Wednesday, May 29, 2013

No Comparison

Following, is a list of the common elements of NASCAR and IndyCar racing:

  1. Both the NASCAR and IndyCar series are based in the United States

That's all... So, at last, can those that consistently look to NASCAR for inspiration in "saving" IndyCar please cease the practice?

Is NASCAR more successful than IndyCar? Yes. But NASCAR has built its fan base on a blend of racing and entertainment that's unique in the world. Good for them. 

The fact is, the vast majority of race series across the globe survive/thrive without using the NASCAR formula—whatever that is.

Why must we confine our search for useful tools to grow North America's premier open-wheel series to our own shores, just because it's familiar and easy? The answer is, we don't have to, and we shouldn't. 

If Formula 1 has a great idea, super. If V8 Supercars does, awesome. And if NASCAR incorporates an element that truly suits us, so be it. But, to me, that doesn't include the "entertainment" tools they lean on—you decide what those are.  

It's becoming increasingly less arguable that IndyCar has some of/the best racing on the planet. So perhaps some of our issues lie elsewhere.  

If you will allow me, I would like to end with a quote from the eminent English essayist, Sir Alex Lloyd, who once said, "Gimmicks don't grow a fan base. Better promotion does."


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Night-before Nuggets

I had a full-fledged post going, and it was tentatively titled, "33 1/3." It was to go on at intestinal-turning length about how having exactly one-third of this year's Indianapolis 500 field as Americans is the perfect balance between domestic and import. But, AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT.

It's the night before The Big Show, so let's get on with some random musings, shall we?


We're doing our part. My fellow Social Media Garage grease monkeys and I "interviewed" the director of Turbo, yesterday. Nice man. Anywho, I make a point to say there's an incredible buzz in the IndyCar community about his new animated film about a snail that dreams of racing in the Indianapolis 500. His response: "Oh, really? Great!"


Look, I've been pounding the idea that the tide about this movie needs to swing back toward IndyCar for it to do us any good. The fact David Soren had no idea we've been pimping Turbo, like we have, is certainly disappointing, but we're doing the right thing and it's all we can do. Frowny face. Keep on keeping on.   

Tha-tha-tha-thrilla... You lingering Paul Tracy fans--"Hi, I'm Chris, and I'm a PT fan"--he is at The Speedway, working the Canadian telly broadcast. Good to see him in the environs, regardless of the circumstances. By the way: Their broadcast stage is at the exit of turn 4 on the inside. Cool location, though, I'll prolly never see shots from it.

Peace and quiet. Made mention of it on Twitter, but worth stating, again. IMS on Legends Day is a joy--a crazy dichotomy in comparison to the day before, Carb Day. Unrestrained debauchery is (thankfully) replaced with a refreshing dose of measured reverence for the Indy 500. A great day just to wander and soak in the magic. If you haven't made it to one, make it a point.

Write it down. Number 8, Ryan Briscoe, is your 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion. Yeah, he starts 23rd. Yeah, it's a Honda. Yeah, it's a one-off, but he's capable. I made the prediction at the start of May and I'm sticking to it.

The only way to start race day. 9:30 in the Social Media Garage, of course. Steph Wallcraft, of More Front Wing fame, is pulling together an informal tweetup to kick off race day and provide us all a chance to connect before the month ends, way too soon. Simply, if you're on the grounds, no reason not to be there. Hope to see you.

Can you hear me, now? It's always difficult for me to get tweets out on race day, so you may get a well-earned day off--or not. Stay tuned. 

Early to bed... Tomorrow begins early--like, tonight, to be exact. I've heard arrival times anywhere from 4:00 am to 6:00, depending. SIMMER. This is not a complaint. Just a testament to the deep-seated love folks have for this venerable event.  

Go for a drive. If you can appreciate grand, vintage architecture, take a spin up Indianapolis' Meridian St. Just beautiful, and long--the homes just keep going.

Pay homage to Thr3e Wise Men. Located in Indy's trendy Broad Ripple district, 3WM is a micro brewery and eatery. House-made brews and tasty sandwiches and pizza. Nod to Steve Wittich and his better half, Liz for the intoxicating tip. 

More than just a job. If you don't think Mr. Randy Bernard was emotionally invested in the IZOD IndyCar Series, check out his last few tweets. What exec trods back to the execution grounds, just because he cares? And keeps his former employer's name in his Twitter handle? Not dredging up an argument, just saying...

Monster Bash. Curt Cavin tweeted, today, that in its 6-year existence, the Carb Night Burger Bash has raised nearly $100,000 for charity. STRONG. On top of that, it's become a must if your in town on Indy 500 Friday. Proper recognition to Mr. Johnny Rutherford, Scott Dixon, Alex Tagliani, Conor Daly, and Pippa Mann for showing up, last night, to give the fans a little bit of payback.

That's quite enough. This was supposed to be short.

Look. Whether your at home or at the track, tomorrow, just have a great day. If it's not an awesome race, I'll eat my hat. The most wonderful time of year doesn't come around often enough, so savor every moment.

Thanks for reading and following.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Message from IMS

Understandably, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway wants you to have a blast taking in the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500.

