Archive | February, 2015

What I LOVE about Pippa Mann. Oh, and one more thing about Aero Kits

24 Feb

CyntPippa I had to dig through some old archives and turn over a lot of desk drawers but I finally came up with a photo from 2008. Funny how much this Ferrari resembles the new aero kits unveiled last week.   08Ferrari If you want a GREAT take and unsolicited opinion on the topic of aero, rush over to the blog written by Mark Wilkinson ( ). He goes into fascinating detail and I can add nothing more to the discussion…..


Chevrolet Aero Bits Exlpained


Like a Ferrari, but then again, no

Which leads me to discuss one of the other true loves in my life; music! I love blues and performing with a harmonica player. We call ourselves Blues With a Twist. What, you may ask, does this have to do with racing? Well you just hold on there a minute delicate sparrow; this will all come together with an unexpected ending. Trust me!

What I LOVE about Pippa Mann

A few years back I came across a chance to play a venue in Indianapolis with a stage of local musical all stars and I was in way above my head. To my right, Tony Cheesborough, formerly with THE Ohio Players. Behind me, on keyboard was Rodney Stepp, formerly of the Spinners. Joon Walker, who at the time was wrapping up a 13 year stint with Toy Factory. My harpman and I looked at each other and whispered those calming words, don’t f%#k this up! Tony Cheese told me to stay on stage and sing backup for a lady named Cynthia Lane. Now I have seen Cynthia around town for many years and she comes up, looks at me smiling and said, “sing in C’ follow my harmony and keep up because we are going to kill it tonight”! Cynthia, as a lot of us knew, had been in a lengthy fight with cancer. She was in remission and singing like a canary again, and we felt she was beating the odds. We all went our separate ways and continued meeting from time to time on a different stage but Cynthia had a revisit by the big C and stopped showing up at different gigs. I am a creature of habit as are most old farts like myself. I rise every morning and my routine includes cruising Twitter feeds and Facebook. I use Twitter for my racing habit and Facebook to keep up with the local Indianapolis music scene. One day in January, I hit Pippa Mann’s daily morning inspirational postings. She posted the one below and I knew exactly who Pippa was talking about and my heart cried.


Heavy Bag Training

Pippa went on to write an incredibly touching piece about how her life path crossed the life path of a simple Midwestern lady with an unforgettable voice. The story about what brought them together is as timeless as it is unusual; a young lady from the U.K. with a love of speed met a lady from Indianapolis with a love of music. The circumstances that brought them together are aspects of life that affect us all; surviving, overcoming obstacles and accepting that the outcome will not always go your way. One just picks themselves up and carry’s on. Cynthia knew this and Pippa lives this every day in her fight for funding. Ponder that a while. Tell someone near you that you love them and consider what you will do the next time it just does not go your way. It all helped me put into perspective what really is of value in this life.

As always, thanks for stopping by the blog and we will talk to you next time!


This week’s hot link: Pippa Mann’s posting on her blog about Pink and how she came to meet Cynthia Lane. Pippa said she gave great thought and effort to this posting. I can certainly agree that she did! Thanks again Pippa, for writing about Cynthia.


The Coming of Aero Kits Reminded Me of Something…

17 Feb
These gents were way ahead of their time: Gurney, Chapman and Clark

These gents were way ahead of their time: Gurney, Chapman and Clark

With the ensuing roll out by March 13th of new, manufacturer badged aero bits, the next generation of open wheel racing turns the page. Finally, onward to new tech. I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that the unleashing of, dare I say it, innovation, will also unleash an appreciable bump in speeds.

I like, no, I LOVE the word innovation. It brings to mind a by gone era, and it also points to a future path not yet taken. Such is the cross roads that wait until roughly the middle of March for another intersection of bygone and future when the aero kits are unveiled. This has always been the yin and the yang, the steady and forward assault on elusive speed. It is built on innovation.

I asked a kid the other day what he meant when he used the term ‘back in the day’. To him it sounded like, well you know old man, like 1985. That time period, he said, IS the dark ages.

Heh, typical youth….

I was thinking more along the lines of 1965. I was also thinking about the locale, the corner of Georgetown road and Sixteenth street. This is what I was referring to above when I mentioned the intersection of bygone and future. An era that saw the British invasion as more than just the Beatles hitting America, 1965 saw the last gasp of front engine technology. Aero and all of its affects wasn’t really understood, you just streamlined the contour and went with it. Consequently, the move to rear engine American open wheel cars was no longer a fad but a competitive requirement.

