Monthly Archives: July 2009

Rexall Edmonton Indy *live* Race Blog!

wow… its been a while since I’ve done one of these! The last two events I was right in the heart of it all. Today I am well ensconced at my spacious and comfortable office, watching a spectacular storm blow in off the lake, while I try to focus on multiple browser windows.

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To say I am positively gutted to not be there today would be an understatement… but alas, it just wasn’t in the cards. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, and in the middle, and my health depended on me staying home and getting some sleep.

So, here I sit, watching, knowing that last year I was standing right there. Ironically it was for Paul’s first race. Today, it could be his last 😦

At least I have a VERSUS stream, which is making me very happy to watch the pre-show. (and subsequently the race) (thanks Evan!!)

Engines started!!! woot!!! *so nervous* Ick…

PT onboard! Sweet!

Green green green!! Clean… no… dirty… damn… who was that? Matos? Mutoh? Did the “Speedy Dan” Cleveland donuts to get back in the right direction.

Conway into Matos

Moraes is damaged now too, why? NONE OF OUR BUSINESS!! (β„’ pressdog)

Conway decides he prefers the grass to the pavement… wow… that’s a lot of lawn mowing there Mikey.

Moraes looks to be done. Poor kid. What the hell did he hit??

Conway is now mortally wounded… That is a long push back along pit road. Trust me, I stood there last year and watched several teams

“get outta my way kid… ” Moraes gets a taste of the chrome horn…. Maybe that was a little love tap for E.J… (he and PT are buddies…)

Rafa Matos right rear suspension damage now.

Marco, started 18th…. still 18th…. way to carve your way through the field…

eww… that’s not the most full looking grandstand shot…. it’s like taking an overhead picture of a male friend and highlighting his bald spot…

Matos repaired, but 18 laps down

Scheckter did a little off roading maybe… unknown as apparently it’s none of our business!!! uh, definitely something wrong with this car. He is limping back to pitlane.

Power 3.5 seconds ahead of the field. (not as crazy a lead as Hildebrand had Saturday)

*commerical* (back to IMS radio…)

Wilson and Viso battling for 10th spot on lap 23 of 95. Wilson is definitely on the hunt.

great…. Power will likely get screwed. (why isn’t his pit stall up with the other Penskes btw???) Stupid IndyCar pit stall rules. I believe the stall position should be based on your last race result. Shake it up a little guys!!

Power “lead more laps today than his IndyCar series total to date”

Lap 30: Still no pit stops yet, other than for injured cars.

Antinucci is toast. 9 laps down, out of race with a mechanical problem. Poor kid.

Festival of green flag pitting…. here we go.

Viso, Franchitti, RHR, Tracy, Power, … oh hell, they’re all coming in… they’re all putting on blacks…

Lap 34: Car-B-Q…. poor Kanaan… what a miserable fucking season for him. Gas nossil did not close, serious flames. Drove a few feet down pit lane to the Penske boys, who made light work of that fire.

Wheldon launches over the curb and through the grass for the eleventy billionth time this weekend.

So, curious… do the AGR guys now bring their extinguishers and buckets of water down to the Penske pits to replace the stuff used on their car?

Servia in new capacity as driver coach/advisor to Kanaan: “Well, I would start by asking your crew to stop setting you on fire”… (ok, I made that up, but seriously, what is that, 3 times this season?)

Lap 50: traffic is starting to play a factor… Patrick and Andretti are holding up the train…. This is NOT good for Will…

Ah yes… the old “fuel conservation” scenario…. Helio is being told to conserve…. yawn… Come on Briscoe!! Kick his ass! Aussie 1 / 2

Ok Rafa… you’re many laps down… don’t be a JACKASS!

woot, Power gets by safely! Hopefully “the least” will hold up the other two now, and let Power get a bit of a lead.

PT and Franchitti get their last stops in… as does Power…. Helio… bunch of other folks…

WHAT THE FUCK!! Tracy slowing Oh, ok… KV tweeted that he did a little off roading… LOL… hang on to it Paulie!! damnit!

oooh… some actual racing happening in Edmonton. Dixon out in front of the red Penskes, but on cold tires. Briscoe brings the heat and gets by, Helio can’t git er done. Power pulls away.

Lap 70: Power, Briscoe, Dixon, Twinkletoes, Franchitti, Tracy (!!), Rahal, Wilson, Doornbos, Andretti (???)

Oh my, the AGR chicanes providing some challenges for the other drivers

Lap 73, Briscoe is moving backwards…. uh oh… Conway all over his ass…

Twitter keeps stalling. Weird.

