Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

June 28, 2013

One Of The Greatest Sponsors Over Time In IndyCar

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:38 pm

Target has been the most consistent long term sponsor in IndyCar for decades. Ganassi and crew have enjoyed one of the most creatively choreographed packages in the history of the sport. That part is great. Personally, however, I am having a huge problem with some obvious hypocrisy unfolding from within its corporate walls.

HypocritesTarget jumped wholeheartedly into a mob mentality fray that is currently in the process of purging anything Paula Deen into fortune-draining obscurity by refusing to carry anything even remotely connected to her brand. All this because she admitted to uttering the dreaded ‘n’ word once decades ago after she says one of the aggrieved and obviously misunderstood youths of that race placed a loaded gun to her head during a robbery. Her case was not helped recently when she went for a ‘plantation’ theme for a wedding.

Oh, the horror.

Not OKPaula Deen obviously fits the stereotype that burdens many otherwise great people from the old South, and may even be worthy of some angst by holier-than-thous who stupidly believe they are entitled to judge others. Fine.

Why, then, does Target still stock and sell ‘music’ by people such as Lil Wayne? Those outraged over what Ms. Deen may have said decades ago should give a listen to the ‘musical’ collection of that youth.  Try ‘tha Carter II’ on for size. There are more ‘n’ and ‘mf’ words than you can shake a torch at as well as lots of other themes Target evidently finds palatable to casual American tastes. You know, gang and regular murder and other gunplay, rape, use of intoxicating substances, armed robbery, misogyny, graphic descriptions of lewd sexual activity and ejaculatory functions, and on and on and on.

OKAt best Target not selling Paula Deen-branded items but selling items like the one described above is, at best, hypocritical. At worst it enhances a double standard that obviously exists but is evidently off limits to discuss. Screw that. Target or any other corporate entity ready to selectively crucify others over what is largely circumstantial speculation and conclusion jumping should also be prepared to examine 100% of the issue and not just the one meddlers make important.

I will still enjoy the red IndyCars and special Dario decal jobs, but will hold my nose as they whiz by at the track and hope the corporate shirts at the top of that organization will learn how to purge hypocrisy from their organization as rapidly as they jettisoned Paula Deen.

June 20, 2013

A Dive Into The Disciple IndyCar Mail Pouch

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:53 pm

Let it OutTime for another edition of ‘Disciple’s Mail Pouch.’ It’s like Robin Miller’s mailbag on Speed only anyone gets a chance to ask here as long as they are borderline literate and not a complete idiot. Most of the e-mails have similar themes, so I may as well get those out of the way. This is only Part 1. There are too many to include in one sitting, but here are some of the most popular.

Q: (From ‘cart4ever’) Disciple, why do you hate cart?

A: I don’t. When they were a viable entity I watched or attended all of their events and enjoyed the product very much. I enjoyed it even after they boycotted Indy. This is where some might incorrectly interpret my feelings as ‘hate.’ Once they boycotted the one institution that gave them nearly 100% of their legitimacy then intentionally ran a competing event directly against the 500 and actively tried to undermine IMS and the entire sport, they (in my opinion) forfeited their basic right to exist as something referred to or associated with Indy Car. History proved me correct. Twice. Without Indy they could not and did not survive. Period. That is not hate. That is fact. And they did that to themselves. I am gratified the family is back under one roof. The challenges the sport faces in 2013 are completely different than the period of the mid-90s to the mid-00s, so it would be nice if those still trying to fight that battle would grow up.

Q: (From Abe Bartell) Disciple, why do you hate street racing?

A: I don’t. I hate too much of it. The bookends of St. Pete and Long Beach are fine. Penske made meaningful improvements to Belle Isle. Baltimore is OK but probably short-lived. In a perfect world the schedule would be 20 North American events, and ten would be ovals. The remaining ten would be non-ovals with a maximum number of 5 temporary circuits. Right now the schedule is way out of balance to the point of confusing potential casual fans who do not know what to expect from week to week. A few street circuits are compelling and the skill it takes to master them is appreciated. IndyCar needs to cultivate a business model that does not attempt to soak municipalities for millions and alienate potential host cities and thousands of potential fans in the process.

