Friday, December 24, 2010

Just thanks...

Feliz Navidad from AHOI and
special guest photographer, Graham Rahal
I’m going to forfeit my Man Hard Card for just a moment to get all drippy and convey an overdue message.

The one-year anniversary of ...and he’s on it passed a few weeks ago without fanfare. Oh, I think I might have sent a tweet or two out about it, but it really deserves more than that.

On the eve of one of my favorite days on the calendar, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate time to extend a formal “thank you” to all of you for your support of this little endeavor of mine.

I like to say I dove into Twitter and started the blog with “eyes wide shut”—and thankfully so. Had I actually looked before I leapt and seen the über-smart and talented peeps that make up the virtual IndyCar world, I certainly would have talked myself out of the whole thing.

Because of the killer content that rolls off the keyboards of the IndyCar bloggers on a daily basis, that makes the “success”—if you can call it that—of ...and he’s on it that much more rewarding.

And the fact is AHOI would be NOTHING without its readers, so the credit goes to you, and deservedly so.

I could blather on about it, but let’s just say the blog and Twitter thing have become important to me. So thanks for helping to enrich my life and, in turn, I hope I’ve added a little something to yours by giving you a place to go and chat it up about what I consider to be the greatest sport in the world.

I raise a virtual toast to you and wish you and those you hold dear a very Merry Christmas and totally rad New Year—cheers!

Card back, please...


Monday, December 20, 2010

That Was Then, This is Now

One of the biggest off-season announcements
has Rahal and Kimball joining Ganassi
Photo: Ron McQueeney,
Had you asked me two months ago what my interest was in the 2011 IndyCar season, I would have said, let’s dump it and go right to ’12, when we’ll have the new chassis and engines to create fresh interest—but that was then, this is now.

Since that time, the mother of all off-seasons has broken loose and buried us in an avalanche of awesomeness that has 2011 shaping up to be one epic IndyCar funtacular.

Here’s a random—and, I’m sure, woefully incomplete—list of the storylines we’ll have to follow in the coming months:
  • Car count: I’ve seen 24 to 28 quoted for non-Indy events, with who knows how many vying to appear in the big show.
  • Indianapolis 500 Centennial: A virtual cornucopia of things planned. Check out Kevin Lee’s semi-comprehensive list here.
  • IMS speed record: Sir Randall “wants it gone.” Even if, practically speaking, there’s no chance to break it, if Randy just trots out there and says “have at it,” that will attract stellar pub.
  • Yanks: You asked for ‘em, you got ‘em… six full time, plus Ed part time—I believe.
  • Sponsor changes/additions:
o   IZOD and Meijer from Andretti to Penske
o   Shell/Pennzoil to Penske
o   NTB Tires goes full time at Ganassi
o   Novo Nordisk to Ganassi
o   “New” sponsor for RHR TBA
o   Brazilian sponsors for Kanaan?
  • Driver changes/additions:
o   Graham & Charlie Kimball in new cars at Ganassi
o   Wheldon out, or back to Andretti?
o   TK at de Ferran
o   Matos out?
o   JR in at Panther
o   A second season for Simona? Does the wrecking crew get the ax at KV? Yada, yada, yada…

Whew… Alright. This is supposed to be an interactive forum, right? What did I miss? BRING IT, peeps.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Drink and Drive with Three “Indy 500” Legends

Got three-and-a-half large burning a hole in your pocket? Then you can experience the ride (and cocktail party) of a lifetime.

The Indy Racing Experience recently announced they’ll be hosting the inaugural “Legends Day” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Mark the date: May 23rd, 2011, Mario Andretti, Arie Luyendyk, and Johnny Rutherford will be shuttling IndyCar fans around the historic Brickyard at a face-melting 180 mph in the stretch limo of open-wheel racing cars, the Indy Two-seater.

[Ron Popeil voice] “But wait, that’s not all…” For your $3,500 you will also receive breakfast (Sausage McMuffin WITH EGG), lunch ($5 Foot Long—LOADED), entrée to a cocktail party with said guests (Jell-O shots and all the Keystone you can pound!), plus participation in a Q&A, autograph session, custom helmet, and framed photograph with all three legends on the famed Yard of Bricks—schwa-POW.