TK… second degree burns on both of his hands and his face. “I wanted to come back here and set the world on fire, but not this way” hehe… even with the season from hell, keeps his sense of humour intact.

15 laps to go. I have to pee like a race horse. I’m beyond tense. A little emotional. Starving hungry. ugh… AIN’T RACING GRAND!?!

Medical update from Dr. Michael Olinger: Tony Kanaan has been checked and released from the infield care center.

9 to go… stomach hurts…

Helio is closing in, but not really…

Matos overcooks it and does some off roading, still pushing even in 18th place!

Oh Tomas!!!! had to go screw up a perfect race.

WOOOOOT!!!!! GO WILL GO!!! Awesome stuff!!! so happy for him!

And how bout my boy??? 6th!! 6TH!!! Sweet.

LOL at Liz jumping in to give Will a peck! too cute.

lol dario “not bad for an old fat dude” (in congrats to PT)

Paul feels really bad about the Mario incident. “Jimmy’s mad at me”
hey, you finished the race just outside the top 5! Nothing to be mad about man.
He sounds so dejected. I think he thinks he fucked himself out of a ride by punting Moraes, but come on, Moraes needs to take some of the blame on that one.

Alrighty… off to write all of this up into something more cohesive.

Back later to discuss!

Lest we forget that…

our passion, our amusement, our need for speed has a dangerous and tragic side, we were again reminded this afternoon that in a blink of an eye it can all go so horribly wrong.

1964 Formula 1 world champion John Surtees raced and survived during the most dangerous times in open wheel only to watch his son Henry die in a freak accident at the tragically young age of 18 years of age this afternoon at Brands Hatch.

For those unaware, Henry was competing in the 2nd of two F2 races at Brands Hatch when an errant tire from Jack Clark’s car (who went off track moments before) shot across the track and struck him in the head at full speed. Instantly unconscious, he then careened full throttle into the tire barrier. It happens very fast and looks almost innocuous.

If there is any silver lining, it’s that he hopefully didn’t feel anything or was even aware of what happened.

“he died doing what he loved” is of little comfort I’m sure to those who knew and loved him.

We say that the hour of death cannot be forecast, but when we say this we imagine that hour as placed in an obscure and distant future. It never occurs to us that it has any connection with the day already begun or that death could arrive this same afternoon, this afternoon which is so certain and which has every hour filled in advance. ~Marcel Proust

Rest in peace Henry.

Thoughts and prayers to the Surtees family.

So the event itself…

was not much of an event at all. Aside from zero general promotion until the Tuesday of race week, there was also distinct lack of fanfare when you arrived onsite.
I don’t even know why I’m about to bother with the following post, other than the persistent nudging from my inbox to “tell me what you thought!!”

so here goes I guess… Just a little snippet of what I saw, heard, felt..

Gone was the giant “Welcome Race Fans” inflatable, the turn styles, the souvenir stand, the program hawkers…
In it’s place two guys yelling at cars and a line of rent-a-cops in yellow shirts that looked more like they were blocking the entrance than welcoming you to what used to be a world class event.

Inside the door a couple of tables with photo copied signs. One where you could buy tickets (in theory, if you had the patience to wait while they tallied your purchase by abacus) and one for will call. But don’t try to leave tickets at said will call for anyone. It’s not “that” kind of will call. (WTF kind is it then?!) Imagine how happy I was when I found out that I couldn’t leave the free tickets (gold seats I was handed the night before by someone in the organization to attempt to paper the place on Saturday) at the Will Call, but rather had to walk the half hour from the Pitlane to the front door once my guests arrived. (see you could no longer access the pitlane from both ends this year, or at the mid point) (oh not wait, if you were a relative or a pit lizard you could access midway, but we in the media who HAD to be on pitlane to do our jobs had to walk to the far end to access it…) (but I digress)

Oh and don’t try to find customer service either. There was none. That’s right, the one thing that made this event stand apart head & shoulders over the others, the amazing Customer Service, was but a memory.

Now the talking heads, who got real good at pissing into the wind and telling us it was raining all weekend, insisted there was tons of “activation” pre-event. Yes, if you drink bud, by the case apparently, there where promotions on that.

Firstly, who the fuck drinks Bud if they aren’t forced to at a sporting event.
Secondly, what about the rest of the population that doesn’t fall into whatever that demographic is?
There were no posters or billboards or banners or flags anywhere!
I finally saw a few Budweiser “Welcome Race Fans” signs go up on race week at select bars in the city.
No Subway/TTC activation, other than one IZOD Streetcar which I didn’t see until race weekend.

