In my preparation for my trip to the 500, I always spend just a little time pouring over the intricacies of the starting field. How many previous winners? How many rookies? What are the countries of origin? Any bits of trivia I find interesting.
Some examples; Row 10 this year is the only row which features only one of the engine manufacturers (Chevy); Lundgaard is the first Danish driver to make the field; Row 5 is the only all-USA native field; etc.
In doing so however, I also look at colors and liveries in the spotters guide. Between qualifying weekend TV coverage and reviewing the guide, I noticed there are virtually no liveries that I would consider unattractive this year. All are notable and few replicate others so closely that they’re difficult to identify immediately.
The livery game in Indycar has stepped up in the last few years and I want to say that it is about as good as it ever has been and perhaps 2022 is the best of the 20s so far, but as is typical with everything else in sports, comparing eras separated by years and decades means that technology factors into the discussion.
I do think that as wild as the vehicle design was through the 1970s, the liveries of that decade were a reflection of that era in freedom of creativity. When one considers that nearly everything (if not everything) was hand-painted at that time, the work to produce a memorable and visually-capturing livery was truly an art.
Perhaps only rivalled by the 1973 field, one of my absolute favorite fields, subjectively judged by liveries, is 1970. Below is the hyperlinked year of the field for your perusal, of images from the Indycar.com site.
1970 – The dawn of a new decade and new era in racing meant creativity was in full flow. The #2 Johnny Lightning Special driven by Al Unser was the actual race-winner, but is also one of the most recognizable liveries of all-time now over 50 years on, but first appearing in 1970.
In 1970, Foyt’s Coyote Red team cars had become easily recognizable as did the Granatelli Team STP day-glo red, and the McLaren’s Papaya orange, but other non-works liveries that standout include: the #25 Cablevision car of Lloyd Ruby;
the #97 Wynn’s Spit Fire Special driven by Bruce Walkup;
The #22 and #23 Sprite soft drink liveries driven by Wally Dallenbach and Mel Kenyon;
And the #89 Nelson Iron Works Special driven by Jerry Grant.
The #89 I particularly enjoy as it evokes a feeling of walking into a groovy ’70s lounge with dark paneling, brown vinyl-covered cushy club chairs, shag carpeting, and swag lighting everywhere, including the restrooms.
Wait! I’ve been there. It’s called the High Life Lounge in Des Moines, Iowa. When I made the trek to see Indycars in Iowa in the summer of 2018, we made sure to hit this classic spot and so should you (if you’re over 21 years of age, that is).
I believe art generally reflects the times and even so when applied to the mechanical racecar. The variety of chassis as well as the creative liveries in the field of the 1970 Indy 500 really gives one a sense of the times.
In 1997, I went from being optimistic that the speeds to challenge Luyendyk’s 1996 qualifying record would return in 8-10 years, to just hoping I’d be alive to see it. I was 30 years old then. Naïveté isn’t bounded by age, but rather experience apparently.
Flashback to 1997 and the all-new naturally-aspirated 4.0l v-8 engine and chassis formula of the IRL. The reduced engine costs and increased/deafening roar of the IRL indicated a new era where the perception was set that speed was no longer king. The 218 mph pole speed and 206 mph slowest qualifying speed in 1997 recalled speeds of a decade prior. Certainly a regression had happened which did nothing to assuage the concerns of the ticket-buying public, yours truly included.
Still, I had solid faith in the engineers and a very modest faith in the powers-that-be that solutions to ramping speeds back up would be forthcoming in a matter of years. By the time 10 years had passed though, we were hovering around the speeds of 16 years prior. Patience was wearing thin, even for this grizzled fan who had nearly seen it all by this point, but there was some progress on unification of open-wheel racing where better performance and a much better perception of the overall product was emphasized.
Flashforward another 15 years to yesterday, May 22, 2022.
A tumultuous set of weather parameters had rolled through the previous days, testing the limits of flexibility and skill of the teams and drivers during practice in preparation for qualifying. On Sunday however, a relative cool and calm settled over the speedway allowing the Fast 12 to really dial it in and let it go in their runs for the pole.
What resulted yesterday, in my view, was long-overdue, yet nothing short of magical to finally experience.
