Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

May 31, 2012

2012 Indianapolis 500 Recap and the Aftermath

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:56 am

I have purposely refrained from commentary over the past week or so specifically because I was off work for a couple of days before qualifying weekend through the 96th running. It was my intent to soak up the event and all that goes with it. I was not disappointed. Much. Best of all, the weather was great for the duration.

The race was much better than anticipated. 35 lead changes, no contrived manipulation (except Barfield’s extension of the yellow after Newgarden’s accident to ensure all participants had enough fuel) and multiple inspired drive. More than half the spectators booed very loudly when they realized Dario would win again, and I understand the sentiment. TK would have been a far better story. Even Taku would have been nice. That said, Dario earned it on the track, and regardless of how anyone feels about what generally is perceived as smug arrogance he did his job on the track despite a pit incident.

The new car provided some great action and the live crash testing affirms many of the safety aspects.

Pole day was also well attended by I am not convinced the gimmick about a ‘fast nine’ shootout will stand the test of time. Bump day was ‘bump’ in name only. That must be resolved in 2013. Carb day drew the usual 100K or so and the on-track action was well worth the time, including a very competitive Lights race.

As part of my absence here I also refrained from reading anything anyone anywhere had to say about the event, particularly on the Internet. Why? Simple. Most people offering commentary there are blithering idiots without clue one. The vast majority have never even been to Indy. It was admittedly refreshing to choose not to read about some random blithering idiot contribution about attendance, overnight 12+ audience estimates, or some other variation of ‘the death of Indy’ whacko theory.

Speaking of blithering idiots there is evidently a movement afoot by selected Chevy team owners to have Randy Bernard fired. Most fingers point toward John Barnes as the instigator. Randy Bernard himself confirmed the rumor in a tweet. I believe I can empathize with both ‘sides.’ Owners have legitimate concerns about cost, availability, etc., and Randy has issues as well. He has a tendency to pander to whatever audience he is in front of and can speak out of both sides of his mouth. He has, however, worked harder and elevated the sport more than any one person has in decades. He should get a raise.

A mutiny by any owner would be the most stupid act possible. Any such insubordinaton should be dealt with swiftly and firmly. An ‘owner’ revolt, in whatever arrogantly stupid form it takes, would lead to self-inflicted injuries that could easily be prevented with minimal sense. It is my hope that some serious ass gets kicked.

So far all the races this season have been compelling in their own ways, and that trend looks to continue.

May 21, 2012

Days Spent At The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Are Always Good

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 5:58 pm

The long week my party spent at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway exceeded our lofty expectations in a number of ways. Occasionally Mother Nature does the best job. Not one day (so far) has been negatively impacted by precipitation or wildly variant weather. From that standpoint few could ask for better. Despite the overall lack of ongoing maintenance at the facility the mostly Latino vest-wearing folks wielding brooms and Clorox are keeping it looking presentable for the big show, and their efforts are appreciated.

IMS continues to offer fans the best values in motorsports, from relatively cheap daily admissions to huge access bronze badges. The Pole Day crowd was sizable, and even most of E and B stands (including the Penthouses) were open. Most people jockeyed for seats there, along with the start/finish line, turns 2 and 4, not to mention pit lane and the spectator mounds. We had the requisite track dogs and tenderloins, along with wares from the allowable drinks folks.

The team that impressed us the most was Andretti Autosport. The chemistry, makeup and results seem much better this season; the complete opposite of last year. A Penske driver snuck in another pole, and it is really refreshing seeing Ryan Briscoe up there for a change.

The only complaint about what we saw on the track was the contrived, pre-ordained makeup of the field. Part of the historic allure in May is seeing a big team struggle or miss the show (Penske in ’95) while small, even shoestring efforts find a way in. Ganassi had some difficulty this season, but nothing that would threaten their presence in the race. This year ‘Bump Day’ should have been renamed ‘Race Day Setup Testing Day.’

The new Dallaras got crash tested all weekend and acquitted themselves nicely, although it would be nice to talk to the folks who band-aided the humpty-dumpties back together again.

All in all the grand old dame looks magnificent in May, especially when the sun shines brightly. Carb Day and Race Day appear headed for another couple of great shows, and we will be there again, in my case for the 48th time in person.

