Season Finale Preview: Sayonara, Sonoma!

Sayonara Sonoma!

IRR’s preview of the 2018 finale illustrates how the sake’s about to hit the fan with a Japanese race winner, a Kiwi in the points lead and a long overdue kiss off for one particular track.

Following fourteen interminable years of visiting northern California – primarily because the Foyts and Andrettis own wineries there and most certainly not for the racing – the IndyCar party at Sonoma’s over at long last. Now the hellacious hangover begins, as the geniuses responsible for IndyCar’s schedule failed to replace it with a decent track, like the big, beautiful oval at Fontana, home of exquisite racing in years past.

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Photo from sfhracing.com

No, next season the series swaps one inferior road course finale at Sonoma for another one down the coast at Laguna Seca. The 2019 schedule Continue reading

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Portland Preview: It’s Been A Long, Long, Long Time

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As IndyCar’s Magical Mystery Tour heads northwest for the first time in over a decade, IRR’s got your Ticket to Ride.

The legendary George Harrison couldn’t have been writing about Portland International Raceway in his 1968 song “Long, Long, Long,” as the facility didn’t yet exist. Besides, he and the boys were halfway ’round the globe in India with the Maharishi at the time. Nevertheless, it truly has been a Long, Long, Long time since big league racing turned a Revolution in the locale of . . . Oregon. Eleven long years, to be exact. One could say we’re Back in the P-I-R, though the northwest never fails to make us think of Rain.

Photo from portlandraceway.com

The Long and Winding Road in Portland – two miles long, in fact – contains twelve turns and sits near the banks of the Columbia River. Contrary to some reports, Continue reading

Mid-Ohio Preview: Mediocrity On Parade

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The third-rate though conveniently located sports car course makes for some dreadfully boring IndyCar racing and regrettably will do so again for the thirty fourth time next Sunday. Quite possibly the worst circuit the series visits, Mid-Ohio epitomizes a disturbing trend in modern society of willing, almost glad acceptance of the middling. It’s mediocrity on parade.

During the run of the mill track’s big league history, which began fitfully in 1980, both CART and later Champ Car had the good sense to drop it entirely – for years at a time. Yet since 2007 and to our continual chagrin, Mid-Ohio keeps reappearing year after year on IC’s wreck of a schedule, like a meddling, nosy neighbor knocking on your door.

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Photo from foxnews.com

It’s not expecting too much if, as a race fan, one expects more from Mark Miles and crew than merely mundane Mid-Ohio. Meanwhile, perfectly decent oval tracks all across the country – and as nearby as northern Kentucky and Illinois – sit idle.

The past five races there have featured as many different winners including Josef Newgarden last year, Continue reading

Iowa Preview: Wanted – For Wantonly Wasting Ovals

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If justice remains an issue of any importance, then the focus of the sporting world this week should be squarely upon IndyCar’s brass in Iowa. Specifically, how they handle oval tracks starting Sunday and going forward. If Phoenix – and a years’ long slide away from ovals and towards curvy courses – are any indications, then we truly tremble for the future of our beloved egg shaped circuits.

Racing’s routinely riveting at this rural redoubt, like all ovals the series doesn’t ruin with regrettable rules and regulations, then promptly abandon. At Iowa, three wide, edge of your seat action with near constant passing’s the norm. It used to be even better as a night race which it was until 2016, both for the racing and the fans. The move to a daytime race represents yet another major Mark Miles era schedule regression. Unfortunately, so too does Road America, where even more unfortunately that so called race was recently extended into the foreseeable future.

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Photo from foxsports.com

It’s imperative that Miles and other IndyCar scheduling geniuses do the same with Iowa, whose contract is also up, Continue reading

What’s Sam Schmidt Thinking? Or: IndyCar’s Scott Peterson Motorsports

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Photo from sbnation.com

This time it’s a well-liked relative newcomer to IndyCar ownership instead of a loose cannon legacy owner who has us seriously wondering.

It was reported this week Schmidt Peterson Motorsports is teaming up with former F1 owner Didier Calmels to run fellow Frenchman Tristan Gommendy in next year’s Indy 500. Why is he a former F1 owner, you ask? Because when he was convicted of shooting his wife in cold blood in 1990 and sent to prison, the wiser F1 heads understood spousal homicide isn’t exactly a positive image for a racing series. That’s regardless of whether it was a crime of passion or not – and the fact that he somehow served less than two years for his heinous crime.