Hey… there are some lies in there. Better click your way over to the Indy Racing Experience site and get all the truthful details on what—with all kidding aside—should be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for 60 lucky fans.

And may we take the liberty of suggesting these beverages for the gala: Andretti vino, Heineken, and Lone Star beer?


P.S. Dear Santa: Pleeeease…???

Friday, December 10, 2010

“I hope you choke on that whistle, you old bag o’ dirt!”

Bernard is making moves to remove some of
the barriers between drivers and young fans
Harsh? Sorrrry… [bows head, sheepishly kicks ground]

Truth is, that little outburst has been percolating for, oh, approximately 26.6 years.

See, back in the day, as a young lad [computers clicking off furiously], I BS’d my way onto an Indycar team for the month of May—I was 18, infant-faced, and wholly incompetent (beside the point). Awesome opportunity, though, huh?!

Ruh-roh. PROBLEM.

At the time (1984; “Jump!”), the minimum age to get into the garage area at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway [angels softly sing out “ahhhhhh”] was 21.

Mind you, I haven’t had much interaction with them recently, but back then [last reader nods off, drools slightly], the IMS Safety Patrol, aka “Yellow Shirts,” who manned the garage area gates, could be described—stereotypically, yes—as a group of mature gentlemen of a certain, advanced level of simmering RAGE (picture an army of A.J. Foyts [there go the angels again] with police whistles).

[Get to the point, man!] Okay. Let’s just say the Yellow Shirts were VERY good at upholding the official Safety Patrol oath which, in section 3.7 clearly states, “I don’t care if it’s Queen Mary Hulman herself, if they look under 21, card the little pr*$@#!” (bold-faced lie).

So, despite being uniformed, credentialed, and often having arms filled with car parts or wheeling a set of tires, etc., po-po always got their man—me.

What ensued for the next month (and, ultimately, years into the future) was a cat-and-mouse game with the Yellow Shirts that involved me sneaking from one entrance to the next, trying to hide in crowds, or rushing the gates like festival seating at a Bublé concert.

Unfortunately for you, this quirky little anecdote has very little to do with the actual point of this post. All I really wanted to do was serve up a big, jumbo-sized “AWESOME” to you, Sir Randall, for very wisely lowering the minimum age for entry into the IMS garage area to 9 (allegedly—no official announcement, yet, I don’t believe).

Not only will this maneuver provide pint-sized IndyCar fans the killer opportunity to get close to the action that I never had [complete symphony of violins at full throttle], but it also opens up a whole new talent pool for the teams.

Damn it, Randy, you’ve done it again. And I don’t mind saying, right here and now, I heart you with a love deep, strong, and true...


Editor’s note: Dear IMS Safety Patrol (and their groupies): First, thank you for your service. Second, please do NOT put a contract out on me. No ill will was meant by the above comments, and I know you carry out a thankless task for little recognition and equal pay—you’re just doing your job, and that’s completely understood... we still good? [barely misses a Luyendyk backhand]

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Baguette Represents

This is the first time Baguette has 
competed in the Race of Champions
Big shout-out to Conquest Racing driver, Bertrand Baguette, as he represents the IZOD IndyCar Series on the world stage in this weekend's Race of Champions in Dusseldorf, Germany. 

Baguette makes his debut in the race, having been voted in via a public poll.

BB will attempt to put the IndyCar beat-down on such notable international drivers as Michael “Schumi” Schumacher, Sebastian “Wonder Boy” Vettel, and Alain “Crooked Nose” Prost.

Get all the details on the RoC here, and send the love to Bertrand via his twitter account here.

Tear it up, Mr. B.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Dear Sarah:

If Hildebrand doesn't get snapped up
by Panther, he could be a great get for SFR 
Word on the street is you’re considering hanging up the helmet. Well, that’s a sad prospect, indeed.

Despite being recognized as a perennial most popular driver, I don’t think we’ll ever know the full impact of what your performance on and off track has done to develop and maintain interest in Indycar racing—especially during the “lean years.”