An ageless wonder, the kiwi-sensation, who even only at 41 years old, seems to have been around longer than nearly everyone at the speedway, save for Roger Penske, Tony Kanaan, and a few yellow-shirts. Scott “The Iceman” Dixon broke the speed record held by Scott Brayton from 1996 that had stood for over 26 years – a four-lap average of 234.046mph for the pole-winning speed. I felt as if the racing gods were again smiling down as they had 51 weeks prior when the fourth 4-time winner was crowned.
Of course the outright 4-lap qualifying record of 236.986mph (non-pole-winning speed held by Arie Luyendyk) still lay beyond us, but it truly seems so much closer than ever before. My appetite to see that record broken is truly whet. The potential for speed setbacks in the transition to new motors in 2024 looms, but I have to believe we’re not far away from 237.
“When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun, keep me in your heart for a while. There’s a train leaving nightly called, ‘when all is said and done’, keep me in your heart for a while.”
I was feeling a growing urge to post yesterday, while progressing through my day job, perhaps to counter some of the virulent takes about the Music City GP and remind people that it’s beyond time to remember that it is our duty to keep some semblance of fairmindedness with regard to most anything, and especially for a brand new event of our favorite sport, even as inauspicious as its debut may have seemed on the track. I’ll get back to that in a minute.
As my work day wound down, I scanned Twitter in anticipation of thinking of final thoughts for this post, and my countenance dropped.
The news of yesterday’s passing of longtime voice of the 500 (and so much more), Bob Jenkins was certainly unwelcome news, but in the moments following my reading of the news, it hit me harder than I might have anticipated.
Bob Jenkins, as has, and will be noted often in the coming days, was so well-regarded by so many associated with Indycar and the 500. His voice and visage were significant and instantly recognizable elements for racing fans in the U.S. who traversed the 1980s, ’90s, and beyond. More personally, what hit me was the realization that his passing also represents a significant connection to memories of my appreciation for this sport and of the hallowed grounds of Indy.
I can’t help but feel some dread in thinking about the growing frequency and volume of the people we’re losing who represent what many call the ‘Golden Age of Racing’ (I roughly place that as early-1960s to late-1980s), not only for Indycar, but for all the major racing series during that time. “Growing old sucks”, as my father used to say, “but it beats the alternative”. Alas.
There are many things to be said by people who knew him personally, and we’ll be reading them over the next several days. I never met the man, but his voice and face will forever remain some of the most key visceral memories of a time in my life and in a sport that I cherish. It means so much to me that he, as a fan first and later media-everpresent of the sport, got to witness the fourth 4-time winner at Indy this year. There are precious few races that are as significant as the one we just completed and it is fitting that he was able to appreciate that from the pagoda before he left us.
To me, it was always evident in his broadcasting style that he had to work to curtail the fanboy giddiness he must have had at being able to cover the sport he loved, such was his appreciation for Indycar and racing. It was perhaps the most endearing feature of his delivery as those of us here can certainly appreciate the depths of his enthusiasm and enjoyment.
In thinking about the race this past weekend and in thinking about Bob’s life around Indycar, I can’t imagine him saying much ill of the Music City Grand Prix and that’s not a ‘fanboy’ thing so much as it is a good thing.
Events come and go and certainly the on-track action may have been far from satisfying to some. Certainly it wasn’t easy for those in the stands who endured an extra 60 minutes of ‘not-racing’ in the midsummer Tennessee heat to maintain their initial enthusiasm, yet I felt the race overall was interesting, intriguing, and not short of drama, whether intentional or not.
To the new fans and Nashvillians who attended their first race last Sunday – you could be forgiven for not entirely knowing what to make of an Indycar race. You definitely saw the better and lesser of what Indycar is. Certainly changes will be made to help reduce the on-track mayhem, but from a fan of 4 decades of this sport, it seems precious little else needs fixing, so I say your enthusiasm was and will be well-placed for this event.
The Music City Grand Prix looks to be a winner in many ways and I hope it becomes a mainstay on the schedule for many years. The city’s enthusiasm and response to this event has scarcely been equaled. I look forward to being able to join you all next year and celebrate in a city I’ve grown to know and love.
And that brings me to my final thought: As an ever-aging, and longer-time fan of Indycar, I want to express my ongoing concern of the fair-mindedness of (most everyone these days, but also) people who frequent social media. I’m proposing (as much for myself as anyone who read this) a few strategies to amplify enjoyment and reduce the ‘Legions of the Miserable’ by combatting the drive that seems to be solely to reduce other’s enjoyment of something.
