Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

December 31, 2010

Attention IndyCar and IMS: Please Put The Rich History On Sale

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:01 am

Happy New Year to racing fans the world over. 2011 looks to be another great year for the sport, and in particular for the IZOD IndyCar Series. The Defender brigade has yet another suggestion for the folks in charge of disseminating the Indianapolis Motor Speedway message to the masses.

Sell the past.

What do we mean? The 100th anniversary lies just ahead. Over 90 of them have been run. ABC/ESPN on ABC has televised the event for forty years. Chances are most were recorded. Why not follow the trend of most every other television show ever made and make entire races, sans commercials, available for sale to the general public? My family and friends record just about every IndyCar race. These days it is digitally via DVR. The problem is transfer to other media is not easy (or legal).

Why not make entire broadcasts, including pre-race programming, available for sale? $19.95 is the common price; $9.95 would be much better. What about boxed sets of individual decades? Highlight compilations are fine, but each race is a drama and it would be nice to purchase unedited copies of all of them. If I can go out and buy the first season of, say, McHales Navy, there is no reason why Indianapolis 500s can’t.

It’s too late for Christmas 2010, but let’s roll this out in 2011. It just makes sense.


December 30, 2010

More IZOD IndyCar Series Good News as 2011 Draws Near

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:01 am

As we rush headlong into 2011, good news keeps arriving for the IZOD IndyCar Series during silly season. Tony Kanaan is confirmed full time for de Ferren Dragon Racing driving Rafa Matos’ old ride. This presumably means Rafa is headed back to Brazil. I tried to find out, but the news link on their web site is kaput. Hopefully this potentially great team can find enough sponsorship for a two-car effort. Thanks for some cool thrills, Rafa.

There was also a big announcement about a new commemorative United States Postal Service stamp celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. The Defender family plans to buy a bunch. This is also great news, but the problem is hardly anyone uses the Postal Service anymore and certainly not many in the 18-34 demo. Still, great news. Although anyone can put any picture they want on a stamp now for the right price. But I digress.

I remain optimistic the IZOD IndyCar Series and anniversary 100 will get the press it deserves. Hopefully the braintrust at 16th & Georgetown will be adequately able to spread the word.

December 29, 2010

Job One for the City of Indianapolis in Conjunction with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Clean Up the West Side!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:01 am

The Detroit-like slumification of the west side of Indianapolis continues at full speed with no end in sight. Three of the four sides of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are now either ghetto, barrio, trailer park wannabe or some/all of the above. Lafayette Square Mall was once the premier mall in Indianapolis. Now it is a palace of thugs with empty, deteriorating empty anchors.

No business in their right mind wants to be located even close to there. Crime is on the increase, and the quality of the population has devolved. The list of big name businesses now gone is staggering.  Menards was the most recent in that area to leave. There is also no longer a Bob Evans, Kroger, Dennys, Red Lobster, Office Max, Office Depot, K-Mart, Circuit City, Lone Star on 38th Street. Now Paul Harvey Ford is outta there at the end of the year. Lafayette Road, Georgetown Road in that corridor, and other streets have become urban ruins.

Before long new I-465 interchanges will dot all exit points on the west side. 38th Street is still under construction. Will any of that really help? It is difficult to predict how to get rid of strip centers with not one sign in English or flea markets simply masking empty building blight. Some of the residential neighborhoods are even worse. Some have suggested providing scrub brushes and Mr. Clean. That might be great in some namby-pamby utopian fantasy, but the reality is residents are far more likely to use the scrub brushes for back scratchers and consume the Mr. Clean to get high.

The Town of Speedway is doing a commendable job with their redevelopment efforts, but many days it appears they are merely shellacking turds. On the one side of the Speedway not yet fully infested with human vermin, ominous signs are all over the place. Many Crawfordsville Road businesses are just gone. In the largest shopping center most of the shops are empty and have been for a long while. Kroger, the big remodeled anchor, has a police presence more often than not to deal with petty crime that abounds. The once well maintained Coppertree Apartment complex is rapidly becoming Indy’s own Cabrini-Green. It is consistently rated one of the worst complexes in the country. Whoever owns that place should be taken to task for allowing it to fall into such negligent disrepair and become the eyesore that it is, populated by many who are no better than the ownership.