I know I speak for thousands of your peeps, when I say, I hope you race on well into the future; however, if you choose to step out of the car to manage the team and pursue some of the finer things in life, that’s cool—and admirable.

When that day comes, you certainly don’t need my help in choosing a driver for the ‘67’, but I thought I’d share with you the names of a few of my favorite shoes that are decidedly fast and destined to have very prosperous futures:

  • Former FILS Champ and he knows his way around the Speedway; three, count them, THREE Freedom 100 wins.
  • Formula BMW, A1GP, F3 Euroseries, Atlantics, and Lights; he’s traveled the world and done it all. IndyCar is the next step.
  • ’09 FILS Champ, A1GP, an F1 test, and a pair of IndyCar races already under his belt—he’s ready.  
There you have it, SF. Here’s hoping word of your impending retirement is greatly exaggerated…



Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rock on, “Thrilla” \m/

[Pffft... like it
needs a caption]
Every great rock star deserves a farewell tour; a final opportunity to take it to the people and figuratively hug it out with the fans.

One last chance to shred the ax and cast gaze over thousands of hands raised in silent, flame-wielding tribute before dragging their coke- and STD-riddled carcass back to the crib in Antigua.

And, so, with my requisite proclivity for naïveté, I choose to believe that IndyCar’s resident rock star will soon get the same chance to properly bid adieu.

Some brilliant marketing pro will wake up and recognize the epic opportunity that is, PT’s Farewell Tour, eh?[Arrivederci, Paul...” “Tracy’s Last Ride...” You decide]

When it comes to Indycar drivers, Paul Tracy is the last of a generation. A legend, not just for his 31 wins and ChampCar championship, but for his cool, Chrome Horn-wielding character.

So revered by his fellow competitors,
is Tracy, hes often the recipient of
spontaneous, heartfelt hugs
PT has nobly competed against anyone who is anyone in American open-wheel racing, over the past 20 years, and when he’s gone, so dies an irreplaceable link to IndyCar’s heritage.

A mega-deity, like Paul, doesn’t just do a few races a year and quietly fade away—he unleashes a season-long A-bomb full of AWESOME on the entire open-wheel community. The result? A face-melting mushroom cloud of splintered carbon fiber, shattered egos, and awestruck fans.

So, on behalf of those that worship at the alter of  The Thrill from West Hill,” I ask you, prospective partners, what’s not to love?  


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

‘Road to Indy,’ Clean and Green

Underachiever, Daly,
only won half of his races
The IZOD IndyCar Series’ ladder system, designed to help junior open-wheel talent successfully ascend through the lower formula to Indycars, will be on full display this week.

Thanks to multi-series competitors, Andersen Racing, the respective USF2000 and Star Mazda champs will have the chance to test the waters at the next level by lapping around legendary Sebring Raceway in Florida.

Sage Karam (USF2000) who, by the way, POUNDED his competitors by winning a mere 75% of the races run this season, will be testing a Star Mazda ride, while Conor Daly—fresh from a multi-week GP3 test across The Pond—will trade in his regular Star Mazda drive for Andersen’s Firestone Indy Lights car.

Props to Andersen, the respective series, and sponsors involved for making it happen. Cool to see champs rewarded for their accomplishments and get the opportunity to try and take it to the next level.

BONUS. Both of these young soldiers just happened to grow up saluting Old Glory, “so we’ve got that going for us... which is nice.”

Make the best of it, boys.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Strap on, F1, it’s GO TIME

Eddie, Danny, Mikey, and Speed... peculiar little amusements, no? Well, Formula One, the ol’ U.S. of A. is stripping off the red nose and oversized shoes, because we’re tired of looking like clowns.

That’s right. We’re done dickin’ around. It’s been three decades since the almighty Mario [angels softly sing out, “ahhhhhhh”] brought you to your knees, and it’s high time those snotty pukes you have spewing champagne all over Qatar, and the rest of creation, get some serious competition.

