IndyCar News Week in Review

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Photo from IndyRaceReviewer

SPECIAL UPDATE: Series Sponsor Verizon settled a damaging lawsuit late this week, agreeing to pay out millions of dollars to customers the communications company overcharged for years. This affected not only millions of Verizon subscribers, but also the rest of us as apparently the entire internet was impacted by Verizon’s shenanigans. Ripping off your customers certainly isn’t the sort of sleazy corporate behavior IndyCar wants or needs to be associated with one would think, nor is slowing down the whole of the web in the nation that invented it, although in light of the 2015 schedule perhaps Verizon’s the perfect sponsor for Miles’ new tennis racket approach to racing.

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Photo from  espn.go.com

The Hawk Has Landed: AJ Foyt Racing announced this week it’s expanding to a two car operation, and we don’t just mean at Indy. Inexplicably, Takuma Sato is back with the team and will be joined as co-recipient of AJ’s wrath by upstart northern Englishman Jack Hawksworth. Hawk is formerly of Bryan Herta Autosport, who formerly drove for AJ Foyt Racing. IndyCar’s a bit like the Hapsburgs of Europe and many modern day workplaces – an incestuous little circle.

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Photo from foytracing.com

Schedule Announced and Many Pounced: The IndyCar Series unveiled its thinly veiled schedule for 2015 and there wasn’t an abundance to be excited about and even fewer surprises. Initial reaction to it is here and it hasn’t changed much. More ovals, please. Brasilia and NOLA will be new road courses, hurray. We hope everyone makes it back safely from these exotic, crime-ridden third world destinations. Dubai didn’t make the cut, although it appears to remain under consideration for the future. Why? We have no idea. As trumpeted by Curt Cavin and others, “Dollar Dale” Coyne’s driver and race winner Carlos Huertas posted “Dubai Feb 22” on his website earlier in the week. Perhaps he meant in 2016.

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Photo from usatoday.com

Testing, Testing: Also according to the ever accurate Twitter, Rahal Letterman Lanigan failed to show at the test at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama on Monday, possibly significant of larger problems for the floundering team.  Maybe Graham was just hung over, or all loved up by Courtney Force. Graham, Bobby, Dave and company had a horrible year as documented in IndyCar Season Grades and missing off season tests isn’t a positive sign. Apparently the late night talk show business isn’t what it once was, but then again what is?

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Photo from examiner.com

Flipping Formula 1: Lesser known F-1 Teams are dropping like bribery charges against Billionaire Bernie Ecclestone lately. First Marussia went bankrupt, then Caterham bowed out of the next two races, also reportedly belly up and entering receivership. Respected British newspaper The Telegraph called F-1 a sport “no one can afford” and described it as being very much “in crisis.” Maybe IndyCar doesn’t look quite so bad in comparison after all.

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Photos from bbc.co.uk and dailymail.co.uk

Odds, Ends & Tweets: At Monday’s test, unemployed driver/Indy 500 crasher J.R. Hildebrand drove the Fuzzy’s number 20 car normally reserved for Ed Carpenter of newly merged CFH Racing. No grand theft charges have been filed to date, so evidently J.R.’s joy ride was legit. Curiously Kentish Mike Conway was no where to be seen and rumors have him out. In a Tweet from Barber Motorsports Park, Carp’s teammate Josef Newgarden called it “the most consistent track” they race. Perhaps surprisingly to our readers we at IRR wholeheartedly agree. Barber is consistent – consistently tedious and boring. Finally, the flow chart at CFH Racing seems to be taking shape as another official Tweet referred to “Team Manager Andy O’Gara.” Andy is of course Sarah Fisher’s husband. We wonder if Ed knows of the news yet? Incestuous little circles.

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Photo from cbsnews.com

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2015 Schedule: Initial Reaction

At first blush, the schedule announced today leaves much to be desired. Like a bad movie, it has too little action, aging quasi-stars and a bad ending. In other words, there aren’t enough ovals in merely retaining last year’s group, the leading men are starting to disappear over the hill and holding the finale on a non-oval is well, anti-climactic.The addition of Brasilia and NOLA are a push as they’re both road courses and winding down in west coast wine country leaves a dry, bitter taste on the pallet. Oh well, at least they’re not dragging the circus to see the sultans of Arabia.

