medicine, and Speed eventually found Stenhouse and sent him packing, right into the wall.
Some call that passion. I call it stupidity. Still, if I wore Speed’s shoes, I would not only have done what he did, I would have looked the redneck up after the race and whooped his arse.
Meanwhile, back in Indy Racing, league officials have told Marty Roth he is welcome to own a team in the league, but not to drive except at a few big ovals.
This is largely because Marty’s frequent off track adventures on the non-ovals shortened practice time for everyone else. As the Indy Car Series continues its metamorphosis into cart, they want better drivers. If I was Marty and I had something more than money (like interest in the sport as a whole and not some middle aged race car driver fantasy), I would jump at the opportunity to own a team. I actually think he would be a great owner. Other drivers who were not much as drivers have successfully managed it; e.g., Chip Ganassi. Unfortunately the only thing that seems realistic to expect is angry petulance. That is a genuine shame.
One entertaining aspect of the Indy Car off season (well, there is that Australian exhibition) is when NASCAR goes WWE. There was an altercation in the garage area of Lowes Motor Speedway between Kevin Harvick, who was involved in a ‘big one’ at Talladega, and Carl Edwards, the apparent bipolar jalopy pilot who triggered that particular melee.
Evidently Edwards showed up at Harvick’s garage, then huffing and puffing, followed by pushing and shoving, ensued. Although photographers captured the magic moments in images, the France Reich stepped in and squished the possibility of publication.
My only wish is that at least audio recording would have occurred. I would have loved to have heard the epithets hurled by both and members of the crew.
Look, if these people are perceived to be rednecks then act like it. Celebrate it for Gods sake. NASCAR needs to get back to the age when ‘sanitizing an event’ was akin to the placement of little strips of paper that would get wrapped around toilet seats in cheap hotels. They overreact a bit too much these days.
Let ‘em fight. Then put it up on the web so we can laugh. Simple.
Don’t forget there is one more Indy Car ‘race’ this year, albeit an ‘exhibition’ in Australia later this month.
Some from down under prone toward pessimism cite articles like this one: http://www.goldcoast.com.au/article/2008/10/08/17239_gold-coast-indy.html
They seem to be worried the Indy Cars won’t be around to accompany their V8 racing. No one knows for sure, but that pesky ‘date conflict’ thing seems destined to have an effect on the future.
My thought is that if they are going to mercy hump Honda by racing at Motegi, a Pacific Rim swing might be OK. I wish they would build a proper race track down there, however.
In addition to throwing a great party, offering up barely dressed women, shrimp on barbies and lots of alcoholic beverages and such, the Gold Coast festivities have become quite the event. Since cart/champcar is no longer around to disingenuously glom on to the Indy brand, actual Indy Cars might as well join the party.
Enjoy the event if you are there, or suffer through the television coverage if you are not. Chances are they will use local facilities and call the race from monitors in Indianapolis.
For the first time in 43 years North America will be without a Formula 1 event in 2009. Say goodbye to Canada and hello to Abu Dhabi. With Bernie Eccelstone at the helm, he gets rich and fans get screwed in some of the most vile ways imaginable.
Species: Reptilias Eccelstonass
We see it happen year after year. Whoever ponies up the most money gets one of the 18 slots. Never mind what fans, manufacturers or sponsors want. It simply does not matter. The only thing that matters is who writes the fattest check.
I was fortunate enough to have attended every USGP held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, even the Michelin debacle parade. While not as rabid of fan as some other venues I have attended; e.g., Spa in Belgium, the event regularly drew the largest crowds seen in Formula 1.
The solution IMS chose after Bernie failed to extract the vig he wanted was addition of the US MotoGP, an event that was widely hailed despite really bad weather. It is a very nice replacement. It will also be easy enough for Indy Racing to step into Canada provided the Euro-wannabe arrogant quasi-Frenchies who inhabit that particular northern climate region do not let themselves become consumed with the cart-centric stupidity that has become a character flaw of many unfortunate Canadians. They need to go with a winner.
