Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

January 31, 2012

Will Super Bowl Week Be Super For Indy Car?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:23 am

The big news this week is, of course, the Super Bowl. Indianapolis is in the national spotlight all week and is doing a bang-up job with it’s first ever Super Bowl hosting privilege. The national media has arrived, and IMS/Indy Car has done a great job exposing its brand to the visitors. Center stage of that promotion is the re-purposing of the old Dallaras dressed up in the schemes and colors of all of the NFL teams. Local media from all over are including stories and pictures as part of their ancillary coverage, and a sizable number of visitors are finding their way to 16th and Georgetown this week.

That is not stopping most of the Indy Car obsessed critics from doing what they do best; i.e., doom and glooming about the series. It is nice, however, to be included in the national spotlight even if it is on the coattails of the NFL.

Indy Car is doing a great job of promoting itself this week, but meantime the road racers running the series are still trying as hard as they can to turn the clock back to 1993. One effective tactic is recycling old Formula One drivers who find themselves out of rides. KV Racing tested 19 year F-1 vet Rubens Barrichello this week, and the crapper community can hardly contain their glee. Given the overwhelming majority of non-ovals currently on the far out of balance Indy Car schedule, Mrs. Barrichello may actually capitulate since ‘ol Rubens probably won’t have to deal with all those ultra-dangerous ovals. LOL.

For my money I would rather see a hot young shoe, even if from Argentina, than an F-1 retread. I keep hoping that team brings Esteban Guerrieri aboard. He has the fearlessness of and more youth than E.J. Viso, but a lot more sense in terms of taking care of the car.

For the middle of winter the off season for Indy Car is doing quite well. 

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January 24, 2012

Indy Car Musical Chairs

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:51 am

Can someone explain how some Indy Car teams do not have engine deals at this late stage? Coincidence? Why are the teams that do not have deals in place smaller teams? Why do Chevy and Honda get to pick the most well funded teams like they are in a schoolyard then shut out the rest? I thought the deal was each manufacturer had to be prepared to supply 40% of the field.

Look, it is cool there are three engine suppliers, but if they are going to be allowed to pull this crap why not open up the access to accommodate smaller teams who are being turned away? It is almost as if Honda and Chevy picked their partners, pushed aside the leftovers for Lotus (which still seems as shaky as the promoting entity in Baltimore) and could care less about the newcomers or really little guys. Predictably, the haves have been busy testing at Sebring and the have-nots are hoping to play catch-up.

Between the idiotic imbalance of the schedule and the shenanigans being allowed by participants it seems less likely Indy Car will be must see. I know I will be at Indy and the ovals and maybe Barber again, but it would be nice to resume my annual trips to places like Richmond and Kentucky. 

January 20, 2012

How Can Indy Car Fans Trust Those Who Fought Against It?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:07 am

One of the racing writers who has always had tremendous potential IMHO is John Oreovicz, who now pens for Indy Car ‘partner’ ESPN. The other day on his Facebook page he let loose a good one: ‘The next thing I’m planning to write is an open letter to the Indy car community. It’s time for the CART fans, the IRL fans, the USAC fans – in other words, everybody who once cared about Indy car racing – to put their simmering grudges aside and SUPPORT THE SPORT OF INDY CAR RACING AS IT EXISTS TODAY. Let’s ALL grow up, people, and save the sport we all loved before it dies.’

That is a great stance and I applaud Oreo for making it. The only nagging doubt I still have is basically WHAT TOOK YOU SO F#$%ING LONG TO REACH THAT NOBLE CONCLUSION?

It is a great struggle, but I am trying to trust all of the former cart employees and enthusiasts now offering such advice after they spent the better part of fifteen years trying in every way they could to destroy any part of the sport even remotely associated with Tony George. Now that the sport more closely resembles what they believe they had in 1995 it seems curious that those of us who have spent decades supporting the sport in ALL of its evolutionary phases are now almost getting whipped with olive branches.

Trust of that cart ilk remains a continuing struggle. To be honest, I am not certain it is possible. These people have acted for years in ways detrimental to the sport. I have always fancied myself a real fan. Why? I have spent money every year since 1959 to attend Indy Car races (primarily at Indy but more recently all over North America and Mexico), and it has never really mattered to me who was in charge. I have always cared about the sport, and the only thing that has really bothered my critics over the years is exposing their crap agenda for what it has been. I love just about every portion of the sport but I genuinely dislike phonies. I especially dislike the arrogance spouted by the cart-centric since 1996. Hell, there are STILL multiple Indy Car hate sites run by these idiots. All of them can’t die off and take their pointless sites with them, but perhaps the ones still here could heed Oreovicz’s advice and just grow up.

