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.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Is IndyCar picking a NASCAR fight?



(by John Oreovicz espn.go.com 6-28-10)

LOUDON, N.H. -- Dario Franchitti never led a Sprint Cup race during his brief NASCAR career. But he did Sunday -- sort of.

Immediately before the start of NASCAR's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Franchitti turned a few demonstration laps in his Target Chip Ganassi Racing Indy car to promote the fact the IZOD IndyCar Series will return to the New England market with a race on July 31, 2011. The laps weren't especially fast (in the 26-second bracket, about three seconds quicker than a stock car but more than four seconds slower than Andre Ribeiro's track record of 21.466 seconds set in 1995 in a CART-spec Indy car) but they sent a powerful message to the American racing community.

Here's why: Whether they acknowledge it or not, IndyCar and NASCAR are competitors. Again, similarly unacknowledged, NHMS owner Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) is a direct competitor to International Speedway Corp. (ISC). ISC and NASCAR are essentially one entity, owned as they are by the France family.

Connecting the dots, Sunday's announcement and demonstration run could be perceived as SMI and IndyCar teaming up to take on the France family and their ISC/NASCAR juggernaut. And even though everyone involved said all the right things, there is no doubt that NASCAR fought the day's activities tooth and nail. When the IndyCar contingent was en route to New Hampshire early Sunday morning, league officials were still in doubt whether NASCAR would allow Franchitti's demonstration run.

On the flight, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard told a story to illustrate his concern.

"Davey Hamilton [veteran IRL driver and radio commentator] did an Indy car demonstration like this at Las Vegas Motor Speedway many years ago," Bernard said. "They told him to do a couple laps and stay below 175 mph. He didn't want to do that -- he really wanted to show the fans what the car could do, and he did.

"He knew they were going to be mad, but Davey lived in Las Vegas. So he parked his car in a place where he knew he could get out of there in a hurry if there was trouble."

Franchitti didn't have that luxury, because he was tabbed to make the "Start your engines" call for the NASCAR race after his Indy car laps.

All in all, the demonstration went off without a hitch -- and apparently with the blessing of NASCAR president Mike Helton.

"[Helton] said, 'Tell Dario not to crash or blow an engine and mess up our racetrack,'" said NHMS president Jerry Gappens, an Indiana native who was instrumental in luring Indy car racing back to New Hampshire for the first time since 1998.

Of course the ultimate decision rested with SMI CEO Bruton Smith, who was on hand for Sunday's announcement. SMI acquired NHMS for $340 million in 2007, and therefore was not party to Indy car racing's prior history at the "Magic Mile." Four CART-sanctioned races were run at NHMS from 1992 to '95, but attendance dropped from an average of about 50,000 to less than 10,000 when the track's then-owner, Bob Bahre, switched to an Indy Racing League-sanctioned event for 1996-98.

The New Hampshire Indy car race was one of many casualties in the American open-wheel racing war, along with events at several other SMI tracks, including Atlanta Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Las Vegas.

But the open-wheel landscape has changed dramatically in the last two years, mainly thanks to the so-called unification of the sport. And one of the first things that Bernard -- who has been on the job as IRL CEO for only four months -- said he noticed was a consistent lack of success for IndyCar Series races at ISC tracks. Attendance and promotion at SMI tracks, especially Texas, has always much stronger.

Hence the rapidly growing partnership between the IRL and SMI.

"Mr. Smith is one of my heroes," Bernard said. "The way he promotes is so aggressive, and that's what the IZOD IndyCar Series wants and needs. We have to think in the best interests of the IndyCar Series, and that's why we want to be involved with Mr. Smith."

You can see why Bernard has taken a shine to "Mr. Smith" and vice versa. They're both born promoters who aren't afraid to take chances.

Bernard frequently used the word "aggressive" when talking about Smith and SMI, but there is no doubt that Bernard has been aggressive in his first 100 days on the IRL job. He's already pushed the stagnant future engine formula selection process forward, and he hopes to make an announcement about chassis by July 14.

