Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

February 27, 2009

The Muscle Car Is Back

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:06 pm

The good news is the 2009 Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500 is NOT a Corvette. The not so good news (at least to this curmudgeonly old race fan) is that it I69camaropacecarS a GM product. I do not mean to denigrate the new Camaro. I am certain it is a nice car and fans of that brand are certain to be happy. Even Dale Jr. likes it a lot. The one that paced the race in ’69 was one of my all time favorites.

 

 

My problem is with the whacky loyalty IMS displays every year toward GM. It is difficult to figure out. GM has not done anything significant for either Indy Racing or the 500 for years except provide a few vehicles and set up tents in the infield to display cars.

 

Honda has carried the series on its back for more than a few years and they have several vehicles worthy of pace car status but are 0-for every year they have been involved.

 

As a consumer, all US-based offerings have fallen out of favor. I used to own nothing but American-made cars. Over the years, US automakers collective contempt for their consumers by producing glorified junk within a dealer network of borderline criminals drove me (and millions of others) away. The past six new vehicles I have owned are all Japanese, and all were actually manufactured in Japan. Each one has been a flawless, comfortable vehicle.

 

I have tried repeatedly over the past dozen years to make deals for cars from each of the big three. None will really deal (even today as the backlog of unsold vehicles is at an all time high) and the buying experience harkens back to the old days of negotiating with ‘what’s-it-gonna-take-to-get-you-into-this-ve-hicle-today’ sleazeballs. It is much easier on every level to purchase Japanese brands. Not to say there are no greasy foreign nameplate dealers because there are plenty. The foreign nameplate products built in Japan are, however, superior and most consumers are willing to pay more money for real, meaningful quality.

 

The US brand that has impressed me the most lately is Ford. I enjoy driving their new products and I believe their quality has improved. Their dealer network, however, is well beyond sleazy (sleazier than most) and that is a shame. I relayed specifics of attempted and subsequently aborted deals in letters to both Bill Ford and Alan Mulally.

 

I hope General Motors is paying IMS for the privilege of pacing the 500. The Camaro is cool, but I do not believe GM deserves the honor.

February 26, 2009

Formula Dream

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:10 pm

Formula One is fun to watch, but I’m mostly done with the whole arrogant lot of them. They waltz into placmoselyes believing beyond a shadow of doubt they are the absolute and complete epitome of everything at the very top of the sport. The antics of their leadership make them easy to dislike, whether it’s dressing up like a Nazi and exchanging playful spanks with hookers armed with bullwhips, allowing a tire debacle that screwed fans completely or ultimately thumbing their narcissistic noses at the entire North American continent, losing their best attended race in the process, mostly because neither Tony George nor Canadians were willing to bend over ever further and hand over more loot.

 

Tendencies toward self immolation and abject stupidity are not limited to open wheel entities in the United States. Killing egg laying golden geese seems to be standard operating procedure in motor sports.

 

For what it would cost to run nearly every team in Indy Racing you could run one Formula One team and perhaps earn points once in a while. Count me in as one guy who would love to see a US Formula One team, but only if it did not cost what it will and be competitive. In other words, fat chance.

 

Given the state of the world economy, the timing of Keith Wiggins’ announcement in Charlotte regarding the new team, called USFI, is rather curious. Wiggins owns HVM Racing in the IRL. We wish him the best of luck. Hopefully he will gain some new perspective about relative costs. He can make good decisions; E.J. Viso became one of my favorite drivers last season.

February 25, 2009

Time Flies While Having Fun!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:51 pm

It is hard to bbirthdayelieve it has been a year since I began this little blogging adventure. Thank you to my readership. Unique hits have been rising weekly and that is nice. I really enjoy the freedom I have to write most anything I want without much fear of overzealous moderation by largely insecure or cowardly thought police who are as far removed from free speech and thick skin as I am from tact. It is refreshing. Your commentary is also always welcomed here as well.

 

I enjoy keeping up with the testing activities in Florida. The new exhaust systems on the Hondas sound a lot more palatable. cart apologists will be happy to note they sound almost turbo-like. The new engine configuration for the Lights make them sound racier as well.

 

I also enjoy following the newcomers; it looks like we have a stellar class. I wish Ryan Hunter-Reay had a quality ride. The fact that he does not proves how willing today’s Indy Car Series is to repeatedly make the same mistakes over and over. Anthony IV also needs to be behind the wheel NOW.

 

Hopefully the economy will not tank much more before the kind of recovery that allows meaningful growth takes hold. Indy Car is worth it.