Yes, we’ve identified the threat and, no, they’ll be no names—you can just call him “O’Shaughnessy.” And there’s no need for a CV, either. Suffice it to say, O’Shaughnessy is napalm in Nomex, the WMD of motorsport, and Special Forces of formula cars all wrapped up into one barely-humanlike form. 

He’s a Levi’s wearin’, Marlboro smokin’, ‘Beam swillin’ sh*t storm of AWESOME, and he’s coming to a twisty near you.

O’Shaughnessy has already conducted reconnaissance at your beloved Monza and will be infiltrating your lower formula, posthaste.

For now, he’s in training: pulling coal cars out of the West Virginia mines—with his teeth—while only on respite from skinning Florida ‘gators—with his wheel-crushing bare hands.

How will you know when he has arrived? Oh, there will be no confusion. Look skyward. Behold the mushroom cloud, projectile vomit-inducing bright light, and unmistakable stain in Herr Vettel’s lederhosen. 

You have been warned, Formula One. He. Is. Coming. And may God help you... may the Almighty help you.  

Uhhh... we got this, Conor, right??


Thursday, October 7, 2010

IndyCar Drivers Storm the 'Castle

Think you’re 171 days from seeing your favorite IndyCar drivers in action? Not so fast…

October 9th and 10th (that’s this weekend), former IndyCar driver Mark Dismore hosts the 2010 RoboPong 200 Presented by Bridgestone kart race at his totally awesome New Castle Motorsports Park.

IndyCar drivers scheduled to get back to their roots include: Ed Carpenter, Dan Wheldon, Graham Rahal, Will Power, Alex Tagliani, and [wait for it] Milka Duno—just to add that old familiar feeling.

Look for several Firestone Indy Lights upstarts, also, as well as my boy Conor Daly, 2010 Star Mazda Champion. 

Where else will you have the opportunity to see such racing superstars in this sort of setting? If you're lucky, maybe you can snag an autograph or quick pic, if you like.

Can’t make it in person? Thanks to, you can watch the LIVE stream from the comfort of your own castle.

Gonna be a long off-season—catch them while you can…


Saturday, September 18, 2010

"So, some bloggers and a couple of TV types enter a chat room..."

I wouldn't be so bold as to presume I could promo tonight's IndyCar chat over at better than Roy Hobbson, so jet on over there and get the lowdown from the man himself.

What I will say is, that with such BS luminaries in attendance as Hobbson, PressDog, and "Indy Lindy" Thackston, there promises to be more #2 slung than in the entire Dirty Jobs "Poo Pot" episodeor, perhaps, vegan night at San Quentin.

I'll be heading over to, round about 11:00gas mask engagedyou?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Follow RHR Into Battle Against "The Big C"

10,000 Twitter followers equals
10 large for Racing for Cancer
Hey, tweeps, Ryan Hunter-Reay could use a hand. 

In honor of his mother, Lydia, who died from cancer in 2009, Hunter-Reay has, admirably, taken on the roll of global ambassador for Racing for Cancer—a nonprofit established to help battle the disease.

As a result, the group's founding sponsor, Inland Industrial Services Group, has pledged to donate $10,000 if RHR can reach 10,000 Twitter followers by October 2nd—a lofty goal, perhaps, but highly doable.

Here's where you play the hero: if you're not already following @RyanHunterReay (you should be anyway), please do so and, while you're at it, urge your own tweeps to do the same.  

It costs absolutely nothing and could go a long way toward giving "The Big C" the beat-down it so properly deserves. 

Thanks, peeps.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Car Czar Gets Chatty

Tony Cotman
Wondering how the 2012 IZOD IndyCar chassis is progressing? Well, ponder no more. In an always-welcome gesture of transparency, Tony Cotman, IndyCar's '12 Car Project Manager, is going all "on the record" with a new blog for

Follow along for the next 18, or so, months as Cotman compellingly documents such über challenges as how to squeeze J-dub in comfortably, properly thrashing his new creation, and much, much more.

Get busy reading TC's first post—of what will hopefully be many—right here.  


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Michael Andretti: Owning His Heritage

75% of Andretti's driver lineup
hails from the U.S.
Sure, I love me some T.K., Willy P., and the always rootable, Swiss Miss but, personally, nothing compares to watching homegrown talent tear it up on the track.

