Like most American kids that grew up in the 80's I watched the Indy 500 every year and became interested in motorsports thanks to that race, but I didn't really get hooked until I started watching Formula 1 racing in the late 90's. My favorite era were those years with the great Mika Hakkinen/Michael Schumacher battles. (I was a Mika Hakkinen fan) So my fondness for Formula 1 waned once Mika retired and Schumacher started winning everything, even at the expense of his teammate Rubens Barrichello. My interest in F1 has only been lukewarm since.

Then I turned to Champ Car racing here in the US for my motorsports fix. However that was quickly extinguished once Champ Car and Indy Car merged and we were stuck with Tony George and his many foibles. (It was entertaining to watch the Hulman/George drama I'll admit.) My interest has been less than lukewarm with Indy Car lately, even without Tony George at the helm.

Over time however, the excitement I once had for motorsports has slowly gone. Maybe it has to do with my age, I don't know. But I think I will pour my efforts into my Trooper and my interests in the outdoors to add excitement to my life.

Thanks for checking out my blog, I hope you enjoy it. I will still post racing news when I find something interesting or noteworthy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Obi-Wan wisdom

(crapwagon.com 9-28-08)



At some point in the near future it seems likely to me that the Hulman-George family will have to consider shuttering the Indy Racing League and continuing with only the Indianapolis 500. According to most accounts the IRL hasn’t made a dime of profit in more than a dozen years of existence and the Hulman-Georges have only ever had the profitability of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in mind; so, why not cut the dead weight of the series and resource the TEAM program to underwrite the only race that matters to anyone?

It’s almost certain that Honda wouldn’t object to supplying Ilmor engines to teams on a month-of-May-only lease basis – annual lease cost to the teams would be less and Honda could charge closer to what they actually cost - as the Japanese carmaker would get the “prestige” of winning the 500 every year.

As for the IndyCar teams and existing or potential sponsors, the 500 is their only marketable exposure; cost of participation would be reduced and that would bring team sponsorship more in line with its ROI. There is an existing inventory of racecars and engines sufficient to supply 33 grid spots annually for years to come and the 500 could be operated in the same way it was for decades early in the 20th century: i.e. “Indy only” teams headquartered in or near Indianapolis that dust off their racecars once a year and use the month of May to blow out the cobwebs and bring engineers and drivers up to speed (literally).

This should make everyone in Marion County happy; the Gomers would get their annual Gomerfest at the only racetrack that means anything to them and the Hulman-Georges could start to trim the expenses of the four or five annual motorsport events (including the 500) that would make up the IMS calendar to increase their profits.

For instance, once the ICS TEAM subsidy has been used to initially supply the teams with chassis, spares and engine leases, it could be tapered off to subsidize only the engine lease (as teams should be responsible for new chassis and consumables and/or crash damage) and the 500 could go back to being supported by its purse. Speaking of chassis, Indy could return to its days of Offenhauser domination where an Indycar’s engine was a given and only the chassis differed in order to reintroduce innovation to the 500.

In fact, if Ilmor and Honda get uppity the Speedway management could buy up the rights to the Offenhauser design and start to supply the 500's teams with the tried-and-true turbocharged four-cylinders; which Robin Miller says is the next engine formula anyway. If the transition is managed smoothly enough, the 500 could be returned to its state in the late 1960s or early 1970s overnight: teams of backyard tuners turning out discreet Indycar chassis and their own tune of turbo Offenhauser (maybe change its name to “Hulmanhauser” or “Huffy”).

The House of Mouse (ABC/ESPN) would probably be just fine with paying the same broadcast fee for the retro-500 alone and reduced TV production costs profit everyone concerned. Versus wasn’t going to do anything for anyone; it will be forgotten in an instant.

Overnight, all the Hulman-George family troubles melt away. Tony gets to wheel Mari out to do the “Gentlemen and ladies start your engines” bit for the 500 ... and the Allstate 400 (if they’ll let her) ... and the Firestone Freedom 100 (if they’ll let her) ... and the MotoGP (if they’ll let her) ... and the USGP (if it comes back and they’ll let her) ... and the IROC, USAC, balloon and bicycle races (ditto) ... and he gets to pretend that he is still the BMOS and that he has swell new emperor’s clothes.

Pretty soon, everyone in Naptown will forget about that nasty business with the rival open-wheel series and get back to planning Camp & Brew picnics and worshipping at the altar of the Hulmans.

Crazy? You wait and see

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

champcar fanatics

(posted on 9-24-08)

-Donath
. . . just outright shillin'!

...Two more years of the ugly car with the loud engine and the Big 3 having everything their way is not endearing in any way, shape or form. But we’re stuck with it – nothing is going to change before 2011 and all the bitching and moaning you and I do won’t make TG change his mind. The hope is for a couple new engine manufacturers to come in and pour in some much-needed money and that Dallara will build something sexy and zoomy. - Robin Shiller

How 'bout you write how bad it is every day like you did when CCWS was suckin'?

-Southpilot
It's a RED FLAG to IRL teams, drivers and sponsors everytime they hear "wait until 2011". It's quite sickening and obvious why TG wants to wait. It has nothing to do with improvement of the car or openwheel racing. That is the year of his Mindy Centennial which he stupidly gave up everything to fund and now he can't bear that he may have killed the sport before he gets to celebrate its 100th birthday in Mindy. He knows how stupid he'll look. So instead of swallowing his pride, TG is trying to keep a 97 yr old legally dead patient on life support for 3 more years so he can say they lived to a hundred and throw the party of his lifetime!!!!! That is all he cares about. The rest is lies and lines that people in the business should know better than to accept. Is it in any way fair to all the drivers, teams, sponsors, employees, venues and cities? That kind of a wait under such circumstances will take its toll - a much heavier one than what he has already done this year to openwheel racing. Next year will be even worse for them than this year was, they will all get it by then. But it will be too late. The year after will be a total nightmare that most current drivers and teams will never recover from. By the time they get to 2011 there may be only 5-6 teams left - all verging on bankruptcy. And yet TG will smile as he lights the birthday candles and cuts the cake. As soon as the party is over, he'll say "Oh, I see it isn't going to improve" and he's going to pull the plug and leave them all high and dry (probably a sweet revenge against some that he secretly holds - we won't mention any names, Cap'n). He doesn't care about them and you can't run a business like that. In the end, no one will want to work for him. So any that ignore that HUGE RED FLAG which is being waved in their face daily, and stay on with him anyway, realizing that the sport is going to fail along with their own interests and future, then they will get what they deserve. On the other hand, if they are smart and see the writing on the wall NOW, and find ALMS or someone who is truly passionate and dedicated to openwheel to lead them (ie: Ben Johnson) then they might be part of a truly GOOD future that includes prosperity, opportunity and great racing. IMHO

The Panoz DP-01, "the one"

"The One" as it became known was the new car ChampCar pinned it's hopes on to revitalize the series and it did just that, until the series itself was sold off and this beauty was forced into retirement way way too soon. Or could it be that the remaining chassis are tucked away in a racing garage somewhere waiting to come out of retirement to be used in a new series? Those are the rumors anyway, I guess we will have to wait and see.....and dream.









Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Obi-Wan wisdom

(crapwagon.com 9-23-08)
(responding to a recent question and answer session with Robin "Cave-in" Miller)

Question: “...Can you explain why Dallara is the only chassis available and why. What kind of contract do they have. When will it expire?...”

Cavin: “Thanks for your long-distance note. The IndyCar Series has stuck with one chassis supplier because it's difficult for a manufacturer to make money on a series such as this with so few cars.”

Question: “I was just wondering if the IRL and Honda plans to add horsepower to the cars for the the road and street courses next year. Like other race fans have been commenting else where, I think the cars look painfully slow on those circuits. Does the IRL even acknowledge this? Do you think they even they think it needs fixing? (Angel, Lafayette, Ind.)”

Cavin: “I've asked about this and there appears to be no current movement toward it for Australia.”


Obi-Wan


Loving it!