Gone was the grandstand lined, majestic front stretch. In it’s place ONE grandstand, half the height, with a lovely view of the now TREE Lined front straight.
Gone was the huge turn 10 double beer garden, in it’s place a big open empty area, and a tiny Hooters beer garden.
Gone was the large variety of vendors and food. In it’s place Pizza Pizza stands.
Gone was the nightly off track events, parties, charity events, balls, street parties. (Thank you Hinch for caring enough to throw a post race party!)
Gone was the ATMOSPHERE!! In it’s place, emptiness and silence by 6:30pm each night. I kid you not.

The layout was so bad and awkward and uninviting, I stopped walking the grounds. (not that I had a lot of time to do so anyway cause the half hour walk back to the media centre meant I was mostly held hostage on pitlane so as not to miss any of the action or the shots I needed to get during each session)

The media centre… lol… well, since I have done both Indy and Watkin’s Glen recently, let me tell you… much improvement is needed there.
While they finally took the step of putting the media room and the press conference room in one, :thumbsup: Yay! they dropped the ball with feeding us. (Something that Toronto is notorious for other than the final CC year when they actually feed us half decently)

In addition to the food being mediocre at best (if and when there was any at the times that you could actually eat), there was no place to actually sit and eat it, other than to try to balance it on your lap while sitting in front of your computer in the media room. And true to form, there wasn’t a bottle of water to be found on Raceday. Apparently the fact that it’s July and we work outside for hours at a time failed to register on the caterer, who I’m guessing from the reaction of the AGR folks won’t be hired back next year. Luckily I was able to grab a couple of sports drinks from the Conquest gang post race (yes POST race, approximately 9hrs after I arrived that morning) so I didn’t pass out from dehydration.

I have to give huge kudos to AGR’s Tip Nunn who was on top of everything for us in the media all weekend though. (you go “Big Daddy”)

I was really REALLY hoping to be chowing down on a giant plate of crow this week, having been proved wrong and attending a fabulous event, but alas, I can save the crow recipes for another day.

I don’t want to rip on my home race, any more than I wanted to see it presented with such a lack of… I can’t even think of an appropriate word.

I spent the weekend with visiting media asking me what the deal was, and all I could do is shrug silently. Then I just bit my tongue while those in charge shoveled enough PR lies and bullshit to fill the Direct Energy Centre 3 times over down our throats. My favorite moment was being told to my face that they didn’t give away one ticket this weekend. Funny I said to the person, I was personally handed 5 free tickets from a stack of at least a hundred, to which I was greeted with gaping mouthed silence.
I’m the wrong person to attempt PR spin on. Trust me.

I made the mistake of taking a stroll through my photos of Toronto Indys gone by. It just gave me a lump in my throat. Even the last two CC events, that were on the decline ironically, looked like the Indy 500 comparatively.

I can only hope that the epic failure of waiting until the last minute while arrogantly depending on the misguided notion of Torontonian’s blindly accepting anything thrown at us and coming back in droves, quality be damned, will make “them” sit up and take notice and put a little effort into it next year, because what I saw this weekend was like charging the paddles to 300 and resuscitating a DNR patient… and that breaks my heart.

So… Here’s what I discovered…

When you are the sole representative editor/photographer/chief cook & bottle washer at the event, there is very little time for blogging, tweeting, socializing, sleeping… Zoinks! Walking, running, shooting, interviewing. That was my last three days. Probably a good thing as it kept me from sitting at my computer and tearing the event apart limb from limb. (that will come later)

Actually that was my last two weeks. I hadn’t even had time to unpack from the Glen when I started my T.O. Coverage. Truthfully I’m exhausted and glad for the break in the action.

So I’m taking a little decompression time. Going to reflect and choose my battles and my words wisely with regards to the event itself.

I was let down by a lot of people and situations this week, but the worst was the devastating, premature ending to Paul’s race, which is still a day later making me angry and well up with tears. I haven’t felt that fired up or connected to a race since I can’t remember when. Sunday’s drive was a podium for sure, the only thing to be determined was what step. Well race control and their “let’s make shit up as we go along to suit our own purposes” rule book & Helio “Cant-turn-right-never, unless PT is beside me then look out!” took care of that didn’t they?

I was so proud of Paul all week. He really has grown out of that “lunkhead” reputation, and turned into a real role model. Don’t get me wrong… He still has his “boys will be boys” moments and Vasser is accomplice numero uno there!! But he shone brightly as a driver, a dad, a husband, a teammate.