Let’s aim to reduce the ‘hawt-taeks’ and virulent punditry that is all too prevalent these days. I know I have to work at it, and I consider myself pretty even-handed in thought. Holding off on posting may seem antithetical to the very use of social media, however, that ‘cooling-off’ time allows for one to consider positives and negatives more even-handedly (plus one gets the benefit of avoiding looking like a total spaz in thought and action).
Likewise, let’s aim to practice finding more things we like than things we don’t. So many of us have a very specific presence just for Indycar, why clutter up the space with negativity or corn-flake-pissing.
Be aware that you are in a public space. My father used to say that “your personal rights end at the tip of your nose” and I agree with that sentiment. Believe what you want, but realize that anything beyond your nose is sharedspace, and is not ‘yours’ (a practice scarcely seen in social media). Nothing like a worldwide airborne pandemic to underscore that point in so many ways.
Yesterday, another fan of Indycar, with whom a social media beef in this era could easily result as he is a fan of Liverpool FC, and I, betrothed to Everton, might on that basis alone scarcely treat each other with dignity. However, against all popular trends, we easily agree that to be polarized to the point of 100% all-or-nothingness is not only futile, but destructive and unnecessary.
I will 100% agree that to be all-or-nothing on anything and everything related to opinion, is a guarantee of being 100% miserable, wrong, and disliked 100% of the time.
I never expect to be agreed with, nor agree with anyone all of the time. Trying to seek that approval is an utter waste of time. So too is creating polarization (often used to drive traffic on social media).
Treat each other with respect. Be a fan. Support what you like.
Critical thought is always important, but the very nature of it requires an even-handed, open-minded, and equitable nature and approach. Analyze fairly, vote with your energy and your wallet, and forget the rest. Enjoy what you like to the fullest, realizing nothing ever has been nor will be perfect. Be like Bob Jenkins and cling gleefully to what brings you joy.
Of course we’re saddened that the train to the another realm has taken Bob Jenkins. What we haven’t lost is all he meant to IMS, Indycar, and racing in general, so let’s go back out there (everywhere) with a better appreciation of his endearing example and make a daily habit of bringing out the positives in others and the things we love.
I know each 500 raceday, in my seat at IMS in May, I take a moment to recall those who aren’t with us anymore, and now I’ll have one more to think about.
Keep things in your heart that matter most and say farewell to things that don’t.
When all is said and done, life’s too damned short to be any other way.
Now with the glory of the 2021 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race firmly in the rear-view mirror, I’ve carved time to revisit my Greatest 33 and review the largest shake-up in the standings since the inception of this 10-years-old bit of bench-racing started back in 2011.
To briefly review, IMS took great pains to create a special interactive website for the 2011 100th Anniversary race, for which fans could log in and vote for their “Greatest 33” to race at Indy from the 100 or so nominees provided. The site survived for a few years, but has since been taken down. I had participated in the original, but in need of some rudimentary starting point, my desire was to devise a method to the madness, trying to maintain some framework of relative fairness. I devised a set of objective criteria based on a few statistics that I deemed important for a driver to be in the conversation of the Greatest 33. At least I’d have some basis to sift and sort through the many drivers who’ve participated in this great race. With some consternation and trial-and-error, I settled on the weighted scoring method you see here. As you may have correctly guessed, ‘just for fun’ I saved and updated a spreadsheet every year following the results of each subsequent Indy 500. In the words of John Bender from The Breakfast Club, “…so, it’s sorta social, demented and sad, but social.” Prior posts of mine on this subject can be found by searching this blog’s tags for “Greatest 33”.
Without further ado, here is the top portion of that updated spreadsheet in all of its astoundingly dispassionate and boring rows and columns.
Helio Joins Racing Royalty – With his momentous and thrilling 4th victory, Helio Castroneves graduates to the uppermost eschelon of this list, joining the three other 4-time winners atop my Greatest 33. As noted back in the 2018 recap, a significant change at the top occurs if HE-LI-O got his 4th. He vaults above the other 3-time winners, Wilbur Shaw and Bobby Unser to 4th place overall, behind Rick Mears, AJ Foyt, and Al Unser. Dare we even contemplate the possibility of the first 5-time winner? That’s too much to even consider this close to Helio’s 4th win. Even another 4-time winner is difficult to imagine in my lifetime. As unlikely as it would appear that Rutherford or Franchitti would come out of retirement to attempt to join the 4-timers club, it’s seems nearly as unlikely that we’ll see another 4-time winner from the currently active 2-time (Montoya, Sato), or 1-time winners (Dixon, Kanaan, Hunter-Reay, Rossi, Power, and Pagenaud).