Did anyone notice how Cave-in didn’t answer the reader’s question about more horsepower for road and street courses? The reader asked him about horsepower levels for next year and Cave-in replied with a bogus pseudo-answer about horsepower levels at one event (Surfers) this year.

I suspect the reasons for this lack of response are (a) Cave-in and the IRL “brain trust” hasn’t got a clue about possible horsepower changes and (b) an actual answer would disclose just how far up the creek without a paddle the sport really is.

What’s the actual answer to the reader’s question? Simply that the IRL’s engine formula as it currently stands can’t get there from here.

For a Champ Car fan, me, this is a very satisfying dilemma for Tony and his tools to be facing; because it means that they were hoisted on their own petard.

Without getting into specifics, here is what happened:

Two years before the IRL adopted its current engine formula circa 2002, the auto manufacturers of CART saw the handwriting on the wall and allowed themselves to be seduced by the prospect of the two rival open-wheel series using equipment in common.

George had let it known that his league might consider modifying its upcoming engine formula but insisted that it be a normally-aspirated one.

CART then was faced with the problem that George is now: racecars engaged in road and street races require more horsepower to do them right than do racecars taking part in oval races.

To make it simple, the normally-aspirated engine formula being proposed by the IRL for its use had a practical limit of about 650 bhp; which Tony George figured was about perfect for Indy. With some added performance features, the actual engine formula that was adopted by the league topped out at around 670 bhp. That figure was arrived at after an engine “war” between Honda, Toyota, and Chevrolet/Cosworth, so I think it can be assumed to be close to the practical limits of the formula.

For its needs, however, CART needed a lot more horsepower than that – at least 100 bhp more – to properly race on road and street courses. So, the engine formula being proposed for the IRL couldn’t satisfy the needs of the CART manufacturers. Having sold themselves on a “common” engine formula, however, the engine manufacturers in CART entered into serious discussions with the IRL and its engine manufacturers about modifying their upcoming engine formula to accommodate the needs of manufacturers in both series.

A Toyota engineer came up with a theoretical solution to the problem; it specified a normally-aspirated engine that was capable of much higher rpm than the IRL’s proposed 10,300 rpm limit and use of a sonic orifice (restrictor plate) to limit engine rpm instead of a rev-limiter. This would allow for a lower-rpm IRL version of the shared engine that met the league’s horsepower requirements and a higher-rpm CART version with significantly greater horsepower.

The IRL discussed the modifications to its proposed engine architecture that would allow for the higher-revving CART normally-aspirated engine but in the end adopted an engine formula relatively unchanged from the 2000-2002 IRL specifications. In retrospect it appears that the supposed willingness of the IRL to discuss changes to its engine formula was merely a ploy to try to woo CART’s engine manufacturers into Tony’s fold.

After Toyota took the bait and unilaterally adopted the IRL engine formula as proposed, the league felt no pressure to move forward with a dual-purpose powerplant and it adopted the 2000-2002 engine rules almost without change. About the only concession the league made to CART’s engine manufacturers was a rule change allowing for a second fuel injection nozzle per cylinder that permitted the broader midrange power band needed for road racing. Since the formula didn’t allow the higher rpm and horsepower requirements of CART, however, the IRL changes were meaningless (as no doubt intended).

I speculate that once Toyota and Honda decided to defect to the IRL (in 2001 and 2002 respectively), leaving only Cosworth to support the Champ Car series, they concluded that CART -- with its schedule top-heavy with road races -- was not long for this world. Consequently, the Japanese auto makers took for granted that American open-wheel motor sport would soon be an all-oval affair and they need not concern themselves about the requirements of road racing.

This, then, is where Tony George and the ICS finds itself: stuck with an all-oval engine formula from 2003 that is unsuited for the road races that the league has now undertaken.

The delicious irony is that the same engine formula that George once used to destabilize CART due to its incompatibility with the requirements of road racing has now come full circle to bite him on the ass.

That is why, IMO, the IRL is now trying to interest car makers in supporting a turbocharged engine formula; it is CART’s tried-and-true engine solution applied to Tony’s CART II.

Will it work? Not if you ask me. If no auto manufacturers other than Honda sign up in support of the new turbocharged formula – and they’d be fools if they did – there isn’t enough money in the ICS to underwrite a new formula.

The current Dallara-Honda tops out at 670 bhp and at that horsepower it is dangerously unstable on speedways; having a tendency to fly and to snap-spin and arrow into speedway walls backwards. That’s way the current Dallara is festooned with aerodynamic add-ons and Honda’s Ilmor engine has been detuned to produce less horsepower and more durability.

Thus, the Dallara-Honda is barely suited to speedway work and almost completely unsuited for road racing. To properly go road racing the ICS is going to need a new, more powerful engine and a brand-new chassis; one or the other alone will not provide the needed results, IMO.

If one looks at open-wheel “spec” series (like Formula 3000) historically, they rarely make it past their third equipment cycle. That’s because spec series as a rule don’t have the sort of return on investment (ROI) for its team owners that permit them to keep buying new equipment; even if it is only every three years. The reason that the team owners get painted into a corner with having to periodically buy all-new equipment is that, generally speaking, the spec series owners make most of their money selling new racecars and components to series participants. Thus, the greed of the series owners drives the team owners to the poorhouse.

The spec-series ICS has a slightly different story. Theoretically, the IRL was on a three-year replacement cycle for its equipment since 1997 and it wasn’t a spec series. Ordinarily, as noted, this would be enough of a drain on team resources such that the third cycle (2003-2005) would be its last (and, in a sense, it was). However, Tony George routinely used his series specifications as a pawn in his war with CART; such that in its first five years, the IRL’s team owners had to buy either all-new engines or chassis five times. It was not surprising then when the IRL’s team owners faced a serious financial crisis circa 2001 and the Hulman-George family had to take over much of the expense of underwriting them.

This was a primary consideration in Tony George’s decision to almost completely reorder the outline of the IRL in 2003; Tony was looking for a way for the Japanese carmakers to take over subsidy of the league from the Hulman-Georges. The result was that he had to bow to the wishes of the Japanese firms in creating a motor sport more to their liking and this accommodation required him to ash can the original IRL. Now, five years after the birth of CART II, the IRL is clinging to its third equipment cycle and the Hulman-George family has resumed its financing of the league after all but one of the manufacturers deserted it.

Thus, to embark on the IRL’s crucial fourth equipment cycle, George is going to have to find the money to underwrite it and most of the team owners don’t have it. Hence, Tony is hoping against hope that some new auto manufacturers will enter the ICS and take over the burden of financing it. Lacking new manufacturers, George will have little choice but to fund the changeover himself. It is said that the Hulman-George family has invested $400 million or so to date in creating and maintaining the IRL; do they seem willing to invest another $150 million or so? That’s probably what it is going to cost them over the next three years – the “Centennial Era” – to re-equip the league with brand-new racecars and components.

The question is not if the H-G family can do it but rather if they want to? My guess is that they’re going to talk a good game – after all, talk is cheap – until 2011’s Indy 500 and then decide if it is worth it to them to continue the IRL/ICS. Until then I expect them to make do with the IRL’s third-generation equipment, meaning the Dallara-Ilmor (in case we differ on generational nomenclature), and dream of better days.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

champcar fanatics - Sparta "crowd" shots

(posted on 8-10-08)

-Angry Dwarf
One series.

All the stars!

But where are the fans?





-Angry Dwarf
See all the blue and yella?
Dems Rams fans.

Just in the wrong arena.
In the wrong state.
At the wrong event.

Yeah, Gomers. You can have that spin for FREE!!!

champcar fanatics - EARL banished to Versus

(posted on 8-7-08)

-Angry Dwarf
Dude, that is so funny, I don't know where to go.

But, I have had farts with more enthusiasm than this latest development.

champcar fanatics - start the campaign

(posted on 8-21-08)

-jcollins28
Since when did Fontucky attendance have any sort of credence over Long Beach?