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Photo from Getty Images

Nearly three decades later, apparently SPM hasn’t gotten the memo. Or perhaps they’re merely joining in our national obsession with ignoring history when not defacing it. The team’s statement read in part, “Didier has fulfilled his obligations and gone on to become a successful businessman and team owner in European motor sport.” Translation: he’s paid his debt to society and is a fine, upstanding citizen now who’s bringing us lots and lots of cash.

While the last part is certainly true, it’s the “fulfilled his obligations” bit with which we take exception. Continue reading

It’s . . . A NEW CAR!

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Photo from thedailygopher.com

A long overdue redesign is coming to IndyCar, as it appears Ol’ Jay Frye got it right.

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Photo from indycar.com

Sleeker, sexier, sightlier describe the recently unveiled rendition of the new 2018 chassis. Testing is set to commence this summer. Gone are those bulbous, blasted bumpers. Happily, this marks the return of a more traditional looking Indy car, a sight that’s been absent for years. Dare we write Continue reading

Is IndyCar Becoming Too French-ified?

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Both the new crowned series king and the lone 2017 victor hail from France, so the question seemed obvious. Especially when the wine and cheese league is on the verge of becoming the full blown Verizon Jean Girard Series, Presented by Crepes.

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Photo from indycar.com

Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud are Frenchmen on fire in IndyCar. Storming to 1-2 at St. Pete, they appear truly tough to beat. Who could have imagined a few short years ago that these musketeers would be dueling it out atop asphalt parapets, like Athos and Aramis?

The fast frogs in question have greedily gobbled up nearly half the races going back to 2015, with a whopping nine wins between them. Despite Seb’s highly suspicious trailer fire last spring, the two apparently harbor no animosity. There’s a distinct absence of rudeness.

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Photo from indycar.com

Instead, they tend to be respectful and even complimentary of each other, as evidenced following the opener. Continue reading

Racing Sponsorship We’d Rather Not See

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Photo from missourilegends.com

A terrifically tasteless image was recently Tweeted out featuring a close up of a race car that read “Jonestown KOA.” Since someone beat us to the Kool-Aid reference, our immediate reply was about the hospitality tent being murder.

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Image from twitter.com

The whole morbid idea got us to thinking, though. Ergo, here’s a list of other racing sponsorship we’d rather not see.

Heart Attacks ‘R Us. Now with more rib spreading.

The 100th Indianapolis 500, presented by Penngrade Motor Oil.

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Image from twitter.com

Thirteen screws and a plate – complete with a high resolution X-ray image – adorning Josef Newgarden’s car.

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The 101st Indianapolis 500, presented by Penngrade Motor Oil.

Continue reading

Road America Preview: Racing The Haunted Woods

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Photo from photobucket.com

A mysterious land of wonderment, danger and frights, Road America’s where AJ‘s leg bones from his terrifying 1990 crash still haunt the foreboding, forested hills. For modern day racers, it’s a lengthy leap into the unsettling unknown.

 

Once upon a time long, long ago IndyCar raced at a magical place called Road America. The scene of flips, collisions and even rear wings flying off, racing last occurred there in 2007 prior to the conclusion of the super scary split. The series first appeared at the frightful facility in the deep, dark woods way back in 1982. Legends including Mario Andretti and Danny Sullivan won races there. It truly was an epic age.

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Only half the field tested in Wisconsin after the Texas flood, as they scattered for vacations from Vegas to Le Mans. Those who did test included Continue reading

IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach Preview: Cheap Trick Edition

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Photo from latfusa.com

First F1, then CART/Champ Car, and finally IndyCar all have played a cheap trick upon the hospitable “I Want You To Want Me” Southern California destination. Fact is, fairly few edge of your seat races have unfolded at Long Beach during its long history, though you’d never know it. Almost inconceivably, this trickery’s been going on for four decades now.

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Photo from motorsport.com

Appropriately for SoCal, the Grand Prix of Long Beach always has been upside down, like a wave riding a surfer. The ancient – at least by IndyCar standards – event is known more for its pre-race festivities and “atmosphere” than the race itself. This year’s hoopla will be highlighted by Rockford, Illinois’ own Cheap Trick in concert, a rock band from the ’70s and recent Rock ‘N Roll HOF inductee among whose best songs is, fittingly enough, “California Man.”

 

Included in the fanfare too will be an “ePrix,” a drift race and, perhaps most cryptic of all, a “Lifestyle Expo,” whatever the hell any of those are. One thing IRR‘s sure of, however. Prior to the race a must see Miss GPLB pageant will be held – not to be confused with an LGBT pageant, of course. Strictly for illustrative purposes, here’s a look at last year’s gorgeous finalists. Wonder how many “Southern Girls” are among them? Or cheap tricks?

 

Adding a crescendo to the bawdy buildup is Continue reading