Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

April 30, 2009

Cleveland Rocks?

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

Our always sportsmanlike curmudgeon and oft-fired Robin Miller is now cheerleading a cacophony of hysterical bleating over a rumor the Indy Car Series would return to Cleveland and re-configure the airport runways and taxiways at Burke once used as a temporary circuit for the now non-existent cart and champcar experiments into a big flat oval for the Indy Cars.

burke_lake_front_airportPersonally, and speaking as an oval fan, it would certainly be the most unique oval configuration in the series and extremely fun to watch. The temporary circuit they had was the best of that variety as well. Either configuration would provide excitement, but the idea of a big flat oval with few or no walls is very intriguing. The cart-centric squealers will shriek like two-year-olds throwing a floor fit at Wal-Mart but that characterizes the normal pointless bad behavior we have come to expect from that disingenuous bunch.

The bigger issue to me is memory of the treatment the Indy Car Series received the last time this possibility came up. As far as I am concerned the Cleveland folks doing the soliciting should be told to jump into Lake Erie for a few more years. The idiot cart apologists still among the most vociferous ‘I Hate Tony’ whiners have done their very best to sabotage that relationship before it gets ramped up again. On the other hand, why deprive Cleveland racing fans?

Personally, a race; ANY kind of race, in Cleveland would be much better than a race in Brazil or China. I do realize that Brazil will probably receive an event as part of their fuel deal, and China may be willing to fork over several more million than normal.

Words of advice for Indy Car: Do not allow cart apologists stuck in 1995 to screw up any Cleveland plans you might have. Those idiots are a minority, and with the right promotion Cleveland could be a really nice new event.

April 29, 2009

RIP Racing Participants

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:35 am

Racing lost a couple of notable personalities this week. Danny Kladis was the oldest driver and held the earliest start of all living Indianapolis 500 competitors, died in Joliet. He started the ’46 race after the war and was 92 years old.

pooleMuch younger than Kladis was David Poole, best known for his work as a NASCAR writer for the Charlotte Observer and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio personality. Poole was only 50 and suffered a fatal heart attack Tuesday. Poole was opinionated but fair and listened to all viewpoints. His style was very easy to read and hear.

Memo to Indy Car management: Why would you schedule an oval race directly opposite Talladega? I fear IRL management will misinterpret lousy ratings as a sign they should get rid of more ovals. What needs to happen is evolution back toward the close, precise side by side competition that used to make the Kansas race one of the best.

That will not stop idiots from stupidly predicting doom again for Indy Car, assuming as always that 12+ ratings mean the same thing they did in the 80’s.

They get worse every time May rolls around.

April 28, 2009

Time for Indy Excitement!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 10:58 am

It’s nearly May! It is my sincere hope that all the rain many parts of the country have received in April translates to sunshine and 72 most days in May, most importantly on race day!

Many people, mostly critics of Indy Racing, sniped at the Kansas oval race as being boring. In person it was anything but. The lack of people in the stands had more to do with bad weather and ominous forecasts than the product itself. Hopefully management of the track and the series will not use aluminum as an excuse to get rid of another great oval for some stupid street course.

Series management is gleeful about a likely event in Brazil next year and one in China after that. I do not mind the exposure outside North America provided the cohesive schedule they have built over time domestically is not screwed with.

buddy3It is good to see another former winner signed up for Indy. Buddy Lazier never really got the breaks he deserved but made the most of what he had, and will again. The Hemelgarn team could use a break as well; the last few efforts at Indy have not yielded great results. Speculation about up to or more than 40 aspiring starters is good news, particularly given the challenging times.

It would really be nice to see Phoenix (or another oval) on the schedule again before Indy.

April 27, 2009

Oval Racing At Last!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:46 pm

The Indy Car race was a lot of fun. Helio had a GREAT run and overcame lots of problems (like a destroyed front wing). Scott Dixon is now back in the swing. Ryan Briscoe had bad luck while pitting as a yellow came out and had to drive through. Mr. Penske was not really happy because Justin Wilson was also in and did pit. Owners like Penske and Ganassi missed the carnage in Alabama.

It is really great having Stanton Barrett in the series. He kept the upper groove clean all day for all the drivers who were passing him, and he frequently dueled with Milka Duno in the back. The difference between the two of them was that Barrett held his line religiously. Milka was all over the track and was directly responsible for Matos’ wall brush.

Sarah Fisher made a nice return and stayed clean all day. The AGR team looked very strong as a team.

auntie-mThe crowd size was somewhat disappointing. Not bad considering folks were running (literally) from tornados that did damage just down the road on Saturday, and the forecast for race day was even worse. Predictions seemed to include every bad thing except locust swarms. I thought the wind would have made a bigger impact (as it did in the Lights race), but they handled the stiff wind and 45mph gusts with relative ease. There were some really nasty accidents in Lights, but everyone is OK.