February 24, 2009

Second Coming of Greg Ray?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:49 pm

The Indy Cars are in action, albeit only the spring test at Homestead. Still, admission is free and so are the hot dogs. Kudos to Trackside Online for their typically great coverage for those of us otherwise occupied.

 

An interesting set of quotes emanated from the latest former F-1 European road racer hired in the Indy Car Series, by the Newman Haas Lanigan outfit. “Driving on an oval is definitely different than I expected, It felt like going to a new school on the first day.”  That is a school that would be fun to attend!

 

“The first five laps I thought ‘Oh my god, where did I end up?’ But that’s because you have to run at a certain pace and once you reach that pace its actually quite fun so we ended the day on a good note and I can go to bed with a smile.” You ended up in the Indy Car Series. Will you be a Nigel or a Nelson? Time will tell.

 

“I already got the bug and want to go faster and faster so that’s a good thing. Today was definitely the fastest I have gone in a race car and I am quite proud. I have no idea what to expect with traffic. It must be something like driving in the middle of the night in China, the traffic is quite bad there. I will just take it as it comes. It’s a steep learning curve but I enjoy it like this.” Not to be cynical, but I wonder how long it will be until we hear fresh new whining about how we should be running more of the road and street courses?

 

It is too early to tell how Doornbos will evolve as an Indy Car shoe. He sort of reminds me of someone who fits the mold of Greg Ray. Hopefully he enjoys his stay and becomes a great representative for Indy Car.

February 23, 2009

My Advancing Age Is Making Me Curmudgeonly

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:02 pm

I made the mistake of trying to watch the sparsely attended Fontana event from the comfort of the king size in the opulent Defender master bedroom with the lovely wife. She requested my assistance in learning how to operate and load new software to a new MacBook Pro she decided to buy, primarily to unleash her creative inner self.

 

I was soon snoring. Fontana, like Michigan, is a beautiful track and a very special place for oval racing. The ‘stock’ cars just appear to go so slowly there. I did notice they painted the walls blue, and enjoyed the excitement Angie whats-her-name displayed from the flag stand. I like enthusiasm like that in a woman, particularly when it involves racing.

 

In fairness, after I begin sawing logs she changed the channel to the Academy Awards (something else the Indianapolis 500 has more history than) and woke me up to watch, but I soon fell asleep for that as well. With NASCAR the relative lack of speed of the racing puts me off; with nattily dressed actors it is basically the self congratulatory pretentiousness that I do not really care for. I have always thought, however, that Kate Winslet is oddly hot.

 

What’s the deal with Matt Kenseth? It appears his luck has kind of turned around. I guess that’s good. My man Smoke continues doing well with his own team. Because I was well into REM sleep territory by the time they waved the checkers I had to check ESPN’s web site for the results. They no longer have a tab for Motor Racing on their front page. Just NASCAR and the stick and ball sports. The Hulman-Georges may value the 40+ year relationship they have with ABC, but ABC Sports as we knew it is long gone. The charlatans running ESPN are pretty far away from deserving the gift they have been given (and will no doubt screw up) in the Indianapolis 500.

 

The other cool thing I did over the weekend was searching for old race track ruins. I read a story in the local paper about a dirt oval that eventually became a road course in the late 50’s that hosted several luminaries of the day, including Jackie Stewart, Roger Penske, Carroll Shelby and Jackie Ickx. NIMBYs and developers forced closure in 1969, and today there are lots of weeds, some broken pavement and lots more trees where there are no houses. I forgot the camera. I began wondering whether there are more closed road courses or ovals. That might make interesting research at some point.

February 20, 2009

Glaring Indy Car Omission: 2-Mile Ovals

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:59 pm

The new Indy Racing television partnership with Versus is beginning to be put into action. Every Saturday in March a different one-hour program will feature the series.  The schedule can be found at: http://ww2.versus.com/tvlistings/test-DB.asp?so=IRL

 

The ‘stock’ car fellows are back in action at Fontana. That track and Michigan were two of my very favorite Indy Racing venues. Fast, wide 2 milers with lots of action. Neither really clicked with fewer than 26 cars. It has also been quite a while since those operating the Indy Car Series actually gave a crap about what actual fans that spend money to watch the series want. I consider myself lucky to have seen Indy Cars at both venues and wish I could again. On the ovals. It is not that difficult to understand why Fontana got dropped. They cannot even convince people in the second most populated area of the country to attend a NASCAR event. Still, what a magnificent venue.

 

One of the legendary characters of Indy 500 and Indy Racing history is crazy uncle Bobby Unser. It is hard to imagine that he is 75 years old today. How did he make it that far!? One of the greatest treats about following the sport are the stories of Bobby when he was younger. Amazing. I have always found his family’s exploits on Pikes Peak of extreme interest as well.

