Phoenix Preview: Casablanka Edition


There’s so much construction taking place at dusty ISM Raceway at present, the facility’s practically a blank slate. Fitting, as so too is the young IndyCar season. No one quite knows how it’ll all end. Exciting possibilities – and temporary setbacks – exist for all involved in the upcoming Phoenix Grand Prix.

Pondering that great roulette wheel in the desert formerly known as PIR, we couldn’t help but think of the Bogey-Bergman gin joint classic Casablanca and that even the director didn’t know the ending. Like magnificent open wheel oval racing, the thoroughly entertaining movie from 1942 winds up to a thrilling crescendo. Similar to the beloved film, IndyCar on oval tracks is unsurpassed in its splendor. Plus, there’s such an intriguing international cast; and get a load of the gams on those new Dallaras! Here’s looking at you, Phoenix.


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IndyCar tested at the soon to be reconfigured ISM (Ingenuity Sun Media, in case you’re wondering) Raceway in February. Takuma Sato led an all Rahal Lanigan Letterman revue. The prospects of Sato on pole alone are enough to conjure the stuff parts bills nightmares are made of. Judging by St. PeteContinue reading


More Oval Tracks, Please!


IRR renews its call for more rich, riveting oval track sweetness, as road races truly are the skim milk of IndyCar.

Why must the home of the world’s most famous sip of milk be in a distinct minority of race tracks? Considering two thirds of IndyCar’s races now take place on road courses – several of which are utterly unwatchable, like Mid-Ohio – the old Ovaltine ads suddenly leapt to mind, inspiring our call for ‘More oval tracks, please!’


Longtime readers are no doubt accustomed to our overt oval track preferences. It’s significant to note however that recent seasons more than bear this out. Take last year, for example. Indy, Pocono, Texas and even East St. Louis (of all places) were easily the most entertaining races of the season.

By contrast, St. PeteToronto and Watkins Glen were terrible. Happily the latter’s no longer with us – one down, two to go. It’s really no surprise as high speed, circuitous venues routinely outshine their plodding, winding yet more numerous counterparts. That is unless your idea of compelling competition is Sonoma last September – talk about sour!


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As poltroonish politicians are always saying, ‘Think of the children!’ An entire generation of young race fans now exists to whom exquisite oval races are all but alien. Two hundred mile per hour plus thrills have become waaaay too few and far between, even if you get NBC Sports. Continue reading

IndyCar ABC Supply 500 Preview: Oh No, There Goes Pocono!


With all the loose talk about the threat of nuclear annihilation lately – Guam, Chicago, why never Mid-Ohio? we wonder – IRR lights off a fifty mega-tonner in advance of the impending ABC Supply 500. With all due respect to Honda, forget about frickin’ Tokyo – there goes Pocono! Here comes Indy-zilla.

Compared to NASCAR’s Pocono show, IndyCar’s visit to the “Tricky Triangle” promises to be earth shatteringly entertaining for fans. With speeds of over 200 mph, kilotons more passing and edge of your seat, side by side racing to be expected Sunday, fans of fast will go ballistic for the season’s final 500 miler.


Will “oval hating specialist” Power won last year’s rain postponed Monday affair for Penske, though Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay (with the hyphen here to stay) turned in the drive of the race, advancing from last all the way to a podium finish.

In a bittersweet victory, the fair haired Floridian won the accident marred 2015 race that tragically claimed Justin Wilson’s life. Continue reading

Phoenix Predictions and Prognostications: Sponsors Needed


Several high profile drivers and teams remain without solid sponsorship for the season’s first oval race – a big deal around here – including the previous winner. As true IndyCar racing arrives with Saturday night’s fiesta of fast in Phoenix, it’s the lack of big, big money that rightfully has some fans concerned.


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Empty sidepods are less than desirable, especially when they adorn a super team that sometimes tends not to finish races and another that barely cracks the top ten (except for Dixon). Scott enjoyed the thirty ninth win of his storied career last year in the desert, yet three races in still hasn’t found a permanent replacement for the dearly departed Target. How 100th Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi’s car remains a blank slate is equally incomprehensible. In the spirit of ovular optimism, our special prediction is that this dearth of signage on quality competitors won’t last long.


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Speaking of money, Helio Castro-Neves Continue reading

Ways to Save Oval Racing: An Open Letter to IndyCar


Some easily accomplished changes can save the fastest and in our opinion highest form of IndyCar competition, oval track racing. Neither difficult nor expensive to implement, these improvements should be made immediately for the sake of the sport. May God save open wheel oval racing, the closest thing to spectator heaven that exists upon this earth.


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Long time fans of IndyCar racing on ovals, we’ve consistently raised alarms at their steady erosion from the schedule. At first blush the very thought of bettering side by side racing at over 200 mph seems ludicrous, but it can be done and fairly easily so. There are a number of things IndyCar needs more of to attract fans to its oval events – and one less. Among those additions are more comfort and fun. The subtraction involves putting someone in charge who appreciates IndyCar’s heritage.


