Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

March 31, 2010

IZOD Indy Car Racing: Some Stories Have Really Happy Endings

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:14 am

Class act of the past few years goes to Alex Tagliani, whose FAZZT Racing Team (the old Marty Roth equipment) has opened a seat for Bruno Junqueira at the Indianapolis 500 (and maybe more). Why is this a class act? Last May Alex had a few problems getting his purchased Conquest seat into the show. Bruno came in, banzai’d his way in, then was asked to step aside so Tags could run after all.

Bruno did, and did not really spout off about it. Fast forward to today. Now two really good drivers are probably going to make the race. Tags has done a good job thus far with his the equipment of his less talented fellow Canadian. Bruno has markedly improved since his impatience at Indy in 2005 wrecked both he and the driver he was trying to intimidate, AJ Foyt IV, resulting in season ending injuries to Bruno. He is a former pole sitter and has had some successful drives.

I don’t know about you, but my prediction for the next IZOD Indy Car event is that it is going to be packed with fans. I got my ducats and such, but parking for motorcycles, cars, camping rigs and everything else is sold out for Barber. That is a beautiful place and I hope the huge crowd that shows up goes away happy and ready to return.

I keep getting e-mails from Richmond asking me to buy tickets to the NASCAR events there. No thanks. The only way I return to that great little track is when Indy Cars run there again. For an ISC track, that is actually a pretty good one. But as far as I am concerned they s*#@ the bed when they did not renew the Indy Cars. ISC has a tendency to screw up a lot of things. Like Pikes Peak. I resent them and their shoddy treatment of racing fans.

Enough about getting screwed. There are happy endings, and what Alex Tagliani is doing for Bruno Junqueira is outstanding.

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March 30, 2010

Better Late Than Never for the IZOD Indy Cars

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:15 am

Even though St. Pete is another of those God forsaken temporary circuit abominations, the IZOD Indy Car drivers managed to put on a pretty fine show in front of a surprisingly good crowd on a Monday! There were several competitive passes for the lead and for position, and other than Milka on the pace lap not a lot of stupid mistakes were made. The Ganassi boys did not fare so well although Dario overcame a lot of adversity to take fifth. Penske, in particular Will Power, had them covered. Justin Wilson brought Dryer & Reinbold to the front with a solid 2nd, then Penske took the next two positions. Danica led her team again…Kanaan, Ryan and Marco seemed to start strong but faded. When in the hell does Tomas Scheckter get behind the wheel?

But enough about the racing. What is the deal with the big breasted gal wearing the IZOD uniform getting into the winner shot and on the front page of Indy Car’s web site? Can they figure out a better, less obtrusive way to get the logo out there? What happens if one of the gals wins? Do they have a guy walk out there with an IZOD shirt and a big bulge in his britches? I know they are going for younger demos, and younger demos like the teats and arse. Even at my advanced age I like them. But let’s figure out a way to be more graceful.

Also, thank God IZOD changed their copy away from the ‘everything’s gonna be alright’ spot. The new spots are OK, but Tony’s rotation is too high, and they need to mix in others beside Ryan. The commercial that needs a bullet through the head so far this year is the Apex Brasil spot. Enough. Change the damned copy.

IZOD AND Indy Car should probably also fact check. The word ‘Beta’ is right there on the upper left part of the web page. And IZOD put a shirt out there that spells Five Hundred with an extra ‘e.’ Further proof the education system in this country failed.

Twelve days to Barber, and that place should be great if the weather is nice. The museum alone is worth the price of admission, and it will be a fun weekend on a real race course. We will see you there!

March 28, 2010

God Hates IZOD Indy Car Street Events

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:39 pm

There is something about the karma of trying to ‘race’ on city streets. It rarely works, and generally it is asking for trouble. St. Pete could be good. It is a nice location and when the weather is good it is really good…but when you have torrential rain and lightning that just screws everything up the ripple effect is devastating.

They are scheduled to try again at 10am Monday morning. When everyone is at work. On ESPN2. In a year when they look at these ratings, no one will remember the event was postponed a day. They will just look at lousy ratings and talk about how bad things are. Thank goodness for DVRs. This is the same type of karma that will screw up the half-a-month of May at Indy.

