Damned if they do, damned if they don’t…

I’m going to have to tackle my home race in a couple of posts me thinks, because there is so much to say and talk about, and I don’t want to get overloaded or sidetracked in just one post.

So lets just get this stuff out of the way first.

The armchair critics out there, those that not only bitch about this genre of racing, but many of whom will also openly admit they haven’t and wouldn’t even consider attending one, pan “street courses” as boring, non-challenging parades amongst many other descriptive labels.

Their blind with rage hate of this type of event seemingly clouding their judgment in such a pre-conceived way that they are unable to actually see the positives when the event is actually good! (both on and off track)

There is so much vitriol rolling around on all my stops on the inter-webs today both publicly and privately about how awful the event was, and how damaging to the sport it was,  Blah blah fucking blah. From the raving you would think that 9 cars finished the race, 6 people were in the stands and there were only 12 laps of green flag racing.
It was quite the opposite actually.

Now, by the notes I read this morning, I counted only 24 FCY laps. According the box score however there were apparently 32. I’ll bow to the box score I guess as I clearly suck at math and am the first to admit it.
The longest duration of any of those yellow stints was 5 laps, and that was mostly to clean up the marbles from the racing line. Most were 3 or 4.

I will concede that there were 3 FCY periods almost back to back, which begets some eye-rolling by the 3rd one, but it’s not like this should be a surprise to anyone. It happens at many events, no matter the facility/track, and usually at the same spot, near the end, when everyone is struggling with melting tires & fading brains. (FYI, there was not one iota of a breeze trackside on Sunday afternoon, so perhaps it was more brain melt than fade)
But as the saying goes in racing, “yellows breed yellows”, and with the laps winding down the pressure was mounting on everyone to try to improve their positions. Ultimately a few of the driver’s “actions” wrote  cheques that their “talent” couldn’t cash, but damnit, if some of those moves stuck… many of the detractors would be hard pressed to find anything wrong with yesterday’s race.

Oh, and for those over exaggerated cries of “half the field” crashing out, all but 6 of the 26 entries were still running at the end. Pretty good results for any race, but rather excellent results for a tight, bumpy street course as challenging as Toronto.

And it was an AWESOME race.
It was an exciting race.
It was a frustrating race.
It made me scream with excitement, hold my breath for several turns, and sometimes groan with anguish.
Not once did I look at the time or the lap count.
There was a lot of great, edge of your seat dicing. Several times I stood mouth agape as I watched the bulk of the field cleanly race two abreast through turn 3.
It doesn’t get any better than that on this track!
And passing! Actual green flag on track passes for position.

On top of that, in spite of their whinging to the contrary pre-event, this group of drivers managed not one, but several CLEAN and well executed double file restarts.
Note to the drivers: NO MORE EXCUSES! If you can pull it off at Toronto, you can do it anywhere. So stop your bitching and line up 2 by 2 until October.

Was there a little not so great racing? Of course there was. There always is. But they’ve been driving in circles for the last 2 months, it was to be expected. Racing in general is really just a glorified game of chicken, played against yourself and your competitors. It’s thrilling, and dangerous, and if one of the players doesn’t eventually… cluck, then the results are disastrous.

Ya, it was a crazy race, but everyone I spoke with at the track seemed to really enjoy it. I saw a great crowd who had a great time, and left with a little controversy in their back pocket to keep them talking for a while. Sure as heck wasn’t a “boring parade” that everyone bitches about, and apparently I’m not the only one who thought so as it not only gave Versus their best rating this season, it gave TSN their best rating for an IndyCar race in 14yrs! I don’t think it would be going too far out on a limb to say the ratings for Edmonton will surpass that.

Anyway… I guess I just find it frustrating that coming into the weekend all I heard was “boring street parade” predictions, and then when the drivers gave us exactly the opposite (granted maybe not quite as effectively executed as it could have been… ) and put on a show that had the people around me on their feet, screaming with delight (for better or worse), all I heard post event was a shitload of negativity.
I personally would much rather watch a few ill-fated attempts at being competitive (duh, I’m a Tracy fan!) then watch an entire field driving around carefully for points.

It may not have been perfect, but my god it was fun. And I was immensely proud of my home race.
Thank you to all 26 drivers for going out there and actually RACING.

more later…


17 responses to “Damned if they do, damned if they don’t…

  1. I thought it was a fun. What you said above was perfect: it was an exciting, frustrating and yes an entertaining race. Will they make it through this time? I hoped so every time, of course you do. Nobody wants to see crashes on a restart. They got it wrong too often, heads needed to be knocked together and they probably weren’t, but that doesn’t mean a penalty-fest.

