Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Names for Bowl Games

Here at Grab Bag Sports we have always had fun with the ridiculous names of the meaningless bowls that wrap up the college football season each year. In fact, just for fun I'll list the names of ten "bowls" which may or may not be real games that exist currently or were once played. Try to guess which games on my list are real and which are fake.

1. Bluebonnet Bowl

2. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

3. Cigar Bowl

4. Heart of Dallas Bowl

5. Cherry Bowl

6. Aviation Bowl

7. Refrigerator Bowl

8. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

9. Bacardi Bowl

10. Bowl

(Don't cheat and use the internet! Answers will be provided at the end of this post.)

As I sit here watching the (absolutely real) New Era Pinstripe Bowl, which has featured much more snow than good football, I am beginning to think that we should name the games AFTER they are played. Like, this could be the 2012 Snow Bowl. We could also name the bowls after important events that took place during the games. For example, this game could be named the Geno Smith Safety Bowl, since he has had two safeties already. Or maybe we could just let the game's MVP name the bowl on the field in a post-game interview.

All of these options seem better to me and would likely give me a better chance of remembering exactly what I watched when looking back at past games. It seems like we're limiting our creativity by sticking with the same boring (and usually terrible) bowl titles.

Oh, and #10 is the only title on my list that I made up. The rest are actual names of current or past bowl games. But give us some time and that bowl could happen.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Shift in IndyCar's Demographics is Coming

It may be many months away, but as a recently fired IndyCar CEO, Randy Bernard, said from afar on Twitter, the biggest shift in IndyCar demographics is coming:

I sent the above video link to my sister who then showed it to my two nephews both under 10. Result, they now really want to see it. I must note I just sent a link, so I did nothing to convince them or say anything to them, they made their own opinions. Lets state something now, even if the impact of Turbo is minor, it will in fact still be the biggest single drop in IndyCar demographics ever.  

More importantly its worth noting that the trailer on YouTube already has over 677,000 views. Minus crash videos, does anyone know of an IndyCar video that has a number of views that high? The answer is none.

Go on YouTube, search "indycar" and sort results by # of views. The hot wheels stunt at the Indy 500 is in the top five with 13 million views but it's not really indycar related.

In fact you have to go all the way to Page 4 before you get a non-crash video (Wheldon, Brack, Marcello, Brayton, Conway, Zanardi etc.). Down on page 4 of most watched is JR Hildebrand doing a lap of Sonoma with a GoPro (900k views), which we can probably all agree has more to do with GoPro, which is why they are a great sponsor/partner. 

The next highest non-crash video = Danica/Milka fighting in pits (700k views)

Keep going, Simona crash fire, Pace Car crashing at start of 500, Servia crash at Laguna Seca, Mansell/Vitollo car stacking (300k views) .... you get the point, crazy as it seems...

In fact, you have to go all the way to Page 7 before you get a non-crash video, drumroll please...

Will Power Extinguishes Engine Fire at Sebring Test (290k views)

...and right behind it

1996 CART Laguna Seca - "The Pass" (275k views)

Turbo's trailer in just a little over a week has twice as many views as "The Pass," the seemingly holy grail of IndyCar 'big play' videos.  

Plus I'm sure the demographics for the turbo video are much lower and more spread out that just racing fans  = good thing for IndyCar. More than anything It means kids buying Turbo toys, which while it will include a snail will most likely include little IndyCars they will race around the "tracks" of their living room carpets. It should also means parents of those kids will learn of the movie and when some random friend says "wanna go to an IndyCar race?" they'll at least know whats being talked about.

And that is a good thing.

A better thing that many may not have seen in the initial news release about the movie is this tidbit:
"Little else is known about the movie but DreamWorks Animation thinks it’s going to be huge (an animated series is already in the works, presumably to air on Cartoon Network)"

This is not Driven folks, and its not a one-off mini-splash, and that is good news for IndyCar, its drivers, teams and fans.

Monday, October 1, 2012

SPEEDTV's Robin Miller thinks Robin Miller should shut up with all the negativity

As a writer and former sports journalist, and at the very least being a person with a brain, I have found the last 3-4 years of Robin Miller's career quite amusing. For those who don't know, Robin Miller is one of the 9-10 writers who regularly cover the IndyCar Series. Robin has always been a good source of breaking info, kind of like an Adam Schefter for IndyCar. However, in the past few years as the # of media covering IndyCar is increasing, so Robin seems to be going the Fox News route of trying to say whatever is shocking necessary to get page views.

From reporting gossip or opinion as fact, or breaking out his own rumors without quotes or sources, to running articles the very rumors that he started. That's not all, because in 2012 he's also been appalled at the timing of his own articles; which I guess is why now we should not be all too surprised at the dismount, where he is now appalled by himself.

This has nothing to do with my opinion of IndyCar or anything of that matter, its just simply annoying to personally know professional sports writers who work their asses off day in and day out by some pretty damn strict standards; while Robin, for whatever reason, just writes whatever he wants to get the most page views and seems to have no memory whatsoever. Its, sadly, no different from the Fox News approach to political coverage, which is just as evenly matched for dumpster diving.

So to sum up things: If Robin Miller breaks a story days after the Indy 500 about team owner unrest snd ousting Randy Bernard even though all the owners deny it, its the owners who should be ashamed because he found out. But if SBJ runs an article naming a firm apparently being hired to do sale/purchase research then that's a pile of poo and Robin says this kind of stuff needs to stop! Robin's rebuttal here.

I don't disagree that media reporting on gossip without sources needs to stop, but I find it quite amusing the guy who started this whole story to begin with is now claiming that reporting on it needs to stop. Pot, kettle and all that...

I don't think anyone denies Robin has good connections and can break good stories; but I think more than a few times he's just a pawn being played for information leaks; and he is either unaware of it or is ok with being it. Frankly, as an IndyCar fan and one who follows the business side closely I agree the negativity does so much harm, but 2 things; #1 how Robin campaigning for less negative coverage qualifies as an article is beyond me... #2 One can only hope Robin remembers his own article here when he tries to run his next negative article a few months from now.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

2012 Summer Olympics: August 8

Starting Thursday, I'll be using Twitter instead of posting here about the Olympics.

4:40 p.m. - SPOILER ALERT: NBC messed up.  May-Treanor and Walsh did not.

4:30 p.m. - No, I'm not mad at NBC at all.  My internet feed just jumped forward to catch up with itself and I missed four points.

4:25 p.m. - The online commentator literally just said something like: "The Americans returned it, but it was to middle court, giving the Americans all the time they needed to recover."  Maybe he's just being funny.  He probably thinks most Americans are just going to watch it delayed anyway.  I hope he just keeps referring to both teams as "the Americans" throughout the whole match.

4:20 p.m. - SPOILER ALERT: America will when the gold medal in Women's Beach Volleyball.  Take that, NBC.

4:15 p.m. - OK, so I haven't really done any complaining about NBC.  Enough has been said about it everywhere else on the internet.  But as far as I can tell, I can't watch the Women's Beach Volleyball live on TV.  This is ridiculous.  I can see replaying it in primetime.  That makes sense to me.  But to have basketball, cycling, boxing, wrestling, and whatever else is on right now instead of the two American teams battling for a gold medal is just stupid.

9:30 a.m. - Just to be clear... an Xbox marathon is not the same as a real marathon and is not an Olympic event.  Also, this "happier than Gallagher at a farmer's market" commercial ruled.  I think it was Geico?

9:15 a.m. - Looks like a long day of basketball is on the schedule, but I'm about to check out and do some non-computer stuff. Hopefully I'll catch Team USA when they're on.

8:55 a.m. - NBC Sports just showed a great piece on the 1996 USA Gymnasts who defeated Russia for the gold medal when Kerri Strug did her final vault after hurting her leg. I think it was Meredith Vieira doing the interviews and narrating.  If you can find it online or anything you should check it out.

