Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

October 28, 2013

The Single Most Idiotic Thing Ever Uttered By Indy Car ‘Fans’

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

This shit againHere is, without question, the single most willfully retarded, idiotic supposition folks who have zero cognizance of the history of American open wheel (except for mostly self-perceived periods of utopia mostly after the middle 1980s based mostly on their physical but not emotional ages) are currently shrieking:

Variations of ‘…the IndyCar Series/IMS will limp along until 2016 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 500 then shut down for good…’

The bossIt is the dumbest thing I have ever read/heard from folks who have the temerity to refer to themselves as racing fans.

There are so many other more logical things that could happen:

-A change of ownership control, even to the worst, most potentially damaging possible entities such as ISC or SMI.

-Partial change of ownership control.

As if-Shutdown of the IndyCar Series and a return of the 500 to an invitational.

-Business as usual.

Many of the more radical ‘fans’ screeching this particular flavor of doom seem to believe that the IMS property would have far more economic value if converted to some other use; e.g., a giant Wal-Mart distribution facility or something equally clueless.

Discussion of what happens after the 100th running is legitimate discussion fodder, but when such discussion turns completely stupid that is when laughter from those of us who learn from history begins.

October 23, 2013

A ‘Defender’ Off Topic Observation About Indy Racing Forums

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 9:34 pm

Blogging is kind of fun but can occasionally get tedious. On the list over the next few days is a relatively wistful look back at the 1970s and innovation the sport experienced, all triggered by looking at a restored IndyCar from that period while at the Fontana race. Writing for an external audience can be a chore at times when you are stalked by a handful of ‘fans’ that continuously contribute commentary that is completely unrelated to actual blog topics and usually expressed in the colorful language of an average fourth grader.

OWR OnlineWhy is this important enough to discuss? It is not, really. But considering the volume of ‘fan’ mail received about a recent incident I should at least provide the courtesy of a blanket response. A few weeks ago my ‘Defender’ persona was banned from a relatively new racing bulletin board/forum called OWR Online. A few months earlier the ‘Disciple’ persona was banned from the larger and more popular trackforum after the previous 15K post level ‘Defender’ met the same fate. In both cases no specific reasons were given other than obtuse, vague generalizations about the ‘tone’ not being right, not being a ‘fit’ for a forum, contributions to other sites and other such obfuscation and excuse making.

McCondreismThe D ‘fan’ club seems obsessed with this. Why? I do not understand. They are forums on the internet. They are not saving any lives. It does not matter in the big picture. My thought is that my absence from such forums is their loss, not mine. My forced absence also provides an opportunity to point out odd behaviors by otherwise well-intentioned forum operators which can vary from hypocritical to dishonest to downright ludicrous and a lot in between. One laugh inducing claim forum operators enjoy making is that diverse viewpoints are encouraged. I do not know of one racing forum that actually does that.

Saying one thing but enforcing something else is not unprecedented in society. American history is rife with examples of ‘undesirables’ being excluded, banished or otherwise castigated because, well, they just do not ‘fit.’

The ExclusionistsIf some of these self-important forum operators were honest with themselves and others their behavior would not be so simultaneously funny and egregious. One friend of mine called it the ‘Howard Stern’ syndrome in which readers complain vociferously about the way ‘Defender’ expresses his opinions but hang on every word to see what will be posted next.  I would disagree, but given the volume of mail about something as insignificant as exclusion from a public forum the point is easy to understand. If operators of places like trackforum and OWR were actually honest they might say some are excluded because we just don’t like the ‘fans’ Defender drags in.

The primary mistake forum operators make while running their little mini-kingdoms is completely misunderstanding points being made by excluded contributors. They get tripped up over things like ‘tone.’ As always I will put my credentials as a fan up against those of anyone else. I made it to most IndyCar events again this season including Fontana last weekend.

No oddballs 1There are very few discernible differences in the rhetoric or actions of insecure forum operators and racists, commie chasers or witch hunters in terms of societal exclusion of certain members of communities they dislike. In addition to their own dishonest actions they do a disservice to their audiences.

Please do not misinterpret my words as bitter, particularly as I laugh. The pathetic behavior of others is their problem and not mine. Besides, I have my own place to express opinions, and folks seem to like it. So what is the problem?

October 20, 2013

Fantastic Season Closer For IndyCar

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:27 pm

The 2013 IndyCar season has drawn to a close. That always leaves a melancholy feeling because what that means is that the sights, smells and sense tingling action must wait out winter before returning to the track. When racing fans distill what is really important it all boils down to how much the hair on your arms stands up when the racing begins.

