Watkins Glen Preview: Kinda Like Mid-Ohio

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Photo from indycar.com

Try not to become discombobulated, disturbed or disoriented Sunday when the contest at the Glen seems eerily similar to certain other races on the schedule.

As the name implies, the “IndyCar GP” wasn’t originally scheduled to take place at all, thrown together in two weeks’ time immediately after Boston followed Brazil‘s suit and jilted the series. When’s the last time a NASCAR race was cancelled? Hurriedly announced in mid May, it was just as hurriedly forgotten coming in the middle of all the 100th Running hoopla.

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Photo from autoweek.com

It may be better than no race at all as some say, but unfortunately it also strongly resembles Mid-Ohio. Strongly as in stench, or disagreement. Enough of these risible road courses already – Penske’s frog Pagenaud and chief whiner Power have swept every single pole and race on ’em this season. Like at Mid-Ohio.

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It’s been six years since IndyCar last roared into upstate New York and now the race’s closer to its old, traditional fall date. Continue reading

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IndyCar News Week in Review: Media Day Matters? Edition

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Photo from Indy Race Reviewer

Little in the way of actual news emerged from media day 2016.

Sage Replacement: On Monday it was announced that former F1 driver and Indy Lights winner Max Chilton will drive Chip Ganassi’s number 8 car this season, as apparently the issue with Sage “Wildman” Karam wasn’t really funding at all. The 24 year old Englishman was introduced at media day on Tuesday, admitting after the announcement that he hadn’t even met his teammates yet. But he does know Dario Franchitti, who was instrumental in getting Maxie the ride. Looks like Chip’s people had some intros to make at IMS Tuesday, as Ganassi Tweeted he was home sick with the flu. Perhaps his illness was some Karam karma.

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Photo from usatoday.com

The CFH Racing Marriage Didn’t Last: In still more pre-media day news, Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing dissolved after only one season, as both Sarah Fisher and Wink Hartman are out at Ed Carpenter Racing. IRR questioned the all American ownership trio’s fortitude over a year ago when they announced the joint venture, as it always seemed forced. Apparently Sarah’s leaving IndyCar to run an indoor go cart track while Hartman’s fortune has been decimated due to Saudi overproduction, resulting in $30 a barrel oil. Rising star Josef “Just Gimme Some Stability” Newgarden will contest all sixteen races for the new/old Ed Carpenter Racing and his car, like Ed’s, will feature the gorgeous green Fuzzy’s Vodka livery. That’s a definite upgrade over the old crude oil black look, though both Sarah and Wink will be missed. On the upside, what’s not to love about more booze sponsored IndyCars?!

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Ed Carpenter(‘s Not) Racing: According to rumors that again sprang up prior to media day, Continue reading

Sixteen Predictions for the 2016 IndyCar Season

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Including the 100th Indy 500, Team Penske, Mad Will Power and more.

It’s been some time since our Predictions and Prognostications Department actually earned their lavish salaries and expense accounts, so it’s high time they did. After an up and down 2015 season they’ve dusted off the old crystal ball and are due for some duesies.

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The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 mile extravaganza will occur, despite the exceptionally inept Mark Miles‘ shoddy efforts. Overcoming the series’ serious lack of leadership, an American nevertheless will emerge to win the historic race – albeit in an Italian car.

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Speaking of cars, expect still more flipping at Indianapolis this year thanks to those flipping aero kits, and also due to the near octogenarian Mario Andretti being back behind the wheel of the two seater. Cleared for takeoff.  Continue reading

Mark Miles’ Miserable Metaphor

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Upon reading the piece in the Star, we simply couldn’t believe it. Had he really said  . . . THAT?!

Lost in the lead up to Christmas was a Mark Miles interview with the Indy Star’s Curt Cavin. The story both leads and wraps with Miles using the time worn and ill-considered metaphor “time flies” when asked about his three year anniversary as CEO of Hulman and Company, IMS and IndyCar.

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Photo from 1070thefan.com

Miles’ miserable metaphor typifies both his rule of IndyCar and his inability to communicate effectively. Of all times to reference flight, this year wasn’t the one. Of course cars aren’t supposed to fly, though the season was marred by flying aero kit pieces, flying cars at Indy and another flying piece of debris that sadly took Justin Wilson’s life. Miles started the interview off saying time flies – talk about inappropriate!

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Cavin’s article cited all those calamities and others, including the humiliating race cancellation in Brazil. Sound issues and traffic problems at IMS for the Rolling Stones concert last year were even aired, as Miles’ incompetence was on full parade. Good grief, they’ve only been holding Stones concerts successfully all over the world for half a century now.

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Photo from magazine.foxnews.com

On a more timely note, the CEO admitted that the aero kits introduced in 2015 were “not entirely positive.” Continue reading

Top Fifteen IndyCar Stories of 2015

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

The Force Be With You – Rahal rebounded for an excellent season, winning twice and finishing fourth in points. He then proceeded to wed the gorgeous and talented Courtney Force, making major motoring and matrimonial momentum going into 2016. Penske/Ganassi Empire be warned.

