Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

May 25, 2015

99th Running of Indianapolis 500 a Huge Success

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:30 pm

Winner winner chicken dinnerThe party of D had an unusually great time at the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500. With regard to the race itself the start was a little shaky on a lot of fronts but once the boys and girls finally understood the race would not be won in the first few laps but could definitely be lost the show became great. Montoya’s march from 30th after being rear ended by a lady driver, necessitating a change of the entire ‘wide load’ portion of the car, as well as a pit overshoot makes one appreciate what was required to get it done. Takuma Sato screwed himself (and Sage Karam) on lap 1 with a banzai move that ended Karam’s day and put Taku 3 laps down after replacing suspension and wing parts. Despite that hurdle Taku was the third highest finishing Honda. Can you imagine what might have happened had he backed out of three wide in the south chute understanding there were 199 ¾ more laps to go?

idiots onlinePredictions of doom and gloom leading up to the race proved naysayers continue being the most stupid, irrational people on earth, and they were wrong again. I think we all know the first time a car flies into a crowd the sport is over. Given the level of panty wearing in society today the end might come the next time a driver dies. If the IndyCar Series is foolish enough to introduce aero kits then meaningfully test the oval package for the first time at Indy they deserve all the grief they got leading up to the race. There were a variety of accidents during the race, but nothing that resulting in flight, floating or other airborne adventure.

Cynical anti-oval sentiment usually expressed with passive aggressive smarminess was noticeable in many interviews, and often by American drivers onto which IndyCar would like to bestow hero status. The sickening part to this legacy fan is the way IndyCar remains complicit in actively attempting to kill the oval genre. One in depth look at the lack of meaningful presentation at utterly great venues such as Pocono and Fontana is proof. Bottom line: IndyCar should always schedule at least one oval event prior to May. I admired the efforts of Brian Clauson and the Byrd team but why does it have to be that way in the first place?

Watch the teeth honeyThe oval race at Indianapolis remained spectacular once talent engaged. Predictably most of the race was a Penske/Ganassi shootout and Penske had more bullets. Honda is obviously out to lunch on something, be it horsepower or getting their machines through air. That makes performances by Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti all the more impressive. Graham is having a dream season and his biggest worry may well be Courtney’s teeth. They look as if they could do damage if misplaced.

Racing itself through the field was thoroughly exciting. This is important because ESPN on ABC misses it consistently. Several drivers such as Jack Hawksworth made things interesting in terms of passing. He was aggressive once too often toward the end. Triston Vautier created a Donald Davidson trivia question when he qualified one car but raced another. The Coyne effort ended up being led by Pippa Mann, who spent the Dale Coyne Racingmajority of her day in the back and staying out of the way of faster cars. Positive thoughts are going out to injured members of that organization’s pit crews, many of whom have been treated like bowling pins so far this season.

Weather and crowds were great for the 99th running and the more seasoned, mature Juan Montoya has gained an adult respect for the place to go along with his considerable talent. As we move toward the beginning of the second hundred Indianapolis 500s I have a few suggestions:

-Kowtowing to ESPN on ABC for the timing of pre-race events has ruined the on-site experience for attendees. In years past there was a rhythmic flow leading up to the command. That has disappeared in recent years in order to operate according to their timetable. Now there are long periods of complete silence while commercials air on ABC. That is stupid. IMS needs to operate its own pre-race pageantry then make ABC work around that. It is a lot easier that way and far better for paying customers.

MHG-Never allow Mari Hulman-George near a mic again. The command yesterday was worse than that for the Grand Prix. I am assuming the ‘helper’ was a daughter. It came off like a thud. People who know that family love them and their contributions and enthusiasm can never be overlooked. To the hundreds of thousands in attendance and the millions watching or listening she came off as either a drunken or dementia-addled sideshow. For the 100th I might suggest three possibilities: A) a selected fan who has attended for decades. B) a video of Tony Hulman in his prime. C) A decorated member of the military. After the 100th perhaps they could whore it out to some corporate entity since a lot of other NASCAR tricks are now being copied. In any event, retire Mari permanently.

-Straight No Chaser did a remarkable job replacing Jim Nabors. Their rendition was traditional, respectful and nostalgic. They should be invited back. If they are they should be allowed to slow down a bit and sing both verses. The rushed snippet version was not optimal. If the boo birds win and they go another direction for #100 SNC should STILL be included, and another ideal slot would be in place of Florence Henderson for God Bless America. She is well beyond her expiration date as well. The rendition this year was even more nails-on-a-chalkboard grating. She and Mari should remain in their suite all day long from now on.

-Audio glitches continued plaguing the day. One might think that after several years this would get figured out.

-I am unable to comment intelligently on the television coverage because as I tried to view the same day playback in Indy I fell asleep soon after the race began. I will try again in a day or so and offer commentary then. The radio guys were their usual eloquent selves and my new RE 3000 kept me up to date on the teams and drivers.