The 100th Anniversary 500 will be great, but how many people will want to return in successive years after getting first-hand tastes of the surrounding slums? It is downright embarrassing. If Indianapolis and Indiana politicians want to make meaningful difference, they need to clean up the west side before it becomes the east side. Incentivize development that grows TOWARD the Speedway instead of AWAY from it. Tax and other special incentives could go a long way toward cleaning up the damages in the wake of infestation of urban rats that have moved in.

The Speedway is having a difficult enough time these days keeping their own facility pristine and it is not up to them to re-do the entire west side, then attract hard working people of adequate income to come live there. The city of Indianapolis should be doing a lot more than it is to protect its most treasured, valuable institution.

December 28, 2010

Happy New Year (I Hope) For The IZOD IndyCar Series and the 100th Anniversary of the 500!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:28 am

2010 has been a fabulous year for the IZOD IndyCar Series. The hire of Randy Bernard to lead the series was brilliant. He has been kicking tail and taking names since day 1. Now IndyCar has new venues, new cars and new forward looking approaches.

Despite the rosy outlook we are still in the throes of winter, and there are subtle things about which to worry. Why is it, for example, the only place I have ever seen the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 publicized regularly are billboards in Speedway, Indiana? Do we not want the rest of the world to celebrate with us? I am admittedly jaded. One snowy night last week we drove by the Speedway at around 7 at night. As we passed what is now called the Brickyard Crossing, the building was as pitch black as the night.

What specific plans do the broadcast partners have in store? How will ESPN treat the most significant event thus far in the entire history of motor sports? What does Versus have in store? Will the Comcast acquisition of NBC bear any fruit before May? What specific steps are being taken to ensure the coverage this event deserves?

What about networks and other distribution channels that are not officially aligned with IMS? Is the historical significance of the upcoming May event being disseminated properly across all available/possible channels?

I remain optimistic that January 1st will bring with it a variety of surprises on a frequent basis. If forced to rely on the ability of IMS alone, however, my optimism would be tempered. For one thing it appears the current management, sans Anton, is milking the facility dry and bypassing important improvement. The next generation scares many people almost as much as ‘the sisters’ do today. I do not know what the word ‘Krisiloff’ means interpreted, but I suspect it may have something to do with boogers being extracted from one’s nose, and then consumed. The last time I was in the Flag Room, the limited selection of outsourced swill being offered was insulting. The same folks began catering breakfast the morning before the 500, and even A.J. Foyt himself swore it off after decades of consuming real food.

The sports year 2011 must center on the Indianapolis 500. I do not really care how many people stupidly believe it has lost relevance. What everyone should care about is the way the event is marketed, and it is time to get on the stick.

December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays IZOD IndyCar Fans, the Racing Community and Everyone Else!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 9:22 am

2010 has been a beautiful setup for seasons that will follow in the IZOD IndyCar Series. The management seems to be in good hands, and the future looks bright as our niche and the entire sport get reinvented in a world that has changed in fundamental ways.

My biggest hope for 2011 is that the world at large gets an opportunity to understand what will happen in 2011. The 100th anniversary of the race that allowed the sport to flourish for a century. Right now the only people who seem to know are residents of Marion Country, Indiana. This story needs to be shared with the general population.

But that is for future rumination. The Defender family wishes everyone a very happy holiday season and a very prosperous new year in 2011.


December 20, 2010

Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 100. How About the Next 100?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:01 am

One of the more popular claims by obsessed Indy Car ‘fans’ who claim to hate the series and the people who run it but discuss it all the time anyway is that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is for sale. This has become even more popular than the omnipresent ‘The IRL/Indy Car Series will not survive beyond (insert your wildest guesstimation here).