Q: (From Jim R) Disciple, why are you banned from TrackForum?

doitagainA: Damned if I know. Their ‘rules’ change arbitrarily and often whimsically depending on the contributor and the mood/menstrual cycle of the individual pressing the ban button. There is no uniformity in enforcement. The proprietor(s) has chosen to neither provide a reason nor reply to a question that asked that questioned the banning. Evidently it occurred after some anonymous insane person hijacked a thread then referenced this blog, then hurled personal insults based on his misinterpretation of what he believes he read in one of my topics. I did not respond in the thread but instead reported the personal, off-topic attack to the ‘moderators’ as directed by the ‘rules.’ Next thing I knew, ‘banned’ after following their clearly stated ‘rules.’ My respect level for the he/she/it that runs that joint took another hit. That kind of hypocrisy and pettiness is grade school level. The games he/she/it plays there are mind-numbingly funny for adults. Even if he/she/it took offense to something I wrote elsewhere, why would that qualify as a banning offense on TF? Again, damned if I know. Evidently he/she/it assumes domain over the entire Internet. Very creepy at best. If you are on too long and piss off enough of the squatting thin-skins they will simply bounce you, then eventually encourage you to change your screen name to get back on. That is how, for example, the deranged mental patient who had a hissy fit over some twisted interpretation of my words and got banned came right back with another screen name within a day. There are probably only a handful of quality contributors left worthy of reading there that have not either been tossed or thrown their arms up in disgust and given up even trying. By and large that entire site has become a glorified crapwagon-style playpen overrun by some of the most brain-dead, worthless contributors ever who rarely have a point. Worse, he/she/it is too stupid to see it (no one likes their own babies called ugly so somewhat understandable) and too gutless to do anything meaningful about it. It’s a shame. It could be a really good, informative, interactive site but has not been for quite some time. Life is way too short to play the kind of stupid children’s games he/she/it attempts to foist so I choose not to participate at this time.

Q: (From Bill in Indy) D, why don’t you start a message board?

A: Couple of reasons. 1) No time. Too many projects, like launching television networks and guiding the business operations of others. 2) Technically I am pretty much an idiot without the expertise to do something like that. Besides, I know from my little meaningless blog that the majority of contributions never see the light of day because most of them originate from the same six people who squat on such sites ready to contribute nothing but abject stupidity. I would rather spend my time dealing with adults.

Speaking of dealing with adults, I wish someone who actually valued the contributions of lifelong racing fans with tangential experience and paid more attention to the quality of the content instead of the hysteria of those who claim to get offended would start one, then not get consumed over time by either megalomania or refusal to allow truly divergent viewpoint.

Coming soon: Part II.

June 19, 2013

The Significance of West Allis to IndyCar

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 8:32 pm

Great racingThere must come a time when common sense must trump business decisions based solely on numbers. The IndyCar race at Milwaukee is just such an example. Since the Andretti folks have taken over promotion of the event they have begun to mend fences related to the horrific ways in which IndyCar events had been promoted there. Crowds have been relatively good, and the racing has been spectacular despite weather challenges that seem to crop up every year. Great, flat one mile ovals are hard to come by, and that track’s status as being older than Indianapolis is important from an historic standpoint. In other words losing it is not acceptable.

Squatting road racing enthusiasts who for decades have been attempting in one way or another to hijack the sport and make IndyCar an F-1 like collection of non-ovals except for perhaps Indianapolis have long been clamoring for a return to Road America. That is fine but it should never come at the expense of the Milwaukee Mile. And while IndyCar is at it, why not Milwaukeeovals at Kentucky and Chicagoland?

The Milwaukee race this past weekend is ample proof that is a venue that should be preserved, nurtured and enhanced. It is wonderful that Pocono is back after 34 years as well as Fontana. IndyCar must make the ovals count. It is too important a part of the legacy to be allowed to dwindle.

Miles and crew need an effective strategy to put muscle behind the attractive philosophy of have the fastest, most diverse (in terms of venue) drivers anywhere. There are a lot of great natural terrain road courses, and those should be included. But not at the expense of any remaining oval.

June 12, 2013

Unsolicited Advice for IndyCar’s Graham Rahal

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

HelloGraham Rahal, aspiring young American IndyCar driver with a lone win and some close calls to his credit, has been on Twitter and Facebook a lot lately pining for what he calls ‘real’ race cars. Predictably, these include defunct Lolas and the DP01. He has been attaching pictures too.

My advice: Forget about obsolete used race cars and move forward. Learn to race effectively in the one we have. Some have better luck with the Dallara DW12 than others, and Graham’s luck has been Chevyless than optimum. Meanwhile other young drivers such as Marco Andretti seem to have figured it out. Ryan Hunter-Reay seems to have few problems. The car is plenty racy when the configuration is not horribly micromanaged as it was in Texas.

It is difficult to tell what the problem is with Graham. The team? The driver? It is perplexing, but it is what it is. Right now the rules only allow for the DW12 with Honda or Chevy badges. I would say embrace it. It is my belief that all racing fans would love to see meaningful chassis variety and perhaps that will happen one day. What I hope does NOT Hondahappen is regression. Driving cars popular ten or fifteen years or twenty years ago may be nostalgic but is not realistic.

Want to drive a different car? Go talk to Miles and Walker about changing the competitive landscape. Some of the manufacturer options presented during the last round were intriguing. It is my belief that Lights should get a car similar to whatever the IndyCar is or becomes. There is room for improvement in the future, but actually pointing toward the future is what matters. The past deserves its current location in the history books.

