Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rubicon Race Team in 2009?

Last season we got word of the formation of Rubicon Race Team. Their plan for 2008 was simple; participating in the Indianapolis 500. The team was led by majority owners Jason Priestly (former Indy Lights,SCCA racer and IndyCar announcer) and Jim Freudenberg (Kelley Racing, Vegas Grand Prix etc.). It also included many small-part owners including actors Ian Zeiring, Tiffany-Amber Thiessen and NFL players Dallas Clark and Jason Baker.

The team unfortunately ran into the worst of luck, as their driver Max Papis tagged the wall on the final lap of practice before qualifying weekend badly damaging the car. They got the car back together but the transmission failed on bump-day qualification and even before that happened the speed never came back with the pieced together car. Since then we haven't heard a thing...

Well over the past few months we've heard many things: Marty Roth told a Canadian paper that Fruedenberg wanted to sponsor him until he heard rumors the IRL didn't want him to drive, the common word more recently being reported by many has been that Freudenberg was shopping around to possibly buy Roth Racing, Pacific Coast Motorsports or other bits of equipment from anyone or team who had it... We also got word that he was also holding anywhere from $2-$6million in sponsorship for a team in 2009. Would the economy effect it? Was any of it true?

...well I just got the following e-mail from the Rubicon team:
Rubicon Race Team wishes you... every happiness this Holiday Season and prosperity in the New Year. Thank you for being a team supporter. We look forward to continuing our relationship in the coming year. Stay tuned for some exciting announcements from our team just after the New Year.
Sincerely, Jim Freudenberg and Jason Priestley Rubicon Race Team

We get no clue what that means, but in the past they've never lead on anything without following up so far but this could be any number of things: Back for Indy 500? New part-time team for 2009? New full-time team for 2009? Purchase of PCM or Roth Racing? One car? Two cars? Indy Lights team? Priestly is going back to the announcers booth? who knows?

I'd love to see this team back, and hopefully full-time, at least because they had a great paint job last year and I really doubt they would show up in generic red/white/blue.

So what do you think we're being teased for?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wish for Additional Schedule Diversity

Since we are in the lull part of the news cycle for racing I figured we could propose some realistic thoughts on small further improvement to the Indy Car Series on the chance Brian Barnhart of Tony George happen to randomly cross the blog while searching for neat ideas they can use.

For me, the IRL promotes itself, and rightly so, for having the most diverse schedule in motorsports. The ICS gives you natural terrain, street, airport, rectangle, D-shaped, egg shaped; some banked and some not. Honestly this is my favorite thing about the ICS as a series as Formula One is all road, while NASCAR is all oval.

Formula One (and A1GP, GP2 etc) is all about pit strategy, technology and weather conditions; while NASCAR (and all stock car etc) is about drafting, yellow flag pit stops and endurance.

ALMS & Grand-Am both share the technical aspects of the disciplines but are missing the track diversity; which is why I think the IndyCar Series is much ahead of everyone else.

With the new TV agreement with Versus seemingly opening up the TV windows to a minimum of 3 hours of coverage if not more, here is one simple thing they can do at relatively low to no immediate cost and to the large benefit of fans and track owners.

Add a few laps to three of the ovals!

Now I'm not talking about going NASCAR and making every race 500+ miles, that's boring and defeats the purpose stated above about diversity. Each road/street course is different in its own way making it distinct from the others but take a look at our ovals:

Kansas - 300 mile D-shape oval
Indy - 500 mile flat rectangle
Milwaukee - 225 mile small flat oval
Texas - 342 mile steep banked D-oval
Iowa - 218 miles steep banked D-oval, small
Richmond - 225 mile small bullring
Kentucky - 300 mile D-shape cookie cutter
Chicagoland - 300 mile D-shape cookie cutter
Motegi - 300 miles wide Egg shaped oval
Homestead - 300 mile oval containing 2 straightaways!?

Clearly we have the 225 and 300 mile distance contests covered as well as D-shaped tracks, while losing Michigan (a 400 miler) now puts Texas at 342 miles, our longest non-Indy race. Worse it is right behind Indy meaning our 'distance' races (2 out of 10 ovals) peak together in the middle. We have 3 short ovals and 2 long ovals but 5 mediums? Why not lets differentiate the mediums what we can.

Lets take say Kentucky, Texas and Homestead and make them 400 mile races (differentiating them from the other mid-size 1.5 mile tracks) Keep Motegi at 300 as we don't need to be grueling out the time and equipment overseas in the late TV viewing hours and the shape of that track is plenty unique.

Fans get more action, drivers get more diversity, and track owners get more concession sales, and assuming the Ethanol is still paid for, no additional costs to teams...

This just seems simple enough, and I know some people feel Indy should be the only 500 miler and some don't, but regardless we need some freaking 400 milers before we even talk about 500 milers.