7:45 a.m. - Handball overtime with Hungary and Iceland.  But more importantly... does Old Spice have an ad campaign that says "Believe in your SMELF"??  I'm trying to write and commercials are the best time to do that.  But it's hard to concentrate with such stupidity on the TV.  Believe in your Smelf is worse than the DVD kiosk, the military DVDs, and all the bad blogathon commercials combined.

7:20 a.m. - Handball is a pretty funny sport too.  If I had known about this growing up, I know my brothers and I would've been firing mini-basketballs at our sofa until like 2:00 in the morning.  My main problem with it is that it has a clock that counts up instead of down.  I don't like these up-counting clocks because I never know when it's about to end and when I should get excited.

I am not an Olympics expert. I am a fan of baseball, football and basketball. I like to watch other sports, even if I do not know what is going on, and the Olympics are fun to watch. If my thoughts upset you in any way, feel free to comment or ignore me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

2012 Summer Olympics: August 7

5:00 p.m. - Comeback and upset complete.  Kessy and Ross advance.  The Brazilian girls might fist fight.  They looked pretty mad at each other.

4:30 p.m. - Took a break for grass-cutting and pizza.  Watched the USA Women's Volleyball team win, then caught the gold medal race in Women's Cycling Sprints.  Those two actually did come to a complete stop on the bikes.  I was so into it.  I need more cycling sprints.  Now it's Women's Beach Volleyball and Kessy/Ross are making a big comeback against Brazil, the top team.  And it's raining.

11:45 a.m. - USA just scored.  Why is overtime not sudden death?

11:40 a.m. - In a 9-8 game with one second left, I think USA just pulled a Chris Webber.  I guess we called a timeout without having possession.  Australia got a penalty throw and tied it 9-9.  Overtime.

10:55 a.m. - I was watching some horse stuff and didn't realize we had a USA/Australia Women's Water Polo gold medal game on NBC.  Water Polo beats horse stuff.   Also... the Saints have options at wide receiver.

10:15 a.m. - Since this basketball game is a 35-point blowout, can we just play our soccer team in the fourth quarter?

10:05 a.m. - I like the guy next to Canada's bench trying to get the boom mic as close to the coach as he can.  Sort of an event in itself.  "He hit her in the face that time.  He may fall out of medal contention after the penalty for face-hitting."

9:35 a.m. - You think we'll ever see H.O.R.S.E. in the Olympics?  That would be my favorite event.  I'd like it even more than that steeplechase thing I watched where the guys had to run through water puddles on what was basically an obstacle course for adults.

9:25 a.m. - Canada's hopes of avenging yesterday's soccer defeat by beating us in Women's Basketball have now diminished after this 23-8 start.

8:45 a.m. - FYI, I'm about to win a gold medal in coffee making.

8:25 a.m. - So the British guy won the gold medal in the triathlon.  But his little brother, who was running with him the whole way, had to take a 15-second penalty for not doing the bike transition thing correctly and ended up with the bronze.  Such a terrible blow to the sibling rivalry.  Could you see Thanksgiving (if they celebrated Thanksgiving)?  "I could've beaten you for the gold..." "Too bad you don't know how to park a bike." 

8:00 a.m. -  The cycling just got really cool, as they jumped off the bikes in their bare feet, put them on bike racks, put on new shoes and took off running.  Apparently I had just missed the swimming part.

7:40 a.m. - With these track heats, it's funny because you could set a world record in a qualifying run and then not even medal later.

7:30 a.m. - Outdoor cycling to start the day.  I like these outdoor races because I get to see London.

I am not an Olympics expert. I am a fan of baseball, football and basketball. I like to watch other sports, even if I do not know what is going on, and the Olympics are fun to watch. If my thoughts upset you in any way, feel free to comment or ignore me.

Monday, August 6, 2012

2012 Summer Olympics: August 6

8:45 p.m. - Got caught up in the awesome soccer finish.  Definitely ready for the gold match against Japan.  Then I watched the current Dream Team win another game and posted a fantasy football article.  Olympic coverage is kind of bare right now, but I think they're showing my cycling replays in the prime time slot. 

4:22 p.m. -  Hand ball on a free kick so we got a penalty kick.  Abby Wambach got a penalty kick and tied it 3-3.  She has five goals in five games.  This is like a 10-10 baseball game.

4:21 p.m. - I mean, I know I'm dumb and I don't watch much soccer.  But we're lining up for a free kick and the announcer says, "These are things you practice."  Good to know!

4:18 p.m. - Just witnessed my first soccer hat trick, courtesy of Canada's Christine Sinclair.  3-2, Canada.

4:15 p.m. - Canada kicked one in their own goal for a 2-1 lead, but then an American girl got another one to tie it at 2-2. This is actually a pretty fun game. And here's my Cubs article for today.

4:00 p.m. - USA just tied it 1-1. This assures that I'll get to see at least one more goal. It's OK that the USA goal was a side throw that actually hit like two Canada people and then rattled in. The announcers don't even know who to credit the goal to.

3:45 p.m. - OK, I can't really keep up with the 32 sports and 302 events that NBC is claiming to have coverage of. I need like a live bracket or schedule that says something like, "You are watching x. The team that wins will advance to x round." It needs to keep popping up like every 10 minutes. That way I can actually care. This US/Canada Women's Soccer broadcast at least announced at the beginning of the game that the winner is assured of a medal. But if I had missed that, I would be lost. I'm actually watching hours of this stuff every day. I couldn't imagine someone tuning in for 30 minutes here and there and having much of a clue about what they are watching.

2:15 p.m. - Watching cycling, but writing about LSU football.

1:30 p.m. - This women's sprint omnium elimination race is cool. The last one across the line is eliminated each time. Except when their lights flash on their bikes, telling them they're out, some of them ignore it and just keep going. So it's kind of confusing. "What flashing light? I don't see it."

12:50 p.m. - "Hey, whatcha doing back there? You still going REALLY slow? Cause I am. Look how slow I'm going. I almost stopped just now. You still going slow? Let me know when you're ready to go fast."

12:45 p.m. - The thing about this cycling sprint is that nine out of 10 times, the guy who starts in the back seems to come from behind to win. It's almost an advantage to start out slower. The guy in the lead keeps looking back to see what they're doing. They slowly climb the hill. Then they come flying down and take the lead on the one super fast lap. Crazy sport.

12:00 p.m. - Wedge and I have decided that this indoor cycling sprint might be our favorite Olympic sport. The strategy to go very slow at first is perplexing. Gold medal coming soon, I think.

11:15 a.m. - My thoughts on the Saints/Cardinals game from last night.

11:00 a.m. - I lost my TV to some Disney Junior action, so I've got the table tennis rolling online. No commentary. Table tennis without commentary is just as bad as it sounds. But at least I can fully hear the Queen song playing now. (I can't believe this is the 2012 Summer Olympics and we're still using Jock Jams as entertainment.) Anyway, this guy just took off his shirt to wipe off his body after a table tennis match. Plus, with the online coverage, we get behind-the-scenes looks between matches. Which is like the judge doing a crossword puzzle or something, and the receptionist-looking lady on the other side having to get up and wipe the table. From all the sweat, I guess.

10:05 a.m. - So... I think if you come in last place in a men's event, you should then have to face the women's gold medal winner in that event. Just to show we don't always need separation.

9:30 a.m. - Whoa. Doubles table tennis. This just seems uncomfortable to squeeze all of these people into this small space. I think it's time for a bigger table!

9:03 a.m. - In college football news, here's that ECU Pirates 2012 schedule I know you're all waiting for...

9:00 a.m. - OK, shooting. I don't think I can give this approval as a "sport." I mean, when you do something sitting and then you have to do it standing... not very athletic at all. I'm not saying it's not a skill, and I'm not saying I could do it. But it's not a sport.

8:25 a.m. - Women's table tennis, China vs. Korea. I've watched like three matches of table tennis so far and I still don't know how they're serving it. I also think it's hilarious that the "table" is like the size of a coffee table. You could hold hands with your opponent in this sport.