Maybe the current lack of respect Indy Car has on television is a good thing when it has keystone cops kind of days. NASCAR, golf and some other things were also rained out, and those events are what fans heard about being cancelled (even on SportsCenter, the broadcast ‘partner’ of Indy Car…no mention of Indy Cars at all). Maybe it’s good because the road to the Final Four in college basketball is very compelling this year, especially for basketball fans in Indiana. Perhaps it will give the folks who try to stream practice, qualifying and live timing and scoring on the web time to actually get something to stream.

Hey, an IRL-friendly representative has been asked to join Randy Bernard’s committee. If Eddie Gossage joins that will be a very positive step. Gil deFerren’s selection is also very non-controversial.

I wish the cars were on the track. I fell asleep for F-1 and cannot find a rebroadcast schedule.

March 26, 2010

The 2010 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Driver Choice

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:16 am

There is nothing really wrong with IMS’ selection of Robin Roberts as the pace car driver for the 2010 Indianapolis 500. It is a very safe choice. She is a former SportsCenter anchor, current Good Morning America host, cancer survivor and all around good gal.

But is it too safe a choice? If they are going for glitz why not let a great big star do it? Some smokin’ hot, controversial chickie-poo like Angelina Jolie or someone else on the A-list.

Helio was on GMA this morning with an IZOD show car and the pace car on Times Square. The segment was OK but Robin probably ought to perfect the pronunciation of Helio’s name before climbing aboard. Why IMS continues to patronize ABC after ESPN/ABC has tried to kill the brand sporadically for ten years is beyond me. But hey, publicity is publicity and they probably got it on the cheap.

If ABC holds up their end of the spirit of the deal, they will host GMA from the Brickyard the week before the race and follow Robin’s practice and driving lessons. Should we hold our breath?

Hey, by the way…good luck to drivers, teams and participants who will be making the trip to St. Pete this weekend.

March 24, 2010

IZOD Indy Cars in Action In OUR Country!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:44 pm

The IZOD Indy Car Series returns to action on our own shores this weekend in St. Pete. There are a lot of really nice stories, including Graham Rahal, who gets behind the wheel of Sarah Fisher’s car for a couple of non-ovals until he may go full time again with NHL. There is a rumor out there that he has sponsorship lined up for a full season ride. That would be great.

Not so great are a disappointing number of entries in the Indy Lights group. Last year they had plenty. This year they are struggling to get 16. That is a clear indication some more changes are needed. The burgeoning ladder system is critical for future success, and now that Atlantics is teats up a golden opportunity exists. There you have another item for the Randy checklist.

I like the runway and the water scenery at St. Pete, but mostly it’s just another idiotic temporary street parade route. I really hope Mr. Bernard does not get used to this crap. My other wish is that any team other than Penske or Ganassi wins.

ESPN on ABC has the coverage, and right out of the gate it’s inferior. No qualifications coverage, no special programming, the same old crew (Gentlemen, start your Scott Goodyear drinking games), and probably a strictly enforced window. The promos are pretty cool, however, and they seem to be running them fairly frequently.

Nothing would make me happier this year than to see wins by Dryer & Reinbold, Foyt, and/or Panther.

March 23, 2010

Indy Car Street Abomination in Baltimore: Bag it. Or is that BagUETTE?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:24 pm

Eric Bachelart sold a Conquest seat to a Belgian driver this week…24 year old guy named Bertrand Baguette. If nothing else that is a darned cool name, just like fellow Belgian Wym Eyckmans before him. This latest in a long succession of non-Americans behind Indy Car steering wheels has some solid credentials, winning the 2009 World Series by Renault, and had some serious sniffing being done by Formula 1 teams. He starts at Barber and will be in St. Pete to take a close look this weekend at the second of the three God forsaken street circuits that pollute the early IZOD Indy Car schedule before the first of an ever-dwindling number of ovals. At least St. Pete has a bumpy runway and relatively pretty scenery.

Speaking of pointless gypsy street festivals with fast parades that nearly always eventually alienate cities, the citizens of Baltimore and fans of actual racing across the country are about to get another one unceremoniously shoved up their keisters as early as next season. They will fly helicopters over the streets where they want the ‘track’ to be so they can ‘survey’ it this weekend.

Hey Baltimore…if you want an event that might actually last for more than a couple of years before everyone in town gets torch-carrying angry about the colossal amount of money you will end up throwing away for hype that is mainly just hot air, why not bulldoze some of the numerous blighted areas in or close to downtown and build a REAL race track? There are parts of downtown Baltimore that are WAY worse than, say, the 30th St. side of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It would cost you less in the long run and if you did it correctly you could have Indy Car, NASCAR and any number of other quality series on your schedule. If that does not work, Dover is nearby. If people in Baltimore did not show up when Indy Cars ran there, why would they show up now?

