Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

March 31, 2009

Angst About 1995 Is Stupid Enough, But 1979!?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:55 am

Robin Miller

There is nothing wrong with puffery related to the memory of cart. It was a fine series for a good long while. It was all we had for many years. It was also unprincipled and born of greed, and did not really do much for the reputation of the sport. My opinion is that such whiny reminiscing should be reserved for slow material days, say in November. With all the story lines available this week directly related to Indy Car in the present day why screw it up with pointless meandering about a series that self immolated itself into non-existence?

The cart bunch is directly responsible for ‘split.’ Indy Car may not be currently managed to meet its potential, but the ownership and direction is where it needs to be. Those still gnashing their teeth over 1995 need to grow up once and for all and move forward.

It is obvious the loudest critics are among those who will watch every millisecond. gpThey need to stop lying to us and to themselves and just enjoy what is a great product.


March 30, 2009

Formula One Dreams

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:44 am

Rules chajensen-button-thinks-second-win-is-unlikely-to-happen-2nges, new team configurations and additional creativity promise to make this Formula 1 season much more compelling than many of recent years. The Australian Grand Prix that kicked off the season this weekend featured a 1-2 finish by a brand new team.

Off season changes did not go far enough. The increasingly elderly leadership of that deal (the Napoleonic, short, white-headed, crotch grabbing, greedy curmudgeon and his Nazi role playing, harlot whipping partner in that particular form of organized crime) both need to either retire, die or otherwise find themselves removed.

Formula 1 needs to base a schedule on more than just extracting vig from people like Tony ‘Aw Shucks’ George and/or the Canadian government. North America needs an event both in Canada and the United States. Why? Because fans want it. You know, the people who bend_over_tshirt-p235427972396393487qw9u_400buy tickets? More of them showed up for USGPs at Indianapolis than for any other F-1 events anywhere. Canada has always been well supported as well. Placing the needs of actual fans under the heels of their shoes has always been the standard operating procedure for the reprehensible bastards who run that series, and that is a shame. As a ticket buying fan who attended all the US Grand Prix events (as well as others in other countries) I would like to keep attending.

Good for Tony and crew for simply replacing the car Grand Prix with another world class event on two wheels. That was phenomenal as well. Here is hoping sanity eventually returns to Formula 1 along with basic accessibility for ticket buying fans. Meantime, it is time to get jazzed about the start of the Indy Car season next weekend!

March 27, 2009

A Museum That Rivals The One Tony Has

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:56 am

There are hundreds of reasons why you should visit Barber Motorsports Park outside Birmingham, and one of them is the Vintage Motorsports Museum. Most think of it as a motorcycle museum, but it is far more than that. There are barber-pixhundreds of legendary bikes, but also the largest private collection of Lotus F-1 cars in the world. There are Indy Cars, sports cars, land speed record holders, NASCAR samples and many vintage cars.


Restoration is done on premises, and the five level museum, architected to flow like the Guggenheim in New York, features new surprises wherever you turn. Exhibits and artifacts from people like Dan Gurney and John Surtees are there. Gurney has always been one of my favorite racers on a variety of levels despite the turmoil his white paper caused to the sport. Surtees was the only guy who ever won world championships on both two wheels and four wheels. Both are honored and showcased in fine fashion.


I am old enough to remember not only the rear-engine evolution, but the life of the turchapmanbine powered machines. The legendary Colin Chapman was a part of the fun through much of the 1960s, but in 1969 new rules reduced air intake, and that effectively banned turbines. The Lotus four wheel drive car he brought in 1969 was considered slow and clunky even though Mario Andretti passed the 170mph mark in it. One of its problems was a propensity to break suspension parts, and that is one reason why that number 2 car was not the one that Mario drove to his only Indianapolis 500 win. That car is also at Barber, and they drove it around the track until it broke a suspension piece.


If you are lucky enough to see what is NOT on display you will be equally amazed. The next time you are passing through it is well worth the visit-5 floors and 80,000 square feet. Plan to spend the day in there!

March 26, 2009

Barber Misconceptions

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:07 pm

The theme this week is the wrap-up of the Indy Racing pre-season test at Barber hillbillyMotorsports Park outside Birmingham. Be honest. When someone mentions the words ‘racing’ and ‘Alabama’ what comes to mind? Talladega, certainly. NASCAR? Yes. Redneck hillbilly? Perhaps. The impression I got after spending 3 full days in and around the race track and Birmingham was one of friendly, racing-starved fans who support all racing with passion. The people are wonderful. Every single one hillbilly-2I met was enthusiastic.