So... the smart folks at IMS have highlighted a few tools that will enhance your experience, whether you're at the track or enjoying the race from home.

Just hit this link for all the deets >>


Friday, May 17, 2013

Everyone Needs a Rookie to Root For

It's only natural, with the approach of the Indianapolis 500, that the attention of many focuses on those drivers that have achieved the greatest amount of success at the corner of 16th and Georgetown.

This year, four previous winners of the '500' are scheduled to participate: Three-time champions, Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti, as well as one-time winners, Scott Dixon and Buddy Lazier.  

But at the opposite end of the spectrum, there are some very talented first-time entrants in this year's race that deserve there own measure of recognition.

On the eve of qualifications for the 97th running of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," take a moment to meet this year's crop of fast learners--the rookie class of 2013--because everyone needs a rookie to root for. Who's your favorite?


A.J. Allmendinger
IZOD Penske Racing #2  
Age: 31
Hometown: Los Gatos, CA, USA

The scoop: Allmendinger left a promising career in the ChampCar Indy car series (5 wins) to pursue NASCAR, where he would record 29 top-ten finishes and two pole positions. He's back in Indy cars, on a part-time basis, with his former stock car owner, Roger Penske, in an effort to resurrect his racing career after violating NASCAR's drug policy. Allmendinger continues to race Sprint Cup, part-time.

Conor Daly
ABC Supply A.J. Foyt Racing #41 
Age: 21
Hometown: Noblesville, IN, USA

The scoop: Son of former Formula One and Indy car driver, Derek Daly, Conor grew up in the shadow of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He's poised to realize a lifelong dream by qualifying and racing in his hometown event. Daly also aspires to reach Formula One and is competing full-time in the European junior formula, GP3.

Carlos Munoz
Electric Energy Straws Andretti Autosport #26 
Age: 21
Hometown: Bogota, Colombia

The scoop: After honing his craft in multiple European-based series, Munoz moved to the Firestone Indy Lights series in 2012, finishing 5th in the championship. He is currently leading the 2013 Indy Lights points, notching two wins, thus far. Early signs indicate Munoz is aggressive on the Indy oval and should be fun to watch, going forward.

Tristan Vautier
Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports #55 
Age: 23
Hometown: Corenc, France

The scoop: Vautier brings an impressive resume in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system to this year's '500.' He won the Star Mazda and Firestone Indy Lights championships in successive years and has already shown impressive speed in his rookie year in the IndyCar series. He and his SPM teammate, Simon Pagenaud, comprise two-thirds of IndyCar's three-man "French Connection."  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

70 Hours of Indy 500 Programming on ESPN Classic

New and lasting memories will be made with the running of the 97th Indianapolis 500 on May 26th, but why not get tuned up for this year's race by reliving some of the great moments of the past?

The ESPN Classic network will air 70 hours of Indy 500-related programming, in the coming weeks, beginning on Tuesday May 21--complete schedule, below.

Take time out. Watch and enjoy.


[ESPN release]
ESPN Classic Off to the Races with Indianapolis 500 Marathon
The ESPN Classic network will get race fans ready for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 26, with a marathon of programming related to the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Beginning Tuesday, May 21, and continuing through Friday, May 24, ESPN Classic will air 70 hours of Indianapolis 500-related programming, including 60 hours of highlights of past races as well as episodes of the signature ESPN series SportsCentury.

The 2013 edition of the race will air live on ABC beginning at 11 a.m. ET on May 26.

After the race, ESPN Classic will feature more Indianapolis 500 programming on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, May 28-30, with races airing on their actual anniversary dates.

The schedule (all times Eastern):

