Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

September 29, 2010

The New IZOD Indy Car Trophy: A Work of Art That Sets The Tone For The Future

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:41 pm

Any time anything changes in the Indy Car world, traditionalists begin howling as if someone made off with their first born children. We have seen it happen repeatedly through the decades. Personally, I saw it when the first rear-engine machine arrived and started a revolution. It was seen with turbines. Ground effects. cart. Split. You name it. Change means bitching. Sometimes more than others.

Bitching has increased exponentially over the years. It is unclear whether it is due to the human propensity to propel themselves toward hostility or just frustration that most other people have gone stupid or something in between.

The latest thing Indy Car fans say they hate is the new championship trophy. It was commissioned by title sponsor  IZOD and acclaimed sculptor Ted Gall designed it.  The trophy is definitely not of the ‘bowling trophy’ variety some have bitched about in the past. It is bold and is supposed to convey the intertwined nature of man and machine in the 21st century. It is stainless steel and rests on an African Pedauk hardwood base. Classy.

The same guy is responsible for the great art work outside the Barber Motorsports Park museum. The Indy Car trophy is certainly out of the box. For that reason alone I like it. Traditionalists want another Borg Warner or bowling trophy. The problem is that will not differentiate the product substantially from much of anything in the past.

For my money, it gets well deserved kudos. Fantastic. A step in the right direction.

September 28, 2010

IZOD Indy Car Story Worthy of Inspiring Good Feelings

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:31 pm

Perhaps the brightest spot of the entire 2010 IZOD Indy Car season is the emergence of Simona de Silvestro driving for Keith Wiggins and the HVM group. Simona and her team did more with less than any team in recent memory. She is in the hunt for Rookie of the Year, although the odds are a bit long with one race to go. The important thing is the final race.  It appears HVM will make it after an episode with a chagrined landlord this past week.

The idiot haters wasted little time propagating the racing portions of the internet with lurid snapshots of the seizure notice. That was predictable.

I appreciate the effort of the team a lot more. They have an innate ability to overcome obstacles, whether it was the main car allowed to burn to a crisp to a primary sponsor who flaked out early on. This weekend they may have to dodge a hurricane. These folks deserve the opportunity to continue and here is hoping they do. That group is a GREAT reason alone to follow the sport.

Too many people look for bad news then exploit it. It is simply great to find this type of story. Fascinating.

We can only hope that both HVM AND Simona are both back next season. There has been talk Bernie Ecclestone wants to get Simona involved in Formula One despite her female gender and the propensity of the vacuous white midget in charge to think of those particular people as appliances best suited to the kitchen. Indy Car could use a new female star, particularly if Danica follows the advice of her handlers and bolts for the NASCAR bucks. Simona is far more accessible, easy on the eyes and most importantly fierce and fearless behind the wheel.

The HVM story is a highlight of the season. This fan thanks all of them for their efforts.

September 27, 2010

Randy Bernard’s List of IZOD Indy Car Series Remodeling Items:

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 5:23 pm

The one thing Randy Bernard has no shortage of is the list of items that should be ‘fixed’ in the Indy Car Series. Potentially the brightest spot of a year when either Penske or Ganassi won every race again is the effort of the underfunded, sweat equity group at HVM with Simona de Silvestro being a potential Danica-type star behind the wheel. She has even been recommended to Bernie Eccelstone as that series’ version of Danica. Therefore, it is a real bummer that the team landlord had to padlock the facilities the other day. Whether they make it to Miami remains to be seen.

There is an item theat needs to be fixed. Another is an increasing habit among racing teams to rent the seats out to high bidders. If things do not work out with IZOD, perhaps Hertz or Avis could be approached. Dryer & Reinbold have gotten into the habit, and Conquest has been in the habit for a long while. The necessity of going that route is easy to understand. It is difficult to justify current economics, particularly when exclusive manufacturer ‘partners’ jack everyone around so much with regard to prices.

The fan experience, however, is severely compromised when you need a scorecard for each seat that is different for every race.

The whole marketing thing still needs work, especially when IMS is involved. Take ‘Fan Appreciation Day’ for example. They picked a beautiful day to mark ‘selected’ merchandise down 75% and to meet drivers. Most of the marked down merchandise was not type of thing one would normally buy, and the items one might actually want; e.g., 100th anniversary ‘most important race in history’ stuff, was not marked down at all. That stuff is blatantly overpriced anyway. The drivers who were there were mostly long retired. Perhaps they could have marketed the historic aspect of the panel of drivers. What happened if you wanted a ride around the track that day? Too bad. The Richard Petty rent-a-stock car was using the track all day. There is still a lot of work to do in the common sense area over at 16th and G-town.