Errors Corrected – Only the most eagle-eyed/unicorn follower of my blog might notice this, but not only did Helio move up in the first three rows, but so too did Mauri Rose, from Row 4. In working this original batch of statistics, I recall originally being some what thrown off by the fact that Mauri Rose was shown by the official Indianapolismotorspeedway.com statistical drivers pages as being a two-time winner, (plus historically also one time as a co-driver with Floyd Davis in 1941). Until now I ignored/forgotten about it but with the confirmation of established 500 history buff/authority, Mike Thomsen (@thomsen419), I took the time this year to correct that error in my sheet, giving both pairs of winning drivers (Rose/Davis, Boyer/Corum) the full points accorded winners, and transferring Rose up the standings into the outside of the 3rd Row. Overall it did nothing to change the drivers named in the 33, just shuffled the order to be more accurate with the base statistics.
What about 2020? – In looking back to the foggy, labored, and generally abysmal year that was 2020, I realized I hadn’t posted about the results of the previous Indy 500, a second win for Takuma Sato. Sato-san’s second, moved him from below the cut line into the Greatest 33. All drivers with more than one win are included in my Greatest 33 currently. As with the second Montoya win in 2015, Sato moved into the Greatest 33 and in doing so, they each displaced a driver previously on my list. Montoya bumped Bobby Rahal and Sato bumped Jimmy Murphy, both one-time winners.
Intangibles, Part One– Readers of the past will recall that there are a few differences between my staid statistical listing and the graphical listing shown here. These are the subjective movements in rank that I assign based on a few variable details not accounted for in my spreadsheet. Also, for those not familiar with my particular listing, this is basically a Top 30 plus a ‘Last Row Club’ (as a nod to the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation’s ‘Last Row Party’) comprised of the best 3 to never win. I intend to maintain this format unless sufficiently cajoled otherwise. If you want a very limited edition souvenir, follow the IPCF link above and get yourself one of the most fun-spirited Indy 500 shirts available.
Intangibles, Part Two – With the weight of a 4th pole position and statistically now ranked 10th, Scott Dixon is located in 12th place behind Gordy and Mario as I feel their legend status still holds just the slightest bit more weight than Dixon. In terms of points, the three are separated by 1%, effectively now ‘three wide’ across the 4th row, I fully expect Dixon will fully overhaul them before his days are over at Indy. By the narrowest of margins, Tony Kanaan charts just one point ahead of Bill Vukovich. Much as the reasoning above though, I’ll hold the two-time legend of Vuky ahead of Kanaan, until TK ‘clears’ Vuky and ‘makes the pass’ into 16th place. As in years past, Arie Luyendyk holds one place higher than scored due to his current one- and four-lap qualifying records which are always notable and celebrated in the annals of the 500. I also expect these records will fall in the not-too-distant future and I will return him to his place between Al Unser Jr., and Dan Wheldon.
Outside Chances – Who is close to breaking into the Top 30+3? Second wins for Hunter-Reay, Power, Pagenaud, or Rossi would see them jump to the strata populated largely with two-timers in Rows 7, 8 or 9 and bump Jim Clark out. Marco is approximately 2-3 non-winning races of overtaking Rex Mays and bookending the 11th row with his father. A win for the evergreen Ed Carpenter, coupled with his long career, 3 poles, nearly 150 laps lead, and 3 top 5 finishes would bring him into the low 800-point range, surpassing Bill Holland/Billy Arnold/Jim Rathmann/Jim Clark.
Other Bits – Interestingly, perhaps, Mark Donohue ranks 66th on my list and he won with Car #66. Gil deFerran is 67th and won with car #68. Perhaps somewhere down the line a driver that wins in car #67 will settle in that 9-point gap between Donohue and deFerran, making the lore of Indy 500 numerology that much deeper for me.
For me, I enjoy the time and thought required to update and review this every year. It always seems to force me to re-evaluate drivers of the past as well as consider the currently active drivers place in the pantheon of Indy 500’s Greatest. I’d love to hear from anyone else that did this back in 2011 (or beyond) and their experience in selecting their Greatest 33.
