On Break, Out of Town, Off The Planet Perhaps

17 Mar

Find GForce


We will return next week, but until then, enjoy a little cross link to the most recent post by Mark Wilkinson of New Track Record. His post yesterday was stellar and spot on. Where ARE the next open wheel fans going to come from?


Thanks for the drive by and we will talk to you next week!



Mario Does Charity BIG TIME and A Technical Extravaganza on Shocks and Grip

10 Mar

Warning: The ending of this post will get technical in nature. Very technical…..your eyes are not allowed to glaze over and you WILL have a quiz on Monday morning. Oh, and would you like some wings with your wings?


One of my favorite community involvement opportunities my company participates in is Meals on Wheels. I have recently called for medical oxygen from my doctor after viewing a tweet on my timeline this afternoon. It came from Mario Andretti no less and shows just what right stuff he is made of.

As seen on Twitter 03/09/2015

As seen on Twitter 03/09/2015

I had no idea he would be willing to share his time doing this but then again, Mario is THE ambassador of open wheel racing and in any situation, one’s true color always shines through!

The link to the complete photo layout provided by LehighValleyLive http://photos.lehighvalleylive.com/4424/gallery/mario_andretti_delivers_meals_/index.html#/0


What a nice, feel good way to start this week’s blog off; with good people doing great things for those in need. Interestingly enough, a few weeks back I posted an article about raising cancer awareness and the search for the cure. Needless to say, my humble blog exploded with over 250 hits the first day. Now, I know that I am not a true word smith, nor am I about to quit my day job to become the latest motorsport hack. I am too old for something like that so I will stick to my little corner of 16th and Georgetown and continue to write about the love of my life which is Indy Car and IMS. But, little did I know that someone somewhere near Oswego, New York would see the story and engage me in a side bar.

ISMA entry of Mike McVetta


The folks over at Wing Side Up (https://wingsideup.wordpress.com/ ) tipped a hat to my posting and I became aware of who they are up there in Upstate NY. A gent named Bob Gangwer runs a WordPress site dedicated to super modified racing and through a series of engagements I asked a technical question via a submission on their site. The question had to do with set up and shocks, along with how to generate mechanical grip. While some consider super modifieds unrelated to Indy car, one cannot call themselves a race fan if they place themselves in a niche. Besides, set ups try to accomplish the same thing across all platforms; get some grip, make the car turn and neutralize entry and exit forces in the turns. A wise Wally Dallenbach once said, “if the car is tight (push) you hit the wall with the front of the car; if the car is loose, you hit the wall with the back of the car”. This led me to consider the epiphany of racing as getting through a corner quickly, no matter the vehicle.


Enter Bob Bogwicz

I sent a question into the “wailbag” on the blog Wing Side Up and posed the following question: Besides shocks, what is the next adjustment on a car that gives big bang for the buck? Thinking how to generate better mechanical grip.

Bob Gangwer sent the question on to their technical guru, Mr. Bob Bogwicz of Group R Motorsports and it was on like Donkey Kong. On March 5th, Mr. Bogwicz replied to my question with a primer on shocks and grip. In order to do it justice, Bob has graciously allowed me to quote the reply en toto for this week’s installment of Wide Open Wheel. So, without too much further comment, I submit the good stuff from Mr. Bogwicz.

Dear Paul:

Thanks for your question! Mechanical grip is achieved differently with different types of racecars. Since my experience has been driving a supermodifed at Oswego Speedway, I can talk about how we do it but most of the concepts are the same. You mentioned shocks in your email. I would like to give a quick primer on shocks to put all this in perspective. First, shocks operate in two modes: low speed and high speed with “speed” being the speed of the shaft as it moves in and out of the shock body. Bumps on the track cause high shaft speeds. High speed mode keeps the tire in contact with the track when it encounters a bump. This is the dampening effect that the shock provides (and remember, only the good old USA calls them “shocks”. The remainder of the civilized world calls them “dampers” for the reason). This is the sole purpose of a shock on a street vehicle.