Unfortunately there is no shortage of items to fix. And now there is talk a hurricane may be threatening the season closer at Homestead.

September 24, 2010

Former Indy Car Venue Could Use a Modern-Day Tony Hulman

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:35 am

The current condition of the quaint little Speedway in Nazareth PA is deplorable. It harkens back to IMS in 1945. WWII did a number on IMS. The France family and their contemptible ISC business is destroying almost as many race tracks as Hitler destroyed European cities. What purpose is served?

ISC has pulled this stunt at two tracks that are near and dear to the hearts of racing fans. They buy them, clear cut the physical plant of any goodies they feel best deployed elsewhere, then sell them with contract language that prohibits any future use for big time racing. As a result, Pikes Peak and Nazareth are two that are off limits. Pikes Peak is actually still in great shape. The pictures of Nazareth on today’s blog were taken by someone named Winston and were published on a racing oriented forum. They are very traumatic to look at.

What Nazareth needs is a reincarnated Tony Hulman to rescue the place. He also needs to bring a lawyer who can loophole a way around the ridiculous, anti-fan terms upon which ISC burdens the racing community. That track has a legacy that parallels in many ways the Milwaukee Mile. Nazareth is a unique track that has played host to many great Indy Car events over the years.

Would it not be great for the Andretti family to step in? It is doubtful they will. Someone should. That track deserves a life. On the other hand, so do Pikes Peak, Memphis Motorsports Park and others. It is hard enough to maintain an adequate oval count for Indy Cars, particularly when the really unique ones are shelved for selfish reasons.

ISC becomes more reprehensible by the day. Many of their business practices are downright sleazy.

September 23, 2010

Entertainment on Indy Car Off Weeks: Laughing at Those Who Are Darkly Obsessed

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:26 am

Just when fans begin to nurture an inkling of any sort of enjoyment about their favorite sport, some idiot comes along to crap all over it. The latest such ill-informed cretin is some blogger named James Fish.  He wrote a mini-manifesto in something called the Epoch Times the other day in which split politics, flawed thought and revisionist history got crapped out yet again on par with the best of them. If you need some yucks, look it up.

Here are some softballs for me to lob out of the park:

‘IndyCar, once the premier form of racing in North America, is now in a pitiful condition.’

Sure is. A full slate of races for the fourteenth straight year. The most diverse schedule of any series. World class talent. A centerpiece that remains the most attended single day sporting event in the world. A title sponsor. A paid TV deal. Many well attended events.  Nearly 40 active series sponsors. Pitiful compared to what? The wet dream fantasies of idiots who have convinced themselves utopia coincided with the evolutionary period of cart occupation?

‘In 1996, Tony George, inheritor of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Hulman-George fortune, came on the scene and demanded that he be given more power in cart. cart management offered him the same power any other board member wielded, but Tony George wanted to be King.’

Well, not really. But it sure makes a good story. The overreaction of the establishment was typical. That same sort of brutal arrogance caused the same people to kill their own great organization. Twice. Meanwhile, Indy Car continued. It’s been fifteen years now.

‘When he was not given a crown (he had never worked for a living, never run a business, never managed a racing series … all he had done was reach the age when his trust fund deed said he became the president of IMS) he took his toys and left, starting the Indianapolis Racing League with a bunch of no-name drivers and outmoded cars bought from cart owners, who no longer had use for them.’

I love that ‘took his toys and left’ line the best. I also like that ‘Indianapolis Racing League’ deal. He certainly did not have to go very far. As a matter of fact, he was not the one who left. Too bad the cart owners did not have any use for their old cars. They could have used them to squish the then-nascent IRL like a bug with minimal cost and effort. But when your ego overrules your brain, self immolation occurs. Twice.

‘Tiny George managed to keep his league running (though ultimately it lost huge amounts of money every year it operated, eventually costing the Hulman-George family half a Billion—with a B—dollars.)’