8:00 a.m. - Russia vs. Serbia volleyball. Russia is winning this one easily. My favorite part of the volleyball is how all the guys run up the the net to fake like they're the ones who are going to spike it. I think in basketball, everyone should run and jump to the goal, and then the point guard can just pick one to alley-oop it to. They can't guard all four guys in the air.

7:35 a.m. - Most of last week, I sat here writing about sports and watching various Olympics coverage. I don't know much about any of it, but I decided that I'd go ahead and blog about it this week. If anyone reads my thoughts, feel free to chime in and even educate me. I figure this is better than tweeting a bunch of stuff. Also, maybe Wedge will jump in from time to time as well. Unless he identifies his posts with his name though, just assume this rambling nonsense is coming from me.

I am not an Olympics expert. I am a fan of baseball, football and basketball. I like to watch other sports, even if I do not know what is going on, and the Olympics are fun to watch. If my thoughts upset you in any way, feel free to comment or ignore me.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Deep Sleeper Fantasy Football Podcast

Our fantasy football podcast has recently moved to podbean.  If you've been following along, you can now visit our new site and update your feed.  Feel free to send any feedback or suggestions to 425-419-1739 or

Podcast Powered By Podbean

Thursday, July 12, 2012

2012 MLB All-Star Game Thoughts

As a Chicago Cubs fan, I was happy to see the National League roll to an 8-0 victory over the American League in the 2012 MLB All-Star Game.  Were they inspired by Chipper Jones' great speech in the locker room?  (Probably not.)  I don't know, but with a three-game win streak, it's great to see the NL finally start to take control over the last few years.  Even if my Cubs won't benefit from the World Series home field advantage provided by the victory.

Speaking of the home field advantage, did anyone else think it was ridiculous for Tony LaRussa to have the ability to make ANY important decisions in a game that "matters" now?  If I work at McDonalds and then quit, they aren't letting me make the schedule for next week, are they?  What would I care?  LaRussa was probably throwing darts to set his lineup (flask in hand may or may not be optional in this scenario).  He was on top of his game, though, when inserting a (Cardinals) third baseman into the game to play first base ahead of an actual (Cubs) first baseman.

LaRussa's favoritism aside, I thought it was a fun game.  Below are three of my favorite moments.

3. Prince Fielder

It's been a while since I ripped on the Fresh Prince of Detroit, but did you see him trying to scoop up Derek Jeter's throw on that awesome play in the first inning?  The smile on Jeter's face was not because this was a fun exhibition game.  He was trying to hold back from laughing as hard as I was!

2. Hybrids make us stupid?

Guys.  This woman forgets how to put GAS in her CAR.  Apparently she's had a hybrid since 1972 and has never had to fill it up.

1. Ivy. Double. Check.

Kerry Wood + discount double-check + french horns + ANDRE DAWSON = Cubs fan's dream commercial

Monday, June 25, 2012

Better Ways to Break a Tie

In case you had not heard, the Olympics are in one month, and that means all of the countries around Earth are doing their trials and qualification to see who will represent them in London.

And what you may not have heard even if you knew the above was that in the U.S.A. Olympic Track & Field trials for the women's 100 meters; there was a tie for 3rd place between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh. I don't mean a really close race, or a debatable result, I mean a literal freaking tie, as in no photo evidence can show anything but a dead heat for the final two runners.

This photo on the side is the official timing camera's. So its 3rd place, who cares? Well the difference between 3rd and 4th in trials is the difference between going to the Olympics and going home. So the USOC and IOC needed to find a way to break this tie. What did they come up with:

"To break the tie, Felix and Tarmoh will be given a choice between a coin flip or run-off."

Yes, you read that correctly (full ruling here), a coin flip, whether or not you get to participate in the most prestigious sporting event on the planet can be decided by chance.

This doesn't even account for the fact that researches have proven standard U.S.A. coins do not yield 50/50 results. To that point, I went to Twitter and asked folks what could be better:
: "They should use Rock Paper Scissors... 2 out of 3"
which got the reply:
@KelseyUSA "Rock Paper Scissors DOES leave the result more in their hands than a coin toss does haha"
AGREED! In fact there are many ways we could put this in the runner's hands outside of the run-off. In fact the ruling also states that one runner could opt out and become the alternate. That means they can literally choose whatever way they want to break the tie and officially the 2nd runner would just opt out.

So here's just a few quick ideas on how they can break this tie:

Option 1: They compete in the 100 meter dash on the original Nintendo game "Track & Field." It still requires skill, speed, and the same short amount of power burst, but shouldn't subject them to unnecessary injury.

Option 2: First one to London wins! Race around half of the world!

Option 3: Penalty kicks. It makes about as much sense to determine a soccer/futbol match with that nonsense, but yet FIFA has never shown any inclination to change it and the world hasn't rioted yet so its apparently acceptable.

Option 4: Have the crowd vote via show of hands at the trials tonight.

Option 5: Have them do 100 meters head to head... in the pool!

Realistically both runners are in the 200 meters still yet to be determined and they'll likely wait for that result, but if they both qualify or both don't we're right back where we started. 

So what say you readers? What's some other good ways they can break this tie?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

An Open Letter to the IndyCar Series Team Owners

Hello, Gentlemen (and Lady, Ms. Fisher),
You don't know me, but I'm a long time fan. Of all of yours. Literally. Mr. Penske, I've thrilled to the feats of your bespoke chassis that so dominated CART for years, and I've enjoyed the driving of basically every one of your employees (although I thought you put Alex Barron on an unnecessarily short leash). Mr. Wiggins, I love that you're employing who you are, possibly the fastest woman ever to sit in an IndyCar (oh, and we will get confirmation of that someday, as she will win more than one IndyCar race). Ms. Fisher, you employ one of the 3-4 brightest young stars in the entirety of worldwide motorsport right now, and everybody who's ever watched an IndyCar race appreciates how much your team does with how little you have. Mr. Vasser, you're my second all-time favorite driver in any form of motorsport, behind only some guy that I may or may not have named offspring after as a tribute. Mr. Andretti, you have three of the most exciting drivers on the whole grid, one of whom is possibly the most engaging personality ever to strap on a set of Sparco shoes. Mr. Ganassi, you own what was my favorite team for years and years (this would be the Andretti/Herta/Vasser/Zanardi/Montoya era, for those wondering), and continue to employ two of my favorite guys around. I could go on and on.

So, with all of this in mind, it pains me greatly to have to write you this letter. You are all walking on very thin ice. Not just with me, you see, but with every current and potential future IndyCar Series fan.

No, I'm not talking about the rumored "palace revolt", which I think is borderline indefensible, given all that Randy Bernard has done in the last 27 months to increase the profile of the sport, but I understand that in a sport with so many egos, people are going to have their differences. I'm not totally thrilled that your dirty laundry has been dragged out into the street for all to see, but I appreciate the peek behind the big, velvet curtain. I hope you guys get that worked out.

What I'm talking about is your apparent desire to veto the introduction of aerokits for the Dallara DW12 for 2013. I do remember this happening around about this time last year as well, and I was not happy about it then, either.

Let me put some things on the table right here. First of all, overall, I basically love where the IndyCar Series is going. Sure, like just about every other racing fan with a pulse, I wish that we were going to more ovals. But, I understand why we have the schedule we have (ovals not currently drawing enough fans, street and road courses are apparently more flush with cash to pay sanctioning fees). I really dig the DW12, even aesthetically, and I think the call to go with small, turbocharged, direct-injected, ethanol fueled engines was a borderline stroke of genius (even F1 doesn't have direct injection, and NASCAR is only just now figuring out what the word "injection" even means). I'm totally cool with the fact that Bump Day was basically meaningless this year (which means a lot coming from a guy who had the following conversation MULTIPLE times during his dating career:

Prospective Girlfriend: "So, what's your favorite day of the ye-"

Me (all over it): "Indy 500, Race Day."

PG (clearly taken aback by answer other than Christmas or Halloween): "Um,, what's your sec-"

Me (without hesitation): "Indy 500 Bump Day."

PG (obviously confused): "Uh, what's that?"

