Monday, March 31, 2008

13 Things of note from Saturday's Race Day

While some people do some great live-blogging from the race activities, I figured I'd stay clear of adding yet another one to the mix for the day. Instead I filled the day with following as much action as humanly possible without actually being there... and even fit some home remodeling between the events.

Here are 13 things to note from the day in Homestead-Miami.

1. Vision DQ'd - ok so everyone knows this happened already if you watched the race or read the news; pretty much everyone is certain it had to do with rear wing angles, but more importantly is this a good (Vision is making all efforts to go faster), or bad (Larry Curry isn't exactly redeeming himself with this addition to his track record) sign? Guess only time will tell...

2. Sean Guthrie Lights it up! - If you like to wait for the ESPN re-broadcasts of the Indy Lights Series (Indy Pro) then I suggest skipping this item.. umm...and the next two as well. Yes that is a picture of Sean Guthrie completely sideways in the front straight..... For those of you interested in the series, keep an eye out on Sean Guthrie in his good looking blue and yellow #4 this year. Guthrie was warming up his car from the inside of row 2 (3rd) and made what he called "a rookie mistake" by spinning the car on a warm up lap. After spinning Guthrie had to come in to the pits to replace the nose of the car while outside on the track everyone was getting ready to go green. When Guthrie got back on the track he was a lap down and and lapped by most of the field. Guthrie then proceeded to not only make a charge through the field, but fought the leaders and outpaced them to get his lap back... when a late yellow finally came out and he was able to make his way back around to the end of the field, he used the rest of the race to make his way up as high as 8th position, finishing in 11th place. Effectively Guthrie Went from 15th to first (on the track) then spotted everyone ahead of him and went from 25th to 11th. no question he was probably the winner without the "rookie mistake."

3. Indy Lights not so PC moment? - This probably won't make ESPN's broadcast, though if like me you were listening to the IMS radio broadcast you got to witness a great quote from Bobby Wilson's team manager. Basically Wilson got totally screwed when ILS field bunched up badly on a restart (more on that below) and he had to go under the white line to avoid hitting all the cars in front of him and in the process passed one of them and got black flagged for passing under the white line... well his awesomely eloquent team manager busted out a gem saying there is no consistency if they get flagged and Ana Beatriz didn't get one for bad driving, but not referring to her by name but instead as: "the car with the girl"

4. Indy Lights notes - What to take from the race? Panther Racing is here to take ILS championship back from Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Dillon Battistini took the lead from Anntinuci (twice actually as he his first attempt was killed by a yellow flag) like it was nothing and cruised to an easy win. Battistini was only announced weeks ago and is a road course guy, so look for him in the top 5 each week after this performance. Brent Sherman may have finished 3rd but apparently the team played a strategy of conserving tires waiting for cautions only for the race to go green for the first 40, even with working against the grain of strategy he killed on the final restart with those fresh tires passing roughly 8 cars for 3rd. Raphael Matos on the other hand got killed on the last restart going from 3rd to 8th.

5. Who is running SPEED these days? - I'll just ask... who thought it was a good idea to tape delay the Grand Am coverage so that it actually ran into the IndyCar Series race?

6. Grand Am's in the sand, two in a row two on the day for Ganassi - for those of you who may not have seen, the Grand Am guys wanted to make sure you knew they were in Florida by constantly going three-wide in turns made for barely two cars sending at least one of the cars into the sand. The sand in general seems really stupid (though I have no idea its effect on track safety) but for the road course all it did was get cars stuck. On the other end of it Memo Rojas and Scott Pruet took the victory which gives them two in a row, and was the first of two in the day for Ganassi at Homestead.

7. Zombie Marty Reid - good lord what is that thing!? I know Marty Reid and Scott Goodyear had been joking about how HD will make them need makeup, but I think Reid's make-up artist really took it to task. The man's look for the night was basically: zombie. My wife honestly gasped when he first came on screen, "I know they are afraid of looking bad in HD but thats just creepy looking."

