Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

March 31, 2011

Formula 1 Migration to NASCAR

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

Parts of the NASCAR world are abuzz over news a former Formula 1 World Champion will try to make a move to NASCAR later this year. Former Juan Montoya teammate Kimi Raikkonen intends to hop in a truck and go roundy-rounding.

The more obnoxious of the fendered brigade are using phrases such as ‘moving up’ and other such ignorance. A question many ask is why non-oval centric drivers used to the highest tech in the sport would choose to move to NASCAR. The answer is probably simple:

-Income.

-Slower speeds and less perceived danger.

Let’s face it. The recent crop of Formula 1 drivers have not faired that well in Indy Cars. Robert Doornbos has already washed out and Takuma Sato has taken a season to figure out how not to crash and bring a car home in one piece. There are simply no more Nigel Mansells or Emerson Fittipaldis who are willing to put fear aside and race in the most diverse series in the world.

Their track records in NASCAR are not promising, either. Jacques Villeneuve tried and failed, and many other open wheel crossovers who have not serves any sort of apprenticeship are sidelined as well (hello, Sam Hornish).

My thought is that they all should try after they retire from Formula 1. The less seats that are available in NASCAR means more potentially talented Americans will be looking for seats. Once we get Indy Car owners all the way beyond their Euro or South American centricity, perhaps the next generation of Jeff Gordons will not find open wheel doors slammed in their faces.

March 30, 2011

The Entry List for the 100th Anniversary Indy 500 Looks Promising

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

A couple of Indy 500 one-offs (sort of) were announced this week, and the irony involving  two folks who will attempt to make the race is interesting.

Tomas Scheckter returns as part of the KV stable and will carry the number 07 with Redline Extreme as the sponsor. Tomas and energy drinks seem to have a unique relationship. Thus far it’s an Indy-only arrangement, but it would certainly be nice to see Tomas back in the series full time. He seems to have burned many bridges with big-time teams, but he is still fearless and brings a lot of excitement with him.

A guy who no doubt hopes to avoid Tomas during the first few laps is Davey Hamilton, who returns in the #21 with HP partnered with Dryer & Reinbold. Davey gets a three race deal with Indy, Texas and Las Vegas. Davey and John Andretti will represent us older fellows behind the wheel.

Hopefully these announcements are just the first of many who line up and try to qualify for the 100th Anniversary of the 500. Given the number of folks who will try bump day could get very interesting this May. Many hope the condensed month does not blow up in the faces of the management that cut the month in half.

Two months to go for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing!

 

March 29, 2011

INDYCAR Grand Prix of St. Pete Thoughts a Day Later

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

The IZOD Indy Car Series kicked off the 2011 season Sunday, and some of the biggest surprises have occurred in the aftermath.

-The 12+ overnights for the ABC broadcast came in at 1.4 which exceeded expectations. That continues an upward trend.

-Temporary street circuits are rough on equipment and the folks who drive them. At least two tubs were totaled over the weekend; one by E.J. Viso and one by Sebastien Bourdais who did not even start the race. Two Dryer & Reinbold drivers, Justin Wilson and Ana Beatriz, broke their wrists when their steering wheels jarred their grips. One of the commonly expressed whines by the usual suspects is that ovals eat equipment. An interesting study would be to track crash damage on all types of circuits.

-One metric that clearly demonstrates the event in St. Pete was a rousing success is page after page of obsessed cackling by idiots on hate sites who swear they do not watch but know more about the event than even the most strident actual fan. Of course these are the same nutjobs who rented an airplane banner a few years back to pine for champcar, which ultimately killed itself. Twice. Perhaps such losers would have been better off making a donation to a worthwhile charity. The Hole in the Wall group or any number of other charities could have put such money to great use. One might think that after sixteen years such cretins would discover even a small amount of maturity, or at least minimal acceptance of reality. Oh well. It is fun to laugh at them publicly.

-Oriol Servia is confirmed for the entire season with Newman-Haas with sponsorship from NBC-owned Telemundo.

-The two-wide starts are a great, fan-friendly idea in theory, but when you have to dive into a sharp, slow speed turn one that bunches everyone up perhaps Indy Car should be more selective in choosing the right venues. I keep wondering who decided to use their boost buttons at that moment. I also wonder whether Helio

Indy Car Live Web Offerings

Castroneves will be pulled aside after he essentially took out 25% of the field. The drivers are supposed to be the best in the world but seem to get themselves into needless trouble a lot. Ryan Hunter-Reay seemed more agitated than most.