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First – and this is very important – is give fans in the stands more Continue reading

Under-Reported IndyCar Rules Changes for 2016: ‘Miles of Cars’


Honda teams will not only benefit from certain aero kit rules changes for 2016, but also from mandatory sensitivity training and re-education. This is in order to avoid coming across as poor, ungracious winners to the few thousand fans worldwide who may bother to tune in and notice.


Chevy teams will not be allowed to refer to “Honda,” “aero kits,” “unfair,” “fu@%in’ Aussie” or “wanker b@$tard” during any media engagements, either on television, radio or the jihad-web. This is especially so for a certain fu@%in’ Aussie wanker b@$tard’s three Penske teammates.


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Mad Russian Mikhail Aleshin’s urine, hair and blood  Continue reading

IndyCar News Week in Review: Scary Schedule Edition


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Know Nothings on Tour: IMS President Doug Boles has been on a 100th running of the Indy 500 promo tour recently, visiting a sheet metal shop and a Studebaker museum. How nice. As if he had anything whatsoever to do with the renovations currently underway at the Speedway. Thank you, taxpayers. Meanwhile, the most significant race in history still has no title sponsor. Troublingly, under the tutelage of Boles & Miles we could see this extremely important task thoroughly screwed up, as well. Making matters worse, apparently any and all announcements about the grand and historic occasion are on hold until more money is forthcoming. Kinda like the schedule it seems, except for Boles’ day tripping. Getting a title sponsor for the centennial of open wheel racing’s greatest event should be akin to shooting fish in a barrel. Sadly it’s not with this leadership gang who couldn’t shoot straight with laser sights.


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So-Called Schedule: In possibly the worst secret – much less the worst kept secret – in the annals of racing history, IndyCar belatedly released its 2016 schedule this week to the disapproval of large and important segments of its fan base. Mark Miles lamely tried to advance the argument that each type of track – streets, roads & ovals – has five races, or conveniently one third of the schedule – excepting the streets of Belle Isle, which host two and put the total at six street races. IRR pointed out this blatant fallacy on Twitter Tuesday since many seemed to be buying it, correctly stating the ratio at more than 2 to 1 when using the real world category of road and street courses (together) versus oval tracks. Leave it to us for all your complex math needs – and to see through the propaganda.


So-Called Schedule, Part Two: There are an inordinate amount of weekends off next year, Continue reading

IndyCar Leadership’s As Existent As Bars On Mars


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.


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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.


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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

IndyCar 2015 Season Grades: CFH Racing


For Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing it was an almost Dickensian tale of two seasons, which is altogether fitting because until this year they were two teams. Josef Newgarden performed brilliantly in a break out year scoring his first two career wins, while by contrast Italian Luca Filippi and especially Ed Carpenter who platooned in the #20 car performed rather poorly.

Wins: 2

Podiums: 1

Poles: 1

Newgarden had an outstanding year, winning in fine fashion at both Barber and Toronto – where Filippi finished second – and scoring his first ever pole position at Milwaukee’s Methuselah Mile. In his best season yet, the young Tennessean came in seventh in the championship with five top fives and nine top ten finishes. He was running at the finish in thirteen out of sixteen races and remember, one of those DNFs was when Ed crashed him out at Fontana.

In ten starts on road courses, Filippi managed twenty first in the championship with the one top five and four top tens. Not having Ed to dodge helped, Continue reading

Sonoma IndyCar Finale Preview: Determined Joy Edition


The show must go on as the old saying goes and in this case the race must take place. IndyCar’s season finale will occur on Sunday and as we move on from the tragic loss of Justin Wilson we do so saddened and humbled, yet also grateful and appreciative for the decade of racing we all had rooting for him. JWil was a true gentleman and talented racer who made the world a better place; it’ll be a poorer, less joyous world without him.

IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone 500

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We hate to say it but the trajectory IndyCar’s been on lately we wouldn’t be surprised if either massive wildfires engulf the entire track this weekend or – and also God forbid – the big one finally hits California and breaks the whole kit and caboodle off into the sea, or possibly both. One seriously wonders what the formerly Golden state did to deserve such luck, until remembering Hollywood, Simi Valley, Charlie Manson, Watts, Willie Brown, Napa Valley, Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown, The Gover-nator, Riverside, and on and on and on.


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But barring such calamities or the intervention of political villains, there’ll be a champion crowned at the end of it all – funnily the race winner almost always gets overshadowed by the champ at the conclusion of the finale –  and like him or not we’re starkly faced with the fact it’ll be the last IndyCar race until at least next spring. So by God we are resolutely determined to enjoy it. Justin would have wanted us to and as we were all rudely reminded this week, one never knows when it’ll be your last race.


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The Go Pro Grand Prix of Sonoma Continue reading