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]