8. ICS Horrible Start Night - though it was a good overall race the theme of the day in general in both ILS and ICS were poor starts and restarts. The most notable thing about the ICS start was the initial wave off where it looked like half the field was in turn 3 while the first half of the field was on the front straight trying to go green, and the actually start used wasn't much cleaner. I know its the first race but this needs to get cleaned up real soon, along with warnings black flags to the guys up front who were checking up the field badly in some of the starts.

9. Dan Wheldon Cam - was quite amusing and I'm glad ESPN did this for the start of the race. Though ESPN's split coverage is good/great at most times, thy really need to expand the split screens to full size and get rid of all that stupid crap filling the screen. Watching Dan pass about 5 cars per lap was stunning to watch... espically considering that apparently Chip was pushing the take it slow route.

10. Lack of coverage - The HD in itself is magnificent, but the coverage itself was 'ok' at best for this race. Ed Carpenter went from last to 5th in this race and we never heard literally a single word about it the entire broadcast. AJ4 went 2nd to last to 9th and same thing. Oriol Servia went from "transition" car to contender by the end of the race; Marty Roth and Jay Howard both had some significant enough problems that they had to pull off, what they all missed in Hideki Mutoh's pit mistake was that he actually missed his pit while avoiding both the Penske cars coming out of their pit-boxes but even then why was he getting to his pit so late? and apparently there were more than 4 cars at this race but you wouldn't know it from ESPN's coverage.

11. Marco's missed opportunities - Its a shame Marco had as bad a season as he did last year, for the obvious, but also because Marco was easy to settle for 2nd. He wasn't pushing for more speed but better yet, couldn't recover from the Moraes accidental block, and definitely didn't show any of that Andretti blood when he easily could have complained about AJ4's unecessary blocking or Tony's unecessary check up of the field on the final restart.

12. Why was Kanaan allowed to lead the final restart? - The obvious big note from the race that everyone is talking about. Why was TK allowed to stay out o the track with only 3 wheels on the ground? Would they have let anyone else stay out in the field with only 3? Obviously it maligned the final restart to the effect that Marco got a great run on all the cars to catch Dixon only to have to slam on the brakes when the field never went, plus the same effect on Hunter-Reay, which actually cost him positions.

13. ICS Notes to take home - Overall Homestead seemed a little crazier than usual, I think ALL drivers were having problems with setups to a scary extent when it looked like Scott Dixon and MArco Andretti were literally going into the wall together cause Scott's car took a huge slide as Marco was passing him (both drivers were quoted saying they closed their eyes coming out of that) Questionable starts/restarts and an obviously glaring, why didn't they make Kanaan at least run in the warm up lanes were the overtones for the critical race-fan, but for the average fan it was the "always happens at Homestead first race of year disparity between cars" (last year I think Wheldon lapped basically everyone) but the MOST IMPORTANT thing to note from the ICS race was that by the end of the race everyone was looking good. It took a good amount of time and to finally put everyone on the track together but I think Kansas will be a much different race just based on everyone's speeds by the end of the race. Servia and Wilson were looking decently competitive, and Moraes got up to a decent speed by the end, and by Kansas more importantly, guys should have their new cars spare cars spare parts all ready and everyone won't be so conservative...

Look for some great racing at St. Pete next week as the danger goes down considerably, plus teams window goes to 2 weeks (3 for transistion teams) that the cars have to be ready again, and most of all, the track style goes universal to the drivers knowledge.

all pictures from and

Thursday, March 27, 2008

MLB Predictions

Well, I've been waiting for some questions to be answered before making my predictions. Will Chicago and Baltimore ever make this trade? There are so many pitchers who are limping into the regular season. Well, the season is here, so here we go. Your official FW MLB 2008 predictions:

AL East - The Yankees will be good. But Boston is just too talented to lose this division, right? Baltimore will be terrible. Rejecting the Cubs' offer of four prospects for Roberts makes no sense at this point.

1. Boston
2. New York (wild card)
3. Toronto
4. Tampa Bay
5. Baltimore

AL Central - I've been thinking Detroit here the last couple of months, but now that I really think about it, I believe Cleveland can outpitch Detroit.

1. Cleveland
2. Detroit
3. Chicago
4. Minnesota
5. Kansas City

AL West - Complete toss-up. I liked Seatlle last year and LA is hurting for pitching right now.

