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:


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 [ ]

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 ( )
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!

Finally, SOMETHING I Can Get My Head Around

17 Feb
KuBu at Indy 2013

KuBu at Indy 2013

I unashamedly follow Tony Dizinno, a writer for NBC Sports “Motor Sports Talk” as well as other outlets. This gent is a PROLIFIC producer of word count and not just for the sake of volume. He produces well written content across multiple racing platforms!

Something he recently had written caught my eye and actually left me with that tilted head, confused dog look. Imagine an Indy 500 that followed the “path” laid out by BCG or whatever moniker du jour is used today to describe the plan to move THE Hallowed Grounds forward. A page out of that playbook called for adding a star from another series to the entry list. The most recent tome on the topic from Tony can be found here:

Now, to most commonly educated folks, that would mean add a NASCAR star to the entry list. Actually, the Indycar Series DOES try to cross pollinate from other so called open wheel series to complete the field of 33. I believe what the Consultant du Jour meant was a NASCAR star.

Enter Kurt Busch.

Such a fanfare of tweets were proffered by the plethora of pandering bloggers! Oh my…… Did you see that Kurt was in Indy last summer and actually passed his ROPE in ONE DAY they screamed in unison. While, in unison I mean they screamed this talking point in many different flavors but you get my drift.

In all fairness, Kurt handled himself quite well in a borrowed car that I am sure came with the caveat, bring her home….please. Bring her home…..UNBROKEN! He enjoyed the experience so much that he delayed his IND departure to complete all phases of ROPE. I am not the best judge of talent behind an Indy Car steering wheel, but I have seen enough of the lines these cars take entering turn one  to know who is puckering and who is seeing it all IN-S L O W-M O T I O N.

Enter ‘Dinger.

The Dinger Knows Indy

The Dinger Knows Indy

From a man totally disgraced by NASCAR for an indiscretion of their vaunted “actions detrimental to NASCAR” and violations of their substance abuse policy to a man on a holy terror mission of redemption, at one point in the race, AJ kicked everyone’s ass in the 2013 Indy 500. Who in the class recalls where Dinger finished in that race? Anybody?…Class….class…Buheler….

He finished 7th in a race with too many lead changes to count let alone keep up. I used to be able to score Indy 500 races in my head without a pylon and then came the lead changeapalooza of last year. Emotional win for T.K. to be sure but; who came in second, let alone seventh?

Enter Chevrolet (or as Uncle Bobby calls them, cheverlayzzz).

What is the common theme here? Well, if you followed Tony Dizinno, you would be well informed but if you just follow me, well then, you would not be so informed. The common thread and talking points are these:

-Chevy had 13 teams last year. They have 11 now and are looking to share the love some more
-KuBu is a Chevy man
-‘Dinger is a Chevy man

So, my premonition is not one, but possibly TWO tin top drivers doing the daily double. My supposition is that ‘Dinger is pretty capable, his team uses Chevrolet power and therefore my conclusion is:
(Fill in your best cross pollination wish here).

The link to thought provoking wordsmithy by Jerry Bobkowski can be found here:

So now, while you chew on that thought a little while and pray for Spring to finally arrive in Indianapolis, contemplate what it would mean for a double double to take place. Does this put more butts in seats? I am gravitating towards a yes vote!

As always, thanks for stopping by to read and rest your feet a few. We will talk to you next time!