Me (deep breath): "It's the final day of qualifying for the 500, where drivers roam pit lane looking for last second rides to fulfill the dream of competing at Indianapolis for the first time, or just to get that fix again. People are hired and fired, dreams are made and shattered. It's like an entire season of racing condensed in one afternoon."

PG: "OK. [looking around for other people to talk to...or a waiter to bring her half of the bill so's she can escape and tell her friends what a loony she just went on a first date with] So, third favorite?"

Me: "Hmmm. Indy 500 Pole Day?"

so, it's a BIG DEAL to me that Bump Day was emasculated, but I get that we're short engines this year, and I have confidence that it'll be back in a big way next year; we're all good there). I'm even willing to brush off stuff like what happened last weekend at Detroit, where my old home city looked just how I remembered it when I left in 2007: pretty and interesting, but don't look to hard, because you will see crumbling infrastructure and probably rats and stuff (I'm willing to spend my time remembering the three FANTASTICALLY AWESOME races that we had at Barber, Long Beach and Indy).

With all of that out in the open, you can tell that I'm a pretty positive guy. BUT, that sunny chit-chat ends right here.

I have long been an advocate that a prospective group of fans that has been underserved by IndyCar has been that of the "car guy". From 2006 to 2011, everybody had the same car, chassis, engine and tires. Anybody looking for the type of mechanical diversity seen in CART/IndyCar/IRL from the inception of the sport up through 2005 or the type of diversity seen in American Le Mans Series over the years was out of luck. I've known MANY "car guys" (including 1-2 at each of my places of business over that time period, plus even a couple of old roommates) over the past years who told me that they just couldn't get interested in IndyCar because they like to see different cars. Fair enough. I'm a car guy, too, so I can't begrudge them that.

HOWEVER, here we are in 2012, and we have a NEW CAR!!!! It's interesting looking (for better or worse)! And it's got cool engines, produced by three different companies (for now, anyway)! And we're going to have a diversity of bodywork on the cars in 2013, and the car owners even said so!

Except, here we are. Those new aero kits are being shot down by you. Can we talk about why for a minute?

Is this really an economic thing? Because what I'm seeing is that for 2012, you had a major outlay to buy brand new chassis. Yep, I'm pretty sure that some of you went in hoc for them, and I also understand that they were not as cheap as you were led to believe they'd be. I get that. And believe me, I sympathize. I worked as a crew chief/lead engineer/sticker applier/truck driver/lunch gofer/janitor on a one-member crew for an SCCA Formula Ford for a year and a half. Even that level of motorsports is not cheap ($7500 for an engine rebuild?!?! For what's essentially a 25 year old engine?!?!? That makes 116.4 HP?!?!?!?!?!?). This stuff goes with the territory. And I know that the aerokits are not going to be cheap, either. $75,000 a piece adds up fast.

However, have any of you considered that if you're really that strapped for cash (or if you were planning on spending the $700,000+ per one-car team that is now freed up by not having to buy two $350,000 chassis for 2013 on something like a new International LoneStar to pull your trailer around with, or a new Prevost motorhome in which you can take a nap while your team manager lobbies for extra sets of tires or whatever), you don't necessarily have to buy the new aerokits (because you already have a few sets of Dallara bodywork floating around your shop and trailer from this year)? Or, if you can only afford one or two kits (like a throwback to the days when a team would buy a Buick grenade for just the 500, cross their fingers and hope for the best), you just do that and hope that your driver doesn't shatter your new stuff into 100,000 Viso-ized bits? Do you really HAVE to buy three kits for each and every single chassis that you own? Or possibly you could swing a deal with Randy to make sure that the kits can be swapped from chassis to chassis? And have him make sure replacement parts (bought on an a la carte basis, I assume) won't cost an arm and a leg for a wing endplate (which I hope would also mean a revised pricesheet from Dallara for 2013 and beyond)?

Look, I appreciate you. All of you. But your aerokit genie is not going to go back into the bottle at this point. If you manage to stall out the introduction of aerokits for another year, well, first of all, you've just guaranteed that stuff like the 6-page pull out spread (technical highlights of the DW12!) in the June issue of Road & Track that I just saw at my dentist yesterday are not going to be repeated for 2013. You want to reduce your visibility like that? You want NASCAR to be the only major league racing series in America with new looking cars for 2013? Can you afford to do that? Can you afford to continue to disinterest the millions of "car guys" out there who subscribe to Road & Track or Car & Driver, but who currently blow you off as being "technically uninteresting"? Can you afford to piss off all of your current fans who are looking forward to another something brand new for next year?

Hey, you guys can do whatever you want. You're all rich, to one extent or another, and the couple of t-shirts and race tickets that I buy every year don't mean a whole lot to your bottom line, in the grand scheme. But I know that I am not the only person who will take a long, hard look in the mirror when it comes to his IndyCar fandom if the aerokit rug gets pulled out from under his feet. Again. One of these days, it's going to be one time too many.

Have a safe and competitive weekend at Texas. We'll talk again soon.

Best Regards,
The Speedgeek

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The World Calls The Thrilling Indy 500 Finish

So I'm pretty sure unless you're part of the .00001% of bored angsty messageboard lurker, you and 99.9999% of the world found the 2012 Indy 500 thrilling, exciting, unpredictable, and one of the best motor races of any kind in quite some time. But one of the great aspects of IndyCar is that it has driver's representing 14+ countries and fans across the globe, which means many places have their own coverage of it.

If Takuma Sato, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti's last laps duel wasn't enough in your home country, see how it went down across the world. They are all very much unique, so you make the call, who was the best?


U.S.A. - Radio  (skip to 13:25)




Spanish SAP (Latin America)


No matter which is your favorite, as a world we all felt the adrenaline and excitment and disappointment for Sato, truly one of the most thrilling sporting events of the year.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Indy 500 Odds Are In

So here are the First Odds for this year's Indy 500.

Will Power9-2
Helio Castroneves4-1
Ryan Briscoe9-2
Dario Franchitti6-1
Scott Dixon6-1
Marco Andretti10-1
Tony Kanaan10-1
Ryan Hunter-Reay20-1
JR Hildebrand25-1
Field (Any Other Driver)25-1
James Hinchcliffe25-1
Ed Carpenter30-1
Grahan Rahal30-1
Oriol Servia50-1
Rubens Barrichello50-1
Wade Cunningham50-1
Alex Tagliani60-1
Takuma Sato60-1
EJ Viso100-1
Simon Pagenaud100-1
Justin Wilson100-1
Charlie Kimball100-1
Ana Beatriz100-1
Mike Conway100-1
Sebastian Saavedra100-1
Simona de Silvestro100-1

My big takeaways from this.

Shocker Penske has top 3 odds, next 2 go to Ganassi.
Ok not a shocker at all, but I am suprised that Vegas still seeing a large seperation before we get to the Ganassi B team. 

Mike Conway 100-1 ?? 
I'm not saying I'm predicting him to win... yet. But people seem to forget just how close he was to winning 2010, and that his DNQ in 2011 was Andretti Autosport's fault, not Mike's, remember RHR missed it also.

Field this year includes: Josef Newgarden, Bryan Clauson, James Jakes, Katherine Legge, Jean Alesi, Michel Jourdain Jr., Townsend Bell and Sebastian Bourdais!
Obviously I think these odds assume Legge and Bourdais would be using Lotus, but they still haven't been changed and they are also ignoring Townsend Bell somehow who has finished as high as 4th on driving merit in the 500 before. I'm not saying these folks win, but you can't discount Bell, Newgarden, Jakes, and Bourdais as legitimate contenders. I never bet field, but if I did, this is certainly a very good time to do it.

Best bet, if its not Conway, has to be Oriol Servia at 50-1, considering he was front row last year, and that he's now switched to Chevrolet power from a partnership with Panther Racing.