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Photo from IndyRaceReviewer

A.J. Gets Bigger, Brit Hawk Lands in Texas

Silly season news fell to earth today in Texas and Indianapolis, as A.J. Foyt Racing announced its expansion to a two car effort for the 2015 IndyCar season. Yeee-haw! Now A.J.’s got twice the number of drivers to yell at. Twenty three year old rookie from Bradford, England Jack Hawksworth who drove for BHA this year will pilot the number 41 car. Other than Indianapolis, Foyt hasn’t regularly run a second car in years and longtime sponsor ABC Supply is behind the effort. The expansion for the Honda team is interesting news and puts the new shop in Speedway, Indiana announced a couple of weeks ago in perspective. The fact that Sato’s back for another year with the team is also news and could be easily overlooked. More to come in IndyCar News Week in Review.

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Photo from indystar.com

IndyCar Driver Test: Helio Castro Neves

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Photo from usatoday.com

Veteran racer HCN hails from Sao Paulo, Brazil, the nation that greatly contributed to the visual pleasure of men everywhere with both thong bikinis and the necessary follow up bikini wax. Helio was born appropriately enough in the month of May in 1975, obviously making him a senior statesman of the series. In Helio’s recently adopted home country the U.S.that year there were two attempts on President Ford’s life within a three week period (and you thought the current Secret Service had problems) as well as the debuts of “Jaws” and “Rocky Horror” in cinemas. This last is especially fitting, as Helio’s an exceptionally funny guy who’s got er, um, rhythmic moves.

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Photos from npr.org and billboard.com

In a seventeen year driving career (“Let’s do the time warp again!”) Helio’s amassed an outstanding record especially at the Indianapolis 500, where he’s recorded three wins and remains a man eating threat to win more. Every May Foyt, Unser and Mears hear that menacing music whenever Helio arrives at the Speedway: duh-duh, duh-duh, duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh . . .

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Photos from starstills.com and motortrend.com

The Tim Curry of racing has led thousands of laps, won twenty nine races between CART and IndyCar and owns eighty some top fives and literally hundreds of top ten finishes. The word is consistency and it’s put him flagrantly on the list of best of all time. Remarkably, Helio’s kicked up his heels and won at least one race every season except 2011 in the last fifteen years.

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Photos from fanpop.com and espn.go.com

He’s also earned tens of millions of dollars in his storied career, which didn’t escape the notice of the intrusive, abusive IRS several years back – just like Roy Scheider who Helio rather resembles. With Team Penske fielding four fast cars in 2015, the other three driven by teammates Pags, Power & JPM, the shark-like HCN had better step up his game else despite his past success he could become IndyCar chum.

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Photo from craveonline.com

The Brazilian does splendidly well with media, who openly adore him. For once, who can blame them? His Helio-isms are a nice touch, too and among our favorites are “Man, that sucked!” “Come on guys, it’s pronounced EH-leo,” and “Just a li’l bit loose out dare, ha ha ha.” Ebullient, handsome and likeable, apparently he even dances well according to reports. If true, then that’s seventies Susan Sarandon hot!

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Photo from listsplosion.com

One of our favorites on the grid, HCN passes the Driver Test with flying – mainly white, yellow and orange – colors. He’s simply . . . absolutely fabulous is what he is, though distressingly not everything’s as sunny as the beaches in Rio. Other Great Whites lurk just off shore, hungrily, stealthily. In the future, Helio will do well to triumph over the tempestuous Transylvanian transvestites on his own truly talented top tier team.