Parnelli in a Lotus

Parnelli in a Lotus

At this time, Colin Chapman had improved the rear suspension pieces that cost Jim Clark a victory in 1964. Chapman also listened to one of the brightest minds to ever get behind a steering wheel at the time, Dan Gurney. Dan had the bright idea to hook up a beastly Ford V8 to the back end of a Lotus and bring that combination to Indy. Colin Chapman was his man and even the maestro, Parnelli Jones decided that a beast engine in the rear was similar to the sexy F1 cars Gurney had experience with and signed on to drive one in 1965 also. The big difference was that Parnelli drove for the PT Barnum of race team ownership at that time, J.C. Agajanian.

The New Ole' Calhoun

The New Ole’ Calhoun

Even A.J. Foyt got onboard the rear engine bandwagon in 1965. Again, a Ford:

A.J. likes trhe rear engine too!

A.J. likes trhe rear engine too!

The casual open wheel race fan will most likely have heard of Jim Clark. That fan may also have heard of Parnelli Jones as well. I can almost guarantee that. Interestingly, they finished first and second in the 1965 race. Admittedly, I have an obligation to acknowledge two excellent resources that I utilized for this piece. They both are readily available on the web. So suggest that you get up off that couch, reach for your keyboard and visit a place simply called THE Henry Ford. Today, the 1965 winning Lotus Ford that Jim Clark drove to victory resides on their property. The Ford Foundation has opened up over 1400 black and white photos from that month of May at the Brickyard and other locations. I could and have spent hours poring over the shots from their Flickr stream.
The summary of how Jim Clark and Lotus changed Indy forever can be found here:

If you are REALLY a statistical geek, I would recommend checking out a site called Racing Reference. These folks have done all of the heavy lifting for you and their summary page for the 1965 race is loaded with gems and nuggets. Look for it here:


This reference will soon make you a winner at many trivia contests. Get yourself armed with knowledge such as:
Some of the names that did not make the 1965 Indianapolis 500 in their original cars include:
Roger Ward, Bobby Unser, Al Unser, Jim Hurtubise, Mel Kanyon, Art Malone and a cast of uh, many, many more! Some went on to qualify and run in a different vehicle. This was a golden age when you really DID run what ya brung! If it could not run fast enough, some other owner most likely (if you were a pretty good shoe) gave you a shot at making the show in a different car.

In fact, Bobby Unser could not make the 1965 race while driving for the famed STP outfit headed up by Andy Granatelli in his original number 6 car. He ended up starting eighth and finishing up 19th in a Novi! Andy became so disgusted with front engine technology that in 1967 he showed up at Indianapolis with a gas turbine vehicle he had been working on for over a year. It was totally innovative. Don’t get me started on this topic of innovation and legislation…… you can find a previous rant about innovation here:

It becomes apparent to me that the soon to be released aero kits by Chevrolet and Honda are going to have some type of impact on the racing product. While the engaged race fan has been clamoring for these since Randy Bernard unveiled the concept at the launch of the quest that became the DW 12, the differentiating aero bits should add to speed. One thing is for certain, in about 30 days we will finally have a look at the next BIG thing in Indy Car racing.

As always, thanks for hitting the blog and we will talk to you next time.


This week’s Hot Link:
The collections of The Henry Ford also include the race winning Lotus-Ford driven by Jim Clark. Over 1400 photos of the car are also available on their Flickr site here:

A Bronze is NOT a Third Place Finish–

10 Feb
It may be bronze, but it really IS gold

It may be bronze, but it really IS gold

Over the past 25 years I have probably purchased 2 thousand dollars’ worth of Indianapolis Motor Speedway Bronze badges. Far and away, it is the one expense I have never had an issue with. There are many different facets of this simple badge that magnify the true value of purchasing it. This is very evident from an open wheel race fan’s perspective! The incomparable Cassie Conklin of IMS Blogging fame beat me to the punch the other day when she posted her 5 reasons why you should buy a bronze badge. Her excellent post can be found


Experience has shown me that there is no better value in sport at this price point. I can add up all the days in May that the track is open and while utilizing a bronze badge, I still come out ahead in the [not] empty wallet department. I would gladly miss a week of work to take full advantage of the wayyyy upclose access, but my employer just might have an objection or two.

