Recently the Indycar world seems a bit of a tempest in a teacup and to soothe my angst over the happenings and direction of the sport looking toward 2012, I felt the need to recall things that made me fall in love with the sport.
As far back as I can remember, one of the primary modes of interaction with this sport was through intense sound. The visual form and movement was always exciting but something about that deep rumble of a powerful automobile motor strikes more deeply, especially in person.
In keeping with some themes within this blog, I now present to you my Favorite Engines of Indy. Our first submission is the Ford V-8 Engine that was mated to the famous Lotus 38 driven by Jim Clark. In this video form 2010, Sir Jackie Stewart does the honors of warming up that beastly V-8 for a trip around The Goodwood Festival of Speed:
Despite the limitations of this video equipment, there’s no mistaking this motor as it is a truly signature sound from Indys past. Other links can be found on YouTube and I also recommend one by Road and Track which shows an interview with Dario Franchitti and driving the famous Lotus 38 at Indy. This is the actual vehicle driven by Jim Clark to victory at Indy in 1965. If you can make it through the advert at the beginning, you will hear one of the greatest sounds ever at IMS. Enjoy!
So it’s a Wednesday in the middle of November and I’m forced to reneg on a promise I made to myself LESS THAN A MONTH AGO, that was supposed to last until March 2011.
Steph (@99forever) over at More Front Wing (a very well-organized and well-done Indycar blog) illuminated and challenged we Indycar slobs to not succumb to the all too frequent curse of obsessive fandom: off-season withdrawal. Too often we feed the monkey with little hits of junk here and there to get us by until the new season starts, but they often come from low-grade rumor and unnewsworthy news required by our 24/7/365 desire for infotainment which serve no greater good. Unfortunately, my promise has been thrown from the wagon by recent developments urging me to take a hit off the Indycar off-season pipe once again (OK, enough addiction references):
1. Biggest Blood-Pressure-Raising, Swear-Inducing, Palm-to-Forehead Slappin’, Anger-Management-Forgettin’ Major Pisser-Offer: The shuttering of the Silent Pagoda.
Seriously? SE-RI-OUS-LY? “This is soooo necessary and the world of Indycar will certainly meet a pre-Mayan-Calendarian doom if we don’t DO SOMETHING AND NOW… Let’s shut down a fan-favorite blog because the waste there is rampant”, said the overzealous counter-of-beans. The Anglophile in me would say, “FOOKin’ ‘ELL MAN!” For those that don’t know the Silent Pagoda, you can trust the opinion of this established Indycar devotee when I say this was the most-enjoyable damned blog related to Indycar… period. Pure entertainment and blissful irreverence for a sport that is frought with overseriousness, just for the sake of having a laugh (and showing by our very nature a higher intelligence than most autosport fans). Granted some of the seriousness is justified given the precarious nature of our beloved sport… SOME, not all, so humorous satire is a welcome distraction for this Indycar fan’s workaday world. It’s Indycar news like this that makes me want to break shit. (okay, deep cleansing breath)
2. Best News of the Month so far: Chevrolet announces an Indycar engine program to compete with Honda. Yes, yes forward momentum and all. Great news for sure. Looking forward, though, I predict even better news. My bet is that Ford, possibly Fiat (new owners of Chrysler) via Alfa Romeo (it’s soon to be re-introduced brand to the US of A), and maybe one other manufacturer will be in the fold by 2013. Thank you Chevy for remembering that you once had cojones.
3. Worst Racing News of the Month so far: Tony Kanaan is out of a ride. I understand the mechanisms behind it all and am mostly disappointed for my 7-year old son who has been a TK fan for as long as he can remember. Literally. I purchased a new TK 7-11 replica crew shirt for him at the Kentucky race as a reward for having such a great start to his 1st-grade schoolyear. “Hey, guess what, my son, that shirt which is one size too big so it will fit you next summer, is outdated”. Thanks for nothing 7-11. “I don’t like 7-11 anymore dad, and Slurpees are off my list!” (his words, not mine). ’nuff said.
In light of my current mood, I am now preparing to not ‘give it a rest’ this off-season and the house-cleaning begins with this blog. I plan to examine revamping and energizing this blog, so stay tuned…
As always, this season of thankfulness emplores me to express gratitude for those who make my life more interesting – many of you know who you are and for the others, I will attempt to show gratitude as I can. Thanks to you for stopping by. Feel free to leave me a comment or input, and hope to see you at a great Indycar event next season…
DZ (email@example.com, @groundedeffects
1970 – PJ (Parnelli Jones) Colt – Johnny Lightning Special
Perhaps the most styled and colorful of all modern eras at Indy, 1970 saw varied chassis designs and bright colors like never before. Of those designs, one stands out for me which is also the race winner that year: Al Unser’s #2.
The last of the non-winged cars to win at Indy, this car repeated it’s feat in 1971 with Unser at the wheel again. 1972 saw the allowance of ‘bolt-on’ wings (not integral to the chassis shape) which vastly increased cornering speeds while limiting drag. This Colt chassis was sponsored by Johnny Lightning, a toy car manufacturer was styled based on the company’s logo. To quote Al Unser, “Hey, that’s perty!”
(photo courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway)
What a gorgeous car and what a terrific driver Jim Clark was. What a revolution took place at Indy when the Lotus (and Cooper Climax before it) came to the Speedway.
Change and innovation were not exactly hallmarks of Indy at the time and but none so rapidly ushered change as when the little Lotus was driven to victory lane in 1965. The car had already become an sensation for its innovative design, but had yet to prove itself by winning. The likeable Scotsman, Jimmy Clark, had crossed the Atlantic with his Formula 1 constructor and Lotus founder Graham Chapman in 1963, winning in only his third try.
With the dominance of the rear-engined, small, lightweight chassis, the days of the classic and venerable Watson roadster chassis were all but done. Some lamented the change brought about by the foreigners from ‘across the pond’, but the change became the new standard, bringing about a revolution in thought, design, and competition to the Indy 500.