Monday, September 30, 2013

Beware Of IndyCar Fridays

There's nothing like an IndyCar Friday, is there? If there's going to be wild news during the week, 4 p.m. on Fridays seems to be the time for it. Take this last Friday. Just before most of us went home for the weekend last week, we learned:

-As expected, IZOD will not be back as title sponsor in 2014.

-Tony Kanaan is reportedly signing with Chip Ganassi for 2014;

-George Bignotti, very possibly the greatest mechanic in Indy 500 history, passed at the age of 97.

-A plague of locusts and a rain of fire descended on the Houston race location.

OK, I made that last one up, but IndyCar fans might be excused for believing it. One day, I'll check my email on a lazy Friday and find the following:

Ed Carpenter Racing, Dragon Racing to Combine Operatons; Marty Roth to Racing For DRECR As Fourth Indy Entry

or

Bigfoot Rampages Through Milwaukee Mile; Interrupts Test of New Andretti/Rahal/Hinchcliffe/Duno/Mayer Superteam

or

Robin Miller To Guest Star On "Duck Dynasty"

At this point, I'm not sure I'd blink an eye.

So where does all this news leave us? I guess first I'd tackle the IZOD news. It's been pretty evident for a while IZOD's parent company and IZOD itself have been moving away from motorsports involvement. They've been just about a non-presence in terms of activation and advertising for the last 18 months; that's not a dig, it's just the facts. I think it's pretty likely we see Verizon, Firestone, or another party announced as title or presenting sponsor fairly soon; whoever it is, I hope they have means and intent to really work well with IndyCar and activate for the series.

As for the Tony Kanaan news, the journalist response to the news was almost as exciting as the news itself. Robin Miller/Jenna Fryer powow aside, assuming the deal is finalized, that Ganassi team will look even better than this year. You'd have four race winners, and three drivers who have won the Indy 500 (no pressure or anything, Charlie). That's an absolutely loaded team. I'm also not sure where that leaves KV Racing; I have a hard time seeing Simona staying there as a single-car entry. Will the Chevy teams be seeing some musical chairs next year, and would she be a good fit for a second car and Ed Carpenter's team? You'd have to think she'd be a big help with the twisty results, in any case.

Regarding George Bignotti, the man definitely deserves his own article and coverage, and hopefully I'll get to provide that in a bit more detail here. Still, I do want to say a few words about him here. Finding winning Indy 500 chief mechanics are rare; finding ones that have multiple victories is even moreso, and George Bignotti pulled off the rarest feat of them all--chief mechanic on seven different Indy 500 winning entries. It wasn't just a single era, either--he won when the engines were still in the front, during the British Invasion, multiple times in the 70s, and even in the early 1980s with Tom Sneva. If you think of the amount of innovation and change he not only kept up with, but helped encourage, cultivate, and develop, his accomplishments become even more mind-boggling. It's a sad day for 500 fans, losing a legend like George Bignotti, but his impact will be remembered so long as 16th and Georgetown stands.


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