-Newbie fans were enthusiastic. After the race they wondered how they had missed such great racing for as long as they had. Now we’re off to Detroit to kill off that type of momentum. I keep wondering what the series will do to piss Eddie Gossage off enough when Texas rolls around to get thrown out so their COTA wet dreams can be realized. That is Crapper liaradmittedly cynical but highly realistic.

The party of my brother was seated in the midst of a gaggle of hypocrites in the Southwest Vista. These adult children were seated in a group wearing dated, irrelevant 1990s cart-themed synthetic shirts and even some defunct hate site attire. He indicated there was some guy named Kevin who would not shut up the entire day. He told me he got a chuckle out of their presence. For youths who spend an inordinate amount of time falsely claiming not to pay attention to anything even remotely related to IndyCar and hating any/everything related to IMS he thought it odd they would actually be there, preserving their liar/hypocrite status. He also indicated their drinking and loud talking was disruptive. Usually those who cackle the loudest are the most fervent followers. Next YearLOL.

Now it is off to watch the replay to see what I missed in person and renew tickets. The saddest part about today is the fact that we have to wait another year.

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May 18, 2015

Month O’ May Adventures (and Misadventures) Continue at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:16 pm

Internet PukerFor this racing fan and immediate party the month of May in Indianapolis has been very enjoyable. How can it not be when Indy cars take to the track? The tendency for those outside looking in (especially along the raw sewage line that is the internet) is to deride folks like as ‘place fans’ as if that is some sort of bad thing. I suspect jealousy is involved. I am an unabashed ‘place fan’ and enjoy many other events in person as well. Indy, however, remains the pinnacle.

Here are a few observations from the month so far. The Grand Prix of Indianapolis makes me yawn. It is Pussiesenjoyable for certain but contrary to my expectations. It seems like a waste of Indy Cars. Why not find another formula to run it instead, like Formula E? The squatting formula oneabees occupying IndyCar seem enamored of that series, and given the current collective proclivity of society to don frilly lace panties en masse then tightly knot them whenever anything deemed politically incorrect arises (such as burning fossil or plant based fuels) it seems natural to consider that option. The race attendance and ratings do not make a strong case for continuing to foist it as the money grab it smells like. They could easily generate positive life force energy from the tree hugging community.

The one guy who seems to be working harder and smarter than anyone else month after month is Doug Boles. Projects that are ongoing and planned are transforming the old Brickyard into a renewed showplace for the next hundred years. The pylon and new video monitors are spectacular. Most 7 bucksconcession areas have new faces and the product offerings are better. Way too pricey, but better.  One advantage of lodging two blocks from the track means we can leave during down time and eat/drink for a lot less money outside the track. $14 for a sandwich and a soft drink may be normal from a venue pricing standpoint but is one reason people decide not to partake. I only slipped up once with a $9.00 tenderloin but mostly acted on things like a $7.00 meal that included a large roast beef, curly fries and a half gallon of Diet Pepsi at Arby’s down the street.

Boles is not responsible for the scarred-over wound the inside of turn one became for F-1 and MotoGP. I still really miss the character of the turn with the creek and trees. It remains far too sterile for my taste. The monstrous, rusting old rotating scoring structure inside the south chute is gone and right now is not missed. The other one on the north end is still there for now.

One smart current business philosophy for IndyCar is cultivation of sponsorship for anything and everything. My belief going in was that the Sunoco signs at either end of the pits would be offensive. Not so. They are tastefully placed and unobtrusive. What really took me by surprise is the Sunoco logo on the south end of the upper deck of E-stand. THAT is tacky and directly affects the character of the stand. It may, however, be a moot point. Plans have been revealed that involve the reconstruction of A, B and E, primarily to remove vertical view-obstructing columns and add more of the high dollar seats as part of a grand new entrance to the track.

Hopefully the tunnel-like characteristics of the stands into turn one remain. Unclear is what happens to the seats below the upper decks. My continuing thoughts are that seats need to be wider with deeper pitch. People are larger these days and seating should accommodate much larger behinds as well as their coolers. So far the ongoing evolution of the physical plant gets an A and Boles is the man.

GeorgetownGeorgetown Road no longer connects to 16th Street, and there is no way to force exit down there unless you are on a motorcycle, and even then it’s dicey. This point is lost on hundreds of people who either cannot read or feel all the ‘No Thru Traffic’ or ‘Dead End’ signs posted from 25th Street and a few blocks before and after do not apply to them. It is almost comical watching people storming down a much less busy Georgetown Road, then a few minutes later watching them storm back.

