Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

February 26, 2010

Indy Car-Lots of Sponsors on Board, and cart Remains Dead.

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

There are two things I wish would happen today:

That tobacco companies could market/align themselves with racing series and/or teams. The way in which their participation has been legislated to an end is creepy. The government needs to let people decide for themselves. Most people know smoking can kill you and most have quit. People who have not know and accept the risks whenever they light up. Besides with non-smoking folks living longer there should be a way to keep population under control. Food is next, folks. Gulp down come greasy cheeseburgers while you still can.

That those who have access to column space would stop framing every single perception around ‘the split.’ One writer who is particularly

The cart series, Post-split

good at that form of not letting it go is Anthony Schoettle of the Indiana Business Journal. His recent piece quotes figures produced by a Chicago-based sports analysis firm that are so far from reality that I am surprised he did not use his brain to question them.

Many are making a big deal about the perception that Marlboro is leaving Team Penske. Marlboro the brand is, but their parent company continues to be involved. Oddly, that does not get reported.

Whenever such pointless recycling occurs by writers all anyone has to do is reality check the big picture. Indy Car continues in business and has an impressive spurt of sponsor growth at the league level, not to mention a long term television deal that is about to get better. cart remains deceased. NASCAR is no longer the 800 pound gorilla but they still lumber about with around 600 or so.

The IZOD Indy Car folks have been testing at Barber and Sebring, and that is a sure sign we are about to get underway. Once we get Graham Rahal and Tomas Scheckter (and a few others) behind wheels, all will be great.


February 25, 2010

It’s Almost March 1. Mr. Bernard…Almost Time to Get Busy!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:12 am

The one item that should be resolved before any other when Randy Bernard steps in is ensuring that Graham Rahal has a ride in an Indy Car. That kind of corporate welfare is not an optimal situation, but history has shown repeatedly that you cannot leave a group of owners in charge of anything related to racing. They will screw it

Indy cart Owners

up 100% of the time. Graham has appointments with NASCAR owners. This is a wake-up call.

It would be great if Graham’s dad and his partner could put something together. Perhaps if Dave (and others) spent less time philandering with young women and more time leveraging his increasing popularity with sponsors in the wake of Leno’s career self immolation they might have a shot. RLR has already proven they can run a competent racing team when they want to.

I do not believe the Indy Car Series can survive many more Jeff Gordon-type deals where aspiring Indy Car drivers keep getting doors slammed in their faces only to end up in slow boxes on wheels down south. The insult is magnified when the seat is filled with less talented non-English speakers with checks.

Randy, find a way to fix this immediately. The IZOD Indy Car Series has been on its way to a soccer-like niche for years. The owners’ insistence on dumping ovals for non-ovals exacerbates this situation.

Your second official act ought to be declaring a moratorium on all temporary street circuits. They are cancer. Race on real tracks.

The third order of business is to take a good hard look at the phallus-like creation the owners want to impose. I do not really have a problem with the thinking behind it, but please avoid having that be the only spec. Open it up.

Sometimes free consulting is necessary.

February 24, 2010

When Will Paul Tracy Grow Up?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:29 am

Perhaps the reason Paul Tracy does not have a ride in the IZOD Indy Car Series is twofold:

  1. He cannot seem to help himself when it comes to being a dick.
  2. He is old. Race car retirement age old.

Paul Tracy

Indy 500 Winners

His Twitter account is filled with reasons why professional teams won’t hire him. Every once in a blue moon he will make a valid point with tact; e.g., ‘the series needs guys that a fan base to build on , not turn them away for ride buyers.’

Usually, however, he comes off as boorish as the average illiterate IRL-obsessed hate site contributor.  That is really a shame because generally speaking most of us love those who speak what is on their mind. Unfortunately we live in a world filled with panty-waisted holier than thous. When Tony Kornheiser gets suspended for commenting on what Hannah Storm is wearing you know political correctness has gone too far.

A sampling of Tracy tweets leaves little doubt about his volatile toxicity in that kind of world:

‘If you want a sh!t sandwich , don’t expect it to not taste sh!tty .. If u want good racing tell them u want the good drivers !!’ I can see Graham Rahal full time and Tracy with an Indy one off. In one of those ‘crapwagons’ he will never drive.

‘i have 1 win at indy follower, and 32 wins in cart 25 poles a championship . how many u got from the couch’ Paul, you did not win the race. Helio won the race. Grow up.

Closeup of Tracy On The Borg Warner

‘im fired up more today than ever for some reason !!! tweet the irl or email them what you want !! your the customer gdamit!!!!!!!!’ My the customer? Paul, given your experience you ought to know by now that those who run the sport have not cared what the fans have wanted for thirty years. That philosophy will likely continue once the Delta Wing gets imposed.

