Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

May 31, 2011

Carrying Indy 500 Momentum Beyond the Brickyard

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 5:04 pm

The Indianapolis 500 often yields several quirky stories. This year was one for the ages. Dan Wheldon led for .25 miles…1400 feet, yet won the race for the second time in his career. He is very gracious in his victory, and the charm of having the 98 car owned by Sam Schmidt and operated by Bryan Herta Motorsport is also a great story.

Because he is still technically a one-off, the promotion of future races is somewhat compromised. Eddie Gossage, for example, always uses the presence of the Indy winner to drum up business for his Indy Car race in June. Now that he has the first slot past the 500 locked up again and the twin 275s on tap, as of right now Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon has no deal for Texas or any other Indy Car event. That may change and racing fans hope that it will. There have also been rumors that Herta and Wheldon are to be the test team for the New 2012 Dallara.

Time will tell how Indy Car deals with the hand they have been dealt; i.e., a one-off winner. Perhaps A.J. could sell the 41 seat again. Maybe Justin Timberlake will pony up some additional William Rast dollars. Wheldon’s success has seemed to be dependent on the chemistry he has with teams. It did not work out so well with

What Eddie Is S#!+ing Today

Ganassi or Panther the second time. The addition of Bryan Herta as an owner would certainly enhance the grid. That team deserves more than just Indy.


May 30, 2011

2011 Indy 500 Race Recap

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:44 pm

The Disciple end of May funk has begun to set in. The half a month of May has drawn to a close with another great Indianapolis 500 in the books. I find myself felling very happy for Bryan Herta’s group and Dan Wheldon and very sad about Panther Racing and J.R. Hildebrand. After last lap incidents involving cars running out of gas on the last lap the past two years I might be in favor of minimum speed limits before a car gets yanked. At the very least they need to remove part of the grass strip between the warm-up/cool-down lanes and widen the apron.

The most satisfying aspect of the day was intangible. The first five finishers represented five teams, and none of them was called Ganassi or Penske. That is utterly refreshing. Each one of the five offered a compelling story, especially Tony Kanaan. No one is quite sure what happened to Team Penske, but it is obvious the Ganassi folks out-thought themselves again.

The double file restarts worked mostly very well. Impatience killed the chances of people like E.J. Viso as it usually does. Others, like Tomas Scheckter, used the far outside to pass several at a time and did not wreck. Just amazing.

The field was filled with amazing stories like Pippa Mann, who lost her drinking system on the parade lap but soldiered through to the end despite severe cramping. Simona de Silvestro gave it a go with burnt hands, but her car was not up to the task.

Observations from the stands and after the race:

IMS should stop bending over for ABC in terms of pre-race choreography. It may work for the television audience but not for the people in attendance. In person it is a jumbled mess with zero continuity. ABC, or whoever the next partner is, should work around events going on at the track.

Whoever is in charge of the audio/P.A./sound at IMS should be fired by Tuesday. This is the second year in a row they screwed it up completely at key moments. That is inexcusable. Whether it has to do with Belskus bean counting or not, someone must be held accountable.

Attendance was great. Rebuild stands with more leg and butt room. That will get rid of the empties on the north side and down low along the front. Anyone who questions Indy attendance is stupid. I tried watching the big genital 600 from Charlotte but as I tried to watch that event and by comparison the NASCAR event resembled a slow motion clown circus. Those who obsess over attendance should take note of the colorful empty grandstand seats there.

The national anthem and flyover was great. It was out of the ordinary, respectful and dignified.

Ed Hinton is a blithering idiot. He liked the race but framed it, for the umpteenth year in a row, in the context of ‘the split.’ He once again proved how out of touch he really is. Pundits like him and the crap he writes do a disservice to the sport.

Some drunk a-hole threw a full can of beer onto the track during the race. John Andretti opened it with his car. The yellow shirts did not even make a move to find and throw out the idiot who did it.

Many keep wondering how much Eddie Gossage is fretting about the possibility of the ‘one-off’ Indy 500 winner not having a ride for Texas. We should probably look for that situation to change.

