Sunday, November 23, 2008

Marco Andretti Does His Best Vitor Meira Impression

For those who wonder what the value in staying up till 4a.m. is, it's watching what was basically the final race of the year until the end of January and not being disappointed by A1GP in Sepang, Malaysia. For those who caught up on sleep here's a few things missed:

Most Notable of the night; Marco in the Team USA car does his best Vitor Meira impression launching his car over Team India's Narain Karthikeyan at the rolling start of the Sprint Race.

Unfortunately there are not many good still shots of this available just yet, but FORTUNATELY THERE IS VIDEO Just click 'Sepang Sprint Race' and watch what still really hasn't been explained by anyone and is most likely just a random racing incident. Was India going too slow? was the field going too slow? Did Marco go too soon? IF so why did Team Brazil/Felipe Guimaraes follow Marco right over India as well as if Brazil was hot on the pedal too.

What is actually impressive about it is that all 3 drivers are still ok with each other, none of them are mad screaming etc. or blaming each other; they very quickly realize it was a combination of misunderstanding where the field started to go but breaked and that didn't come to the back of the field in time but MArco was still apologetic anyway and also thankful as...

What came next was the more amazing part; real comradarie as all teams in the paddock helped out donating whatever parts (Korea even donating an entire rear wing to Team USA) they could to Brazil, India and USA allowing them to not only race in the main Feature race but allowing Marco to take Team USA to its first podium finish of the season, where he then struggled to pop his champagne bottle (not kidding watch the hilarious video), and took Team USA up 3 spots in points as well as Brazil turning around for the 7th place finish and some much useful points.

Oddly enough this may not have been the weirdest part of the race. While in 3rd place in the feature race, suddenly on lap 17 Malysia's Fairuz Fauzy came into the pits. What made it weird was that his team had no idea that he was or why he came in. He essntially lost 10 positions because of this eventually battling back to gain a few, but what caused it. Someone came on his radio and said it was time to pit... apparently he picked up another team's transmission somehow and the series is still trying to figure out how it happpened...

Other than that, race team's nationwide might want to check into Ireland's Adam Carroll who absolutely dominated the feature race winning by over a 10 second margin for his second win of the year. If you missed it just head over to the A1GP website where you can see good video recaps of both races, plenty of good racing going on all over the grid, and now the painful winter...

Next Up a long time away... is a great double header weekend: 24 Hours of Daytona on January 24th into 25th, and A1GP on January 25th in New Zealand (though being in New Zealand it will technically run in the middle of the night during Daytona) hope you can hold up until then...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sound of Music

If you've read this blog for a while you'll know that I'm a big proponent of making every aspect of the Indy Racing League as fan friendly as possible, and that I've gone off on more than one occasion about how obnoxious and un-fan-friendly the sound of the Indy Lights cars have been over the past years with their NASCAR/missing-muffler type sound that is so loud and deafening that really no fan can watch them without some sort of sound canceling headphones or earplugs. Its a real shame because the racing in Indy Lights has been nothing but great over the years. Since surely no one can carry a conversation during a Lights race without sign language, I and many others have felt it was a big hindrance to Indy Lights attendance, especially people with children.

Earlier this month we got the great news that Honda and the IRL would finally be moving forward with the new sound dampening mufflers for the main Indy Car Series, which is great because while someone like me is actually ok with the mian guys, it was still close enough to the range that some people did still complain.

However we never got any word on anything to be done for the Indy Lights cars, which by far had a much bigger problem. With the ICS most could actually go without earplugs and manage a conversation while with FIL you had no choice but to plug the ears unless you wanted to risk serious hearing damage.

Well race-day race fans got some more good news from the IRL today:

Firestone Indy Lights modify engine for 2009:
Firestone Indy Lights engines will undergo a modification for 2009. The 90-degree crankshaft used in the engines since the series' inception in 2002 has been changed to a 180-degree crankshaft.

"We primarily made the change to make the car sound more like they have single-seater racing engines," said Roger Bailey, executive director of Firestone Indy Lights. "The change will help the car's performance as well. It doesn't really change the horsepower, but the drivers will see an improvement in the power-band in the mid-range. And that will help our cars get off the corner better."

"From the outward appearance, there won't be any changes to the motor," said Speedway Engine Development's Jeff Gordon, Firestone Indy Lights program manager. "The noticeable difference is the sound the engine makes is more similar to the IndyCar Series engine.

We'll have to wait and see exactly what audible difference this makes but I can tell you any move in the lower decible direction is a good one and hopefully it'll help start to help improve Indy Lights attendance.

Photos from by Dana Garrett and Steve Snoddy

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Offseason Fun #2: IndyCar Book Club

So it's clear that with the award-banquet now done and most budgets not being set (at least publicly) that we're going to go back into the silent part of the off season with winter arriving and knocking out most practicing, though we will get 1 more A1GP race and the final NASCAR weekend for those interested before we really go officially silent for the winter as we all long await the awesome 24 Hours of Daytona.

So with that done and us officially taking Upside-down Indy car theories as far as we could on Trackforum and Mythbusters both without actually testing anything its time for more offseason fun.