Your hotels won’t be sold out, the hundreds of millions you expect in economic impact is a cart-style wet dream, and what you will have by Sunday night are pissed off citizens who could not get from point A to point B for over a week, litter strewn streets downtown, puke covered sidewalks and a massive clean-up effort that will cost big bucks. Build a real track. Streets are not race tracks.

IZOD Indy Car Committee: How About Some Fan Input?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:30 am

Let’s talk about potential members of the new Indy Car select committee that will help determine the future of the actual Indy Car. Randy Bernard talked about it on Wind Tunnel, and (this will keep the haters stocked with juvenile punch lines for a while) he has hired a General named Looney to head it up.

Indy Car issues a press release today, and the first line bothers me. It says: “As the next step in its search for the new iconic IZOD IndyCar Series CAR, the Indy Racing League has announced plans to develop an advisory committee representing key fields of the open-wheel racing industry to review research and recommend a future chassis and engine PLATFORM.” The wording makes it seem as if only ONE chassis and engine will be selected. That is a fatal mistake before it even gets going. I sincerely hope they are smarter than that. We have learned in recent years not to hold our collective breath.

The committee is supposed to represent key areas and will have someone from the IRL, a team owner, an engine expert, a promoter and an engineer. For the sake of intelligence let’s hope this does not become a cart III deal. If I was in Vegas and had a farm to bet, however, that is precisely the direction on which my agricultural entity would be placed. I have some ideas in the unlikely event they have not already made up their minds and are simply constructing the lip service to tongue down our throats:

-Include a fan representative for once. We pay many of the bills. Start listening.

-It is difficult to trust many at the IRL anymore so a selection of someone from there does not mean too much.

-One of the contributors to the blog yesterday thought Sarah Fisher would make a great owner representative. I happen to wholeheartedly agree. She epitomizes the grit and determination to bootstrap your way into growth, and I cannot think of a better person. She is young enough to remain around for a long time, and we need more like her in the next generation. As an added bonus, she is about the only owner fully committed to ovals. If any owner who was previously aligned with cart until anywhere in the 2000s is picked, the pool will be poisoned beyond hope. John Barnes might also be a good choice, as would someone from Dryer & Reinbold. Even A.J. Foyt would be great. I would consider Michael Andretti, but his cart baggage still gets toted and his enthusiasm for those God damned temporary street abominations clouds him as a choice.

-I love Honda, but get someone with not as narrow an agenda for the engine position.

Eddie Gossage is the best person I can think of for the promoter slot.

-Engineering is a tricky one, but I would follow the same guidelines I offered for owners.

I really find my recent cynicism troubling, but since 1979 every possible fan group that could be alienated has been at one time or another. You cannot treat fans with contempt and expect to grow. We need to evolve toward the future, not toward cart in the mid-1990s.

-I don’t know where these two might fit in, but inclusion of Eddie Cheever and Buddy Lazier seems like a great idea. They are smart and articulate and both did not have the easiest of times most of the time. Both, however, had special years.

Management by committee scares the hell out of me.

March 22, 2010

Randy Bernard and the IZOD Indy Car Series Rushing Headlong Into The Mid-1990s?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 10:54 am

How Randy Bernard is Being Guided

We are one race into the season, and still three more to go before we hit the first oval track. That is just wrong, particularly since three of the first four are idiotic street course abominations. The new IRL CEO has been talking a lot, and some of the things he has to say are potentially troubling; e.g., these nuggets shared with the St. Petersburg Times: ‘I’m not convinced that sanction agreements are always in the best interest of the league and I would like to see possibly co-promotions and I’d like to see possibly the bottom two events dropped every year so that we continue to make sure that we are bringing better value every single year to our fans…I’m sure promoters are not going to like to hear that, but those are the types of things that are very important to me.’ Hey, as long as the words do not translate into dumping more ovals for more non-ovals, especially God damned street parades, it might be OK.

NASCAR’s dwindling popularity (they did not even sell out Bristol) and Jimmie Johnson winning everything in sight provides additional opportunity for IZOD Indy Car. If I were them I would begin pulling two-Cup-date venues back to one a year. They need to readjust supply and demand.