The Fontana track (and for that matter the triplet Michigan and Texas World Speedway tracks) were built specifically for Indy Cars. It is a shame they do not also race at Michigan. TWS is way too far gone for Indy Cars (although Pocono is back and we used to say the same thing about that track), and we still have Texas Motor Speedway and Eddie Gossage. I hope Mark Miles has the sense to enhance that relationship. The level of patience Mr. Gossage has shown despite the consistent dysfunction of IndyCar is commendable, particularly given his boss now has open contempt for anything Hulman-George.

ChampionsThe 500 mile race at Fontana was utterly fantastic. There was close racing all around the track, dicing for the top spots and a down-to-the-wire battle for the championship with two guys who did not hold back. The big difference was Dixon getting lucky twice with yellows and Roger Penske making a rare miscue on a pit call to Helio. Carlos Munoz continued another amazing one-off. He was up front all night and fighting for the lead until he lost some air and put E.J. Viso’s car into the wall. Even then the crew basically gave him a standing ovation for the show he put on. That Colombian has a potentially big future. The one-offs by Tagliani and Hildebrand were also impressive before premature ends, and Charlie Kimball again showed he belongs. Will Power’s win was redemption of sorts, and Scott Dixon as a three time champion is certainly deserved.

As an enthusiastic fan I applaud Fontana head honcho Gillian Zucker for her equal enthusiasm about IndyCars on that track. It is justified and the crowd grew again this year. Here is some advice for Gillian and/or ISC: Train the people you put into authority figures, and spend money to make the track more accessible to fans. There was one instance after another in which untrained staff gave conflicting instructions or simply yelled at fans who know better. I know this is true of multiple ISC tracks but the level of ignorance, hostility or just plain confusion was especially pronounced all weekend there. I have always wanted to know what Roger Penske was thinking when he only installed one tunnel between turn three and four on a track that size. Would it have killed him to install at least tubed pedestrian tunnels close to the S/F line and/or near turn 1? Champ 3I felt sorry for folks without golf carts. One aspect of the experience that was pleasantly surprising was egress. It was remarkably easy to leave the facility and was well organized, which was refreshing considering ingress was highly disorganized. Should ISC wonder about reasons attendance is lagging for NASCAR events at all of their tracks they might consider using a mirror.

IndyCar has taken a bold step for 2014. A tightly compressed schedule with no huge holes that ends before the NFL begins is just what the doctor ordered. As an added bonus there are no off-continent excursions in the middle of the season. IndyCar obfuscation remains strong. In reality they make visits to fifteen places but tout an 18 race schedule. The schedule also remains unacceptably imbalanced toward non-ovals. The schedule imbalance remains at 70/30. History shows that approach leads to failure 100% of the time. After the performances we experienced at Fontana it remains stupefying that IndyCar is not still racing at Chicagoland, Kentucky, Richmond and others.

The off season/silly season will be interesting and additional future commentary will address potential stories. The one that intrigues from Fontana was the sudden illness of E.J. Viso. Was he sick of natural causes, the Conway Syndrome or some deep conspiratorial web of international intrigue in the wake of the recent departure of Hugo Chavez? All three are possibilities, and fleshing it out will be amusing.

Waiting until March for IndyCars is going to painful.

October 13, 2013

Additional Free Consulting For IndyCar and IMS

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 4:23 pm

Fishers idea….because I care and want my great grandchildren to be able to watch.  As IndyCar limps to the end of a discombobulated season with a 500 mile race on an increasingly rare oval that should be absolutely great, it is in the best interests of everyone interested in the sport to look ahead. Mark Miles has been in office for a year but about the only thing we have seen or heard is jargon-filled rhetoric about all the good things that are going to happen in the future. Most fans crave something more substantive right now.

At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Boles and crew are busy spending taxpayer money rejiggering an infield road course most have universally panned since it was installed in preparation for a road race in freaking May at Indy.

Do the folks running the show have the ability or willingness to think really, REALLY big? Carl Fisher was a classic dreamer, and one of the current IMS sound bites trumpets the fact that Fisher dreamt of a road course. Never mind It was envisioned inside a 3 mile oval or that he realized a saturation of races was a bad idea but a huge main event was a great idea and that is how the 500 was born. Dreamers these days are very scarce. People who count beans and take the most conservative possible approaches are a dime a dozen and it shows.