    I do think it is a poor reflection on the series and the drivers that there were so many incidents especially in turn 3, which could’ve been avoided if the drivers knew the dimensions of their cars. Once is understandable. Two or three times are okay. Lots of them means something is wrong. But that’s not a problem with mid-race officiating in terms of penalties, they were mostly all ‘racing incidents’. Maybe they needed to get a call from the race director telling them leave room and make sure they’re clear. Maybe they did for all we know.

    I definitely see a lot of correlation between those people saying this race was crap and those who inherently dislike street and road courses. I’m waving the white flag, I give up, I try and mentally filter out their tweets/comments when I see them because I really don’t care any more, they are never ever going to like them. Even when they do like a twisty race, after a few days they’ve forgotten about it and revert to type, whine, whine, whine. I’m thinking of a Brazil or something. Yeah we know a lot of the roads/streets in the series aren’t as great as they could be, let’s fix them instead of reverting to IRL 1997.

    During the race there was endless Twitter complaining about the double-file restarts not being double-file apart from the first two rows or so. Just like Long Beach. Maybe they missed how this is a street race with a really twisty section leading the s/f line making it really hard to line the cars up… or maybe r/c were okay with it because this is a street race and it was a good way to minimise carnage. I’m perfectly ok with that in the right circumstances.

    Toronto remains one of the races I’d attend if I had the chance.

    • Wasn’t there only actually one crash on a restart? (the Marco banzai move?) You’ll have to forgive me, I haven’t seen the race on tv in its entirety as I was running up and down pitlane shooting. It didn’t seem to me that it was green green green, yellow yellow yellow instantly, other than that one time.

      • I think a DFR has an effect all the way around the first lap. Like the DRS wing in F1, it doesn’t just impact the first few turns, it tightens up the whole field such that they are closer for the whole opening lap or even two laps.

    • You truly cannot appreciate how twisty and tight that track is from tv. I have had the privilege several times to go around it in a pace car, and let me tell you, it is narrow and fast and bumpy and slippery. I can’t imagine being in a race car and in traffic!

  2. Forgot to add: I agree about the lack of ‘boring parade’.
    We see a lot of (justified) complaining when the drivers just run around one after the other all day long. So this race they did something different and actually went for it, tried to pass people. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. That’s why were we are all here isn’t it? I don’t understand why people are complaining about that. I understand complaints about excessive crashing because there was, but to complain about trying?

    • That’s what I’m sayin!! 😉

      • Me too! Folks bitch about a parade, well… this was the farthest thing from one. So why the bitchin’?

        So the drivers outdrove their brains a few times. So freaking what. The point is that the race was fun and exciting. I didn’t see this as a bumpercars a-la NASCAR “Let’s Donut Them” festival of bumping, I saw this as a whole lot of “eff you, this is MY corner” racing.

        This was a good race, and a good day. The narrative is getting far too skewed in the wrong direction.

  3. Great post. There was some serious talent out there yesterday (Dario, Power, Bourdais, PT to name a few)…. but these drivers are aggressive as hell and the course is tight and twisty…. so what we got is about what we should have expected…. but a few yellows didn’t stop me from enjoying the hell out of it.

    Call me an apologist, but I think the field as matured as whole recently… but every series is going to have a few races like yesterday.

    Drama, passing, and post-race tirades…. what more can you ask for?!

    • I know right?? What do people want??

      I’ll take messy passion over controlled perfection any day. (that’s why I’m not an F1 fan 😉 )

      It was an aggressive race for sure. And the drivers were fired up afterwards. It was awesome and angry! And it left you wanting more!

      I don’t think anyone was ridiculously reckless. I think there were a few over-ambitious moves. I think there was a little “no YOU say uncle” going on. But man, what a race. You never knew who to watch!

      I think we’ll see more aggression in Edmonton (maybe a little less maturity there too… 😉 )

      I agree on the field maturing. And one has to give major props to the rookies kept themselves out of trouble (unless punted into it by a veteran…:) and ran good, clean races.

  4. Thank you… Good post, but then I’m down for just about anything that knocks the haters down a few notches.
    The race wasn’t pretty, but it was interesting and exciting. I wish I could have been there, and all your “woman on the scene” reports and tweets make me wish I had more than one hometown race.
    Looking at this race with a long-term view, I’ll say that, if Dixon wins the championship, his march to the top started here. If Power wins it, this is the race that gave him the resolve to get back on top. Same for TK. It’s getting to be “do or die” time in the season and this stretch will have major implications.

    • Hey Rick! Thanks!

      Ha! I consider a few races “home” races. But this one of course is literally in my backyard, which makes it truly special. And I guess that’s why I take it so personally when it gets dumped on. It’s not perfect by any means, and I will be posting about the general running/promotion of the race later this week, but damnit, the racing is good.

      I totally agree with you on Dixon. And judging by his comments towards his teammate, there will be no favours or pulling over in the coming races. This is as much his championship to lose as it is Dashley’s.