Tuesday, May 21
Midnight -- 1992 Indy 500 (Al Unser Jr-1st win)
2 a.m. -- 1994 Indy 500 (Al Unser Jr-2nd win)
4 a.m. -- 2006 Indy 500 (Sam Hornish Jr)
7 a.m. -- 2000 Indy 500 (Juan Pablo Montoya)
9 a.m. -- SportsCentury: Tony Stewart
10 a.m. -- SportsCentury: Mario Andretti
11 a.m. -- 1977 Indy 500 (AJ Foyt-4th Win)
Noon -- 1989 Indy 500 (Emerson Fittipaldi-1st win)
2 p.m. -- 2011 Indy 500 (Dan Wheldon-2nd win)
4 p.m. -- 2006 Indy 500 (Sam Hornish Jr)
6 p.m. -- 1991 Indy 500 (Rick Mears-4th win)
8 p.m. -- 1999 Indy 500 (Kenny Brack)
10 p.m. -- 2005 Indy 500 (Dan Wheldon-1st win)
Wednesday, May 22
Midnight -- 1967 Indy 500 (AJ Foyt-3rd win)
1 a.m. -- 1977 Indy 500 (AJ Foyt-4th win)
2 a.m. -- 1981 Indy 500 (Bobby Unser-3rd win)
4 a.m. -- 1975 Indy 500 (Bobby Unser-2nd win)
8 a.m. -- SportsCentury: Mario Andretti
9 a.m. -- SportsCentury: AJ Foyt
8 p.m. -- 1992 Indy 500 (Al Unser Jr-1st Win)
Thursday, May 23
Midnight -- 1991 Indy 500 (Rick Mears-4th win)
2 a.m. -- 1988 Indy 500 (Rick Mears-3rd win & 25th Anniv in 2013)
4 a.m. -- 1984 Indy 500 (Rick Mears-2nd win)
7 a.m. -- 2001 Indy 500 (Helio Castroneves-1st win)
9 a.m. -- 2002 Indy 500 (Helio Castroneves-2nd win)
11 a.m. -- 2009 Indy 500 (Helio Castroneves-3rd win)
1 p.m. -- 2007 Indy 500 (Dario Franchitti-1st win)
3 p.m. -- 2010 Indy 500 (Dario Franchitti-2nd win)
5 p.m. -- 2012 Indy 500 (Dario Franchitti-3rd win)
Friday, May 24
Midnight -- 1998 Indy 500 (Eddie Cheever Jr – 15th Anniv on this date)
2 a.m. -- 1979 Indy 500 (Rick Mears-1st win)
3 a.m. -- SportsCentury: Rick Mears
4 a.m. -- 1967 Indy 500 (AJ Foyt-3rd win)
5 a.m. -- 1969 Indy 500 (Mario Andretti)
7 a.m. -- SportsCentury: AJ Foyt
8 a.m. -- SportsCentury: Rick Mears
9 a.m. -- SportsCentury: Al Unser Sr
10 a.m. -- 1978 Indy 500 (Al Unser Sr-2nd win & 35th Anniv in 2013)
Noon -- 2003 Indy 500 (Gil de Ferran – 10th Anniv in 2013)
2 p.m. -- 2008 Indy 500 (Scott Dixon – 5th Anniv in 2013)
4 p.m. -- 1998 Indy 500 (Eddie Cheever Jr – 15th Anniv on this date)
6 p.m. -- 1988 Indy 500 (Rick Mears-3rd win & 25th Anniv on this date)
Tuesday, May 28
35th Anniversary of Al Unser Sr’s third Indy 500 victory in 1978
10 a.m. -- SportsCentury: Al Unser Sr.
11 a.m. ---1978 Indy 500
1 p.m. -- SportsCentury: Al Unser Sr.
2 p.m. -- 1978 Indy 500
4 p.m. -- SportsCentury: Al Unser Sr.
5 p.m. -- 1978 Indy 500
7 p.m. -- SportsCentury: Al Unser Sr.
Wednesday, May 29
25th Anniversary of Rick Mears third Indy 500 victory in 1988
30th Anniversary of Tom Sneva’s victory in 1983
1 a.m. -- SportsCentury: Rick Mears
2 a.m. -- 1988 Indy 500 (Mears)
4 a.m. -- SportsCentury: Rick Mears
9 a.m. -- 1983 Indy 500 (Sneva)
Noon -- 1988 Indy 500 (Mears)
2 p.m. -- SportsCentury: Rick Mears
4 p.m. -- 1983 Indy 500 (Sneva)
6 p.m. -- 1988 Indy 500 (Mears)
8 p.m. -- SportsCentury: Rick Mears
Thursday, May 30
40th Anniversary of Gordon Johncock’s Indy 500 win in 1973 after rain shortened the race to 133 laps
20th Anniversary of Emerson Fittipaldi’s 2nd Indy 500 win in 1993
3 p.m. -- 1973 Indy 500 (Johncock)
5 p.m. -- 1993 Indy 500 (Fittipaldi)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Notes from the Cathedral of Speed: OCD Meltdown & More

Despite knowing I'll spend hour after hour at the track over the next weeks, I found myself having an internal struggle, at the end of the day, trying to decide whether I should leave or stay.


But that's what happens. It's occurred more than once. "Should I stay for the last 10 minutes? Maybe just one more sweep of the garage area... A few more minutes in the stands?" 

I'm afraid I'm going to miss something--it's crazy. I don't know what else to say. Indianapolis Motor Speedway just does that to you.

That's quite enough about that...

In other news, great day cutting the ribbon on the 2013 Social Media Garage. Connected and reconnected with all kinds of people I never thought I would meet when I dove in to Twitter/"blogging," but it's been a true joy. Can't thank Cassie Conklin and IMS enough for inviting me back. Friendly reminder to please follow @Erock_in_Indy @OpenWheelMom @nascarcasm and @KelseyUSA--kicking out the juicy content like mad men and women. 

BTW: Josef Newgarden is a beast--all the way around. No other way to put it. Thanks to him and Pippa Mann for pulling in to the SMG, today. They lit it up.

Hmmm... Got nothin' else--other than this: The best thing? It's only day one. All kinds of theater to play out, in the coming days.

As always, thanks for reading and following. Sincerely hope you guys get even a smidge of the enjoyment from this blather as I get from putting it out there.

Stay tuned...


Notes from the Cathedral of Speed: Opening Day

Not much to say, really.

You've waited a's opening day...just GET HERE, if you can.

Not lucky enough to be in the vicinity?

Engage on online...soak it all in.

The quest for victory in the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 starts NOW.