IndyCar News Week In Review: Carousel Edition

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As the season draws near, IndyCar’s merry go ’round of race stewards spins on amidst furious circular testing in the desert.

 

Ford Joins The Fast Cars: We wish, although former Ford racing honcho Dan Davis actually is joining Indy 500 winner and AJ assault victim Arie Luyendyk as well as self described “NASCAR driver” Max Papis in the new IndyCar steward triumvirate. These three could well make for yet another hilariously awful season of officiating. Shouldn’t be long before the steward wheel spins’round  again – hell, they could even bring Beekhuis back.

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PrixView Poop, Part 1: Papis was recently seen huddling with Team Penske at Phoenix, as it looks like the Cap’n‘s already getting the newly reconfigured race control firmly his corner. Continue reading

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IndyCar’s F-ing F1 Invasion, Part 2

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In part two, IRR examines the current crop of f-ing F1 drivers invading IndyCar, their shocking inexperience and lackluster records as well as the disturbing dearth of overseas oval tracks.

The latest IndyCar invaders from F1 are different from those of the past. Billionaire Bernie‘s boys not only bring zero oval racing experience, but also little knowledge of the IndyCar series or the U.S., its history or its fans. Crucially, these recent raiders have enjoyed much less success and stardom than their forerunners, with no champions and few grand prix winners among them. For lack of a better term, they’re F1 feh.

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Troublingly, today IndyCar represents merely a fallback position for these F1 washouts. Twenty four year old American Alexander Rossi recently called IndyCar “foreign,” and Michael Andretti frankly referred to him as “clueless.” No argument here. Rossi didn’t win a grand prix or score a podium in his five starts last year and served primarily as a test driver in previous years. That’s exactly the sort of high end talent the IndyCar series needs, Michael – way to go. Ditto for CGR’s Englishman Max Chilton, who was winless and podium-less in thirty five F1 starts over two years. Gee, thanks a lot, Chip.

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This crossover is in one sense natural, as both open wheel series share much in common. However, it’s the differences that seem to matter most. Continue reading

IndyCar’s F-ing F1 Invasion, Part 1

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An invasion is taking place in the U.S. and for once it has nothing to do with the southern border. Rather, racers from far flung Formula 1 shores threaten to take over the American open wheel scene at an astonishing rate. The question is, what to make of this f-ing F1 invasion flooding the IndyCar series?

American Alexander Rossi (where’s Martini?) is only the latest in a long line of F1 invaders currently in the IndyCar series, including fellow rookie Max Chilton from England and veterans like Frenchman Sebastien “butterfingers” Bourdais, Takuma “take ’em out” Sato from Japan, and Colombian Juan “too stupid” Montoya. F-ing F1 intruders will make up a quarter of the field this year, with totals possibly rising even higher for the historic 100th Indy 500.

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That’s not counting former drivers like Italian Luca Filippi who tested for F1, started eighteen IndyCar races (finishing a high of second) and may yet return to the mix, or the late British veteran Justin Wilson. Plus, there’s a real possibility of the unfortunately named Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado upping the total to six former F1 faces in the series, or nearly a third of the field (that’s almost thirty three percent for NASCAR fans). Unsettlingly, rumors abound of still more interlopers venturing over in the years ahead as fabulously pricey F1 opportunities dry up.

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There are plenty of other F1 connections to IndyCar too, Continue reading

IndyCar News Week In Review: Money, Money Edition

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Money, money makes the racing world go ’round. As usual, for many teams there isn’t nearly enough of it.

Andretti Swallows Herta, Spits Chaves Out: In yet another case of contraction for IndyCar teams following the CFH Racing divorce, Andretti Autosport’s absorbed Bryan Herta Autosport, subtracting another team from the grid – not to mention an Autosport. Herta’s tiny, underfunded one car effort will now comprise AA’s fourth car, with former F1 driver American Alexander Rossi as the driver. Rookie of the Year Gabby “Pat” Chaves was unceremoniously dumped despite Herta’s earlier intimations that he’d be back. Obviously the price wasn’t right.