All anyone has as reference are rare but always honest on the record comments from the family, and they have consistently said the track is not for sale. That never stops the speculation. On the other hand, folks are as obsessed as much about that family and their quirks as the British are about their royal family.

If there is fire with the hot air, you can be certain someone in the press would run with it. As a whole the press corps has gone after the family, their track and the series with reckless abandon since 1996 with some of the most unprofessional behavior ever seen in sports writing.  Indianapolis is a relatively small town in terms of gossip, so such a sale would be easy to track even though cloaked behind the walls of a private company.

The common wisdom that says anything is for sale at the right price is just as applicable with regard to Indy, but how do you put a price on that institution, particularly when Indy Car momentum is on the upswing? Who has deep enough pockets?

It appears obvious that what we have is simply more hot air by the obsessed. Is anyone else getting impatient for the season to start?


December 17, 2010

The IZOD Indy Car Series Speed Quest: Learning From Mistakes of the Past

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 7:33 pm

I believe most people are happy with Randy Bernard’s proclamation that speed records should be challenged immediately, and I am on board along with other fans and lots of drivers. Graham Rahal indicated yesterday that in terms of sensation, it’s all fast over 230. Smacking a wall at 240 may not hurt worse than 230.

Assuming they work the technology out to facilitate such advancement, is it for Indy only? What happens when Eddie Gossage wants a piece of the action? Back in 2001 the then living cart series, in their years-long scorching of the open wheel earth, decided they should be faster than IRL cars on a track where they were both going to run.

As was their knack, they stepped on their genitals again, and in the Lone Star state no less. Thousands of racing fans who wanted to attend were turned away at the gate because the drivers were going TOO fast and blacking out.  They did not bother to cancel until some fans were in and others were trickling in.

The lesson here is not a split re-hash, but a reminder to try and use mistakes as something to learn from. I understand Randy’s exuberance, but caution is in order to avoid mistakes borne of hubris. Records are made to be broken and that is exciting to watch. Just be careful you don’t pull a cart. The Indy Car Series has generally always acquitted itself well at Texas, and that track is featuring something we have not seen in 30 years with the twin races, so let’s be careful about gimmickry.


December 16, 2010

IZOD IndyCar Series Scoreboard: Two New American Drivers With Sponsorship! Thanks, Chip.

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 4:54 pm

Love him or hate him, Chip Ganassi has done more for Indy Car racing than most. He takes action. Today he added two more cars to the Indy Car count, and they will be driven by two Americans.

Graham Rahal will drive the #38 Service Central machine (no word on what will happen to Jay Howard, who had a deal with them last season) and Charlie Kimball will carry the #83 with sponsorship from the pharmaceutical company that provides his insulin, Novo Nordisk.

The team will be operated independently of his Target team, and will be housed in the shops of legendary drag racer Don Prudhomme, who is the landlord. All parties seem happy, glowing openly about all the opportunity being created by the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Would it not be great if other owners took as much initiative? The sport needs teams like Vision, Rahal-Letterman and others. Hopefully they will begin figure out what it takes to construct quality sponsorship and not have to sell assets and sit on the sideline.

Four Ganassi cars on the track probably means the victory stranglehold by Chip and Penske will probably continue, but perhaps new blood will win some races. Congratulations to Ganassi, Graham and Charlie!


December 15, 2010

Panther Racing of the IZOD Indy Car Series Does it Right

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:20 pm

Every once in a while (and more often, recently) some GREAT news emerges from the IZOD IndyCar Series. This week it is the news that J.R. Hildebrand, an American driver who matriculated through the Indy Car ladder system, earned a ride on talent instead of his own ability to fund it. Panther Racing replaced Dan Wheldon in the #4 National Guard Panther car with Hidebrand.

Why can’t most other owners do that as well? Michael Andretti is trying and good for him. But John Barnes and crew went out and did it. That is good for the series and its fans.  Bigger picture, the series gets another American driver after nearly eliminating ALL American driving involvement after Tony George’s bailout of the remnants of cart that began earlier this decade.