-Almost every portion of INDYCAR’s online offerings is terrible and not up to snuff. It is all an utter embarrassment. Something must be done immediately. What is out there is unacceptable.

-A plane crashed into the bay shortly before the race. That was odd. Pilot and passenger are OK.

The Disciple party is making plans to be at Barber for the next one…we’ll see you there!

March 28, 2011

Finally….The 2011 Indy Car Season is Underway

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:15 pm

I do not know whether I would call the INDYCAR season opener at St. Pete auspicious, but it was great to get the season underway after a long off season punctuated with lots of change. Once the ‘most diverse and talented drivers in the world’ got beyond their self-choreographed Keystone Kops movie for the first 16 laps, most of which were run under yellow, it was not a bad event.

Fan favorite Tony Kanaan finished third with his new team that has only been around barely a week, and Simona de Silvestro finished 4th after losing her engineer a week ago to Tony Kanaan. Predictably, Ganassi and Penske drivers occupied P1 and P2.

Marco Andretti ends up on his lid more than just about any other Indy Car driver in modern history.  In his defense he did have assistance, but the problem with about everyone in the group that ended up clustered in a heap was a desire to try and win the first lap. Patience does not seem to be a long suit of these folks.

ESPN on ABC gave us another few hours of wholly uninspired coverage as usual, but they ran long and did not dump out to ESPN News so that is a good sign. They also ran an open that respects the rich history of the sport and that bodes well for Indy. Those hoping for higher ratings that normal may end up disappointed. Street courses do not inspire eyeballs to be glued to the tube, and when you have monotones in the booth (at least Marty lost that selective hillbilly twang he utilizes when they are in their NASCAR coverage window) and miss critical passes for the lead (Dario passing Will then not looking back) a 1.0 is probably the best possible hope.

The important thing is that the season is underway, and for Indy Car fans who have been waiting months through a brutal winter this is a fantastic time. We’ll see you in Birmingham!

 

March 25, 2011

Big Time Open Wheel Racing Fans: This Is Opening Weekend!

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

This is a very exciting weekend to be an open wheel racing fan. The IZOD INDYCAR Series kicks off in St. Pete with its deepest field in years, and Formula 1 gets underway albeit a tad late in Australia. The wife has helped ensure the cupboard is full of goodies and this household is ready to go.

NASCAR has been relegated to watching if time allows. There is a cynical side of many that has grown tired of the contrived, slow nature of that form of racing. The problem is compounded when slimeballs are allowed to roam free.

Number one on that list this week is Rick Russell, who runs 2nd Chance Motorsports in the NASCAR junior varsity series. That blithering idiot filed a lawsuit against his hired driver, Jennifer Jo Cobb, accusing her of pulling a Larry Curry. The trouble all started when the female racer wanted to, gasp, actually race. She climbed out a few minutes before last weekend’s race because she was ordered to ‘start-‘n-park’ it. Anyone who advocates that practice should be excluded from participating in the sport in any way. Nonsense like that contributes to having a legacy venue like Bristol half empty.

Those people are not racers. Those people trample the integrity of the sport. The lawsuit accuses Cobb and her crew chief of stealing parts. Turns out they just moved them around.

‘Start-‘n-park’ has no place in any form of racing. Of course I think the practice of selling your seats to the highest bidder is an abomination, and Indy Car has been plagued by that practice for decades.  But enough negativity. For many of us, the REAL racing season begins in earnest THIS weekend.

See ya at the tracks!

March 24, 2011

The Indy Car Off Season Was Too Long! Let’s Go Racing.

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:43 am

It is almost time to get down to the nitty-gritty. The long off season wait is about to end. The rubber is about to meet the road. Time to put up or shut up.

It is almost time for St. Pete. Several story lines have emerged. Among them:

-Not so fast on the fastest 26. It might embarrass sponsors. So if you show up and you are within the speed window, you are in.

-Marco Andretti made some less than flattering remarks about Tony Kanaan in Racer. Bad teammate, aloof, etc. Tony responded by suggesting Marco win some races and a championship prior to engaging his yap. That Andretti team does not seem to have the same chemistry it did when Kanaan was teamed with Franchitti and Wheldon, and Green was involved. It will be interesting to see what how they do without Tony.