May 15, 2012

It Is May in Indy…And Most Are Headed For The 500!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 10:14 am

So far the half-a-month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is quite compelling. The weather so far has been Chamber of Commerce perfect, and several really great stories are emerging. SFHR is making a splash with emerging American stars Josef Newgarden and Brian Clauson right at the top of the speed charts. The new car is coming into its own and even the trials and tribulations of Lotus makes a good story.

It is always a great day when spent at the track, and is time off work well spent. It is even easy to overlook most of the negative aspects that have begun to assault those of us with deep respect for legacy and tradition. Perhaps the most outwardly egregious example is the advertising going up on the walls of the track. To me that management decision is just like becoming a pimp for your daughters. The overall lack of maintenance at the track makes it even more tawdry. Why not save such aberrant behavior for an event where that type of sleaze is acceptable, like the Brickyard 400? Wonder whether the Pope would ever sign off on a Shell sign inside the Sistene Chapel?

But that is beside the point. I have 11.5 other months to gripe about neglect and lack of respect for tradition. It is mid-May and is the most wonderful time of the year to be an Indy Car fan. So far what I am seeing on the track is pretty distant from disappointing.

If you are lucky enough to attend most every day stop and say hello. 

May 8, 2012

The Current Engine Situation Is Probably Not What IndyCar Had In Mind

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:19 am

Ilmor/Chevrolet when Roger Penske is not around:

‘We’re sorry, (insert prospective Indy Car team here), we cannot possibly provide support for more than 15 participants. There are simply not enough engines, and we have already exceeded our commitment to IndyCar. We are very sorry.’

Ilmor/Chevrolet when Roger Penske IS around:

‘Oh..Jay needs engines? How many would you like, sir? No problem at all.’

Roger is getting up there, and there are only so many times he can beat Chip before he stops. They are even honoring him this month as a legend (which they should). But come on. How/why should he be able to manipulate the process so blatantly?

If I were on the outside looking in (like Michael Shank) or any of the other teams who have been told ‘no’ who may also be saddled with the dysfunction that is Lotus, I would engage legal assistance. cart definitely appears to have returned, complete with lawyers, arrogance and basically the same cast of recidivists that screwed it up last time.

The latest figurehead leader has now reached Craig/Pook/Heitzler-like levels of owner fellatio. I am not saying current leadership has no testicles, but I will say they appear to have just emerged from an ice cold swimming pool. To call them raisin-sized would be a generous stretch. Even Robin Miller warned him beforehand about the bag of snakes with which he would have to deal.

All of this drama would be much easier to deal with if the track was open. Hopefully bad weather won’t screw up the limited days we have too much.

May 2, 2012

Heart Grabbing Traditions At The Indianapolis 500

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:10 am

One of the greatest traditions in Indianapolis 500 history will not occur in 2012. Jim Nabors will not be available for Back Home Again in Indiana. He will be recovering from a heart valve replacement surgery and we wish him the very best for a speedy recovery.

So what will happen when the time arrives for the famous number? Hopefully not what happened the last time he did not make it. That year (in addition to rain) they had the crowd sing-a-long. Frankly, that was extraordinarily cheesy. The loudest, most off key Nabors wannabees were three sheets to the wind by the time the song rolled around and screwed It up for everyone in their vicinity.

IMS has, over the years, slowly but steadily damaged the continuity of pre-race festivities mostly by bending over for ABC and their spot load, leaving the 300,000+ at the track with only Calabro (RIP Mr. Carnegie), bad music, and extended periods of silence. Given the proclivity of IMS to screw up even simple things (like the entire PA system at critical moments), many of us old timers are cringing as we await whatever they come up with, which will probably be the cheapest alternative they can find.

Side note: Many parts of the track appear headed straight for 1945. Spend a little money on upkeep, Mr. Belskus. It will be way more expensive to fix things the longer you put off the kind of maintenance your predecessors were meticulous about.

Back on topic, the perfect, respectful, cool choice for a Nabors replacement (temporarily) is the singing group Straight No Chaser from IU. There would not even be a need for Purdue’s band (a money saver for those counting beans). Go listen to these guys on youtube and think about it.

Although Aunt Flo evidently cut way back on the pre-race cocktails with her suite mates and didn’t warble God Bless America as badly last year, it would not be a bad idea to update the talent for that patriotic ditty with someone a little more contemporary.

Here’s hoping these traditions evolve smoothly instead of being bludgeoned into existence by non-original thinking.

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