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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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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IndyCar News Week in Review: The More Things Change Edition

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New Year, New Look . . . Next Year: So-called “uniform body kits,” spec chassis set to replace the aborted IndyCar aero kits, will be previewed in a test on February 10th at PIR. Unfortunately, they’re not set to debut in action until 2018. Brant James recently agreed with us on the egregious aero kits, writing of the “unpopular and expensive assemblies” going away after this season – and none too soon.

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He also quoted IndyCar president of competition ol’ Jay Frye on the mysterious appearance of the forthcoming chassis, who cited “cool” looking “bits and pieces” from “the past twenty years,” with “a lot of retro.”  Encouragingly, Frye claimed the new design would be “lower, sleeker, what an IndyCar has historically looked like.” Perhaps over-promising, the competition president predicted the experience would be “aesthetically exciting for the fans.” Depends upon the quality of the grid girls, obviously. Chassis that aren’t aesthetically appalling would be an improvement, and we hope he’s not speaking of NASCAR fans.

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Optimism Abounds, Apparently: Between Frye’s gushing about the next generation of chassis and Mark Miles‘ ebullience about Continue reading

IndyCar In China Chatter: Our Enlightened Take

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Mark Miles – who’s starting to resemble an unfortunate cross between “Baghdad Bob” from Saddam’s days and the current White house spokesman – was forced to issue a statement Monday acknowledging talks for a race in Beijing in October. In this latest release he admitted the event had “not been finalized,” noting that “a number of important issues” remain unresolved. He concluded by citing “hope” for an update on the negotiations in June.  As you can imagine, we’ve several thoughts on the matter.

First of all, China? The economic and military rival busily building military bases on appropriated islands from our allies like the Philippines and Japan? The major U.S. debt holding nation that recently threatened to do in our economy if our one sided trade policy is somehow altered?  The currency manipulating country routinely running up record trade imbalances with the U.S.? The Communist run place with no web freedom, much less religious freedom? That China?!?

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Chairman Miles’ incompetence is grotesquely on display yet again, rivaling that of Chairman Mao and his disastrous “Great Leap Forward.” His press release comes on the heels of yet another humiliating race cancellation – this time not in a third world country but on the east coast. Continue reading

GPLB Predictions and Prognostications: The Bright Side of Long Beach

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To paraphrase Monty Python’s Eric Idle, the Grand Prix of Long Beach often tends to be “a piece of sh*t, when you look at it. The racing’s a laugh and passing’s a joke – it’s true.”

 

First up, we predict lots of celebrities, beautiful people and an out of this world atmosphere this weekend at Long Beach. Everything and more will be on display, except for entertaining IndyCar racing. At Long Beach and certain other left-right-left courses, it’s predictably poor racing. On the bright side, with a schedule chock full of lengthy layoffs almost any race is better than no race at all – unless it’s maudlin Mid-Ohio, that is.

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“When you’re chewing on life’s gristle, don’t grumble – give a whistle. And this’ll help things turn out for the best.”

Expect to see plenty of carbon fiber debris to be generated on the narrow, concrete walled circuit and concomitant lengthy caution periods. There’s also a high likelihood of another infamous hairpin pileup-cum-parking lot this year, especially with so many rookies, f-ing F1 invaders and Marco in the field. On the bright side, Continue reading

Top Fifteen IndyCar Stories of 2015

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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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Florida? Sounds Fun: Continue reading

Brazilian Bust: IndyCar Told ‘Tough Tittie’

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The latest IndyCar scheduling disaster had local Brazilian authorities unilaterally cancel the March 8 season opener barely a month before the nearly sold out event. The announcement Thursday afternoon by the promoter in Brazil took the series completely by surprise and has overshadowed all other news this week, including a drivers’ meeting and the announcement of Brian Barnhart’s return as race director. It’s not the kind of news IndyCar needs, representing yet another crisis at 16th and Georgetown.

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Image from Indy Race Reviewer

The league’s point man in Brazil Tony Cotman has been telling us for months that construction on the circuit is “on schedule” and would be completed in time for the event. Continue reading

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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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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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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Imagine Attaining Schedule Perfection

Imagine attaining schedule perfection

On the day of a nation-wide election,

Where there are ovals aplenty

With fans following intently

And no worries of trips to Dubai.

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Continue reading