The second mode of operation is low shaft speed. This is where the compression and rebound adjustments of a shock come into play. Slow shaft speeds are encountered during weight transfer, such as turning into or throttling out of a corner. With the compression and rebound adjustments, one can have control over weight transfer. Keep in mind that weight transfer is inevitable (it’s physics, after all!). Low speed adjustments just slow down the weight transfer for a particular corner of the car in a controllable manner. The reason I am talking about shocks is because it is used to “fine tune” the handling of a racecar. Low speed operation of a shock doesn’t necessarily increase mechanical grip but it will fine tune the “grip relationship” of the four tires at small portion of the racetrack (i.e., corner entry, mid-corner and corner exit). My opinion is that the expensive shocks that have a rebound adjustment on the shaft body and an external canister that controls compression are not a great bang for the buck. I think they are WAY too expensive for the type of racing we do. Yet, people are sold on them.


“Bang for the buck” adjustments, especially with a supermodified, are the torque arm and the front & rear panhard bars. The torque arm is connected to the rear end center section and comes forward to just behind the engine. The forward mounting point of the torque arm, in relationship to the center of gravity of the car will adjust the bite that the LR tire will have when you stomp on the throttle. The NASCAR equivalent of a torque arm would be the two trailing arms that locate the rear end. The panhard bar will adjust the ratio of downward forces to lateral forces on the tires. Raising the panhard bar increases the lateral forces of that axle and cause those tires to slide sideways. Lowering the panhard bar increase the downward force of that axle, creating more mechanical grip. The optimum height of a panhard bar will create a good balance between “grip” and “slide”. Keep in mind, if you lower the panhard bar in the rear, mechanical grip of the rear tires is increased which will tighten the car up. Lowering the panhard bar in the front, the mechanical grip of the front tires is increased which will loosen the car up. I hope this answers your question! Be sure to look up my supermodified tech article at wingsideup.wordpress.com the second Tuesday of every month and follow me on Twitter: @grouprmtrsports.

Kindest regards, Bob “The Bogwan” Bogwicz

Group R Motorsports


Shew, now THAT was certainly enlightening, don’t you think? I found it interesting to say the least. At any rate, thanks again as always for stopping by the blog and we will talk to you next time.


Anybody Seen Honda’s Aero Bits Yet? How do IndyCar Drivers Keep Their Sanity During the Off Season? How Does IndyCar Keep Up Interest?

3 Mar


1996 Honda design that never raced

1996 Honda design that never raced


One thing I have found to be true as I dabble in the world of word smithy; should people not be given the facts, they tend to make them up as they go along. Once that synergy kicks in, a rumor, yarn or outright lie begins to smell like the truth over time. This is called operating in a vacuum.

Hence, I have seen and heard more about 2015 Honda aero bits then I care to forward on to you, just to help keep down spam in your inbox. HPD aero bits are square; no, they are round; NO! They are more elliptical and so on and so on. See my point? Remember the old game of I heard that…? One person relates a story and tells it to another. That person passes it on to a third party and then the story returns to the original sender. That story in no way resembles the first tale as told. And so it is with Honda Aero Bits. Here are some of the visual suggestions I have seen on the interweb so far , and since no one is showing the actual pieces, imagination has run rampant. Interestingly, these “suggestions” are all older cars that used to run in that dying off series known as Formula One.


More Down Force? Less Down Force?

More Down Force? Less Down Force?


Perhaps this one is a little more streamlined which results in better air flow around the driver’s head…..We all know they need cooler heads! Could the Honda’s follow this design logic? I hope not.


