Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year, And A Last Thought On 2010 IndyCar

It’s been a wild ride this year in IndyCar, with both a Centennial and a year of transition ahead of us. IndyCar has a new CEO, new engines, aero kits, and tub under development, and new talent coming to the league. It also has definite challenges, in terms of track attendance and TV viewership for many races.

I’ll say this: I think about where IndyCar was at the start of 2010, and where it was at the end of it. There’s the feeling of hope, of expectation, and the idea that even though we still have challenges, they can be met.

Thanks to everyone who stops by to read and comment. Here’s to a Happy New Year, a pivotal, exciting 2011 for IndyCar, an once-in-a-lifetime Indianapolis 500 Centennial, and above all, for good health and fortune to you and yours.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Baguette Still Working On Conquest Ride

Bertrand Baguette fans. Oh, sure, we’re relatively few in number now, but give us another season and we shall be LIKENED UNTO THE GRAINS OF SAND UPON THE BEACH.

OUR GLORIOUS LEADER
OK, so maybe the Bertrand Baguette Fan Club (U.S. Chapter) only consists of a relative few individuals and myself at the moment, but I’m hoping the Breadman makes it back next year. He showed talent, poise, and as a rookie he didn’t really get in anyone’s way, which is always appreciated. Most people have pretty much figured that Baguette will return with Conquest Racing next year, but according to this article on the IndyCar website, Triple B is still working on coming back for 2011. So that’s not a confirmation quite yet, but I still have to think he’s #1 for that Conquest seat. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Saavedra Full-Time In 2011?

One of the latest rumors (link in Spanish) going around sees Sebastian Saavedra going to the second Conquest Racing seat (or possibly the second Coyne seat). Of course, it being silly season, take that with a grain of salt, but I do think there’s at least a decent chance Saavedra races somewhere in IndyCar in 2011.

Saavedra, learning the ropes at Indy
Saavedra’s a strange case. On one hand, he’s definitely got some talent, and his won a few Indy Lights races in the past two years, and placed well in many others. He also was a feel-good story (unless your last name was Tracy or Howard) for the improbable bump/un-bump/re-bump sequence that saw him make the field at last year’s Indy 500.

However, the honeymoon wouldn’t last. It still is a bit murky as to what precisely went on, but what is known is that Saavedra withdrew from Bryan Herta’s entry at Kentucky hours before the race. For whatever reason, CHA instead had to start a cold Daniel Herringrton, who promptly crashed. The entire bizarre sequence left a bad taste in the mouths of many fans, especially after Herta rolled the dice with the young Colombian in the Indy 500.

Saavedra ended up in the 2nd Conquest car for the finale at Homestead, and it is at least reasonable to assume he may land in that seat again in 2011. And honestly, it would likely be an upgrade for Conquest; a team of Bertrand Baguette and Sebastian Saavedra would have the potential to perform pretty solidly. But the way he and his father decided to leave BHA stunned and with their pants down, I think I'd need a lot of faith to hire the fellow for my team.

If Saavedra does end up at Conquest or somewhere else in 2011, I can’t see myself cheering for him to win. But maybe IndyCar needs a few more “heels” with at least a dose of talent to mix things up.  That might just be Saavedra's assumed role if he does land a ride.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

History of the 500: Gil Andersen

Today marks the debut of a semi-regular series I'm hoping to feature in 2011. Called History of the 500, this will focus on a driver or event from the history pages of the Indianapolis 500. If there's one thing I love, it's obscure Indy 500 drivers. Many drivers were either flashes in the pan or 500 regulars who have been largely forgotten over time. Donald Davidson I'm not, but hopefully, this column will entertain just a little while shedding some light on these stories.  Our first feature spotlights who was in the very first 500 field, Gil Andersen.

Andersen in 1910. Note the name misspelling on the photo!
Gil Andersen was born in Norway, and was the only foreign driver to enter the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911. In 1912, he was on Pole Position, but that was only due to the field being set by date of entry. His best finish was 3rd in 1915, with the first 500 being the only other one he went 200 laps on.