‘4 drivers from this continent at the first test . i think there is 3 wins for all of them put together . as guys like rahal , rice and me’ So why don’t you and Buddy start pounding the pavement looking for sponsorship? That is why the ride buyers are in the cars and not you.

‘ i think that everyone should put the heat on the irl and the new pres . to give the indycar fans what they want’ That may actually be a good idea.

‘Bia figueiredo , in a 3rd car at drier and reinbold . It’s so great to see guys from north america get a chance in the izod indycar series’ There is no difference in that tweet and the average troll on an IRL hate site.

‘baby Borg engraved in my brain after makin castro look like my bitch with a outside pass . Just cuz I got screwed does not take that feel’ It is pretty easy to pass someone under yellow. Again, you did not win the race. You lost. That bitch Castro is on the trophy three times. Perhaps if you had not thrown away the prime of your career in a dead end series you might have been on it.

Again, I admire folks who speak their minds without regard to consequence. But I also want those involved in my favorite sport to represent it with professionalism.

February 23, 2010

Let’s Put Danica Behind the Wheel of Lotus Indy Car

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:54 am

Merely an idle fantasy. Token Ms. Patrick update: Three laps down in 31st in the grand national race. And it still got covered in the first fifteen minutes of the big race coverage on Sunday. So now, on to the rest of the blog.

A Lotus car of today is a far cry from what Colin Chapman started over half a century ago. Still, its name conjures up great thoughts about fantastic cars. That is why some of us old timers got excited when we read a blurb from the British ‘Motorsport News’ that Lotus may forge an alliance with an existing team to run a car next year and possibly enter their own creation in 2012.

On the surface that seems like a plan we could get behind. Frankly, however, I could announce I am forming a team and have that aspiration be just as exciting. Lotus today is not the same Lotus of yesterday. For starters the brand is owned by a Malaysian car company called Proton. The last time I checked Proton exported only about 15,000 cars a year and none came to the United States. In other words we should not count chickens prior to the shells getting pecked open.

In any event, it would be sweet. Meanwhile, when you go to Barber Motorsports Park for the Indy Car race, be sure spend a day in the museum. It is most noted for the greatest collection of motorcycles anywhere, but they also have the largest private collection of Lotus F-1 cars anywhere.

By the way, congratulations to E.J. Viso, who found a home with Vasser and Kalkhoven for his seat and some PDVSA dinero. He has always made Indy Car races more exciting, and we should hope his sophomore slump year was a fluke.

February 22, 2010

NASCAR’s Lousy Attendance: Is That Tony’s Fault Too?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:11 am

I am sure the weather will get pegged as the cause, but that has never been accepted as a valid reason for the IRL. So it must be something else.

There is mystery in wondering where all those who normally attend NASCAR races went. There was more orange and yellow visible at Fontana on Sunday than on

an exterior paint job of about any McDonalds. California hero Jimmie Johnson took the checkers in front of an IRL-sized crowd. The big news of the weekend was Danica finishing toward the back of the b-team event.

NASCAR really ought to dump one race from any track that has two and distribute them to tracks that deserve one. Kentucky comes to mind immediately. It will be decades before Denver NIMBYs ever allow a track any closer than Limon, so why not use Pikes Peak? I wonder how long we will see NASCAR’s race attendance and TV ratings plummet before they turn it around? The race itself at Fontana was not bad.

Las Vegas is next. Wouldn’t it be great to see the Indy Cars back at both those tracks? If Bruton Smith gets his way Indy Cars will race on the Vegas oval again. That cannot happen quickly enough.

This past week saw a lot of negative commentary about the Delta Wing concept. Most fans dislike it. Owners, however, rarely give a damn about what fans think and keep promoting it as the greatest thing since turbochargers and temporary street circuits. There is really no mystery about what will happen in 2012. We can only hope they make it look less cartoonish.

February 19, 2010

Indy Car Owner Business Model

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

The thing about Indy Car since the whole cart thing got hatched in ’79 is the notion for three decades that you move forward by taking two steps backward. There was a time when Indy Car meant innovation and the chance to root for your favorite American driver. In the past many European Grand Prix racers mixed it up with the hometown heroes. Jim Clark’s dominant performance in 1965 was fun to watch. Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart were popular gentlemen as were a host of others. At the end of the day all the American stars were still around and winning most of the races in American cars. My favorite 500s were those that contained stars the 500 made along with Grand Prix drivers and NASCAR’s finest, all in the same race.