Credit Racer Magazine

Better Aero but,,,,


Some truths about Honda’s development program were posted in Racer Magazine, as written by the incomparable Marshall Pruett. This was published back on December 9, 2014. In this article Marshall wrote:

HPD vice president Steve Eriksen tells RACER the process has been meeting their targets.
“Surprisingly, I thoroughly thought we’d have [spy] shots out by now…” he said with a laugh. “The testing has gone very well, and has mainly been focused on correlation more than anything. It’s about checking the virtual world versus what we’ve seen in the wind tunnel versus what we’re seeing on track. We’ve coordinated the configurations as such so that we can prove the data across each of the three points.”
“When you’re testing, you’re ultimately trying parts or pieces that were designed a little while ago – it takes time to tool up and manufacture the parts – and seeing how those snapshots in times match what we expected. Does this predicted performance match reality? Do the forces match? Does the aero balance match what we’d expect? And then there’s the unexpected part in the real world with a driver in the car giving you feedback on how it’s performing.”

Now folks, that would be known as coming from the horses’ mouth. When one considers that HPD hooked their wagon up to just one autosport team, whereas Chevy spread the R and D over two remaining juggernauts, the time to completion is going to be a little longer for HPD. I get that and also realize that the expense of development spread over the number of engine badged machines is not an equal number between the two manufacturers. The oldest of mathematical truisms states that the lesser the number of customers, the higher the development cost per unit sold. This applies to both the new IL-15 Indy Lights car as well as the DW12 ‘Engine Manufacturer’ 2015 Aero Updates. From my personal perspective, I would like to see 20 Lights teams and 24 IndyCar teams on the grid every weekend. More cars sold lowers the unit cost and more butts in seats raises the promoter’s return so the question begs to be asked, how will the new look big cars and the new look smaller cars affect the turnstile?

Off Season Fun and Driver Engagement

During the past week, Josef Newgarden and Sage Karam received an invite to the NFL’s annual pre-draft combine held in Indianapolis. They were asked to try their hands at four NFL skills tests to see where they would rank among the years’ potential draft picks. From what the Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin wrote following the test, the two young shoes held their own, especially considering they did not do event specific training as part of their normal conditioning routines. The boys of IndyCar humor posted some pretty funny stuff on the IndyCar channel on youtube. Give it a look see here:


That Joe, he sure gets around a lot! At about the same time as the NFL combine’s run, Mardi Gras took place and just prior to that IndyCar conducted track testing at the new NOLA circuit. While all of this was taking place, Joe found time to hit Mardi Gras with his on camera buddy James Hinchliffe. IndyCar had the foresight to get a place on a prominent krewe’s float and loaded it up with both IndyCar and Indy Lights drivers. This is, by definition, great product placement. I mean Great.Product.Placement. The shot in the street interview video, where Hinch is given a microphone and Newgarden for a sidekick, made for some interesting comedy:


The day and night that make up Mardi Gras is worth consideration as a candidate on your bucket list. It really is an iconic event, similar in scope to the Indianapolis 500. Just the fact that Lights and IndyCar drivers got on a highly regarded float in this year’s Mardi Gras parade was quite a coup. Some PR peeps somewhere pulled one off; Big Time and so props to them. Some of the best photos from the day were posted on the IndyCar site so I suggest you follow yet another link and rush here to spend some quality time on a cold winter’s eve. Lots of snow in Indy on the first day of March feels like it is a cold winter’s eve anyway so drop by here for the good stuff about IndyCar in New Orleans. I call it


So I usually end each week’s posting with a hot link but wanted to share something near and dear with you instead as this week’s installment draws to a close. The folks at Chippy’s shop in Indy (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) hosted a fundraiser this weekend for Honor Flight (IndyHonorFlight.org). This is an organization whose mission is to transport American Veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit memorials dedicated to honor their sacrifices. My employer got involved in this cause a few months back and Chip hosted an open house at his shop on the 28th of February. The silent auction had some unbelievable memorabilia and the event was well received. Even though the event has passed’ I wanted to share their flyer link as it references a pretty special veteran that has left quite an impression on the IndyCar racing community. Study the picture closely because that veteran is no longer with us…..

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


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 ( http://newtrackrecord.com ). 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. http://www.pippamann.com/fan_zone/blog/pink

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!


