Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

March 14, 2010

IZOD Indy Car Adventures In South America

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:09 pm

The first IZOD Indy Car Series race of the year took place on foreign soil in the home country of many series participants. The weekend featured a little of everything. We saw a delay of qualifications because the main straight resembled an ice rink, more passing than usual on a temporary street circuit, all types of weather, pit strategy, brain fading by people who should know better; e.g., a recent Formula 1 driver, a Daytona-style red flag period punctuated by men sweeping water off the track with brooms and, most importantly, drama when the green flag flew. It even became a timed race, something that was not supposed to happen with Versus. If that type of crap attracts 12 to 30 year olds I do not hold out much hope for the evolution of humanity.

This was also the first IZOD Indy Car Series race ever seen by the new CEO of the series Randy Bernard. His head seems to be in the right place. He has stated Indy Car needs to have more mass television network coverage. Bernard has also offered that the IRL is ‘looking to different countries around the world,’ and ‘I think that is important for the growth of the sport, but (they) will be taken into consideration along with all of the great big cities in the United States.’

Of course he also stated that his first week on the job ‘was like drinking water out of a fire hose.’ My fear is that his head is getting filled with the ludicrous notion that racing on temporary, God-forsaken street abominations is what Indy Car should be. That type of flawed thought was a large part of what killed cart. Twice. Randy’s honeymoon period means he is getting his ass kissed virtually every single moment of every single day by those trying to convince him these high fee gypsy carnivals that most always end up screwing host cities once someone wises up and actually runs the numbers are somehow worthwhile. While they may be in the short term, they generally are not over the long haul. It is also not beyond the realm of possibility that Randy is being told to dislike ovals.

The next big city with such street racing stars in their eyes is Baltimore. There is even an organization attempting to convince leadership and population there that the next Long Beach is right around the corner. They cite the always ambiguous ‘economic impact’ that is inevitably gets expressed in the tens of millions of dollars. I hope during their due diligence they talk to folks in San Jose, Denver, Detroit or any number of failed victims of such schemes.

Sao Paulo is the third largest city in the world. If they can afford to pave almost an entire circuit and grind a straightaway overnight they can build a real track. Hopefully with level asphalt. There is a perfectly unused good oval in Rio.

I would like to put forward a motion to permanently cap temporary circuit racing to no more than 20% of the entire schedule. They continue to be ridiculous, twisted perversions of the very sanctity of the sport. They are cartoons that denigrate motor racing. I am aware that Formula 1-style racing began on twisty actual roads and NASCAR’s roots involved hilljacks running moonshine on country roads. Both have evolved beyond that. Indy Car Racing began on actual tracks. They should not move away from them.

Those blowing smoke up Bernard’s backside tend to frame their myopic notions of Indy Car success on cart of the early 1990s but inevitably fail to take into consideration any of the technological and sociological evolution that has occurred over the past fifteen to twenty years. Therefore we have devolved to a situation in which the first 4 races of the season occur on non-ovals and just one of those is on a real race track.

Many, but mostly cart holdovers who believe Tony Cotman is the best thing for racing since Tony George’s grandfather, will spend two full months fawning over Randy until Kansas comes along. At that point oval racing (which should actually be the centerpiece of the series) will be denigrated as they point to some empty seats, then try to convince Bernard all that close racing is nothing more than potentially expensive car damage as whining and peeing of panties commences.

Following Kansas they will waltz into Indianapolis for two weeks of what will probably be rain delays instead of using the majority of the month (May should occupy a minimum of three whole weeks at IMS…period) while claiming the series shouldn’t rely on just one event for legitimacy. I apologize for obvious cynicism but this road has been well traveled, chronicled and experienced, and the surviving rats have now outlasted Hulman family members who actually get it and tried to do something about it. We can only hope Bernard sees right through their bullsh!t and ensures balance as the sport evolves.

I reality am extremely happy the season is underway, and also happy for the top three Indy Car finishers, especially Vitor and the Foyt team. The F-1 season also got off to an interesting start with bigger cars and new names early this morning and it appears Ferrari is back. Safe travels to all the teams now headed for St. Pete. At least part of that temporary circuit uses an airport. NASCAR had the weekend off, but I am betting the Brazil race did not cause any of their fans to switch allegiance.



  1. The oval in Rio was demolished last October. It’s now the middle of the upcoming Olympic village.

    Editor’s Note: What a waste. I wish we could make auto racing an Olympic sport. Oh well…time to build a new one in Sao Paulo.