Andersen seemed to have a propensity in his racing career for the then-popular Elgin Road Race course, winning there twice and coming in 2nd on three other occasions--and all in only 7 starts! His only other documented win was at the short-lived Astor Cup.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Gil escaped death on the track. He worked as an engineer at both Indiana-based Stutz and the ReVere Motor Company, having a key part in the latter's auto line.  He became a naturalized American citizen and died in Logansport, IN, in 1935.


(For more on Gil Andersen, visit his page at Champ Car Stats. For more on the Elgin Road Race, check out this fine historical document: [PDF]).

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Open-Wheel Records Should Be Combined

I am assuming most readers of this site have at least seen Marshall Pruett's amazing Q&A with Randy Bernard, but this excerpt jumped out at me:

"The other one is what we’re doing with our history books. When you talk about all open-wheel drivers – legends and current – the fact that we are going to roll all the statistics up and combine them, so IndyCar statistics will go back for a hundred years, is something I know they appreciate. I think IndyCar fans—CART, IRL, AAA; you name it—will appreciate that too. We have statisticians putting it together right now. They’re combining them as we speak. By the time the new season gets here, you should see a new combined set of IndyCar statistics in our media guide. I think it’s important".

Yes. Just yes.  Racing, like baseball, is a sport where records truly matter.  We've done them a disservice by splitting them apart and compartmentalizing them into IRL, CCWS/CART, and other organizations such as USAC and AAA. You don't want those records as asterisks for any reason, and you don't want to throw out a history dating back to the Vanderbilt cup, any more than you want to start it in 2007.  I want to be able to celebrate and honor the careers of guys like Greg Ray the same as I would Paul Dana or Scott Brayton.  It should all be under one roof.

I am pretty certain it is impossible to come away from any amount of time spent with Mr. Bernard without the idea that he gets what it's all about.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Trying Out RaceFansTV

On Christmas, possibly as a reaction to my shutout at that point of any of the IndyCar-related gifts I asked for, I decided to give RaceFansTV membership a whirl. This site, which has regular racing programming available also for free, provides on-demand watching and higher video quality for $5 a month. I'm going to give it a shot, and so far I like what I'm seeing, they're going to have to bump up the IndyCar and Indy 500-related material. Part of the issue is that this is a legal site, which pays for the races and documentaries they use, which means you aren't just going to see someone's bootleg tape of the 2010 Kentucky Indy 300 on there.

In the meantime, they do show some wonderful old documentaries of the '61 and '62 races, and the documentary channel overall is great. I also get some use out of the Rally & Offroad Channel. Still, I hope they figure out a good way to get more old USAC, CART, IndyCar, and Indy 500 shows up, because that's what's going to determine if I stick around.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

From IndyCar Advocate and the entire Houghton family, have the merriest of Christmases, and a truly blessed holiday season. May you spend it in love, the hope of redemption and new beginnings, goodwill toward your fellow men, and a more perfect world to come.

And there were, in the fields, shepherds, guarding their flock by night; when lo! the angel of the Lord appeared to them, and they were very afraid. But the angel said to them: "Fear not! For behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born a savior, which is Jesus Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you - you shall find the child wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger."

And suddenly the skies were filled with heavenly angels, singing: "Glory to God in the highest! And on earth: peace, goodwill towards men".


-Luke 2:8-14

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Picking 3 Moments To Define Indy

Of course, you know and I know that the Indy 500 is way, wayyyyy too big to define, or even adequately express what it means to so many people. Sometimes, it’s best to start small and work your way up. So, with the holidays having me in a nostalgic and sentimental frame of mind, I thought I’d try to pick 3 moments that define Indy to me:


Unforgettable.

-Little Al winning in 1992. “You just don’t know what Indy means”. If you can personify the joy, heartache, and accomplishment of Indy in a statement, wouldn’t that have to be it? More importantly, I remember watching it with my dad. That makes it the most memorable of all.