Offseason Fun #2 is book club time. If you aren't a big reader, you're missing out simply on what great stories there are to be told, and if you simply haven't had the time or known what to start with lets make this the place to be to help you out as the Unofficial IndyCar Book Club.

Last year I (like many) caught up with what I think is the most important book for any IndyCar racing fan to read: Rapid Response: My inside story as a motor racing life-saver by Dr. Stephen Olvey. Even for those not big into IndyCars or even racing in general the book is a must read just to learn how far we've come as humans from what we used to have as medical practices and prevention and how a lot of things go into practical use; as well as human learning from stupid error (like hiring a private ambulance service that has no rights to actually leave the track in case of emergency). In addition to this it has great stories just from a racing insider but overall gives you a great appreciation for the sport we all love. So if you haven't read that I'll put that one atop your list.

Me? I have 2 books to start my winter reading list this off-season and am going to 2 different spectrums of the IndyCar timeline...

Book 1 for me comes as per its great recomendation per Jeff at MyNameisIRL during last weeks Trackside with Cavin and Kevin, Tales from the Indy 500 by Jack Arute. and I've got the Revised & Updated version for full enjoyment of learning what "Jackie" has seen and heard from 1969 and forward.

Book 2 came as a complete surprise present from Mrs. Wedge. INDY: Racing Before the 500 By: D. Bruce Scott . Its a book you can't really find anywhere and as such is why I never knew about it, turns out she found out about it because one of her best friend's boss is the guy who put it together. I skimmed it quick to get a jist (because it is a rather HUGE book) and it is an amazing FULL comprehensive collection of pictures race results, stories from every event held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway up until the first Indy 500, meaning we have everything in here from motorcycles, to cars, to planes and balloon races!?

#3, should I get through these quickly, will be My Sweetest Victory, Alex Zanardi's book, and if you even need to ask why, you simply need watch these 2 videos: Part 1 / Part 2

So anyone else have books to recommend for IndyCar/Racing fans?

Monday, November 10, 2008

And It Shall Happen

Wow, talk about calling it; (ok not entirely calling it as there were reports A1GP was offering to replace the IRL should it go)

BUT, Not even a day after my post below and we have now received official word that the IRL and Surfer's Paradise will be letting each other go their separate ways which made a lot of sense for both parties, but to continue making sense in decisions, Surfer's Paradise and A1GP will be picking up where they left off in 2009.

It'll be a shame if this (as we all expect will) adversely affects KV Racing in the IndyCar Series or more directly Will Power's status as a driver, but the unfortunate fact for them is that what has now happened makes too much sense for the 2 series and Surfer's Paradise.

I can't tell you how good all these decisions are for all three parties involved, just read the post below.

I'm a very happy fan, and you should be too if you are a fan of racing. If you liked Surfer's Paradise as an IndyCar Series fan, trust me it will be just as good as an A1GP event, and a great start to the IndyCar offseason.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Why the IRL should let go of Surfer's Paradise

For those of you who didn't stay up to watch the A1GP race all the way to it's conclusion at 3am Eastern, you missed a great race. I can honestly say I've only watched the series here and there in the past but this new car by Ferrari and the upwards car count the series has right now, and the familiarity of a good deal of the drivers has me pumped about its next race.

And with the Queensland Australia and the IRL unable to come to a date and money compromise it seems to make perfect sense at this point for the IRL to concede the race and let A1GP take it over, not just because it makes sense for the IRL to not lose money or crown a champ overseas, but because it just makes too much sense for A1GP to be there.

#1 A1GP is all about inter-nationality, this series exists to race in different countries, they can handle this.

#2 the cars have power boost(push button limited use extra HP) which would greatly help the action at a too-tight track like Surfer's

#3 Most importantly for the fans, it is an incredibly easy series to follow for a crowd like Surfer's, one that isn't all that into a specific racing series, all they would need to do is pick the appropriate country and cheer. I can't tell you how fun and easy racing can be once you break it down like that. Photo: Cheering for Marco last night was so easy when he's racing stars and stripes.

#4 A1GP could really use more dates on their calendar to help fill it up and not make it so spread out as it currently is.

Look, I'm a big fan of the ICS, it is and always will be my #1, but A1GP needs to take over Surfer's, especially considering the date problems the IRL and Queensland can't really overcome; they've been trying to work this out for some time, but so long as the dates are gridlocked this will never fully work for either party no matter the compromise, and that is forgetting about any money loss problems for teams and sponsors of the ICS.

For the ICS it would mean having more time to concentrate on issues easily within their grasp than trying to force this race to happen and force themselves to deal with the problems of money loss for teams and overseas champion crowning possibilities. As for A1GP, the U.S. needs to really look into getting a date on this schedule so we can root for the home team at least once more.

P.S. a note to; A1GP's online coverage is the best thing I've ever seen. ITs completely flawless sound and audio that never buffers and is incredibly clear.

for those of you that haven't seen it check out the race in Malaysia in 2 weeks and tell me what you think.