It was great seeing a lot of old friends this month, and really big thanks to Glenn, Tommy, Jimmy and all who made Camp & Brew a success every year in the Coke lot. They had a really nice ten year run, raised a lot of money for a very worthwhile charitable cause, and the future years for those guys will no doubt be way more relaxed.

May 26, 2011

The Indianapolis 500 and Drivers With A Sense of Humor

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 8:09 pm

The Likeness of Paul Tracy on the Famous Borg Warner Trophy

I appreciate every driver who competes in the Indianapolis 500. It takes guts, talent and determination. They have to deal with politics, weird people and money consistently…and generally do not mind risking their lives to do that. One guy people love to hate is Paul Tracy. He has hell raised his way in Indy Car for many years. He was one of the drivers who got caught up in the most stupid, counterproductive boycott in the history of sports, and like many others threw the prime of his career away by not competing at Indy and instead following the hot air that was the twice-failed cart. Most everyone who still could eventually slithered back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Racing fans appreciate that and at least the appearance of unity, even though the cart bunch returned with all their warts and blemishes.

I will say this about Paul Tracy: He is still trying to get it done at an age when most are well past their prime. He gives it all he has whenever he is on the track. As a racing fan, I truly appreciate what he does on the track. Off the track, he is also one of the most accessible drivers as well. He has embraced social media and spends a lot of time interacting with fans, including on forums. He is not afraid to jab, and he starts a lot of discussion topics that are considered controversial.  As Robin Miller often claims, the sport needs controversy. There is no better person to stir things up consistently than Paul Tracy. As one prone to doing the same things he should be commended.

He also has a sense of humor, and I have a feeling he would take the picture attached to this blog post in the spirit within which it is intended. It is designed for people with senses of humor. Humorless geeks on some fan forums who express some cockamamie self-righteous sense of indignation over pictures like these should try hard to discover a sense of humor. The picture is tame compared to many other things in popular media.

I captioned the picture in a thread Paul Tracy started about cars on the Borg Warner instead of drivers by saying ‘Hey Paul, I stopped by the museum today and think I saw your likeness on the Borg Warner.’  It is also in reference to the 2002 controversy when many claim he won the race. It is intended as sarcastic humor. Innocent enough. But many have selectively thin skin and did not see it that way.  It must be difficult going through life without the ability to laugh. I laugh at myself far more than I laugh at others. Maybe we should ask Paul what he thinks, but I doubt he cares. He has other priorities right now. I have a feeling when he puts the pedal to the metal on Sunday we will be in for excitement.

It’s race weekend, and we will catch up afterward. Be safe and we will see you at the track!

May 25, 2011

Why ESPN Is The Worst Thing To Happen To Indy Car In The Past Ten Years

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 7:32 pm

While Randy Bernard is in the negotiating period for Indy Car renewal with various television entities, he needs to keep in mind at all times the thorough and complete screwing Indy Car has received over the past ten years or so from every part of their 40+ year broadcast ‘partner’ ESPN (on ABC). The behavior of ESPN over that period is inexcusable.

Vintage Indy 500s and SportsCentury broadcasts about A.J. and Mario notwithstanding, they have mostly forsaken Indy Car in every meaningful way. There is little to no coverage about the series on the air. Indy Car is buried on their web pages. They can see no further than NASCAR. Ever.

Enough is enough. The month of May is sacred for Indy Car, yet that 100-year fact continues to elude these ignorant bastards. Their most egregious act of cluelessness is occurring as we speak. After the most compelling pole and bump days in years, ESPN chose yesterday to report that ‘sources’ say Danica Patrick is moving to NASCAR next season. NOTHING about ANY of the incredible Indy Car story lines.

It is no secret that Danica is probably moving to NASCAR next season. Given the consistent dysfunction that exists at Andretti Autosport most know she will be somewhere else. Why on earth would Indy Car choose RACE WEEK in INDY to ‘break’ such speculation? That is completely irresponsible.