The phrase, “unlike any other” is often used by promoters, public relations managers, and, yes, sometimes even journalists in the aggrandizement of something which seeks to establish a unique or perhaps elevated identity. The phrase has become a particularly wearisome trope when reading about most anything, but especially sporting events. Yes, the Superfantastico Sportsing Event Presented By MegaCorp(tm) of 2020 WAS in fact unlike any other, because time as we experience it is linear and EVERYTHING is a unique event along that timeline for which we’ve not yet been able to travel between.
But I digress.
In the cases of a select few famous sporting events whose histories span many generations and decades, the global pandemic of 2020 did manage to be a significant milepost that likely will stand out for many years to come. The Indianapolis 500 was one such event whose location on the calendar effectively marked significant and traditional times of the year for many people. In 2020, May in Indianapolis was eerily void of the near-daily raucous noise from 700 hp racing engines at 16th Street and Georgetown. Residents of Speedway, Indiana must have thought April was interminable as there was no automotive commotion to be found to mark the beginning of summer in central Indiana. For most fans, May took a very unassuming appearance compared with all prior iterations as the famous race was moved to August in hopes the fans could be present. For me however, it was anything but unassuming.
The First Responder 175 presented by GMR was Round 6 of a virtual racing series that featured Indycar and NBCSN providing a visually stunningly virtual race held online via iRacing and broadcast to TV viewers. As it was a virtual race, a number of Indycar regular drivers participated but also allowed drivers from other series and disciplines who could had made strides up the learning curve of online racing. Scott McLaughlin of Australian Supercars, Lando Norris of Formula 1, and Scott Speed of American Rally Cross took the top three qualifying positions for the digital race run at the simulated Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A total of 33 drivers qualified for the final event with a crash-filled closing two laps seeing the dominant Arrow McLaren cars of Lando Norris, Pato O’Ward, and Oliver Askew all lose places in virtual collisions with Simon Pagenaud, Marcus Ericcson, and Santino Ferrucci respectively.
The final actions of Ferrucci into Askew saw Scott McLaughlin finish first with Conor Daly avoiding the crashing, coming second. Pato O’Ward survived his brush with Ericsson to end up third. Until the final few laps, the race seemed to be treated fairly professionally by the drivers, however many viewers online found Ferrucci’s movement on the final straightaway to be an intentional wrecking of Askew who appeared to have the race all but won with a few hundred virtual feet to go before crossing the finish line.
What was something that the sport, the networks, sponsors, and fans could embrace as some semblance of replacement entertainment during the depth of the pandemic, was reduced to disgusting novelty and childish behavior. Santino’s disingenuous and pathetic attempt to explain away his actions as a racing miscalculation did little to assuage the many people who put in time and expense to give devoted race fans a morsel of something to enjoy. His immaturity was again a slap in the face to all who work hard to bring Indycar to the fore.
Most of the remainder of the Month of May was a daily scramble of schedule and event shuffling, and cobbling together a replacement event for the massive hole left by the postponement of the actual Indy 500 to August. Indycar did it’s best to keep fans engaged with many stories of Indy 500s past and highlighting existing teams work toward ‘May in August’, but the loss of daily speed reports, garage patrols, and general crescendo of racing excitement was palpable. The final recognition that nothing was going to be as it typically was became painfully apparent. A revised schedule on May 21 showed that Texas Motor Speedway would host the first actual race of the 2020 season on June 6th, with more racing to follow on July 4th weekend.
May of 2020 all seems hazy to me. Notably, I didn’t have the annual life-bringing rhythm of racing in May in Indiana to savor, and cruelly, quite the opposite rhythm actually.
By mid-May, my father laid ill in the hospital with the ongoing effects of congestive heart failure and the lack of any real procedure or medicine to stave off the inevitable remaining. The man whose annual devotion to the Indy 500, and whose introduction of me to this amazing event in-person in 1979, who last joined me in Indy in 2003, now would likely never see another Indy 500. The devotion I feel to this event is related to his desire to take me and likewise my desire to have had my son and daughter also see it in-person. My son shares my love of the race and continues to go with me annually, but the prospect of attempting to feel any sort of celebratory mood for the 500, had it been run in May 2020, would certainly have been lacking.
My father spent the last 9 days of his life in hospice, unable to have in-person contact with loved ones due to Covid-19 restrictions. We spoke every day by phone and saw each other through an exterior window to his room. In the early morning of June 19th, he died, aged 86. He was laid to rest on Monday, June 22, 2020, one day after Father’s Day.