Bernard has also indicated that major changes could be coming to the IndyCar schedule, which he promised to reveal by "late summer." In addition to the New Hampshire event, IndyCar has already announced a new street race in Baltimore set for the week after NHMS in 2011.

With the schedule to be capped at 17 or 18 races, several existing events are apparently going to be dropped. And the obvious ones are the poorly attended races at ISC tracks -- Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Watkins Glen International.

On Sunday, Bernard said that IndyCar has a positive relationship with ISC, "But they need to tell us what they can bring to the table that they're not bringing right now."

He didn't rule out one-year contracts to keep some ISC tracks in the fold. "I like one-year contracts, because it keeps everyone hungry," Bernard said. New Hampshire is a one-year deal.

From a business standpoint, a stronger IndyCar Series can only benefit SMI, and ISC for that matter. That's where those France family ties get complicated and conflicted for ISC, because the Frances most certainly do not want to see Indy car racing grow at the expense of NASCAR, but they do want successful events at their tracks.

SMI officials are convinced that despite its checkered past in New England, the New Hampshire Indy car race will be a winner this time around.

"I like Indy car racing," Smith said. "I'm looking forward to bringing Indy cars back to New Hampshire, and I hope y'all are, too. We're going to promote the dickens out of it and make it a national event."

"The difference [from 1998] is that Bruton wasn't the promoter, and it has changed a lot since then," Gappens added. "IndyCar has better drivers, better cars and good momentum. A lot of it is due to Randy."

If anything, Bernard is a man not afraid to make a decision and put it into action. That's what makes his growing relationship with Smith so intriguing. Both of them are willing to take chances and do whatever it takes to make IndyCar events successful.

The Indy car war of 1996-2008 may be over, yet open-wheel racing still has its share of problems and conflicts. But with Bernard acting aggressively as the new sheriff in town, the streets are being cleaned up.

The question to be determined in the next few weeks is whether those streets will continue to include International Speedway Corp. properties.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cornhole 250 News: Park-o to appear at Kum & Go

(crapwagon.com 6-17-10)

clutch x
Again, only in the .1rl. Ya can't make this stuff up....

"Of note: E85 for 85 cents a gallon and meet Marco Andretti? What a deal. The Andretti Autosport driver will greet patrons at the Kum & Go (2110 Guthrie St. in Des Moines) from 5:30-7:30 p.m. June 17. Premium unleaded will be offered for 10 cents off per gallon. … Jake McVey and Jessie James will perform on stage after the checkered flag of the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer."

Where?/Who?/Perform what?!




Road America
Jessie James is hot, everything else in that article is meaningless.


last2brake
Is that where they teach you the difference between a white flag and a yellow flag ?


Indy
Danica = Kum & Go Slowly


TRPG
Danica = Rahal Kum & Get an irl seat


TheAngryDwarf
Is the Kum and Go for real?

Seriously?

To me, it truly sounds like a vicious nick name for the high school whore.

But, then again, this is the Earl.

Wonder how Randy is liking this now?


DirtDevil1
funny how a few short seasons ago, Marko & young Rahole
were both promising young American F1 hopefuls.
Fast Forward 2010, Rahal Jr's nothing more than FIRL ride beggar, &
Marcos peddling beer and smokes at the local Cum & Go
Neither one will ever turn F1 wheel, maybe a top 10 in prestigious
FIRL Iowa Corn Cob 150

Long live the Vision...


scorpion
Kum and Go? Gawd only in places like Iowa or Indianer. Makes sense though that Marco is out peddling his wares. My understanding is (and yes I actually checked) there are still tons of good seats in the cornfest bowl for the race. Plus daddy needs Marco to suck up some cash for RHR's last race.


last2brake
I'll be there on Sunday !

Did you get good seats ?


Ronbo
"cough" baloney.."cough"...


