Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

April 7, 2010

IZOD Indy Car and the Number 33

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:29 pm

There exists a refreshing absence this year from one specific type of chicken-little cackling. Virtually no one seems worried about the ability of the upcoming Indianapolis 500 to attract 33 drivers and many more to attempt a run. It is difficult to miss that particular type of hysterical cackling mostly by those who do not get it and have a tendency to blame every single perceived problem on one guy. Their silence on this matter is peaceful.

Certainly they can invent things about which to portend doom and gloom. Yes, the cars are long in the tooth and are spec. Yes, Penske and Ganassi will still win most of the time. My personal worry is the fact that the month of May is now the half a month of May. I have a feeling Ma Nature is going to stay pissed until the bean counters resume synaptic activity on this matter. Given recent climate shifts the folks at Indy really ought to count on rain about 50% of the time. That leaves about seven good days if they are lucky. That is pessimistic, however. I would rather orient my thought toward optimism and simply expect fifteen days of sunny blue skies and temperatures in the 70s.

Provided it does not rain twists are expected for pole day. Jack Arute repors all 33 spots are up for grabs (instead of 11), and the fastest nine as of 4pm will be able to race for the pole between 4 and 6. No word on whether they will get multiple attempts. If you are a traditionalist you will probably hate this as much as 11-11-11 with bumping every day. If you like raw, steely competition, you may love it. If the weather is good it will certainly be compelling.

Meantime, off to Barber this weekend. That is a beautiful place. I will be curious to see how they accommodate a huge crowd.



  1. From Jack Arute’s article

    “Its time to take some of the old-school methods and ensconce them in a museum.”

    Yep, I see just where the IRL is headed. Those of you who treasure tradition can just go pound salt. Maybe that is what I’ll start doing in May. I have been to every pole day since the early 1980’s but it may be time to make a stand for tradition and for what was once the glorious month of May.

    Comment by Bob F. — April 7, 2010 @ 1:14 pm | Reply

  2. I happen to think this new format is a good idea. Having all 33 up for grabs on pole day is awesome. The fast 9 is a bonus.

    Tradition at Indy is to be ‘compelling’. When times change, and they have, it’s manditory to make adjustments to provide the same result during different times. This does just that. Change has been tradition at Indy.

    Rain has become more of an issue lateley now that we find Indiana in a different climate zone seemingly. They might end up qualitying on a week day. If weather permits, this new format will be awesome.

    We need to attract new fans and existing formulas can become outdated, especially during times when you must scream louder to get the attention of the entertaiment seekers. It can’t become cheesey however, and in this case, I don’t think this new format steps over the line.

    Comment by Mr. Miller — April 7, 2010 @ 2:10 pm | Reply

  3. Car count for Indy seems excelent, this year. But really, they’ve managed to get 33 every year, and if it happened last year, of course it would happen this year. Looks like Milka will get bumped, we can only hope.

    Comment by dylanpt24 — April 7, 2010 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

  4. I hope they have a plan B just in case none of this happens due to weather.

    Comment by Real Fan — April 7, 2010 @ 3:42 pm | Reply

  5. I think one reason they’re having trouble getting fans on any qual day, especially Pole Day, is because nobody expects any new record speeds. Heck, there haven’t been any since 1996–and even that day saw empty stands. I’d like to hear Bob F.’s and Mr. Miller’s opinions on this one.

    Comment by DOUG ALBORN — April 7, 2010 @ 5:17 pm | Reply

    • I agree with you. I think slowing the cars down “for safety reasons” was a huge mistake, and hurt the 500 as much as anything else. It is exactly why the crowds have disappeared on Pole Day.

      Now it sounds like going forward someone can have a pole winning speed before 4:00 and lose it after 4:00. I think that will hurt more than help. Will we have the fastest car in qualifying not get the pole? Not sure how they are going to do this but it appears to me this could happen.

      Comment by Bob F. — April 7, 2010 @ 6:22 pm | Reply

  6. I’m going to wait and see how May goes and how the rain affects the schedule before being too critical. I do think with all the other entertainment options available today that the Speedway is trying to modernize the process. I love the traditions of May at the Speedway and hope that this new schedule adds to the relevance of the Speedway and to the attendance and doesn’t detract too much from those traditions.

    As far as cars going faster, I think Fittipaldi has the record, right? Around 235? Was that ’96? How much longer were they going to keep getting faster before it became humanly impossible to make it around the track without wrecking?

    Looking forward to Barber and only the “two weeks” of May.

    Comment by redd — April 8, 2010 @ 2:29 am | Reply

  7. The IRL is headed down the wrong path, if they want to revive the series they need to stop all the gimmick tricks and get back to real racing where the fastest car and driver on the first day of qualifying is awarded the prestigious pole award. who ever was the brains behind this wet dream, needs to apply with the WWF for a position there.

    There will be fewer fans in the stands for this crap, the new management has what a total of 0 Indianapolis 500 mile races under their belt, sure many have been around all their life, the problem is that all they ever did during may was party in the Suites or count the money, when Tony did take over management of the Speedway he had no idea how the place was run, all he knew was that it made a lot of money for the family. Someone there has to know that when the qualifying format was changed, the fans disappeared, the vendors disappeared, first change was cutting the total days cars were allowed on the track, then cutting more time from track activity, until they cut the amount of cars that could qualify for the race to just 11 cars, then allow each car three attempts to qualify all four days of qualifications for a total of 12 attempts per car, not allowing bumping until the second Sunday after all 33 spots had been filled, sure cars could be bumped any of the first three days however only 11 were allowed to keep their time, who is going to spend all day at the track to see 11 cars qualify.

    I would like the responsible individuals to steep up and tell us who the brains were behind this decision, I was planning on driving back to Indy this May, watch pole weekend, then visit Nashville for five days, I have now canceled those plans and will drive to Branson for a week then Nashville for another week.

    Comment by Rosco — April 8, 2010 @ 4:23 am | Reply

  8. The fans didn’t disappear because they changed the qualifying format, they disappeared long before that. The qualifying format was changed because they barely had enough cars to make it interesting the old way.

    Fewer people in the stands–fewer than when? 1966 or 2005? I’m gonna disagree and say they’ll be more fans this year than last year. I think the new schedule actually makes it easier for people to go to Indy for a week and see a whole bunch of stuff happen. And car owners don’t need to pay for all that time at the track anymore and just use up the tires.

    I’m as curious as anyone as to how it will work, but I’m not going to assume that they ruined the month before we see if that’s true or not.

    Comment by redd — April 8, 2010 @ 1:04 pm | Reply

    • Agree. Plus, the TV package is much more attractive with the “Fast 9” coming at the end of the day. I’ve probably blown off the last 4-5 Pole Days on TV, because I wasn’t about to sit on the couch all day while nothing happened (in person, it’s another story ’cause you can sit and soak in the track). Now, I’m guaranteed to be riveted for the last 2 hours of Pole Day. It’s taken me a day to get my head around it, but I like it. Good move.

      Comment by The Speedgeek — April 9, 2010 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

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