His drive on Sunday was electrifying. And anyone that still contends that he is somehow too old or undeserved of a ride has their fucking head up their ass and ZERO appreciation for real, balls to the wall, racing. Racing for the win, not just driving for points. Those will always be the drivers I support. (and I guess that will always be the reason at the end of the weekend I will be emotionally exhausted)

While Tracy was showing remarkable restraint, Scheckter went old school & challenged Tags to a duel a la Dangerous Liasons with the victorian glove throw. (Tags got it ALL wrong with that move, but come on Tomas… throwing stuff at drivers on track?… ) Moraes did a little fencing with his car on E.J., after the race was over! Now I like both of these drivers, and won’t take sides here, but I will say this: let your driving do the talking. Using your car as a weapon is a fucking cowardly thing to do. If you feel the need to attack each other, throw on some boxing gloves, get in a ring and pummel the crap out of each other. Settle it like men face to face.

Can’t say I was overly disappointed with the podium. (Other than Paul being robbed of it) And though it was bleeding top three/red cars. (Actually, I don’t think it’s three anymore) at least it was the second tier of drivers. I’m most happy for Will of course.

For those of you that sent congrats on the Seneca Lodge pic being shown on the broadcast, thanks! I was glad to share Dale’s moment with the 10 people that watched the race.

For those seething with misguided jealousy, get over it. They hassled me for a week, didn’t pay me a dime, & made me feel I was the worst person in the world if I didn’t allow them to use it. Then to appease me, put a microscopic credit on the bottom. ESPN sucks. They are cheap bullies who think it’s ok and apparently have the budget to pay a production assistant to hassle me all week, send 15 emails and leave numerous phone messages, yet not even offer $50 bucks for something I spent hundreds on to capture.

more on the weekend later…

pre-race weekend pre-amble

This was written via blackberry while commuting. Bear w/me as far as sentence structure & spelling!
Finally starting to sense a wee buzz here in my fair city. After months of deafening silence, the city is actually talking about the race. Good thing as it’s this weekend. Of course I have to explain to people every day that there is a race happening (when & where) (More in the next one about that)

I am feeling rather behind the eight ball this week. Much to do, very little time to do it. Should have taken the week off. Ah well, hindsight.

Went down to the event Tues night. Paul was introducing the movie “Le Mans” and signing autographs and taking pics w/fans. Of course I had my camera, and people would ask if I would take their pic. I told them only if they donated to wounded warriors. Hehe… Every one has a price! (More on that later)

Many many people were still very unaware there is a race in our city.

Did a ninja stop and shoot at the autograph session Wed night.

Headed to the track to pick up my credentials this afternoon and catch up with some media friends. I was just gutted to see the lack of grandstands. The seats I used to sit in don’t even exist any more. How sad.

Caught up with Will Power and some others and ended up in the most bizzare conversation! It ended with will saying something hilarious (f-bomb included) and all of us laughing and walking off. It would be too strange to recount for y’all, but trust me, it was a moment.

As I was heading back to the office EJ asked if I was coming for a pace car ride. I told him I hadn’t been invited. He invited me. This lead to bizarro moment number two. Just as my pace car ride was about to start, it was discovered that two of the 3 pace cars were out of fuel. Next thing I know I am being driven thru the run off fence out into traffic to find a gas pump! LOL!

Being that it was a pace car ride, I left my bag including my camera & blackberry with EJ’s dad on the pit wall, so I didn’t have any means to snap picks of EJ pumping gas into the pace car! LOL! No exclusive pics this week!

The bonus of course was being able to chit chat with my little buddy about his season without being in the way of fans at an autograph session or him preparing to get in the car for a practice. So it was nice. Contrary to what I thought, EJ is happy with the state of his car & his team. He attributes his bad run of luck to circimstances beyond his or the teams control.

Of course then the actual ride started and I was thinking… WTF!? Am I nuts!? EJ doesn’t know this track yet!!!

These pace cars are pretty shitty compared to the awesome champ car pacers. (Sorry for an us vs them comparison, but this is no contest). First of all, there were never 4 people in the car. It was you and the driver. Secondly, they were race ready vehicles. With the 5 point harness belts. You were securely part of that car. Thirdly, the cars themselves were sweet rides. These cars felt like they were gonna either breakdown or flip at any moment. EJ likes to get very VERY close to the wall! Zoinks! It was very fun! Even the second time around when I was getting a tad nervous….

Ok that was the lead up.. More on Friday’s happenings tomorrow! (Must sleep! Alarm goes off at 5am!)