-Angry Dwarf
Because no one bought the Earl as a replacement for ChampCar.

Is it that hard to put 2 and 2 together.
Bring in the Earl, out go the fans.

It has been proven time and time again.
Phoenix
Nazareth
Michigan
Indy for crying out loud.

I am not sure if you are truly that dumb, or just effing with us.

Has history not taught you anything?

Hell, I bet you believe that Kentucky WAS sold out, they were just getting hot dogs and the stuff. Parking, petting the corn, whatever.

Amazing.

champcar fanatics - papertakes, ouch

(posted on 9-5-08)

-CARTchamp
Don’t hate the enemy it affects your judgment.


-Angry Dwarf
Nah, I am just having too much fun with my hate.

Don't even have to buy me lunch, I am giving it away for free.

And I judge the IRL Idiots.

My hate didn't affect my judgement one little iota. (Or is that Iowa?)
Well, whatever.

For now,
Forever,
FTG

champcar fanatics - don't expect 'em to just pull over

(posted on 9-5-08)


-RenegadeX
Keep in mind:
- Graham Rahal's win at St.Pete's (and mysterious and dramatic loss of pace immediately thereafter),
- Danicle's gifted win at MoNtegi (and the truth from Helio Castroneves' mouth that evening and the next day on live tv)
- the 'amazing Penske story' (and 'thank you Helio for MoNtegi') at Sonoma a few weeks ago after the team's transporter caught fire and burned on the way to the track meaning the team had a mad scramble just to take part, but coincidentally having cars road-prepped oval cars stored at the track, and a hauler seemingly ready to be dispatched half-way across the country at last minute notice, his team takes the unlikely feel-good win:
- last weekend's "let's pay tribute to Mr.Paul Newman by gifting his (typically uncompetitive) car a win" (coincidentally it was Helio Castroneves who ONCE AGAIN was told over the radio, to "move over" for the 2nd-place car; Helio, smiling as always, was absolutely LIVID after the race saying that not even once in his entire time in the Leeg has a a penalty been passed down like that without previous warning).


All scripted outcomes. And there were probably many more events this year that due to bad luck didn't turned out as planned. (ex: Marco Whindretti is beyond help)

Now this, from Mindycar.com - an article about the *fabulous* prize-money up for grabs at the end of the crapwagoneer's season, containing a CURIOUS choice of words:


Quote:
Originally Posted by mindycar.com

While Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves are battling for the IndyCar Series championship Sept. 7 at Chicagoland Speedway, don't expect other drivers to pull over and let them by. A lot remains at stake for most of the drivers entered in the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300.

Only 17 points separate Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon for third and fourth in the standings. The higher finisher will earn an extra $50,000 in TEAM (Team Enhancement and Allocation Matrix) bonus money.

Don't expect? I don't even watch the series and I've come to expect it! LoL

Are they sending secret signals to US (here) saying "have fun with this one boys(and girls)", or was it a subtle suggestion to the gomerati that this weekend finally the script will be thrown out and they'll actually be allowed to let the chips fall as they may?

Either way, it TFF.


-Colognecapri
I don't think N/H/L would participate in a scripted farce.

How about when CCWS through BS debris yellow on a regular basis? Were they fixing the race?


-the cup
Depends on who was winning those races. If it was Katherine then maybe, if it was Bourdais then no.


-colognecapri
Rahal's win at St. Petes was because of a good strategy, not because it was fixed.


-t-car
So says the neogomer.

-h2oman
As much as I would like to join in all the fun, CC had similar situations, such as Glock having to move over and let Servia win. It happens.

-joetanto
You are absolutely right, but as you know it didn't happen again and again and again. At least in that instance Glock didn't get out of the car with that shyte story about how he didn't know what lap Servia was on or he was hoping to conserve fuel.

Also, I am told, during the race it was pointed out what a great victory this would be for NHL, because apparently they had not run any practice because Wilson's car had a debilitating mechanical problem. Again pushing the "Bollywood" angle and the little guy eeking out the victory and overcoming the obstacles.

Pretty soon the Firl won't have any "human interest" left, and Marty Sloth will be allowed to win because his cat has diarrhea.

Champcar fanatics - Dashley back to Single A

(posted on 9-6-08)


-joetanto
Has everyone forgotten that Dario would have been a F1 WDC with Jaguar except they rigged his test so he couldn't succeed?


-Stranger
Hey, isn't that the same excuse DNFisher used after her F1 test?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

champcar fanatics

(posted on 8-23-08 regarding why he feels indycar is worthless)

-Scorpion
Pat, even if hate was not an issue, OW racing would continue and will continue to be a nothing sport with the current ownership and leadership. Why, because they don't get it. They don't understand what makes a great racing series. It's more than just cars, or drivers, or tracks. It's about the right blend of those ingredients that when mixed correctly produce hair raising chills, excitement, drama and spectacular racing. Does the .irl have ANY of those ingredients? Much less the correct mix?

Sadly, FTG and the .irl still think everything is about one race and they have diminished that race to almost worthless as a race or even racing entertainment.

If ever a new top level ow racing series is born, it will be birthed by racers and money men who have a passion for being on the edge, of producing the best racing, who understand the thrill of watching a sport that has you on the edge of your seat. The only seat the .irl put me on is the toilet.

No Tony Georges or Kevin Kalkhovens will produce the kind of series I want to watch. Maybe a Don Panoz will surface someday with the vision (excuse the reference) to know what it takes to start and build a great OW series. The longer it takes to get started the harder it will be to put it together because those of us fans who care are being lost to nascar or simple apathy, or ALMS or.........

The kind of visionary entrepreneurs needed for a new series are not involved in motor racing, instead they are building space tourist businesses and aircraft racing series, challenging new frontiers, not trying to resurrect failed old standards.

champcar fanatics - Is Emmerson to blame for the split?

(posted on 6-1-08)


-Tifossi77
Tony George saw his job as protecting the Indy 500. Amid CARTs growth of the early 90s, two of the things that caused IMS concern were: 1) the lack of opportunity for 'Mericun drivers (witness the oft-repeated story of Jeff Gordon being turned away from CART for want of sponsorship $s), and 2) the relative shrinking of importance, in the eyes of IMS, of the Indy 500, what with talk of reducing 'the month of May' to 'the final two weekends of May'.

He felt the only way to reverse this trend was to break off and form his own series with IMS at the center of the series, both as the heart of the schedule and the seat of power.

This is akin to being stricken with a hangnail on your big toe and deciding the only prudent course of action is to amputate your foot.

There is no way of knowing how things would have happened had he not split off. My own personal opinion was that CART may well have collapsed under its own weight by now, anyway. (Let's face it - the innate greed of the CART owners was never more apparent than when they decided to sell year-old cars to the fledgling IRL teams, without which there probably would not have been an IRL season in 1996 and the war may have been averted before the first shot was ever fired) But what is unequivocal and irrefutable is that open wheel racing in this country took an immense and possibly irreversible downward turn in 1994-1996 with the creation of the IRL. And one man and one man alone bears responsibility for making that decision.


-Obi-wan
We know.

It's just that, like any good inside joke, there's a grain of truth to it. More than one high-ranking CrackForum Gomer has claimed that Emmo's "disrespect" for Indy 500 traditions in refusing to drink milk in winner's circle was the straw that broke the Idiot Grandson's hump.

After all, Emmo represented everything that the Gomers feared: he was a foreigner and a multiple Formula 1 WDC champion road racer whose primary competition at the 1993 Indy 500 was another foreign F1 WDC champion, Nigel Mansell. Moreover, Emmo was driving for the Darth Vader of CART, Roger Penske; who Brickyard rumor had bragging that he was going to buy IMS from the clueless Hulman-Georges and rule the sport.

All throughout 1993, any time a journalist would talk with Tony George they would find him royally pissed off about something to do with CART. Finally, in January 1994 he quit the CART BoD in a hissy fit and in March 1994 Tony announced early plans for what would become the Indy Racing League (IRL), publicly stating that Indy car racing should "be more like NASCAR".