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Photo from IndyRaceReviewer

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Photo from foxsports.com.au

IndyCar News Week in Review

Lights Show Resurgence: Indy Lights suffered mightily in 2014 from low participation – only eight or ten cars in some races  – and accompanying lack of interest, but appears to be making a comeback with a new car! and an uptick in involvement from teams according to a piece from Mazda Road to Indy on indycar.com. The new Dallara chassis’ appearance is definitely an improvement over the old, dated cars and the upgrade was long overdue. The story states that Schmidt Peterson Motorsports is the latest team to order multiple new Dallaras for the upcoming campaign. SPM is always a solid contender in the Lights series, having won more championships than any other team  – seven – in their last decade racing, and was expected to buy in – the big news would have been if they didn’t.

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Photo from spmindycar.com

Indycar.com’s Incompetence: There’s the unpleasant matter of more disappointing errors on indycar.com, most recently in the aforementioned press release from Mazda Road to Indy. The author wrongly implied that Schmidt has won eight Lights championships, when in fact he’s won seven.  He also incorrectly cited “stanch” support for the series rather than the correct word, staunch. On the upside, one figure quoted – presumably accurately – in the article predicted between fifteen and twenty cars on the Lights grid in 2015. Testing of the new chassis resumes in December.

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Photo from indycar.com

DCR’s Long Over Due Maturation: Dale Coyne gave an interview to racer.com and showed off the continuing renovations to the team’s Chicago shop. The mercurial owner also announced the team’s embarking on an “aggressive” shock program to make the team “better and stronger,” according to Coyne.  He also said the team’s not only kept the staff on for the busy off season, but also added employees to the effort. It’s about time you upgraded your IndyCar operation, Dale.

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Photo from autoracing1.com

“Dollar Dale” divulged some “news” as well, hinting at more change – as usual – to his driver lineup. He referred to post-season testing already done with Venezuelan Rodolfo Gonzalez and another rookie or two slated to test with the team prior to Christmas. This begs the question, which of his current winning drivers may be seeking a new ride, veteran Justin Wilson who’s won seven races in his career or rookie Carlos Huertas who won a race in Houston in 2014? Our prediction: whomever brings the least amount of sponsorship money with them.

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Photo from telegraph.co.uk

Sinking Feeling SeSaav: Sebastian Saavedra was featured on indycar.com, which ran the usual puff-piece by Dave Lewandowski praising the young driver’s skills and so forth. For obvious reasons the site doesn’t publish frank, honest assessments of drivers, though there’s enough of that on this site, at least. So, the positive spin wasn’t totally unexpected. A straightforward take on his performance such as in Horsepower Rankings – Drivers would be far too brutal for indycar.com.

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Photo from foxsports.com

Searching harder for highlights than a reviewer of a James Franco movie, Lewandowski ill-advisedly mentioned Saavedra’s pole position at the inaugural Indy Grand Prix. He didn’t mention that Saavedra’s brightly colored KVSH car stalled out on the standing start, leading to a spectacularly catastrophic crash where Mikhail Aleshin slammed into him from behind after others narrowly missed him. If this is the pinnacle of one’s second full season in the series, then standards have sunk even lower than before in 2014. If Saavedra – who’s finished at the very bottom for two years running – has a ride in 2015 and Huertas doesn’t, then sadly that sinking trend continues into the foreseeable future.

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Photo from racing.ap.org

Napoleonic IndyCar Driver Test: Sebastien Bourdais

 

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Images from autosport.com and napoleon-empire.com

KVSH’s Sebastien Bourdais was born on February 28, 1979 in Le Mans, France near the site of the oldest automobile endurance race in the world. His arrival came mere weeks after the first ever running of the Paris to Dakar Rally, the same month Peugeot introduced the turbo-diesel engine and ominously during CART’s revolutionary formation in the U.S. Are all these motorsport-related events in Gallic history occurring within a six week period mere accident? We think not. As Napoleon said, “there is no such thing as accident – it is fate misnamed.” Strangely similar to Napoleon, dethroned Champ Car Emperor Sebastien polarizes people like few others, as fans tend to either love him or despise him due to his past glories and commanding role in the bitterly contested “Indy-onic” wars. The Emperor of the French himself once observed, “there is no place in a fanatic’s head where reason can enter.”