-Sid Collins’ impromptu eulogy of Eddie Sachs. The greatest reminder of the mortality of those who challenge Indy, and the remembrance that these men and women who race can risk everything to do so.

-Paul Tracy breaking down after not qualifying in 2010. There are many moments of disappointment and frustration from teams not making the 500 I could name, such as the PCM effort in 2008, but I witnessed Tracy’s tears up close, and it turned me from not so much a fan of the guy to a definite well-wisher. It was purely the anguish of competition, of things not realized. I won’t soon forget it.  Tony Kanaan making it in after a nightmarish month was an amazing counter to it, as well.

I can remember hundreds of other moments, from taking my daughter to the track for the first time to the unusual peace of arriving at the Speedway at dawn to having Rick Mears wave at me in the 500 Festival Parade when I was just a kid, but those three jumped out at me.

So what about it? What would be your 3 moments to define what Indy means to you?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Preserving The Past

I was very impressed with the story over at the IMS blog on how they’re taking steps to digitally preserve and restore many of the irreplaceable photos in the IMS Museum’s collection. I also have a confession to make: in all my visits to the IMS Museum over the years, I’ve never been to the second floor where those photos are kept. But after the public invite in that article, I’m going to make sure I do when next I visit. Besides, I need to go and see the IMS Lego Track before it’s gone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Regarding TK, Matos' Legacy, and De Ferran Dragon

IndyCar fans received a bit of early holiday cheer yesterday when the announcement of Tony Kanaan to De Ferran Dragon Racing became a reality. I heard a lot of fans concerned about the possibility of losing not only Kanaan, but also Dan Wheldon, fromt he 2011 grid. Two previous series champs without rides would not be good juju. The jury’s still out on where Wheldon will end up, but I feel much better about his chances of landing a ride than I did a few weeks ago.

In any case, back to the Kanaan/de Ferran deal. I firmly believe that adding Tony Kanaan not only makes Gil de Ferran’s team better, but adds to the overall talent and entertainment level of the series. He’s charismatic, fun, a prior champ, is a great charger through the field, and is one of the more-identifiable drivers in the series. Is he a Danica or Helio in terms of recognition? No, but I’d say outside of the now-retired Sarah Fisher, he is perhaps the most identifiable driver to the casual fan in the Month of May (along with Marco, or, for dubious reasons, Milka Duno).

Fortunately, TK's '11 ride is
a bit fancier than this.

Some folks are a little bummed because Rafa Matos appears to be out of a ride, unless Publisher’s Clearing House or the Hoosier Lotto comes calling. I think Rafa has talent, but I also thought he took a step back in 2010. We’d all love to see seats for all the drivers, but if I have to pick between seeing TK or Matos, Rafa isn’t going to win that one. It’s my hope and belief that we’ll see more consistency and better results out of de Ferran Dragon Racing in 2011. And Tony Kanaan gets at least one more shot at Indy. That fact alone might be worth it.  Kanaan's pursuit of that elusive Borg-Warner has become one of the most enjoyable subplots to my Month of May.


Looks like we got ourselves a convoy, Rafa!

So, if Rafa Matos is done in IndyCar, and goes to race trucks in Brazil instead (as is the prevailing rumor at the moment), what’s his legacy in IndyCar? Well, he ran away with Rookie of the Year honors in 2009, easily beating Robert Doornbos, but he seemed to regress somewhat in 2010. I think DFDR had some evident frustration at times in 2010, and a team that should have perhaps challenged a bit more regularly, given the personnel they had, instead had two only 4th-place finishes and no podiums. Matos himself qualified well again at Indy, as he had in 2009, but ate it again on Race Day in the same turn.

