Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Indy Quote of the Week

Robin Miller on Marty Roth this past weekend:

"For the record, he was almost eight seconds off the pace most of the weekend and his qualifying speed would have put him 13th in the ATLANTIC field."

Thoughts about the 2009 Schedule

So IndyCar confirmed what we heard from USAToday last night, so now we can delve into this thing:

--The Most Important Thing I think a lot of people may be missing is that the 2009 Schedule, is NOT a bad schedule. We did not lose in the number of races; it maintains a good diversity in tracks and locations AND it was announced with plenty time to spare for teams & the series to go to sponsors and to plan for. After losing so many tracks and waiting so loooong for the announcements in the past thats a great change of pace.

--However, this schedule has left too much to question, and too many puzzling thought processes, especially when all year fans and sponsors and tracks were continually told that 2009 was a clean sheet of paper and it clearly was not, as its the 2008 schedule with 3-4 changes in dates.

--The most puzzling of them all is IndyCar's timid nature in leaving Las Vegas off for fear of not filling the stands (which surely hasn't stopped them from racing at, well name almost any track on the schedule right now). I think they needed to realize that there is nothing embarrassing about 60,000K watching the race in Vegas, the average fan will never catch a thing like the empty stands if they keep us into the action on the track. Even worse here was that they actually asked about racing on a road circuit that, according to friends I've talked to, is barely suitable for sports cars let alone IndyCars.

--Don't mistake this schedule for a 10 Oval/8 Road Course, its 10/9, they just haven't told you yet. While its good to see the IRL is standing its ground on things, it does mean that Surfer's Paradise will have to come to its senses and choose one of the dates the IRL gave them within their schedule (most likely the weekend after Motegi).

--Homestead to take finale, really? While I personally love the layout of that track so I'm glad it is staying, this decision doesn't make sense for a number of reasons.

1) Racing in Florida during Hurricane Season!? Yes obviously its no sure thing, but why risk it? I grew up in New Orleans and I can tell you all it took was one Hurricane Georges forced cancellation of the local music festival and they learned that lesson and no longer schedule the festival near there.

2) One of the best night tracks on the schedule and we move the race to daytime? I mean this is only aesthetic, but what sounds better to you. Sunday Afternoon in Miami, or Saturday Night in Miami?

3) Why are we still using the finale to compete with Sunday afternoon football? I mean I know we'll be competing in some facet but why not choose say 5 or 6pm on Sunday right when the NFL games are off, or even better, lets go Saturday afternoon as we all know early College football is not the time when it draws as everyone is playing their layup games.

4) Two weeks off before the finale? Obviously I expect Surfer's to turn that into one week off, but should it stay, they've learned nothing from watching Champ Car string out the end of their seasons, but this also brings up some puzzles in the schedule:

--We get just 1 oval before Indy? Talk about a lack of build-up; We get 6 ovals in a row? which of course then forces 3 Road courses in a row... It just seems for a series based on diversity it could have been done a little better.

--Why are Iowa and Richmond still right behind each other? Isn't the point of diversity to spread out that parity, give us something new and exciting each week, don't bunch up all the similar contests.

--Why are we waiting till April? We're going to have 7 months off this year, but even worse we've added to the end of schedule moving into football instead of moving ahead to compete with... nothing that is happening in March aside from March Madness. This means we'll get the 24 Hours of Daytona and then have to sit on our asses 2 more months until we see our drivers again.

--Lastly, Any word on Turks and Caicos pre-season?

So while I could nitpick the schedule if I dig far enough, I'll say that I'm happy that the schedule didn't digress from the previous season, but I just think they could have done so much more and that is where they are leaving a lot of fans down.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

From Florida to.. "are you kidding?"

Look for updates below

We'll have to wait for the entire schedule announcement for tomorrow, but for now both Curt Cavin at IndyStar and Brant James at the St. Petersburg Times have confirmed that the IndyCar Series will be opening its 2009 season with the St. Petersburg Grand Prix next year on April the 5th.

Cavin also goes on to include that Homestead-Miami is in fact staying but moving from the first race to last. I for one can tell you that (recent attendance aside) I'm extremely happy that Homestead-Miami seems to be staying on the schedule as it is a great track for racing and one that we could certainly use more similar of, (not following the Daytona D shape cookie cut).

However at this same time I'm not sure what this means for Vegas and Loudon being added or Barber and Cleveland for that matter; all races many would like to see added.

We'll have to wait a little over 17 hours for the rest of the schedule, but I can definitely tell you that, in my opinion, waiting until April 5th to start the series is a mistake. As we surely learned this year, fans are begging for a good race once the 24 Hours of Daytona happens and then we're left to sit and twiddle our thumbs when there is great weather to be had at Barber Motorsports Park, Homestead, Mexico City & Vegas. And as learned in the past the IRL seemed to want to avoid football season, and working itself further up into March was the way to do that.

UPDATE: Well not only does it look like Vegas and New Hampshire are no-gos, but it looks like the IRL decided to leave SMI at the altar while they were at it; asking SMI to go an extra mile, and when SMI does, the IRL backed out...?