 

Money, Money: Funding was reportedly the issue at BHA, as was the case with CFHR reverting back to Ed Carpenter Racing this year. For a switch, instead of Michael it’s Herta who makes us ask, “what’s Bryan thinking” in casting his lot with the troubled Andrettis? Perhaps he’s planning a driving comeback and wants to takeover Marco’s seat, given the money and the fact that Marco’s not been using it effectively.

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Phillips Out, Pappas In: In a further shakeup at 16th & Georgetown, longtime engineer Bill Pappas is taking over as VP of Competition, Race Engineering for IndyCar. Continue reading

How IndyCar Is Like Bernie: A Study In Socialism

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IndyCar and The Bern share several similarities, surprisingly. They’re extremely popular amongst a certain smallish segment of the population, about a century old and hoping to upset a younger favorite who enjoys better press.

It’s astonishing just how many things IndyCar and Senator Sanders share in common. So much so that perhaps the series should consider renaming them “Bern outs.” You’re probably asking yourself, how can a Socialist from Vermont be anything like a “greedy corporation,” as he’s fond of disparaging? Primarily, both have a demonstrated admiration for socialism. Translated as a central authority (e.g. the federal government or the Board of Directors) exercising vast control over people’s money and freedoms, racing rulers and politicians already do this in spades. Regardless whether it’s government or racing, we the fans pay for it all. “Fairness,” huh?

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IndyCar’s “Leaders Circle” approach to prize money is, at its base, pure redistributionist socialism. Referred to as “profit sharing,” similar models exist in major league baseball and football as well. Sports’ version of the Marxist principle that we must redistribute wealth, it’s another example of how Bernie’s way has crept into all aspects of modern life, often going unnoticed. Under these strict rules, successful teams are forced to subsidize unsuccessful teams – or the “less fortunate” – to the tune of millions of dollars every year. As every IndyCar fan knows, encouraging more teams like Dale Coyne’s is precisely NOT what’s needed.

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Problem is, there’s no real choice. Owners, sponsors and teams are required (i.e. forced) to share the wealth, or else. In common practice and to most Americans, freedom is all about choices. Under socialism, there just aren’t any. Continue reading

Questions To Ponder Prior To IndyCar’s Start

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IRR has several questions about the upcoming IndyCar season, including the most important race in history.

Can Chip Ganassi Racing get off to anything other than a snail like start this season? They’ve failed to do so the last two years running, still managing to rebound to win the 2015 championship. A decent beginning to the campaign would sure make it easier for Dixie going down the stretch, not that he needs any help.

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Is this Tony Kanaan’s unofficial farewell tour? It may be, at least with Ganassi. The forty one year old Brazilian – one of IndyCar’s three stooges – doesn’t seem to have much left in the tank and is currently settling down in Indy in real family man style according to reports. Could a consulting role ala Dario Franchitti be in his future? We know some tat removal sessions will be.

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Will the Penske team’s tetrarchy payoff this season? Continue reading

How IndyCar Is Like Trump: A Study In Showmanship

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IndyCar and The Donald share a number of things in common. They’re showy, worth billions of dollars, carrying momentum into 2016 and seeking the pinnacle of American success.

“How can they compare a racing series to a celebrity presidential candidate?” you’re probably asking yourself. The answer is with a great deal of alcohol and cabin fever while on a snowy getaway to the mountains. So, we’re chalking it up to the thin, wispy air and the booze having an unhinging effect upon the brain. Yeah, that’s it. But (half) seriously, you may be surprised at just how similar the two are.

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Undeniably, IndyCar and The Donald are both big proponents of fence building – and, crucially, making other people pay for it. Trump’s will be on the border with Mexico while IndyCar’s resides at IMS, a billion-plus dollar corporation currently refurbishing the Speedway with Indiana taxpayer dollars. It’s all in preparation for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in the latter instance, and due to 50 years of mass immigration in the former. People are lining up to pay for the construction of one wall, as ticket sales for the race are moving briskly. At the other wall, too, all sorts of people are lining up, though they’re not exactly paying customers – or waiting until Memorial Day to pay a visit.

