Oh we’re steadily creeping up on May and a happy birthday to that wonderful web feature, The Greatest 33, that IMS used to great effect in generating discussion and interest for the 100th Anniversary race last spring.
The reason I mention it begins with some recent flim-flammery with my Facebook cover picture in its current edition (for those of you with Facebook, you’ll know what I mean). I had produced the Greatest 33 cover pic over the winter as the new Timeline format for Facebook began to propagate, also making cover pictures using my favorite sports to be rotated in during the events. Took a bit of ‘cntl+printscreen’ and ‘save as…’ and ham-fisted photoshoppery, but I managed to achieve my goal.
As The Masters concluded, my cover pic was now to be set rather impatiently in anticipation of the month of May. I selected my prized Greatest 33 cover pic with a smug degree of self-satisfaction… that is until I began to think about Dan Wheldon’s place in my ranking and the ranking of all currently active drivers who made the cut.
My original ranking was submitted prior to last year’s 500 and now most certainly must review it in light of Dan’s victory last year and the results of that race. Do I change it as time marches on or leave it, as is, as a signpost of early May 2011?
Nope, can’t leave it be. Spent far too much time, energy, and thought in developing a statistical formula and spreadsheet and arguments with myself for that group and now, being so emotionally invested in such matters, must take the time to review it again. I found my spreadsheet and reviewed my picture only to find a few discrepancies I had settled a year ago but forgotten about.
For the record, here’s an image of my original Greatest 33:
My original intent was to use select statistics to weed out so many emotional arguments and get a clear handle strictly on the elite performers at Indy. My formula (which included weighted statistics of: # of Races, Poles, Laps Lead, Wins, and Top 5s) gave me a solid 27 drivers which includes all of the 4-, 3-, and 2-time winners plus significant 1-time winners, so I elected to make space (Row 11) for only those performers who had no wins but amazing career numbers at the Brickyard. The remaining 3 places of Row 10 would be debated on the merits of a tightly-scored group of 5 drivers, all with 1 win.
Now My (latest) Greatest 33 with no added or dropped drivers, only place-shuffling:
Having redressed the numbers to include the current statistics following the 2011 Indy 500, some things emerged…
– Rows 1 through 4 went unchanged.
– Row 7 changed with Dan Wheldon and Dario Franchitti each jumping up one place and moving Tommy Milton down two. I hate to move anyone down, but the amount of wins for Wheldon (2) and laps lead for still-active Franchitti were enough to sufficiently supplant Milton.
– Rows 8 and 9 changed as Dixon, chiefly from his laps lead number and another Top 5 finish, leapfrogged 5 places to 23rd, shuffling all those passed backward one place.
Rows 5 and 6 is where some debate occurred. 1-time winner Ralph DePalma had scored 4 spots higher than his placing showed and I recalled moving him down in favor of 2-time winners Vukovich and Ward, the 2-time winner and speed record-holder Luyendyk, and on the bias that he was a 2-timer as well and was involved in the closest finish in history to date, Unser Jr. Now a year later, I found this a bit distasteful for some reason and split the difference, placing DePalma up two spots as the second highest-ranked 1-time winner and in the middle of a group of 2-time winners.
Finding the study of this list to be enjoyable, I’ve decided to continue to update my list each year. As I look forward to the 2012 race, some places that likely will change will be for active drivers Castroneves, Franchitti, and Dixon due to their relative points proximity to the drivers ahead of them and those drivers all inactive.
For those 0 of you interested in the particulars of my formula and rankings, a Google docs version of my spreadsheet, can be found here. There are two tabs at the bottom of the sheet which house the April 2011 and April 2012 versions.
Go ahead and set your Indy 500 nerdery alarm to ring in 365 days as I plan to be right back here (Mayan calendar be damned) updating prior to the 2013 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. I’d be interested in your thoughts on your own Greatest 33 and if you’ve thought about changing it as well…