Even worse the very first set of questions for the first of four minutes they asked the front row while assembled for an interview was Danica and NASCAR. Huh!?


Is the interviewer that clueless or is some equally clueless producer feeding that crap to the talking head?

If Randy Bernard is serious about re-upping with the most reprehensible broadcast partner in the entire history of television it is my hope they unleash the most talented legal minds they have to write precise, specific terms about quantity and quality of coverage across all platforms into any future contract, then enforce the terms. Enough is enough.

What ESPN is doing (and not doing) is utterly insulting.

May 24, 2011

A Part of The 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 Has Lost Some Purity In A Vulgar Way

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:54 am

On Sunday morning before Bump Day began one of the troubled permanent Andretti Autosport drivers, Marco Andretti, was interviewed on WTHR-TV about the plight of his team and their mostly outside looking in status. Marco essentially stated they were lost and had no idea how they were going to find necessary speed. He also wondered ‘how Foyt cars can run 226 and easily make the race but we can’t.’

Late Sunday afternoon after two downpours and Danica still outside looking in the weather cleared. Suddenly Danica bumped her way in. It appeared during Danica’s bump back in that Andretti drivers on the bubble, Marco and Ryan Hunter-Reay, were safe because no one else was really close on speed including teammate Mike Conway. It all changed once Alex Lloyd suddenly found enough to bump Marco. That left one last chance for Marco less than a minute before the gun. The only problem was he would have to bump Ryan Hunter-Reay. Magically, he did.

That left Ryan Hunter-Reay and his full sponsorship from DHL and Sun Drop outside the starting field of 33. On Monday A.J. Foyt and Michael Andretti made contact. By the end of the day the 41 ride had been sold out from under the guy who put it into the race, former polesitter Bruno Junqueira. That is the second time that has happened to him, and to his credit he is taking it in stride.

A.J. Foyt positioned the sale as an old school team-helping-team gesture that was done because he had been financing the 41 effort out of his pocket. While many understand the business aspect of the deal they also recognize its sleaziness. It is, for all intents and purposes, an assault on the basic integrity of the sport. The gun fired at 6pm, and that is when then the audio stopped in the musical chairs of Indy Car. The lineup was set. Or so we thought.

The addition by wallet of Ryan Hunter-Reay will not diminish the quality of the event but the presence of the 41 with different sponsors, driver and a crew who did not qualify for it will leave a stench. The deal is pathetically lame.

May 23, 2011

Most Dramatic Qualifying in Years for the Indianapolis 500

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:44 pm

It is hard to believe that in a week the month of May and all the fun it brings will be a memory unless it rains again. The qualifying weekend was very compelling, and even the most vociferous traditional critics were impressed.

For fans who are sick of domination by Penske and Ganassi the weekend was great. Both legendary teams got caught with their pants down. Scott Dixon is on row one, but they ran Dario out of gas on the fourth lap of his shoot out qualification run. The closest Penske driver to the front is Will Power in the middle of row 2. He had won every pole thus for this year. Helio was trying to set a record for consecutive poles but ends up 16th on the grid. Ryan Briscoe wrecked his primary and ended up with the backup in row 9.

Up until the last moments Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti were on the outside looking in. Then, like magic (snicker), they suddenly found the few extra miles per hour they needed. The big problem was Marco ended up cannibalizing the team by bumping Ryan Hunter-Reay. Fourth regular Andretti driver Mike Conway is also outside looking in. That once powerful team has begun to suffer the effects of overstretching budgets, churning through employees like McDonalds and team cohesiveness that seems to rival Hatfields and McCoys.

Meantime, the smaller teams stepped up. Sam Schmidt has partnered with/bailed out all sorts of other teams unable to do it on their own; e.g., Tagliani, Rahal-Letterman, Jay Penske, etc. In every case except Jay Penske, he not only got them in show but on top. Alex Tagliani earned his pole position twice. Alex Lloyd’s last second bonsai run was quite impressive, and he saved the day for Dale Coyne whose rental driver could not find necessary speed. The Foyt cars got in solidly, much to the chagrin of Marco Andretti when he was struggling.

