Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

June 30, 2011

Indy Car 4th of July Fireworks!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 5:39 pm

Happy 4th of July weekend if you are in the USA. That time of year means fireworks, and there are several contributions.

Indy Lights owner Mark Olson got himself banned from the series through the end of 2012. His infraction? Pulling his cars out of the race in Milwaukee and encouraging fellow teams to do the same. His dander was up because he was convinced Sam Schmidt was cheating. Turns out he was not, but merely taking advantage of a non-rule regarding tire stagger. To some it appears Olson just ran out of money and wanted to grandstand a bit. Regardless, Indy Lights needs a lot more teams than it has, so this is a particularly punitive action.

Indy Car and ESPN extended their exclusive negotiating window to renew a deal that has essentially been alive for 47 years. Given the bastard stepchild status Indy Car has received over the past dozen years they would already be out on their behinds if I was negotiating.  Fortunately, I am not. The lawyer they got to do it is exceedingly qualified, however, and it is my hope that whoever they go with has all terms related to promotion and coverage clearly spelled out. The best kind of fireworks possible would be for an all inclusive partnership with NBC. We shall see.

Wherever you end up this weekend, make it great!

June 29, 2011

Iowa Doubleheader for Indy Car-GREAT Idea. But it is NOT ‘Two Ovals.’ It is Two Races on ONE Oval.

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:21 pm

Indy Car fans need to put the kibosh on the latest cockamamie management notion. Randy Bernard is all jazzed up (and rightfully so) about possibly having a doubleheader at Iowa Speedway in 2012; one on Saturday night and one on Sunday afternoon…and both races will count in the points. It is an idea that might translate well to other well run small ovals.

In theory that is a great idea. Fan friendly too. There is only ONE aspect that is completely without merit, and that is the notion that ONE venue, Iowa Speedway, should count as TWO ovals in the overall oval vs. non-oval count. Trying to run that sort of jive by fans just reeks of classless obfuscation. When counting ovals and non-ovals, you must count separate VENUES, not multiple races at the same ONE venue.

I understand the most pressure by the road racing-centric team ownership leans heavily toward non-ovals, and many directly associated with the series have vested interests in temporary circuits. Think about the fans. Fans want BALANCE and, if anything, more of an oval centricity. Even if that seems off base to any defensive knee-jerkers it does not change the fact that they are attempting to count ONE venue as TWO ovals. No. It’s not going to work. Fans are smarter than that. Subterfuge may work in politics, but not here. Any ONE venue is ONE venue, regardless of how many races are held there.

June 27, 2011

One of the Best Stops on the Indy Car Circuit: Iowa Speedway

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:31 pm

The Indy Car Series hit a home run at the nifty small oval outside Newton, Iowa on Saturday night. The Disciple party who made the journey was very pleased with not only the facility, but the professionalism of the people who work there.

Some of the media pundits have speculated that the Rusty Wallace led group who built the facility have had money problems that can hopefully be resolved. Either way, that group knows how to build a race track. Everyone in the group was treated like royalty wherever we ventured in the facility. People went out of their way to help. Given the antics of operators like ISC treatment that seems standard at Iowa is very out of the ordinary.

The venue itself is great. It is easily accessible and getting around inside is no problem. The nice wide track provided the type of exciting racing Indy Car fans have come to expect and enabled two-wide restarts to go off without a hitch.

Fans were often on their feet soaking in the action. The weather was a bit schizophrenic; sunny and near 80 on Friday, then rain and in the 60s most of Saturday until late in the afternoon. The race was officially a standing-room-only sellout and most of them showed up.

If every oval would be as enthusiastically supported as Iowa none of the teeth gnashing by the worry warts would have any merit. This event has now become a permanent fixture on the Disciple calendar. It is also interesting to not that American drivers won all major events held at the track this weekend, including Marco Andretti ending his drought.

June 23, 2011

Indy Cars On A Small Oval…Only This Time With A Crowd

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

Things that seem extraordinarily funny to me:

-After Indy Car failed to draw not many more than 15,000 fans to a 40,000 seat venue (mostly the result of errant promoter ignorance) to a legendary track with racing to match, all sorts of naysaying malcontents have slithered out of the woodwork to once again portend doom for either oval racing or Indy Car once and for all. Most of these mouth breathing cretins not only regularly put their abject stupidity on display, but their track record of predicting things remains nearly 100% incorrect for over fifteen years.