To the simple-minded Gomers there had to be some reason for Tony to go off the deep end when he did and they had it more or less down to (a) Roger Penske and CART threatening to take over the Brickyard and "steal" George's inheritance/legacy, in which case Emmo's act was seen as his champion throwing down the gauntlet, or (b) George's fury over a "joke" that U.E. "Pat" Patrick had recently made about Mari's virtue and Tony's parentage.

What the Gomers have never had the guts to admit (to themselves or anyone else) is that Tony devoted most of his time after his appointment as IMS president in January 1990 to saber rattling, threatening the CART team owners and calling them names, and generally trying to destabilize IndyCar racing and, then, had the chutzpah to claim that they (CART team owners) were threatening him! Soon after his rise to power, Tony formed very public alliances with Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley, of Formula 1/FIA, and started paling around with Bill France Jr., Bruton Smith, and Humpy Wheeler, of NASCAR. When the CART team owners had the temerity to make a counteroffer to Tony’s demand to buy CART for a dime on the dollar in November 1991, he immediately broke off all negotiations with them and threatened in the IndyScar to (a) adopt the new Formula 1 specifications for the Indy 500 and (b) open the doors of the “shrine” of American open-wheel racing to NASCAR’s stock cars. In relatively short order he made good on both threats: he didn’t adopt F1 specifications but he made up ones of his own that were equally incompatible with CART’s and he immediately began testing at the Speedway for a NASCAR Winston Cup race (i.e. Brickyard 400).

It was not the CART team owners who devalued and disrespected the Indy 500 but rather Tony George; the CART team owners were only too aware of the importance of the Indy 500 as the exclusive and defining event of IndyCar racing and it provided the sport’s financial backbone. That’s why George could coerce them into doing his bidding by holding the race hostage and threatening the very structure of the sport. If they hadn’t respected Indy, they wouldn’t have cared about George ruining it. They went along with Tony as best they could until he demanded they turn over the organization and the sport they had invested more than a dozen years of their lives in, for a song … or face ruin.

The Gomers would have it that Tony George was a hapless victim without a choice. The reality is that he was the one sitting in the cat-bird seat and had the most choices of any of the players in AOWR. From 1990 to today, George has had everything his way at IMS and with the sport anchored on it; and look at the result. Look at the video of Emmo in the 1993 Indy 500 winner’s circle and gauge the strength of the sport and then look (if you can stomach it) at the same basic scene enacted a couple of weeks ago. You can chalk the differences up to the actions of one man: Tony George.

FTG.

-Jag Warrior
Thank you. Great picture!

Emmo was and is like any other successful businessman: he does what's best for his businesses. After Senna's death, he spoke in favor of the Senna Foundation in Brazil. He didn't do that for personal gain. But in other cases, of course he may have a profit motive. How does that make him any different than Bill Gates, T. Boone Pickens, Donald Trump... or Mario Andetti, for that matter? It doesn't.

Other than Mario Andretti, I see Emmo as the main man who gave CART international legitimacy early on - then came Nigel Mansell. And he was also the man responsible for Ayrton Senna deciding to test a CART IndyCar, which added that much more legitimacy to CART.

Look at the 1993 Indy 500 starting field. There were four drivers with seven (7!!!) World Driving Championships among them. Can anyone (even under the influence of heavy drugs) imagine four World Driving Champions even sitting in an IRL car???!!! Can anyone imagine the likes of Mario Andretti, Emmo Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell even being at an IRL, much less entered to drive in one???!!! If it wasn't such a complete joke now, I can imagine Jacques Villeneuve might have returned to a CART, though not an IRL. Probably Montoya too. Maybe Damon Hill. I doubt Schumacher (Michael), but maybe Ralfie. Maybe Mika. But as things stand now, IRL fans on the Speed board are going gaga over Mike Conway testing a Dallara. Mike Conway? Good grief, how the mighty have fallen!

What we're left with now is Danica Patrick, auto racing's answer to Paris Hilton, and a couple of metrosexual lads, who wouldn't be considered among the best of the best in the world of auto racing. Only when I look back do I get angry. It still boggles my mind that someone would take something so beautiful and grand, and $#!^ on it... yet still expect people to hold it in high regard.

I know this thread is supposed to be a joke about Emmo and his OJ. Excuse the rant. But sometimes you just need to clear your system.

champcar fanatics

(posted on 8-22-08)

-Stranger
Yeah Hayden, I'm only 23. However, in other news, other people celebrating their birthdays today:

Food Network's Giada de Laurentiis turns 38.


-Hayden Fan
You mean that woman I've been eyeing on the Food Network is old enough to be my mother? UGH!! I though she was 10 years younger.
You're too young.


-Angry Dwarf
Stranger: Oh, look at me, I'm 23
Hayden: Oh, look at me, I'm 18

Oh, she is too old for you, she must be 28,

Well, let me put my teeth in, and just say


F*ck you both...

And I mean that in the most sincerest manner.

Love
The(43 y.o.)AngryDwarf

(Fred, your not included. This is for the kids.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sebastien Vettel wins the F1 Italian Grand Prix

This past Sunday September 14th, German driver Sebastien Vettel became the youngest ever to win a F1 grand prix at only 21 years old and at the same time gave the Scuderia Toro Rosso team their first ever pole position and win. Having new drivers win is great for F1, now if they would just do something about how ugly their cars have become.









Obi-Wan wisdom


(crapwagon.com 6-19-08)
(a post regarding the state of open-wheel racing in America and how it has lost all feeling since the IRL bought out ChampCar)

I agree and I think it is the fundamental reason that Tony George’s open-wheel travesty will ultimately fail.

Although it is difficult for me to be unbiased in this regard, I’ve tried very hard to put myself in the shoes of a potential new American motor sports fan; i.e., the legendary “casual fan.” What I see is that motor sport in our country has gone the way of almost all other sports here: namely American sports fans almost exclusively favor homegrown sports. While the premier international sports (e.g. soccer, Formula 1, etc.) occasionally attract brief interest in the U.S., in the long term they usually go the way of other fads.

I think the current premier American motor sport, NASCAR, is destined to remain so for any foreseeable future. As such it may become more or less popular but I think it will always remain a niche sport; as will its American cousin, drag racing.

Whatever else it may be, NASCAR is the most popular development of a uniquely American motor sport: speedway racing. While we (as American open-wheel racing fans) may have a difficult time fathoming the attractions of stock car racing, we are relatively alone in that assessment. NASCAR is not just the most popular current American motor sport, it is the most popular American motor sport of all time.

Looking at the various elements that comprise NASCAR racing, there is not another motor sport in existence or on the horizon that can hope to compete with it, let alone equal it. NASCAR has everything that Indycar racing once had and more; much, much more.

I do not possess a crystal ball but I think the current peak oil crisis is going to permanently transform the world and, unlike the oil crisis of the 1970’s, things are never going to be the same. Viewing only its impact on motor sport, I don’t envision the United States ever returning to its previous “car culture.” The automobile has occupied a unique place in American culture and development and in many ways it has shaped our national identity. That’s changing and when the smoke clears I think we will see an automotive landscape that more closely resembles the one in the rest of the world.

On the face of it that would seem to spell good news for international motor sports like Formula One, MotoGP, endurance sports car racing, and rallying in America; but I don’t think so. Those motor sports were developed and remain popular in nations that arguably never had America’s car culture, so it would seem logical that as the United States moves toward adoption of the international view of automobiles and auto racing we would also adopt that view. However, each of those motor sports will have to compete with a uniquely American homegrown product that is specifically tailored to its market and completely dominates its media landscape.

The Formula One supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, has tried during his entire tenure to crack the American motor sport market – without success. In 2006 he commented:

"It does not matter to Formula 1 if there is no Grand Prix in the U.S. What do we get from America? Aggravation -- that's about all. If you say 'good morning' over there when it's five past twelve, you end up with a lawsuit."