 

I really need to visit their museum in New Mexico.

 

Enjoy the racing this weekend!

February 19, 2009

Converting Welfare Recipients to Actual Team Owners

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:03 pm
Ownership Philosophy of Rescued cart Owners
Philosophy of Some Rescued Owners

Indy Racing has suggested they use (gasp) sponsorship to close the gap. What a novel concept. Indy Racing has clearly stated they are in no position to just write checks. What we will see is a separation of the wheat from the chaff. When the teams understand welfare is not the answer and discover funding from sponsorship, perhaps they could work on hiring drivers based upon talent and not how much money they bring. 

Some of the long term Indy Racing critics have a tendency to speak from both sides of their generally loud mouths. Out of one side they decry any sort of welfare system (often snidely referred to as ‘Tonybucks’), but out of the other side often discuss the need for it to ‘save’ some of the legacy cart outfits. The side of the mouth they use usually depends on the argument they attempt, and only when it will position Indy Racing in a negative light.

Indy Racing, to their credit, has made a definitive statement regarding the type of welfare certain folks have just come to expect. Last year they GAVE the bailed out teams both chassis and engines. This year they get to keep the chassis but are on their own for engines. 

Indy Racing has suggested they use (gasp) sponsorship to close the gap. What a novel concept. Indy Racing has clearly stated they are in no position to just write checks. What we will see is a separation of the wheat from the chaff. When the teams understand welfare is not the answer and discover funding from sponsorship, perhaps they could work on hiring drivers based upon talent and not how much money they bring.

 

If you are like me and NEED to see the Indy Cars on the track, a nice side trip might be to Homestead Miami Speedway next week for testing. Admission is free and so are the hot dogs!  Flights are cheap right now too. Hmmmmmmm.

 

February 18, 2009

Museum Suggestions

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:07 pm

….existing and the new one that is planned. The old motel outside turn two is being demolished, and chronicles of the demolition are readily available on lots of sites, including 16thandgeorgetown.com.

 

My only suggestion is that IMS save an entire room and set it up, Graceland style, inside the museum. They did something similar with their mockup of one of the old wooden garages. While they are at it, get the sign from the old postcards and set it up.

 

It is easy to understand why the old motel is coming down. It is old, dated and probably cost an arm and leg to maintain. We understand the practical. What we hope is not being missed is the value of the place from a historical standpoint. The Beatles stayed there. A lot of the movie ‘Winning’ was filmed there. I know of several unusual parties held over the years. Like it or not, that old motel is part of the fabric of history, and some sort of permanent record other than photographs is needed.

 

The cinder blocks will be down in no time but I hope they save enough of it to provide an interesting exhibit. The past is as important as the present and the future to us fans.

February 17, 2009

Getting Household Chores Done

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:08 pm

My unofficial countdown to May generally begins with the conclusion of the Daytona 500 because it feels like racing season.  I watched the Daytona just like I watch the majority of other NASCAR events; while I was doing something else. NASCAR races are always high personal productivity times for me. This past Sunday included the completion of 2008 Form 1040, a repair of my leaking dishwasher, new roofs for the birdhouses, and three weeks of ironing, all while the race was being run.

The wife complains that every time I try to watch a NASCAR race by simply plopping my bulbous arse into the recliner I always wind up spilling the beer just before the snoring begins. That is no way to watch a race. The same thing happens when I watch hockey on TV. It is always better in person.

Personally, the ONLY place to REALLY watch NASCAR is in a grandstand at a short track. They just do not get it down on 1.5 milers and higher with the obvious exception of Talladega and to a lesser extent Daytona and Charlotte. Same with hockey. You have to be there.

It is all window dressing until Indy Racing begins anyway. Here is hoping they figure out eventually they need to lose the stupid temporary circuits and race on real tracks all the time.

February 16, 2009

Happy Whatever This Holiday Is

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:15 pm

….an excuse for a day off in February. No problem.  Just a quick blurb today: The Daytona 500 was kind of interesting; I was pulling for Mark Martin or Smoke and wish it had gone the full 500. I don’t know why but winners who thank the Almighty when they win creeps me out. Just once it would be a hoot for someone to go the other way and thank Lucifer. Speaking of hell, Fox Sports employees told at least 19 outright lies about Daytona 500 history that I just happened to catch. They are almost as unprofessional as ESPN when it comes to bending over for NASCAR.

And now for something completely unrelated:  Here is an idea related to Tom Carnegie…it appears he does not have many Indianapolis 500s left. A great gesture this year would be for Mari to drop the mic for a year (or more) and let Tom do the ‘Gentleman Start Your Engines’ honors. Just a thought.

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