What do you think?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The State of IndyCar Engine Supply in 2012

Subtitle: The Post Wherein The Speedgeek Finally Loses His Everlovin' Mind

There's been a whole lot of stuff that's been sticking in my craw of late when it comes to the World of IndyCar, specifically, in the realm of engine supply. I won't clog up the pixels here with all of the technical details, because most of you probably already know them, but IndyCar has gone to smaller capacity, turbocharged engines for 2012 (much like what I've advocated in the past, albeit with some subtle differences...all this said, I am perfectly OK with the path the ICONIC committee chose). The ENTIRE automotive industry is pursuing similar paths for most of their short- and mid-term production engines, and so it was smart of IndyCar to confab with GM, Honda and many of the other car makers to come up with this formula to grow technical interest in the sport.

Of course, as has been well documented in many places (most notably in the fevered ramblings of Robin Miller and Marshall Pruett on, things have come out of the box less than perfect. Normal? When compared to new technical packages in motorsport (ChampCar circa-2007, IRL circa-1997, GrandAm circa-2003, and probably multiple other similar examples from the 1970s and 1960s, if I felt like digging through some of my personal library...anyway, it is not new to have hiccups in the first year of a formula, no matter who you are), this is most definitely not a unique situation. Optimal? Most certainly not. Fixable? With time, certainly.

The most recent situation has centered around Mike Shank Racing's "exclusion" from the Indy 500 paddock. JP over at the most excellent and thoughtful JP IndyCar Thoughts had a great take on this today, and you can read my direct thoughts there in the comments. If you don't feel like hitting those links, here is the gist: We have a 100% new engine formula for 2012. When is the last time that happened in American Open Wheel Racing? 1997, but in that case, the formula utilized off-the-shelf production parts from Oldsmobile and Infiniti street cars, so parts and complete engines were relatively plentiful. Before that? We'll have to go back some 45 years to find the introduction of the 161-ish cubic inch turbocharged engines, that the Indy 500, USAC, CART and even the IRL used up through 1996 (for the IRL) and 2008 (for CART/ChampCar). At that, that engine formula was not all encompassing, as it ran for the first 15-20 years of that span against a mixture of various normally aspirated and slight variations of turbocharged engines (plus Andy Granatelli's turbines, which you should never, ever ask Donald Davidson about). This is possibly the first time, other than 1997, that in some 80 years that the Indy 500 will use 33 engines that are 100% new from the season before. There is no historical comparison here.

With the creation of IndyCar's new omelette, a few eggs have gotten broken. To revisit, Mike Shank, as Robin Miller puts it, is being "excluded" from this year's Indy 500 because he can not find a suitable engine (this sounds an awful lot like what happened with Sarah Fisher just a couple months ago). Mind you, he could probably get a Lotus engine, as Lotus has just dropped from supplying five cars to three, but Mike does not want to run at the back of the field. GM and Honda have already (as Robin Hisownself puts it in his column) "gone above and beyond" in supplying as many teams as they have (45% of the field each, which is more than their 40% contractural obligation). AND GM and Honda are each likely taking on one each of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport in the few days between now and Indy Opening Day. So, what's the option here? GM and Honda are already overrun with teams, working to the limit of their ability, manpower and budget. Lotus is capable of supplying an engine, but Shank doesn't want it (which I can understand, because it likely relegates him to a 15th place finish at best, and then only if the planets align and locusts and frogs drop from the sky at just the right time). Who is supposed to give here? Robin, as per usual, is doing a fantastic job of stirring the pot, but offers no tangible solutions. It sucks to say, but tough noogies, Mike. You might not make the 500 this year. Better luck next year (and I mean that, because I think he could be a great IndyCar owner and Jay Howard could be a better than average or better IndyCar driver).

Another "broken egg" has been that of the engine mileage targets that resulted in all the Chevrolets being replaced at Long Beach after James Hinchcliffe's engine blew up in testing and all of their teams receiving ten grid spot penalties. There has been a widespread fan uproar over this, with people saying that it's deplorable that something that happens in testing could spill over into a race weekend (typified by Marshall Pruett's apoplectic column on the topic during that weekend). What I'd like to ask everybody who has lost their minds over this is: what's your answer? I've heard several responses to that.

1) Don't penalize the teams, because they're innocent bystanders. Penalize the manufacturers directly somehow. Uh, what? Are the teams bystanders when they have a fantastic engine that they ride off into the distance like Will Power has done three times now this season? Because, to my mind, the only real way to hit the manufacturer where it hurts when there's an engine failure is to hamstring their ability to win races (and be able to use all that positive marketing PR that results). That means docking teams (i.e. the direct partners of the manufacturers, and the de facto representatives of the manufacturers in the starting field) grid spots. Penalizing manufacturer's championship points? You mean for a trophy that nobody outside of GM's or Honda's boardroom is paying any attention to? Hahahahahahahaha. You might as well fine them in imaginary drivers' license demerits. Nope, make it harder for the offending company to win races.

2) Allow the teams to have testing engines. How's that fit into the budgets of the engine manufacturers? You know, the ones who are supplying six engines for the season to each team to the tune of $690,000 each? Doesn't it stand to reason that if each team is now to get two testing engines to go beat on for a couple thousand miles each, that the engine lease price will go up accordingly? And that if the manufacturers are running experimental parts out on the test track in those testing engines that those two extra engines per team may not just cost the teams $200,000 more, but possibly $300,000-400,000 or even more than that? Geez, I thought part of the idea behind the new formula was to keep costs down. Silly me.

Really, those are the only two ideas I've heard for alternatives, and I don't have any faith that either would work. Meanwhile, you know who we have yet to hear a single word of protest from over the Chevy-gate affair? The engine manufacturers themselves. Oh, and also the teams. Why's that? It's because they know that if these rules (mileage limits, grid penalties for premature grenading) are not in place, then a cost war will break out that will eventually drive one or all companies out of the Series. Um, like we had in the last few years. Or, to put this more exactly, costs will go up to the point where no engine manufacturer can make the budget numbers work and they just pull out of the Series. After all, the engine manufacturers (that is all of them, nobody strong armed the others into accepting the rules, from what I heard) asked for these rules to be put in place. Let's let them work, and see what we get for a year, shall we?

One more craw sticker: yep, we're probably going to see a decrease in speeds at Indy this year over last year. Yep, probably to the tune of 4-5 MPH slower (though I still say that Pole speed comes in around the 223 MPH bracket, give or take 1 MPH). However, this is being achieved in the first year of an all-new engine formula (which will be around for several years and probably see power increases in ensuing years) and with smaller engines (37% smaller than last year, and 17% smaller than the much-pined-for 161 cubic inch formula that ran out in 1996, but continued in CART and ChampCar until 2008) than have been run since the days that Harry Miller was drinking Postum in the infield. Sorry, haters, but I guess I don't see how that's a big deal. If it is a big deal for you, how's about you take the year off and come back next May, when we're probably pushing 228-229 again?

In the meantime, it's May, everybody. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Take a deep breath. We're going to have cars on the track at Indianapolis soon. Life's not too bad, right?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sarah Fisher Hartman (Ain't) Racing - How Did We Get Here?

The latest and possibly biggest yet hubbub of the 2011-2012 IZOD IndyCar Series offseason has been the ongoing struggle by Sarah Fisher and her crew at the newly re-launched Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing to get an engine to put in the back of their brand new DW12 Dallara IndyCar. As many other folks have documented (better than I could, I think, so I'll stop short on most of the particulars), SFHR seemingly has everything in place for this year: 2011 Indy Lights champion, all around hotshoe and sure-thing future superduperstar Josef Newgarden doing the driving, a new shop being built a mere couple of blocks south of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the aforementioned new chassis sitting in their existing shop, and, most importantly, an injection of cash from new part-owner Wink Hartman, which may (or may not, there are conflicting reports circulating) allow them to run the full 2012 season. The only thing missing is that noisy lump of metal for the back of the car. What happened? How did we get to this point?