"We have never got any sponsors out there...The television has never taken off … We have more viewers in Malta than over there...Why do we need to worry so much about America? It has never really taken to open-wheel racing...They talk about the big audiences for NASCAR, but we get as many viewers in Italy alone as they do for NASCAR in the States."

Bernie’s insurmountable problem – the same problem faced by any other motor sport promoter – is that NASCAR presents a familiar, distinctly American motor sport with a long history and traditions, populated mostly by well-known American celebrity drivers, to a large American audience nearly every weekend during a long racing season. Additionally, NASCAR has saturation coverage in every form of U.S. media: television, radio, newspapers and magazines.

This is an entertainment juggernaut with which Bernie cannot compete; not yesterday, today, or tomorrow. To American motor sports enthusiasts, Bernie’s F1 is always going to be a foreign motor sport populated mostly by foreigners, barely mentioned in local or national media, with a paltry schedule of 18 or so races put on in weird places at weird hours, late at night or early in the morning. There is simply no way that such a sport is going to become an engrained part of most American’s lives; for example, try planning a family Sunday picnic around 95% of F1 Grands Prix.

For his part, the Idiot Grandson launched a campaign to take over the one existing American motor sport with the capability of going toe to toe with NASCAR and then either threw away or dismantled every aspect of the sport that gave it appeal.

For instance, CART was in the process of expanding its schedule of races to try to match the frequency, continuity and consistency of NASCAR broadcasting; a key component of its appeal. Ironically, Tony George’s early efforts had the effect of adding enough additional open-wheel races to a combined schedule that the sport experienced almost immediate growth in attendance and television viewership (if the figures for both rival series were combined) for the first three or four years of the split. This basically validated CART’s expansionist strategy vis-à-vis NASCAR. However, it wasn’t long before the fragmented financial situation in the sport caused both series to begin to redact their race calendars. As long as it was financially able CART tried its best to increase and/or maintain a full schedule of races. Tony George, however, was only ever interested in the welfare of one race, the Indy 500, and he viewed the other races on the IRL schedule as a necessary evil to be eliminated as soon as possible.

With his purchase of the CCWS, George has announced his intention to only retain profitable races on the schedule of his “newly unified” series. This virtually guarantees that the number of AOW races will continue to decrease, as only popular races have the possibility of being profitable, and a reduced calendar works against growing the popularity of the sport. Hence, Tony’s short-sighted vision has doomed the sport to decline.

Even more disastrous to the chances of survival for the sport has been Tony George’s dismantling of the process by which new open-wheel celebrity drivers were created. The key component of this machinery was the ability of the Indy 500 to mint new star drivers by having them compete against established stars in an iconic event. IMS was the “shrine” of American open-wheel racing, where celebrity candidates gathered to be anointed as rising or arrived stars.

First, George violated the sanctity of the shrine by allowing the Philistines of NASCAR through its doors, thereby destroying its unique status to AOW, and then he separated the cars and stars of the existing sport and substituted a bunch of imposters in their place. This destroyed IMS’s ability to anoint stars while simultaneously transferring its status to a motor sport (NASCAR) whose star-making machinery was fully intact. Thus, NASCAR celebrity drivers anointed at iconic star-making races like the Daytona 500 got additional laurels by competing at IMS while the established open-wheel celebrity drivers were locked out of their own shrine and were unable to pass their scepters to the next generation of open-wheel star drivers. As a final fatal blow, George invalidated the outcome of the 2002 Indy 500 and thereby cast doubt on the validity of all its future assessments of star drivers. The result has been that the sport under Tony George is incapable of creating a star driver now or in the future and without star drivers the sport will die.

Some people cite the notoriety surrounding Danica Patrick as being indicative of a star driver and therefore argue that George and IMS can still create a star driver. A moment’s reflection will show that this in incorrect; Patrick is only a “star” in the IRL’s small pond. When Indy was the exclusive province of AOW, the exclusivity alone was enough to insulate its driver celebrities from comparisons to those in other motor sports. Now that IMS has opened its doors to NASCAR and Formula 1 and IROC and IPS and, soon, MotoGP, however, a “star” made at Indy must prove herself or himself against the stars of those other motor sports in order to affirm their title. In this regard, the driver celebrities of most of those other motor sports (most particularly Formula 1 and NASCAR) would make mincemeat of Danica Patrick. Since Patrick is currently being touted as the best that AOW has to offer, it is more than obvious that AOW’s “best” is not very good at all.

Everywhere one looks in Tony George’s “unified” AOW, one espies a wasteland. Championship racing once boasted racecars and technology that could match and on occasion surpass those in Formula 1 (the “Pinnacle of Motor Sport”). Now, Indycars are a laughingstock; hard on both eyes and ears and an embarrassment to the sport in terms of their performance.

One could go on and on but it is sufficient to say that the whole of American open-wheel racing is no longer greater than the sum of its parts and its parts provide inadequate building blocks to revive the sport in the face of rivals (mostly NASCAR).

The world has turned at least 4,382 times since Tony George dismantled our sport in order to attempt to remake it. He was like a kid sitting on his living-room carpet dismantling his grandfather’s watch into a thousand pieces to see what makes it tick and by the time he realized he couldn’t figure it out or make it any better, it was too late. Tony hasn’t the talent to reassemble his grandfather’s watch and if he finds a watchmaker to try, they’ll both discover that he’s misplaced some of its vital pieces and it will never again tell the right time.

Monday, September 15, 2008

champcar fanatics

(posted on 7-22-08 commenting on Jack Arute and his defending of Danica Patrick)

-Tiffosi77
I don't normally reply in this manner, but I'm feeling frisky tonight after my first official infraction from Higher Authority.


Quote:
JACK ARUTE: She looks at driving the same way that A.J. and Mario did in their day.

Minus the winning.


Quote:
JACK ARUTE: I don't know why some media want to roast Patrick every chance they can.

Perhaps the members of the media are sick of people invoking memories of past greatness in the face of such overwhelming mediocrity. Maybe they are fed up with people comparing a driver with mediocre talent (at best) to the lions of the sport.

Let's remind Jacko that Danica has exactly ONE WIN in her car racing career. Not just her IndyCar career... her 13-season car racing career.

Imagine a goaltender becoming a starting netminder for the Canadiens without ever having won a game in Bantam, PeeWee, Midgets, Junior B, or minor pro.


Quote:
JACK ARUTE: It might be because she does not tolerate their foolishness.

Or it might be because she's an overrated primadonna utterly lacking in substance.

Recall the words of Winston Churchill. Upon hearing a subordinate complain that the Yanks were so bloody arrogant, Winnie replied, "Well, they have a lot to be arrogant about."

Danica does not have that. And that's why the arrogance is misplaced, and downright offensive, and why 'some members of the media' want to roast her. And not in the Friar's Club sense of the word.


Quote:
JACK ARUTE: Is there anything that they like about Patrick?

Yes. She is not 100 pound of Ebola-infected flesh.

When you can honestly say someone is not 100 pounds of Ebola-infected flesh.... shoot, who wouldn't like that?


Quote:
Originally Posted by TheStranger
If Robin Miller is the Tokyo Rose of mergification, then what does that make Jackaroo?

I dunno, a turd bucket?

Is this a trick question?

The CART - USAC war

(http://oreopolis.com/Pages/051401.html)
(written January 25th, 1996 on the eve of the "split.")

Winter testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is an odd sight to anyone who has witnessed the annual 500 mile race in May. The permanent grandstands, which are said to hold 325,000 spectators, are empty. In the pit area, a small group of crewmen in heavy parkas buzz about an unpainted race car under a temporary awning before sending it out on another run. In the thin air, you can hear the wail of its engine from almost anywhere in the city. Between Turns 1 and 2, in the Hall of Fame Museum parking lot, hardcore enthusiasts escape the cold and take lap times from the warmth of their cars.

