Friday, December 2, 2011

INDYCAR Thoughts And Review: Welcome To December Edition

-Obviously, we have to start with the sad Newman/Haas Racing news from yesterday. As happy as we all are to see new teams like Ed Carpenter Racing and to have names such as Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing return full-time, Newman/Haas was a special organization, with a tight-knit crew that showed life in 2011 after a couple of disappointing seasons. After the news they won’t be fielding cars next season, our thoughts are with the good people of Newman/Haas, and hopefully they find good positions within some of the new organizations starting up. (Let’s hope ace drivers Oriol Servia and James Hinchcliffe find firm footing as well). Newman/Haas stands as a team who won multiple, multiple championships over 3 different decades of racing.

We worried they wouldn’t answer the bell in 2011 after a disastrous 2010, but they did. I’m thankful we got to see them go toe-to-toe once more with the big teams, and prove that they still had what it took in abundance.

INDYCAR’s not the only major motorsport to lose a team for 2012, but you could easily argue none has the history of Newman/Haas. We’re talking about the team of Mario and Michael Andretti, Sèbastien Bourdais, Nigel Mansell, and of course, departed owner Paul Newman himself. This one’s going to sting for a while.

Teams come and go, be it ChampCar, the IRL, or our reunified INDYCAR. That truth doesn’t make it any easier, though. If there’s any way they can find a path back to the series in 2013 or beyond, let’s hope it happens for them—and, to be a selfish for just a moment, for the fans that want them back.

-As with all bad news during Silly Season, there tends to be a “sky is falling attitude” whenever anything negative is reported. If you go reading in certain corners of the internet, you’ll walk away convinced INDYCAR will fold in 13 days, a notable sponsor was indicted for crop arson, and every DW12 chassis will spontaneously combust while being assembled. Every offseason, there’s bad to go with the good. Progress is never smooth, never uniform. Things only seem more certain and ideal when viewed in hindsight. Keep calm, carry on, and realize that there’s plenty of good stuff yet to come between now and St. Pete.

-Ready for some good news? Thought so. TrueCar is beginning a program of sponsoring female drivers throughout the Mazda Road to Indy. This is certainly great news for Shannon McIntosh (USF2000) and Ashley Freiberg (Star Mazda), both of whom will be partnering with TrueCar next year. Additionally, TrueCar also is looking to do some sponsorship for a female driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Courtesty IndyCar Media

-Additionally, the Star Mazda schedule is out for 2012, and it’s looking good so far (despite a couple of TBAs that will be resolved once other series get things resolved). I’d really like to see Star Mazda get some air time in 2012—this is a fun, competitive series, and I think we’re in for a great year.

-If you missed my interview with Connor De Phillippi over at INDYCAR Nation, don’t! CDP was impressive in Star Mazda last year, and he’s a great prospect to be part of the next wave of American talent. (While you're over there, check out Paul Dalbey's warming story regarding Pippa Mann).

-Finally, if you’re going to be taking the kids to the IMS Kids Club Christmas Party tomorrow, I’ll be there with the kids in tow. I’ll be the chunky white guy in the IICS hat—to differentiate, don’t you know.

Have a good weekend, stay warm, and I’ll see you back here on Monday. We are likely going to have a lot of Silly Season business to discuss!

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