TheAngryDwarf
Oh, come on, Ronbo.

Everybody know that L2B is a closet gomersexual.

(And with that, I run away, and run fast away, for fast I shall run away,and far shall I run away fast.)

gomersexual.

Damn, I crack myself up sometimes.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

IRL think tank has its hands full

(by Terry Blount espn.go.com 6-7-10)



Somewhere in Indianapolis on Monday, the long-term fate of IndyCar racing is being determined by a handful of men behind closed doors.

That might sound a little melodramatic, but the three-day secret session going on now for the Indy Racing League's advisory committee -- open-wheel racing's version of a Washington think tank -- will determine the key decision these men make about the future of the IndyCar Series.

Seven men with various expertise in racing, along with new league CEO Randy Bernard, are listening intently (at least let's hope they are listening intently) to proposals from chassis designers making their pitch for the car of the future.

This is so important that the committee has a highly decorated retired general to oversee the proceedings. Gen. William Looney III, who learned a thing or two about speed and technology in his distinguished career with the Air Force, is moderating the meetings.

Now doesn't that sound exciting? Sure it does, if you enjoy watching C-SPAN or reading engineering textbooks.

But these meetings, which conclude on Tuesday, aren't just about choosing a new car to race in 2012. Based on what they see and hear, these men will try to set a course to a brighter future for American open-wheel racing.

The five chassis designs on the table run the gamut of imagination -- from the traditional look of today's Indy car science to something that comes closer in appearance to science fiction.

The right decision could propel Indy car racing back to its former glory. The wrong decision could bury it for good. And everyone on the panel knows it.

So, no pressure, guys. Just go with your gut instinct.

The men in the power seats include Eddie Gossage, Tony Cotman, Gil de Ferran, Brian Barnhart, Tony Purnell, Neil Ressler and Rick Long. I won't bore you with all their credentials, but they bring an ocean of racing knowledge to the table.

In the end, the IRL can accept or reject their recommendation, but the reality is these men are the Supreme Court.

And every man on this panel realizes the IRL needs to make a big splash. It needs this decision to take some attention away from NASCAR and bring casual fans back to IndyCar. It needs to create some hoopla, but it needs to do it with substance.

No one knows for sure how the committee is leaning. Every man on the panel has been sworn to secrecy. But there are some clues that came last week from the committee's selection of a new engine formula -- a six-cylinder, turbo-charged motor.

"Bringing innovation and diversity back into Indy cars is something we felt was very important," said de Ferran, a team owner and former IRL driver who spoke to reporters at Texas Motor Speedway this past weekend. "It's also very important to be cost-effective."

The committee announced an engine plan that it hopes will help it achieve its goal of bringing in as many manufacturers as possible. Honda is the only engine supplier now.

Could that be the same goal for the future car? It isn't as easy as running competing engine manufacturers, which know they must follow basic rules in engine size and power.

The futuristic Delta Wing car, which looks a little like the car Craig Breedlove drove in 1960 while setting land-speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats, has nothing in common with the Lola design, which more closely resembles the current IndyCar chassis from Dallara.

How do you make those radically different designs relatively equal for competition?

Picking more than one design could be the easy way out for the committee. If it chooses one chassis design, some fans will like it and some won't. Some fans want a futuristic look; some want a traditional look.

Finding a way to satisfy both and keep the competition balanced is the tough part.

After hearing all the proposals this week, the committee has only three weeks to make a decision. The stated goal is to announce a new chassis by June 30. Clearly that means picking a new car without extensive track testing.

"We have 18 months to get the car ready," said Barnhart, the IndyCar Series' president of competition.

It's a lot to work out in a short time. Does the car meet all the necessary safety requirements? Does it produce competitive racing on ovals and road courses?

If not, can it be altered to meet those requirements? The league doesn't want to pick a car that flops in testing and gives the impression that the series is heading in the wrong direction before the new car officially debuts.

