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

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IndyCar News Week in Review

  • The latest bad idea acknowledged as under consideration by series honcho Derrick Walker is canopies. That’s right, canopies on gorgeous open wheel, open cockpit cars that have had the same general look since they were invented over a century ago (DW-12 ass pods notwithstanding). Attention IndyCar brass: rich traditions and history are not mere nothings to be sloughed off by the people who happen to be in charge of IndyCar’s sacred stewardship at the moment.

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  • Rather than using unsightly canopies, we suggest airbags as alternatives. Advanced, ultra-safe airbags similar to but stronger than those in passenger cars could solve the perceived problem, which is protecting drivers’ heads during catastrophic collisions. They would accomplish the goal without altering the characteristic open-topped aesthetic appeal of IndyCars. In keeping with another hallowed and ancient IndyCar tradition, the development of such revolutionary airbag technology has all sorts of safety applications for the citizenry, from motorbikes to passenger vehicles to the military. This would enhance IndyCar’s long legacy of safety and technology innovations – including rear view mirrors and safer barriers – while not radically altering tradition, the unique look or inherent riskiness of the sport.

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Photo from autoevolution.com

  • Honda’s misery deepens as they continue to lose teams as well as championships. Most recently the newly fused Carpenter-Fisher-Hartman Team announced they’d be utilizing Chevrolet power in 2015. This wasn’t surprising considering ECR’s success this year using Chevy to the tune of three wins, a podium and pole position at Indianapolis. On the other side of the steering wheel SFHR and Josef Newgarden didn’t wow the crowds with Honda in 2014 and willingly accepted the change for next year. Big things are expected of the newly merged team, due in part to the bow tie power plants. Of course the aero-kits of both Honda and Chevy and their overall effects upon the racing in 2015 remain to be seen and are a true wildcard. They’re supposed to make the cars faster.

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Photo from espn.go.com

  • As for silly season news, there really is none. Interestingly, Frenchman Simon Pagenaud who’s been driving for Sam Schmidt the last few years is the hot free agent this off season. Recent rumors linked him to Penske, whereas earlier rumors had him at Andretti. No signing has been announced as of yet, so it’s all been pure speculation. IRR only knows this – we’d hire him.

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Photo from pinterest.com

  • The final bit o’ IndyCar news this week concerns the schedule. The long rumored race in Brazil – at yet another new venue in the capital Brasilia apparently made with leftovers from the World Cup building frenzy – will in fact take place early March, 2015.  Unfortunately it’s an additional street course. This flies in the face of IRR’s sound advice to the series to instead race in Colombia, which is not only a nicer and safer destination for tourists but also the home nation of no fewer than four series participants, three of whom swept one of the podia in Houston this year. But no, IndyCar seems determined to go about things in the same old way while expecting different results – and that’s just crazy.

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Photo from blogs.wsj.com

  • In spite of IndyCar’s obtuseness and flat out refusal to accept our wise counsel, we’ll conclude by  offering a few other helpful bits of advice. First, include more oval tracks on the schedule, as they are the sport’s heritage and provide by far the best racing. Second, start listening to your fans and supporters while you still have some left. And third, can the campy canopy idea.

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Photo from leicestermercury.co.uk

  • On a related note, there was some international news this week as Scotland voted whether to secede from the United Kingdom and discard a mutually beneficial and peaceful union of three hundred and seven years. Fortunately for most concerned including the United States, the large majority of Scots kept their senses and voted no. The IndyCar connection? It’s three time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, tiny Scotland’s only recent series participant. The former driver’s stance on the historic decision of his countrymen when asked directly by an IRR reporter? A resounding no comment.

Interesting Ideas for International IndyCar Races

While the 2015 IndyCar schedule hasn’t been formally announced yet and several questions remain, the idea of an international portion of the schedule has existed for years coming out of the Boston Consulting Group’s recommendations to improve IndyCar. Overseas races are nothing new, as CART in particular made several foreign forays going back to the 1980s and 1990s. On the whole, these haven’t tended to be successful events. Nevertheless, IndyCar is rumored to be considering places like Dubai in the Middle East and yet another new venue in Brazil. Ugh.

Since the current leadership at 16th and Georgetown is taking their sweet time in announcing where the racing will occur next year, we thought it would be helpful to propose some interesting ideas for international IndyCar races for Mssrs. Miles, Walker and Cotman to consider. Besides, it’s about time to dust off the passport and continue filling it up with stamps – 18 and counting!

South America:

IndyCar trips traditionally have been to Brazil, but it may be time for a change. Brazilian drivers have been an important part of the series for decades now going back to Indy 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi. However, the interest in IndyCar seems to be moving north away from Brazil and toward Colombia. Well it should. 

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Photo from seecolombia.travel

This very year Colombians Huertas, Munoz and Montoya swept the podium at a race in Houston and they now outnumber the Brazilian drivers in the series. With that in mind IndyCar brass should consider a race in Colombia, which has advanced far beyond the drug cartel and FARC violence of the 1980s and is now a welcoming destination for American tourists. From beaches to mountains, Colombia has much to offer with the added benefit of being a shorter trip than Brazil. Crowds will throng to see their fellow Colombians race – can you imagine the reception Montoya would receive?

Europe:

When it comes to racing on the Continent it’s a far more complex proposition due to a variety of factors. Drivers from Britain, France, Italy and even Russia currently compete in the IndyCar series. Obviously F-1 races primarily in Europe along with some foreign dates as well, so saturation becomes a consideration. Some countries like Switzerland have even outlawed motor racing, adding another layer of complexity. With the number of British drivers and the common culture, a race in the UK makes imminent sense. It could be held either at Brand’s Hatch or another existing circuit, unless ol’ David Cameron’s willing to build a nice short oval in the southeast in Kent.

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One area of exciting potential lies in central and eastern Europe. Other than the Austria Grand Prix and Hungary Grand Prix, there aren’t any big league races in this portion of the old world providing an opening for IndyCar. Eastern Europeans absolutely adore Americans (unlike some other western Europeans) and would welcome the economic and cultural exchange. From personal experience Bratislava, Prague and Vienna are all historic, beautiful and pleasant cities to visit and the people are lovely. The beer, wine and food are outstanding. This area would be a rewarding choice for drivers and fans alike.

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Austral-Asia:

Due to the distances involved, visits to Australia and Asia obviously would be combined. Start off at the established track on Australia’s east coast with the streets of Surfer’s Paradise. The event has history and has done decently in the past, not to mention all the Aussies and New Zealanders in the series including the champ. There’s also the common language for the most part, and good beer. From there, it’s on to Asia – with a twist.

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Photo from beertripper.com

IndyCar already lacks oval tracks on the schedule and this is exacerbated by overseas racing where oval tracks are even rarer. So make an offer to nations from India to South Korea – build a state of the art mile and a half to two mile oval track with the necessary infrastructure and amenities and IndyCar will guarantee races there for the next decade. That offer in addition to the positive publicity and tourism potential may well attract some interest on mainland Asia and be the start of a long term racing relationship with the highest bidder. It’s a win-win-win as more exciting oval racing would be added along with an exotic foreign destination, plus reaching the millions of potential race fans there.