SuperMegaComebackPost: Sir Issac Newton, The Breakfast Club, The Crystal Ball, and Change

Newton’s First Law of Blogging: 
Blogs at rest stay at rest,
 Blogs in motion stay in constant motion,  
unless either is acted upon by another force.


My blogging inertia was acted upon by a recent reminder (active mention on video) of my visit to Nashville which gave me time to hang out with our good Indycar friend George Phillips of Oilpressure.com and @oilpressureblog fame. 


His gracious allowance of me as a guest on the recording of his “One Take Only” video segment, which appears on his blog, was a treat and a great and all-too-brief experience. Joining us was his original One Take Only counterpart, John McLallen and the three of us spent most of a gorgeous early-autumn Tennessee Saturday afternoon discussing all manner of things, but mostly the centering around Indycar.

After another “One Take Only” post, I reflected on my visit and noted how, despite our different points of view, we also need to remember and reinforce the commonalities shared as Indycar fans. Sequestered in relative solitude on George’s back patio, our various discussions, while not nearly as intense, did make me recall the John Hughes movie “The Breakfast Club” (which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary theatrical re-release) and how we fans may not be so dissimilar to the characters in that movie.


Perhaps writing a letter similar to Brian’s in the movie will also remind us of how we should not so easily let others or ourselves be defined by the various ‘entrenched encampments’ of Indycar fandom.

Mr. Indycar-Overlord, 

We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice so many Saturdays and Sundays supporting Indycar, but we think you’re crazy to make us write a blog telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms, the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is

a superfan,
a newbie,
a whiner,
an acolyte,
and a hyper-critic.

Does that answer your question?


Sincerely yours,

The Indycarfan Club




And now, It’s time for the Intermission…




And now, back again for the 2015 Indycar pre-season,

it’s DZ’s House of Indycar Megalomania! 

(aka 2015 season predictions and strident drivel)



Oh, epochal and monolithic Indycar off-season. You are so coy. 

With your belabored and long, somnombulant winter, you keep us in the doldrums until suddenly, 

>BAM!< 


exploding forth a lush, verdant optimism for Indycar in the form of.. (dare I actually believe they’re here).. AEROKITS!  

Technically 3 years late (or approximately 5.333 Indycar seasons stacked end-to-end), but here nonetheless. With the first discernible chassis diversity since the end of the 2008 season, Indycar has finally delivered on the concept approved in 2010, backed up along with new chassis until 2011, then slated for 2012, delayed until 2013, 2014.. ehhhrm, we’ve all been through that so no need to rehash it.


Regardless, aerokits are here and despite my 2011 predictions otherwise, I am pleasantly surprised at the difference in shape the Road/Street/ShortOval kits. 

Dare I say it? 

I dare.

I. Am. Satisfied.

And now for the grisly prediction bits.
(unofficially brought to you by the effects of Founder’s All-Day IPA)

2015
Biggest Storyline – Penske’s Chevys will dominate – to the point of becoming so oppressive, that they will become reviled.  Robin Miller often says, ‘hate is good’ when referring to the fans’ predilection for seeking out a hero or villain in any contest. Whether he means to or not, Penske will become the Indycar version of the New England Patriots – the most disliked team outside of “PenskeNation”. Even ol’ Chippy will let his ego slide and actually play up his underdog status to ride the wave of anti-Penskeness. Roger and Tim maintain their ZFG (Zero F***s Given) ‘tude and happily cash the giant cardboard winner’s checks for 8 of the 16 races this season.
– Championship – Simon Pagenaud.
– Top 6 in points will be made up of 4 Penske drivers and 2 Ganassi.
– The Galactic Empire is strong and will keep the Rebel scum on the run.


It’s not as if Honda won’t be competitive, they will. They will just be lacking that tiny, tiny margin that takes one from finishing 8th to 1st. Honda wins just three races of the season, BUT one of them will be the Indy 500.

Rookie Of The Year – Stefano Coletti. Don’t ask me why, just know it came to me in a dream (All-Day IPA haze).

Biggest Darkhorse – TIE: James Jakes and Gabby Chaves. Don’t be surprised if you’re surprised when one of these drivers scores a podium this year.

