Archive | December, 2011

An Off Season Like No Other; Whatcha Looking For, Fella?

27 Dec

The milestones and bench marks that comprised the 2011 IZOD Indy Car series read like a Tom Clancy novel, but with a distressing ending instead of one where the hero swoops in to save the day. If you follow only the highlights in a Cliff Notes version of the 2011 season summary, you come across some absolutely sterling gems of headlines. “CONWHEEZY Triumphs at Long Beach”; “Rookie Blows Fame and Fortune at THE 500”; “Man Who Finished Second at Indy in 2009 and 2010 Seals The Deal”. From rookie drivers stepping not too ashamedly on stalwart toes in 2011 to bunches and BUNCHES of women starting at Indy, made 2011 an interesting season to be sure. I have not even gotten to the point that 2011 was truly the year of the finger…………….

One fo the money, two for the show

I bet that you thought Helio’s Canadian melt down in 2010 could not be topped! Heh….(Insert I like Hinch; a LOT, here).

How many of you were aghast that Michael Andretti “bought” a starting spot in the 2011 Indy 500 for Ryan Hunter-Reay? I recall one pundit mentioning that this would NEVER happen in the Old, Lloyd Ruby golden days of Indy Car. Well, I am here to tell you that the record book reflects the well-earned seventh place finish for Mr. Hunter-Reay in the season’s final standings. I also wish to remind you of the fact that wayyyy back in 1993, Bobby Rahal failed to make the field when he could not get his R/H-001 Chassis up to speed, despite winning the season opener at Long Beach. Even at that point in time, the rule stated that a car qualified for the race and not the driver. Contemplate this factoid: back then, a team did not “buy” their way into a race when their car turned out to be a dog and they failed to qualify for the Indy 500. They just tucked their tail and went home. Today, a driver buys his ride…..wierd, isn’t it? We do live in a strange universe at the moment.

Ah, but for now, on to the 2012 season and all of the question marks that it brings. A new, yet doggie slow car that will never win any beauty pageant title; engines that say Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus along with an absolutely poopie schedule. May I have my root canal now, please? How does one get this far into the off season and still not have an engine beyond the dyno stage? Lots Of Trash U See………

I have heard of new chassis being slow and new chassis being ugly, but I have not really heard of a new car being both slow and ugly. In a poll of ticket holders, the new DW12 received unanimous un-love. Too slow, too quick to over/under steer with weight distribution and bias totally out of whack, along with a disparity between CFD simulation and on track testing. These are bright guys working on this stuff but when a quick fix is to add weight to the nose of the car, oh my. The race to find a fix is on and thank goodness Dallara is going to pick up the tab for relocating and correcting suspension geometry, along with a slightly different aero kit.

The silly season has so far been one of suspense, silence and staggering poor guessing on the part of those that keep up with whom will end up where. With Hinch and Servia both on the market again, some “C” class drivers on the outer fringes of seat landing will be shut out for 2012. I would count Josef Newgarden as one of the most fortunate to land a 3 year deal. How many FIL champs are still seeking regular work? Conway to Foyt is almost as shocking as his leaving Andretti Autosport (I still chuckle when I refer to them as AA and if you knew some of my friends you would know why). Who fills the Conway seat there? Who fills the seat vacated by the passing of Dan Wheldon? Who filled my Christmas stocking with crap?!

On the topic of the 2012 schedule……Don’t get me started.
Open wheel racing as we know it is now officially dead. If you think that going back to Belle Island would be worse than holding a street race in China, then you may join me in my next root canal as you have both taking place in 2012. I totally understand that you cannot hold a race unless the venue WANTS you there, and no amount of whining by the “non”-viewing public will ever land a race at Road America, let alone Nashville (sorry George Phillips). You simply cannot will a race to take place. I have chastised my 17 loyal readers in the past on this topic; if you want to see more ovals on the schedule then get off your kiester and GO TO AN OVAL RACE. The best feel good story for Indy car in a decade took place at Kentucky this season and the crowd was simply pathetic. And you call yourself an Indy car fan. Wait; maybe I am onto something here. Lack of fan support may be a direct result of, wait for it, falling television numbers. My fear is that the series is tumbling into the abyss of irrelevance as an entertainment medium. Case in point; the 2012 schedule. No Las Vegas; no mile and a half banked ovals; racing in a time zone half way around the world. WE NEED VIEWERSHIP for 2012 so consider yourself invited to join me at 3am next year for the race from China. It is, after all, a street race! Baltimore on the schedule will drop off on January first when payments due to a gazillion interested parties fails to be made. I do not see how that much scratch can be gathered up in the next few days. “Nuff said. However, I am very worried for the future. Sure a new car levels the playing field and the Ganassi/Penske Death Star may have a few upsets at the hands of Sarah Fisher and especially Ed Carpenter’s new team. Derrick Walker does not put together a weak staff by no means and they may just be formidable. I sure hope so. David needs to slay Goliath ,more than once in 2012 to boost TV ratings.
That is enough rant for this week. Talk to you next time!