Ten Questions With Indianapolis 500 Festival Princess Adrienne Runge

7 May
Festival Princess Adrienne Runge

Festival Princess Adrienne Runge


It’s is not too often that I get to write on subject matter that is outside of the norm for motorsports blogging. From time to time, I enjoy digging into the background and getting away from the wheel spin. Last week, I promised a divergence and I am here to tell you, this article has been a lot of fun to produce. Now, let me be clear, I LOVE all things Indianapolis 500. Some folks say it and yet they still just want wheel spin. I enjoy digging in and relaying to you some gems that I come across. With an event such as the Indianapolis 500, there is a ton of subject matter to choose from! My preference is still to talk to the wrenches, to learn about the “all things digital”, or the web basing of the brand called Indy 500. To that point, I had a wonderful opportunity to conduct a brief, yet enlightening interview with a real live princess. No, this is not the story of the princess and the frog…….

I came to know a little about the 500 festival from a gent I work with. It seems that his step-daughter was selected from a field of nearly 230 applicants to become one of the 33 women chosen as 500 festival princesses. She was chosen based on criteria that includes academic performance, community service involvement, poise and leadership skills. The program itself is a scholarship and ambassador program and not a beauty pageant. From the 500 Festival website, I found that the specific selection process includes:

Strong desire to serve others through community service – Volunteerism
Team player with the ability to work well with others
Maturity and responsibility
Exceptional poise and professionalism
Academic achievement
Hard worker
Patience and flexibility
Great sense of humor
High energy level
Unselfish and willing to give of herself to others –

Should this hold interest, please rush over to the 500 Festival website and see more at: http://www.500festival.com/programs/princess-program/eligibility-requirements#sthash.0ATgILYl.dpuf


2014 Indianapolis 500 Festival Princesses

2014 Indianapolis 500 Festival Princesses


So, without further ado, it is with great pleasure that I present Ms. Adrienne Runge, 500 Festival Princess for 2014.

1. What is on your I-Pod or music playing device?

I listen to all kinds of music. There isn’t a whole genre that I won’t listen to. I like to listen to Pandora on my phone or computer because it gives me access to all the music I haven’t downloaded, and I like not knowing what song will play next. Which station I listen to depends on what I’m doing. If I’m at the gym I’ll listen to hip-hop. If I need background music I’ll play something more folksy, and I also love listening to stand-up comedy.

2. What is your college major and how will this help you achieve some of your goals in life?

I graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a BA in Italian and pre-Health studies, and I’m currently working on an MS in Biology. With the Italian major, I was able to study abroad in Italy and learn the Italian language and culture, and all of my science courses helped me toward my goal of going to dental school, which I will start in July at IU School of Dentistry.

3. How did you become a 500 festival princess?

I’ve known about the program forever because I was born and raised in Speedway, and it’s something I have always wanted to do. I finally got the chance when I moved back home to work on my MS degree. The application for the program is online, and it is followed by two rounds of interviews that narrow down the approximately 230 applicants this year to the final 33 princesses.

4. Who had the most influence on your life to this point and why?

My mom. We have a really close mother-daughter relationship, and she always encourages me to do the next big thing. She pushes me to do things I maybe don’t want to do, and she supports me in anything I want to do but am maybe too nervous or scared.

5. What do you think you will do to promote and or at least live by the values gained from this experience?

For me, this program has taught me to be even more proud of my community. I’ve grown up watching the race and seeing people from all over the country and the world come here every year, so I always knew my town was special. This program has given me the opportunity to finally be on the inside of all of the festivities, and so I now have an incredibly unique perspective on how extraordinary this place is, and that is something I will always carry with me and try to share with the world.

6. Do you have any siblings? What is the meanest thing you did to them as a kid?

Yes I have four brothers, three older and one younger. Once I decided to scare my little brother while he was sleeping so I crept into his room wearing a scary painted mask that I got in China Town. I snuck up to his bunk bed and yelled. He woke up, cried, and needless to say I got in trouble.