-Dale Coyne seems to have reloaded with some quality folk after he experienced a lot of turnover. Sebastien Bourdais is now teamed up with Phil LaPan and that combination could be potent. Plus, Dale has a ride buyer in another car paying a lot of the bills.

-Tony Kanaan at KV is intriguing as well. Hopefully that entire team can keep their machines off walls and win some races.

-Most fell in love with Simona last year. Will she have a sophomore slump?

-Many of the stars are making the rounds in New York in two minute increments on various programs humping the start of the season.

As we wind our way toward the weekend, let’s hope for two things: Sunny skies and someone in victory lane other than a Ganassi or a Penske car.

 

March 23, 2011

Racing Lost An Institution…And An Institution May Have Lost Its Mind

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:30 am

Two things happened today that put a crimp in a week otherwise filled with great news. First, after nearly 77 (that’s 77!) years, National Speed Sport News ceased publishing. Chris Economaki and a great staff made that paper a ‘bible’ of sorts for racing fans. They covered all forms of the sport while remaining as neutral as possible and every issue was informative and interesting.

In an age where attention spans have vanished and everyone expects every little morsel of news immediately and usually via some sort of electronic gizmo, the printed publication that arrived days after news it reported was made finally had to give in. Besides, Chris Economaki is 90 years old. He probably deserves a break.

In any event, the racing world without NSSN will have a large hole. Reading it was a tradition, much like attending the Indianapolis 500. Those now running that legendary institution may have lost any notion about tradition that brought it to its 100th anniversary.

The New York Post reported today that Donald Trump has been asked by Jeff Belskus to drive the pace car before the 100th anniversary 500. Donald Trump? Really? I want to know who would make such an ill-advised, clueless call. Donald Trump in the pace car in ANY other year? Fine. The 100th anniversary? No way. That goes so far beyond insulting words cannot describe it.

The only logical choice for me is A.J. Foyt. If he said no there are plenty of other three and four time winners who would be honored to make the short drive. This is the 100th anniversary folks. This lowest common denominator crap has got to stop. Trump as a choice THIS year insults most real racing fans who have ever attended and potentially every driver who ever strapped in. Not even NASCAR would probably pull this type of stunt.

It is pretty despicable when the stewards of tradition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway no longer seem to respect it.

 

March 22, 2011

The NBC Effect on Versus for INDYCAR Is Becoming Apparent

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:46 am

The Versus/NBC folks finally announced the on-air plans for Indy Car in 2011 on Monday. The list of improvements is long and impressive. Wally Dallenbach Jr. joins Bob Jenkins and Jon Beekhuis in the booth. The production also gets an upgrade with NBC’s Sam Flood, and there is also a new director, Mike Wells, whose reputation was established when NBC and Turner carried NASCAR. The guy has multiple Emmys to back it up too.

Qualifying sessions return twelve times on Versus, and their race coverage starts with the festivities in Birmingham at Barber April 9 and 10. The broadcast window goes from three hours to five continuous hours to include live broadcasts Indy Lights races eight times.

Versus has also added “Inside the IZOD IndyCar Series” which airs from 4-5 p.m. ET debuting May 3 with re-airs. The host is said to be the oft-fired Robin Miller, now Randy Bernard’s BFF. Races will also re-air on Mondays. All told more than 140 hours of coverage is planned throughout the season and all in HD.

Aside from changes in the booth, long time fans are saddened because Jack Arute has been put out to pasture. Robbie Floyd is also on the sidelines except for fill-in roles. Lindy Thackston is back, however, and she will be joined by Marty Snider along with Kevin Lee, who comes over from the radio network.  Robin Miller will also have a pre-race role and perhaps features during the event.

Flood’s memorable sound bite is “We truly believe in the big-event strategy at NBC and VERSUS, where you’ll take an event and make it bigger than it was before and through that growth the sport grows.”

No recent word from ESPN on ABC, but INDYCAR gets five events on network television and that is good, although it appears that bunch will just phone it in as they have for the past ten years or so.

Many people remain utterly chagrined because no streaming of practices or other content NOT broadcast OTA or on cable will be offered. That is so far beyond stupid that it has become frustrating because Indy Car brass has turned a blind eye. So much for fans and trying to compete in the 21st century.

 

March 21, 2011

Indy Car News Is Great to Start The Week!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:25 pm

It is nice starting a week with great news, and here it is. Tony Kanaan is signed for a full season with KV Racing, making that a three car team. He will have Geico sponsorship (sorry Paul) that Vasser may have poached from Tracy. Hey, it happens.

