UPDATE: Former N@$C@R owner and University of Missouri (!) alum Jay Frye has been hired to replace ousted Competition CEO Derrick Walker, finally. Walker’s exit was announced months ago after the exquisite race at Fontana. Frye enjoyed Red Bull backing in the ‘Clockwork Orange’ series and already had been working for IndyCar. Of course when you’ve got major problems as a series, it makes perfect sense to hire from within.
Flying Kits And Aero Fits: Renewed testing of the gawd-awful and downright dangerous aero kits will commence at Indianapolis next April, a mere month and a half in advance of the most significant race in history. Presumably this is an attempt to minimize cars flying through the air at the Brickyard as they did last May in a scene reminiscent of IMS’ early days as a US Army Air Corps aerodrome. No one can say Mark Miles and crew don’t learn from history, though it does seem to take repeated bashing over the head with it before finally sinking in.
Combining the words “IndyCar” and “leadership” in the same sentence goes beyond oxymoronic – it blasts into “Total Recall” territory (the good one with Arnold, not the remake). Put another way, the likelihood of sound decisions coming out of 16th and Georgetown is roughly equivalent to the chances of getting some water to go with that bourbon on your next visit to the red planet.
Photo from mirror.co.uk
Derrick Walker still hasn’t been replaced as President of Competition months after his resignation, there’s no announced schedule for 2016 and the interminable six month off season has only just begun. The sport’s been hemorrhaging fans, forgetting its own past and merely managing to limp along. Mark Miles was supposed to be the savior; instead he’s proven to be a dud. Otherwise, things are going well – no disaster to see here.
Photo from abcnews.go.com
In fairness it’s not all doom and gloom, just largely. Positives include competitive racing most of the season, an uptick in viewership Continue reading →
In everyone’s excitement over the announcement of Road America returning to IndyCar’s schedule after a nearly decade long absence, a crucial and rather alarming fact was overlooked. The announced date for next year’s race at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin coincides with Fontana’s late June date this year. Road America may be the greatest road course on the planet for all we care, but three of them couldn’t make up for the loss of the awe-inspiring Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. Famous for thrilling, edge of your seat oval racing, this year’s MAVTV 500 proved to be one of the greatest races many have ever witnessed. IndyCar refusing to race there next year would be the height of stupidity.
Photo from sports.usatoday.com
Not helping matters, the date of the Fontana race has been a moving target the last few years, going from season finale in 2014 to the solstice season this summer. Seems as though heat’s a huge factor for Californian race fans – as well as drought, earthquakes, wild fires & crime – though the racetrack does have lights the series has utilized to escape the heat of the day. Outgoing competition president Derrick Walker acknowledged Fontana’s issues when asked about its return recently. Although he called this year’s race one of the most entertaining races ever, his response wasn’t overly encouraging.
A couple of things struck us while reading Curt Cavin’s story in the Star on potential candidates to replace Derrick Walker. Fortunately it wasn’t flying shards of aero kit debris. The first striking item was how unfamiliar and frankly unremarkable the names on the list seem to be. Talk about vanilla! Where’s The Donald-like figure to step in and take control of IndyCar, make some waves and generate some buzz?
Photo from 1070thefan.com
IndyCar needs a guy who can turn things around – or at least act like he can – and at the same time turn a profit. Heck, IndyCar needs a president who can turn methanol into Mojitos. That guy wasn’t on Cavin’s list, at least as far as we could tell. Suggesting a NASCAR guy for God’s sake?! Come on, Curt.
Image from Indy Race Reviewer
It’s certainly not that we support Trump – or Lord knows that hairdo – although it would be a vast improvement over Walker’s Lucas Oil dome. Like many Americans however, we do admire his moxie, his tell-it-like-it-is, can-do attitude. That’s what IndyCar needs, not some mealy-mouthed, tell-you-what-you-want-to-hear politician type. That and a good dose of “you’re fired” both would help IndyCar immensely.
Walker Walks: Mark Miles announced Derrick Walker’s resignation as IndyCar President of Competition Thursday, effective at season’s end. Walker’s brief two year tenure leaves yet another void in series leadership, using the term loosely. His biggest challenge was overseeing the introduction of the costly and controversial aero kits this season in an effort to differentiate the look of the cars.
