Monday, February 14, 2011

On Part-Timers

We’ve seen a lot of part-time deals for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar season, outside of the normal Indy 500 one-offs; Wade Cunningham and Townsend Bell for a few races each with Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Pippa Mann and several other Lights drivers may be part-timers in the series for 2011. We suspect that teams such as Dreyer and Reinbold, Dale Coyne, and possibly Conquest will see some manner of ride sharing in one of their cars.

Part-Time Pippa In 2011?
A lot of people dislike the practice of “platooning” drivers, obvious preferring full-timers instead. It’s understandable; familiarity and consistency is a big part of being a fan and cheering on a team or driver. But this year’s rotation isn’t all bad; a part-time opportunity means we finally get to see Wade Cunningham, who has amply proved a dozen times over he deserved at shot in the big cars. Bell is a stone-cold assassin who’s exciting to watch. It also means getting to see popular veterans like Davey Hamilton a few more times.

Ideally, some of the part-time deals will lead to full-time gigs in 2012 or beyond. Some perhaps won’t, and these partial programs might be the last time we see some of these folks in an IndyCar. But at least they’re getting the chance to do something most of us can only dream of.

We IndyCar fans exist in the moment, knowing that no race, no chance is guaranteed to come by again. I’m still hoping we see guys like Paul Tracy and Dan Wheldon get those full-time rides that are still potentially out there, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to enjoy seeing some of these guys get their shot. I think 2011 will see a solid full-time IndyCar field, plus a number of part-timers to round it out. Go get ‘em, ladies and gentlemen, and may you make the most of what’s granted.


  1. I hope that we get to see some specialists come into the fold with the advent of the oval and road/street course championships. I think it will add to the competitiveness and overall quality of races. It might be among the keys to breaking the Penske/Ganassi dominance in the sport.

    It would be a shame to see Wheldon without a full-time ride. However, a Wheldon-Bordais platoon could create a championship contender since they are both among the best at their disciplines. Not many drivers have the versitility to excel both at ovals and road/street courses. The ones that do race for Penske and Ganassi. By opening the opportunities for specialization, a team like Dale Coyne Racing could become a contender when otherwise it wouldn't be. I think that the fans win under that scenario.

    What we don't want to see if one or two race ride buyers (except for Indy) like we saw last year. They are invariably backmarkers and it doesn't add anything to the racing. It also provides no marketing value to have no-names pop up for a race or two and then go away.

  2. I think we are seeing this due to the rule change of money to only the top 22 cars. Teams like Coyne and Conquest realize they can't just throw anybody out there anymore. Conquest having Pippa on Ovals and Vernay on road and street makes the most sense for finishing in the top 22. It is also why Coyne is looking at Boudais for street courses. Makes sense plus it adds to the series overall value.

  3. Well, I definitely think we may be seeing the rise of "specialists" for some of the smaller teams.