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Photos from usatoday.com and IndyRaceReviewer

Like “meteors intended to burn to light their century,” the stunning successes enjoyed by both deposed Emperors are undeniable even to their most determined detractors. In a hundred thirty one career starts, Bourdais won thirty one races and four straight championships in Champ Car and a thirty second at Toronto last July during his fourth season in IndyCar – his first open wheel victory in seven years. The Frenchman’s wide ranging conquests that propelled him to “the summit of greatness” are inarguable. He’s claimed thirty three poles, sixty two top fives and eighty six top ten major league open wheel finishes as spoils of war around the globe.

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Photo from autosport.com

For comparison, Napoleon won over forty major battles, lost only a handful and ruled western Europe for fifteen years after the French Revolution. Emperor Sebastien ruled Champ Car during IndyCar’s Great Schism taking championships from 2004-2007, paradoxically benefiting from and at the same time being injured by the sport’s revolutionary blood-letting era. After all, “war is the business of barbarians.” A diluted field of drivers became Bourdais’ ally, while a divided sport diminished his accomplishments and served as enemy to all. Although he couldn’t have known it, Bourdais’ career followed precisely the same arc as Bonaparte’s, having peaked relatively early before a very lengthy and public decline.

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Photo from napoleon-empire.com

Adhering to Napoleon’s axiom to “not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war” as ruler of Champ Car, Sebass departed east for new European battlefields of Formula 1 in 2008. Like Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign two centuries before, it was an uncharacteristically fruitless foray resulting in neither wins nor even top fives and several stinging losses. Having failed to conquer F-1, he eventually returned to IndyCar in 2011 defeated and dispirited. Initially his comeback was tepid and only for non-oval races, though he’s raced full time in the series since 2013. Bourdais’ similarity to the exiled Bonaparte is in some ways uncanny, with faded glory rather than triumphalism becoming the primary focus of the latter phases of their respective careers, despite some flashes of former brilliance.

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Photos from dailymail.co.uk and racing.ap.org

The IndyCar driver exam tests drivers’ media and PR skills – “all the drivel which appears in print” – as well as their record in battle, for as Bonaparte said “four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.” English speaking rivals and critics led the race to condemn the Emperor as dangerous or worse, and this negative narrative largely stuck. Image is also one of Bourdais’ greatest vulnerabilities, as with other conquerors before him his public persona is neither warm nor endearing and often viewed only through the prism of his fall. When asked recently about his 2014 campaign in an interview on indycar.com, Bourdais unwittingly illustrated just how far he’s fallen. “I think it was a great season. We showed more pace than we showed results, but that’s the way it goes.” Despite the facade of French arrogance, those certainly aren’t the sentiments of an all powerful conqueror at his zenith.

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Bourdais continued. “The target of the season was to win a race or a couple. We won one and next year the goal is to fight for the championship. Hopefully, we’ve set the foundation.” These words are more reminiscent of the late-career, returned from exile Napoleon facing an entire continent arrayed against him at Waterloo rather than the victorious Emperor at Austerlitz in his prime. Fact is, Bourdais has never been particularly adept with the media or at connecting with most IndyCar fans. His recent surprise return to the top – two poles, five top fives and seven top tens – hasn’t helped his lack of popularity or enabled him to overcome his controversial reputation. Bourdais may well agree with his Imperial countryman’s comment that “glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.”

In fairness, Sebass did soften some hearts with his victory lane/belated Bastille Day celebration in July, which featured his adorable towheaded kids and wife. At thirty five, the bespectacled Bourdais is one of the most senior drivers on the circuit, dating back to disco and nearly to De Gaulle. Again similar to Bonaparte, Bourdais has mellowed in middle age and now is only vaguely evocative of his previously prickly public self – or for that matter his former greatness.