7. What has been the most difficult obstacle in your life that you still wish to overcome?

I’m in a long-distance relationship with my boyfriend of three years, which is incredibly hard. Our lives are taking us on different paths right now, so we unfortunately have to be apart. We both know that we need to try to succeed individually before we can succeed together though, and I’m very hopeful that it will all work out in the end.
8. Chocolate brownies or strawberry shortcake and why?

Chocolate brownies. Anything chocolate.

9. Was the final election process nerve wracking for you? Why or why not?

It was very nerve wracking. I’m a shy person by nature, so being interviewed by a panel of judges is intimidating. I also think everyone needs those kinds of experiences, though, and I’m so glad I did it (and made it out alive!)

10. If you are allowed to, who is your pick to win this year’s Indy 500? What gives them the ‘edge’ that makes you think they will win?

Ed Carpenter. I have to go with the hometown hero.



Adrienne and 2 future princesses

Adrienne and 2 future princesses


What a nice chance to finally point out something good going on in the world. Leave the politics, the fighting and arguing and the hate behind. This is what moves the ball forward; young people doing great things. Who can argue with that?

As always, thanks for stopping by! We will talk to you next time.


My Unusual Prelude To This Year’s Indianapolis 500

1 May

Olympian n Simpson


Last week I had the pleasure of closely visiting the scene of this year’s Verizon IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the inaugural event of the 2014 schedule. Too bad IndyCar was racing at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. I again missed the race by a few weeks….I was, however, able to get close to the actual race course. By close, I mean, I got very VEWRY close to the circuit, I mean, I was actually riding my bicycle around the road course. Interestingly enough, the downtown city streets of St. Petersburg are still marked up with remnants of some of Firestone’s best work.



I feel for my IndyCar diehards that work on the trackside product called motorsport during a long, rainy race day such as recently experienced at Barber Motor Sports Park. The weather this day was City Council picture perfect. It nicely set the mood for the upcoming Month of May at the Hallowed Grounds and I simply cannot wait for inaugural running of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.



While the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a very recognizable victory circle platform, St. Pete’s is more low key and visitor inviting during the off season. The backdrop for the victory circle there is pretty darn stunning on a sunny day. Nice touch and a good job by the Kim Green and company that promotes the event.



There is a small fly in pilots lounge near the exit of turn one that overlooks the airport runway straight. I found it to be a great place to have a Killer half pound burger AND piss off my doctor at the same time.
Yeah, you can still get Bi plane rides around the water front and downtown. If your pockets are deep enough you can get a flight out to the beach areas a few miles away.



All of this pleasant riding around the historic section of the city street course named after Dan Wheldon made me think about some of the different aspects of the Indy 500 besides the actual race itself.


Wheldon Way

I am still fascinated by the behind the scenes activity that takes place to put on events such as motorsport. The fact that for every hour of racing you see on TV takes many, many man hours of support, preparation and just plain old skool set building. But beyond that, what about truly supportive activities and functions that support tradition?

I am talking about a specific feature every year of the entire Indy 500 Festival experience. Recently I was speaking with an associate at the salt mine and discovered that his step daughter had been selected to be an Indianapolis 500 Festival Princess. He shed a little light on the topic and I found it to be fascinating. So, next week we will be doing a retro visit to a blog style I LOVE to conjur up. We will be chatting and asking 10 questions with a real to life, by God, Indianapolis 500 Festival Princess. I cannot wait to see and share the next edition of:

Thanks as always for stopping by and of course, we will talk to you next time!


Eye Candy from Sonoma AND my love, the Delta Wing, Monica Hilton, Simon Pagenaud ; It is a Festival of Links!!

26 Feb
Love the Lines

Love the Lines

I will link all of this hot mess together by the end of this article, I promise!
I tend to get a tad antsy this time of year as we all await the wheels turning at the Grand Prix of St. Pete.
I mean, it is one thing to endure a long, miserable winter with record snow depths that extend back to when they started keeping records.