With that in mind, AHOI would like to recognize Michael Andretti, of Andretti Autosport, with major ups for six of his eight full-time drivers having grown up amongst the Amber Waves of Grain.

Coincidence? Maybe, but I'll choose to take it at face value. 

Michael is very quietly doing his part to ensure indigenous talent has an opportunity to compete on America's premier open-wheel stage.

Good on ya, Mike.

Below, is a list of all the drivers who regularly attend AA meetings:

IZOD IndyCar Series
Firestone Indy Lights Series
USF2000 Series

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Size Matters: Put Something in That Man’s Hands He Can be Proud of

This isn’t Latvian Formula 3... THIS is the IZOD IndyCar Series. The most absurdly challenging open-wheel discipline on the planet. So, as a fan, every time I see a driver whip out his tiny bottle of bubbly and attempt to celebrate a hard-earned victory, as Mr. Judd did last weekend, I feel like donning a dress.

It’s embarrassing. IndyCar may not be ruling the popularity wars just yet but, as the saying goes, “act like you’ve been there before.”

With props to you, Mr. Bernard, for your accomplishments, thus far, and with due respect, my charge to you is to allow that champion to wrap his hands around something that turns the dudes green with envy and the ladies rosy with embarrassment—in other words, CHAMPAGNE SHOCK AND AWE.

A monumental magnum of the authentic stuff (or a nice domestic sparkling wine, would also be lovely) that allows the winner to put his full manhood on display and bathe those adoring fans, over and over again, in the shared fruits of victory—a bottle that shadows Wilson and Rahal... one that Viso could swim in.

Not too much to ask, I dare say. I’m confident there’s a plethora of fine vintners out there that would leap at the chance to provide the goods, F.O.C., in exchange for a bit of pub with the Series.

Are there bigger fish to fry? Nope. It's a small thing, but one that will make a measurable difference in the perception of IndyCar.



Sunday, July 11, 2010

Smooth Sailing

[You’re screaming down the front stretch at Indy and about to inhale the car in front of you when, unexpectedly, he pulls down into your line and BAM—you’re airborne. {Freeze Frame} Pop up the visor, take a deep breath, and have a look around. You’re 10 feet off the deck and staring down the throat of the Turn 1 catch fence at over 200 mph.]

So, while you’re temporarily spared a very unenviable fate and just hanging out, ask yourself this: Would I rather slam into the current cheese-grater of a fence that will summarily shred my car (and maybe me) into 1.3 million pieces and shower them like pixy dust all over my fellow competitors; or, maybe hit something a bit more forgiving? Something considerably less ferocious? Something smooth... yea, smooth, that might bang me around and ring my noggin like a cheap kabuki gong, but essentially spit me back out on track in remarkably good shape, all things considered?

Now, I don’t know whose idea a smooth, “hockey-style” catch fence was—some cursory research revealed it being bantered about on the Net at least as far back as ’04—but I think it’s something the IZOD IndyCar Series owes its competitors and fans to, at least, investigate.

No, I don’t know if it will work; no, I don’t know how much it will cost and; selfishly, no, I don’t know if I want to be staring through a clear plastic screen while sitting in the stands. But in light of recent (and not-so-distantly past) events, it seems like something worth considering.

Sure, racing will always have a danger element, but is that a super-license to dismiss safety opportunities [insert HANS Device and SAFER Barrier arguments here]?

I’m not blindly endorsing the idea, just bringing it up for discussion. I suspect you have an opinion on the subject, so please share it via the poll, above, or the comment section, below. I also imagine these guys might have a word or two to say about it: Mike Conway, Ryan Briscoe, Kenny Bräck, Davey Hamilton, Tony Renna (1976–2003).

[Now, back to the action. Drop that visor... {Roll Tape}]


Editor’s note: I’m not one for sensationalism, but if you absolutely can’t help yourself from wanting to see what sort of carnage the current iteration of catch fence can cause, click
here, then scroll down.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Wheels of Fortune: An Open Letter to Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Dear Dennis, Robbie, and Larry:

Hey, whassup? So, since the 24 car has already been a rolling paradise to such driver cast-offs as Tomas Scheckter, Graham Rahal, and Paul Tracy, why not make it official?

