Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

January 30, 2014

IndyCar Fans Awaiting Blooms on Trees and Gentlemen Starting Engines

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

Many racing fans have grown weary of sub-freezing temperatures over a winter that has gone on far too long. Panic has set in. One of the Indy obsessed Mensa-level contributors from squeakforum, off kilter, wagon yankers or one of those other delinquent hate sites is fully blown, as depicted in the video:

The cure? IndyCars on the track.

God damnPredictably, there are hurdles. For a few weeks the eyes of racing fans have been assaulted by the release of mostly hideous function over form Formula 1 machines. The elitist crowd that fervently supports that discipline might be well advised to stop running their arrogant yaps once and for all about how ugly they believe the DW12 is because anyone who does that now will look more foolish Ugly 3that they do already. The Antares is sleek compared to the mostly ghastly new machines. The word ‘fugly’ does not go nearly far enough.

Once racing season gets here the road racers currently running the show at IMS have made extra sure, by God, not to have ANY ovals until Indy, and just for good measure they have installed a F1 Ugly 1road race at Indy in May just to add certainty. Don’t worry. There are five more ovals scattered around the schedule after May.

Oh, and by the way, your bronze badges will not get you into the road race. And it costs 25% more this year. Meantime, the IMS physical plant continues, literally, falling apart in many places. But hey, the 13 year old road course is completely refurbished. The rest of the 105 year old track will just have to wait I guess.

Normally we might see events being promoted or marketed, especially since Mr. Miles whooped it up before the first of the year about the Ford and NASCAR pedigreed VPs they hired to lead such things. But no. The only news out of the joint recently are those of people who have been there a long time but are now leaving.  Perhaps the new VPs, now months into their gigs, are trying a new approach. I am not convinced, however, that total silence is the way to go.

But enough of the negativity borne of cabin fever. Let’s get some IndyCars on the track. The ‘unified’ sports car shindig at Daytona did not do it for me.

January 22, 2014

The Indianapolis Motor Mobile Home Estates

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:34 pm

Showtime airs a series called ‘House of Lies.’ It involves youngish, brash consultants who work with a very Boston Consulting Group-like entity. For the main characters it is all about scoring big bucks from the rubes they talk into hiring them. Perhaps BCG did not lead IMS far enough down the path of least common sense while draining even more of the Hulman family fortune.

My wife shook me awake last night after nightmares borne of this little-too-close-to-reality got a little out of control. Evidently my subconscious was considering some frightening what-ifs.

Indy Motor CourtThere is more opportunity for recurring revenue if the facility is converted immediately into the world’s largest and most famous trailer park. Lot fees, after all, are collected monthly and not just two or three times a year. The inside of a 2.5 mile rectangle can accommodate a high density of mobile homes, especially double-wides, particularly along the winding Mickey Mouse Way which has been recently completely resurfaced and won’t need pothole patching for many years.

Garages that dot the facility can be rented to affluent, high value tenants willing to pay even more per month. A grand scale mobile home park with garages would certainly be a first in that market sector.

Get Donald Davidson into a nursing home ASAP. Hire some slacker whose breadth of knowledge goes no earlier than 1990 who feels most facility history is fictional anyway. Instead of merely having a blowhard who relives history should we not employ someone who can invent it on the spot to fit any situation? That person can multi-task as well, perhaps bussing tables in the bowling alley the present museum will be converted into. Pete Dye is also a very old man not in the target demo. His handful of golf course holes inside the oval can be easily turned into at least eight distinct miniature golf courses, making them accessible to far more fans, and their dollars.

EquipmentThe inside of the old turn 1 would make a really nice flea market. Think of the bucks you could generate selling the jalopies from the future bowling alley to nostalgic old men. Since the inside of the old turn 4 already contains a lot of sand that makes a perfect place for lots of playground equipment. The mounds they built for spectators? They were really nice with good sightlines and a nice breeze. Two words for repurposing: Community clotheslines. Think out of the box. You could rent the space. These will be necessary because the old Hanna Medical Center, after being converted into a laundromat, probably still would not ever contain enough working dryers, and besides they still cost money.

The old turn two suites? Perfect for a motel, either by the hour or for when cousin Eddie and his family come to visit, and you can get to it out of the view of most of the trailers. Win-win.

The north 40 is still part of the property, but not really the scenic part. That would be the perfect place for the Sunnyvale junkyard. Instead of cars up on blocks outside trailers, why not outside the loop in an area that already has that ambiance anyway? Plus, it’s fenced.

Since there technically would be no more Speedway, move to change the name of the town and the facility to Sunnyvale. Make the pagoda the official government building for the town of Sunnyvale. Tear down all the stands in the turns but keep the main straightaway stands. Tractor pulls and monster truck events still sell a lot of tickets. In the turns bring back the following culinary and entertainment choices for the key demographics: White Castle. Steak N’ Shake. Liquor stores. Check cashing/tobacco establishments. Perhaps even a ‘nasty’ bar, but more out of the way where no one will notice; e.g., at the outside entrance to the old turn 3. After all, Sunnyvale should be a good Christian community.

In order to make that happen, the following organizational chart should be embraced:

IMS Org Chart

….and so as I was shaken awake and more coherent reasoning kicked in fright eventually crept back as the realization something like that could actually happen became apparent. After all, the dramatically deteriorated physical plant is on display for everyone to see. We should enjoy it while it lasts.

January 20, 2014

Maybe They Could Turn The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Into A Trailer Park

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 6:57 pm

IMS Dump 2IMS Dump 1One of the numerous malcontented blowhards on the Internet (present company excluded) seemed to lament the other day that gimmickry being attempted involving IMS and Indy 500 traditions is necessary to hook really young demographic targets going forward. Those of us who have spent money there for decades should consider ourselves expendable because we are next in the check-out line of life.