1. Seattle
2. Los Angeles
3. Oakland
4. Texas

NL East - Very tough. As much as I'd love to see Atlanta return to the top here, Philly and NY have too much talent. Alou and Pedro are wildcards here, so I'll go with Philly.

1. Philadelphia
2. New York
3. Atlanta
4. Florida
5. Washington

NL Central - Should be a summer-long race again. Dusty should create some kind of spark in Cincy.

1. Chicago
2. Milwaukee
3. Cincinnati
4. Houston
5. St. Louis
6. Pittsburgh

NL West - Should be another summer-long two-team race here.

1. Colorado
2. Arizona (wild card)
3. San Diego
4. Los Angeles
5. San Francisco

Tomorrow it begins!

So if you're reading this, chances are you're an information junkie and have already heard Graham won't be running tomorrow because of the lack of time and parts since he spun his (right now) only car on Tuesday and bashed the car up pretty badly.

Its unfortunate, and obviously I'd like to see them put something together to get on the track, but its obviously the smart thing to do. No sense in hurrying up fixing his car in the late hours or last minute paying for a loan out car only to have it starting from scratch in a race they generally would only be using for some experience. Take time show up at St. Pete and have a shot at the podium there, get through Kansas and then get the real time in May when you can practice all month for ovals...

Indy Pro has finally changed itself to Indy Lights, which is not only a less confusing name to partner to the main series but it sounds cooler and is a name with some serious history to it. It looks like Direct TV is going to be announced as a sponsor tomorrow of the series which is great because if you've ever witnessed Direct TV, they don't throw money at sponsorship and sit on it.

So with that news out of the way and all of us in serious anticipation of Qalificiations tomorrow and March Madness continuing tonight, lets bring out some fun facts:

#1 My favorite thing about the IndyCar Series, it is not only the most diverse tracks to race on making it easily the best test of overall skill in a race driver, its also the most diverse in its drivers, not only backgrounds in all kinds of minor league style... this year the series is sporting drivers from 11 different countries.

7 - USA
6 -Brazil
4 -UK (add one if TCGR ever actually lets Alex Lloyd race)
2 Australia
2 -Venezuela
1 - Spain
1 - New Zealand
1 - Canada
1 - Japan
1 - France
1 - South Africa (Scheckter currently part time)

Obviously we're a little heavy on the US for obvious reasons (plus the US is about as big as the European Continent so being from different states is basically different countries there... geographically speaking) its far more diverse than basicly all the other Top level series and thats without any kind of campaign or effort to create diversity.

Now lets take a look at something else.... what are the car color break outs... (since I've been whining about too much red and white and blue in the series)

so if you forget that white is in most all cars as a base color, here is how we break out this season:

5 - red
4 - red/blue
3 - black
2 - orange
2 - bare (though technically Jay Howard is sporting Red numbers at the moment)
1 - red/gray
1 - red/black
1 - blue/orange/silver
1 - blue
1 - black/blue
1 - black/yellow
1 - black/blue/green
1 - green/yellow
1 - green - some red
1 - yellow

that would be 13 of 26 cars sporting the color red to some extent, blue and black tie for second finding their way onto 7 cars.

So for this season I'm starting by giving 1st props to Ed Carpenter/Vision for going day-glo Yellow all over that car and not just a yellow stripe surrounded by red, black and blue.

2nd props go to Conquest Racing who could teach Chip Ganassi and Penske how its entirely possible to differentiate two cars on the same team with the same colors.

3rd Props seriously go to Panther, because even though they went for the Red, white and blue, its by far one of the best paint jobs I've seen.

So, just in case time gets squeezed tomorrow, happy racing everyone! and good luck to all of you in your NCAA pools... may Davidson and Western Kentucky run amok over all the brackets of the world!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Definitely NOT Red-White-Blue

That would be Will Power's new car. Not only is it not of the red-white variety, its looks pretty dang sweet!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Congratulations, It's Not Red White and Blue!!!

Ok so I caught the flu towards the end of our little road-trip and I've been out for a good while BUT I'm starting to finally recover today to a coherent level.

