Toronto Predictions And Prognostications: So Sorry Edition

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Photo from usatoday.com

Ontario, Canada plays host to the next round of IndyCar’s summer swing. We’re sorry they’re down to one race on a subpar surface and one driver who’s been subpar lately. Sorry in advance for any crude or boorish behavior on the part of American fans in attendance this weekend – and particularly for what’s coming next.

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Image from flickr.com

A special pre race prediction is that the Canadians will manage to screw up the national anthems again, like they did last year and even at the All Star game this week. Last year’s butchery during the Toronto pre race sounded like alley cats in heat. Sorry, but can they get it right already? Use a frickin’ recording if nothing else.

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Photo from detroitnews.com

This week’s special prediction for the race regards local Canuck favorite, the Mayor of Hinchtown. Continue reading

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IndyCar News Week in Review: See the Future Edition

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An IndyCar Race and a Calf Ropin’: The series could be off to western Canada in 2017 if plans outside the U.S. happen to come together for once. The Great White North’s third largest city and home of the Calgary Stampede – it’s a rodeo, not a football team (they’re the Stampeders, eh?) – hopes to host a race the fall after next according to motorsport.com. The Reverend Mayor Hinchcliffe already made a hoe-down style visit to that end, enthusiastically endorsing the decision to try to hold a second race in his home country as “logical.” That’s some truly Spock-ian level analysis from the comical Canuck. Judging by the picture – and seriously, who’s been to Calgary?! – it looks like a perfectly serviceable oval’s already there in place. Wanna prediction? It’ll be another Mark “Two” Miles street race.

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Image from calgary.cvtnews.ca

SPM’s Assuming Potential New Pilot: Two time Indy Lights runner up Jack Harvey Continue reading

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

  • Pags to Penske: The most significant IndyCar news of the week wasn’t even a close race – it was a Penske sweep. The championship winning team landed the hottest free agent on the market in 2014, ironically a Frenchman. Pagenaud to Penske is major news, creating a four car powerhouse team, a first for Penske for a full season. Looks like the Cap’n grew tired of watching Andretti’s and Ganassi’s cars outnumber his on track, so he’s upping the count. For fans of underdogs, this adds another reason to root against the former CART Cardinal turned Captain and his dominant team.

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Photo from pinterest.com

  • Hinch Marries Kimball?! On September 27, Charlie Kimball married long time girlfriend Kathleen Thompson in a ceremony in Indianapolis officiated by Canadian James Hinchcliffe. Apparently the madcap mayor obtained a ministerial license online from a shadowy group known as American Marriage Ministries. We wish the newlyweds all the happiness in the world and the Mayor of Hinchtown a very  blessed day in his new career. It could really pay off for him if his on track performance doesn’t improve.

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Photo from racing.ap.org

  • Other Silly Season News: Mayor/Minister Hinch remains unsigned, but Pagenaud’s vacant seat at Schmidt is said to be his for the taking. Schmidt has tested several lesser known drivers recently, although signs point to the quirky Canadian being paired with the mad Russian for next season. This should make an intriguing international combination for one of the few IRL era teams left in the paddock. Speaking of the good ol’ days, as predicted here at IRR months ago Sato’s ride with AJ Foyt Racing is apparently in jeopardy, as other drivers including rookie Englishman Jack Hawksworth have been rumored to be under consideration by the King of IndyCar.

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Photo from toledoblade.com

  • Career Change? Former series driver Swiss Miss Simona de Silvestro’s Formula 1 dreams have been obliterated, as Swiss team Sauber announced it’s moving in a different direction. De Silvestro departed IndyCar in 2013 after scoring her first podium finish with a second place finish in Houston. Enduring several unsuccessful seasons in IndyCar, Simona’s latest failed F-1 venture is considered by some as her last chance in big league racing. We wish her the best in her future endeavors and would enjoy seeing her return to IndyCar, though we’re not holding our breath.

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Photo from usatoday.com

  • Odds & Ends: There was a Firestone tire test at IMS recently, and it was uneventful according to reports.  Ed Carpenter, whose team is transitioning to two cars as he merges with SFH, participated in the test while his new teammate Josef Newgarden watched. Newkid Tweeted some snaps of his boss and it looked to be a perfect fall day in Indianapolis, the Rome of motorsport. Testing of the new aero kits hasn’t begun, but will be a crucial component for teams this off season. In other news, Honda’s scrambling to keep up with Chevy as they continue to hemorrhage top drivers and teams, most recently Pags.

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Oh, Canada? Our Diminishing Northern Neighbors

Hot as it gets this time of year, who doesn’t dream of escaping to Canada for a vac-ay? When IndyCar association of states (and please note this doesn’t include provinces) thinks of Canada, do they really think of racing? We at IRR think not.