Best Livery – If that Schmidt-Peterson Motorsport Spyder car becomes reality on the track, you can forget all you ever thought about the glory of retro liveries. That mo-chine looks simply badass.

Biggest Comeback – Simona de Silvestro. Of course she’s a fan favorite on a massively talented and well-funded team. She’ll struggle to see more than half of the races this season, but will not disappoint the faith placed in her by Andretti Autosport.  Less than half the races and finishing 14th in points will be hard to reconcile.  Just maybe AA finds a way to keep her in a seat all season long. If so, watch out.

Biggest Disappointment – The fans who align with the Legions of the Miserable. A season of dominance by one team will certainly lead to the chorus of boo-birds who will choose to again aim their venom at the overlords of Indycar for the disparity in racing. Their myopic views conveniently forget to accurately recall during the most heady days of CART in the 1980s, for example, despite a Gordy and Rick Ravon Mears most amazing Indy 500 finish in modern history, that 7th place Jim Hickman was a full 11 laps down at the finish. 7th place out of 33 racers – 11 laps down. Typically in those days, beyond the top 5 or so finishers there was the rabble of twenty or so others who had no chance of sniffing the podium. A singularly great finish but great overall quality, the events were generally not. Far too many fans, including one R. Miller, will further mire themselves in nostalgia for a time that was really less entertaining racing that what we’ll see in 2015. That is simply sad and I think the current sport deserves better.

With 10 of the 16 races non-ovals, and all of the major conflagrations occurring outside the ghostly hallows of influence that ovals once held, the high-water point for the new speedway kits be at their unveiling in Indy, May 3rd. Once May is over, the Speedway Oval kits get precious little use, in deference to the mighty cheese-graters of R/S/SO kits.
I really don’t expect much difference at all in the High Speed Oval kits and honestly (leads me to my Biggest Revelation), “it just doesn’t matter.

Why do I say this?


Because, my friends, I’ve returned to this blog an enlightened man.

In my many winters of malcontent, discontent, and general dissatisfaction in the direction of Indycar in relation to its glorious past, I’ve given up hope. Sounds bleak perhaps, but I assure that it is not and I’ll tell you why.

For some unknown reason, my epiphanies have been many with regard to several sports since the last checkered flag flew for Indycar in 2014, one of which is giving up hope that Indycar will ever become anything closely resembling the past or having some gloriously innovative and wide-open future. Maybe I’m a late-comer to this method of thinking, especially compared to the 20-somethings/new guard who’ve never experienced first-hand a field of Offys and Drakes, Chevys and Cosworths, in glorious song and never will.

For better or worse, nothing can change the fact that the past shall always remain there and I’ve come to believe the nostalgia, no matter how well-meaning or beloved, is ultimately harmful to the sport of today. The ‘earth’ moved by the seismic rift that began with the formation of CART in 1979, and major aftershock of the formation of IRL in 1994, can never be repaired. The ground has irreparably been shifted. So to history it all shall be laid anyway. Indycar must promote the here and now, and forget trading on past glory which always lends to irritating old wounds.

It’s a time to heal.
I’ve changed.

I’ve reconciled (finally) with Indycar never being the hallmark of innovation and brutal speed that it once was.

I’ve accepted that the glories past can never be recreated, and that they shouldn’t be.

I see many things on the horizon for Indycar that will give me much entertainment and satisfaction, when I don’t look at it from the immensely-removed perspective that includes anything prior to the last 10 years of Indycar.

I’ve embraced the belabored arrival of the aerokits.

I’ve finally made my peace with saying goodbye to the old Indycar.

I’ve become a happier race fan for it.

I predict I’m going to love watching Indycar unfold this season, and I know that’s one prediction I won’t miss.

Godspeed

Just a few days ago, on a recent music-related trip to Nashville, Tennessee, I was also able to devote some impromptu time for what I will loquaciously describe as a ‘Friday PM Indycar Fan and Blogging Commiseration Summit’. 

In the maelstrom of the final hours before the 2013 Indy 500, I had several regretfully much-too-brief interactions during the pre-race tweet-up and picture this past May.  When I officially knew we were coming to ‘Nashvegas’ for a few days, I knew I needed to look up our good Indycar friend, George. George Phillips (of Oilpressure Blog fame and @oilpressureblog on Twitter) and his lovely wife Susan (aka @chiapet58) and I gathered together only to share some time getting to know each other. I doubt they’d mind if I revealed that the evening was full of good conversation and laughs on a great many subjects, Indycar included. 