This Kansas track, for an ISC facility, is really nice. The folks here do a really nice job. The location is great and the way the area around the track is growing is very consumer friendly. I hope Indy Car keeps the venue on the schedule for years to come; Indy Cars belong on these tracks. I am hoping the IRL brass does not look at the bad crowd as a sign to drop another oval.

NASCAR had a scary weekend of big ones at Talladega, but most people simply reacted by shouting yee-haw. The ‘stock’ cars were flying through the air a lot. Thank goodness no one got seriously hurt.

April 24, 2009

BBQ on the Brain (and FAST Italian Cars)

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:41 am

Musings before boarding the bizjet to Kansas City (they got some crazy little women there and I’m gonna get me one-I always liked that song). . .

hornishSam Hornish, Jr. is an interesting character. When he was driving in the IRL he said he was happy with the series, the number of events and the pace. Then came the tiff that found Sr. on his arse in pit lane. I do not believe it was the same after that. That notion is crystallized by comments he made in the Star about what happens if he washes out of Cup. He says the Nationwide or Truck series would be the destination and not Indy Racing. Interesting. I do not know if it means anything, but it is curious.

On a completely unrelated note the former cart employees now running Indy Car are evidently taking a trip to China to discuss a race in that country. On one hand it makes sense if they hand them millions up front and pay all the freight. It ignores the fan base in North America, but what else is new? On the other hand, what would we have to give up? Another oval race at a great track like Kansas? I hope not.

I am all for expanding and growing the brand, but is this the right place, venue and time? Have they given up on the great tracks across America that want the series?

Word of advice: Ovals. Natural terrain road courses. About a 65/35 mix in favor of ovals. Forget the street circuits.

April 23, 2009

Going to Kansas City, Kansas City Here I Come…

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:24 am

It is difficult to understand why Roger Penske won’t run Will Power at Kansas given his position in the points. While being at Indy is great, fans want to see what the guy will do on the ovals now that he is up in the points and on a roll.

sarahSarah Fisher is back. Marty Roth is not. The slap he took last year after mowing down a crew member at Kansas was one of the viral videos of that race; this year 215mph side-by-side would be great after two idiotic street ‘races.’

Out on a limb prediction for Kansas: First time winner, and it may be a team not used to being in that position.

I can hardly wait to get there! (I need some BBQ too).

April 22, 2009

Trends Continue Upward

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:08 am

Great news following Long Beach….ratings, even though still on a limited tier cable channel and not competing against NASCAR, are up. There are a few cart-centric feeble minds with limited intellect who are crowing as if the sky is falling again, but it looks to me as if everything is on target. NASCAR’s ratings were off nearly 20%. Could be the tide is turning.

AGR also announced new sponsorship for Marco at Kansas and Indy…some energy drink. New sponsorship is always great.

One poppepsi_bottlesular advertising concept today is product placement. Watch the next time Scott Dixon or Dario is interviewed on national television. They will take sips of Pepsi products without fail. They have the sip down to an art for proper display of the new Pepsi logo (which, by the way, is butt-ugly). I wonder how much the team is paid for that?

One portion of NASCAR I have always really liked but thought I would hate before I sampled it is the truck racing. Those guys get out there and actually RACE as if their lives depend on it. I’m looking forward to seeing them live at Kansas this weekend. I also eagerly anticipate the first oval event of the year. That should be great!

April 21, 2009

We Probably Ought to Start a ‘Save The Ovals’ Society at Some Point

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:51 am

Now that Long Beach is history and was apparently a success (even though the ‘racing’ could not suck enough, as has always been the case there), how long will it be until the Indy Cars begin racing anew at Road America or Cleveland? And what ovals will be dumped?

The race coming up at Kansas is always a must-see. That’s usually a Chicago-quality show. I hope the people now running the Indy Racing show do not decide to start dumping more ovals. I miss the concrete oval at Nashville. I really miss Pikes Peak (I know…out of Indy Racing’s control) but I really REALLY miss Michigan. Phoenix and Fontana were nice, but Indy Racing still seems fairly far away from marketing those two venues adequately.

Which ovals could be dumped? The best guesses would be venues with two Cup dates. Hopefully sense prevails and all the ovals on the schedule now are maintained. Re-add important tracks such as Michigan.

ksMeantime, Sarah Fisher returns this week, and not a moment too soon. I hope Penske decides to run Power.

We’ll see you this weekend if you decide to attend!

