IndyCar Grand Prix Race Review: Bush League Stuff

quintana2youtubecom

Image from youtube

When winner Will Power’s accent degenerates to the point where it’s more affectation than Aussie, you know you’ve landed in IndyCar’s outback. The predictable and unpalatable Penske win from pole was the Cap’n’s 200th in the sport. It was also, to quote Quintana, “bush league stuff.”

During ABC’s unremarkable, out-the-door-and-it-shows pre-race show, Scott Goodyear pontificated that he wasn’t sure his fellow Canuck Robert Wickens “is a rookie.” Well Mr. also-ran, we’re positive that he is. Next, Power predicted a good race with “lots of passing,” all merely proving that he’s a better driver than prognosticator.

chairmangeorge

The GP’s Great Leader Tony George gave the command to start engines while in the booth they droned on about the perils of turn 1. Upon taking the green they went at least four wide in what’s hopefully a harbinger of things to come in the 500, going hard into the sharp right hander that is the GP’s first turn. By turn 2 there was the predictable trouble on track.

Upon first glance and according to the booth, ECR’s rookie Jordan King hit Pags, sending both off course and into the gravel pit. After starting seventh, Pags was able to keep it going and bring it home to a respectable eighth place showing. On the same opening lap, Pigot also ran off course after hitting a curb and wildly flying through the air, hitting an unfortunate Sato after landing and bouncing. Poor Spencer was penalized for the avoidable contact, but soldiered on to finish 15th. Meanwhile, his teammate King got stuck in the gravel trap, bringing out the first caution of the day.

Cutting through the ABC crew’s confusion, replays showed Pags only went wide after being hit by his teammate Helio, who is as you may have heard fresh off retirement. Only then, and after checking up, Continue reading

Advertisements

IndyCar IndyCar Grand Prix Preview: F-ing F-1’s F-ing F-Up

TGandBernieadobecom

Photo from stock.adobe.com

The cash cow that is the IndyCar GP originated with one of Tony George’s more hair-brained schemes, which feels kinda like invoking one of John Wayne Gacy’s nastier nights.

During the darkest days of the split, George and Formula 1 Boss Billionaire Bernie Ecclestone appropriately pioneered running ass-backward through the Brickyard’s infield in 2000. This f-ing terrific idea lasted exactly eight races – and that’s if you count 2005 when, due to a Michelin tire fiasco, only six cars bothered to race. Michael Schumacher won it five times and would have won a sixth had he not let his teammate Rubens Barrichello triumph in 2002. Sounds like a worthy addition to the world’s greatest racetrack, doesn’t it?

USGP05maxf1net.jpg

Photo from maxf1.net

During its thankfully brief life, the U.S. Grand Prix played in front of fractionally full “crowds” in the grandstands at the cost of tens of millions of dollars in demolition and new construction at the nearly century old facility. The infield was completely reconfigured for the grand prix, negatively affecting stands, viewing mounds and sight lines for fans of the historic Indy 500. That’s not to mention George’s even stupider idea of bringing NASCAR to the hallowed grounds of IMS, but that’s for another article.

Fast forward seven years to 2014 when the Indy GP assumed the former f-ing F-1 race, but only after more alterations to the Speedway. For IndyCar, it’s a non-entity of an event with a non-title, holding absolutely no entertainment value. Come to think of it, it’s a lot like the old F-1 race in many respects. There should be more than six cars rolling off on Saturday, at least.  Continue reading

Danica + Ed at Indy: Extremely Strange Bedfellows

1dpusatodaycom

Photo from usatoday.com

IRR unearthed some highly disparaging comments Carpenter made about the female phenom when they were erstwhile competitors in the Indy Racing League.

By now everyone’s heard that Danica has landed at Ed Carpenter Racing for her swan song 500 in May. Lots and lots of niceties have been written about Danica‘s long overdue departure from motor racing, mostly centering on her solitary win at Japan in 2008 and more recently her accidental “slip” team reveal regarding Indy. Oopsie daisy!

edcarpenterindystarcom

Photo from indystar.com

None of the innumerable articles written recently dared to mention this beauty we came across in our exhaustive research, though. The quote is from July 2006 and sprang forth fully formed from the mouth of Danica’s new owner, Ed Carpenter. It was in response to a question about her potential in NASCAR, still years in the future at that point.  Continue reading

Even IndyCar’s Elites Are Starting To Get It

chairmanmiles.jpg

The more persuadable of our betters are finally beginning to fully realize the fickle mood of folks at present, and not just those in positions of political power. Feeling the heat, it seems as though elites everywhere are actually taking note and doing what a majority of people (e.g. those who pay for it) want done.  It’s none too soon either, lest the torch bearing mobs come out.