Paul Tracy on the Borg

Tony’s paint scheme will commemorate the ’65 Jim Clark machine and carry his number 82. We’re not sure how they will work the Geico colors in without a lot of clashing, but unless you are homosexual (nothing wrong with that) you probably will not even care.

My personal opinion about Kanaan is that he will probably be a much better corporate spokesperson for the insurance company than Tracy. Not that Tracy should not have a chance if he is ready, willing and able…fans love the guy. I still have a problem with his lack of respect for the Indianapolis 500 after that stunt he pulled in 2002, but I have forgiven and am well on the way to forgetting. There are plenty of potential sponsors in Canada that would be perfect. Or Wix…who are now aligned with Paul for the 100th Anniversary 500 with D & R.

The driver I would very much like to see announced next is Dan Wheldon. My thought last week was that Kanaan would end up with Foyt, but maybe Wheldon will. That could be potentially volatile and fun to watch. Wheldon is a recent 500 winner and deserves to be in the field.

March 18, 2011

The Greatest 33 at Indy…Gentlemen, Start Your Lists

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

The folks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have put together a great little fan inclusive adventure called ‘The Greatest 33.’ Basically, ‘an esteemed panel of international motorsports media veterans’ evaluated all 732 participants who ever raced in the 500 and narrowed the list to the 100 they felt belonged on the final list of 33. Some of their choices seem a tad whacko, which we will discuss in a bit.

IMS cobbled together a web site called thegreatest33.com, and if you can figure out the links and the navigation tracks you can participate in what will essentially become the contents of a big mailing list database for IMS.

I would be interested in knowing who the ‘esteemed panel’ was. With people like Donald Davidson there is obvious credibility. If it contained writers who participated in the scorched earth of the late 1990s and early 2000s much of the credibility vanishes. This observation is based on selections in the list of 100 that contain names such as Danica Patrick, Paul Tracy, Roberto Guerrero and Marco Andretti. Missing from the 100 are actual winners such as Buddy Rice and Kenny Brack. But Robby Gordon? Bill Vukovich II? Roger McCluskey and Jim McElreath were great drivers many of us remember well, but do they belong on the list?

For what it’s worth, here is my selection of the final 33, and all of them are winners, which was my primary criteria, in roughly the order they should be ranked:

  1. A.J. Foyt
  2. Al Unser, Sr.
  3. Rick Mears
  4. Mauri Rose
  5. Wilbur Shaw
  6. Helio Castroneves
  7. Bobby Unser
  8. Johnny Rutherford
  9. Louis Meyer
  10. Bill Vukovich
  11. Rodger Ward
  12. Emerson Fittipaldi
  13. Tommy Milton
  14. Al Unser, Jr.
  15. Arie Luyendyk
  16. Gordon Johncock
  17. Dario Franchitti
  18. Mario Andretti
  19. Jim Clark
  20. Parnelli Jones
  21. Jimmy Bryan
  22. Ralph DePalma
  23. Scott Dixon
  24. Howdy Wilcox
  25. Jim Rathmann
  26. Jimmy Murphy
  27. Tom Sneva
  28. Bill Holland
  29. Sam Hanks
  30. Buddy Lazier
  31. Eddie Cheever
  32. Dan Wheldon
  33. Mark Donahue

The interesting parts of the argument will and probably should be based on statistics over the long term. Many who did not win certainly deserve consideration. The top 5 on that particular list would have to include Ted Horn, Harry Hartz, Rex Mays, Michael Andretti and Jack McGrath.

If Janet Guthrie is on the list for breaking barriers why isn’t Willy T. Ribbs? Should Juan Montoya be included? He only raced once and spent more time denigrating the accomplishment than celebrating it. His results were as good as it gets, so, again, why wouldn’t multiple participants Buddy Rice or Kenny Brack, who also won and actually respected the accomplishment, be included? I also understand the inclusion of Jacques Villeneuve, but when it comes to respect he would have to be left off.

Drivers like Jim Hurtubise may be legit because before he became a charming novelty he actually gave it hell for many years. Dan Gurney also deserves consideration.

This is a fun evaluation, and hopefully the diverse responses certain to be gathered will yield an interesting final 33. The only thing better than a list would be bending time to see them race together.

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