Indy Racing then needs to get Michigan back on the schedule next year. The rhetoric of the past few years in which each entity blames the other should be shelved. Get it done. Re-institute some sort of ‘triple crown’ for big bucks.

Robin Miller Sits In For Dave Despain

Why Speed TV, NASCAR’s primary 24-7 broadcast wing, employs Robin Miller is debatable. Whenever he is on, especially when he is substituting for Dave Despain, he makes the entire channel look and sound like local cable access. His interview with Randy Bernard was filled with typical snide commentary; e.g., ‘…ask him how he’s going to right the sinking ship’ or ‘…go back to the way it used to be.’ Bernard let it be known that he is going to form a committee of seven to help him make decisions on future direction. The seven will include an owner representative.

Creeping Into Randy's Brain

Management by committee is always fraught with peril, especially when arrogant, self serving bastards are allowed into the decision making process. I sincerely hope Randy Bernard studies history. The most successful auto racing entities over time are those run by benevolent dictators. He needs to look no further than F-1 or NASCAR. The last thing we need is another spec road racing series that dumps all ovals except Indy. I like to be optimistic, but it appears as though Bernard’s brain has already been infested.

March 19, 2010

Spring Has Sprung, The Grass Has Riz, I Wonder Where The Indy Cars Is?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:30 am

I don’t know about you but where I stood today it was sunny and 72 degrees (that’s 22.2 for our Celcius-oriented Canadian and some parts of Europe friends). I have spring fever really badly. I want to see Indy Cars going around a track. I may have to impulse my way to St. Pete.

My wish for this half-a-May at IMS is that each and every day from the 15th of the month to the end of the month is just like today. Of course when tradition is screwed with haphazardly I am betting on rain at least 75% of the time and a complete washout of the one weekend they have stupidly allotted for qualifications. We’ll see.

I am wondering what the ratings will be for NCAA March Madness. If the weather stays like this in much of the country the effect may be interesting to watch. This winter seemed worse than recent ones, and with all the upheaval in Indy Car we really need to just be able to see the cars in action and smell the burning corn as they whiz by.

This weekend it looks as if we’ll have NASCAR to watch too. I wish the middle of May would hurry up and get here. Better yet I wish they let Indy Cars on the track during the first week.

March 18, 2010

The Evolution of Indy Car…When Will the Fans Follow Suit?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:30 am

There are certain aspects of the still Wild West Internet that drive me nuts, particularly when it comes to the IZOD Indy Car Series.

  1. Whenever anything comes out that is good news, whether for real or manufactured in some press release, a certain number of trouble making a-holes appear to drop turds in whatever punch bowl just got filled up. What emotional deficiency prompts that sort of juvenile behavior? That would make an interesting study. In this instance, ratings for the season opening race on Versus evidently were up 76%. Smart people already know that the Versus audience is small and a 76% increase is certainly possible. We also know that less than 500,000 households were tuned in across the U.S. (Brazil is a different story). Why focus on whatever is perceived as negative? Rating discussions always inspires true idiots to slither out. The television package as a whole is way ahead of its time except for idiots who refuse to leave the late 1980s.
  2. Why are some people still obsessed with Tony George? He is no longer involved in Indy Car in ANY capacity. Arguments that slammed the man for fifteen years had a few valid points we understood the first few thousand times they were crudely made, but generally those who lay blame for what they feel is current malaise in the sport on Anton are routinely some of the most clueless individuals still evolved enough to walk upright. The black and white manner in which they assign ‘blame’ is hysterical. Not one of these logic-challenged crybabies ever takes into consideration any other evolution of the sport or world. . . not to mention fundamental ways in which the world entertains itself or the technological advanced that have facilitated delivery of the entertainment.
  3. The Delta Wing shocked a lot of people when the gray model appeared last month. A whole gaggle of squawking people hurled epithet after epithet at it. I am old enough to remember the same sort of reaction when the rear engine revolution began. I remember learning new bad words tossed out by many of the locals when people like Jim Clark or Graham Hill showed up. Change was inevitable, and when it took hold for good no real fans were lost. And it evolved from there. People hate change. This is not an endorsement to install the Delta Wing, but if it becomes one of three or four new allowed chassis then it’s great. It’s evolution.

We can’t really ever prevent the sport from evolving. I just wish some of the more vulgar who claim to be fans would learn how to roll with the evolutionary flow. I get to hear enough incessant bitching from my wife and bosses at work.

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