If Rafael Matos is done in IndyCar, then I believe he will be seen as a talented driver who never quite lived up to the potential many saw in him, especially after winning championships handily in 4 other series. That might not be fair, but that's how it goes sometimes. Not living up to potential is hardly a rarity in racing, but to those who felt he could have become the next TK, we find him replaced by, well, TK.  I personally hope he gets another shot, because I'd hate for his story to end at this chapter. He's got the talent, but time and money might be a different matter.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Six Quick Questions With Philip Major

Today's Six Quick Questions are with Indy Lights driver Philip Major! Philip was an Indy Lights rookie in 2010, and finished 3rd at Chicago for Sam Schmidt Motorsports in his best finish of the year.  He also finished 6th in his oval debut at the Firestone Freedom 100, while finishing 8th for the season in overall points. Philip was kind enough to take a bit of his time this holiday season to fill us in on his rookie season in Lights, his thoughts on the Road to Indy, his racing background, and much more.


Thanks for the Q&A, Philip. What’s your journey to Indy Lights been like thus far?

PM: It’s great to see the Road to Indy program in place now because it has given drivers a clear cut path to IndyCar. A few years ago the path for me to Firestone Indy Lights (FIL) was vague since there where many different series in which I might have competed. Like most racers I started racing karts in and around Canada mostly before moving into a formula car. A Formula 3 was the last racecar I drove before jumping into a FIL car and I can tell you there was a big difference. Right now it seems to me that the FIL and IndyCar series are the places to be because there are many opportunities for drivers and teams.

You’re originally from Canada—how much time do you split between home and Indy during the season and offseason?

PM: During the season I am based mainly in Indianapolis for a variety of reasons. Most FIL teams, such as Sam Schmidt Motorsports, are located in Indianapolis and for me it is important to be able to visit the team’s shop daily. There are also some great fitness programs in the area like PitFit Training which are crucial for drivers who must maintain a high level of fitness. A large percentage of the races are close to Indy which makes traveling logistics much easier at times. During the season I do find time to go home but not as often as I would like. In the offseason I like to spend most of my time back home in Canada but I am always ready to travel somewhere when duty calls.

Looking back through your career this point, what’s been your favorite race and race track, and why?

PM: The first time I ever raced on an oval was this year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and that was the experience of a lifetime. IMS is absolutely my favourite track. The first time you strap into a car on that track you get goose bumps just thinking of the heritage and what that track means to so many people. I finished 6th at the Freedom 100 this year, and am eager to return next year with what I have learned. I have some unfinished business there.


What’s your reaction to the latest updates to the Road to Indy program? Would you make any specific steps to make the transition or road to IndyCar easier?

PM: As I said before the Road to Indy program is great since it has defined an ideal path for young drivers to reach the IndyCar series. Seeing the IndyCar series get new chassis and engine manufactures involved is great but it raises the question about the older FIL cars. To keep the ladder series strong there needs to be more prize money throughout the season to help teams and drivers alike with their racing budgets. The FIL series must also have its own TV schedule on a decent network to help promote drivers and their sponsors. Other than that the only thing this program needs now is a karting series.

How are things shaping up for 2011? Will we see you back with Sam Schmidt Motorsports?

PM: My intentions are to race in the FIL series in 2011 and we have been working very hard to make this possible. Sam Schmidt Motorsports is a great team, one that any driver would be privileged to drive for. At this point in time it is in my best interest to keep all my negotiations on the down low, but as soon as I know what my plans are I will let you know.

Looking back through the 2010 season, how would you rate yourself as a driver at the start of the season versus the end of it? In what areas do you feel you made the biggest breakthroughs?

PM: From the start to the end of the season I gained more confidence in my team, especially on the ovals which translated into some good results. One thing about ovals I figured out early on was the more I drove on them the less I realized I knew about them. This made it important to get as much seat time on them as possible to speed up the learning curve. Looking forward to next season I feel much more at ease with the knowledge and experience I have gained with both the car and the tracks.

Thanks again to Philip for the interview! You can find him at http://www.majorspeed.com/ or on Twitter: @majorspeed.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Activities Revealed For The Centennial Month Of May

I was linked to this preliminary list of events for the Centennial Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2011. I’ll let you look for yourself, but between the epic autograph sessions, classic cars, recognition for the 50th anniversary of Super Tex’s first win, and many other special events, it sounds like the folks at IMS get just how special this month should be. If you couldn't wait for May before, be warned: clicking on that link is just going to make it worse.