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Loss of Williams – No, it’s not an F1 story. SPM cut Englishman James Jakes loose after a lackluster season, which means tragically that his stunningly beautiful girlfriend Megan Williams will no longer enhance the viewing experience with her Venus-like presence. The series needs more serious WAGS like Meg and to feature them prominently, as the NFL does with its cheerleaders.

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Karam Craps Out – Despite our best efforts, fearless young Pennsylvanian Sage Karam is out of the series having lost his ride with villainous Chip the Hutt. Sage had a decent year all things considered, and IndyCar is poorer, older and less American because of his leaving. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Youth Edition

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The Speedway’s Makeover: IMS announced numerous changes to the Month of May’s schedule, including open aero kit oval testing and longer practices leading up to the 500. The earlier starting and later ending sessions are not only to allow more track time but also to recapture the old, pre time change happy hour conditions on track. More shadows on the front stretch equals higher speeds. The change is aimed at setting a “New Track Record!” and corrects a chronological mistake. Between practice and qualifications, there’ll be eight straight days of action on the famed oval prior to the 500. These changes represent precisely the sort of ideas we’ve been advocating at IRR. We applaud the Speedway’s moves and highly encourage more of them for next year’s hundredth running.

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Photo from Indy Race Reviewer

Florida? Sounds Fun: Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Goaaal! Edition

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UPDATE: AP is reporting the season opening IndyCar race scheduled in Brasilia, Brazil has been canceled by local authorities. The costly construction and renovations at the race course have been ongoing for some time and could well be the issue. This is truly a crisis for IndyCar and makes an already short season even shorter. We’ve offered alternatives to a race in Brazil as well as skepticism towards holding a race there for months now. It was another poor decision by the series to schedule a race in Brazil to begin with and now once again it’s the fans who suffer due to a further abbreviated schedule.

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Brian Barnhart Battles Back: IndyCar announced Wednesday that Brian Barnhart will resume his former duties as Race Director. He’d served in that role from 1997 until 2011, after which ‘Beautiful’ Beaux Barfield took over due to controversies at New Hampshire and elsewhere. The system, described as being like a “jury,” will consist of three stewards who make the calls and assess the penalties collaboratively. Mindful of the anti-Barnhart and anti-IRL sentiment that exists in some quarters, we say anybody but Beaux.

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Photo from indystar.com

Drivers’ Meeting in Indy: The Barnhart announcement was made at the winter drivers’ meeting at IMS. Of note were some of the drivers in attendance, including Americans Conor Daly and Zach Veach, British brothers Justin and Stefan Wilson, and Colombians Carlos Huertas and Sebastian Saavedra. Continue reading

Mark Webber Survives Fiery Crash at Interlagos

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Photo from dailymail.co.uk

Former F1 driver Mark Webber is “ok” according to team communications after a fiery crash in the World Endurance Championship at Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil on Monday. The nine time F1 winner’s Porsche 919 slammed into the wall during the race, the Daily Mail reports, resulting in a frightening scene. The team’s good health assurances appear to have been premature. Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: The Not Dead Yet Edition

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A.J. Goes Under the Knife: Four time Indianapolis 500 winner and racing legend A.J. Foyt underwent successful triple bypass surgery Wednesday in Houston, Texas. The seventy nine year old has been recovering at Baylor Saint Luke’s Medical Center and likely causing the doctors, nurses and staff a Texas-sized amount of grief. A.J. had suffered chest pains recently and already had stents inserted into his arteries a few years ago, according to his team’s website. Foyt’s survived numerous brushes with death in his nearly eight decades, including multiple racing accidents during his storied career, many surgeries, a staph infection, a bulldozer rollover and even a killer bee attack on his ranch. Now it’s his ticker. We wish the feisty near octogenarian a speedy recovery, as May at Indy wouldn’t be the same without him.

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Silly Season News: See possible, potential, rumored return of a foxy former series driver below.

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Brazilian Bikini Botch?: Warning flags regarding holding a race in Brazil have been raised on this site before and with good reason. Brazil is a third world country with numerous problems, far beyond attempting to host international soccer matches and races. Coming as no surprise to our readers, there appears to be a snag in the renovations of the circuit IndyCar plans to run the season opener at in March. Meanwhile, perfectly fine ovals in the United States go unused by the series. Mark “mini” Miles, are you reading?

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Image from IndyRaceReviewer

F1’s Broker & Loonier Than Ever: As we noted in “Czar Bernie’s Against New Ideas and Reforms,” F1’s Bernie Ecclestone opposes new ideas and reforms, just like the imperious Czars of old. This week he royally rejected one team’s innovative approach to funding shortfalls in his ludicrously over-priced series “no one can afford” according to the Telegraph. Caterham, facing bankruptcy and unable to field cars in the last few races, turned to web based crowd funding to make ends meet and rather impressively raised over half a million dollars so far. Czar Bernie thinks this way too radical and doesn’t give his official seal of approval, sneeringly referring to the effort as “a begging bowls” approach. Perhaps Bernie could open up his own royal coffers and be generous with his billions for the good of F1 as we near the holiday season. Nah – never happen.