Item #1: IndyCar estimated 25 cars as a rough upper limit for the 2012 season. In the middle of last year, who could have disputed such a thing? Or even in late-October, well into Chevrolet's, Honda's and Lotus's development cycle, could anybody have predicted 28-30 cars for the St. Pete race at the start of 2012 with a straight face? It seems hard to remember now, but only a few scarce months ago (six and change, to be exact) that aerokits for the new Dallara were delayed until 2013 because the team owners said that they could not afford the costs of developing their own aerodynamic packages (never minding the fact that most of the cost of developing them would have been carried by the manufacturers themselves, not the teams, and that there was nobody holding guns to the team owners' heads and saying "you have to purchase 15 sets of body work even if you can only afford two"...this is a totally different rant, though). Around about the same time, many of the team owners were claiming that with the introduction of new chassis and engines, and with the necessary turnover of spare parts, some teams would be in grave danger of even returning for 2012, aerokits or no. Fast forward five months...and we have a possible 30 teams for St. Pete? Wha? We'll come back to this in a few minutes...

Item #2: Chevrolet and Honda (and possibly Lotus) each commit to supplying 40% of that 25 car count. 40% of 25 is 10. Chevy and Honda quickly locked up 10 teams apiece. That's 20 cars locked in for 2012. Lotus...well, they did announce their program later than Chevy or Honda, but even though it wasn't that much later, it appears those crucial couple of months were more than their preparation abilities were able to stand, as far as being able to supply more than 5-6 teams for St. Pete (or, maybe it's that Lotus is having a devil of a time concentrating on any one form of motorsport, or even figuring out who owns them, but we'll ignore that for the moment). Anyway, Lotus is locked in for no more than maybe six cars at this point. That's 26-27 cars with engines at St. Pete, with GM and Honda recently saying that they'll take on an extra team or so.

Item #3: Related to Item #2, the budgets for the manufacturers were based on a set number of engines supplied from the outset. Yes, folks, it costs money to cast and machine extra parts, and it most certainly costs extra money to send extra support staff to each race to see after those extra engines (salary, airfare, lodging, food, healthcare, 401k, and on and on, multiplied by number of extra personnel). Take it from somebody who's been around various parts of the industry a bit, those incremental costs have ways of taking down entire projects. Two extra engines may equal an extra 20-25% out of pocket for GM or Honda, but when you're (allegedly, though I totally believe it) already supplying engines at a loss (not really a loss so much as what the manufacturers can write off as "marketing spend"), supplying a few more engines at an even bigger loss can get a program stricken by over-zealous beancounters in a heartbeat. Neither GM nor Honda want that, so they are sticking as close to their original budgets as possible.

Item #4: IndyCar and Randy Bernard are more or less out of room to negotiate. When the engine manufacturers are already doing you a solid by coming and playing at a reduced price that is allowing for even bigger car counts than last year's bumper crop, you can't really use a big stick to say "you have to dump even more money into this sport than we're already insisting you do before you even see the first dime of return on investment at the first race". Month Three of a (hopefully) multi-year arrangement is hardly the time to start calling in favors in the form of even more extra engines than what you've already done (Ed Carpenter getting an "extra" Chevy in the last couple of weeks and another potential "extra" Honda engine going to longtime Honda stalwart Bobby Rahal in a possible 3rd car TBA).

Item #5: Wait, what did you say about car counts again? Seriously, how did that happen? Yep, that's right. Breaking this down just a tad further, we did have several teams drop off the grid over the off season (two cars from Newman-Haas Racing, one from Andretti Autosport, probably one from Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, though the jury is still out on that last one), but we had several teams step up and shore up the car counts even beyond where we saw them in most of 2011. Ed Carpenter Racing (Chevy), Mike Shank Racing (yet to have an engine locked down, though it's believed that they'll be in the six or so Lotus count at St. Pete), Dragon Racing (locked in at Lotus, going from one part-time car in 2011 to two full-time cars in 2012) and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (locked in with Honda, going from one part-time car in 2011 to two full-time cars in 2012) have seen to that. I'd argue that back in October, Carpenter, both Dragon cars (or, at the very least, one) and at least one of the Rahal cars were not even in the picture. Take any of those cars out of the equation, and SFHR has an engine to flog around Sebring or Texas today.

OK, so are we blaming people, then? Well, people love to blame other people, so here goes. As you can tell from above, I'm more or less absolving Randy Bernard and IndyCar from blame. They made the best guess they could at a 2012 car count with the info at hand in late 2011. GM and Honda have done their best to not just hold to their respective contracts with IndyCar, but to step up and handle extra teams. It's hard to get mad at them (though that certainly hasn't stopped the folks at TrackForum, in other blogs' comments and on's comments sections from doing just that...don't let the facts get in the way of your rants, people). Lotus certainly stands to take some blame here, since they're struggling to supply even 20% of the grid (though like I mentioned earlier, it's thought by some that they didn't sign to the same 40% deal that GM and Honda which case it's their call to do whatever they want). There's a rumor floating around (from the source that's always beyond reproach, TrackForum) that SFHR turned down a Lotus engine because they wanted a Honda or Chevy, in which case they might have wanted to do their homework just a bit better before losing Lotus's number (if this rumor is untrue, then my sincerest apologies to the folks at SFHR, because I am certain that you made the call you thought was best at the time, whatever the situation).

That's a whole pile of non-blame, huh? OK, OK, fine. For real now, two targets for blame here...

The IndyCar Team Owners. By playing the whole "we're so broke we might all go under before May 2012!" card, they caused IndyCar to underestimate the field size for 2012. The ICONIC Committee tried to make the sport cheap enough that people could come play. It worked, just apparently too well. The team owners plead poverty anyway, and now one of their own is without an engine as a direct result. Shame on them. The biggest target for blame, though...

$%^& Happens. Bad things happen to good people. Sometimes there really is no good reason for it, other than a confluence of about 20 factors that results in good times for everybody but one person or small group of people, who instead get an anvil falling out of the sky square on their noggin(s). The most popular personality in the sport gets the shaft yet again, through no fault of her own and the fans and the Series as a whole lose out.

There you go. It's not satisfying in any way, but it's the truth. Here's hoping Sarah and Wink can yet make this thing work out and we see them on the grid at St. Pete. We are all pulling for you.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Is the Patriots' dynasty over?

A thing just popped up on ESPN2 asking if New England's dynasty has ended.  You know... the dynasty that hasn't won a Super Bowl since 2004?  The dynasty that plays in the AFC, losers of four of the last five Super Bowls?  No way!  The Patriots clearly still dominate the NFL.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI: The Tecmo Super Bowl Prediction

So my Tecmo Super Bowl prediction is a little late this year, but you'll still have enough time to place your bets.  If you've been keeping up, our Tecmo Bowl system has now correctly predicted the outcomes of the last three Super Bowls.  Now it's time to see if we can improve that record to 4-0.

In the game between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, I chose to play as the Giants.  I am a fan of all Mannings and, as a Saints fan, am enjoying the NFC's recent trend of winning.

1st Quarter

The Patriots handled my accidental onside kick, but failed to make a first down.  After a punt, quarterback Phil Simms found wide receiver Mark Ingram for an 80-yard classic Tecmo Super Bowl touchdown.  The Giants jumped out to a 7-0 lead.

New England got its running game going on the next drive, thanks to powerful back John Stephens, but quarterback Steve Grogan was intercepted by Mark Collins, giving the Giants the ball again.  Simms hit Stephen Baker for a 50-yard touchdown, and the Giants led 14-0.

2nd Quarter

Another accidental onside kick gave the Patriots a short field and John Stephens took advantage of it.  After a couple of runs and a 10-yard reception, Stephens then ran for a 20-yard touchdown, cutting the New York lead to 14-7.

Phil Simms responded by handing the ball right back on an interception by the Patriots' Fred Marion.  Fearing a momentum shift, fortunately the Giants held their ground and forced the Patriots to punt.

While Simms had looked slightly unstable up to this point, the fact that both Dave Meggett and Ottis Anderson were in the dreaded BAD condition, I had no choice but to stick with the passing game.  After a 25-yard grab by Baker, Simms got Mark Bavaro involved with a 60-yard score.  Giants led 21-7 at the half.