On the surface, all appears well at the Speedway. But in a few months, the established stars of what we know as Indy car racing will not be participating in the most storied race of all, the Indianapolis 500, as the result of a bitter political battle for control of the sport between Speedway President Tony George and Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART, or IndyCar, as they are now known), the sanctioning body which has essentially controlled the sport since 1980.


George has decreed that the Indy 500 will no longer be a points-paying round of CART's PPG Indy Car World Series, but instead the centerpiece of a new series called the Indy Racing League. The kicker is that all IRL races - including the Indianapolis 500 - will have three quarters of their starting spots reserved for IRL points leaders. That's 25 out of 33 places on the grid at Indy.


Since CART's teams have no desire to participate in the two IRL races prior to Indianapolis, they claim that George is effectively locking them out of the ‘500.’ In response, CART has announced that they will stage a rival race, called the U.S. 500, on Memorial Day weekend at Roger Penske’s Michigan International Speedway. Most of the top drivers, like Al Unser Jr, Michael Andretti, Paul Tracy, Bobby Rahal, and Emerson Fittipaldi will therefore not be in Indianapolis during the month of May, tarnishing the reputation of the Indy 500 and potentially losing the city millions of dollars in tourist trade.


While the ‘25/33 rule’ was the catalyst which brought the Speedway/CART battle into the public eye, the roots of the disagreement are based on philosophical differences which go back over three decades. And with both groups resolute in their convictions, it appears these differences can only be resolved by head-to-head competition in the marketplace.


Terre Haute native Anton 'Tony' Hulman’s purchase of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1945 is a bookmark in Indiana folklore. The Indy 500 was not run during the war years, and by the time World War I ace Eddie Rickenbacker sold Hulman the track, it was a weed-infested eyesore.


Hulman’s legendary resurrection of the facility offered race fans the finest in amenities, and his tireless promotion campaign soon turned what had merely been the most important race in America into "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." The purse grew with the notoriety, and the Indy 500 soon established itself as the world’s most lucrative race.


Two catastrophic events in 1955 led to a major shakeup in American racing circles. First, popular two-time defending champion Bill Vukovich was killed in a fiery crash in the Indianapolis 500. Then a couple of months later, the unthinkable occurred in the famous 24 Hours of LeMans sports car race when a Mercedes-Benz driven by Frenchman Pierre Leveigh was launched into a packed grandstand, killing Leveigh and more than 80 spectators.
As a repercussion, the American Automobile Association - who sanctioned most American races, including the Indianapolis 500 - wanted out of racing. Ever the opportunist, Tony Hulman used his clout as Speedway boss and formed USAC to take over the AAA’s sanctioning role. The Speedway and USAC have been inseparable ever since.


For a period in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the USAC Championship Trail enjoyed popularity and status, running races mainly on 1-mile dirt ovals such as the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Races on paved tracks, like the Speedway, were the exception rather than the rule.


The cars competing at Indianapolis in this era were primitive, front-engined "roadsters," most utilizing the venerable Offenhauser 4-cylinder engine which dated to the 1930s. Meanwhile in Europe, a technological revolution was sweeping through Formula 1 Grand Prix racing in the form of the compact mid-engined car. In 1959, Australian Jack Brabham was the first man to win the F1 World Championship in one of these machines, and in 1961, Brabham and his F1 Cooper competed in the Indianapolis 500. Though vastly underpowered, the tiny car finished a respectable ninth.


In 1963, Colin Chapman, chief of the English Lotus F1 team, built a mid-engined car for the Speedway with a Ford V-8 and nearly won the ‘500’ in the hands of Scotsman Jim Clark. By the time Clark and Lotus dominated and won the 1965 Indianapolis 500, the revolution was in full swing. Though only two years had passed, 90 percent of the field was rear-engined, and 1966 would see the last roadster to qualify at Indy.
The technological advances - and the speed - came thick and fast. Turbocharging (where exhaust gas is recycled with great pressure back through the engine via a high-speed turbine) nearly doubled engine power. Aerodynamic wings sucked the cars on to the track (called "downforce") to increase cornering ability, and a tire war between Firestone and Goodyear accelerated the rise in speed.


Clark posted the first official 150 mph lap in Speedway history in 1965; the top mark had increased to over 190 mph by 1972. Bobby Unser’s pole speed that year was more than 17 mph faster than the existing record set just one year before!


From a safety aspect, something clearly had to be done, particularly in the wake of the disastrous month of May, 1973, when popular drivers Art Pollard and Swede Savage were killed at the Speedway and the ‘500’ was halted by rain after 332.5 miles.


The foundation of a successful racing series is sensible rulemaking, fairly and equally implemented, and this is the key area where USAC failed in the 1970s. It ultimately cost them control of Indy car racing.


When speeds at Indy reached the 200 mph level in 1973, USAC’s initial solution of narrower tires and smaller wings worked well, lowering lap speeds by nearly 15 mph. But racers are racers, and the new aerodynamic restrictions merely shifted the search for speed to the engine compartment.


In 1976, the Vel’s-Parnelli Jones team converted a Formula 1 Ford-Cosworth engine to Indycar specifications. By 1977, the engine was more powerful and more efficient than the still popular Offenhauser, and almost mandatory to win races.


It was also expensive - around $35,000 per motor - and this created the same sort of animosity with USAC’s old-boy school that rear-engine cars had years before. Offy stalwarts boycotted USAC events in July, 1978, claiming the Cosworth was pricing them out of the business.


USAC’s response was an attempt to equalize the various engines by regulating the amount of turbocharger boost available. But they never got it right. Their vacillation got to the point where turbocharger boost limits often differed on a day-to-day basis, infuriating the contestants. Pressure-relief, or "popoff" valves were introduced to regulate the boost, then valves were required in qualifying only, as fuel mileage limits were implemented to control boost in the race.


"In many ways, this is a very backwards segment of the sport," three-time F1 World Champion Jackie Stewart commented in 1978. Stewart nearly won the Indy 500 in 1966 and was ABC’s expert analyst for their Indianapolis coverage for many years. "This is not something that’s new, it’s been like this for years. You can see it in USAC’s attempts to keep the 40 year old Offenhauser engine competitive. You can see it in many of the cars which fill out the field which are no more than service station specials."


USAC had other problems to worry about. Tony Hulman’s death in October 1977, coupled with an April 1978 plane crash which killed a number of top USAC executives and officials, including highly respected technical chief Frankie DelRoy, left the organization facing a serious leadership crisis. They were also struggling in the sports marketplace. While the Indianapolis 500 continued on the path of progress, the rest of the series suffered badly. By the late seventies, the USAC series was run exclusively on paved ovals, in front of sparse crowds for very little prize money and with limited TV coverage. Field quality and size diminished.


As if all that were not enough, a number of leading entrants (notably Roger Penske, Pat Patrick, and Jim Hall) formed CART in the summer of 1978 to mount an organized attempt to improve the USAC series. When CART’s petition to make a number of changes involving series structure, purses, and engine rules was unanimously rejected by the USAC board on November 18, 1978, the CART-USAC war was on.

USAC and CART both staged a series of races in 1979. Rick Mears won the inaugural 10-race CART title while A.J. Foyt, who controversially abandoned CART at the eleventh hour, took the 7-round USAC honors.

As usual, the drama climaxed at Indianapolis. The month of May, 1979 is generally considered the focal point of the CART-USAC war, and until the Scott Goodyear pace car fiasco of last year, it is also remembered as USAC's most public display of incompetence.


Before the month even started, the Speedway tried to bar the top six CART teams from competing at Indianapolis, claiming that "they were not in good standing with USAC." In a landmark decision which is ironic in light of the current situation, U.S. District Court Judge James E. Noland ruled in CART’s favor "because of the irreparable harm that could be suffered...there is no way the driver plaintiffs can sit out the Indianapolis 500."


There was trouble on the track, too. A number of teams were successfully overriding the popoff valve to gain power and speed. That’s cheating, and it was rampant and went basically ignored until USAC decided to make an example of somebody and disqualified Dick Ferguson from the field, creating a storm of controvery and outrage among the contestants.