The only real question for John and his type remains the same. Where was this conciliatory sentiment in 1996? 1997? 1998? 1999? 2000? 2001? 2002? 2003? 2004? 2005? 2006? 2007? 2008? 2009? 2010? 2011?

Trust has to be earned, and it will probably take some more time.

January 11, 2012

How To Make Indy Car #1 Again, Including Ovals

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:40 am

Here are portions of the Disciple suggested game plan to return Indy Car to prominence in motor sports. I am certain lots of cloud toting critics will be along to inform us how the plan could never work, but hear me out anyway.

It is, and always has been, about what you can control. NASCAR gets a pass for being basically more spec than most, owning a lot of their own venues, and to a lot of people slow and boring. The Disciple Plan requires the courage it will take for Indy Car to grab their own destiny and ride to new heights. NASCAR controls their own destiny. Why shouldn’t Indy Car?

Jeff Belskus (and Randy Bernard by association) has his nose so far up Brian France’s arse that Brian’s larynx tickles. That must cease immediately despite the easy alternative (and thus typical IMS preferred choice) of simply maintaining status quo and a brown nose.

Indy Car could strengthen an alliance with SMI or do it on their own. The series I would build would include:

-Indy Cars, called Indy Pro (or some other suitable name). The Indy Cars would be much like we know them today.

-Indy Stock (or some other suitable name). This division would mimic NASCAR stock cars. Instead of mostly vanilla brand nameplates, the Indy Stocks would incorporate the more sporty models of participating automaker offerings . . . Corvettes, Acura NSX, etc.

-If a manufacturer desires to provide power to one branch, they must provide power for the other. Same with tires and other equipment.

-Those two marquees would run together every weekend except Indy. If this idea got off the ground one of the first things the Frances might do is pull out of the Brickyard. The lone exception to running the two series together every weekend would be Indy Stocks and associated series taking over on Brickyard weekend.

-In addition to the primary open wheel and the primary stock car series, each would have a ‘junior varsity.’ Indy Cars would have Indy Lights and Indy Stock would have Stock Lights. Both would also run every weekend except Indy. Already we are up to four series events every weekend.

-Each Indy Car ladder would also run most weekends, especially twisties.

-Indy Car must also invent an oval-only ladder rung that runs on ALL ovals in cars that have the same balance and power ratio characteristics as Indy Cars.

-Each venue would have a minimum of six races every weekend.

-Incorporate a meaningful, sponsored, high dollar ‘Triple Crown’ that includes one of each type of venue: Oval, natural terrain road course and festival o’ speed.

-Turn manufacturer partners into activating sponsors. Make each venue a mini-auto show that features all the new makes of all the participating manufacturers. Encourage manufacturers to give away, say, different denominations of vouchers that allow race fans to buy new cars at local dealers for, say, $500 to $1,000 off depending on a voucher they pick. Have tire manufacturers give away $50 coupons off a new set of their tires. Use local dealers in active promotion.

-Get all sponsors involved every weekend.

-Offer realistic weekend and single event pricing for individuals and families. Make every weekend ticket a garage pass on Fridays and Saturdays.

-Incorporate sponsor-driven, SHADY and PROTECTED hospitality and picnic areas for all patrons and not just VIPS (who would still have their own areas as well).

-Price merchandise realistically. Instead of selling $50 polo shirts, sell $25 polo shirts.

-Provide musical entertainment by name bands at every single event.

-Incorporate some form of extreme sport at every event.

-Cultivate (finally) a meaningful relationship with a television partner, preferably not ESPN, who has been in the tank for NASCAR since the mid-1990s. This would be a perfect opportunity for a new NBC Sports brand.

-What about venues? If aligned with SMI, all of their tracks could be involved. If not so aligned he would be happy to either rent or make some other arrangement.

-Forget ISC. That relationship should take a back seat to an Indy Car return to prominence.

-Hire a staff that knows how to manage an effective Web presence.

-Employ dedicated feet-on-the-ground personnel to occupy venue cities weeks before each event solely to create buzz.