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Image from IndyRaceReviewer

Swiss Miss Back At IMS?: Speaking of IndyCar’s foreign sister series featuring even funnier accents, F1 wash out and former IndyCar pilot Simona de Silvestro’s back in the headlines albeit through a second hand source. Crazy ol’ Curt Cavin reports that IndyCar honcho Derrick Walker says Simona’s desirous of a return to the series. The twenty six year old speedy siren supposedly said at the U.S. Grand Prix that it was a mistake to leave IndyCar and chase F1. Since she never started a race in Czar Bernie’s glamorous, overpriced series we’d have to agree. Heck, we’re so welcoming of Sim’s return to the States we’d even let the fast, foxy fraulein bunk with us.

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NASCAR Runs Amok: No additional riots, fights or domestic assaults have taken place down south in NASCAR-ville, at least in the last couple of days. This subject already has been covered here lately more than we’d like to admit in “NASCAR: ‘A Clockwork Orange’ Series.” Here’s an idea – maybe King France could schedule a race in or near Ferguson, Missouri, the St. Louis suburb plagued by recent NASCAR-esque violence and mayhem of its own. We’re certain that hell hole of a track Gateway Speedway nearby is available. They could invite the rioters to a post-race mixer in the infield with Busch and the boys. Imagine the ratings that smack down would generate for NASCAR. And the revenues.

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Image from IndyRaceReviewer

IndyCar News Week in Review

Early 500 WTF: Bryan Herta Autosport announced forgotten Brit racer Jay Howard as the pilot of their entry in the 99th Indy 500. Six months early, it appears Herta and Howard wanted to get the news out ahead of the Black Friday rush. Howard hasn’t raced in the series for years and only started fourteen total races in his IndyCar career, this after winning the 2006 Indy Lights championship. Apparently Wade Cunningham wasn’t available for the ride. Images were released of a putrid lime green and white car. Our advice is to try again – if not with the driver, then certainly with the pee green livery, fellas.

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The Rich Get Way Richer: Reports have Kyle Moyer leaving Andretti Autosport after decades with the team and its precursors and heading to Team Penske as new competition director. First the highly sought after Pags went all Penske and now the respected veteran Moyer. It was also reported that Ben Bretzman will join Team Penske as Pags’ engineer, a role he’s filled at SPM the last three seasons. Heading into 2015 Penske truly has an embarrassment of riches. As for AA, they’re reeling with the loss of Moyer after already saying sayonara to funnyman James Hinchcliffe.

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Schedule Schizophrenia: Reaction to the schedule has been split and ranges from paranoid to institutional. Curt Cavin wrote of the 2015 schedule that “it does represent a balance of the circuits. Six ovals, six road courses and four street circuits.” How the hell six versus ten can be considered balanced is beyond our explanation. Classic Cavin craziness.

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Photo from 1070thefan.com

Cajun Cookin: On Wednesday, a tweet mentioned IndyCar would have a presence at this weekend’s LSU and Saints home games down in Louisiana. This is a PR push in advance of next April’s inaugural GP of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park south of the Big Sleazy. Andretti, Power & the two-seater will be there all weekend publicizing the series. Good for IndyCar for getting the word, stars and cars out there – or down there, in this case. It’s just too bad the race isn’t on a decent oval track instead of a road course, or near a decent city. Judging by the aerial views of NOLA, it looks like the crowd could be on a smaller scale even than Iowa.

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Photo from indycar.com

Cavin’s Crumbs: We give Curt a lot of grief here at IRR and much of it is deserved, but we have to admit that while he may not be the best writer or most intelligent reporter, he does have something as valuable: access. He reported this week that fifty one year veteran of the Speedway Bill Spoerle died. Spoerle managed the IMS restoration unit since 1963 and restored many of the historic Indycars on display at the museum. He was 80 years old and lived a dream working with cherished chariots of speed. Also, Cavin noted some potential bad news for fans of ovals, as Auto Club Speedway President Jillian Zucker resigned this week. Zucker was instrumental in IndyCar’s return to Fontana several years ago and has left to join the NBA’s Clippers. The potential future loss of Fontana from the schedule would be unforgivable, so it’ll be important to keep an eye on her replacement.

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Odds n’ Ends: Iowa Speedway announced an additional support race for next summer’s IndyCar visit, doubling the number of junior league races that few care about or pay to see. The Brasilia race seems to be coming together with the usual amount of third world delays and overruns, per reports on indycar.com. It’s about time but par for the course in South America. Money man Jeff Belskus is retiring after nearly three decades with Hulman & Co. and for a few years head of IMS. The Indiana State University graduate replaced Tony George at IMS in 2009 at the conclusion of the Great Schism.

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