-Most of these same Einsteins breathlessly await 12+ ratings summaries from zap2it or other lowest common denominator sites to offer commentary on numbers no one actually uses to sell spots to sell advertisers. Not one such Internet television executive has ever offered ANY commentary (much less any commentary that contains intelligence or subject knowledge) about television numbers that actually matter; e.g., Nielsen breakouts of demographics, etc. None of this ever, of course, stops any of their whacko pontification.

-The non-oval agenda is still being pushed hard even though not one big time road racing series has ever survived domestically. Never mind the failure of cart, twice…nothing else with road racing at its core has ever made it either. ALMS is currently teetering on the brink of extinction mostly related to financing.

One of the most amusing parts of surfing the web for racing material is watching creeps make fools of themselves. Most are uneducated, unevolved, unintelligent buffoons who rarely let their own ignorance stand in the way of clueless bravado. That is just pure entertainment.

Meanwhile, those of us actual racing fans who appreciate evolution and put our money where our mouths are headed for Newton, Iowa or some other race track this weekend to watch the sport in person. While we are there watching Indy Cars with thousands of others, we will be hoping other racing fans are enjoying their weekends as well. Even those focused on counting empty seats or pretending they are Dick Ebersol (or perhaps just Dicks).

June 22, 2011

Indy Car Douchebaggery…and Getting Back On Track in Iowa!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:17 pm

The biggest discussion points following Indy Car’s return to the Milwaukee Mile include whether the series will return or not following dreadful attendance. If Randy Bernard is not lying, the series will return. Before the event, Bernard alluded to the challenges experienced by the promoters and clearly indicated it needed two to three years. Now many reports have the venue being shelved in favor of Road America. That, I believe, is a big mistake. There is no logical reason why the Mile, Road America AND Chicagoland cannot coexist on the same schedule. Competent, targeted promotion primarily in specific geographic regions can make all three events successful. It is my sincere hope they actually do give the racy mile the two to three years it needs.

The current news also involves Brian Barnhart and Team Ganassi again. It is no secret the Ganassi bunch bitches more vociferously for no apparent reason than a menopause support group at their weekly meeting. Dario went off and kept going off about the 2nd race draw at Texas. It got so bad he guilted Randy Bernard into saying it was a bad idea. It appears the make-up call for Dario’s 28th place starting spot in that race was made at Milwaukee after Dario smacked a tire in pit lane during the race. Rules clearly state doing that means a penalty. Assessing a penalty would have meant Dario could not have won. Can you imagine the floor fit he and his white shirted boss would have thrown if that had happened? Neither could Barnhart, who concocted some cockamamie excuse about lack of ‘intent.’ So much for even enforcement and credibility.

The 10 car has been a rolling billboard all season long for various P & G brands sold at Target. For the next few races I have an idea for another popular P & G brand for that car: Tampax.

The good news for racing fans is the short oval in Iowa where the series goes next. It is nearly sold out and the weather looks great!

June 20, 2011

Indy Car Returns to the Milwaukee Mile. Hopefully It Remains on the Schedule…

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:38 pm

The Milwaukee Mile is five years older than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Walking through the grounds of the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds and around that track is a throwback. The track screams nostalgia. It is a real shame a recent promoter put on NASCAR and Indy Car events the year before last then skipped town with all the money. Sports fans in that part of the country deserve a lot better.

My biggest problem with the track may seem weird. When the covered grandstand along the front straight was replaced with a generic massive uncovered aluminum structure much of the inherent character of the track was removed. What the track needs more than anything else is a Tony Hulman-like savior who cares enough to make the track the best one-miler anywhere.

What does this have to do with yesterday’s event? Plenty. The Indy Car race and all of the support activity was great. Nearly continuous track activity gave something to everyone. The Indy Car race was close and competitive and the two-wide restarts were fun. The flatness and wideness of the one mile oval lends itself to great racing. It would be a genuine shame to see the race vanish again. Randy Bernard and crew indicated before the event that it will take a couple of years to build it back up. It is my sincere hope that is not just more lip service.

Promotion for the event was too little too late, and nickel and diming that takes place there; e.g., no coolers, does not lend itself to fan friendliness. They need to resolve those issues if they hope to draw more than 40% of capacity. The event must be more adequately promoted as well.