Why do mistakes of the past keep getting made? Why do we have a spec series with owners clamoring for a new ‘revolutionary’ spec series as they hire paying drivers from outside the United States? The Danica brand can only go so far. Graham Rahal has the potential to be a great star with a personality that far outshines, say, Marco. How does he not get a ride but Takuma Sato does? Wait. I know the answer. Someone probably ought to tell Honda that many of their products are manufactured not too far from where Graham Rahal lives.

Musical chairs among ride buying non-Americans is not going to cut it much longer. Sorry if that seems xenophobic; that is not intended. Most of the drivers are likeable enough regardless of where they are from. It is not really bad to have a seven year F-1 vet on the grid, but the series needs more stars than Danica and gimmicks. She is likely to bolt anyway given the obscene amount of money she is beginning to get thrown at her. I wonder if Randy Bernard will notice? I have not seen many Brazilians riding bulls in his previous venture.

If I know the owners their solution will be to race in the countries where the drivers come from. On a temporary circuit with high three day attendance numbers. It should not be this challenging to follow the sport.

February 18, 2010

IZOD Indy Car Series: A Great Idea Near Talladega

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:33 am

As those who have followed this meandering blog for any length of time know, I am a proponent of mostly oval racing. As pointless, idiotic street races keep getting added and fabulous ovals (like Richmond) are allowed to fail, I get increasingly surly about those who just let it happen. From the first moment IRL Indy Cars turned right in St. Pete a few years back it has been a slippery slope ever since.

Please do not misunderstand. Variety is great and essential. It is temporary circuits about which I have big problems. They rarely last and create a lot of ill will in the process. There is talk now that Houston might return with a street parade of their own. Given the sheer size of that important market, why in the world would they not build a proper track? NASCAR would be there in a heartbeat as well.

Every once in a while, a true gem of a non-oval will rise to the surface. Indy Cars ran tests at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham last spring, and thousands of people, myself included, showed up. George Barber and his staff have turned a strip mine into a showplace that continues to grow. It is a magnificent, beautiful place and the Defender contingent already has tickets for the inaugural Indy Car event in a couple of months. That is where the Indy Car folks are testing this week.

Do yourself a favor. Go. When they call that place the Augusta of motor sports, they are not really exaggerating. Plan on at least a day to tour the museum. It is unforgettable. See if they will allow you access to the lowest level. Bring a camera. This is one non-oval any Indy Car fan should really like, especially in person.

While you are in that area, there is a soft drink you should try. Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale has a spicy bite that will hit you a little after you have swallowed, and is a real hoot.

My favorite track for the rest of my life is IMS. But Barber has jumped into my top 5. Thank me later.

February 17, 2010

IZOD Indy Car Team Sponsorship Idea…Plus, Is It Mid-May Yet?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:05 am

It is random musing day. The answer of whether admission prices would be reduced proportionately to the number of days now allowed for the Indianapolis 500 festivities in May has been answered with the receipt of application materials for bronze badges. The short answer is ‘no.’ One realistic way to interpret is to realize May has been cut in half, but the price for the badge has remained the same. Conclusion: The price of the bronze badge doubled. Slick. It is not the 100 bucks that bugs me…it is the evisceration of the month of May. It is my sincere hope Mr. Bernard quickly learns what Indy tradition means and reigns in the damned bean counters.

If the owners succeed in getting that phallus-shaped Delta Wing shoved down our throats, more than likely as the only spec despite really great and innovative designs from Dallara, Lola and Swift, I sincerely hope one of them at least pitches Oscar Meyer as a potential sponsor because that would be ideal. A match made in heaven.

Gil DeFerran and Luczo Dragon Racing ‘merged’ today, although the team still plans only one car. That is a shame. The pairing is great, however, because it gets Gil re-involved in Indy Car. NHL down to one car with a paying driver is also evidently official.

Why doesn’t Graham Rahal have a ride yet? The fact that he is still a free agent is disturbing. The same can be said for a wide variety of qualified shoes.

The Daytona 500 overnight ratings dropped precipitously. Fox is quick to point out that the number of people who tuned in for a bit grew by about 3 million sets of eyeballs, but the average dropped from almost 16 million to 13.3. That is the lowest since 2000 and the fourth lowest since the 70s.  52 lead changes among 21 drivers was evidently not enough. Pothole repair simply does not draw viewers. Overnights dipped from a 9.2 to a 7.7. Of course when Indy Car posts numbers that are down, a cacophony of shrieking doom begins that always predicts the imminent demise of the sport. Whatever. Those blessed with firing synapses understand a bigger picture.