That said, Dan Wheldon needs a ride in the series as well. He is an articulate former Indianapolis 500 winner who consistently represents sponsors well. He has not sniffed victory much lately, and he seems to wear out his welcome with teams somewhat quickly, so there are obstacles. Any recent vintage 500 winner (like Buddy Rice) should be driving in the series if they are still in prime shape and young enough.

It is also my understanding that the total Indy Lights field for 2011 could be less than a dozen cars. That is a joke. That needs to be fixed at once. There should be at least 24 competitors in that series, and they should run everywhere the Indy Cars do.


December 14, 2010

IZOD IndyCar Series: A New Track Record? (Might Not Be The Same With Calabro, Though)

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:35 pm

Randy Bernard, the risk taking CEO of the IZOD Indy Car Series, recently expressed unbridled enthusiasm for allowing speed records set by Arie Luyendyk at Indy to be challenged. He appeared at the Performance Racing Industries show, and stated he wants qualifying records broken. He thinks faster speeds at the 500 will ‘rekindle’ romanticism and allure of open wheel racing.

Uh, Randy, there are millions of us who have watched all along. Pandering to disenfranchised cart enthusiasts will only get you so far. After all, those ‘fans’ supported a series that killed itself. Twice. If you are talking about grabbing market share from the millions who are turning their back on NASCAR, then we have a potential deal.

Randy says ‘I want the record gone.’ He says he gets ‘goose bumps even thinking about it.’ As a person who personally saw the 150, 160, 170, 180, 190, 200, 210, 220 and 230 barriers broken in person, there is a certain appeal to watching 240 fall. There are potential issues, however.

  1. Have you verified with lawyers and insurance companies the ironclad-ness of your insurance policies? A bad accident at 240 has the potential of KILLING drivers and fans alike in some pretty brutal ways.
  2. Have you worked through the public relations scenarios when a bad accident happens? Three people getting killed at Charlotte over a decade ago has kept Indy Cars from that great track ever since. What happens when idiots like Ed Hinton write smarmy articles and mainstream publications include graphic, goulish pictures? We live in a litigious, holier-than-thou society these days and just one bad accident could literally end the sport.
  3. Have you taken every precaution in ensuring barrier systems are up to the task? Other than rigid cables strung horizontally through IMS fences, the fence material itself appears to be the same type used to keep small farm animals inside their pens in rural Indiana. At well over 200 mph, such a fence could make a really coarse pile of sausage out of a driver hurtling out of control toward/through it in a mighty big hurry.  A Tony Renna situation only with spectators would be a really bad thing.

In order to achieve that kind of speed both power and manufactured ways of getting the cars to stick to the ground must be incorporated. Purists will shriek about ‘dumbed down’ racing that removes the element of driver skill. ‘Anyone can do it,’ they will taunt. We have been enduring that type of hysteria for years from cart idiots clinging to 1989 as if it was their final year on the planet ever since Tony George birthed the IRL.

I am also aware of the necessity for speed as an attractor given the sub-100mph parading the IZOD IndyCar Series now does on an increasing number of goddamned temporary street abominations. Here is an idea for impressing on the unwashed public the sensation of fast. Get Chip Ganassi to put Juan Montoya in a Cup ‘stock’ car (preferably painted to look like a taxi for effect) at the Iowa Motor Speedway. Then have him put Dario and Dixon out there along with his new satellite team in Indy Cars. Then turn the entire pack loose at full speed for twenty laps, capturing each Indy Car pass of the ‘stock’ car, showing Juan looking befuddled, then making all of that the basis for the spot you will produce and run ad nauseum like IZOD does with their gayish spots they run into the ground every year.

So I say go for it Randy. Even many of the drivers want to do it. I would recommend that you try to pinch a few pennies loose from Belskus and the gals first, though. The grandstands need to be raised a little higher, the SAFER needs to be taller, and the catch fencing needs to be more state of the art to prevent shredding (and subsequent spraying) of equipment and human limbs.

Either way my group will be there. I wish Tom Carnegie could be too.

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