After an official protest, a USAC Court of Appeals allowed 11 bumped competitors to make an additional qualification run the day before the race - an unprecedented occurrence. 35 cars, not the traditional 33, took the green flag after a month which brought USAC’s ability to officiate big-time automobile racing into serious question.
New Speedway president John Cooper was instrumental in briefly merging the interests of CART and USAC with the creation of the Championship Racing League in March, 1980. But just weeks after a much more peaceful month at Indy, Cooper ran an end-around and forced USAC to renounce their agreement with the CRL if they wanted to keep officiating the Indy 500. USAC has sanctioned the Indianapolis 500 ever since - the one and only Indy car race they maintained control of.


In 1989, Tony George, grandson of Tony Hulman, ascended to the Speedway presidency. Due to the death of his father Elmer George in a mysterious 1976 shooting accident, Tony had been groomed for the top spot at the Speedway for a number of years. George tried his hand at a racing career in the 1980s, advancing to what is now known as the Indy Lights series, and he still occasionally takes part in some endurance racing events.


During his tenure as head of the family racetrack, George hasn’t hidden his dislike for the direction Indycar racing has taken under CART’s leadership. He isn’t happy about the way the Indianapolis field has increasingly consisted of ‘wealthy road racers,’ often non-American, while homegrown oval talents like Jeff Gordon have ended up in the predominantly-southern NASCAR series. George also believes the costs of IndyCar’s series are out of control, and he maintains the sport should be governed by an independent authority, not the team owners.


Most racing insiders consider George’s creation of the IRL nothing less than an attempted hostile takeover of Indy car racing. Some might call it reminiscent of CART's ambush of USAC 15 years ago, but the circumstances are almost completely opposite.


For starters, CART made their power play at a time when the sport was in serious trouble. George, on the other hand, is starting his series at a time when Indy car racing is healthier than ever before. An annual survey by Goodyear indicates that since the late 1970s, Indy car season attendance has increased from around 600,000 to 3.1 million fans, a rate of increase faster than the vaunted NASCAR series. For the last year statistics are available (1994), record crowds were achieved at 15 of 16 venues, and over 56 million Americans tuned in on television, according to A.C. Nielsen figures.


The IndyCar series is enjoying an unprecedented level of manufacturer participation. Ford, Honda and Mercedes-Benz have been active proponents of the current turbocharged 2.6 liter engine formula, and they will be joined this year by Toyota. Leading British carmaker Reynard is building a $5 million technical center in Indianapolis.
Fields are also bigger and deeper than ever. The arrival in recent years of ex-F1 stars like Fittipaldi and Nigel Mansell has broadened the appeal of the series and captured a worldwide audience. And there is plenty of American talent; aside from established stars Rahal, Unser Jr and Michael Andretti, young guns Robby Gordon, Scott Pruett, Jimmy Vasser, and Bryan Herta have all showed race winning potential.


Despite all of the things that are good about modern Indy car racing - or perhaps in spite of them - George decided to move full speed ahead with the IRL. For the most part, the reaction in the IndyCar camp has been simple: If the Speedway and USAC were unable to properly run the sport in the past, why should anyone believe they can now?


Though judgement will have to be reserved until the IRL actually runs a race, that would appear to be a legitimate question. Every detail which has slowly emerged about the IRL has been greeted with considerable skepticism by fans and the media, not to mention just about anyone affiliated with the CART series.


In May 1995, USAC stipulated new engine and chassis regulations for the IRL’s 1996 season in the interests of safety, but were forced to rescind them when current IndyCar engine and chassis suppliers expressed no interest in building products to IRL specifications. USAC's reaction was to backpedal and keep the 1995 regulations intact, leaving IRL hopefuls scurrying to buy whatever used racecars were on the market.


A couple of months later, CART announced their own '96 rules which were somewhat similar to USAC's discarded proposal but with key exceptions. As a member of CART’s Technical Committee, USAC Technical Director Mike Devin participated in the formulation of this package, along with representatives from chassis manufacturers Lola, Penske, and Reynard. This kind of partisan discussion has enormously enhanced CART’s ability to maintain safe and stable rules throughout their existence.


What got everyone’s attention was the Speedway’s July ‘95 announcement of the IRL points scoring system, especially the reservation of 3/4 of starting spots for series points leaders. The Speedway says this move was made to encourage league participation, but IndyCar officials call it a clever way of limiting their chances at Indianapolis, where only eight "at large" spots will be available in the field.


This seemingly minor clause - and the Speedway’s steadfast refusal to eliminate it - has been the central issue in the CART-IRL fight. "Our objection is very specific, related to restrictions being imposed upon the Indy 500, which we think are repugnant and go against the very essence of fair competition and open sport," says CART CEO Andrew Craig.


"Certainly, a resolution would be, I think, in the best interest of the sport, in the best interest of the Speedway, and in the best interest of CART. There is no question about that, but compromise does require that both sides recognize that there has to be give and that the compromise is not merely where one side prevails over the other. What we are not prepared to do is just walk away and say, ‘Well, if that is what the Speedway wants to do, okay.’ Our teams have worked too hard, too long, and it is our teams that have made this sport what it is today."


By December, when the IRL announced plans to switch to 4.0 liter production based engines in 1997, it was totally clear that no reconcilliation between the groups would be forthcoming. Apart from lowering costs and speeds, IRL officials believe the switch to these less sophisticated "stock-blocks" will resurrect a cottage industry of engine builders.


Most racing experts say this plan won’t work. Modern single seat racing cars use the engine as a main structural element of the car. Production based engines cannot withstand the torsional forces the current engines are subjected to. Therefore even if someone builds engines to the new IRL specifications, they cannot be used in existing cars, and none of the current carmakers have been contacted about building chassis - for which rules are yet to be determined. For all of the Speedway’s talk about reducing costs, major changes like this only increase them.


As it stands, the IRL’s inaugural season will consist of only three races - 200 milers at Walt Disney World on January 27 and Phoenix International Raceway on March 24, and of course the Indy 500, which will annually serve as the IRL finale. New Hampshire International Speedway and a new oval in Las Vegas will be added for the 1996-97 IRL schedule.


The IRL scored a coup by winning the Disney venue. CART had negotiated with Disney, but withdrew when Disney would not share the costs involved in putting on a race. The Speedway had no problem in that regard; they created a new division, called IMS Properties, and financed, designed, and built the 1-mile Disney oval, for which temporary seating will be trucked in.


Two existing oval venues switched allegience to the IRL - Phoenix, and New Hampshire. CART already had a strained relationship with Phoenix promoter Buddy Jobe, and New Hampshire owner Bob Bahre has longtime USAC ties, so the moves were not unexpected. However, Speedway officials were taken aback when CART scheduled their ‘96 Elkhart Lake race on its traditional mid-August date - the same weekend as the previously announced New Hampshire IRL race.


Entry lists reveal that almost all of the top drivers remain allied with the IndyCar series. IRL races will feature smaller fields consisting mostly of has-beens and nobodies in older model cars, a potentially lethal combination. For all of George’s complaints about IndyCar’s second-rate foreign road racers, it seems the third- and fourth-rate ones have migrated to the IRL, and a near total lack of response from the USAC dirt crowd cannot have pleased the Speedway president. Arie Luyendyk and Roberto Guerrero the only Indy car race winners confirmed for the full IRL slate.


It would appear the Speedway has taken some serious liberties in marketing the IRL as "the cars and the stars of the Indy 500." But they are publicly unconcerned, choosing to make brash statements like "the stars don’t make the Indy 500 - the Indy 500 makes the stars."


In that light, Speedway officials were confident that the CART team sponsors would balk at not going to Indianapolis. But that hasn’t been the case. Valvoline, whose longtime sponsorship agreement with the Speedway is up for renewal next year, is the only major sponsor which has pressured their CART team (Walker Racing, with driver Robby Gordon) to run at Indianapolis instead of Michigan in May.