Possible venues:

Ovals:

-Pocono

-Rockingham

-WDW

-Indy

-Milwaukee

-Memphis

-Nashville

-Gateway

-Iowa

-Texas

-Pikes Peak (go to court to re-open and promote heavily only in Colorado Springs and Pueblo)

-Other SMI venues such as Charlotte, Atlanta and Loudon.

-If common sense rules, Chicagoland and Kentucky are must haves.

Road courses:

-Mid Ohio

-Road America

-Barber

-Virginia Motorsports Park

-Austin (if it ever opens)

-Miller Motorsports Park

-Portland

-Something in Canada

-Something in Mexico

-Laguna Seca

Festivals o’ Speed:

-Long Beach

-St. Pete

-Cleveland

-Belle Isle

-Something in Canada

-Craft a schedule of ten ovals and ten non-ovals and we have a WINNER.

One great aspect of the plan is every car that races is controlled by Indy Car. No outside series will have to be paid to run. Manufacturers get a meaningful stage on which to promote their wares, and the fan experience will be consistent regardless of venue.

This sport could be headed toward the highest heights ever right now. 

January 9, 2012

The Curse of INDYCAR

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:47 pm

It is both palpable and inexplicable. It seems to get worse with each passing decade. What is the curse? It is the tendency of whoever is in charge to take the most stupidly possible action in each and every situation that requires critical decision making.

This year is no different despite having a successful outsider in charge that was supposed to have much more on the ball than the favorite target of ignorant haters far and wide, Tony George. The initially released schedule for 2012 only has fifteen events. That is said to be one less than contractual minimums required for IZOD.

That has not prevented all sorts of flowery lip service about adding more races later—the dreaded ‘TBA.’ The Baltimore fiasco is evidently not even being considered endangered, even though it is teetering. The hot air blown up our undies after that labor day festival o’ speed has devolved, predictably, into lawsuits, unpaid bills, city governments holding bags, and plenty of pointed fingers. With only four total ovals on the calendar for 2012 what is the leadership trumpeting as a great new season closer? That’s right. A festival o’ speed on the streets of Fort Lauderdale. Right in the middle of hurricane season too!

Perhaps I just do not understand the need to attract that magic 18-24 year old demo. That is probably why IMS hired remnant musical fossils Lynyrd Skynyrd to headline Carb Day. And I probably do not understand that ovals just are not popular anymore, despite Indy Car’s traditional drunken dartboard method of scheduling them every year and NASCAR’s journeys to them 34 times a year in Cup.

It is disheartening to believe that Indy Car management can not get any more out of touch then having that particular bar lowered every single year.  

January 6, 2012

Has Al, Jr., Now Suspended From Indy Car, Hit The Very Bottom Yet?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:03 pm

Al Unser, Jr. is in a heap of trouble this time. He already has a DWI charge from 2007, and a prosecutor out in New Mexico got a judge to upgrade the DWI charge severity this time. You may remember back in September Al allegedly got all liquored up (twice the legal limit is what the blood alcohol test showed) and was drag racing in an SUV, which hit speeds of over 100 before the cops got him. March 5 is the date of the trial.

This sordid chapter remains extremely disheartening to those of us who just love the Unsers along with all of their quirks. Little Al had the world by the balls for a long time. Many Unsers, despite being married to some really wonderful ladies, are said to have always enjoyed life on the wild side, including liquor and occasionally time between the stanky loins of brazen harlots endowed with mammoth chests. Hey, who among us do not share some of those experiences?

It is my continuing opinion that Al, Jr’s tumble into the abyss was precipitated by the pointlessness of ‘the split.’ Al was forced by his car owner to stay away from Indy until his career was well past its prime. This was especially traumatic considering the entire team screwed up their May at Indy the year before ‘the split’ after Al won it in ’94. Not to mention even Dick Simon managed to get four cars into the ’95 race.  No wonder Al high tailed it across Georgetown Road to watch low self-esteemed young ladies flop out their mammary glands while he pickled his liver and blackened his lungs.

The pompous self-exile of the cart contingent for the next few years screwed race fans more than anyone. That arrogance led those whose life centered around the 500, regardless of politics, into a very dark place. Al’s troubles off the track are very sad but may have been prevented. It is, of course, pointless to discuss ‘what if’ in this point in history.

Al, Jr. not only screwed up the end of his career behind the wheel, but also a sweet Indy Car gig coaching drivers and working in Race Control. It is the hope of thousands of racing fans that Little Al finally hit the bottom and will work really hard to recover. Not for us. For him.