February 16, 2010

IZOD Indy Car Hopefuls; First Dallara and Swift, Then Delta Wing…and Today It’s Lola

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:00 am

We have now seen the Swift and Dallara next generation concepts and Ben Bowlby unleashed the Delta Wing concept this past week in Chicago. The only other really interested party is Lola, and their drawings hit the web today. The interesting wrinkle they propose is common parts for Indy Lights to drive costs down.

The Lola designs seem more evolutionary than revolutionary. Given their history in the sport the Lola might be a nice choice provided they have competition. Carl Haas is the exclusive US importer for it, and if rumors hold true his Indy Car team may be down to one driver who pays to play. A Lola choice might mean he could give himself a deal.

Have Helmet Will Drive

We do know Graham Rahal and a lot of other deserving drivers deserve a ride and lower cost cars will help. I may be in the minority, but I do not have a problem with Delta Wing being selected, but only if at least one other chassis is authorized. Dallara seems most logical based on their history with the IRL. Swift offers some really intriguing possibilities too. The absolute worst choice the IZOD Indy Car Series could make would be to limit participation to just one chassis despite owner squealing about cost. Spec racing is not a necessary evil.

The braintrust says a decision will be made by May. It would be nice if it were sooner.

February 15, 2010

NASCAR Steps On Its Genitals For Their Biggest Show of the Year

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:47 am

The NASCAR circus for 2010 got off to an interesting start. There is an increasingly cynical side of me that views the slower pack racing as pandering to third world-like slackjaws and not that far removed from professional wrestling. Whenever Larry McReynolds or Darrell Waltrip attempt to speak, and that happens a lot, their nearly continuous evisceration of the English language reinforces such cynicism. When Larry Mac uses words like ‘extreeee’ or phrases such as ‘sence these guys wuz own the track’ I think back to my elementary school days at St. Lawrence when nuns would whack the crap out of you for even sounding uneducated. I have a mental picture of these guys sitting in a small booth flicking boogers at the glass. Then I remind myself that I am watching NASCAR, where everything is slower.

It took over six hours to get the race in on a beautiful but chilly day. Why? Because it appears the surface has not been repaved since 1959. I hope Belskus, Bernard and crew were watching that fiasco and understand the way it has been done at IMS is the right way. IMS never lets it go more than ten years. ISC is notorious for getting by with bare minimums at their tracks and it shows when walking into one. Having the track surface break apart like that regardless of weather is inexcusable.

Congratulations, by the way, to Jamie McMurray who won the thing. That was a really nice story. Unfortunately he may not even be remembered now that Danica-mania has swept NASCAR. The Daytona 500 is their super bowl, but let’s review what happened when coverage of NASCAR’s biggest event began:

-It took less than ten minutes before the Danica-to-Cup talk began.

-The very FIRST break featured a Danica Go-Daddy spot, even though a male Go-Daddy driver sat on the pole for the 500.

-Danica was discussed before ANY current Cup stars. Before Dale Jr., before Jimmie Johnson, before Tony Stewart, before Jeff Gordon, before anyone.

-The entire first segment of the broadcast covered Danica’s day in the grand national race.

-During a red flag period (and at other times) Boogity laid out how it would be easier for the Nationwide teams to get sponsorship simply by dropping Danica’s name. Then he said (twice) that Danica would become a better Indy Car driver as a direct result of the time she spends in NASCAR. For proof he offered Dario, who came to Cup, left, then won the Indy Car championship. Yeah, DW, it HAD to be because he raced against the ‘best.’

The fact that NASCAR has always been so needlessly insecure about its identity that it always feels compelled to position itself as superior to Indy Car is telling. It has always been that way. Daytona would not have been built had Big Bill not been so heavily influenced by the grandeur of IMS.

The Danica fawning did not stop with the Fox crew. The Associated Press ran a national piece about Danica’s debut picked up in papers across the country that started with the words ‘Former IndyCar star involved in wreck midway through race.’ Huh? The piece does not indicate who wrote the piece, but whoever did should be fired for negligence. Aren’t facts supposed to be checked? Last time I looked Ms. Patrick was supposed to spend the next two years driving Indy Cars full time. Lying seems to come easily when parties suckle the NASCAR teat. Crowd figures, speed and calling those racing machines ‘stock’ cars are consistently among the most egregious.

Still, it is always great to wake up and kiss the wife on Valentine’s Day, suffer through the brunch, then watch the race. I fell asleep on the couch before the ¼ mark and woke up while they were trying to glue the track back together. What a joke. When they were actually racing it wasn’t bad. It is racing. I was hoping Smoke would do it but it was not meant to be again. It will be a while before he accomplishes what his mentor did.

I certainly wish the Indy Car season was underway.

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