For the remainder of the 2010 season, dedicate the 24 as home to the super-subs—sanctuary to all the rideless and semi-rideless shoes we’d love to see in the series full-time, but can’t... maybe throw a rookie in the deep end while you’re at it.

I knew you’d ask, so here’s my suggested lineup for the remaining races:

Toronto: Bruno Junqueira
Edmonton: Oriol Servia
Mid-Ohio: Graham Rahal
Infineon: Paul Tracy
Chicagoland: Graham Rahal
Kentucky: Ed Carpenter
Motegi: JR Hildebrand
Homestead: Wade Cunningham

Seems easy enough. Larry? Robbie? Bueller... anyone?

Much love,

Johnny Montona
Chairman, Unemployed IZOD IndyCar Drivers’ Advocacy Coalition

[Um... that’s a lie. I’m not, not the chairman. And, well... there’s actually no coalition. Sorry. Uh, never mind. I feel dirty...]

P.S. Get well soon, M. Conway.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

We Don't Know Carroll from Adam

True, true, but across the pond, Adam Carroll is no stranger. So just who is this lad from the land of green that enters the (increasingly faster and faster) fold at Andretti Autosport for the race at The Glen? Let's check his vitals, courtesy of
Nationality: Northern Irish
Date of Birth: October 26, 1982 (age 26)
Career Race Results:
Races entered: 223
Wins: 40
Podiums: 86
Pole positions: 24
Fastest laps: 25
Race win percentage: 17.94%
(the above statistics are a summary of the data currently
Racing career highlights:
A1GP Champion 08/09
Second in Formula 3 Britain 2004.
Third in Masters of Formula 3 2004.
European Formula 3 Cup champion 2004.
British Formula 3 National class champion 2002.
Third in Formula Ford Festival 2001.
British Formula Ford Winter Series champion 2000.
'08/'09 A1GP champ...hmm. Sprinkle in some GP2, varying experience in other European formulas, and F1 testing for BAR-Honda, and we just might have something here. Intrigued? Check out Adam's full bio here.

So... new country, new series, new track, new team: how will Carroll fare against TK, RHR, DP, and MA? Hard to estimate, but that's not going to stop us from speculating. Check out the poll above, and voice your opinion on how things will shake out for AA at Watkins Glen.

BTW: Don't miss the showdown next Sunday—with so many road-racing superstars in the IZOD IndyCar Series, I think we’ll be celebrating the Fourth with a bang.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Tom Terrific

On the very threshold of another glorious “Month of May,” it’s only fitting that Andhesonit pay proper tribute to the man that inspired the name.

To me, the voice of Tom Carnegie will forever be as much a part of my Indy experience as early-morning bus rides up Interstate 74 and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in the stands with my dad. He is an icon. Part of the very fabric of Indy lore.

Below, is the very first post that appeared on Andhesonit. If you’re familiar with the master’s work, enjoy getting reacquainted. If you haven’t had the pleasure, please, meet the man:

When it came to titling this blog site, I was charged with distilling what 35-plus years of open-wheel racing and the Indianapolis 500 meant to me into a scant handful of words—no easy task, I assure you. The words themselves are plain to see, but to the uninitiated, their intended meaning is predictably elusive and mysterious at best.

But to the millions of souls that have heard those same utterances echo contemplatively, grandstand-to-grandstand, across the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, they hold true reverence. They are iconic, hair-raising, and for those whose house of worship resides at the corner of 16th Street and Georgetown, I unabashedly say biblical.

Tom Carnegie’s voice is an instrument; more precisely, a drum. Not a child’s toy, but the deepest orchestral timpani in full roll at the hands of the most proficient percussionist. It’s low-boiling thunder, truck tires on a gravel road. Launched from loudspeakers at the world’s greatest and most historic sporting venue, it’s aural fireworks—simply magic.