These pictures are far more representative of basement contributors to Internet forums than racing fans in Alabama.


The track and its wonders have been discussed a lot, but what about the test? Lights look a lot better and it appears the driving pool is deeper. In the Indy Cars, Raphael Matos got hours of seat time, and so did the NHL pilots (but no Milka to be found anywhere). Dan Wheldon kept pushing a little too hard, and I am of the opinion that bodes well for a good season. It would be outstanding to see the Panther folks back in victory lane with regularity. John Barnes looks even healthier than last year.


The Ganassi boys look like they will pick up where they left off and Will Power looks like he has been a Penske driver for years. Both Briscoe and Power look strong.


I really want Kanaan to win Indy.


Here is why there will probably be a race at Barber in the next few years: George Barber wants it. Fans want it. Drivers want it. Honda wants it, and they manufacture minivans just down the road. Both the mayor of Birmingham and the Governor of Alabama were at the track Monday. I believe they will find a way. Hopefully at the expense of the rat infested Belle Isle failure.


St. Pete is right around the corner. Let’s get the party started.

March 25, 2009

An Ugly Duckling Becomes a Swan

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:54 am

First, RIP Lloyd Ruby. He was one of the unluckiest Indy 500 participants ever and rubyone of the best drivers never to win it. I am lucky enough to have seen him run in person and he was always a favorite back in the golden days. He will be missed.


This will probably be the first in a series. I returned yesterday from three days in Birmingham, Alabama. The Heart of Dixie. NASCAR country. Right down the road from Talladega.


For three days, it was racing heaven. The Indy Car Series held three days of pre-season testing at Barber Motorsports Park, the Augusta National of racing. As I strolled the course I kept thinking of Spa because I got the same feeling the couple of times I visited there. I thought if I said that in public I would be laughed at, so I only told my brother. Robert Doornbos, however, said the same thing in public and he would know. The comparison is legitimate. I cannot tell you how wonderful that facility actually is. The technical nature of the circuit, elevation changes and deceptive curves make it a fun course.


I do not know how to make adequate comparisons most people can understand, so I will pander. When I think of most ISC tracks, I think of day strippers. Yes, you will get to see some nipples but you will also have to endure stretch marks, C-section scars and areas of dangling blubber. You also have a tendency to wonder about the fragrance that wafts its way through a worn out g-string.


SMI tracks are generally a cut above. Enhanced beauties loaded with perfectly rounded silicone, nicely coiffed blonde hair and plenty of glitter aboard their jiggling thangs. Still, if you decided to try and have a conversation about, say, the Treaty of Versailles, you would either get a blank stare or some vague reminiscence about visiting a state park in Ripley County.


IMS is the childhood sweetheart you married. Life is always right with her. You are perfectly happy to grow old together. She is nearly perfect in every way.


barber1Barber Motorsports Park has elevated the game for everyone. She is an unspoiled princess on her way to a throne. A goddess. George Barber has turned a strip mine into a gold mine. The facility is a brilliantly designed showplace. They treat their customers with more courtesy and respect than any other track in the world. Just when you think you have about seen it all, something else surprises you. The museum he has probably made Tony George jealous. It is primarily known as a motorcycle museum, but that is only part of its story. He has the largest private collection of Lotus F-1 cars in the world, land speed cars, Indy Cars, sports cars, and a lot more, including exhibits about people such as John Surtees and Dan Gurney. It takes at least a day to take it in. It is set up sort of like the Guggenheim on multiple levels, accessed via circular ramps. Simply awesome.


Coming up next: Indy Cars ran there over the weekend, and lots of people showed up.

March 24, 2009

Please Stand By

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:29 am

As quickly as I can gather my notes (and snapshots) I will relay the tale of a great trip to Barber Motorsports Park outside Birmingham. It is as wonderful as billed, the museum blew me away and it’s very friendly.  Right now I am just boarding the plane back, so stand by…

March 20, 2009

Spring Has Sprung, The Grass is Riz, I Wunder Where the Racin’ Is

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:02 pm

The first weekend of Spring should be great.


IRL champion and 500 Winner Scott Dixon starts on the pole for Acura in Gil DeFerran’s car in this weekend’s 12 Hours At Sebring. The DVR is set because yours truly is on the way down to Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham to watch the Indy Cars do some pre-season testing.