We have multiple ladies in the field again; veterans Simona de Silvestro, Danica Patrick and Ana Beatriz are joined by effervescent Pippa Mann in a Conquest rental. She worked hard all month and got it in. Her teammate Sebastian Saavedra could not.

One-offs Buddy Rice and Dan Wheldon were quite impressive, and the orange Panther car Buddy is driving will soon be adorned with the Fuzzy’s sponsorship lost by Jay Penske after both his cars were crashed. Ho-Pin Tung crashed the 8 car on Saturday, then Patrick Carpentier crashed Scott Speeds 20 car. That forced Dragon out for the race. Hopefully they get their act together again fairly quickly.

Even idiot Indy Car critics have to be impressed with the quality and depth of the 100th Anniversary field, and the race on Sunday should be a dandy.

May 20, 2011

Qualifying Weekend is Upon us at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Kudos to Dallara

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:47 pm

Hats off to the great folks at Dallara for making a car that keeps drivers safe, even in extreme accidents. We can talk about their civic importance to Speedway and their new factory another day. Yesterday their machinery was battle tested again at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when Simona de Silvestro experienced a suspension failure while entering turn 3 at Indy during practice. The failure caused the car to drag the pavement into three, back into the wall, travel through the north chute, get airborne, then strike the fence toward turn four before ending up upside down and on fire down low.

Simona walked away. Other than minor burns on both hands she is fine. The car, which did its job, is destroyed. That makes many sad because HVM is the little team that could. The back-up will not be as good and whether Simona can qualify is an open question.

Many of the more idiotic Indy Car critics have spent fifteen years chiding Dallara for all sorts of things. Ugly. Propensity to fly. You name it. Most of the criticism is simply because it’s not a mid-90s Reynard or Lola and the Indy Car Series is not the twice failed cart.

What matters to me is that drivers walk away or fully recover in the event of bad crashes. Mike Conway and Simona deSilvestro are two reasons why the alignment Indy Car has with Dallara is a great thing.

It’s Fast Friday and a great weekend of qualifying lies straight ahead. If you are a race fan, we will either see you there or on TV!

May 18, 2011

Free Public Relations Assistance for Indy Car Drivers and Owners

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:19 pm

Whenever an otherwise good driver like Oriol Servia goes on national television to discuss his objection to a new rule; e.g., the double file restart policy and further claims that most of the other drivers object too, the reaction of normal fans is usually unambiguous. Indy Car drivers come off as insolent, perhaps scared, whiners without enough talent to pull it off. Clearly this sends the wrong impression.

Oh sure…it’s May and you probably believe you are worshiped because hoards of chunky Hoosiers toting Sharpies always want your autographs. Do not let that fool you. Whining publicly about league policies makes anyone who does it look really bad.

If you do not like the policy of double wide restarts, there are two options: First, you could go race someplace else. If you try NASCAR you will have to live by that policy too. Second, you could police it yourselves.  If you are worried about marbles go talk to Firestone about engineering most of that out, or talk to Indy Car about sweeping them up during yellows. Then, consider the length of straight between the start finish line and turn one. Once the flag waves, what would be wrong with staggering your positions to enter turn 1 in more of a line?

Complaining about double file restarts at Indy is another way of saying you are afraid to race. Oh, I know it is not my arse behind the wheel and all of that, but come on. Essentially what you are saying is that I will probably see a single file parade where position changes occur in the pits. That ain’t racing.

I hope Randy Bernard becomes the benevolent dictator he should. I am sick and tired of arrogant, complaining chump owners and whiny drivers complaining about this or that all the time. They need to be put in their place decisively. The headlong charge into the kind of antics that killed cart, twice, is the WRONG way to go.  So let’s clean this nonsense up today. I do not want Indy Car to bend over any more for these crybabies.