April 19, 2009

Dario and the Mrs.

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:31 pm

dario-franchittiCongratulations to Dario Franchitti on winning the 35th Long Beach Grand Prix. He parlayed the luck of two pit stops just before yellows into his advantage and won the race.

Why Roger Penske may keep Will Power out of a car for Kansas is beyond me. I understand about sponsorship and crews and such, but those are problems Penske is more suited than anyone to overcome. Besides, he’s a billionaire. Most importantly, Power could win the championship. I believe excluding the guy is a bad mistake.

AGR redeemed itself as a team very nicely at Long Beach with both Kanaan and Danica coming from behind to get top 5’s. That was also a great story. It was sad to see Vitor in the tires at the end.

Versus did a swell job again, and it is refreshing to get that type of quality coverage. Lindy Thackston and Robbie Floyd are the next stars of Indy Car coverage. Lindy does such a great job that you think of her as a knowledgeable commentator before thinking of her as the woman in the pits.

One of the big stories of the weekend was Paul Tracy returning to the 500. Whoopee. He has not missed many meals and his propensity to run his mouth remains. I hope he avoids killing anyone.

ashley-judd-indy-500-5-29-07Low point: Listening to the actress run her mouth. It remains relatively quaint to have an actress married to a driver looking pretty in the bits or running out onto the track in a soaking wet sun dress, but why can’t they simply stick to posing? Her commentary after the race was more classless and arrogant than her panning of other drivers after the last race in which she was asked to speak.

Be happy for your husband and shut up, Ashley. As a lifelong Indy Car fan (since before either of those two were born) I am offended by her assertion that her husband finally won against ‘the best competition’ after ‘re-unification.’ Hey Ashley, if ‘re-unification’ and competing against ‘the best competition’ was so important to him why did he hightail it off to NASCAR just after ‘re-unification’ happened? How about we put an asterisk next to each of his IRL wins then? Maybe we could run the last few laps of the 500 they called in ’07. Elevation of the failed remnants of the cart/champcar series to ‘best competition’ is the height of arrogant stupidity. If any of the drivers actually feel that way I wish they would leave.

Hopefully someone gave the woman some common sense for her birthday.

Meanwhile, it’s off to Kansas, and the Defender contingent will be there in force.

April 17, 2009

Yesterday I Hoped an Imbecile Would Not Try to Ruin It. Unfortunately One Has Tried.

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

The cart apologist of the month who can’t let 1995 stay in the previous century is Bob Keisser, a cutesy writer for whatever the newspaper is in Long Beach. He actually was on track to write a pretty good piece about the Long Beach street event with its 35 years of pretty nice history, but got sidetracked in a re-hash of a ‘split’ long since dead. It remains a shame the oft misinterpreted cart boycott still gets a grandiose revisionist history treatment by out of touch sycophants. I get the whole local writer thing of being a ‘homer’ for a local race, but the days of shilling for cart ended a long time ago.

ics20logo20asset“The task for the Grand Prix in Year 35 is enduring the aftermath of the open-wheel war that oddly doesn’t look as much like a new chapter as the tattering of an old one.” Facts: cart and champcar both killed themselves after unsuccessfully trying to overthrow Indy Car racing. It blew up in their faces. The defunct cart series owned a chapter of history. The lineage for all of it resides in Indy Car.

“There are fans of open-wheel racing who have so much disdain for the IRL and Tony George, the heir of Indy 500 owner Tony Hulman and the man who launched the war with CART, that they would sooner attend the Soapbox Derby than an IRL event.” Those people do not deserve to be considered racing fans and I do not want them anywhere near my favorite sport, at least until they grow up. Tony George did not ‘launch’ a war, he set a trap then watched arrogant people with foolish pride step into it. These people were smart enough to squish Tony George like a bug but their egos got the better of them and they killed themselves instead.

“It was George who sparked the war, who created the IRL and who helped diminish open-wheel racing at the same time that NASCAR was emerging as the exhaust of choice in America. As villains go, George is a neat fit.” Only to imbeciles, Bob. Tony George is a convenient blame target for people unable to deal with or take responsibility for their own failures.

“The IRL cars are considered inferior to those used in the heyday of CART and even the standardized cars that Champ Car used the last few seasons. But the concept of technical competition has slowly eroded over the years because of costs and manufacturer defections, so at day’s end this issue is less important than it might have been five years ago.” Let’s see a DP-01 provide side-by-side racing at 200+. Let’s see how it does in a crash at Indy.