That facility is in great shape and the ownership has put a lot of time and effort into spiffing it up. They would really like an Indy Car race in the future, and here is hoping they get one. Labor Day weekend this year might be a great opportunity since the mercy hump Detroit Belle Isle experiment failed. That may be karma for not having the oval in the Irish Hills on the schedule.


Still, what could be better than Indy Cars on a track on the first weekend of Spring? I will keep you updated and provide a full report once I get back on Tuesday. Enjoy the weekend racing, even NASCAR.

March 19, 2009

Horsepower That Means Something

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:00 pm

Another thing idiots who criticize everything even remotely associated with the names ‘Hulman’ and 184x228_miracle_poster_caspari‘George’ inevitably forget is the philanthropic endeavors of the family. They are active contributors to a wide variety of social causes. Many things people take for granted, like the great zoo in Indianapolis, is well supported by people like the Hulman-George family.


 So if you have a spare few thou just burning a hole in your pockets, you still have a little while today to bid on some juicy items to support the Humane Society that Mari has listed on eBay. Items include four VIP tickets in one of her suites on race day, hotel rooms, party invites, police escort to the track plus credentials and pit passes. Last time I looked it was up around 8 grand. Similarly themed packages are available for the NASCAR and MotoGP events.


What better way to combine a tax deduction with a good time?


Speaking of giving back, don’t forget about the 100th birthday celebration tomorrow at the track if you are in Indy. I wish I was.



March 18, 2009

Raid Great Grandpa’s Closet For Period Clothing

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:36 am

There are two current items of note in the IMS ‘Centennial Era.’ One is a nomination for Professional Sports League of the Year in the second annual Sports Business Awards presented by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily. This is impressive if only because of the other nominees, which include the NBA, NFL the NHL.



‘Unification’ of open wheel racing (I will always prefer to think of it as a ‘bailout’ of champcar) is touted as the primary reason, as well as the emergence of young stars in training such as Graham Rahal and the first win for Danica Patrick.


Winners are to be announced May 28 in New York and would make a fine conclusion to the always great month of May.


Friday marks the actual beginning of the second century of business of the  Indianapolis Motor Speedway; that is the 100th anniversary of the signing of the IMS’ articles of incorporation by its four founding fathers.


Now mind you this is no professional wrestling stunt with Ric Flair or anything, but in commemoration of this anniversary, the museum at IMS is extending hours and letting everyone in for free from 4:30 to 6:30 along with a unique photo opportunity.


Four actors dressed in period clothing will be portraying ‘Four Founders – Carl Fisher, James Allison, Arthur Newby and Frank Wheeler. You can have a 5” by 7” snapshot taken for $5 each in a Centennial Era-logo’d border.


The poses will be with the 1909 Buick Model 16B, said to have carried Louis Chevrolet to victory in a 10-mile dash on the first day of auto racing at IMS, Aug. 19, 1909.


Part of what makes IMS special is not only its history but the way it is both guarded and shared.

March 17, 2009

We’s a Fixin’ to Commence to Rumblin’ Yee-Haw!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 10:05 am

Sometimes NASCAR makes criticism of what they do entirely too easy. Ever since Big Bill France felt somehow chagrined by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (back in the days when France would enforce his occasionally controversial rules with loaded firearms), his organization has been trying to outdo/outbig/out genital wave the institution that made the entire sport what it is today.


Given the audience demographics of much of the NASCAR base, it comes as little surprise they would align themsric-1elves with professional wrestling, which is precisely what they intend to do at Charlotte in May at their ‘World 600’ or whatever it is they call it this year. My only problem with it is they will end up perverting much of the most sacred month for real fans of motor sports.


The proprietors of the big NASCAR track in Concord have whipped up all sorts of gimmicky events over the years, and many of the ideas have been great; e.g., an ‘all star’ event. So why have Ric Flair (probably not his real name) be the ‘honorary race director?’ Is it any wonder many of the fans at those types of events throw beer cans onto the track when they do not like the way things are?



I have always had an admiration for the way in which today’s NASCAR has elevated their marketing game to unparalleled heights, but do they really need to pander to that end of their demographic spectrum? Children today have a hard enough time in an ADD-addled world without adding sleaze. Oh, wait. It’s NASCAR. 😉

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