By the way, on Monday, I’ll be featuring Six Quick Questions with another Indy Lights driver. Check back then to find out who it is!

Friday, December 17, 2010

So, What’s The 2011 Car Count?

Before anything, I want to extend my condolences to the family and friends of John Anderson, who passed away yesterday. You'll be hard-pressed to find an unkind or disparaging word in regards to him.

After the most welcome news regarding Graham Rahal (Alleged Tweet: “Super-excited for new team! Also, going to the ice cream social tonite! Willikers!”) and Charlie Kimball, the most awesome conqueror of diabetes outside of this man, Silly Season is beginning to firm up a bit more. Sure, there’s still more musical chairs going than anyone would like, but I think we’re ahead of where we were last year on know precisely what’s going on.

With that said, here’s my current, just-for-fun estimations of our 2011 car count, not counting entries running less than half the schedule, one-offs, etc. There will likely be a few more of those, especially towards the tail-end of the season. This number will be tweaked a little bit as we get into the New Year, but here’s the current seats I am feeling at least pretty good about:

Andretti Autosport (4)
1) Ryan Hunter-Reay
2) Danica Patrick
3) Ryan Hunter-Reay
4) _______________
That Mysterious Fourth Seat began as sort of a quiet rumble, but seems much louder now. I guess we’ll see, but I’m getting a hunch Andretti will get to four.

Team Penske (3)
1) Helio Castroneves
2) Ryan Briscoe
3) Will Power

Target-Chip Ganassi (2)
1) Scott Dixon
2) Dario Franchitti

Novo Nordisk & Service Central Chip Ganassi (2)
1) Charlie Kimball
2) Graham Rahal

This man beat the 'beetus.
What chance does IndyCar have?

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (2)
1) Justin Wilson
2) _______________
There will be 2 DRR cars in ’11.

FAZZT Racing (2)
1) Alex Tagliani
2) Ho-Pin Tung
I’m not completely sold on Tung for that 2nd seat, but enough people I respect seem to think it will happen that I can’t discount it.

Foyt Racing (1)
1) Vitor Meira

Sarah Fisher Racing (1)
1) Ed Carpenter
Right now, a partial season, but I still think they pick up a few more races.


HVM (1)
1) Simona de Silvestro

Panther Racing (1)
1) J.R. Hildebrand
Panther Racing 2011: Punching Hitler Between Races

Dale Coyne Racing (1)
1) _______________
Hope it’s Alex Lloyd.

De Ferran Dragon (1)
1) Tony Kanaan
Not quite a done deal yet, but close enough for me to believe in it.

Newman-Haas (1)
1) _______________
I can’t believe 2 at Newman-Haas until I see it, probably because I’d love both Hinchcliffe and Servia to show up there. I’ll stick with one car there for now.

Conquest (2)
1) _______________
2) _______________
Bertrand Baguette has to be one of the two. We can’t lose that name, people.

KV Racing Technology (3)
1) EJ Viso
2) _______________
3) _______________
Sato seems likely to return. Not sure on Moraes. It’d be nice if someone a little more mature and seasoned got the last seat.

There’s a lot more speculation: Walker Racing, a 4th KVRT car, a 3rd at DRR, etc., etc., but I’m not ready to sign onto that yet. But that’s how currently getting my estimate of 26-28 regular cars. What becomes really interesting is when you take the names of the unsigned (Wheldon, Tracy, Scheckter, Servia, etc.), and see where they fit in. It stinks when you know there’s not quite room for everyone you’d like to see, but I still think it’s going to be a pretty talented field in 2011.

