Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

April 15, 2014

IndyCar and the Month of May: Almost Here

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:41 pm

MikeyThe past weekend of IndyCar racing was enjoyable, as usual. The weather in southern California was outstanding, the crowds turned out and the 40th anniversary of the Long Beach Grand Prix did not disappoint. Despite misgivings about Mike Conway, the talented road racer who has openly eschewed oval racing; i.e., a driver who refuses to be diverse in a series that positions itself as such, his win for Ed Carpenter’s team was pretty compelling. Ed may turn out to be a decent owner over time as well. Between this win and that of Takuma Sato and Foyt Racing last year the fact that Long Beach is just a street race is less important. That event is widely thought of as the second most important event on the IndyCar calendar, although us traditionalists could make great arguments for Texas.

It also became apparent, especially after re-watching the event on television, that Barfield’s officiating crew may employ two sets of rules. One for average schmos and another for Penske, Ganassi and Andretti. Scott Dixon, Will Power and Ryan Punter-Reay again solidified their teacher’s pet status. Despite that weirdness the best stories seemed to come from the rear forward. There are some darned fine young drivers in this series.

SIncompetentRefereepeaking of rules that result in stunned looks, the brain trust at IMS released final details of the glorified shell game that qualifications have become. The good news is it still takes four laps of balls out, on the edge speed to start up front. The bad news is that now you will need an instruction manual to figure it out. These steps are being taken because for decades crowds for practice and qualifying have been dwindling.

There is one reason and one reason only for making such changes. The members of the field of 33 have become pre-ordained. If 35 entries is all you have the notion of ‘bumping’ is just nostalgic. This is the direct result of micromanaged spec racing and artificial availability of engines and parts. On the one and only qualification weekend, Sunday becomes Pole Day and Saturday features a lot of hocus pocus to fill the field. Just not in the final order. Sound convoluted? It is.

The 500It really drives traditionalists nuts and they may lose a few more as a result of all the tinkering. As a traditionalist with decades of support and attendance I can say with certainty that I will be there every day the track is open supporting the sport. IndyCar/IMS’s problem is not really the risk of losing the older demos, it is the risk of not attracting the younger ones. Most critics have long espoused dramatic action to reenergize the popularity of the sport and IMS/IndyCar has responded. Will it work? Only time will tell. If the weather is bad that weekend we will see a potential disaster in the making. Still, IMS has built in multiple new events during the month and has attempted to monetize almost everything. The only way any of it really works is if the two generations following mine rekindle an interest in actually going to the track. So despite the fact that I despise the new rules and the fact that 33 starters are determined will before they open the gates you have to root for what may work, and I am. IMS is either going to realize some increase in business or fall flat on their faces.

Hopefully IMS will realize they have to go even further. To my way of thinking the biggest potential detriment to large attendance on race day are the memories of those who stood on hot pavement for hours and how thoroughly and completely IMS totally screwed up ingress to the facility. Human nature being what it is these days many may be done jumping through those hoops permanently. Selfishly that is good for those of us who would not miss a race day for almost any reason, but I find myself rooting for IMS and IndyCar despite their long and storied history of routinely blowing off their own appendages for no apparent reason.



  1. More whining about IRL. Jeeze, when are you going to say enough ia enough. Join the crowd. It feels good. Gimmicks and silly tinkering with tarditions, its just a recipie for failure. Twice.
    Editor’s Note: Thanks for reading. Unlike you I still have a couple of things going for me. A) Functioning brain cells, and B) a functioning liver. I am also capable of comprehending what an entire piece says. As an actual fan who spends a lot of money every year with Hulman and Company I reserve the right to offer constructive criticism (like a convoluted shell game for qualifications) but not to be a hypocrite or an infantile delinquent. That is why I would never fit in with your ‘crowd’ of four or five reprobates. You are not real fans, and you offer society very little other than perhaps great organic fertilizer (being full of sh!t and all) after you finally die off.

    Comment by Youowemeabeerasshole — April 16, 2014 @ 3:00 am | Reply

  2. I’m just curious… what qualifies you as a ‘traditionalist’? Long beach has been around for a lot longer than Texas.
    Editor’s Note: More than anything else, longevity. My first time at Indy was 1959. I was around when all the engines were in the front, although I am not one of those who pine for a return to that. I appreciate every evolutionary phase. I also admire the longevity of Long Beach and the great job those folks do every year. I also remember that it started as something other than an IndyCar event, eventually became a Formula 1 event, and still contains folks who would prefer that it become one again. Personally, I like it on the schedule, although I wish the radical ‘I hate Tony’ nutjobs that stupidly pine for cart even today would eventually grow up and enjoy it along with the rest of us. Texas has always brought enthusiastic support (except when IMS tries to shoot off that appendage or road racers who now occupy the series decry its racing, etc.) every year it has been on the IndyCar calendar and, IMHO, showcases the magic of IndyCar racing in ways a street circuit can’t.

    Comment by Bill — April 16, 2014 @ 1:42 pm | Reply

    • I only hope they fix the formula at texas this year. Last year’s was a bit of a snoozer.

      Comment by Bill — April 17, 2014 @ 4:13 am | Reply

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