According to this anyway, specifically New Hampshire's Jerry Gappens says it best:

"I sat in a meeting and watched Bruton Smith ask them for a race here, which they seemed extremely interested in doing, pending scheduling conflicts with Japan. In addition, in that same meeting, they asked him to host the series finale in Las Vegas, which he agreed to and even offered the speedway and financial support to do it this year. Having attended that meeting in early June, it's hard to believe that neither is on the new schedule."

How can it go from possibly one of the best looking scenarios with many tracks begging for a spot, to as ESPN reports one of the worst thought processes possible in this situation "The IRL wanted to use the 1.3-mile road course outside of Turn 1 in the LVMS parking lot instead of the 1.5-mile oval that seats 150,000 spectators."

For a series that is dominated by the Indy 500, an oval track, I honestly can't believe they were looking to begin AND end the series both on road courses, either or is fine but both? One has to hope this was just the IRL's odd way of saying no without saying no to the oval...

And this has nothing to do with an Oval Course bias, it has to do with turning your back on not only one of possibly the most valuable potential long-time partners for the IRL, but someone who was so committed, that they actually offered to pony up the funds and track to get Las Vegas onto the 2008 schedule if needed...

ANOTHER UPDATE: It now sounds as if we're getting the same 2008 schedule for 2009 minus Nashville, plus Toronto and swap around some dates... but I'll reserve comment once the IRL confirms what it looks like USA Today has already told us.

more on this after the full IndyCar announcement tomorrow...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Is it really this bad?

I'll have the post race notes up in a bit but have in the meantime come up on something more important. This article from the Sports Business Journal is, as an IndyCar fan, one of the scariest reports I have seen in a long time.

If this situation: no one wants to broadcast more than the Indy 500, is the actual situation the Series is in right now, then I'd think the best course of action is to secure the title sponsor and force ESPN to the next year that is in place and hope that things continue to go up into next season and re-look at the situation then...

In all honesty, I can understand ESPN's point of view in not wanting to shell out $10 million for it; you can see by the multitudes of commercials being shoved in the broadcasts that IndyCar isn't likely bringing in the big bucks to ESPN, only smaller racing associated ones...

However, I don't think you will convince ANY fan ANYWHERE, that going to another network for 6 races is better than revenue sharing all races with ESPN/ABC; that is assuming ABC/ESPN is talking about all races on that plan. Here's hoping that the times are better than they are looking in that report.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Can IndyCar get publicity for the racing?

Firstly, so sorry I haven't posted in forever; as I said earlier we went on an 11-day roadtrip to go house-hunting only to have our buyers on our house fall off and then get it set again and in there we had the chance to attend the torrential downpoured Nashville 200. Since its two weeks out I'll say only three quick things from Nashville:

1) Its a beautiful track and area, but we didn't see a single smidgen of promotion and the racing was great like a soccer match: only for those who know how to appreciate it, my nephews I can say loved it still though. 2) Brian Barnhart needs to go big time, Danica really should have been in the lead for the first half of the race but Barnhart allowed Helio to take almost 4 or 5 separate very dangerous swipe-blocks at Danica, if I were her I'd have just run into him by the 5th time. 3) This is my second time seeing them live and I can say for certain that the Indy Lights cars are the most obscenely obnoxious loud cars I've heard that wasn't on a drag strip. MY nephews actually asked us to leave the track they were so lound, and we all had heavy duty earplugs in, if the Atlantics, and Indy Car Series can be low enough we don't need earplugs, there is no reason we should go deaf with earplugs for the Lights Series.

now on to Mid-Ohio:
A VERY entertaining race though a crazy kind, but I love nothing more than parity and unexpectedness and we got that for the first 95% of the race. Unfortunately too many yellow's and much good strategy by the Penske Team gave us our much boring 5+ second victory gap for Ryan Briscoe and his team who should be much commended for turning such a decision-gaffe early on into a win.

On another note, I wonder what the record for most laps led without a win are and if Vitor Meira is approaching that mark...?

And now of course for the publicized incident. Theres nothing more to see than that video and the Briscoe incident to tell you Danica is not cool under pressure and cannot contain her wild emotions as right as she may have been in this situation...

to the same token D&R desperately needs to find a sponsor to get Townsend Bell in that car full time, Milka is nothing but dangerous out there, and its especially noticeable now that shes trying out the road courses, where she was supposed to have her experience... in all I can't really say it any better than Kurt Van Der Dussen at Auto Racing

"Duno may have four master’s degrees, but if driver skill in an Indy car were equated to educational level, she’s nowhere close. In a sport where legends A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Rick Mears and Al Unser Sr. would be the Ph.D.s, the current crop of Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan would have master’s degrees, Danica would be among those with a bachelor’s degree, and Milka would he a high school graduate who just couldn’t cut it in college.

With all the symbolic implications that add weight to this particular incident, the one that at the level of racing as sport and competition should not be lost as the ultimate bottom line is that Milka Duno just does not belong in an Indy car."

Can anyone really say it any better than that?