EDIT: It looks like Curt Cavin and I arrived at the same numbers!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tomas Scheckter Stirs It Up

I’m a big fan of Tomas Scheckter. I think he’s one of the most entertaining drivers to watch, and I was thrilled when he led laps at last year’s 500. Does he still make some crazy moves out there at times? Ask Davy Hamilton. But he also is fearless, takes the high line around the track like few do, and usually makes any race that much more entertaining.

So it was with no small amount of enthusiasm and interest that I read his “Uncensored” thoughts over on the IndyCar blog. He says some good things about running on that ragged edge, and getting the speeds at Indy back to the 230-240 mph range.

Then he goes on to say this:

"I fully understand that racing is expensive and sponsors want a certain image but I think for the overall popularity of the sport everyone needs to loosen up. I would love to go back to the ‘70s or ‘80s and drive past the Snake Pit after a long day at the track. I would love to not be afraid to tell someone to stop “crying like a baby,” even though I’ve done that anyway. I read Graham Rahal’s tweets. He is a great kid and super talented but he is about as exciting as British politics. He is in his 20s, he drives the fastest cars in the world and he’s speaking about holding hands and getting double frappaccino with whipped cream. I’m not saying rob a liquor store or anything crazy like that but let loose, live a little".

Now, I think a lot of people took Tomas’ comments the wrong way, and Graham is probably a bad example, because he’s got this nice guy-next-door/legacy image that I think works for him. Plus, by all accounts, he’s just a super-nice, normal guy who happens to have a famous last name and drives incredibly fast cars for a living. But does it hurt to have a few drivers who raise some hell? It’s why we keep coming back for some more Paul Tracy, or push for more aggressive, occasionally infuriating drivers like Scheckter.

I think you need a mix in the series, and nowhere did I see Tomas claiming everyone had to be a party animal. Unless I’m mistaken, he’s not suggesting that the league issue Bertrand Baguette a bottle of Jim Beam, a hooker, and a gun at the start of May. But it is good to have differing personalities in the series. You’ve got have heroes and villains. To compare, personally, I think NASCAR has lost something by having so many of their drivers be cookie-cutter corporate shills, and I know a lot of NASCAR fans (right or wrong) find the Reign of Jimmie Johnson so boring in part because of his generally even, polished, automatic nature and machine-like consistency. It’s great to be a nice guy; it’s less great when everyone is bland.

Go get 'em, Tomas!
At the same time, I think at times as fans we see a driver or drivers as sort of boring or milquetoast when they really aren’t. Ryan Briscoe gets nailed for this a lot, but he’s pretty funny and personable on some of the interviews I’ve seen. I think the league needs to really push to focus on highlighting the assets they have. Helio is Helio. Everything Danica does riles up someone out there. EJ Viso is extremely, eccentrically funny. James Hinchcliffe is a prospect this year, and he’s as much of an entertainer as a driver at times. And for heaven’s sake, let’s make sure Paul Tracy and Tomas Scheckter are in a car. Those of us die-hard fans who are very close to the pulse of the league know what we have; it’s a matter of making sure the casual and new fan knows that, too.

Photo again courtesy of Curtis and his awesome 2009 Indianapolis 500 Shutterfly site!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wheldon & KV

I’m working on another Q&A for the website with a certain driver, but in the meantime, I wanted to talk about the idea of Dan Wheldon moving to KV Racing Technology. I’m piggybacking on the topic, since the much-esteemed Oilpressure worked on it Monday.

It’s no secret that Wheldon’s options for the 2011 aren’t exactly looking rosy right now; Panther is going with Hildebrand, and there’s nothing more than a weak suggestion at this point he could end up in a 4th Andretti car. There’s been the thought he could end up driving trucks, which I feel would be a loss for the league. Temperament and all (and perhaps because of it), Dan Wheldon is an asset to this series. He promotes his sponsors in an effective, seemingly natural/effortless way that’s akin to an art form. As an USAF veteran, I truly appreciate the amount of work he did in representing our Armed Forces through the National Guard sponsorship. He may not be an American, but neither were a good percentage of our Revolutionary War heroes, many of whom were born in France, the HRE, Poland, or—yes--England. (That said, I think Hildebrand's going to be a great representative. But I digress).