Agree or disagree . . . it is thought provoking. Actions speak louder than words. When the very first thing IMS does with $100 million of taxpayer loan money is re-build an already functional road course suspicions about future direction tend to lean cynical. This is especially true when considering the rest of the physical IMS grounds, which continue to deteriorate unabated and at a rapid pace. As a lifelong devotee of the place I really want to write something positive and pat some people on their backs. That is presently not possible.

IMS has become the trashy, sleazeball neighbor who fails to maintain their property with any common sense or respect for anyone else in the neighborhood. They seem oblivious. If they tell you improvements are being IMS Dump 3IMS Dump 4made they are lying. Many post-1996 critics enjoy heaping blame for anything even remotely troublesome on the Hulman-George family. Reality today is that they have been shoved aside so that outsiders can run the operation. Business is business but the lack of basic respect for men who turned Indiana farmland into a shrine in decades past is simultaneously stunning and vulgar.

Their enthusiasm is appreciated but common sense would earn them more success long term. How much more can be outsourced? How much are they willing to let customer-facing landmarks fall apart before someone does anything?

When will anyone from there ever address the obvious and can the condescending lip service for just a few moments?

January 14, 2014

Evisceration of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:08 pm

Carpet Drape MismatchThe current occupants of the executive level suites at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway continue trying way too hard to increase the gate for a limited number of days track activity is allowed during the long gutted month of May. In some ways the efforts are noble and well intentioned. Lord knows the track has seen one hundred years of better days as part of pop culture and public consciousness. In most cases, however, planned drastic changes appear to be desperate straw grasps devoid of much intelligent coherency or even minimal signs of respect for the traditions that made the 500 the iconic event it became over the decades. Some recent actions demonstrate unparalleled hubris, even when measured with the yardstick of, say, imbecilic Tony George haters who have been in a state of woefully misguided jihad since 1996 and remain generally completely insane.

A couple of years ago Bloomberg published a great list of signs that arrogance is running a company. Here are a couple:

  1. Circus ClownsYour company rationalizes its mistakes instead of learning from them.
  2. Your company focuses almost exclusively on financial success with little regard for legacy and social impact.

Even we increasingly aging baby boomer ticket buyers who have attended for decades understand why one week of time trials is enough. When only 34 identical cars try for 33 spots what is the point? That lack of any meaningful number of entrants or any real manufacturer competition has led to potentially dangerous gimmickry that trashed the wrenching drama that used to be associated with one balls-out four lap attempt that in most years was the most dramatic portion of the long month for most competitors.

Pole day and bump day. Simple and neat. Problem is the only bumping lately has been meaningless, concocted nonsense. Wonder how these BCG-influenced PT Barnums are going to feel when some driver pulls a Gordon Smiley on their sixth attempt to improve one spot on the grid?

Miles and crew have decided to tempt fate even further this year by moving ‘pole day’ (can we even call it that anymore?) to late in the day Sunday. May weather in Speedway is unpredictable at best and the worst parts of any of the four seasons are always possible then. IMS has been lucky since the gimmickry began but how long can that kind of luck hold out? Fate was slapped in the face when one entire qualifying weekend was nixed. Fate will be pummeled as pole qualifying moves to late Sunday. Hopefully they have a backup plan that is respectful of the long distances many fans travel to see qualifying.

As always many decades-long fans espouse the embrace of common sense, a concept that remains distant for many decision makers. Pole day and bump day could be meaningful on their own without any circus shenanigans again if:

IMS Today-Costs of entry and competition were aligned with actual reality.

-At least fifty serious entrants were allowed to try for 33 positions.

-Meaningful manufacturer competition was allowed.

-Artificial controls on the availability of parts and engines vanished.

IMS can control its own destiny in far more pragmatic ways than those of recent years, consisting primarily of raising prices for everything and adding additional wallet grabbing opportunities involving parking and access.  Want to improve the fan experience and get more people to attend the race? Bring back the drama associated with the hour or so before the race. In recent years IMS has allowed themselves to be raped by ESPN on ABC to conform to snippets that can be squeezed in between commercial breaks while the hundreds of thousands in the seats have been subjected to a disjointed variation of ‘tradition’ with long pauses and no continuity. Take a look at the ’91 pre-race, for example:

No commercial breaks. Flow. Drama. Almost as if you were there. I was, and miss the pre-race greatly. Paul Page didn’t even say a word for many minutes.

IMS should learn from and embrace the important parts of the traditions it created. Seeing most of it get trashed is sickening.

January 3, 2014

RIP Andy Granatelli

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

AndyAndy Granatelli was a huge part of what many of us old timers consider the golden age of Indy Car centered around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In the week following his death at the age of 90 I find myself still feeling sad. He is one of the last links to what could arguably be called the high point of the sport.

He was a shameless self-promoter and almost singlehandedly made the STP logo ubiquitous in just about all forms of racing. The propagation of that brand was evident in stickers that were everywhere, on crew uniforms, and on race cars, including the iconic number 43 Richard Petty drove in NASCAR.

Racers EdgeHe allowed then young fans like me to experience Novis at the track. The turbines were different and rankled the establishment, which effectively legislated them out of existence. He was a renegade owner and always looked for the next innovation. He was a giant man and cut a wide swath right through the racing world.

His brand of personality was larger than life. Personalities such as Andy, J.C. Agajanian and others helped create wide eyed interest in the sport and are sorely missing today. Recently his annual visits to IMS in May were high points for those of us with deep respect for history.

We all come and go in the general scheme of the universe, but a big part of what got many of us hooked early on is gone and he is missed.

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