Of all the things I’ve experienced over the last several years in the world of Indycar as experienced over the internet, my most positive experiences come from the direct social interaction with people whom I’ve only previously known via a digital environment. This includes fans, drivers, and racing industry people alike. This Friday PM was no exception.

After our ‘tweetup-of-3’ and after much discussion on the messages we put out in the universe via our blogs and twitter, I was left with the overriding feeling that, of all the problems Indycar has to overcome just to survive, the fans are not one of them. 

I also felt, as the same themes keep appearing in my writing and truly I have nothing new to say, and, as I’ve been threatening for several posts now, this is a good time to set the blog aside for a while. 

In summation, as I have written many a tome on the subject of Indycar, my primary goal (and the reason for the naming of Grounded Effects) was to produce thought-provoking and engaging commentaries for the fans of Indycar. I still feel many of the thoughts here have value in the near- and long-term for Indycar fans so please feel free to visit the “Museum” of the Grounded Effects blog… don’t cost nothin’.

For your ease of future reference, below is a compendium with green listings among the most read, and the orange listings among the most read and personal favorites of mine, the links for which are found under the ‘Museum’ heading on the upper-right column of this blog. 

If you wish, please also follow down to the bottom for my final thoughts. 


2009
Sep.   
I’m going to blog about Indycar.
How I got started following Indycar, part 1.
Oct.
How I got started following Indycar, part 2.
Favorite Indycars, part 1 – ’79 Chaparral.
          Nov.
Indycar thoughts for the future.
Favorite Indycars, part 2 – ‘65 Lotus.
          Dec.
An Indy 500 trip for $365 (aka The Dollar a day plan).
Fave Indycars, part 3 – ’70 PJ Colt.
Please don’t change/mess up the start of the Indy 500.
2010
          Jan.
Tony G is out – Open letter to Hulman IMS ownership.
          Feb.
The Hallowed Grounds in winter.
Carb Day concert band suggestions.
100 days to Indy – Indy trip planning.
          Mar.
Fortune favors the bold – new car/engine ideas.
Season opener – Sao Paulo race review.
Faux Carb Day concert band announcement.
          Apr.
Disparity in racing is OK.
Simple Indycar math.
Celebrating some good news and more Indycar math.
          May
May = Indy for me.
500 Qualy predictions.
Last minute Indy trip stuff/prediction recap.
          July
D-day ICONIC preview.
          Sep.
Reviving the fading mystique of Indy ramble.
          Oct.
End of Season thoughts, part 1 – Dario is a legend, small crowds and TV.
End of Season thoughts, part 2 – Indycar is a niche sport, but devoted fanbase.
          Nov.
Post-season withdrawals, Pagoda shuttered, Chevy’s back, TK out of ride.
Thanksgiving and more Indycar math.
2011
          Jan.
Blog review.
Blog visual refresher.
Whither Sam Hornish.
Essence of NASCAR vs Indycar racing/competition.
          Feb.
American auto companies thoughts.
          Mar.
Indycar misses formula for future.
Whom should Randy Bernard trust?
Favorite Indycars, part 4 – ’85 March Cosworth ‘spin and win’.
          Apr.
Indycar parody lyrics – Jay Penske – Lawyers, Guns, and Money.
          May
Greatest 33 thoughts.
500 Qualy predictions.
Qualy predictions recap, race preview and prediction.
          Jun.
Race and predictions review.
Explaining Indycar to non-fans.
          Aug.
Predictions for the future of Indycar – Pain.
Fave Engines of Indy, part 1 – ’60s Ford V8 (sounds).
          Sep.
Why NASCAR drives won’t race the Indycar World Challenge.
Funky Cars of Indy, part 1 – Yunick’s ’64 Hurst Floor-shifter Spcl.
          Oct.
Indycar’s missing character – the car.
Post-Las Vegas/questioning my Indycar.
Dealing w post-Vegas grief.
          Nov.
Indycar Slang.
          Dec.

Looking to 2012 – Carb Day band ideas.