Mr. Carnegie didn’t just serve as public address announcer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he institutionalized the position. From 1946 to 2006 his voice was as much a part of the month of May as the cars, the fans, the drivers.

Quite reasonably, one would expect that the 500-mile race would be his brightest stage, and without question, his performances over the years were legendary. But in this writer’s opinion, the 33 snarling engines on race day only served as recurring and rude interruptions to his impeccable skill. During an era when the word “Indy” meant an ongoing quest for faster and faster speeds, the qualifications for the race are where Mr. Carnegie’s talent truly shown.

With only one race car on the speedway at a time, he had the captive ear of thousands. His dramatic delivery, tone, and inflection had fans hanging on every word in a one-way dialogue of the most engaging sort. Having performed so brilliantly for so long, Mr. Carnegie has become well known for a number of famous phrases, but to me, there is only one.

For an Indycar driver, competing in the Indianapolis 500 each year is second only to winning it. That makes a qualification attempt at Indy one of the most dramatic 10 miles in motorsports. To accomplish qualifying successfully is a triumphant victory of the grandest character, to fail is a tragedy of the greatest proportions—Tom Carnegie knew that as well as anyone.

After circling the oval on his warm-up laps and being presented with the green flag, Carnegie would skillfully and ceremoniously launch the driver into racing’s stratosphere, as if journeying to the moon, with four simple, monosyllabic words: “annnd he’s on it!” No one on the grounds, including the brave soul behind the wheel, knew what would happen over the next four laps. That’s what made those words so powerful... the suspense; the agonizing, all-consuming suspense.

Those famous words are what the singular pursuit of Indycar racing means to me. They simply and wholly encapsulate my decades-long love affair with the sport I just can’t seem to shake. To me, if they were to be linked so closely with this brave new adventure of mine, I felt it only just to pay proper tribute to the man who spoke them so nobly.

To put it more succinctly, on behalf of the millions, Tom, we miss you, and thanks for the memories.

Feeling nostalgic? Listen to an audio clip of Mr. Carnegie here (click on “First Lap”).


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Take the Week Off

No, seriously, take the week off. Skulk into the warden’s office, send him an e-mail, slip a note under her door—I don’t care your methods, but when the last car leaves the mine on May 14th, you’re in it, and they won’t see your war-torn corporate soul at the mill for nine glorious days and nights.

Why the sudden compassion for my fellow man? Just heaven on earth. Nirvana. Front-row tickets to a Clapton concert and free lifetime supply of Mt. Carmel India Pale Ale wrapped up into one. Just the greatest week of your entire planetary existence: the practice and qualifications for the most awesomist automobile race in the world, the Indianapolis 500.

Suffice it to say, when it comes to the buildup for this year’s race, I’m a little stoked. And, yes, come Beer:30 Friday the 14th, yours truly will be leaving the scene of the crime faster than M. Conway bolted from his 23rd decimated Dad’s-mobile. That stretch of May days at the Speedway is truly going to be grand.

40-plus entries, a compressed schedule, 15 points for pole, and [Rod Roddy voice] “lots more” all add up to what should be one of the greatest Indy practice/time trial periods in recent history. So I don’t care how you get there, just get there if you can.

“But my job, my family, that little something I’ve got going on the side, what will they do without me?!” Simmer down there, Mr. Responsibility. This isn’t an all or nothing proposition. My actual earplug time, taking in the intoxicating fragrance of ethanol and slow-roasting, cooler-totin’, Keystone-swillin’, over-inked Hoosier will be limited, as well (don’t kid yourselves, my beloved Indianans—this ain’t my first rodeo).

I’m not suggesting you just pick up from the old homestead and pilgrimage to Mecca with nary a care, just do what you can to take in as much as you can of the splendor that promises to be.

Personally, I’ll mix up my day or two at the track with some live streaming, Trackside, and whatever Versus throws our way—I may just stare at my scale replica of JR’s ‘74 Mclaren and pretend I’m 8 again. Whatever. But rest assured, I won’t be working and I will be fully immersed in everything IZOD IndyCar.

It’s going to be a good one, peeps. Do what you can to be a part of it.


P.S. The race may not be too bad, either.