While the IMS blog speaks of the benefits in five totally spot on bullet points, I feel that the most subtle advantage of this badge is the confluence of access and photo op. In fact, the BEST vantage point on qualifying weekend would be just to the north of the fuel depot, in between the two tech inspection pads.


Tech Corner at IMS; visible from space!

Tech Corner at IMS; visible from space!

Last year I enjoyed the loosening of the bicycle rules at the speedway (Indianapolis currently has a VERY bicycle friendly mayor) and was allowed to enter and bike to my heart’s content. My bike, parked beside some of the two wheeled toys the mechanics drive into work during May, just inside the gate by the fuel depot:


Recognize the 10 car?

Recognize the 10 car?


Taking advantage of bicycle mobility, along with being armed with a bronze badge I found the perfect spot to shoot the DW12 cars in close proximity. By close, I mean so close that the BIG red and black and yellow colored car team’s vehicle handlers blocked some of my shots during tech inspection.


Are they hiding, uh, protecting proprietary information?

Are they hiding, uh, protecting proprietary information?


One can easily get that close. I wonder if they were frightened that I might be a roaming eye for a competitor. From the vantage point below, where cars undergo tech, I found some of the best places to get within a whisper of the cars. I enjoy shooting them in a front on or rear on views and this is the best spot to do so. It gives some shots a close look at the detail of the preparation of the cars.


Black and Red cars

Black and Red cars



Laying on of the hands

Laying on of the hands


So, if you are fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of the offer of access, the Bronze Badge program is my best suggestion. It really is a lot of bang for the buck. But the best part of this program is that finally, after dern near 96 years, the speedway began to allow minors into the garage area. It is the easiest way for the speedway to foster the next generation of open wheel fan. The sport certainly can use any and all avenues of exposure available as they go down the road that leads to the future. This is a great incubation opportunity. Oh, and by the way, last year just prior to the start of the Inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, the bronze badge provided the opportunity of a pre-race grid walk. No extra charge…..

Recently, when I asked a fresh set of eyes to look over the rough draft of this Bronze Badge edition of Wide Open Wheel, the following statement was made; “GForce, you sound like you are being a shill for the Speedway”. I pondered that a moment and asked in return, “If I give you an aspirin for your headache, am I practicing unlicensed health care?” The answer is no, I am not. I am just sharing a really great way to experience open wheel racing up close at a very reasonable cost. It just happens to be in Indianapolis!


As always, thanks for stopping by and we will talk with you next time.



Road Course

Road Course




This Week’s HOT LINK:

Got my tickets for Brasilla, er no. COTA. Yeah; It’s COTA Baby! ER, no….wait!

3 Feb
The FIRST race of 2015 HERE

The FIRST race of 2015 HERE


Yeah, I was geeked to finally have the 2015 season start. I feel for my Indy Car brethren now that the future looks just a little dimmer than it did a short week ago.

The momentum generated by open wheel racing is so very close to becoming a full trot instead of a crawl and then THIS. The sad part is that it is totally beyond the control of Miles and company and they, too are along for the ride. Today at 6:28 pm Curt Cavin confirmed no make up race, no test session, no poop. First open test with aero kits is March 16-17 at Barber Motorsports Park.

Okay, the good news:
• Monica Hilton (commonly known as the @The_Race_gIRL on twitter is back in the PR saddle, plying her trade doing PR for @SPMIndyCar. When she announced the news last night, the outpouring of love for her on twitter was instantaneous and very sincere.
• Lights car count is up…WAY UP
• Luca Filippe is IN
• THE mad Russian is….OUT
• Hinchtown is In and OUT
• The great Brian Barnhart is back, Back, BACK (insert teeth gnash OR big smile; your choice)
• My peeps in NOLA say this will go over very well in the Big Easy

Man is THAT a lot to mull over for the next few weeks. I just want to let that marinate a while with you and let the RPM slowly come up to the power band. I really have nothing to espouse on regarding the long, long off season that has not already been posted somewhere or other. I do have a pretty cool link to offer you, however. Unbelievably, this video was uploaded almost 5 years ago. I suggest that you set aside 15 minutes or so to get totally, yet subtly schooled on the best way around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It features none other than “Rocket” Rick Mears and that underperforming NASCAR driver, Jimmy Johnson. Ride along with them and don’t be afraid to fast forward as parts of it will go slower than a yellow on lap 195.

Thanks for hitting me back on the blog and we will talk to you next time!