      Agreed again on Power. There was something very off about him all weekend. He was antsy and distracted and on the edge even after getting fast lap and pole. I’m not surprised he snapped after the race.

      This next stretch will make or break his championship hopes, and will also allow others to step up and challenge. (my money is on Servia to be a spoiler)

  5. I don’t get all the haters, either. This race was anything but boring. I also don’t really get all the “this looks terrible for IndyCar, their drivers are all a bunch of wreckers” talk, either. In my history of race fandom (F1, CART, ChampCar/IRL/IndyCar, ALMS, even GrandAm and NASCAR in the years I cared about them), every season for every series has a race or two where everybody seems to lose their heads simultaneously and we wind up with what feels like 49 cars going home in buckets. I don’t mind that, so long as it’s no more than a couple times per year. It happens, same as every season has a couple of processions, a couple of races where one guy checks out and then a couple of instant classics. That’s motor racing. What I do mind is the laissez-faire attitude from the Race Control booth, where we’re liable to wind up with a NASCAR-esque “have at it, boys!” situation (although you could certainly make the case that that’s what we already got on Sunday) with drivers going after each other on the track, any level of team directed tomfoolery allowed (I’m thinking of Graham fluffing two consecutive restarts in order to get two extra laps of yellow here) and all manner of underhanded on-track maneuvering becoming fair game (here’s where I point out Dixon cutting off RHR on the last restart by Dixon apexing Turn 11 coming back to the green where Dixon should have restarted on the outside of the corner; RHR had to slam on the brakes to avoid him, which led to the top-3 gapping everybody else and then RHR slamming into Graham at Turn 3 in an attempt to make up ground). That is extremely not cool.

    As far as I’m concerned, though, the only fixes that Toronto showed me needed to be made are in the control tower. The track’s fine, just like it has been for the last 25 years, and the event looks pretty darn awesome to me. Hopefully, I’ll make it up there one of these days.

  6. THANK YOU!!! Yeah, I’m driven nuts by some of the reactions out there, even some of them from people I respect. This was an excellent, passionate race that simply happened to have a few boneheaded moves thrown in. For some odd reason, those seem to dominate people’s thinking, but that’s unfair: Lots of the crashes came from some seriously tough, I’m-Not-Giving-Up racing. Thems the shakes. Why that means Toronto was a disaster, I don’t know, but from MY perspective, it was the most entertaining twisty course race of the year, and one of the best PERIOD so far.

    So thank you A TON for sounding off. I was afraid the entire blog world and commentariat-world narrative was going to be “OMG, DISASTER!!”. And I watched the damn thing, it was anything but. It was carnage and had a ton of “What the **** were you guys thinking??”, but it was far, far from being a disaster.

  7. the american mutt

    Theres no convincing the ovalati that street/road racing is just as exciting. I’ve tried by pointing out chicago was a double wide parade last year, and by pointing out a pass at Indy happens exactly as it does on a road, by tailgating the driver in front of you into a corner.

    There were two problems with this race and they both come back to race control. Penalties should have been levied, and more importantly, exactly as I’ve expected, the sitting duck rule caused all the problems. If the lead car doesn’t have to give up the inside lane going into that turn we don’t see any of those wrecks. It boggles my mind why a driver leaden a car has to either give up two spots or maybe if he’s lucky not get crashed out. Btw Danica, be as huffy as you want but according to the sitting duck rule you were blocking sato when he rearended you and what do you expect to happen when blocking.

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  9. Meesh,
    I have looked forward to your interpretation of the events in Toronto since last Sunday. “Your” race is well attended (at least from what I could see on TV,) and exciting; My one bone of contention, however, is that there are spots where the circuit is just plain too damn narrow. When a driver spins his wheels getting back on the gas and contacts three surrounding cars, well, that might be a problem.

    It is NOT necessarily a problem for the drivers, but perhaps a problem for the promoters who need to (perhaps) re-think the layout. I say these things with one caveat: I have never much cared for street/road racing for Indycars. (OK, insert your “He’s just a fucking DINOSAUR” reference here.) That being said, I realize it is a “necessary evil,” and I have come to accept it. In that acceptance, I try to look at the circuits that the series chooses and make my judgements accordingly.

    I watched the race “canned” (on the DVR) since it was a gorgeous day in Myrtle Beach and I had already spent too much of it indoors watching the EPIC women’s world cup tilt between the US and Brazil. I thouroughly enjoyed the racing (even being a “twistie,”), but I found my self re-viewing several of the incidents to look for “fault.” I came away from it overall with the idea that the circuit needs changing, at least the section around turn 3. At least, it seemed that there was one (and ONLY one) way to get through that area, that being single file and carefully.

    I don’t think the issue will be the same at Edmonton, siince , as memory serves, it is much more open. I only hope that they can have the excitement there that you had in Toronto.

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