I should have the road-trip recap up tonight, but in the meantime the testing for IndyCar teams that are ex-Champ teams starts tomorrow, and I'm happy to see a couple things... 1 that the car count continues to go up (2-KV, 2-Conquest now including Enrique Bernoldi, 2-N/H/L, 1 HVM and a possible 2 from Coyne)... that looks like at least 26 cars on the grid next week at Homestead at minimum...

BUT more importantly; we now know that Aussie Vineyards is still going to sponsor Will Power and seeing the pictures in these two stories about Conquest is a victory for ALL race fans alike... WHY? Thats at least 2 if not 3 new cars to the series that won't be red and white, or red white and blue!!! I know what you're thinking, children dancing in the street, sailors bending over girls and laying on a smooch, cats and dogs putting the past behind them, its mass celebration in the world as we know it...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Finally Some Good News

After 2 weeks of not knowing any real news outside of a new official Indy Car Garage Flooring, and the series claiming they are "money," we have some new driver confirmations in Will Power and Oriol Servia will be piloting the 2 cars for the newly renamed Kalkhoven Vasser Racing Technologies team.

UPDATE (2:38pm): Whats better than good news... double good news. So much for media focusing on everything in a negative light. Apparently While the Minardi part of that team has left the remaining parts now called HVM Racing (as it was before Minardi) have announced they will run 2 cars in the IndyCar Series this year with a 3rd car at the Long Beach Race (presumably Doornbos); most are thinking its Ernesto Viso who tested a DP-01 earlier this year is the first Series driver... the second car... who knows?

Apologize for the lack of posting as we are now amidst this year's baseball stadium tour... will have pictures and updates later... so far last night started with LSU's Alex Box Stadium where they lost to in-state "rival" SLU (Southeastern Louisiana University), tonight is the University of New Orleans' Privateer Park where they take on my alma mater Southern Mississippi...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Now THIS is how you do pre-season

NASCAR's Bud Shootout bah...NFL in its own stadiums for preseason, baseball in Florida and Arizona almost there.... How about an IndyCar Pre-season "festival" in the Caribbean!!

"The Turks and Caicos Government has signed a letter of intent with the Indy Racing League (IRL) to launch Indy Turks and Caicos Grand Prix, slated for February 2009. "

from the: Turks and Caicos Sun

It looks as though the ICS may have stumbled across an absolutely brilliant idea good for both the league but also great for the Turks and Caicos islands, especially if this is televised. This will not only be more for the islands to get some notice and tourism of its very wonderful beauty, but wills double to make IndyCar pre-season easily the most popular pre-season in sports, a no complaint from anyone who has to cover it.

for those unfamiliar with the location

Its official: Closest Race Ever

Guinness has made it official, last years Chicagoland race finish in the Indy Pro Series is now officially recognized as the closest finish ever in car racing history.

"Just how close?"
for those not familiar with the race asking... The cars were 1.65 inches apart... or better yet... they finished .0005 of a second apart. It takes you .1 of a second to blink your eyes... More numbers to throw around...

Quick Morning News - Farve & Papis & Testing

Obviously the big news for today will be that Brett Favre has finally decided he is going to retire. I don't think there is a person alive who can do anything but applaud Favre on his career and also for making this choice now as he says he is "mentally tired." That makes perfect sense, obviously he can continue to play if he wanted but there is nothing left that he HAS to accomplish. Cheers to Brett Favre!

(p.s. that's Favre at Southern Miss... felt like giving some promo for the alma mater)

Aaron Rodgers has got to be happy, and talk about true development of a player for once from an NFL team, he has actually had time to learn from watching the game and being taught rather than being thrown in wildly as a quick "solution" to losing...

Indy News - Max Papis to drive for Rubicon - I got the following release from Jason Priestly and Jim Freudenberg:

Rubicon Race Team Driver Announcement

Max Pap
is will pilot the Rubicon Race Teams first ever entry in the 2008 Indy 500. Max brings an experienced resume to the team that includes three wins, 2 poles and 11 podium finishes on the open wheel side and numerous sportcar wins and podiums as well. Max started his racing career in 1981 karting in Italy and his flamboyant personality has garnered him many great relationships over his racing career.