There’s a new one. ‘Tiny.’ How quaint. Also endearing is the parroting of that $500 million+ supposed loss encountered by the IRL. Just once I wish one of these idiots would give me an accounting of how, exactly, that is possible. You know, how the money was actually lost. An accounting of revenue versus expenses. Basic accounting. No one ever has. All we ever hear is hot air about ‘credible sources’ but never anything even remotely substantive.

Given the lack of credibility so early on in the rambling of that nutty Fish person, there is not really any point in belaboring the rest of his recycled missive. It is all, of course, very predictable:

-cart was better than the USAC hick series.

-cart was better than NASCAR.

-cart was a threat to Formula 1.

-Since things are so bad now, we need to be like cart.

Blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. One might think that after fifteen years of whining about something their preferred series could have easily prevented then blaming someone else for their own self-perceived malaise these children would get a clue about reality. After all, most of them were not even teenagers yet in 1995.

Here is a better idea: Why not get behind Randy Bernard, accept the fact that IMS will always be the spiritual center of the sport, and make the IZOD (hey, what do you know…a title sponsor) Indy Car Series as great as you believe cart was? That would be a whole lot easier than trying to turn back the clock.

September 22, 2010

Hey Indy Car Critics….Is The Sky Falling For NASCAR too?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:26 pm

When are the gloom and doom idiots going to start predicting the end of NASCAR? After all, large pockets of open aluminum have been visible at about every single race this season, viewers are constantly assaulted with ticket pitches and the ratings have started to stink.

At New Hampshire ESPN achieved only 2.3 final which is 3,676,828 viewers, according to Nielsen. Last year it was on ABC and got a 3.2. That is about 1.5 million fewer viewers than last season. It appears their partnership with ESPN is not doing so well either. Given the amount of complete, unrelenting, unlubricated bending over ESPN does for NASCAR, these ratings missteps are staggering.

And yet what do we hear from critics? Not much. Interesting behavior. When Indy Car ratings come out, they are dissected like a frog in Biology class, usually by idiots fishing for bad news. The only pretty funny aspect of that behavior is that most who spew do not have a clue about what they attempt to discuss.

If someone bothers to look objectively, NASCAR is suffering from the same sorts of effects out there in the real world that Indy Car is. Not as sexy as slamming, perhaps, but no less true.

It is rough all over, folks.

September 21, 2010

Indy Car Attendance…Not The Only Venue With Problems

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:52 am

The NFL is the most popular sport in America at this moment. Why, then, have they announced programs that make attending games more like watching from home? Why is their attendance down? Why are their ratings down? Why aren’t idiots shrieking that the end of the sport is near?

The fact is attendance for most sports and entertainment venues is way down. The only thing noticeably up is movie attendance. Curiously, movie attendance always spikes when there is a recession. With football, however, tickets cost an arm and a leg. NASCAR recognized that and has begun lowering prices.

The point? Indy Car needs to concentrate more heavily on making their on-track presentation as fulfilling as it can be. They do a relatively good job at street races. That atmosphere lends itself to many diversions. They just need to capture that same sort of atmosphere at non-street race venues. If not, bad attendance becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. That explains the losses of more than one great oval.

If you watch or attend Homestead, you will see what I mean about lame duck oval tracks that could be great. New cars are probably on the way in a year. That is one facet of improving the presentation, but it will take a lot more. More Americans are needed and the oval presentation must be enhanced.

On a related note, even Roger Penske is having sponsorship difficulty in NASCAR. The 77 car and team of Sam Hornish is now endangered to the point of hearing Sam not rule out a return to Indy Car. That is something he had soundly dismissed as recently as six months ago. I say the more the merrier. It has been working out quite nicely for Dario after his return.

The main thing is one more race in Homestead in early October. We should all go and send it out in style.

September 17, 2010

ISC Behavior in the Wake of IZOD Indy Car Pullout

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:11 pm

Randy Bernard took a bold, defining, radical step in not renewing ISC tracks for IZOD Indy Car races in 2011. ISC, of course, came out swinging in the spin control area. They always do. The excuses they come up with are always amusing. Divorce is rarely amicable.

After a successful run for several years with good crowds at Richmond, for example, Indy Car was not renewed this season. The disingenuous management of that ISC track blamed attendance and bad racing. Reports are they just wanted to poach Sun Trust Indy Car sponsorship to replace lost NASCAR sponsorship. If they are concerned about low attendance and bad racing why do they keep running the Grand National cars? They cannot keep that event and say what they do about Indy Car without being hypocrites.