    Comment by Leigh O'Gorman — March 14, 2010 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

  2. When indycar “merged” with Champ car they had the opportunity to pick up some great race tracks like Road America, Portland, and Laguna Seca. But what do they do, add one succesful street race, drop the highest attended street race after one year, add toronto (which struggled with attendance in the final years of CART), and now this. Well the street course fans will talk about THE MASSIVE crowd of just over 30,000. Look there are some ovals I want gone, but race on real racetracks. If the FIA wouldnt allow them to race at Interlagos they should have raced at Curitiba.

    Comment by Frustrated with the IRL — March 15, 2010 @ 12:31 am | Reply

  3. If racing was an Olympic sport, it’d probably be a road race.

    I thought the race today was pretty darn entertaining. I’m from an oval background but really don’t mind the mix of ovals and twisties.

    I’ve always heard that street races are better money-wise for the series and that the owners prefer them also. But I’ve never seen any facts or figures to back that up. Seems like you’d fit more people into grandstands around an oval than along a street course.

    Comment by redd — March 15, 2010 @ 12:39 am | Reply

  4. Seemed like a pretty good race to me. Pretty good payday, too.

    Obviously, that race is going to get rained on more than any other race on the schedule. They definitely need to fix the pavement so that the track drains-off without puddles that need to be swept dry. Even if they still need to red flag the race after a deluge like that, it wouldn’t last but a small fraction of the time wasted today if the track drained properly.

    Clearly there’s only so much you can get done in the short amount of time they had to do it. I hope they realize that the track really hasn’t been completed yet, and that there is more that needs to be done. I think they probably do realize that.

    I also think you’re bound to be disappointed going forward. The IRL does two things better than anybody else: high speed, wheel to wheel racing on super speedways, and street races. That’s the brand. It’s what makes the series different. And the current line up of street courses (St. Pete, Long Beach, Toronto, Sao Paulo) are all good races. The cars are too slow, but apparently there’s nothing to be done about that before 2012.

    The only race I’d just flat-out axe from the schedule right now would be Edmonton, which just seems like an awful race to me. I also wish we could find something better than Sonoma, which was an alright race last year, but it’s still a rather dreary-looking event.

    Sao Paulo was not dreary by any stretch. Tons of passing, a spectacular crash, an exciting final stint, an enthusiastic crowd whose cheering could be heard repeatedly during the race…

    As my old man used to say: “What’d’ya want, egg in your beer?”

    Comment by Boo Boo — March 15, 2010 @ 12:45 am | Reply

  5. Let’s not fool ourselves, that was one hell of a expensive race to put on! Not only the city and promotion, but in equipment losses too. I was surprise Marco didn’t have his neck shortened when that car seemed to slide off the roll hoop and onto the main tub.
    But it was very well received and supported (always in a first year), but is it sustainable? I don’t know.
    At least it wasn’t boring (‘cus I missed my nap), there was passing and hard racing to the front.
    I don’t mind the time limit…..there is no point to letting the event stale on live TV.

    Comment by tim nothhelfer — March 15, 2010 @ 1:06 am | Reply

  6. well defender, you took the champ car world series to task over their debut at the ’05 san jose track. have to say, after the debut of the irl in sao paulo, be careful when you make fun of others.

    a complete comedy of errors throughout the entire weekend. the track stil being paved on the friday of the race weekend? the front straight being pretty much a skating rink? having to have to cancel qualies until raceday? hmmmmm, how about the first lap, first corner fiasco? AMATEUR HOUR!!!!! no way to sugarcoat this one at all. let’s hope this is not a sign of things to come for the league this year.

    congrats to champ car product will power as well.

    by the way, always nice to see an american series opening the season on american soil….DOH!

    Paul Ishmynob

    Editor’s Note: Your penchant for behaving like a second grader is well known, but you really should try to learn to read.

    Comment by Paul Ishmynob — March 15, 2010 @ 1:50 am | Reply

    • hey defender, can your BS. is anything i stated wrong? can you honestly refute any of it?

      you can answer this one too…if this was champ car instead of the irl yesterday, you would have been all over it, so give it a rest.

      AMATEUR HOUR for the “leeaaaggguuuee”. if the new guy, who is proficient in bull, wanted to get off to a great start, well, his new project certainy delivered plenty of bull the first time out.

      Paul Ishmynob

      Editor’s Note. Wow…not only can you not read you can’t comprehend ANY words.