Clean er upThe following is an example of thinking big. Folks who love the Speedway, respect its history and ground themselves in reality see immense potential. The west side of Indianapolis excluding some parts of Speedway has become a decrepit, dilapidated shell of its former self. Much of the region is a Section 8 haven in which crime is rampant and police calls plentiful. 38th Street from 465 to Kessler is a ghost town ghetto with relics of once vibrant businesses long departed. Lafayette Square was once the nicest place in the city to shop. Today it is the best place to get shot in the face for no apparent reason. The outstanding efforts of those gentrifying Speedway aside, the west side of the city is largely forgotten. That means the value of real estate and land has plummeted. That creates opportunity for visionaries.

Indianapolis has touted itself for years as the amateur sports capital of the world. The city has played host to a Super Bowl, several NCAA basketball tournament events and countless other venues. The pro sports teams are big draws. Indianapolis gets rave reviews from those who visit for such events.

Why notFans have heard for decades how great a dedicated 50 year partnership between Disney-owned ABC and IMS is (never mind that outside May the corporate parent forgets IndyCar exists and the coverage they offer is substandard in almost every way). If the love fest is actually mutual and not the kind of shallow lip service jive to which racing fans have become accustomed why not meaningfully leverage it? The Disney parent operates and continuously reinvents the two most popular destination resorts in the history of the world on both coasts. The location of DisneyLand in Anaheim surprised many people in the 50s because Walt plopped it into the same sort of run down third world-type vicinity that has now consumed the west side of Indianapolis.

The solution is not a third mid-continent Disney World (although that might be fun) but a destination resort that features sports as its theme and IMS as the centerpiece. It is my belief that NO ONE involved Magic Kingdomin the sport today is capable of reinventing it and making it appealing to succeeding generations. The folks at Disney could. Brand it more ESPN than Disney but make it a must visit year round destination.

The opportunity seems limitless. Plentiful land that is dirt cheap and an opportunity for meaningful gentrification. IMS needs that type of investment and neither the city nor the track seems capable of the necessary vision. It might even be a great idea to consider selling a large share of the track and the series to Disney. 100K and change can only go so far at IMS, and outside the Speedway revitalization efforts the west side is likely to continue its regression toward Detroit-like status. Comparison of what IMS has done since the 90s to what Disney has done since the 90s is startling.

If the brand of IndyCar is to be effectively re-invented an entity that knows how to do that is required. The only thing the current braintrust seems able to do is repeat past mistakes the resulted in failure. Enough is enough. Think big then do something about it.

October 12, 2013

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course: A Better Idea

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:01 am

Rode CoarseApologies again. I am still unable to advance beyond the notion that there will be a road ‘race’ inside the oval in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That said, if it is inevitable I might as well lay back and enjoy it. Being a curmudgeon does not really do anything except scare folks away. Demographically I am too old for them to worry about anyway.

We need to accept the fact that despite a repeated track record of failure the folks now running the show are hellbent on turning the whole thing into a road racing racing series come hell or high water. The writing is on the wall. Leave it to IMS not to make really good lemonade out of the lemons. The existing road course was almost universally panned when Formula 1 spent eight years crapping where they ate. Arrogance in F-1? Imagine that. LOL. Ever since they left five years ago, despite tweaks to the circuit, the road course is still ridiculed. That does not matter to IMS. Some new pavement and a few less kinks and Mickey Mouse Coarsethey believe it will be good to go.

Now that they have started spending taxpayer money it is too late for the best idea of all. Had I decided to go down the ‘let’s see what happens if we try this mistake again’ road I would have though much bigger. IMS owns an increasing amount of the land in and around the track. In case you have not noticed much of the area outside control of the track has turned into a slum/ghetto/barrio depending on the location. Gentrification is warranted. What better way to kick start it than building a COTA-style track that incorporates some of the inside of the oval, but leaves the confines of it for most of the layout and includes a more imaginative spread, elevation changes, etc.? That would also spare the 43,000 or so television viewers camera shots of completely empty grandstands.

Too late now of course but what a golden opportunity. Blown.

October 4, 2013

Trying Hard To Accept The New Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway But The Brain Urges Caution…

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 4:12 pm

Looking at You MarkMy most sincere apologies in advance, but a topic is about to be broached that is difficult to simply accept as we are being asked to do. I am on record as applauding the efforts of Mark Miles and Doug Boles to think outside the box. The problem is not that (although they are very far away from the box). It is a collective lack of common sense on a rampant scale, failure to ever acknowledge the obvious, and all combined with a level of corporate hubris whose arrogance matches cart at the height of their glory.  It makes my skin crawl.