May 17, 2011

Human Behavior At The Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:25 pm

An interesting project for a motivated student of anthropology looking for an easy A might be studying some of the fans lurking about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May. Randy Bernard has made access to garages and drivers even more reachable to a wider age of fans these days, and it shows. There is a wide variety of ages, attire and temperament. Many of the same folks appear year after year, and many are attired in the same checkered flag-themed clothing that gets them noticed.

To me, the most interesting part of a stroll through the garage area is watching them get drawn to drivers like moths to a flame. Some of them sprint through people with more ferocity than Michael Andretti on a golf cart. Many times they do not even know who they are asking an autograph from. They just show up because everyone else did, then they stick their arms out waving Sharpies.

No one knows whether Danica Patrick will take her sponsor money and bolt for NASCAR; the smart money says she will. NASCAR has become adept at making their drivers almost as inaccessible as Formula 1 drivers except for carefully choreographed events that are micromanaged. Therefore, she may actually get a break. They moved the Andretti practice pit stalls all the way down to the north end beyond the boundaries where fans can go, and that has reduced the gawker crowd that gummed up that particular set of pit boxes over the years. No sign of the Danica ‘popemobile’ golf cart either.

Yesterday, however, I actually felt sorry for her. She was on her way to the car….WALKING…and she was swarmed the moment she appeared. The only problem was she needed to pee. She told the crowd she would be right back after a visit to the bathroom, so most of the crowd waited. Many of the women followed her into the sh!tter. That is a little over the top. No wonder she scowls.

The most egregious abusers of the privilege are the type who lug suitcases around and hoard pictures from boxes in front of garages. Then they hound drivers repeatedly for multiple signatures that no doubt later show up in some form on eBay. I do not understand such greedy behavior. I like walking through occasionally and saying hello to acquaintances, but my thrill involves watching the actual cars run and listening to the communication between driver and crew as they set the car up.

The most important thing is that more people are attending, and that is more proof that Indy Racing continues to grow.

May 16, 2011

Opening Weekend Musings At The Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:28 pm

Random observations from a mostly great weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

-Mother Nature continued taunting bean counters at IMS by interrupting opening day with rain, and ALL day on day 2. This is another reason why the month of May really needs to be almost a MONTH every year.

-The vintage car exhibition was brilliant and well beyond awesome. Those fortunate enough to hit IMS before the rain came saw potentially the most inclusive collection of antique cars in history. And the old cars they had displayed off the track were pretty spectacular too.  LOL. Seriously, they need to make than an annual event.

-One of the most idiotic aspects of the bean counting being done at IMS is the inaccessibility of the best seats in the house in turn 1. That kind of short sighted, fan unfriendly nonsense costs the Speedway ticket sales. The seats they let you sit in are mostly just the crappiest seats in the house. If they let people sit in, say, E-stand, they will sell more race tickets because in those seats occupants can experience more than just a car streaking by. Besides, how much can it really cost them, particularly when they pay a dozen or so yellow shirts to stand around and be nasty to customers?

-Many are troubled by the managed collusion that occurs between series management, Honda and Firestone vis-à-vis ‘short’ and ‘long’ programs. There are several quality one-offs this year that could spell trouble for some of the full time teams such as those who employ drivers like James Jakes and Sebastian Saavedra. It appears the competition is being managed in such a way that will ensure entry of the regulars with a bumping knock out round of the one-offs. We appear to have resolved the spec car issue for next year (if Indy Car does not bend over for owners again) now we must resolve the issue of micromanaged competition once and for all. If Barnhart is the issue, replace him. There need to be variables. It is a wonderful development that we will have perhaps 42 drivers competing for 33 slots. But Indy Car seems on the verge of screwing even that up.

-Several hundred people stood in the rain yesterday on the Pagoda Plaza well after track activities had been called for the day and watched a spirited performance by the popular funk band Here Come The Mummies. Fans who were there just for that were let in free after the track activity was called, and for that IMS deserves a lot of credit. That will make some of them come back.

Finally, it was absolutely great watching cars navigate the oval at high speed on Saturday. See you there!

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