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Photo from huffingtonpost.ca

Icy cold? Check. BC bud? Check. Inferior football? Uh-huh. Ending every sentence with “-ay”? You betcha! But big league racing? Not so much. In fact IndyCar racing is a diminishing – and one could argue disappearing – entity in the great white north.

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Photo from riderfans.com

Canada’s currently down to one driver in the IndyCar Series. He’s James Hinchcliffe, three time winner for AA and funny guy in the paddock (“Funny? How da f— am I funny to you?!”). Mountie Alert: he’s also not yet under contract for next year. There’s no doubt he’s a talented and colorful Canadian character; however, his species seems to be increasingly endangered. He’s it at present, -ay.

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For Queen Elizabeth’s sake, we used to at least enjoy a little French Canadian flavor with Carpentier and Tagliani – whose wife is quite the dish – but no longer. Then there’s the always popular Jacques Villeneuve, Canada’s version of Michael Andretti except funnier looking and he actually won the 500. Does anyone know why he “came back” for the 500 this year decades after walking away? Did anyone even notice?

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 Bronte Tagliani photos from lazygirls.info

There couldn’t be a column written on Canadian IndyCar (the phrase is just peculiar, isn’t it?) without mentioning Paul Tracy. That is, unless it were written strictly about relevant figures, or even semi-relevant former drivers, or . . .  IRR can write that he’s a decent commentator on NBCSN, but that’s about as far as we’re willing to go.

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The troubles for the Canucks don’t end with PT, either. Our chilly neighbors to the north are down to one race really, it’s just spread out over two days. The concrete car crusher also known as the Streets of Toronto certainly generates lots of revenue for the city (and probably more for Dallara Automobili in Italy). So after nearly thirty years you’d think they’d spring for either all asphalt or all concrete. Jeesh, is it really that hard to figure out guys, -ay?

Remember Edmonton Indy? And Vancouver? How ’bout “The Molson Indy Toronto”? Sadly they’ve all gone the way of Canadian comedy – and almost as rapidly – to that great ash heap of history in the Northwest Territories. Seems to be the long term trend up north: racing in demise. Our concern here -ay, is that Canada and IndyCar may not be at all associable in the future, if they even still are.

Instant Reaction to National Guard News

The news that the National Guard is reportedly ending its sponsorship of teams in both IndyCar and other series comes as a tough blow to ICS. It is U.S. taxpayers’ money that’s at stake however, and last IRR checked the old girl wasn’t in the best of financial shape. It’s become certain Congressmen’s pet target, if you will. Sign of the times, perhaps. We’re still awaiting the supposed economic “recovery” here in IndyCar association of states and we’ll see how IndyCar weathers the storm, which has been in the works for some time. At least they had notice.

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Recall the unfortunate end to the Guard’s sponsorship of Panther Racing a couple of years ago, with John Barnes taking the matter to court. It was an ugly end to a largely unprofitable relationship for the taxpayers, e.g, very few if any wins including Jr. in the other series.

Plus, there’s always the question of whether race advertising fulfills its intended purpose, in this case getting youngsters and others to sign up for the National Guard. The guard dates back to the militias of the Revolutionary War and famous groups such as The Minutemen. In this present period of war and want, they are an important link in the chain of defense of the rusting hulking U.S.

But back to racing for a moment, this report raises serious questions. What a blow for the series. What about RLL next year? And Graham? His record is sketchy enough already. Will another promising young American open wheel driver be wasted?

We at IRR – home for all your racing news and laughs – certainly hope not. Graham’s a competent, classy young legacy who’s important to the series. Much like Marco, but more likeable if not successful. Bobby and even Letterman add something to the series, though we’re not quite sure about this Lanigan fellow.

Come to think of it, Letterman’s even sketchy – a has been, as it were – and if RLL can’t find sponsorship then why not dig into Letterman’s deep pockets? Too many crazy -exes we suppose . . . the non-controversy keeps comin’ at IRR.

It’s kinda funny – Leno has cars and Letterman has expenses, er-um Dallaras. Speaking of which, how ’bout that concrete car crusher they call Toronto, huh? you’d think they could spring for either all asphalt or all concrete, no? Isn’t Canada doing better than the US? In fact they are. After nearly 30 years. let’s spring for some paving ala Penske at God-awful Detroit B I, you wealthy Canadians, -ay?

And speaking of Canadians, there’s much much much much much more coming tomorrow on you nattering neighbors you. So stay tuned.

Final word on this for tonight: Clearly the German Swiss timepiece announcement on Wednesday was cover for National Guard’s withdrawal from the series. Just like clockwork, superior strategy prevails on the battlefield..

Comments are welcome and will be mildly addressed, we promise.