June 10, 2013

Increasing the Stature of IndyCar

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:16 pm

Marky Mark

I watched the Texas race with usual anticipation. Artistically speaking it appealed to the crowd that hates 1.5 mile ovals and loves mostly non-oval racing and that’s fine. Nothing wrong with making the cars harder to drive by introducing gimmickry such as tires that degrade more rapidly. Graham Rahal, for example, probably deserves driver of the race simply because he managed not to stick it into the wall.

For my money, however, the hallmark of Indy Cars at Texas is close, side-by-side racing the whole way through. This is not to be stupidly confused with ‘pack racing’ that never actually consistently occurred there anyway but never stopped the road racing-centric from shrieking like little girls. Texas this year was mostly a parade that got strung out between pit stops. Between that and a shockingly lackluster performance by the announcers on ESPN on ABC it did not matter that the event was on prime time on a Saturday night. The low ratings that resulted were only exacerbated by the fact that no one saw much meaningful cross promotion on either ABC or ESPN beforehand. That type of treatment is the norm for IndyCar on those channels. On the Sports Center that followed the event, the tease strip on the left part of the screen showed something about Helio, and as it scrolled down to ‘next’ status they went to a break, came back and talked about something completely different. And the tease was gone. They are reprehensible.

There are two things that keep entering my mind with regard to television:

  1. fuckemBefore horse racing was on NBC it was on ABC, and had reached the ratings stage in which very few cared or watched. People were calling that sport ‘dead’ as well. Once that sport jettisoned ABC for NBC, it was meaningfully promoted, ratings went way up and stayed that way. Word to the wise (and Mark Miles): Get past the sentimental attachment the family has toward the Disney folk. ESPN on ABC has neglected IndyCar to such an extreme degree that they should not even be considered. Sure they are the 800 pound gorilla, but what is the point if you are going to be ignored? I realize we will get a bump (perhaps substantial) from Turbo, which IS being promoted effectively, but Disney only distributes Dreamworks films. There is enough separation to allow the freedom to, in a manner of plain speaking, tell ESPN to f*<# off for good.
  2. TennisMark Miles ran professional tennis for years. When he began that adventure tennis had a presence and some stars, but most of the stars retired. Fast forward to now after that part of his life concluded and take a look at Tennis in terms of media. Major tournaments get good ratings. It has its own niche network. There are stars. It gets covered regularly in the popular press and on SportsCenter. It has dedicated, passionate fans. As a sport it cannot hold a candle to the relative excitement of IndyCar. It is, however, treated with immensely more respect. Not saying Miles is completely responsible for the place Tennis currently holds, but he helped build it up and knows how it is done. There is no reason why he cannot increase the stature of IndyCar in the media, which remains mostly jaded due to the events of the mid-1990s.

Curt Cavin has an interesting three-part series with Miles in the Star at the moment, but he is still not saying much specific. He is still having a honeymoon, but time is short.

June 4, 2013

Dare We Affirm That IndyCar Is Headed in the Right Direction?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:28 pm

Guy in ChargeIt is hard to say what kind of magic Mark Miles brings to the sport of IndyCar racing. He certainly has the business chops. Whenever you can get cart-centric, bitter former cart employees/curmudgeons who refuse to budge from the previous century to write complimentary things about IndyCar direction and leadership in 2013, a corner certainly has been turned. That is precisely what has happened after both Michael Knight and Gordon Kirby spent time with Miles at Indy in May.

After spending the better part of twenty years trying to destroy the sport because their apple cart was upset their newfound enthusiasm and maturity is appreciated.

Some of Miles ideas are very well received, including putting Derrick Walker in charge of competition. One of their notions is that they can jigger the rules to enable record speeds, particularly at Indy. That seems great from a marketing standpoint, but I worry about the ‘engineering’ of speed by the leadership. A more natural approach, based on seeing all milestones from 150mph up fall with my own eyes through the years, is to allow that to occur creatively by opening up the rule book to allow for less strict specifications. No one can deny the raciness of the current package, but micromanaging advancement that leads to higher Fastspeeds seems risky. Fate is being tempted. The best stories involve a mad scientist theme. The late Tim Wardrup with Arie Luyendyk gave us just such a story when the records fell in the mid-90s.

If speed is the goal then facilities need to be able to handle circumstances that go awry. Auto racing in a general sense is at a critical point. Television ratings and crowds are sinking. Gimmicks only go so far, and the stories that result are short lived. What we need are organically grown stories that become legendary. Just one driver, or worse, spectator fatality could literally wipe out the sport for good. Miles and crew need to exercise caution.

My big hope is that he oversees a number of things important to a lot of people. Re-add strategic venues like Phoenix. Truly balance the schedule. Have an oval race before Indy. Fix IMS up in a meaningful way and operate it in such a way that half the crowd does not get alienated over stupidity. Make the brand attractive to track owners and promoters who bought into the negative stereotyping.

It is absolutely great that Miles has begun changing perception.

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