Please End Winter [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo4L-MEvcuM&feature=youtu.be ]

It is another to also endure the long off season, far away from my not so secret addiction: speed. Just mere weeks until things heat up and scheduled testing begins in earnest.
I thought I would take up some more blog space and opine on how one survives the off season. A good portion of my time is spent taking advantage of YouTube and the ability to review some highlights of the previous season. With lingering daylight and longer nights, I tend to get into the historical types of Indy Car videos. Recently, I came across both US and BBC produced copies of same year events and it is pretty interesting to see the different broadcast perspectives. If you have about 4 hours to kill and a good amount of tissue, I would suggest SKY Sports’ British broadcast of the 2012 Indy 500. A fabulous perspective awaits, but be warned; Dan Wheldon is highlighted in this broadcast and it will absolutely bring the [manly] tears.


One of the early testing locations I look forward to is Sonoma because in the early spring the grounds are covered in green. I posted a similar video about this time last year and, again,the video for this year is presented by GoPro cameras. The cool thing about this yerar’s video is the placement of the camera. It never occurred to me to see the track from the perspective of Simon Pagenaud’s helmet. Now, I am usually familiar with ‘point of view’ shots and have grown accustomed to seeing racing portrayed from a camera hung off the car. The start of this video blows me away……and makes me chuckle as well. Look for a cameo appearance by none other than Davy Hamilton. Extra bonus points will be given.

The bat mobile

The bat mobile

All of this leads me back to 2009 and while on a drive to my daily cubicle death, I encountered a AM radio drive time talking head that was interviewing a lady about none other than the Indy Car series and motor sport. I forget her name, but I seem to recall that it was Race Girl or something like that. I was pretty impressed as she stated her case against Indy Car adopting the Delta wing as the next generation of race car platform. I kind of snickered when it was referred to as the penis mobile and yet that moniker remains to this day. Go figure! Especially since the Delta wing has evolved into a potential class within the sports car and endurance racing disciplines. All that and a qualified female piloting the current iteration of the Delta wing makes for pretty good humor when I look back to that radio show. The recent accomplishments of the concepts first envisioned by Ben Bolby are pretty impressive as is evidenced by this cool video summary of an ALMS race in 20123 from Road America. Enjoy!


All of which brings me back to where it all began. You see, from that radio show I was listening to in my car, stuck in traffic, bored and mad as hell, I ran across Monica Hilton. Interesting person, very gifted writer and tireless worker on behalf of the sport she loves. It was nice to see fresh attitudes and unfailing charm in action and she went on to toil for HVM racing in Public Relations. As things always do, they change in Indy Car on almost a weekly basis and people switch, change, move on…..

All of which brings me to this link about a new venture called Snake Pit Customs. Back when I had a hankering to start an Indy Car blog, I had a chance encounter with the rcae gIRL and used her writing style as a guideline. Not because I wanted to be just like her, but because of the tenor and tone of her sarcasm. In fact, I believe that the blogosphere of Indy Car is quite awash in the use of sarcasm. I tend to enjoy that quite a bit! But I digress…..

Fast forward to today, or at least January 21, 2014. The times have changed and Monica has moved on to a different slant on the world of PR.


So, now to tie all of this blog posting up into a nice and tidy little package. There are a few clues, but to the untrained eye it appears to be mere rambling. Well, look no further and consider these hidden points:

Winter will never end in Indianapolis
Somewhere the folks at IMS are planning a killer snake pit event for the 2014 Indy 500
Simon Pagenaud can drive a GoPro like nobody else
Monica Hilton has a great new adventure
Snake Pit Customs is born (http://snakepitcustoms.com/ )
The first client of record for Snake Pit Customs is…drum roll please:
Simon Pagenaud!

So, now that you are all informed and are armed with KILLER INSIDE PERSPECTIVE, start getting excited about the upcoming series kickoff event in my favorite part of the world, St. Pete! And we all look forward to what the speedway has planned for this year’s Snake Pit!

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