“The harsh truth is that open-wheel racing today doesn’t look much different than it did in 1996 when the sport splintered, even though George insisted he was building something better, something more economical and something true to the traditions of American racing. Not even close.” To what? cart? Indy Car has been around almost as long as cart was and does not show any sign of killing itself. Bob, how old were you in 1996?  I am guessing quite possibly a teenager.

“If you want to get technical, the war goes all the way back to 1956, when Hulman and USAC took over control of racing. By the late ’70 s, after Hulman passed away in 1977, teams and drivers were complaining that USAC didn’t know how to promote, wasn’t providing enough resources for the teams and drivers, and was too Indy 500-centric. Dan Gurney, Roger Penske and Pat Patrick created CART in 1979 and didn’t need much arm-twisting to get all of the top names to back his effort.” In other words, screw Indy Car racing and Indianapolis…we want the control and the money and we want to engage in a soccer-like effort that has never succeeded long term in America. It backfired.

“This was open-wheel racing’s heyday.” Bob, are you that out of touch? That wasn’t THE heyday by a long shot. It can be successfully argued that the period between 1961 and 1974 or so was, and there are some really old people who think in terms of decades before that.  Granted, cart was a nice phase of evolution, but that is all it was. An evolutionary phase.

“But with success came confrontation.” And with greed came self immolation.

“Race operators, led by George and Indy, felt the teams had too much control of decisions and money and were taking the sport in the wrong direction. In 1992, for example, 10 of the 16 CART races were on street or road courses. In 1993, 13 of 16 races were won by foreign-born drivers. Thus, George launched his automotive jihad in 1996.” Again, FACTUALLY incorrect. George launched a completely separate series designed to complement, not compete with, cart. He invited them to participate. The knee jerk boycotters took offense, and thus began their embarrassing slide into nonexistence. 25/8 lasted one year, and despite that being used as a really weak excuse for cart failure they STILL could have eliminated the IRL with even minimal use of their brains.

“His IRL in 1996 was contested entirely on ovals in the U.S. and featured American drivers working for teams operating under a spending cap. He further thumbed his nose at CART when he decreed that 25 of 33 spots in the 1996 Indy 500 would go to IRL drivers.” How was that ‘thumbing his nose?” Again, had cart used equipment they already had and just a small amount of logic, they could have killed off the IRL in three months. But they were too stupid to even do that. cart DESERVED to die.

“The IRL didn’t win the ensuing war as much as outlast CART, which made huge financial blunders as sponsorship was waning. By 2004, it became obvious that only one open-wheel racing unit could survive.” The IRL survived because it made its centerpiece the Indianapolis 500. Period.

“So what do we have to show for this? The war sent several prestigious, iconic race teams to the grave. Gone are Walker Racing, Rahal/Letterman, and Forsythe.” The war didn’t do that. Walker Racing died because his welfare checks got cut off. Rahal/Letterman died after their poached sponsor had financial difficulties, and they don’t seem to have what it takes in the sponsorship garnering department. Forsythe cut off his nose to spite his face. From all outward appearances he appears to be insane, or at the very least one of the most petulant poor sports in racing history.

“Up-and-coming teams like Pacific Coast Motorsports have had to take a step back.” From what? Corporate welfare?

“Just like in 1996, a handful of teams dominate the sport – Andretti Green, Team Penske, Target Ganassi and Newman/Haas/Lanigan. The first three teams have won 56 of the last 57 IRL races, and Newman/Haas/Lanigan is the only former Champ Car team thriving.” When will the notion of ‘former cart teams’ die like the series did? Call them what they are. Indy Car teams. AGR, Penske and Ganassi for MANY years now.

“Vision Racing, which is owned and operated by George, has zero wins in 98 starts. Pause for effect. Things are dysfunctional enough that Coyne Racing, once considered the pauper of CART and Champ Car, actually may be a force in 2009.” I appreciate a more level playing field…Dale Coyne is a really nice guy and Vision darned near won the first of the year.

“From Long Beach’s perspective, George needs to step up and say that “Long Beach is our premiere street course” and start treating it as such.” Bob, I believe he has done that on several occasions.

“This year’s race will not be on an over-the-air network but on hard-to-find cable network Versus, which is on some pay tiers.” Which, judging by their outstanding debut in St. Pete and after more than a decade of outright neglect by ESPN, is outstanding. So is the fact that Versus is adding thousands of new households every month. They want to give ESPN a run for their money.

“At day’s end, it’s hard to predict how successful the IRL will be.” More successful than cart or champcar, which are both DEAD and BURIED.

“It’s not hard to predict that the Grand Prix will manage to rise above it.” Above what? The death of former tenants? It will.

Bob, seriously…how about joining the rest of us in 2009 of the 21st century? This tired old cart lament nonsense makes those who spout it look really stupid.

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