3rd Quarter

Ingram started the second half with a 60-yard bomb and the Meggett proved to be effective as a receiver, scoring on a 20-yard dump-off pass.  I finally remembered how to kickoff properly, backing the Patriots deep in their own territory.  Grogan threw his second interception (to Gregory Jackson) and Meggett caught another short touchdown pass, giving the Giants a 35-7 lead.

John Stephens and the Patriots put together a decent drive on their following possession.  Then I remembered the secret weapon... Lawrence Taylor!  Taylor broke into the backfield to stop three consecutive plays to end the quarter.

4th Quarter

Taylor single-handedly backed the the Patriots up to midfield, but since it was now the 4th quarter, the Patriots, of course, elected not to punt.  After a turnover on downs, Ingram got back into the mix with a 50-yard score.  Giants led 42-7.

After another decent Patriots drive ended with a turnover on downs, Simms threw to Ingram one last time for an 80-yard touchdown, leading to a final score of 49-7.

While Stephens rushed for an impressive 99 yards, Simms was surely our game's MVP, posting 454 passing yards and seven touchdowns.  Ingram scored on all four of his catches and totalled 270 yards.

So everyone call your "guys," place your bets, and send me a cut.  The New York Giants will win Super Bowl XLVI.


Edit: It turns out that New England Patriots running back John Stephens was tennis player Sloane Stephens' father.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Sometimes Unseen Measure of Encouragement that IndyCar Now Has Much More Of

A lot has been going on across all of motorsports that is quite encouraging for fans, participants and stakeholders these days. However, a lot of people (especially on the internet) would have you believe everything, especially for IndyCar, is pins and needles; teetering on the tip of doom and success when it couldn’t be more the opposite if you just pay attention to the most important factor for any racing series. The incorrect assumption is a result of putting too much emphasis on symptoms thinking of them as causes, or another metaphor, not seeing the forest through the trees.

This week specifically there were two big things and two seemingly small/unseen/unrecognized things that all went a long way in proving IndyCar is really solidifying this most important yet somewhat invisible measurement, one IndyCar hasn’t held this strongly for quite some time:


Credibility is simply how one is perceived directly as a result of their presentation and resume. Any smart marketer will tell you that the most important thing any product, service or entity needs is credibility, and that the more of it you have, the easier it is to sell, partner or expand. You basically equate credibility to two things: performance and presentation, and right now IndyCar has them growing in spades. How do we know? Let’s look at the 4 events from this week cited above (keeping in mind they are just 4 of many things):

Credibility With Outside Entities: Those fabulous Super Cars and the NFL Media Party have been HUGE. I can’t state this one enough: the NFL has NEVER before this allowed another sports entity to partner NFL logos with their product. The Super Bowl visits a lot of cities and has plenty opportunities to put its logos on other things, I’m sure they get pitched on it all the time. For some reason IndyCar was the first one to get in, and I guarantee you it wasn’t because the NFL got lazy with saying “no.” On top of the Super Cars, the NFL also held its annual Super Bowl media party at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week. Again, something the NFL had total say in, and could have done anywhere, but the reason IndyCar and IMS were asked/allowed to participate is because the NFL trusted IndyCar to perform to the level and standards they needed.

Credibility with Outside Media: All in this week Ellen DeGeneres used IMS as a backdrop to her show, Graham Rahal was on a CBS Super Bowl roundup show, and Marco Andretti was on a fabulously hilarious sketch for Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night show. And this is a full two months away from any kind of racing and on 3 channels that do not have IndyCar races (though NBC obviously connects to NBCSports). That’s 3 A-list networks and two very A-list TV shows that wanted to work with IndyCar.

Credibility Inside Motorsports: I’m not sure if you heard, but a fellow named Rubens Barichello was testing an IndyCar earlier this week. Rubens has 19 years in Formula One, he’s easily the most popular current driver in South America, and he’s not exactly the type of guy who tries out an IndyCar out of boredom or by random happenstance. He could test out cars in any series he wants right now, but because of his best friend Tony Kanaan helping build that credibility up for IndyCar, Rubens is willing to give it a shot. That in itself has a domino effect on fans (at the last count Rubens ad over 1.6 million followers on twitter) because Rubens himself has credibility and brand and standards, people who associate those things with Rubens will associate them to IndyCar by default. That means more people might be willing to check out a race, follow the series or be pressed to learn more about it… and that is the kind of growth IndyCar is looking for, something from outside their normal sandbox.

But while Rubens was the big cannonball splash this week for IndyCar news within the motorsports driver circle, there was a 2nd small thing this week that has mostly been missed that I think may say more volumes about the state of the Series credibility within motorsports.

Dean Stoneman: I will be testing for @FollowAndretti down in Houston for 2 days next week. This is such a great opportunity & I thank all @FollowAndretti

For those who don't know who Stoneman is, he’s a young upcoming British driver, he won Formula 2 in 2010 and afterwards signed to the ISR team in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series to become teammates with Daniel Ricciardo (who is now in F1). Unfortunately before the season began, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. So Stoneman had to take the 2011 season off, but very fortunately he’s beaten the disease, and he’s ready to go racing again. Stoneman’s team in Renault 3.5 held his ride for him in 2012 if he wanted to return, but it now looks Stoneman is going to continue his career with Indy Lights.

Some might say this is nothing new, that European racers always come over when their money or opportunity runs out over there (and they would be right to a certain degree because it has happened before). But Stoneman is not a mid/back-pack journeyman racer; in his last 4 years of racing between Renault 2.0 and F2 his championship finishes have been 1st, 4th, 4th and 2nd with 13 poles won and 15 race wins. I’m not saying he’s guaranteed to set the world on fire, but as far as scouting goes, he's near being a slouch.

Personally I think he would be a huge steal for Andretti Autosport to land, but more importantly as the Series, it just shows that magic measurement of credibility that more and more drivers are looking at IndyCar as a wanted career path.

But before you start writing me angry comments, let’s be clear, 4 small little things do not a great credibility make. But a credibility resume takes into account everything, and those 4 things both big and small just got  added to it. It’s not just when good or bad things happen singularly, it’s also how things are reacted to and learned from and how they all look together. While internet trolls would like to point out the few things that have gone wrong and pretend they are the only things that happened, they refuse to acknowledge the numerous things gone right and the things the Series is encouragingly showing it has learned from what went wrong.

We know that things are going right, we know the credibility is looking good these days, because without it, none of the above 4 things happen, because those 4 things above happened after someone evaluated the overall accumulation of credibility that many people remain unaware of… the forest through the trees.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


What a great result!

Not only Justin Wilson scoring a win on his return from injury - and in impressive style with a triple stint (or was it quadruple?) - with solid performances from Allmendinger et al. Not only that but Allan McNish, Luhr and Dalziel getting 2nd. Following fears Ganassi might dominate this was a great surprise, very good.

GT was okay as well, very close but I never got my head properly into it. Most of the top GT names did well, the likes of Lietz, Henzler, Bleememolen.

What a great way to get rid of the winter cobwebs. Do we really have to wait an entire month for the next live motorsport? (and do I mean the Bathurst 12 Hours rather than the Daytona 500 on the same day..?) And do you know what, this has really got me pumped for Sebring despite the probable Audi win, the battles elsewhere in that huge field will be fantastic.

Thanks for being great blogging hosts, for the invite and the Mario Kart fun. It's been a blast, as Blogathon is every year.

See you around the internet!

My final thoughts

Like always, I'll get out of the way for the people around here who truly follow racing.  I just quickly wanted to say I had fun and was amazed by the idea of cars racing for 24 hours and still making it come down to the final lap.

The tennis may be the best we have seen in years.  Everyone who was awake during that match will not forget it anytime soon.

Finally, thanks to everyone who stopped by and hung out.  Mario Kart, Driven, guest bloggers... It was all very fun.

By the way, we have already surpassed our blog post total from 2011.  Perhaps that is a sign that 2012 will be a good year around here!

Late Excitement

Two cars have managed to wipe out in the final twenty minutes of racing.  That's a terrible way to end 23+ successful hours of driving.  It would be like driving all the way to Disney World and realizing you left your tickets at home.