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The two share another fundamental element in common and that’s dependence upon television ratings. Without television, both Trump and IndyCar would effectively cease to exist. Then pray tell, whatever would Marco do for a living? And Trump’s sons? Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Finally Edition

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With the season still a month away, some tidbits – testing, staffing and the like – against a background of finality.

IndyCar Rising From The Ashes in Phoenix: The exhilarating sound of IndyCar engines roaring to life finally returned to PIR this week with pre season testing by ECR‘s Ed Carpenter and Josef Newgarden. Penske’s four ponies also ran. Afterward, Will “Sour Gapes” Power mumbled something about “history,” as if. No fan of oval tracks, the “wot are we doing?” wanker who hates Fontana has never even raced in the desert. He certainly doesn’t know anything about history. When’s The Cap’n finally gonna get rid of this malcontented marsupial once and for all?

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Miles of Madness: Unsettlingly, we noticed that on the schedule, publicity pieces and raceway website it’s being referred to as the “Phoenix Grand Prix.” This is odd for an oval race and certainly could be confusing for fans. Hopefully Mark “Meandering” Miles isn’t trying to turn the race into another regrettable road course event. IRR wants to know, when is Miles’ final performance review and where can we comment?

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Foyt Choo-Choo Chooses New Engineers: Among a plethora of engineering changes at AJ Foyt Racing, Dan Hobbs has arrived from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports to work with regressing Englishman Jack Hawksworth. Apparently Mr. Hobbs has been too busy to update LinkedIn to reflect his recent career changes. Continue reading

Daffy Leigh Diffey (An IndyCar Commentator’s Tale)

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NBCSN’s lead announcer is seriously funny, often without even trying.

You know Leigh Diffey if nothing else from his amusing accent. He’s the great big bloke on tv with an even bigger mug. Semi-famous as the (enormous) face of the IndyCar and F1 commentariate on NBCSN, he’s almost bigger than life. He also happens to have a head roughly the size of a Firestone. It’s said that Leigh once got his enormous noggin too close to a confused tire changer in the heat of the action – with near disastrous results. Fortunately both the crewman and air gun survived.

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A real sport, Diffey calls F1 and IndyCar races indifferently. The talkative, if not fluent, talking head seamlessly transitions from one bunch of European and South American drivers with funny names like Kimi, Nico, Nico and Sebastian to the other bunch of European and South American drivers with funny names like Helio, Tony, Simon and Sebastien. While we’re on the subject, how about that label on Leigh? You suppose he caught any grief growing up down under in the ’70s with a moniker like that? Maybe they all have hilarious handles down there, who knows. He is from somewhere called Queensland, after all.

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Truly international in resume and style, Diffey has obvious, bulging talent. Vaguely resembling the Michelin man, had he not caught on as a television personality he no doubt would’ve become a successful Saturday morning cartoon character. Come to think of it, working with David Hobbs, Steve “Whoaa!” Matchette and Jon Beekhuis (not to mention Paul Tracy) on a lowly NBC cable channel isn’t that far off. Continue reading

Fictional IndyCar Sponsors We’d Like To See

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Fake products could fill the void of actual IndyCar sponsors.

As forbearing fans of open wheel racing know, empty side pods seldom look good. It occurred to us that something – anything – filling those blank canvasses doing 220 mph would surely beat nothing. Fastidious fans of fast also know that IndyCar has a dearth of sponsors, so we couldn’t resist offering a few fictional movie and television product suggestions. Why not? We’re feeling Leigh Diffey daffy.

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Lacking sponsors, the aim for back marker owners – which the series has plenty of – should be to give at least the appearance of success. What’s the harm if they provide a few laughs to the paying customers at the same time? No, we’re not going with the ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ (or ‘Back to the Future’ Delorean or even the ‘Bladerunner’ car) reference vis-a-vis Mark Miles’ Flying Circus. Although considering Marco‘s gawd awful ‘Indiana Jones’ paint job several years back, we did think about it.

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Now for the imaginary items for IndyCar. Morrie’s Wigs from the Scorsese mob standard “Goodfellas” makes a primo candidate for primary sponsorship. Morrie’s would rank right up there with “Northern Lights” and “Pep Boys,” both of which not only existed but also actually sponsored the series at one time. Continue reading