My party had a great time. That rich event can, however, be much more than it was this weekend. It is my sincere hope they make an honest effort.

June 17, 2011

Indy Cars Headed For Milwaukee…And A Note About The Guy In Charge

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:53 am

This is an impromptu report card for Randy Bernard after he went in studio for the Trackside Online show Thursday night on 1070 in Indianapolis. Despite recent indications he is pretty much in the tank based on the whims of mostly self-interested owners, he does bravely tread along a sometimes controversial path. No one can really accuse the guy of running away from an issue without trying to tackle it.

Not Worth A Damn

That is why it refreshing to hear him refer to the President of the Phoenix International Raceway as ‘not worth a damn.’ If I am not mistaken the guy’s name is Bryan Sperber, and evidently he just will not even return a phone call from Randy, who has tried multiple times. Bernard went on to call into question Sperber’s fulfillment of job obligations as President of a part of a publicly owned company.

That brutal honesty can backfire, and it sounds a bit like Randy and Eddie Gossage may be having some disagreements over a few things, most notably the possibility of another goddamned street race, this time in Houston. Eddie is on record as saying that if that happens Indy Cars will not run at his track. So much for listening to what fans want, eh Eddie? Randy is on record as saying Eddie is not in a position to tell Indy Car how they should or should not grow their business. Personally, a market the size of Houston, particularly given its demographic makeup, needs to be on the schedule. Seems to me, however, they are big enough to build a real race track first. Randy has also bent over for Dario and Chip on the 2nd race draw, and is safe to assume that in its present configuration it is history, and may not even be held at Texas. That seems like dangerous talk to me.

Conversely, Randy Bernard indicates the new President of Chicagoland Speedway is champing at the bit to get Indy Cars back to Chicagoland, and calls him a lot with all sorts of ideas. That track is the best racing venue Indy Car has ever dropped despite their ISC ownership. He also says Fontana wants Indy Cars back.

It is safe to assume that business is business, but losing Texas would be really stupid, despite the genital waving.

Finally, advice for negotiating with Disney on a renewal. Take no prisoners. I know there is a professional doing the negotiation. Bring him up to speed on the screwing the series has taken for ten years.

The Disciple contingent is off to the Milwaukee Mile. See you there, hopefully!

June 15, 2011

Randy Bernard Goes Into The Tank For Indy Car Owners

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:41 pm

Many Indy Car fans who really enjoyed an out-of-the-ordinary oval event at Texas Motor Speedway (thanks, Eddie Gossage) had their great feelings tempered not only when the Ganassi boys unleashed a crying jag more tearful than a jilted high school prom queen but more recently after learning Indy Car CEO Randy Bernard has once again bent over for Dario and Chip.

DISCLAIMER AHEAD OF THE INEVITABLE TORRENT OF BARELY LITERATE KNEE JERKING FROM THE USUAL SUSPECTS: I agree the format for the second race of the doubleheader needs to be tweaked. I do not like inversion and I do not like starting the way they finished in the first. There are better ways to do the draw, and it should take no more than 45 minutes. Not 70. So I advocate some changes, but NOT scrapping the concept.

The problem began when the usual suspects, mostly a small group of loudmouthed Indy hating road racing enthusiasts still smarting over the failures of their most recent series and lacking enough maturity to worry about the future well being of the entire sport, began chiding the blind draw for the Indy Car doubleheader as being ‘gimmicky’ and positioning that one event as the reason someone will lose the championship. The classless barrage of disrespect unleashed by mostly Ganassi employees evidently shamed the Nard Dog into referring to the process as ‘gimmicky’ and pledging changes.  He also discussed ‘credibility’

Predictably, Dario patted the Nard Dog on the head with ‘conciliatory’ words like ‘I really appreciate Randy taking ownership of the decision and the fact that it was the wrong decision and he’s not ducking the issue at all. From now on I think we’ll see, I hope we’ll see, better decisions that affect the big picture like the championship. It would have been great as an all-star race or one-off or something like that, but not with a championship race.’ What a pompous ass.

It appears the rats have gotten into Bernard’s head. Now he no longer seems neutral. That was a nice first year, but now that he’s in bed and under the covers with those fellows it won’t be long until cart is completely reconstituted and Randy’s dream of stratospheric growth ala PBR is completely dashed.