Is The Rest of Grand-Am Worth Watching?

This is the only Grand-Am Rolex Series race I follow all year. I watch ALMS and LMS. Are the other GA races worth catching up with?

What is the field like when you remove the 24hr one-offs?

The hordes of Porsches are a bit off-putting and for whatever reason I've not got into this GT field as much as I would at Sebring or Le Mans (despite many of the same names). Maybe that's unfamiliarity with some teams/drivers.

This DP battle is epic though. Do the races tend to be close?

My Clean PC

Until I heard the "C" at the end of the commercial, I thought they were selling untainted urine to drug users.  MyCleanP would be a totally different company.

Although MyCleanPC is funny enough as well.  "Are you tired of error messages? Blue screens? Does your e-mail take longer than three seconds to load?"

Goncalves and Yacaman Poised for Podium!

How about that? After a rare hiccup late in the race, the #01 Ganassi car loses 1st and 2nd gear and drops back to P4. This has let the #6 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley which has Firestone Indy Lights drivers Gustavo Yacaman and Jorge Goncalves as co-drivers surge into P3. The team is now running P1 and P3 with their #8 and #6 cars, repsectively. Regardless of how this turns out, the two young Indy Lights drivers have really had their mettle tested over these past 23 hours and its been found worthy!

Which is More Brutal - 2012 Edition

We seem to have this ever year, so let me take the poll on the 2012 edition of Daytona 24 Hours - Which is More Brutal.

A) Suntrust Racing - Knocked out after 30 minutes with a broken engine

B) Ganassi #01 - Knocked out of contention in the 23rd hour with a broken gearbox

Do you have low testosterone?

Cause if so there's a creepy looking fake doctor guy who wants you to become an Ageless Man. Don't know what I'm talking about? Then just watch the Daytona 24, cause that commercial is bound to play at least 72 more times before the end of the race.

And holy crap, The Ganassi #01 only has 3rd gear!!! That'd be the 2nd gearbox to go our on that team, and it may have also caused him to go over the pit road speed limit, without a yellow flag, this may be a Ford vs. Ford only battle. Allmendinger is laying the smack down, but Starworks at least has Ryan Dalziel back in their car. Race already interesting, yellow makes it intense.

A Lack of Posting and Analysis

Pretty sure all of us are gripped watching this amazing battle on the track... if you aren't watching it, you should probably switch over to that on your TV or the live stream online; it'll definitely be worth your time.

2 hours 40 minutes to go

And Allan McNish and A.J. Allmendinger are changing positions for the lead multiple times in back to back laps. The Shank car seems to handle much better (likely due to having an intact rearend) but this is definitely going to be a continuing battle unless something breaks.

Over in GT we finally got that Ferarri on the lead lap but it still has a large gap to make up. Along with the clean weather, this has been quite a clean race, not many off-track incidents once the Audis get towed and that one Porsche t-boned a wall; gotta wonder how this race plays out if there are no more yellows.

The #01 Ganassi and #8 Starworks still require a driver change before they can end this race, but it looks like Shank is set on Allmendinger which could save them more time in the pits under green flag conditions. Good stuff... as has seemed to be the case more often than not with this race over the last 10 years.

Specifically to this year alone, without much benefit of yellow, the race this year has had more close battling for the lead than IndyCar, NASCAR and Formula One past years combined.

ESPN Radio

I listened to ESPN Radio for a little while.  They talked about the Pro Bowl, the Super Bowl, Brady, Mannings (both Eli and Peyton), and other football stuff.  They talked about Tiger Woods because I guess he almost won a tournament.  They finally mentioned Djokovic's win, but only to compare it to Tiger winning a tournament and what that would do for the game of golf right now.  If he could win one.  They started talking about Tim Tebow and Kim Kardashian when I turned it off.  People are going to watch a terrible display of football tonight and have no idea what they missed this morning.

Hotting Up

Wow, what a great race between Negri and McNish! 4-wide with GT cars at one point. Rahal is just a couple of seconds back as well.

Got to say I was a bit bored for a while there with very little happening in either class, but now things are really starting to get interesting again. The way these guys are going anything can happen! They are driving like this is a 10-lapper.

3 hours to go. The pressure is on. I'm saying McNish & Dalziel for the win, and what a story if they do. In GT? Err, Rene Rast is really fast..

Taking a writing break

Sorry, I don't have much to offer when it comes to racing talk.  I'm watching the race but am going to do some other writing for a little while.  I'm here if anyone needs me.

Yellow Flag

Due to a Porsche driving head on into the wall.  Insert Porsche jokes here.

Yellow Flag in Daytona

That will change the complexion of both DP and GT classes. I'd say the Starworks #8 re-becomes the momentum-holder.

Golden Corral

How on Earth does Golden Corral make a profit while charging $20 to feed two people? That's ridiculous.. and a little bit gross.

Respect growing for Marco

Marco's reportedly in the infield care center being treated for dehydration after his last stint.

This is after flying directly from a test at Palm Beach to Daytona, hopping into a car he'd never seen on a track he hadn't run in years, and driving the pants off the thing.

I feel like we've seen a serious maturation in Marco over the past couple of years.  Where he once came across as a playboy who was occasionally a decent a race car driver, he's now finally coming into his own and earning respect from his detractors for being a serious racer.

Maybe that win at Iowa last year turned his career around more than we know.

Pruett's in first!

He's on my fantasy team.  Dixon too, and I see his name near the top.  My Flying Lizard, however, seems to be more of a crawling reptile at this point, sitting 37 laps back.  What about Memo Gidley?


It occurred to me sometime last night while working on ARFL spreadsheets that each of the GBS staff has one of the SunTrust drivers...which went out of the race less than an hour in. That seems fitting somehow, I think.

breakfast time

Who wants eggs?  Who is still here?  I guess we lost Shane, but it seems we have gained Pat, Andy, and others.

Indy Lights Drivers Running Strong

As I mentioned yesterday (day before? today? ...meh, see previous post about temporal confusion). <restart /> As I mentioned about a dozen hours ago, the Firestone Indy Lights series has some great representation in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.  As of right now, 0951 EST, Jorge Goncalves is running P4 in the #6 DP car for Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian. I would LOVE to see him and his teammate Gustavo Yacaman end up on the podium, but they have Allan McNish in front of them. :S I think they'll need help from a mechanical issue for the Starworks Ford or for the Ganassi BMW. Not likely, but it could happen!

These guys are in pain.

Do they have to stand here and listen to all of this crap?  They just played for six hours.  Let them take a nap!

Let's all hope...

That the Super Bowl is at least half as good as this tennis match was.  Because we all know which one everyone will actually watch.

No Commercials in the last hour

Seriously its almost been over an hour since we last had a commercial in this tennis match, try that on for size every American sport.

Novak Djokovic is the Australian Open champion

Novak Djokovic has won the 2012 Australian Open title and cemented his number one world ranking with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5 win over Rafael Nadal at Melbourne Park this morning (AEDT).

The match lasted 5 hours 54 minutes, an Australian Open record match duration in terms of time.

Nadal led 4-2 in the final set, and Djokovic appeared on the ropes, but somehow, as in the quarter and semi finals, Djokovic found a way to recover and power over his opponent.

He even had enough energy to tear off his shirt, ala the Incredible Hulk at the end. Which is great because it'll give something for the TV director to show in a slow motion replay 17 times.

Match Summary:
The winners: Tennis, Djokovic, Nadal.
The losers: Australian office productivity on Monday, My sleep.

Good night everybody!

Djokovic to server for the match

Novak Djokovic has broken in the 11th game of the final set and now leads 6-5.

He will now serve for the Australian Open title. It is by no means a fait accompli.

Stay tuned.


This is awesome.

Also, good morning, everybody.

The previous best Australian Open match...

Was it this one?

1995 Australian Open QF: Sampras def. Courier
Sampras def. Courier: 6-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.

You know, the one where Sampras cries in the 5th set.

The Awesome and Lively Australian Open Crowd

They're just cheering for whichever player is behind at this point so it goes longer right?