Mark Miles Flying Circus

IndyCar CEO Mark Miles is only the most recent example of a muckety muck for once not mucking things up, a trend stretching from Brexit-ing Brits battling Brussels bureaucrats all the way to Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. And happily now even Indianapolis. Actual accountability to those paying the bills is a damned welcome change, even in racing.

acwobuschcrm114

According to a recent article by Brant James, Miles had many positive items to report, including recommendations Continue reading

By George, Tony’s Back

tonygeorgetwittercom.jpg

Photo from twitter.com

The return of a familiar face at IMS raises hopes for a brighter future for IndyCar.

News broke Sunday at the breathtakingly boring Brickyard 400 that Tony George has been elected as the new Chairman of the Board at both Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its parent corporation Hulman & Co. George, who founded the Indy Racing League in 1995 and presided over reunification after the end of the split in 2008, is back after a four year hiatus. Start your engines – and your whining – race fans.

tgkalkcaranddrivercom

Photo from caranddriver.com

Establishment IndyCar hack Brant James described George’s return to his former positions as “unnerving” in his piece for USA Today, referring to him as “a polarizing figure.” We disagree and call it an extremely encouraging move in the right direction by the board. Continue reading

Iowa Predictions And Prognostications: Predictable Edition

We hate to admit it about one of our favorite tracks, but Iowa’s grown predictable in IndyCar’s ass pods era. The racing’s still as exciting as all get out, but one team’s dull dominance is indisputable.

Jul 18, 2015; Newton, IA, USA; IndyCar Series driver Ryan Hunter-Reay (28) reacts after winning the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: USATSI-230374 ORIG FILE ID:  20150718_lbm_ad1_319.JPG

Photo from sports.usatoday.com

Iowa Speedway turning ten this year is surreal, as it seems like only yesterday the shiny, new oval was fortuitously added to the schedule. Its awe inspiring oval track racing is spectacular to behold. Thank you, Tony George. With absolutely no transition needed, predicting controversy at an IndyCar race in summertime is like shooting fish in a barrel. Our special prediction for the race is tempers flaring and gestures flying. Anyone can see it coming 7/8s of a mile away.

edsageusatodaycom

Photo from usatoday.com

It was only a year ago when George’s step son, Ed “never finishes” Carpenter, showily stomped into Sage Karam‘s pit after taking exception to his driving – and to being out driven. Fingers waved and tongues wagged, but no punches were thrown – it’s IndyCar not NASCAR, after all. Continue reading

How IndyCar Is Like Bernie: A Study In Socialism

indycarnewlogotaxpayers

IndyCar and The Bern share several similarities, surprisingly. They’re extremely popular amongst a certain smallish segment of the population, about a century old and hoping to upset a younger favorite who enjoys better press.

It’s astonishing just how many things IndyCar and Senator Sanders share in common. So much so that perhaps the series should consider renaming them “Bern outs.” You’re probably asking yourself, how can a Socialist from Vermont be anything like a “greedy corporation,” as he’s fond of disparaging? Primarily, both have a demonstrated admiration for socialism. Translated as a central authority (e.g. the federal government or the Board of Directors) exercising vast control over people’s money and freedoms, racing rulers and politicians already do this in spades. Regardless whether it’s government or racing, we the fans pay for it all. “Fairness,” huh?

berniewashingtontimescom.jpg

Photo from washingtontimes.com

IndyCar’s “Leaders Circle” approach to prize money is, at its base, pure redistributionist socialism. Referred to as “profit sharing,” similar models exist in major league baseball and football as well. Sports’ version of the Marxist principle that we must redistribute wealth, it’s another example of how Bernie’s way has crept into all aspects of modern life, often going unnoticed. Under these strict rules, successful teams are forced to subsidize unsuccessful teams – or the “less fortunate” – to the tune of millions of dollars every year. As every IndyCar fan knows, encouraging more teams like Dale Coyne’s is precisely NOT what’s needed.

draconespindailymailcouk

Photos from dailymail.co.uk

Problem is, there’s no real choice. Owners, sponsors and teams are required (i.e. forced) to share the wealth, or else. In common practice and to most Americans, freedom is all about choices. Under socialism, there just aren’t any. Continue reading

We’re Thankful For IndyCar

AJtoledobladecom

Photo from toledoblade.com

We’re thankful for IndyCar and all its glory,

For Helio and Will’s tight championship story.

We’re grateful for speed and artistry on wheels –

And AJ’s recovery, in hopes that he heals. 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.

bhmotorauthoritycom

Photo from motorauthority.com

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.

rpusatodaycom1

Photo from usatoday.com

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.

cc1070thefancom

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.

NOLAindycarcom

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.

ACSaporg

Photo from ap.org

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.

