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.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Another nail, 2012 car still a dream

(by Obi Wan 6-23-11)

We're seeing all the makings of a typical Pagoda bait-and-switch con job. They've got everyone focused on the timeline for the prototype chassis -- of which they theoretically need only one hand-made example – rather than where the production “safety cells” are sourced. That, for sure, is not as advertised.

The production safety cells were supposed to be manufactured entirely in Dallara’s Indianapolis factory; which was ostensibly the reason that the State of Indiana was subsidizing their sale (using Federal disaster relief money). Now, the Pagoda is setting the stage for the first production run of Dallara cars – most likely the greatest number of them that will be sold at any one time and the only ones the state is subsidizing – to be manufactured entirely in Italy; where needless to say they don’t pay state (Indiana) or federal (USA) taxes.

Moreover, as a show of “good faith,” Dallara Automobili and its rarely mentioned local suck—er, co-partner Scott “Clueless in Indy” Jasek and the Indy Racing Experience were supposed to put up $7 million toward the cost of the new plant. So far, the Speedway Redevelopment group has used public funds to demolish the derelict building that was on site and prepare it for construction of the new Dallara factory; but there is no report that the Italian firm (as a separate entity from the IRE) has so far contributed a single dime toward the creation of its new American facility.

Anyway, I don’t think it should be overlooked that the Hulman-George’s rubber-stamp MORONIC committee essentially filched the best parts of both the Lola and DeltaWing proposals and gifted them to their Italian pals. Approval of the Dallara proposal (by the H-G’s) was always a foregone conclusion but the pirated portions of the other chassis-makers’ proposals help sell the clueless Indiana politicians on the idea of subsidizing the Italians. When the DeltaWing started to gain traction with the public, the H-G’s persuaded the politicos to use the money the DW group was counting on to build their prototype, to boost Dallara sales instead.

We also shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that other crucial parts of the plan to roll-out the 2012 cars are well behind schedule as well. For instance, the Rodeo Clown says that the decision on the aero kits is due any week now. However, we are well past the point where the aero kit manufacturers were supposed to declare their “intentions” (and cut the H-G’s their checks for 250 G’s each). So, it’s beginning to look like that decision has already been made (or has been made for them).

Moreover, the Dallara shenanigans mentioned above seem to point to a certain reluctance on the part of the Italians to invest their hard-earned lira in the H-G’s 2012 car. If the 2012 car were to be cancelled today, it seems likely the Italians could walk away without losing a cent. The obvious delays in rolling out the new prototype – for example, has anyone actually seen one in the flesh? – may speak to difficulties in finding someone to finance its design and construction. The H-G’s may have expected Dallara to front those expenses as the cost of doing business with the League, but aside from perhaps absorbing the cost of the lone prototype the Italians don’t seem to be investing much (if anything) in IndyCar’s future. Of course, the H-G's notorious penny-pinching may have left them no choice; their profit margin may be so skeletal that they literally can't afford to underwrite the new car without huge risk.

There’s no question that the H-G’s believed that they could specify the 2012 car of their dreams and simply order the team owners to buy it. Besides the obvious problem that the vast majority of teams don’t have the money to do so, the few that do – like Penske – have signaled that they aren’t going to allow the Terre Haute family to spend their (teams) money. If Penske and his fellow team owners have essentially vetoed 2012 aero kits, what else might they veto? It’s not inconceivable that they could balk at buying the new car entirely, in which case the H-G’s would be royally screwed. In this regard, the team owners can afford to play a waiting game and the H-G's cannot. Every day it becomes clearer and clearer to potential sponsors and broadcast partners that IndyCar can't survive one more season of the status quo. The H-G's desperately need the new car and the few remaining fans of the series expect it. If the H-G's demand that the team owners declare their intentions (with, say, purchase orders for the new Dallara) and they don't, what then? The H-G's can't afford to wait and find out; they'll most likely have to fund the new car themselves on faith (of which there is presently very little) or consider an exit strategy. That would seem to be their only choices.

Let’s imagine for a moment that the ex-CART team owners – which are about all that’s left in the IndyCar paddock nowadays – are as sneaky and evil as the H-G’s and their Gomer followers obviously believe them to be. Someone stricken with paranoia might begin to suspect that they’ve been biding their time in Gasoline Alley smiling their smiles while they bleed the H-G’s of every cent they can wheedle out of them; while casually tossing one obstacle after another in their path. Meanwhile, almost all the sources of revenue available to the IMS, ICS, and H-G’s are drying up along with series attendance, television ratings, and sponsorship. This has reached such dire proportions that there is serious talk about IMS needing to be sold. Well, who would likely buy the troubled Speedway from the weakened H-G's?

The NASCAR oval cartel (ISC, SMI, DVD) is currently overextended and suffering attendance and ratings problems of their own. John Menard could show the H-G's a thing or two about pinching pennies until they scream; so don't expect him at anything but an IMS fire sale. Well, don’t look now but at least one likely candidate to buy IMS is sitting in Gasoline Alley and just so happens to be the one currently causing the most grief. However, if one were to move against him, well then, one could kiss Chevrolet good-bye and with them the glorious new “re-birth” of IndyCar! However, if one doesn’t move again him, one may end up handing him the keys to a bargain-basement-priced IMS along with a reborn IndyCar. Then, unfortunately, there's always the possibility of moving against the wrong sneaky ex-CART team owner and while the outraged Pimp is destroying one's IndyCar renaissance, the Chipster steals the keys to the Brickyard.

What’s a body to do?


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