Taking Sucking Up To A New Level, or How I Mentioned My 26 Favorite Motorsport Bloggers in ONE Post

13 Dec

Camera Man Extrodinaire Kevin Rogers hard at work

During the past year I have been mentioning a few of my “must follow” motorsport bloggers that come to you highly recommended. You may be asking who is the one that is doing the recommending? Well, that would be yours truly, DUH. So, with that fairly stoopid introductory line, I bring you the vaunted 25.

With just 500 MILES left to go, I came across yet ANOTHER INDYCAR BLOG without even trying to figure what in the devil was my destination. Looking into the setting sun I noticed that there appeared a CRIMSONCAST about the southwestern sky. Now, don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed both the F1 And MOTORSPORTS ARCHIVE like hue that was cast about by the puffy clouds, against the deepening purple as the sun left the building, much like Elvis. With the passing of day into night, I came to realize that so far, my journey had been nothing more than a GRAB BAG. SPORTS can be fickle like that, a destination not known but a journey taking place. Could my final destination actually be INDY? RACING REVOLUTIONs can be just a sign of these troubled times, leaving one to wonder who really knows? Frankly, I have been told quite often that I do not know JACK. How ARUTE an observation is that? SPORTS came to mind as a possible destination…….or was it JP’s? INDYCAR BLOG is not a physical destination but that was where I was headed, like it or not.

One thing was for sure, if I was ever going to cure the hideous push in my rented AMC Pacer, I was going to have some mechanic put in MORE FRONT WING on the bitch. What an evil push, which was preventing me from setting a NEW TRACK RECORD on my journey. Perhaps it was the fact that my Pacer has NO FENDERS that keeps me looking like OPEN WHEEL AMERICA, and that is not a pretty sight.

A short time later and further on down the road (sung in the key of A you blues hound dog, you) my Pacer began to act a little strange. Could it be low OILPRESSURE? The last time it acted up in such a manner, I was near Phoenix and the POP OFF VALVE had blown, or as PRESSDOG says, it is blown up, Sir! This began to put me in a manic state and I searched frantically for a place to get the thing looked at. Sweet Jesus! I noticed a mileage sign that said RACING MANIA …101. Dayam; over two more hours to go before I can get near a small town with a name of Mania. I kinda liked that SO..HERE’S WHAT I’m THINKING; run a lot lower rpm, much like Milka Duno being THE BACK MARKER at Indy. Blog about THAT sometime all of you writer wannabes. Learn to put prose to paper in a humorous fashion, not just a review about THE RACE.

gIRL, I bet you can’t even keep quiet while on this journey. I wish you could be like some of THE SILENT. PAGODA on about this, Pagoda on about that…..just wears me out and drags me THROUGH THE TURBULENCE of life. It is not like this is single league or even double league, but TRIPLE LEAGUE! RACING is always like that, a QUEERSFORGEARS thingy that always pops up at the most opportune time. Right, girls?

Well, this has certainly been most fun and I have a smile on my face just contemplating those that I will bring a snarl to and those that I will bring a WIDE OPEN WHEEL smile to. Life is like that sometimes; it is not the destination so much as it is the journey getting there……

In my house we do not wish anyone a happy holiday. We are old skool and we wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May your 2012 bring you all the richness that you deserve. And one last thought; our racing community gets smaller each year. Keep JessicaLyn26 and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

Thanks for reading and talk to you next time!
Paul Henry

The fleecing of Austin Continues; do they really enjoy PAIN?