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Photo from concordmonitor.com

Tellingly, he now finds himself under the rule of fellow Frenchman Simon Pagenaud, the King Louis XVIII of IndyCar who with the help of powerful outsiders supplanted Emperor Sebastian’s reign over France. Pagenaud certainly comes off as more likeable (for a Frenchman) and less threatening than Bourdais and doesn’t have his carriage train of baggage. Nor does he have the results, although King Pags recently reaped the rewards of victory in signing a compact with Team Penske. Meanwhile Bourdais languishes in IndyCar exile with KVSH, IndyCar’s equivalent of St. Helena, or at least Elba. “Greatness is nothing unless it’s lasting.”

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Due to his short-lived yet historic reign of Champ Car alone Bourdais passes the driver test, but only barely. Just as jealousies, biases and fear – rightly or wrongly – shape Napoleon’s image in people’s minds to the present day, Sebastien’s public perception has been similarly forged. Sadly and also like the middle aged Bonaparte, he leads an imprisoned, exiled existence knowing his best days are behind him. In this confused world, genius is rarely accompanied by warmth or fondness. Fallen rulers always have been difficult to deal with – especially when they insist upon making a comeback. As the faded Frenchman’s fellow famous fallen figure in Franco history frankly divulged, “all celebrated people lose dignity upon a close view.”

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Images from reuters.com and napoleonguide.com

IndyCar Driver Test: James Hinchcliffe

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Photo from usatoday.com

Popular and slightly off-kilter racer James Hinchcliffe was born outside Toronto in Oakville, Ontario in December, 1986 back when “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “Platoon” were also new. After a breakthrough third season in 2013 scoring an impressive three wins, Hinch had a disappointing 2014 and recently changed teams leaving Andretti Autosport after three up and down seasons. That’s not the only conversion the comic Canuck has undergone recently, either.

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Last week the madcap Mayor of Hinchtown announced his signing with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in usual style – at an Indy brewery over some “oat sodas.” Before that he became an ordained minister through the wonderful convenience of the web, performing the ceremony at his friend and fellow driver Charlie Kimball’s late September wedding. A few years back, Hinch hilariously dawned a long black wig while replacing Danica (more diva than driver) in the late GoDaddy ride at AA. Today’s question of the quirky, quotable Canadian comedian is, did he pass the driver test?

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Photo from foxsports.com.au

In his fun filled four year IndyCar career, Hinch has a gaudy eighteen top five finishes and thirty four top tens to go with his three wins. He’s also led over four hundred laps in his career, although funnily he’s never earned a pole. A past winner of the Tony Renna Rising Star Award, the racin’ reverend displays obvious driving talent. Even after an off year in 2014, his winning percentage in sixty eight big league races is an impressive 4.4%, better than most in the field. Without question Hinch is in the top half of IndyCar drivers, but that’s not the only part of this rigorous, uncomfortable and thoroughly invasive driver’s test. Now reverend, turn your head and cough.

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Photo from racing.ap.org

The other half of the exam is how well the driver handles media and public relations, as well as interaction with fans. In this regard, James’ talent may well surpass his on track gifts, which are bountiful. From his virtual Hinchtown site to his practical jokes and unorthodox, goofy-cool style, the mayor excels in the realm of media and PR. More than that he embraces his comedic racing role and enjoys it to the hilt, adding some much needed funniness to the sometimes somber, strangely sober series.

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Photo from bostonherald.com

A merry prankster, our humorous man of the (greasy) cloth lightens the mood wherever he goes, his charismatic personality nearly as infectious as a giggling fit in church. Joining his third team in less than five years, Hinch has made light of this inconstancy and likened his wandering ways to that of another waifish star, calling himself “the Taylor Swift of racing.” James is an exceptionally likeable and funny guy who’s not afraid to laugh, especially at himself. That quality translates extremely well in the modern age of racing, media and widespread weirdness.

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Photo from onthego.to

We at IRR salute and congratulate Hinchcliffe on his recent off track accomplishments – for weddings be sure to book early – and commend his silly slapstick style and Python-esque panache to other, less media-savvy drivers in the paddock (most of whom certainly will need a backup career). Hinch is easily the most likeable Canuck since John Candy – at a quarter his size – and along with his WAG is just adorable. How could a guy with the talent, face and personality of our favorite fast funnyman not pass the test? As Sam Schmidt may well have sung to the Rev of revs (and if he didn’t he should have), “Get out of my dreams, get into my car.”