The management of Watkins Glen is the latest to squawk. Evidently Indy car wants $1.5 mil to run at the Glen, and management is crying over a 30% increase and lack of people. My advice: Promote the event. Inspire people to get there. Schedule it on a realistic weekend. I don’t hear, say, Barber griping about the fee. They made a serious effort in terms of promotion and created a great weekend. There is no reason a legendary track like Watkins Glen can’t do the same.

The same sort of whiny excuse making occurs at every step. This is a tough sacrifice for fans. We feel completely screwed that we have ended a race at a track built by Indy Car that featured the best racing action every single year in Chicagoland. But this is a necessary wake-up call for ISC that is long overdue. It is clear Randy Bernard is not comfortable being a red-headed bastard stepchild any longer. It is also a gamble. Aligning with SMI is risky because their primary bread and butter is also NASCAR. Time will tell.

Hopefully this move helps the IZOD Indy Car Series in the long run. Perhaps ISC will do things differently next time. Indy Car needs to work on improving the presentation of their weekends as well. Hopefully this step back will afford both entities opportunities to freshen everything up.

September 16, 2010

Another Randy Bernard Mission: Cultivate Respect for Indy Car from Mainstream America

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 4:48 pm

There is a big brouhaha inside the Web forums about, of all things, a Zig Ziglar gathering of famous speakers in Indianapolis in October. About the only thing they motivate anyone to do is buy merchandise from the organization. One of the speakers is conspicuous by her presence and title:

‘Elite NASCAR Driver Danica Patrick.’

This is odd in a few areas. For starters, she drives a part time Nationwide schedule and remains firmly ensconced in the rear of the field, nowhere close to any sort of victory. Most other speakers in the program have achieved much more, relatively speaking, in their chosen professions.

She actually won a race in Indy Car. The utter lack of respect accorded the IZOD Indy Car Series is not acceptable. Randy Bernard or someone high up should get the Ziglar folks on the horn and inform them about their false advertising claims. My guess is that they are too stupid to have done the accuracy due diligence. After all, the word ‘NASCAR’ is to racing what ‘John Deere’ is to farm equipment. If they were not stupid and did it on purpose that makes them irresponsible.

The supposition from most people is that her agency will lead her toward NASCAR when her Indy Car deal is up, and her oft-stated dream about winning Indy will remain just that. Until that happens, however, the fact remains she is driving full time in Indy Cars and should be referred to as ‘Elite IZOD Indy Car driver Danica Patrick.’ Under threat of being sued.

Indy Car, please do not ‘aw shucks’ your way past this one. Put a boot up their arses.

September 15, 2010

Indy Car Critics’ Favorite Pastime: Predicting the End (And Always Looking Foolish)

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:34 pm

One of the most consistent forms of cackling by Indy Car critics are predictions about when the series will die. The latest pundit to offer a prognostication is Peter De Lorenzo on the autoextremist web page. He says 2015.

His hang-up is the same as many other Indy Car critics: They disagree with the decision made by ICONIC for a new car in 2012. De Lorenzo believes a place should be made for the Delta Wing.

The folks who designed and still intend to build the Delta Wing have also employed a PR strategy that solidly positions them as malcontented crybabies who are handling defeat with classlessness. Threats of starting a Delta Wing series abound along with implied whining that Indy Car would be ended as a result.

As a lifelong Indy Car fan I would love to see an accommodation for more innovation like the Delta Wing, even though it is butt ugly in a retro way. I personally do not want to see tricycles racing. I remember the cackling of established fans when rear engines, turbines and ground effects came along. I thought their howling was silly then and believe posturing from both sides is silly now. But at least accommodations were made for new ideas.

Those who disagree with the ICONIC decision seem to be going down the same stupidity path that killed cart and champcar, screeching all the way. Is it any wonder fans find it difficult to support the sport? The one fact everyone involved needs to grasp is that without Indy you will not make it. Period.

Speaking of Indy Car, Verizon recently signed a multi-million dollar deal in support of Indy Car, and they are apparently moving away from NASCAR. This is the latest in a series of sponsorship wins that are occurring with regularity. These deals do not portend the same sort of doom as claimed by sore losers.

There is a cart guy in charge of the new car package. Does this not present an opportunity for those who stupidly and simplistically blame their own failures, twice, on Tony George? At the end of this year a primary wish for 2011 (the Centennial Year) is that everyone interested in this great sport just grow up for once.

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