So, let’s talk about KVRT, specifically that lovely Lotus Green car that Takuma Sato won last year. Aesthetically and historically, is it so wrong to want an Englishman in the Lotus colors (or “colours”)? Wheldon in those colors just seems right. This is a man who appreciates Indianapolis, who’s been a top competitor there year after year, and a definable personality. He’d be a fitting heir to the Lotus tradition, in every sense I can think of.

Sato sounds set to come back for 2011, but let’s be honest: Dan Wheldon would be an upgrade over any of the drivers they have on board right now. Of the three, I believe EJ Viso has the most potential, but if there’s a team that has ever needed the stabilizing influence of a proven, veteran IndyCar driver, it’s KV.

Any occasion to show a pic of this car. See note at bottom!

If a sense of rightness were the only thing that came into play in racing, Dan Wheldon would be on the KVRT roster in those Lotus colors. But often times, that sense is about the only thing that doesn’t come into play.

I’m no insider. I don’t know if Dan Wheldon will go to KV in 2011. But I could appreciate the situation if he did.

Thanks to Curtis and his 2009 Indy 500 Shutterfly site for letting me use his awesome Wheldon photo instead of my blocky one!

Monday, December 13, 2010

500 Legends Memorabilia

Yesterday I was turned onto 500 Legends, an Indy 500 memorabilia website that has everything from crashed nose cones to Danny Sullivan's 1988 Miller High-Life car (man, that is a good-looking ride--only a mere $25,000 and it's yours!).  Even if you're a little short on cash right now (as am I), the site is definitely worth checking out and bookmarking for happier times. And if you want to donate to a good cause, Sam Schmidt Motorsports has some autographed car parts on there, with proceeds going to the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. It doesn't get much cooler than that.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

IndyCar Insomnia

From a dead sleep last night, I suddenly woke up, trying to figure out what the speed of the last car in the field would be on Bump Day next year.

This winter offseason will never end, will it?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Alex Tagliani Is Pretty Awesome...

…and if you don’t believe me, check out this link and then this one. FAZZT Race Team and Alex Tagliani make it very, very easy to cheer for them. Seriously, this is a guy who gets it, period.

It would also be very, very difficult for me to be bummed out about an Alex Tagliani victory in 2011. How about you?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Speed Performance Awards

Make sure to stop by a vote at the Speed Performance Awards.  Several IndyCar drivers and moments are represented in the various categories, to include:

-Mike Conway's Indy 500 crash

-Helio losing it after Edmonton

-An apparently 7'4" Justin Wilson vs. 4'3" Briscoe (which is even funnier and more of a mistmatched pair the forty-seventh time I've watched it).

Bats has nothing on Will.
-Will Power for Comeback Kid (seriously, do we forget this guy had a broken back? It's like when Batman had his back broken--it's just a footnote in the cumulative badassery at this point).

-Simona de Silvestro for Rookie of the Year.  If you can't vote for a ray of pure sunshine in a fire suit, I'm not sure what to say to you.

-Naturally, the "Oops" category wouldn't be complete without Mario Moraes. Curiously not mentioned: KV Racing's epically crash-filled 2010 campaign, start-to-finish.

One question, though. How is it that this guy doesn't factor in somewhere? I call shenanigans, big-time.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The IMS Kids Club: My Daughter Will Approve (Eventually)

As I’ve likely mentioned around here before, one of my favorite things about IndyCar is sharing it with my daughter. I was pretty happy to learn, therefore, about the IMS Kids Club, a new program offered through the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

For the record, I think this is a great idea. Many fans worry about younger generations and their relative lack of interest in motorsports, but I think it isn’t that racing isn’t cool, it’s just that the entertainment options have changed. There aren’t 12 or 20 channels any more, there’s 120 or 200. Kids can still be reached, especially when parents take the time to include their kids in their hobby. For my daughter and I, racing is special to us, because we can cheer together, spend time together, and as she puts it, “she’s my kind of girl”.