2012
          Jan.
Goofy graphical thoughts.
Missing Dick Simon.
          Feb.
Fans demand better Indycar coverage online.
Laughing at the new F1 cars – Platypus fever.
Zip-Line fever/Ideas for the 500.
Fave engines of Indy, part 2 – The Offy (sounds).
          Mar.
Pre-season cautionary thoughts.
Indycar Parody lyrics – Pippa Mann – Pippa Nation.
Equinox – new season.
St. Pete expectations/self-mantra: post-Wheldon.
          Apr.
Writing contrition.
The Greatest 33 and Indycar nerdery cont’d.
          May
Indycon Level 4 and my origins redux.
Jay Penske redux and diatribe on Indycar’s direction.
My rambling Indy 500 trip memories, 2004, part 1 – a new beginning.
My rambling Indy 500 trip memories, 2004, part 2 – cont’d.
My rambling Indy 500 trip memories, 2004, part 3 – final.
Indy 500 qualy predictions.
          Jun.
Milwaukee Indyfest trip and an energy revelation.
          Jul.
Drama as an asset to Indycar, not a distraction.
Humorous end-of-race alternatives to Green-White-Checkers.
          Sep.
Indycar needs some Gangnam Style.
Now THAT’S a season (review).
          Oct.
Days of Reflection (Wheldon and life).
Escapism in the off-season.
          Dec.
Left adrift as an Indycar fan – no more apologism.
2013
          Feb.
Post-Superbowl, waiting for Indycar.
Indycar and my iPod shuffle (a noir narrative).
          Mar.
Crystal Ballin’ – 2013, beyond… die spec racing.
          Apr.
Nostalgia as a false pain-relief remedy.
          May
One last plea for Indycar change.
          Jul.
Pocono – an on-site review for IndycarUK.
          Aug.
Should there be an end of the Hulman reign over Indycar?
          Sep.   
Final Rites – Grounded Effects Blog Recap.
Epilogue
I have been a fan of varying degrees of Indycar for nearly four decades and have come to the following conclusions with regard to the sport:
1. The Indy 500 is still truly a worldwide showcase event.
2. Building a viable series around the Indy 500 has proven to be folly. Aside from the 500, it has been and essentially still is a niche (300,000 followers/20,000 in person) sport and will remain so until a philosophical shift of what Indycar is supposed to be occurs, if ever.
3. For the sport of Indycar (or any autosport) to thrive and grow in the next 20 years, it MUST allow for an open, flexible, and agile set of rules and platform in which real innovation, creativeness, forward-thinking, and ingenuity are welcomed as the norm. Something akin to a ‘formula libre’ Indycar can thrive. 
4. I believe no other option exists for Indycar but to change radically. If not, it will continue the slow degradation and devaluation death march we’ve seen for nearly 20 years. Change is well overdue. 
5. I give Indycar in its current state through the 2016 season. It must either have a plan for radical change in place or it will be done. The current ‘timeline’ recently set by Walker and Miles is not a plan which will cause Indycar to survive beyond 2016.
6. We fans are never the problem, RATHER, we’re the solution, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Until Indycar figures out what fans truly want and supplies what we demand, there is no long-term viability of the sport.

It is truly as simple as basic economics:
– The fans are consumers. We have the power of our money to support the things we demand. 
– Discretionary spending will continue to be reduced as the economy continues to polarize and eliminate the middle-class.
– The ONLY reason any professional sport (product) exists, ultimately, is to fill a demand by the fans (consumer). 
– Supply of product in and of itself does not create demand.
– Consumers will respond positively when you supply something they demand.
– The supplier who truly listens, who cares, and aims to provide the best possible product to meet or exceed the consumer expectations will be the one who ultimately survives.
– For auto-racing to be a viable sport, supply MUST ONLY follow demand.
– For Indycar to merely have the potential to survive, it must provide a product in much greater demand (at least 3 times the current demand in both TV and on-location markets), all other things being equal.
– You fans are the consumers. You have the power to demand, but it’s up to suppliers to fill that demand. 
– I believe without question that demand will be filled. 

By whom is the Billion-Dollar answer.
“Whosoever desires constant success,
must change his conduct with the times.”
-Niccolo Machiavelli


Best wishes and Godspeed to you all!