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IndyCar News Week in Review

  • Silly Season Dominoes Tumble: Canuck James Hinchcliffe announced Tuesday that he’s signed with Schmidt Peterson Motorsport, filling Pag’s vacant seat as he’s now at Team Penske. The Canadian comedian did so in characteristic style, making the announcement at a local brewery in Indianapolis. This after officiating the marriage ceremony of fellow driver Charlie Kimball last week. Beer, change of scenery and honeymooning – what a charmed life IndyCar drivers lead.

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  • The Game of Musical Seats continues: Ryan Briscoe’s now a free agent again with reports linking Sage Karam to Ganassi’s fourth car next year. It seems as though in IndyCar as in life the rich continue to get richer, the poor poorer. Rumors have linked young limey Jack Hawksworth to A.J. Foyt Racing’s famed 14 car. IRR predicted both Briscoe and Sato were in trouble months ago, as both underperformed rather spectacularly in 2014. With Hawksworth a free agent, Bryan Herta Autosport joins the list of teams looking for a fresh pilot, as does Andretti Autosport. Got all that?

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Mr. & Mrs. Briscoe – photo from indystar.com

  • A.J. Foyt Racing Expanding to Speedway: According to reports, A.J. Foyt Racing purchased a large building on Main Street in Speedway, Indiana. They plan to renovate, rent out part and use part of it as a satellite base in Indy during the season while maintaining their main base outside of Houston, Texas. A.J. is quoted on his team’s website: “We’re happy to be part of Speedway’s redevelopment.” It’s a positive sign for the team and a plus for Speedway. Plus it’ll be a little bit of A.J. in Indy, where he belongs.

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Photo from usatoday.com

  • Finale at Sonoma? Regrettably, it looks as though one of the dullest and dreariest tracks in the country will host the grand finale in 2015. Curt Cavin’s sidekick and minor television/radio personality Kevin Lee tweeted about “more speculation about #IndyCar schedule” and then Cavin posted his own. It’s now down to a matter of dates, as it’s no secret as to the tracks which will be visited. Happily, all of the ovals from this season return in 2015 and the only subtraction is Houston, which was a dangerous joke of a parking lot track that nearly killed Dario and others last year.

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Photo from dailymail.co.uk

  • Another possible change is Toronto losing its twin billing, with the date changing due to a conflict with the Goodwill Games or some such obsolete international nonsense. Seen any pro sports lately? We blame Ted Turner for this amongst many other things. Both Brasilia, the planned capital in central Brazil, and New Orleans NOLA Motorsports Park, south of the Big Sleazy will host new races on road courses next season. Yippie. Otherwise, no major changes are forthcoming apart from some date changes which make sense, such as Pocono moving off the weekend of July 4th.

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Photo from economist.com

  • Odds and Ends: IMS upgraded their website, a long overdue move. IndyCar reporter for AutoRacing1.com Brian Carroccio showed IRR a kindness and followed us on Twitter, so a superspeedway sized thanks to him. Be sure to check out his work on the web. Finally, couldn’t resist this take on celubu-tard Gwynnie (a fave of ours to look at) and the recent fundraiser held in her California home for the once popular commander in chief. Wake me to your leader.

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Photo from dailymail.co.uk

IndyCar Driver Test: Jack Hawksworth

Likeable IndyCar rookie Jack Hawksworth who hails from Bradford, England faces our first ever driver exam, a new series of features at IRR. Hawksworth drove the number ninety eight car during the 2014 campaign for underfunded Bryan Herta Autosport with backing from Curb-Agajanian. He made headlines during the season and already again this off season, winning an award and answering some questions in a softball interview for indycar.com. The hardball question we’re asking is, did the twenty three year old Englishman pass the driver test?