7 Dec

It started with a country road

Good Googily Moogily!~ Austin is back on the F-1 schedule!!?? HUH?

Smoking those left handed cigarettes again I see. Hmmmm….Bernie must have gotten his 25 MILLION dollar cheque, or somebody’s rich uncle missed my plea for funding for Pippa Mann. Either way, smoke and mirrors, folks; smoke and mirrors. I imagine that Eddie Gossage must be simmering about now. First his pal, Bruton Smith ‘rents’ his Las Vegas track to Randy Bernard for three, yup, count em, THREE years so that Bruton does not pay a sanctioning fee to the IZOD Indy Car Series. Now, Bernie gets the state of Texas to pony up 25 MILLION of tax payer money to Bernie’s FOM (Formula One Management). It sure smells like Eddie is paying sanctioning fees for the upcoming Texas Two Step next season, that is, if the green light is given to race on mile and a half circuits.

Let that sink in a moment and percolate for a while. Eddie pays and no one else is????????? Here seems to be “proof” that money changed hands:

Can you freakin believe it? I will when the green flag flies, but I have weighed in previously on the topic and you can become enlightened here:

Man, if I only had a (25) million dollars…..sounds like a remake of a song by Bare Naked Ladies!

Talk to you next time!

Ten Questions with the Left Lobe of Motorsport

5 Dec

A very famous front row

I was doing some light and casual reading the other day, trying to determine which side of my brain is the dominant side of my noggin. While I seem to want to be creative, I am a technical person focused on Information Technology. I just cannot escape the way I am wired, nor can you!

Back in February of this year I attended the 2011 Winter Indy Tweetup at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This little gathering is affectionately referred to as WIT. Monica Hilton and her pal, Elizabeth Lenzi Wertz have been organizing this event for the past few years and it is at WIT that I met a speaker named Daniel Incandela. Daniel moderated the first part of day one and I took a few minutes after the scavenger hunt at IMS to speak with him. Man am I glad that I did! A little digging revealed that Daniel may just have one of the most fascinating positions involving the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and brand awareness. If you read anything produced by IMS, or if you even take a look at some motorspeedway related photographs, you probably touched his product. Daniel is the Director of Online Strategies for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and I am very grateful that he agreed to be the topic of the inaugural edition of ‘Ten Questions With’, featured here on WideOpenWheel. Daniel has grown up in the world of motorsport as his father was an F-1 mechanic, engineer and all around Renaissance Man. Now, how does this all tie in with the left lobe of the brain? Please allow me to explain in a 10 question and answer format. Without further ado, I introduce the man that is truly behind the new media curtain at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mr. Daniel Incandela.

Ten Questions with the “All Things Web Presence Dude” from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

1. What in the devil is a Director of Online Strategies for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation?

It’s all things digital with a strong focus on content and the fan experience. It’s about bringing the rich history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway alive on online, supporting our 3 big events, developing new online experiences, innovating, evolving and lots more. We’re involved in everything from the news stories you read on our site, to the emails you receive, to the Tweets you read and the photos you see. We’re just getting started and the company understands it needs a stronger online presence.

2. Your online bio lists 2 positions, one at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the other at IMS. What did you do prior to the museum gig?
Many, many years ago I worked for my parent’s race team, Indy Regency Racing – but I knew working on a team wasn’t going to be my long term career. When I finished college I realized I wanted to work in the museum field. My first job was at the Indiana State Museum producing live, educational video classes. It quickly morphed into more of a technology/digital focus – which ultimately led to my job at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. That’s where things really took off for me – an amazing 5 years.
3. What is it about Hip Hop that appeals to you? Doesn’t that conflict with your appreciation of classical music and Gershwin tunes?

My dad really loved classical music, so that’s just part of me. Hip Hop has been with me since a teenager – so a lot of moments in life or rites of passage are associated with various hip hop artists or songs. I love the poetry of it, the expression, the beats and the way it has influenced culture.

And if we’re being technical – Gershwin was heavily influenced by jazz and I think in many ways, Jazz paved the way for hip hop. So that makes perfect sense to me.

4. At the memorial for your father, Sal Incandela, I heard some folks mention that he was a bit ah, shall we say, meticulous. Can you give us an example of how you follow in his footsteps? Does your desk look like my home recycle bin?