January 5, 2012

Yet Another Jerk Weighs In Against Indy Car 1.5 Mile Ovals

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:58 am

The latest blithering idiot to disguise disdain of 1.5 mile Indy Car ovals as safety concern is Preston Lerner, a journeyman writer who has a book about Paul Newman under his belt and has written recently on topics such as the Delta Wing concept.

In Automobile magazine, his latest column is entitled ‘A Death Foretold’ that whines early and often about Dan Wheldon’s Las Vegas demise. In it, Lerner tried to make a point that Indy Car is more unsafe than Formula 1, which has not had a death since Ayrton Senna’s ‘freak’ accident in 1994 because Formula 1 re-wrote its rule book. I guess Dan Wheldon’s accident wasn’t just as ‘freak’ as Senna’s. Indy Car is also evidently more unsafe than NASCAR, which has not had a BIG TIME death since Dale Earnhart in 2001 because ‘NASCAR overhauled its safety regulations.’

Huh?

NASCAR should probably thank Indy Car for funding, testing and rolling out SAFER barrier technology first; technology that is now mandatory at all NASCAR ovals.

NASCAR should probably also thank open wheel for first offering then mandating safety devices that prevent basal skull fractures.

I wonder how many deaths in other series such advancements prevented? In typical fashion, Lerner tries to position open wheel as doing nothing while seven drivers die since 1996. Lerner dramatically asks ‘…how many coffins have to be filled before Indy Car takes action?’

Then, in a flourish, the agenda becomes apparent. ‘Pack racing’ on ‘high banked intermediate ovals’ is the problem. Wonder whether Preston calculated how many of those ignored (LOL) Indy Car deaths occurred on ‘high banked intermediate ovals?’

The type of irrational screeching Lerner and his type offer has resulted in Indy Car jettisoning all but four ovals in a really stupid schedule top heavy with street ‘racing’ that completely tramples the legacy of Indy Car. Only by the grace of God and probably Eddie Gossage is Texas still with us.

I am sick and tired of the holier than thou pontificating by self-serving non-oval enthusiasts. On a much smaller scale what they are basically attempting is akin to replacement of the NFL with soccer. I wish such malcontents would become more honest and less disingenuous as they continue trying to impose their wills. It is actually kind of a shame there is no longer a split so such people could follow something that appeals to them while still remaining obsessed anyway with Indy Car. Unfortunately, their style failed. Twice. Recently.

January 4, 2012

Has Indy Car Located Another New Savior? Many Of The Enthusiasts Believe That To Be True.

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:08 pm

The IZOD Indy Car Series has hired a Brian Barnhart Race Control replacement. It is yet another cart refugee for whom its vocal enthusiasts are effusive with worship. Beaux Barfield sounds like a character from the movie ‘Driven.’ His experience includes driving, being on the race control team in champcar and running those operations the past few years for the ALMS series. He has also been a road racing instructor.

Basically what we have is another road racing specialist who used to work for cart in a high place in a series that has managed to jettison all but four ovals, despite continuing flowery double speak from the tippy top that includes a lot of seemingly wishful oval fantasies.

Here is what I want to know. As we regress headlong toward mostly self-perceived (by cart enthusiasts anyway) utopian days of 1995, when will we begin seeing the kind of success they believed we had before everyones’ favorite whipping boy Tony ‘f#(%*d everything up?’ Mere rumors that Tony will have anything to do with Indy Car in the future just drives the enthusiasts nutty. They have managed to eliminate most all of the Tony cronies and replace them with folks who have tangible connections to ‘the good old days,’ so when will these folks finally begin working the magic long implied that they have?

The cart-centric have been screeching hysterically for years about how bad they believe things are; e.g., bad ratings, bad attendance, bad management, bad gomers, bad promotion, bad Dallaras, bad 1.5 mile ovals, bad EVERYTHING…but now that their kind is pervasive in the upper echelon, where is the improvement? Oh, I know, we still have air scoops and no Lolas or Reynards, but that is probably only a matter of time as well.

I guess we will see if Beaux knows.

On another note and speaking of promotion, Michael Andretti is part of the cast of the 12th season of ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ the Donald Trump lowest common denominator reality show that, along with most other popular programming, really dumbs it down for the national audience. Michael, the Donald and many other cast members were promoting their adventure on the Today show this morning.

When will the fifth oval be announced?

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