The void left feels very much like a wound that, despite proper treatment, can do nothing but heal slowly, leaving only scar tissue behind. Being unable to see the Indy 500 in person in 2020, was certainly disappointing, but nothing will have risen to the level of sadness I had during those final few weeks of his life. Everything seemed amiss. The world seemed to show us daily an aggrieving lack of compassion and purpose and love. Joy seemed unattainable.
Certainly any enthusiasm for blogging about my favorite sport had evaporated in the middle quarter of 2020. In looking at my life after his passing, and in the days and weeks where actual Indycars would race on actual tracks again, I wondered if I would enjoy Indycar racing and the Indy 500 as much as I had before. Would the bitterness finally overtake the sweetness I had been blessed to experience for so long?
I suppose I’ll only know if and when I next set foot at the great speedway for the Indianapolis 500. As I grow ever-weary of waiting to experience it again, I can only hope to have my answer in May 2021.
Bleary-eyed, in the ever-earlier darkness of morning, after dutifully shutting off my phone alarm clock, I gathered myself for another day in the COVID-19 era, and scanned my personal email.
Surprisingly (and one email that really shouldn’t have), I saw my annual fees to WordPress.com were automatically paid. While there have been numerous opportunities to project my opinions outwardly here, it’s more generally been an anemic year for my blog as numerous things in my three-dimensional world conspire to retain my interest instead of my Indycar and racing musings to my tens of fans. Maximize the value of my annual expense, I did not.
In actuality, that number is likely to be in the single-digits by now. Pretty dismal showing after 10 years and 350 days of blogging.
Slacking on Indycar posting isn’t a new condition for this writer, but it has been amplified with the hodge-podge season of 2020 Indycar racing in combination with viral disease or other uncertainties. I certainly don’t envy being in either position of racing sanction or facility or team owner, for whom so often we armchair critics assail. At any rate, we all press on in hope of better times and safer futures around the corner.
As for the 2020 Indycar season, it could very well go down as one of the most underrated seasons in history. It’s perhaps forgivable to consider it a mere throwaway of a season, with the lack of fans in attendance, constantly-jumbled schedule, massive uncertainties of the crown jewel Indy 500, and general lack of any sort of rhythm and general purpose. Trying to maintain a balanced view toward things, we must resist to temptation to toss aside this season as wasted. 2020 will without doubt be notable for several reasons in the annals of Indycar history, with positives to be taken along with the glaring downside, but on balance I see it as a net positive.
What follows in this and three subsequent posts will be a summary review of the 2020 Indycar season.
Penske Corporation completes the acquisition of the Hulman-George family businesses including IMS and Indycar which had been run by the Hulman-George family since Anton Hulman’s purchase of the Speedway in November 1945.
John Andretti passes away from long cancer battle and is honored with a ceremonial lap around IMS in his funeral procession.
The successful Road To Indy ladder is set to celebrate it’s 10th season.
A spate of exciting new driver, new sponsor, and new venue announcements grows the anticipation for the 2020 season and the first of the Penske era.
The aeroscreen becomes the focus of new testing for all teams in preparation for the new season. Increased cockpit temperatures are noted to be the primary focus for improvement prior to the season start.
All momentum for the 2020 Indycar season slows dramatically as COVID-19 expands its reach, creating uncertainty for gatherings of people. Spring sporting events are a major concern for spread of the deadly virus, cancelling or postponing famed events such as the NCAA basketball tournament and The Masters.
On the eve of the St. Pete race, March 13th, the Indycar series and the Road To Indy ladder series officially cancels all races through April due to virus concerns. The planned 2020 schedule begins to unravel and uncertainty in the Indycar community spreads rapidly, including the Indy 500.
Indycar, in an attempt to provide fans, teams, sponsors, and a TV audience with some form of Indycar presence, shows welcome ingenuity by quickly establishing a mini-series of several Virtual Simulation races via iRacing, featuring actual Indycar and other top-flight drivers including fan-favorite and recovering-from-severe-spinal-injury Robert Wickens racing online. Sage Karam wins the inaugural event, run at the virtual Watkins Glen, the venue chosen through fan voting.
It becomes clear that the risk and effects of dealing with the COVID-19 era won’t be ending anytime soon. More ingenuity will be required to not lose this season.
More virtual racing and real-life schedule gymnastics dominate the calendar. A revised series schedule is released featuring double-headers at Iowa and Laguna-Seca, and a brand new event – The Harvest GP at IMS.