100_3392

Photo from IndyRaceReviewer

IndyCar’s Great Schism: A Brief Comparative History of the Split, Part 2

In early 1996 the IRL held its first race in Orlando, Florida, proving naysayers who’d predicted the series would never turn a lap wrong. Making the most of his Papal power with an ultimatum of his own, George instituted the controversial 25/8 rule that year for Indy 500 qualifications, reserving 25 of the traditional 33 starting spots for IRL teams, in practice shutting out (all but a few) CART teams. As Hinton wrote, Tony George “didn’t want partners” and he didn’t want to deal  with the corrupt CART Cardinals, either. They protested George’s Papal Bull by not participating in the Indy 500, instead doing the unthinkable and holding a competing race in Michigan called the “U.S. 500.” Clearly IndyCar’s Great Schism wasn’t going away anytime soon.

us500aporg

Photo from ap.org

The upstart U.S. 500 – the Avignon of motorsports – featured plenty of controversy of its own. A first lap, front row pileup led to a hasty decision to allow the affected drivers to restart the halted race in backup cars from their previous positions – with no penalty. Pole sitter Jimmy Vasser, who’d been involved in the opening lap melee, went on to win the race. The conflicting open wheel events that Memorial Day Weekend in 1996 set the tone for the entire split, as to many observers both sides appeared misguided, mad and wrong. In retrospect, that Sunday clearly was the nadir of the sport.

antiCARTfanscaranddrivercom

Photo from caranddriver.com

As in Church history some principles in the open wheel war changed their minds and dramatically switched sides. By 2002, former CART Cardinal Roger Penske had defected to the IRL and was back at the Indy 500. CART loyalist Chip Ganassi had won the 500 with Juan Pablo Montoya in 2000 and became a full time member of George’s series in 2003. The hand writing was on the wall in Gasoline Alley. Trouble is, the owners of CART weren’t in Indy to read it. Left with the carcass of CART were the likes of Jimmy Vasser, Australian Kevin Kalkhoven and the unlikable air conditioning magnate Jerry Forsythe, who together with others would struggle in vain for the next four years to keep CART alive, merely prolonging the ordeal.

vasserkalkautosportcom

Photo from autosport.com

Both the IRL and IndyCar’s schism lasted thirteen years in total, obviously an ominous period of time. This, along with thirty years of the owners’ Babylonian Captivity, had taken a toll. In 2008, after lengthy negotiations and previous failed attempts George finally reached a deal to purchase and absorb what was left of the former CART series, creating a unified series called IndyCar. Once the Council of Indianapolis was underway it wouldn’t be long before a new Pope Martin would be elevated and the Schism would finally be brought to an acceptable and merciful end. While the corrosive split now appeared in the rear view mirror, as with the Church’s Great Schism much of IndyCar’s magic, appeal and luster had been squandered, lost – possibly forever.

tgkalkcaranddrivercom

Photo from caranddriver.com

As Hinton noted, in one sense George had won the open wheel war and emerged in command, just as he’d envisioned. In another sense he’d lost, as IndyCar had become what CART had been and he’d hated, swerving away from its oval racing American roots. To make matters worse, the series had been lapped by NASCAR during the war. George himself – now the undisputed Pope – lasted barely a year in the position, when his own sisters ousted him for his sins. This abruptly ended his free-spending and grandiose Pontificate and opened the door for the transitional Randy Bernard, the Pope Martin of IndyCar.

rbautosportcom

martinvquizletcom

Photos from autosport.com and quizlet.com

Attendance, viewership, media coverage and public perception all suffered mightily during the split, along with the prestige of IndyCar and most troubling of all its Holiest of Holies, the Indianapolis 500. Divided down the middle, the two open wheel series not only bitterly opposed one another as did their adherents, but also lessened the overall standing of the entire institution in the public’s eyes, precisely as the Great Schism had done to the Church six hundred years earlier.

splittvratingsamericanpopularculturecom

Chart from americanpopularculture.com

The Indy 500 was negatively affected over the years as it and its series faced stiff competition from CART then from Champ Car and finally, from apathy. Sadly during the protracted conflict both sides had faded in NASCAR’s dust. The media coverage of the series quickly had become divided and reduced during the schism, adding to the sickening spiral of decline in IndyCar. After bankruptcy, a name change and ultimately imminent failure, remaining CART true believers finally saw the error of their ways and sold out. The few dead-enders who hadn’t already come back to the IRL fold like Vasser and Kalkhoven either did so or simply refused and instead closed up shop, such as the peevish Forsythe.

100_3151

On the bright side, the respective Great Schisms taught invaluable lessons, even if they weren’t immediately or in some cases ever put to use. One could argue that positive motivations drove all of the competing sides during both splits, with generally good people fighting for what they believed in and loved, although egos and base emotions certainly played their roles in these surprisingly similar sagas.  One could also argue that human nature took over – as it always does – and egos and arrogance crept in where good intentions retreated or never existed. This sometimes happens even with good, high-minded people supporting diametrically opposed yet compelling causes.

Happily, these devastating divides finally ended after decades of acrimony and destruction and the respective institutions somehow survived and have moved forward. Like Church members in the fifteenth century when the great Schism was still recent, IndyCar fans today hopefully await the arrival of badly needed reforms. Sadly, such reformation wouldn’t come to the Church for over a century after the Schism’s end. Let’s hope it doesn’t take a fifteenth that long for IndyCar to see the light and complete its penance, so that a true American open wheel Renaissance may begin.