For whatever, reason, though, I was under the impression the program was free, ostensibly because I have no idea how running a business or the basic precepts of economics work. So, when I finished registration and was taken to a screen where I was to be charged $25 for signing my oldest up, I stopped. $25 really isn’t much when you think of all they’re getting from the program: the t-shirt, special events, lots of cool swag, and plenty more besides—but in a tight, tiiiiight, Christmas season, it isn’t in the budget right now, either. Soon enough, I hope. It would make my daughter’s day, and by extension, mine.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Five Random Questions

-How is it possible I have missed the existence of RaceFansTV until the past 48 hours or so?  The other night, I got to watch beautiful footage from the 1961 Indy 500. What a resource.

-Is Tony Kanaan a better fit at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing or de Ferran Dragon?  Many folks have already penciled him in with de Ferran, but Justin Wilson + TK + (Tracy? Conway?) might just be what DRR needs to make the jump to the next tier.

-Isn't Andretti Autosport due for some good news? They've had a couple of minor sponsor announcements, but in an offseason full of good news for seemingly nearly everyone else in IZOD IndyCar, they're mostly being seen for losing sponsors.

Ready to lead?
-Speaking of Andretti, with Kanaan gone from that team, can Ryan Hunter-Reay step into a leadership role on that team? He's bounced around on several different teams up to now, but with TK gone and Marco and Danica's resolve seeming a bit...suspect at times, can RHR be that guy?

-If Pippa Mann gets an IndyCar ride for '11, who's going to be more popular, her or Simona? I'd say it'd be a tough call to make.  So Simona, Bia, Danica, Pippa, and possibly (if not preggers) Sarah Fisher in a one-off for the 500, yeah?  In a perfect world?

Friday, December 3, 2010

More Thoughts On Sarah Fisher

I wrote a bit earlier this week about Sarah Fisher’s decision to retire from IndyCar as a driver, and to work on the awe-inspiring duties of full-time owner, and just possibly, mother.

There have been a lot of drivers who haven’t walked away in time; some of them never got the chance to. Others held on, only to see their skills erode with time. Sarah Fisher made the call to get out when she did. Certainly she could have qualified for the 500 this year, and had a chance to improve her personal best there. But by all reports she was ready, knew she was ready, and I think that’s tremendous.

Sarah Fisher’s team wasn’t exactly gangbusters the last few years, but she worked hard, made races even when the sponsorship situation looked dire, and still had their moments here and there. Whatever the results on the track, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more well-liked, popular driver among fans. Danica Patrick has celebrity, but Sarah Fisher has the genuine care and affection of so many people.

We can argue all day about how Sarah’s career may have gone differently; perhaps a turn here, a different choice there, and she’s got an IndyCar win under her belt. But if Sarah’s able to walk away from it, then I guess we can, too. And if there’s a Little Sarah in the next year or so brought into the world, then that’s another epic adventure in which I wish her the best.

Sarah Fisher will be a hugely popular owner, just as she was as a driver. Her legacy doesn’t end at the trailblazing she did on the track; it’s just getting started as she mixes it up with the boys once again, this time from that owner’s seat. She won’t flinch, and she’ll have lots of us pulling for her and her team every step of the way.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Public Service Announcement: No All-Caps, Please

-It's IndyCar, not INDYCAR.  Logically, the next step from INDYCAR would be INDYCAR!!!, followed by I.N.D.Y.C.A.R.  It's a slippery slope, people. Thank you.

Seriously, though, in this article the overall organization is referred to as INDYCAR, but in mentioning the series title sponsor, it goes back to IndyCar.  It'd be nice if they both match up, but I guess either's valid.  Which is great, because I really don't want to change the name of the site to INDYCAR ADVOCATE, although that's how it currently appears on my banner.  Hey, I'd know the difference.

Let's be honest, though, people: it's December, and this is the worst thing I have to complain about in this offseason. I'd say we're doing pretty great.