Indycar and its partners impress with their quick responses and fortitude in not abandoning the season altogether.
Virtual racing continues at Barber, Michigan, Motegi, Circuit of the Americas, and lastly at IMS kicking off the most unusual Month of May.
Coming in the next post, a very strange and surreal Month of May.
The Penske era of IMS and Indycar has officially begun. How RP still manages so many irons in the fire is truly notable and commendable. I can barely manage when to have lunch during any given day and this octogenarian is quite admirably slaying racing dragons at 6:45am.
I was able to find RP’s google calendar and it shouldn’t surprise anyone it looks like this:
With the advent of the Roar before the 24 kicking off last week, I felt it was time to review and make some plans for enjoying the 2020 racing season. The ‘why?’ is a rhetorical question, but the ‘who?’, ‘what?’, ‘where?’, and ‘when?’ were still up for grabs aside from my annual pilgrimage to Indy in May.
“2020 WILL BE DIFFERENT!” I declared at the end of the 2019 racing season, having failed to plan, my race attendance and watching plan rightfully failed. Of course there were several expected life events I knew would belay my ability to plan for much of anything during the summer of 2019, outside of May. Nevertheless, we march on into 2020 and I need the various calendars of the racing sanctions I follow all in one place. Certainly this will be a rather easy task to complete…
Finding all of the major racing sanctions event calendars is not at all an easy task for the layperson. After some consultation with several racing friends about the internet, I found almost right under my aging proboscis what may be the best fit for my purposes. A good friend of the site and on twitter as well, Pat from @toomuchracing has just what you need HERE! If you also prefer to organize your calendars and keep them via Google, iCal, and the like, this should be your first stop (and may likely be your only).
I’ve subscribed to just as many (or as few) as I need, but the temptation is to basically overwhelm my senses and visual calendar with different sanctions and events despite knowing I’ll never have time to watch them all.
Pat eagerly puts in a considerable bit of time and effort to this endeavour and it shows. I gladly clicked his PayPal donation link on the upper right of his blogsite and I suggest you do as well if you take advantage of the massive amounts of time and effort he will save you.
There are a few other sites that I found, and if you are interested in being able to tell your friend in Sydney, Australia on what channel and time the Dakar Rally is being shown on SBS, or finding the time and location of the stream of qualifying for the F3 Asian Championships at the Autodrome in Dubai, THIS GOOGLE DOC may be your best bet.
Best to all on your racing season planning and I hope to see you at the track in 2020!
PS: Also, I’d like to spare a moment to extend my deepest sorrow and sympathies for the tragic fires that are consuming Australia now. We pray to the universe for a swift end to, and restoration from, the vast destruction they’re experiencing.
As this Indycar fans ages, it becomes evermore disturbing just how time seems to not only pass more quickly but at an accelerating rate. Some of you may already experience this, and some soon will, but it seems no one is immune to this sensation.
Johnny Cougar, who in his evolving artistic maturity became John Mellencamp, also noted this phenomenon in several songs during and after the apogee of his career (in terms of sales). The lyric quoted above is taken from the Scarecrow album song entitled, ‘Minutes To Memories’.
I first experienced that lyric and the songs of the Scarecrow album during a time in my life that I can scarcely recall anymore – my early adulthood, aged 18, and moving away from my home, to college in Indianapolis. Painfully familiar with how my friends’ parents always took a bittersweet tone when they sang along with a similar lyric from his notable ‘Jack and Diane’ song three years prior, I was already aware that one coping mechanism is to try to remain blissfully unaware of my own impending life changes, holding onto 16 as long as I can.
Much as we all perhaps seek to maintain grasp on that frightfully short (and often easiest) portion of our life, change comes at our behest or otherwise and more often than not, different than we imagined. I’m sure Anton George would likely attest.
So too it was with the world of Indycar, ten years ago in 2010.
“TEN YEARS, MAN! Ten. Ten YEARS?! Ten years. TEN… TEN.. YEAARRRRRSSS! Ten years!” One of my favorite scenes from the movie Grosse Point Blank comes to mind immediately whenever we near an anniversary or some numerical decade involving a base-10 reflection leads to the incredulity of how quickly that time has passed by us.
On January 1 of 2010, the landscape of Indycar was a fair bit different.
IZOD had recently agreed to become the first title sponsor of Indycar since Northern Lights ended after 2001.