      Comment by Paul Ishmynob — March 15, 2010 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

  7. I thought related “broadcast partner” ESPN did a hatchet job on the SportsCenter review of today’s race. Lengthy crash highlights, mispronunciation of the drivers, and a jacked up “the track was a mess all weekend” slam. Much attention to Danica’s non-news, a recap of her Nascar results, and no mention of the next race: an ABC broadcast. Real lowballing.

    You would have loved it.

    Today, Apex Brazil signed on for two more years as a sponsor, the stands were packed, and Brazilian TV proclaimed this to be their highest rated broadcast. Ever.

    When the IICS can generate half that response in the U.S., there won’t be a good enough reason to race anywhere else. In the meantime, great races like today are an entertaining and profitable way to keep wheels rolling in the right direction. No matter who has to eat a little dust in the process.

    Comment by Andy Bernstein — March 15, 2010 @ 5:16 am | Reply

  8. My oversight.

    The Brazilian broadcast partner is Bandeirantes. They put up $7M U.S.D. as part of the package to bring thee race to their home country. Obrigado, Brazil.

    Editor’s Note: They really ought to learn how how to bring the quality up to something beyond local cable access. I felt sorry for Versus and the Indy-based radio crew.

    Comment by Andy Bernstein — March 15, 2010 @ 5:52 am | Reply

  9. Although oval-based racing is my preference, with the exception of last season’s races at Kentucky and Chicago, which were very exciting, there’s no question yesterday’s race was more exciting than any other oval race from last season. Street circuits may not be the most enjoyable form of open wheel racing, but unless something changes, I fully expect Kansas to be another 2-hour, follow-the-leader yawn parade. Let’s just hope the 500 isn’t that way this year!

    Comment by Vic Lovisa — March 15, 2010 @ 1:04 pm | Reply

  10. The problem with Interlagos is that F1 contract gives the Dwarf the right to say no to any other international events and he said no IRL (he also supposedly try to push FIA to not approving the street track), I’d rather we race in Interlagos a proper track and one of the few on F1 calendar where passing always happens, but I do like the AOWR still annoys him to this day (he was ok wqith A1GP racing there and let Interlagos lobby for a MotoGP date, but IRL seems to be a big no).

    Comment by Filipe — March 15, 2010 @ 5:39 pm | Reply

  11. I disagree with the statement Indycar does street racing well. Sao Paolo was good, Toronto was good. But did you watch Belle Isle? Long Beach last year was a parade, and I don’t remember St. Pete being that good. Edmonton was a good race in 08, but a terrible race last year. One of the best things about Sao Paolo was the long straight. Guess What? Road America and Sebring have longs straights and are wide enough to pass througout the track.

    I agree Street courses should be in the minority, compared to ovals AND road courses. Between 3-5 is a good number.

    And the big payout may or may not have actually happened. Plus, don’t forget although it’s good for Apex Brazil, many sponsors don’t want to pay for the races out of North America. So it’s not all good, financially.

    Comment by dylanpt24 — March 15, 2010 @ 7:49 pm | Reply

  12. While I appreciated and still consider the mix of short ovals, superspeedways, road courses and temp. circuits to be what makes US open wheel the best racing in the world, it is shameful that the IRL has scheduled only one oval ‘tune up’ for this group of drivers before heading to an abbrivated month of May at Indy, and that track being the dud known as Kansas…why in the world can’t the IRL schedule a good oval or two before Indy…and while I am at it, the weather down here in Miami is perfect for a series oval opener (temp in the seventies with low humidity)…too bad we will hit the mid nineties with one hundred percent humidity by October…foolish IRL….

    Comment by Neil Rubin — March 16, 2010 @ 4:19 am | Reply

  13. Man Defender you sure are a miserable piece of trash.

    Despite the difficulties with the track surface during day 1 and the rain delay during the race……..the race turned out to be a tremendous success. Great crowd, great racing with a lot of passing, and high drama for tv.

    Only a moron would try to argue that this race in Sao Paolo was a failure…..yet here you are.

    Editor’s Note: It was a STREET race fraught with all the idiotic problems those types of events bring. Less than 40,000 people in attendance simply won’t justify a $25 million fee, not to mention all the construction work that needed to be done. Sao Paulo would have a much better long term investment if they built a REAL track. Versus used the feed of local broadcasters, and that also turned out horribly.

    Comment by Serg — March 16, 2010 @ 5:22 am | Reply

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