Qualifying weekend was plagued by a series of crashes involving Chevy-powered Dallaras that smacked walls while facing the opposite direction cars were originally headed then becoming glorified box kites usually ending upside down. When Ed Carpenter’s accident occurred IndyCar brass decided it was time to do something. Behind closed doors they went. The social media sphere erupted with panic, illiteracy, hyperbole and torch carrying. Because the controversy involved IndyCar the second guessing stayed in high gear for most of the day. It was humorous watching the racing press gossip like little old ladies along fence posts.

The most unusual aspect for me was the silence encountered on the track PA. Calabro loves to talk and Jenkins is a comfy sidekick. Thousands of people in the joint tend to rely on the PA for updates. After the practice accident, however, not many words about anything were uttered by anyone for over two hours. BefuddledThat did a tremendous disservice to the attendees, exacerbated by the repeated playback of the most annoying Chevy commercial ever produced.

Once a decision was made and announced a fresh batch of second guessing from the Internet and fan experts began. My preference was to tune out the noise and examine root cause with an eye toward solution. The choice made was to kill the boost and mandate race trim for qualifying with no points, along with an old-school one shot attempt. As a legacy fan I enjoyed that and the pressure it added for teams. The decision did not bother me. What led up to it is worthy of discussion.

As a 50+ year attendee of Indy and many other IndyCar events one constant remains. IndyCar leadership will always appear inept to its fan base regardless of intent, and often contempt is warranted. It has been that way from day one. At least now legitimate business people are working hard to make it needlessly convoluted. What happened this weekend is inevitable when micromanaging a spec series and car. Three card monte tricks such as adjusting boost for artificial bursts of speed and bolting on poorly tested aero kits will always come back to bite concoctors. Pre-selection of the field with a no-hope 34th entry will always bother fans. Long term vision should encourage development the series may not fully control. That takes courage they may not possess.

Common sense also dictates that at least one oval should be scheduled prior to Indy, particularly when testing a brand new package; more particularly when self-funded formula oneabees who have never even attended oval races begin playing music chairs for IndyCar seats. There are so many of that ilk, although keeping track of helmets in Dale Coyne’s concession cars remains stimulating.

So now it is on to the 99th running in less than a week. We can hardly wait!

May 6, 2015

‘Tis The Merry Month ‘O May for Actual IndyCar Racing Fans

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 5:07 pm

smackforum membersEvidently the Disciple fan club has gotten restless and I apologize for neglecting to inspire the special dreaming that comes to many from reading my quaint little missives. LOL.

Truth is the ‘ol D has been busy earning a living. Come Friday, however, the rest of the month is vacation and yours truly will be at the one place that is logical in May…the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Also, speaking with frank honesty, it is tedious trying to wade through the rampant illiteracy that plagues most IndyCar-centric sites. The Internet Television Executives are their usual Einstein-like selves as they attempt to position 12+ overnights as life or death every week. Those of us in the business continue to wait for anything resembling intelligence or discussion about the actual numbers used in such commerce. As usual most look backward for mostly arbitrary standards with no real cognizance of what is happing now and in the future.

There is literally no discussion of current trends such as programmatic selling or unbundling. You know who is flipping out right now? ESPN. Why? Last time I checked they were getting over $6.60 per subscriber. By contrast Fox Sports 1 gets less than a buck per. ESPN has always been ubiquitous in terms of basic cable and that has become an 8 billion dollar per year bonanza for the house of the mouse. Verizon and others are moving closer to ala carte pricing of channels to counteract the tendency of millennials to cut cords. One of the fundamental moves is offering a small number of basic channels supplemented by genre-themed add-ons. Therefore if you are a sports fan you might pay an extra ten bucks a month for a sports tier. Chances are you won’t include any tiers that include things like kid channels or Lifetime or Oprah or any of that tripe. On the other hand if you are a woman not into sports you may not need or want a sports tier. What ultimately results is ESPN in a lot fewer households than today. ESPN/Disney is startlingly pissed about that and is doing everything they can, including lots of lawyers, to halt the status quo from changing.

Change, however, is inevitable. Pining for a better IndyCar television package is not the way to go. The correct path is figuring a way to disseminate product offerings on a much wider variety of platforms anytime anyone wants to consume them. This hBrickyard-001arkens back to an earlier idea about launching a non-linear network(s) that features all the rich content of the past that links to live events carried by current partners.

Which brings us back around to the 99th running. The May 3 opening day harkened back to the good old days and despite way too many opening day snafus, such as only being able to play twangy country music from someone employee i-Pod, made many ask the question about what those responsible for getting that right have been doing for the past eleven months.

That said the aero kits are compelling, speeds have jumped and IMS is slowly being refurbished . I can do without the Sunoco gas station signs at either end of the pits but love the corporate sponsorship.

If anyone needs me I will be where I usually am in May. Strolling the grounds of IMS and/or very nearby.

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