Photo from motorsport.com
Walker’s Wake: It’s become a freakin’ turnstile at 16th & Georgetown and speculation about a replacement for Walker has already begun. Curt Cavin pointed to Ganassi honcho Mike Hull as a likely replacement, but we just don’t see it. Hull has the knowledge and experience, but he’s an extremely odd duck and like Walker would struggle as a face of the series with the press. Walker’s impending departure at the end of August also means we’ve a lame duck in charge of race control for the final three races, so don’t expect an immediate uptick in rational calls or a more even application of penalties. Sadly such inconsistency will be Walker’s legacy as competition chief.
Photo from chevrolet.com
Expected Engine Infractions: Several Honda teams, including Andretti Autosport, Continue reading →
An exceptionally odd weekend unfolded at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with weather, aero kit caused crashes and high level closed door meetings all playing large roles in the dada-esque Indianapolis 500 qualifications show. Somehow IndyCar pulled it off in a single afternoon without anyone getting hurt or too many thousands of fans growing irate. Qualifications Sunday were in fact uneventful and even boring, just as the series wanted after a harrowing few days of testing, rain forcing a compressed one day schedule and another scary crash in the final practice. Carpenter’s wreck damaged the wall, delayed proceedings past the television window and eventually changed the Indianapolis 500 mile race.
Photo from Motorsports Snippets
Decreased funding this year from Target helped Scott Dixon as the third driver on track put up the fastest speed of qualifications at 226.76 mph – over 3 miles per hour off last year’s pole. It’s the New Zealander’s second Indianapolis 500 pole – last time in 2008 he dominated the race and won. “I’m so damn happy – for this team,” he blurted after being forced to watch drivers target his speed all afternoon. Continue reading →
Longtime motor sports reporter Jon Beekhuis has confirmed to Indy Race Reviewer that he will not be an IndyCar race steward for the 2015 season. His role will consist of television pit reporter with both ABC and NBCSN only. It’s set to be less busy year for Beekhuis since giving up his race steward duties he acquired late last season. As Derrick Walker recently explained of the new system under Chief Steward Brian Barnhart, three stewards will operate as a committee with majority rule on calls. Walker likened Barnhart’s position to that of a “team manager” who must consider various viewpoints and then make a decision.
Photo from indycar.com
Exactly why Beekhuis left the race control triumvirate after such a brief stay remains unclear, though he cryptically left open the possibility of a return at some point in the future, writing you “never know.” Continue reading →
Mess Kits: Aero kit testing began Sunday at NOLA and then continued Monday and Tuesday at Barber Motorsports park in nearby Alabama. The Chevys showed the speed as Target driver Scott Dixon topped day one of testing at Barber with a lap time of just over a minute and seven seconds. The NOLA laps were untimed. KV’s rookie Stefano “faster than Andretti” Coletti was second quick on day two behind Power and was in fact faster than Marco by nearly a second. Will Power‘s time of a minute seven point three seconds for Penske topped day two, which translates to a whopping 123 miles per hour on the undulating road course. Dixon’s previous track record without the benefit of aero kit still stands at nearly a second quicker than Power’s Tuesday time.
Photo from indycar.com
Accidents Happen: Rookie Ganassi driver Sage Karam broke a bone in his right hand in a scary accident leaving the track at Barber Monday. We affectionately call it Karam’s carom. Continue reading →
Aero Kits Finalized, On Strict Need To Know Basis: If you’ve already hit the pay wall you may have missed Indy Star’s wacky ‘reporter’ Curt Cavin’s piece on the more hype than substance IndyCar aero kits, Chevy and Honda’s soon to be introduced body work. Apparently the series has finalized the designs and decided to keep them secret for at least a few more days, with Derrick Walker promising a release of photos – something! – from the manufacturers “soon.” We recommend you prepare yourselves for a major let down when we finally are allowed to see them.
Images from Indy Race Reviewer
Irritatingly, Walker admitted that the designs of Chevy and Honda may not even look that dissimilar. Continue reading →