In truth, the exposure that Indy provides sponsors comes at a high price. The Indianapolis 500 consumes one-fourth to one-third of many teams’ annual 16-race budget, mainly because personnel needs to be housed for four weeks instead of the usual race weekend of four days. The ‘500’ may boast the biggest payday in the sport, but only the top two or three finishers come close to breaking even for the month.


In addition, the Speedway is now making Indy 500 sponsorship agreements contingent upon IRL series sponsorship. This subtle-as-a-sledgehammer policy has already led to Miller beer withdrawing their 25-year support of the annual Pit Stop Competition. Sponsors are also unhappy they can no longer provide their own hospitality food and beverages; for the last couple of years, they have been forced to purchase these items through Speedway-approved caterers at exhorbitant prices.


Since George announced his plans for the IRL, there has been a lot of argument and prognostication about if he is right or wrong and whether the reputation of the Indianapolis 500 will ultimately be tarnished or enhanced. But clearly, a perception of arrogance and greed on the part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, along with a lack of confidence in the United States Auto Club, has led Indy car racing’s top participants to conclude that they no longer need the Indianapolis 500.


George rightfully has a lot of faith in the drawing power of the ‘500.’ But will an event which calls itself "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" live up to that billing when the drivers who contributed so much to that reputation are racing 250 miles away? And even if Speedway officals save face with a competitive and safe race this year, can the IRL survive the transition to the radical technical changes USAC has mandated for 1997 and beyond? These are legitimate questions, and history suggests that the Speedway can provide nothing more than tradition as an answer.


Until now, tradition has been enough to maintain the ‘500’s’ position as one of then world’s greatest sporting events. That may no longer be the case. Tony George is putting the reputation of the Indianapolis 500 on the line, and a significant portion of the Indianapolis economy and the fate of open-wheel racing in America are at stake.

The Indy 500, a pathetic paradox

(written on May 21st, 2003 by Robin Miller, once one of the biggest critics of FTG and now one of the Indy Car Series' strongest supporters.)

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.? Is this an old Arab proverb or the new marketing slogan for the Indy Racing League and the few hundred people who still refuse to admit what they?re really seeing this month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?


Because, even if you're just a tad bit realistic, you must acknowledge that the 87th Indianapolis 500 is a pathetic paradox in almost every way.

Tony “We're Right Where We Need To Be” George's so-called “vision” is a laughable hoax that's even left some of the IRL hardliners blinking in disbelief.
There are barely enough cars for the “greatest spectacle in racing,” qualifying required four laps instead of speed, Bump Day lost its soul and the IRL's supposed mantra was exposed as a fraud.

Let's start with the IRL's bullshit premise from 1994. Because George supposedly despised CART's engine leases, foreign manufacturers, greedy car owners, escalating costs, road racers and had concerns about preserving Indy's integrity, he started his own series.

And, in the process, killed the Indianapolis 500 by guaranteeing 25 of the 33 spots for his followers and bringing in Racin Gardner and Bronco Brad Murphey to replace Andretti, Unser, Rahal, Sullivan, Tracy and Fittipaldi.
Fast forward to May of 2003.

Honda and Toyota left CART and have literally taken over the IRL. They've won every race so far, led almost every lap, own all but one of the top teams and are kicking Chevrolet's ass up and down 16th Street. General Motors claims it's coming back in 2004, but who in the hell is going to want them”
Maybe Fred Treadway, Brad Calkins, Larry Cahill, 310 Racing or Curb Motorsports. Oh, that's right: All those old IRL teams dropped out this year because they couldn't afford the new IRL.

Thirty of the 33 starters are road racers, 28 with direct ties to CART, while only three drivers came from the midget and sprint-car ranks, which George vowed to return to prominence here with his league.

Young USAC stars like J.J. Yeley, Tracy Hines and Boston Reid are looking to join Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Jason Leffler in NASCAR because, obviously, there's no place for them in the IRL unless they bring money. Or become George's relative.

Of course Donnie Beechler, a 36-time IRL starter, was at the track but couldn't get a silver badge to get into the pits to chase a ride until the second week of practice. “They made me feel like I had never been here before,” he said.
While Beechler was treated like an outsider, the IRL can't quit gushing about how wonderful it is to have Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi, Bobby Rahal and Michael Andretti in “The League.” All those owners George hated and feared are now part of his extended family. Penske and Ganassi can”t spew enough praise on George”s vision.

And some of those phony announcers who hated Juan Montoya in 2000 are now gung-ho about interviewing Tora Takagi or Scott Dixon or any number of those evil foreigners from CART.

Ah, but I digress. Because of the IRL's new cars this season and new partners, we have a more expensive IRL that is sadly short of functioning teams. The month's top storyline was whether there would be enough cars for the traditional 11 rows of three.

The IRL party line from Baghdad Bob (aka Fred Nation) is that the Enron scandal, the Lakers losing, Conseco stock, SARS, the end of Friends and chuckholes on Georgetown Road are responsible for the lack of cars in Gasoline Alley.

Barnhart's new battle cry was “quality not quantity,” which naturally played well with the IRL minions. But many old-timers and people with a true passion for what Indy means were gagging about the loss of excitement and commitment on Bump Day.

Bump Day became an insult to any driver who ever hung his ass out to make the show or died trying. There were nine cars for nine spots and IMS only wanted to fill the field. It didn't dare want to take a chance on knocking out Sarah or one of A.J.”s cars.

But, hell, just because nobody got bumped didn”t mean you couldn't enjoy all the rock and roll music being played behind the Gondola (The Star”s term for the Pagoda in a 2002 story) or blaring over the PA system.

Some misguided dork with a marketing degree actually thinks Cracker is going to bring all the fans back from the mid-”90s or that “Art In Motion” (the IMS ad campaign for 2003) is somehow going to inspire new, sophisticated customers.
The only thing lamer than the IMS marketing department is CART's, but in the name of Bill Vukovich this is the greatest racetrack in the world. PROMOTE THE GODDAMN DRIVERS!!! Or the still-bargain prices of practice ($5) and qualifying ($10).

Just as sickening to traditionalists was the Infiniti Pro Series debut this month. A handful of under-powered shit boxes droning around Indy so Tony's stepson can get some headlines” Indy was special because it was Indy cars. What's next, figure 8's on opening day”

It's all too depressing. George is 100 percent hypocrite because the IRL has morphed into CART and he didn”t give a fiddler”s fuck about American drivers, IRL loyalty or preserving anything resembling tradition. Tom Carnegie is announcing hot dog eating contests instead of new track records. Ticket demand continues to drop, but IMS is raising prices next year. Fill Day instead of Bump Day.

To quote a good friend of mine: “It”s over.”
And I'm afraid it's never coming back.

champcar fanatics

(posted on 8-8-08 regarding Gomers trying to calculate future tv ratings after the IRL announced a new tv contract moving them from ESPN to Versus)

-Ehud

I used my handy dandy FTG Slide Rule which came in my KoolAidEoO's cereal.

-Thor

Ehud, I bet he used one just like it to do his calculations! Shrewd of you, very shrewd to figure out how he and the gomers do their math (don't anyone tell them computers do it better).

-Angry Dwarf

Computers don't add...
Theys for porn.

Goat porn that is...

Said the gomer, wiping his chin

(Booya, a sick zinger on this finest of fine days!)

Friday, September 12, 2008

champcar fanatics

(posted on 9-8-08 regarding what he did with his time instead of watching IndyCar's final race of the 2008 season)

-Angry Dwarf
I was primering a B58 Hustler, and watched it dry.

Then sanded it, carefully. Going for a metallic finish, needs to be baby butt smooth,
and then practically through it through the window when 3 CHARGERS DEFENDERS couldn't deflect a freaking pass, and then just went for a long bike ride lamenting what happened.

I do blame it on FTG.

Go Bobby!!!! (Martinez. Surfer. Boost Mobile is this week. Now that is worth watching)

Now, on topic, isn't it easier, and less painful to hit yourself in the nuts with a hammer, than watch Crapwagons?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

(more to come)