NASCAR made that mistake with the Car of Tomorrow, which many fans hated before it ever raced.

So take detailed notes in these meetings, gentlemen. Listen well and give it all you've got. Deliberate with passion during the next few weeks.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall. It's bound to get a little heated at times. That's OK. It's pretty darn important stuff.

The fate of IndyCar racing rests in your hands. Make it count.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

IRL urged to act over Conway crash

(by Simon Strang autosport.com 6-3-10)

Double Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk and former Marlboro 500 winner Mark Blundell have called on the IndyCar Series to act to curb teams employing fuel-saving strategies on ovals in the aftermath of Mike Conway's accident.

The Briton sustained broken vertebrae and compound fractures to his left leg when his Dreyer & Reinbold car vaulted over the back of Ryan Hunter-Reay's Andretti Autosport Dallara during this year's Indianapolis event.

The accident happened when the American's car began to run out of fuel while trying to make it to the finish in eighth place.

Blundell, Conway's manager, believes that the IRL should consider introducing regulations to prevent a similar accident in the future, adding that the 26-year-old - who will require a further operation following the five-hour one he had on Monday - could not have avoided hitting Hunter-Reay.

"What happened on Sunday could have been avoided," Blundell told AUTOSPORT. "There could have been a fatality, not just on track, but also in the crowd.

"They need to do something about it so that it doesn't happen again. If you haven't driven an IndyCar at those speeds, you could never understand, but there is nothing a driver can do in those situations. If a driver has run out of fuel and is coasting on the racing line, you simply have no time to react at all."

Blundell wants to see rules introduced to ensure that drivers have to finish the race on a minimum amount of fuel - to avoid running out altogether - or be forced to run on the low line of the track if they are in fuel-saving mode, so that faster runners know to avoid them.

Several drivers were lapping off their optimum pace in a bid to make their fuel go the distance on Sunday.

"The Indy Racing League needs to look at it," he said. "There should be one that forces drivers to run on the low line if they are in fuel-saving mode, or stay up high out of the way, but either way never take the racing line with the speed differences involved because it can be as much as 80mph.

"They were black-flagging drivers for blocking during the race, which is fair enough, because that is dangerous, but the speed differential was only between two and five mph. There were cars at the end of the race going at 150mph while others were doing 220.

"Mike had a strategy that saw him running flat out for 500 miles and that's the name of the game - 500 miles. Plus race control had several laps to assess the difference in speed between the leaders low on fuel and the guys coming back through the pack at full racing speed. There should be a mechanism in place to avoid this happening again.

"The bottom line," he added, "is that they need to introduce a rule to ensure drivers finish with fuel in the tank. That would take some of this kind of thing away."

In a statement, the Indy Racing League's CEO Brian Barnhart explained that the event's organisers always tell competitors to head for the apron if their car hits trouble and that this was the case on Sunday.

"Like every other race, when a car is running out of fuel or having a mechanical problem, we implore the driver to move as quickly as possible to the apron of the track and out of the way of traffic," said Barnhart. "With the timing of the incident at Indy, Ryan's car just began to sputter and there was no time for him to pull out of the line of traffic before impact was made."

Luyendyk - who won two Indy 500s, in 1990 and '97, and coached Conway in this year's event – said that while it was understandable that drivers were allowed to try and save fuel at the end of the race, it was unacceptable for cars to run out altogether on fast ovals.

"The IRL needs to change the rules because normally if you're running way off the pace on an oval they black flag you to prevent accidents because of the huge speed difference – the closing rates are so great," he said. "In this case they let everybody out, which is understandable because all the front-runners were off the pace saving fuel with a few laps left, but to actually run out of fuel cannot happen on an oval especially with the speeds and speed differential.

"Mike had nowhere to go, he was running 220mph laps and most others [were running] around 200. I believe there is a rule in F1 to have 1.5 gallons of fuel left in the car at the conclusion of a race. It would be a good rule to have that here."