I also question the wisdom of unloading millions of dollars of Hulman bucks in exchange for a bound ream of well written paper from BCG when the same millions could have been spent more wisely re-transforming IMS into the showplace it needs to be instead of bean counting it all the way back to 1945. The museum parking lot probably could have been paved.  Maybe a few restroom plumbing issues resolved. But no. Hire a company whose expertise is guidance for companies that specialize in biopharmaceuticals, energy, finance, health care, insurance, medical, heavy metals, public sector, technology and a host of other areas unrelated to motor racing. Oh well. What’s a few million among cronies? Note to self: Set the DVR for the upcoming season of ‘House of Lies’ on Showtime.

It is not difficult to assume a company like that might have recommended leveraging the facility for additional uses, and a road race at the end of the season obviously made sense to them. Leave it to leadership to stand such a recommendation on its head. IMS indicates the month of May outside Carb Day and Race Day falls below expectation in terms of attendance. Miles, Boles and crew are positioning the road race as a way to ‘kick start’ the month of May and attract more fans to attend qualifying and race days. They are also fond of pointing out that Carl Fisher envisioned a road course inside the oval (never mind the oval Fisher envisioned was 3 miles around and the road course resembled a shoe string flopped inside it). They conveniently forget to also point out the reason the one big race ended up at 500 miles around Memorial Day is because Fisher concluded there were far too many other events watering each other down throughout the summer.

While it is easy to applaud a notion of thinking differently it is equally easy to slap your forehead in utter disbelief as common sense and even minimal ability to reason based on factual information gets dismissed so casually. Expression of the root causes of the issues IMS is trying to solve in any simpler terms is difficult:

-34 cars for 33 spots in the race, which has forced almost comical concocted gimmickry into qualifying rules that have watered down what used to be the most nail biting time of the month for competitors and fans. The concept of ‘bump day’ has become a bad joke.

-All the cars are exactly the same except for paint/decal jobs and numbers (and two spec motors that no one can see or touch anyway), and the first reaction of many casual fans is that they are ugly.

-No speed records are being approached.

May PhilosophyNow armed with sense, does anyone still seriously believe this non-oval adventure at IMS is as good idea as Miles and Boles position it? It is the same 34 micromanaged spec cars, only 100 mph slower. How is that going to help anything again? The fact that it will be on local television live on the same national network that has abused and ignored IndyCar for at least a dozen years is also puzzling. National television is good, but would be better with a partner that understands it, cares about it and does a professional job of coverage dissemination across its entire platform.

Road racers have nearly reassumed control of all decisions related to IndyCar, and their group consensus is to again trot out a strategy that has failed twice in the current generation:  A series that is at least 70% non-oval. Leading the charge is Derrick Walker, Dan Anderson and others. Walker thinks balance is 33% oval, 33% road course and 33% street courses. In other words, 70% non-oval. Anderson has openly advocated purging ovals for all rungs of the IndyCar ladder. That will be a great way to cultivate an entire farm team of Mike Conways unwilling to race on ovals.

The overall direction Miles and Boles have deluded themselves into believing is the perfect course is a proven failure every single time it has been tried. Mr. Miles and Mr. Boles: Want long term strategy? Here are the keys to future success:

  1. Put your money where your mouths are with regard to diverse schedule balance. 70% non-oval is not balance. Reinvent and reinvigorate the oval presentation IndyCar ancestors invented and ensure 50% or more of the schedule contains them, including at least one prior to the 500. Continuing excuses of why they do not work and how they get dropped are disingenuous at best.
  2. In May, encourage participation by more than 50 entrants for 33 spots. Allow them to compete in something other than a Dallara if they choose. Encourage motor branding, but do away with the philosophy of just bolting a crated motor into a car.
  3. Allow higher speeds to be reached.
  4. A handful of street races in major cities is fine, but the Ponzi-scheme-like financial hocus pocus that gets engineered begins alienating victim cities almost from the start. That is why the majority of these abominations never see year five.
  5. Invest in the presentation of races. Showing up with a few trailers, allowing Michael Young to scream into a mic, thinking track management will promote it like it’s NASCAR while IndyCar simply stands around and thinks to themselves about how lucky the track is to have them there is not self-sustaining.

My next birthday will be number 60. For 50 or so of those years a series that executed basic strategies outlined above kept my attention and lots of other folks as well. Applaud Miles and Boles for trying to get the lost generation of millennials re-attached to the sport, but re-executing failed strategies again and hoping for different results? They will need more than luck, and deft skill appears to be missing.

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