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Photo from jackhawksworth.co.uk

Young Jack finished 17th in IndyCar standings in his inaugural campaign, out of twenty two full time cars. The highlight of his season came in the second race at the now defunct Houston parking lot “track,” where he stormed forward from twenty third and last starting place to finish third, taking his first and only podium of the year. Above him that day on the podium were Simon Pagenaud and his Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports teammate Mikhail Aleshin, Hawksworth’s fellow European rookie rival.

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Photo from indystar.com

Jack was awarded the Tony Renna Rising Star Award for 2014 even though the mad Russian Aleshin finished ahead of him in the championship, despite missing the double points finale 500 in Fontana due to an accident in the final practice. Nonetheless, Hawksworth impressed several in and out of the paddock, scoring five top ten finishes in seventeen races while also suffering several encounters with walls, particularly on the ovals. In July Hawk himself missed the double points Pocono 500 after a nasty practice accident.

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Photo from jackhawksworth.co.uk

He’s already announced that he’s left BHA behind thank you very much and currently isn’t under contract for next season. Recent rumors have linked him to AJ Foyt Racing as well as other possibilities and he doesn’t seem too concerned about landing a ride in the series for next year. HIs driving skills seem solid enough while there’s definitely room for improvement, although that’s not the sole component of the IndyCar driver exam.

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Photo from indystar.com

A secondary yet still crucial aspect of this exam is the driver’s savvy in interactions with the media – his PR capabilities. As with most rookies, Hawksworth needs some serious study and improvement in this area. In a recent interview on indycar.com, the northern Englishman came off sounding superior and at times cocky. Interestingly, England is the opposite of the US in its internal biases, where northerners like Hawk have the “accent” and are looked down upon, often considered backward hicks.

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Photo from indycar.com

He said in answer to a question about his rookie year results: “I think this has probably been the best season I’ve ever put together and I’m very pleased with my performance.” Depending upon one’s perspective, Jack’s statement ranges anywhere from the typical professional driver’s supreme confidence to a touch overly self-congratulatory, particularly considering his rather scurvy on track results. Remember, Marco, Graham and as recently as this June in Houston Carlos Huertas all actually won races in their rookie seasons. Since Hawk’s a seemingly congenial bloke, we’re willing to over look that comment.

But the naive northerner wasn’t finished. As per indycar.com, Hawksworth continued his lofty praise for himself. “I think I did a very good job. I made mistakes but also got the most out of the car and look back on the year pretty happy without sounding arrogant.” Oh really, young Jack? To some, it does come across arrogantly, especially for a seventeenth place points finisher. He continued, describing his desires for the future. “It’s given me solid ground to go out next year and win races, which is what I want to do.” He concluded “I don’t just want to be an IndyCar driver – I want to win races.”

Obviously the upstart Brit needs some media coaching although that’s not uncommon amongst rookie racers, who are after all death defying daredevils who pilot jet cars for a living. In fact, several aforementioned veteran drivers have had their own notable, recurring lapses in the realm of public relations. One major difference between them and our British subject however is that they all have wins in IndyCar, while Bradford’s favorite son hasn’t any as of yet.

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Photo from indycar.com

The rookie’s result in the driver test? We recommend working on your driving skills as well as management of your mouth whilst with the media. Study your fellow northern countryman Justin Wilson’s career and his model handling of media in IndyCar’s spotlight, then come back next season for another attempt at passing the driver exam.

IndyCar 300 at Kansas Speedway, April 27, 2008 in Pictures

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It was a raw, windy, chilly day in Kansas, a three hour drive from home.

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A good sized crowd attended the race and were not disappointed.

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The pit action was furious and directly across from our front stretch seats.

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Several cautions kept the field bunched up for close quarters racing.

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Two and three wide action was the norm on this day.

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The seating at Kansas Speedway allows for views of the entire track.

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The humongous American flag is a nice touch.

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It wasn’t Team Penske’s day, although they ran strong as usual.

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Ed Carpenter’s Menard’s paint scheme was simply gorgeous.

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The late Dan Wheldon won the race that day for Target.