What a waste of meaningful growth potential. Whenever Indy Car reaches a position where it can take a leap, someone pulls out a gun and shoots off an appendage. It appears that cycle will never end.

June 13, 2011

Indy Car At Texas: Something Great And Out Of The Ordinary Despite Classless Behavior By Big Teams

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:48 am

This past weekend was a racing fan paradise. The Indy Cars did something dramatically different in Texas, Formula 1 ran nearby in roughly the same time zone, Le Mans occupied the first part of the weekend and NASCAR puttered around Pocono. Most of the events were very compelling, particularly Indy Car. Eddie Gossage and crew reconstituted a 30 year old idea involving twin Indy Car races with a twist.

Two common ways of pulling such events off in the distant past have been lining up in the finishing order of the first race, or inverting the field to start the second race. Both ways have great reasons for being, including the inverted start in which everyone is basically in the same boat except that cream is expected to rise to the top in the second race.

One of the big problems with Indy Car in recent years is the homogenization of the racing. It has become far too stale. Engines never blow up. Tires rarely fail. The equipment is the same except for the preparation. Pits close so everyone bunches up on yellows. Slow runners who stay out are waved ahead and moved to the rear. Indy Car has a chief steward who micromanages competition to an extreme degree. It is white bread racing. Far too few unknown variables affect outcomes. This is part of the reason either a Penske car or a Ganassi car win almost every race (which made a Dan Wheldon win by Bryan Herta’s team via Sam Schmidt Motorsports at the 500 very sweet this year).

With that in mind there has been no better idea lately than what they did between races: Every single driver was paraded up in front of the crowd and on national television (but not streamed live on the Internet-still one of the most colossally stupid aspects ever of Indy Car today) in reverse order of finish to spin one tire game show style to determine their starting position in the second race. That was just brilliant. That method of seeding randomly placed the strong guys with the weak ones all the way through the field.

In the end the outcome was predictable. One win for Ganassi and one win for Penske. In between we were treated to the type of classless arrogance we have long come to expect from former cart powers. At one point or another every public face at Ganassi whined and moaned about the new procedure before, during and after the event. Dario, Dixon and Chip all took turns being boorish assholes, particularly Dario. The class for which he is said to be known is sadly lacking when things do not go his way. Even Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven went on camera to bitch, and their driver got the pole for the second race.

These ungrateful, arrogant whiners completely forgot the value of a great show in favor of crying about what MIGHT hurt them down the road. So could some equipment failure or a crash or a brain fade in the pits at ANY race. To listen to the poor Ganassi bunch you would think the final standings of the entire season were entirely dependent on the second race of the doubleheader. In the end fans got to see some great racing, especially in the second race which was caution free and did indeed see cream rise to the top. The runs from back to front by some who you would expect and many you would not with no caution laps was a thing of beauty. It was a RACE. Dario finished first and seventh but acted as if he had been nailed to a cross. The entitlement these crybabies seem to believe they deserve is astounding.

Slimeball behavior on camera like we witnessed Saturday night makes me glad these fools wasted years of their life choosing a futile path that ended in failure. Twice. Indy Car and Eddie Gossage deserve kudos and thanks for trying something way out of the box and refreshingly original. These folks have got the best interest of the sport and its future in mind. What Ganassi, KV and others did was highly disrespectful and strikingly petty. Even more stupid are conspiracy theory nutjobs that slithered out of their holes screaming ‘FIX’ to put in $.02 of mostly illiterate mumbling.

It is my sincere hope that this becomes a fixture every year and that the selfish arrogance that went on prominent display gets replaced quickly with the kind of professionalism we need. These people need to get with the program or get out. The undercurrent of mutinous behavior we have seen all year must be stopped NOW.

June 10, 2011

Let’s Go Lone Star for Indy Car This Weekend!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 4:41 pm

What a way to follow up a GREAT Indianapolis 500!

Yee-haw! It’s off to the hot and sticky Ft. Worth area of Texas for a little brisket and Indy Car racing at the ‘second home of Indy Car’—Texas Motor Speedway. As usual Eddie Gossage remains the best Indy car promoter in the business as he unleashes a great idea from the past….twin races. The second event, with its blind draw, should make for an interesting nightcap…not to mention sprint-like events.

Fans will once again get their moneys’ worth. See you there or on TV! Have a GREAT racing weekend.

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