Tony George would resign in mid-January of 2010 from the Board of Directors of IMS, following a very long, protracted, and expensive battle with CART/ChampCar, that resulted in the absorption of that sanction and teams into the new IZOD IndyCar Series.
February 2nd saw the hiring of Randy Bernard as the new CEO of the Indy Racing League, the single-most prominent division of the IndyCar Series and open-wheel racing in the US.
Names familiar to us now populated the drivers and ownership rosters. Names like Penske, Ganassi, Andretti, Foyt, and Coyne, all owned at least one full-time entry.
Kanaan, Marco, RHR, Dixon, Grahamie, Sato-san, Easy Ed Carpenter, Power, and Helio all raced along the other famous names who no longer ply their trade such as; Meira, Danica, Franchitti, Bad-Ass Wilson, Wheldon, Fisher, and Briscoe inferno, and many others.
The schedule included 17 events with currently-familiar Indycar homes such as; St. Pete, Barber, Long Beach, Indy, Texas, Iowa, Toronto-eh, and Mid-Ohio. The venues of 2010 not on the 2020 schedule may jog some memories; Sao Paulo, Kansas, The Glen, Edmonton, Infiniyawn, Chicagoland, Kentucky, Motegi, and Homestead.
Honda , set to exit Indycar after 2009 was sufficiently cajoled into staying through 2011.
Early into an interminable 10-year and fractured TV deal, ABC/ESPN and Versus split the schedule.
An oval (Foyt) trophy and road/street (Andretti) trophy was awarded at the end of 2010 along with THIS newly-minted (thankfully short-lived) and spuriously-conceived ‘Flying Cocksman’ IZOD-commissioned Series Championship trophy:
How no one has grabbed a modern OneWheel board and dressed like this trophy, no matter how ironically, to the 500, or the final race of the Indycar Championship is beyond me.
Set in motion in 2010, however, were several things which we now find more enjoyable about Indycar to this day (many of which couldn’t arrive too soon for fans):
New chassis development with updates and more attractive features.
A severe dislike of the aforementioned split TV schedule (e-NOUGH of the splits already!) which lead to a single-network-supplier TV package in 2019 (So sorey-eh to my Canadian friends though!)
Dedicated work toward multiple engine manufacturers and MORE POWAH!
A newfound enthusiasm for the sport stemming from an executive who openly-engaged the fans (somewhat to his own peril). He and the league worked to incorporate their desires into the product (much-easier it is now for fans to be heard for the TV supplier, venues, and the league than ever before). Not all data is important, but the mere act of accepting and sifting through modern consumer-input allowed a growth into a more fan-centric product as ever before, I believe.
Shift away from the purely traditional schedule and dates, and more toward keeping more financially-successful events on the schedule, developing continuity from there. As much as we all loved Milwaukee or Chicagoland or Kansas or The Glen, the pure fact remains that not enough paying race fans came through the doors, regardless of marketing or myriad other excuses.
In looking back at the world of Indycar in 2010, there are many familiar things, yet the sport has changed quite a bit in what doesn’t seem 10 years.
I started this blog in late-2009 and, likewise, it doesn’t seem to be that terribly long ago, yet in many ways, at 52 years old, I feel too old to be a voice of the modern Indycar fan.
In taking most of 2019 off from blogging here, I reflected on Indycar bloggers and podcasters past and present. Is there a place for me to keep some moderate/centrist/devil’s advocate/grounded thoughts and ideas ‘out there’ for Indycar and autosport fans? Is it of any value and effort in an increasingly binary society? Is examining alternative ideas and keeping a modicum of basic critical thought toward this sport something enjoyable? Is anyone already doing this and much better than I? I’ve decided to find out.
In doing so, I also relocated to my blog to this new site, which may undergo changes as I become more familiar with formatting and the like. I do not undervalue how an aesthetically pleasing site is more enjoyable, so bear with me as things become less utilitarian and more eye-friendly. I’ve also brought forward the posts from my previous site for my reference as much as anyone else’s. Some posts seem cringeworthy today, but I suppose it’s no different than looking back in an old yearbook at pictures that captured the moment with an accuracy we may now wish it hadn’t.
I’m not young, nor the future, but I’m going to suck it up, tough it out, and be the best I can.
I welcome your feedback here in the comments, via twitter @groundedeffects, or via my email email@example.com, and look forward to interacting with you here or maybe even at an Indycar track in 2020. Happy New Year!