I have never wished anyone would just die, but a just God might have considered taking Bernie Eccelstone or perhaps one of his sexually perverse, dressing-hookers-up-as-Nazis-before-spanking-them-on-camera little pals instead of Paul Newman, all things in life considered (including acts that make one actually human and not reptilian). Let’s be honest. When was the last time Bernie did anything even remotely resembling fan friendly?
To hell with him.
The big news conference of the day is at IMS in the Luczo-Dragon garage, where the team will announce a driver and plans for 2009.
Curt Cavin of the Star says it will be Raphael Matos. If so, is he ready? It appears no Americans will be hired any time soon by anyone. What happens to Scheckter? Will Jay Penske and crew run the team for more than a handful of races?
He is an interesting guy with highly diversified interests. Whether he has the passion for the sport his father does is an open question. Hopefully he does. Can you imagine Indy Car racing without a Team Penske or some variation? Tim Cindric looks to be the primary succession plan.
2:00pm. It will an interesting gathering. Here’s hoping we see them all season.
Helio Castroneves dealt with his tax problems in a very effective way. He won his class in the Petit Le Mans event over the weekend. That makes me smile. Good luck with Helio and the legal fight that will occupy his off season. Hopefully he gets better advice for his legal defense than he got for his investments.
Karma: The Paul Tracy lawsuit against his former owner Gerald Forsythe. Tracy now understands he has to sleep in the bed he made. He had other options, but his bullheaded sense of pride kept him off the track more than he should have been. Driving those ‘crapwagons’ is not nearly as bad as he believes, as he discovered in Edmonton. Karma also kept him from winning Indy in ’02 as well.
Karma II: If you get a chance, read the lawsuit Paul filed. It sheds some very interesting light. Note to Neil and anyone still left on that particular Titanic: See what happens when you turn your backs on Indy? That fate befalls everyone who makes that mistake.
I watched Talladega between commercials in the NFL games, and was happy to see Stewart win even though the finish was controversial. Carl Edwards is starting to remind me of Ricky Bobby more every week. Talladega remains my favorite NASCAR-only large track.
The open wheel off season is getting more interesting all the time. Continuing reminder: Do not forget to contact your television service provider to get Versus included on basic tiers (near ESPN). We need to get those household carriage numbers UP.
There are a number of reasons why silly season is so much fun on so many levels. One of the popular ADD-short attention span-snippet ‘news’ sites, TMZ, featured a blip yesterday that indicates dancing Helio is in trouble with Uncle Sam for allegedly not paying taxes on more than 5 million bucks. Evidently there is a 6-count federal indictment in Miami. His somewhat good looking sister is included as well. That will be an interesting case if there is any merit. He could get a few years in the slammer if found guilty. Perhaps his fence climbing talents will serve him well as he attempts to avoid the type of deviant prison behavior that befalls slightly built pretty boys. Hopefully it will not come to that.
Speaking of lawsuits, Paul Tracy has apparently sued ‘uncle’ Gerald Forsythe for the screwing he took at hands of Forsythe. My thought is that you reap what you sow. Tracy is talented, but he is now old. Forsythe is widely regarded as a whimsical loose cannon. His anti-Tony George stance during the cart boycott made him a cartoon character. It does not appear he is becoming any less laughably irascible. If Helio goes to jail perhaps he could appoint ‘uncle’ Gerald as his surrogate. Or Tracy.
Just when you think this kind of nonsense cannot get any more stupid we get word that loading pork into important legislation, in this case the socialistic financial bailout of criminals, is alive and well. Evidently a federal tax credit of $140 Million is being given to certain ‘motorsports racing track facilities’ of a certain size and construction date. It sounds to me like the France family needs money from taxpayers uninterested in attending their boring races. The revised bailout legislation also contains provisions for a manufacturer of wooden bow and arrow sets for kids. Retirement in Costa Rica or some other haven outside the lunatic state to which this once great country has devolved is getting more attractive all the time.
The government no longer works and should be dissolved immediately.
Just my humble opinion. At least we have racing for entertainment for now.