I don’t think anyone would ever describe me as meticulous. He and I were actually very different, but similar, he was quiet, a big thinker, a traveler, loved photographers and slightly eccentric. Me too.

He was a very technical person – and I would much rather work on creative things. I returned to racing because my career led me there, not necessarily because of my racing background. He was born with racing in his blood, so it’s an honor to be working in this field.

5. There are plenty of examples of your infatuation with all things ‘new’ media. At what age did you come to embrace technology and was there a single incident that made you say “this is going to be my life”?

I was pretty much raised on video games, so I’ve always been drawn to technology in some way and learning software or other methods of technology always came pretty easily. Technology is a great vehicle for storytelling. Whether I realized it or not, that part has led me into a New Media field – again, I’m not a technical person – I would make a terrible coder or a strict project manager. I’d much rather create experiences using the right tools. And in this job, I really care about the fan experience. And I still play video games.

6. You grew up in what one can clearly describe as a motorsport family. Is your sister a motor head at all?

I have 2 sisters – neither are what I would describe as motor heads. Racing is a tough thing to grow up in. My dad was rarely home, worked long hours and sacrificed a lot. That’s why I have so much respect for mechanics on a team. They’re underpaid, overworked and giving up a lot of their personal lives. So as a family we’re really proud of everything he did, but I wouldn’t say we’re massive motor heads. We’re all following our own path.

7. Football seems to hold your interests, based on some of the posts of yours I have read in the past. What position is your favorite, or should I say, favourite?

I love soccer. I still play it. I’m going to start my son on it. I study the history of it and have read most scholarly books about it. It’s the World’s language and truly the beautiful game. I played forward most of my life – I found the other positions too boring (and you have to run more in midfield). Plus who doesn’t want to score the winning goal?

8. It is obvious that your son Oliver is the joy in your life. Not many people probably read your review of travels to South Carolina with a 2 year old. Briefly, share with my readers the extremes you went through on that journey.

I wrote an entire post on it, so you can read that if you want, but here’s the gist of it – I became ‘that’ parent on the flight that couldn’t control their child. I always hated traveling when there was a crying baby and suddenly I found myself in that position. It got so bad that I bought the person seated in front of me a drink. ‘nuff said.

9. Cigars and scotch or sprouts and white wine? What is it with wanting desert for breakfast?

How about cigars and sprouts? I love cigars but don’t drink. I consider myself an expert on desserts – so I need to stay up to date, you know, do my research.

10. Now for a fairly serious question; you have lived in a few different places in the world. Based on your travels this season, can you describe how the Japanese view Americans? It has to be far different then the Brazilians…..

Traveling for racing is nothing like traveling for personal reasons. You arrive, spend most of your time at a race track working with people from Indianapolis and then you’re in a hotel. Working in new media, we’re also usually very close to a laptop too. That being said, I still loved it and I’ve found that when you travel for racing – the locals are glad to have you, whether it’s Japan, Brazil, Edmonton or Alabama.

I would move to Japan tomorrow. I love the country and the people. Everyone I encountered was kind, polite and compassionate. I felt humbled to be there. I can’t wait to go back and really explore the island.

Final thoughts from GForcePaul:

I want to thank Daniel for taking the time to provide this forum with his take on things. Wasn’t that very insightful, informative and thought provoking? You really should add Daniel to your list of most visited websites.

Thanks and talk to you next time!

Stay tuned for the n3xt installment

3 Dec

With all the bombs that have been dropped this week involving the Indy Car Series, there is no need for me to regurgitate stolen prose. My readers (for whom I am grateful) are razor sharp smart! They can smell and tell when the blogwaves are saturated with repetitive news. So, with that disclaimer out of the way, please look toward this column early next week for an intriguing twist on off season banter; a new feature called ‘Ten Questions With’. My first guest will knock you out of your chair and make you want to kick the cat around a bit. A proper tease is to reveal that this individual IS involved in motorsport, specifically the Indianapolis 500. You touch their “product” in many different ways!
In the meantime, and to add a footnote to the sad news out of Lincolnshire, please give this short, shaky and very amateurish video a gander. Gawd, I am going to miss these guys…..