"Mad Max is a good friend and we are very pleased he has joined our team for this Inaguaral team effort", said Priestley. "His personality and experience make him a great addition to our team".

Max brings his relationship with Geico to the team as a partner for the month. "Relationships are what build our sport and Max understands and cultivates that as a driver" Freudenberg mentioned. "This team is off to a great start because Jason, Sam and I along with Max, have been able to bring our business relationships together to form a strong business to business and business to consumer group that understand how to work t
ogether to grow".

Its good to see this team really come together and with plenty time to spare, I definitely look forward to seeing Papis on the track and cross the fingers in hopes this could eventually develop into a full time team.

At IndyCar testing yesterday Kanaan put out the hihest time but with everyone seemingly testing a lot of different things the times were pretty spread, which shows in at least that already this morning all drivers have passed 110mph mark with only 2 not beyond 111mph. In fact as we speak Hideki Mutoh is your new speed leader at 113.539... don't imagine Kanaan will let that last for long.

The best thing I've seen so far in the times is the good showing from Roth Racing. While obviously Marty is learning the ropes of turning right, Jay Howard is putting up contender numbers here and there, and it makes you wonder if he'd be on the top of the charts if he had Mutoh's car...? Is this our rookie of the year battle right here??

Monday, March 3, 2008

What Now for Indy Cars?

SO... now that the unification has happened everyone sees the obvious next point is to go on from here growing the product. In essence we're talking about marketing the product/sport.

While not too in-depth, the topic is always brought up on forums and most recently Trackforum, and though I've talked to friends about it before, since I work in a very similar field (music entertainment) I figured I'd throw in my two cents, especially since my dream job is to do what I'm doing now but to do it for the IndyCar Series.

The basic problem that most can see now is while "I am Indy" is a great catchphrase, and makes good T-shirts, its absolutely horrible for Radio & Television commercials. In fact Firestones "Ode to Racing" does way more for the series than "I Am Indy" probably ever can. The song is rough and blaring and it not really all that catchy, its repetitive, and frankly I'll put it right up there with "this is our country" for themes that probably do more damage than good.

They really just need to do 2 major things, show off all the drivers, and also to do the one thing to differentiate from NASCAR and show off the cars/technology. Be the fans friend, be both serious, and silly...

Basically, in a way, rip off Texas Motor Speedway's new NASCAR campaign "Reason #" with drivers saying why they do this. Randomly put these quick quips in the 30/60sec TV spots on ESPN/ABC all through March (with race scenes in the background), and it needs to play all ways, it needs to apply to both humor and seriousness...

Kanaan: "Because after 11 Wins and a Championship, I still don't have the one I want"

Danica: "Because theres nothing novelty about going 220mph+, 5 inches from another car"

Marco: "Because even though I've gotten closer than Dad ever did (video of his near win), I still haven't gotten to where Grandpa has (video of Mario's win)"

Sarah: "Because its inspiring" (video of her signing autographs for little girls, or better yet little girls watching her race)

Helio: "Because racing in the red and white still beats dancing in yellow"

Briscoe: "Because some people don't get a second chance" (video of his crash)

I mean we could think of many of these, imagine quick 30 second spots on ESPN/ABC with random bits from drivers and each spot ends saying when the first race is....

Then just for a lighter side to make you realize the drivers have a lighter side I always had this funny image idea in my head:

open scene to all the drivers are on the track but racing on BMX bikes, all in fire suits, no helmets but racing on the track in bikes... and it does some quick pans of silly things like pit stops changing wheels and water bottles, someone having a brake problem, then maybe even a spin out/flat tire crash and whoever flips off their bike, the bike then for no reason sparks a quick fire like the cars sometimes do... and then ends with Kanaan beating someone by leaning his head forward beating them in slow motion finish by a nose and then:

"Without the cars, it just seems weird"

then show quick racing video to end it and promo for whatever race is coming....

I don't know thats just me and my ideas... anyone else feel free to throw in some of your thoughts...