The Tipping Point…

I have a folder on my desktop, it has the icon of a bucket, and in it I toss “sheets of paper” (rtf files) with story ideas, and random thoughts, and clips, and quotes, and rants, and links… I reach into said bucket when I need an idea or when I have some free time to do a little writing, or as was the case recently, when I’m spring cleaning my computer and discover all of the great stories I didn’t write last year… *sigh*

So in the interest of not merely tossing everything in the trash again in a couple of months, I’ve decided to just tip out the bucket and do a “catch” all post,

In the last couple of weeks I’ve started quite a few entries, but stopped for one reason or another. I couldn’t write a cohesive thought; the moment passed; I felt like the only dissenting voice; just as I was putting the finishing touches on an entry someone else posted the exact same thing to the extent that mine was now plagiarism…(Ross!!)
anyway, lets work through some of these

Kat/Dragon Racing/Saavedra

This kids is a lose lose situation.
Is it fair? no.
Does it happen all the time in racing? yes.
Does it make it right? no. But it is what it is.
Clearly there is way more to the story behind the scenes than what any of us know. A decision this huge, with so many ramifications doesn’t happen overnight on a whim.
Will we ever get the complete, unbiased version of it? Probably not.
It’s either going to be an ugly public spectacle of of he said/she said/they said litigation, which doesn’t accomplish anything positive for anyone involved, or more likely it’s going to be private, quiet, gag-ordered settlement with Katherine getting a big cheque, and skulking off into the shadows.
Either way, I don’t think we see Katherine in a car this season, if ever again.

Firstly, no Team/Sponsor wants that kind of drama attached to them, rightly or wrongly. In addition, and I’ll likely take some flack for this, Kat really hasn’t really proven herself in the car. This is strictly my opinion, but I think she did herself a huge disservice wasting a year hanging out on pitlane schmoozing for a ride. She should have done a year in lights. It would have given her a season to acclimate to open wheel again, become familiar with the circuits, and actually “show” owners/engineers what she is capable of, perhaps opening more doors. Especially now that she’s in the situation she finds herself in.

Many out there have chosen sides, flinging all sorts of angry vitriol towards Dragon Racing. Fair enough. As an organization they are a shit show. An epic fail on all accounts last year, if not for the Seabass who rose above the bullshit and showed sparks of brilliance.
Now I’m the first to admit it’s way more fun to have a “villain”, someone to root against on race weekend. (believe me, I have a few in my arsenal) After all, when it’s all hearts and flowers and kumbaya, it’s fucking boring. I can’t say I think too highly of Jay Penske, but I certainly am not going to fault either Sebasti(e)(a)n for taking the seat and running with it. Sure we can all stand on our pulpits and preach principles, but principles don’t pay the rent, feed the kids, or fuel the dream. Period.

Now… Full disclosure, I was the first to shake my head in disgust when Saavedra quit the BHA lights team in Kentucky a couple of years ago. I was standing right there when he voiced his opinion over the loud speaker. I was gobsmacked. Now I know this wasn’t solely his decision per say, but nonetheless, he went along with it, and it was ugly. I was equally gobsmacked when he lined up a ride shortly after, stating that I wouldn’t have touched him with a 10ft pole. That said, I have gotten to know him a little over the last couple of years. He is a hard working, humble young man. He had a not so great season in the big leagues, and had the humility to take a step back down the ladder so as to stay in the public eye, and work on his race craft. Because of that he is now being rewarded with a fulltime ride alongside a 4 time champion. I may be in the minority, but I am looking forward to seeing what this pairing can accomplish, no matter how it came to be.

ok… who’s next…

AJ/Penske Test

Everyone keeps talking about what a “big deal” it is that AJ Allmendinger is testing in IndyCar. The NASCAR crowd keeps quizzing us Open Wheelers about it, as if we should be falling all over ourselves that he is gracing us with his presence.
Really? is it really that big a deal?
Would we even be talking about it if he hadn’t completely jacked his NASCAR career in 2012? NO. He’d be preparing for the Danicatona 500 and being ignored along with the rest of the good ol’ boys this week.

Sorry, but just I don’t get the hype.
Sure, the kid was quick and likely on the path to a championship when he BAILED on Forsythe and Open Wheel after his people did the “show me the money!” dance and lead him to the NASCAR garages. oh, and that was six years, a mediocre NASCAR career, a failed drug test, and a rehab program ago! Does anyone really expect him to hop in the car and become some phenom? Seriously? Give your head a shake.
If Rubens Barricello barely moved the needle, then AJ ain’t the Messiah you’re seeking.
Further to that, and my bottomline: I would rather see Ryan Briscoe in a seat before AJ

Next… (this will be the last one tonight… I promise 😉 )


It is January and there is a campaign/marketing push for the Indy 500. (ok… so now it’s Feb, but the time stamp on this was Jan 28th, and I should have posted it, but I felt a little like Grumpy Cat for shitting all over the idea, so I shelved it, but then Ross posted his tome on the subject this week, which made me laugh cause it was virtually identical, and I love him for that! And then I realized I need to stop second guessing my thoughts and just throw them out there no matter how Grumpy Cat the sentiment, cause really, isn’t that what y’all expect from me?… )(but I digress…)

Once again, as per usual, this campaign perpetuates the mythic focus on a singular race, rather than the season as a whole.
There are FOUR events before the Indy 500, and ELEVEN post Indy 500. But you would never know it most of the time. Even over the winter there were several team campaigns plugging their off season efforts to prepare for Indy rather than the season. What is WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?!

Maybe it’s because I spent a good portion of my adult “fandom” on the CART/ChampCar side of the fence, so Indy was a non-issue/entity for me, in fact, it was verboten, so I find it frustrating as hell as someone who covers, promotes, and tries to attend the entire season as a whole. One would think it would have to be equally frustrating to the other events on the schedule, along with their associate sponsors. It seems there is more importance on who hoists the trophy of a singular race on the circuit, rather than who hoists the big trophy at the end of the season.

There were 10+ current drivers racing at Rolex 24 in Daytona. Was there any mention of or tie in with the season opener, which coincidentally is also taking place IN FLORIDA barely 2 months from then? Nope. But you know what I did see? A group photo of them holding “Indy 500 or Bust” signs… *sigh*

Yes, I get it, it’s all about the history, blah, blah, blah. But you know what? It already has an audience. I’d venture a guess that 80% of the attendees/viewers of that race are lifelong place fans. They will migrate back year after year, with very little goading. For most, their entire season is that one weekend in May. So why oh WHY do the powers that be waste precious time and resources “selling” something that doesn’t need to be sold? Why, in fact, aren’t we selling those folks on the great season that leads into and out of the Month of May?!

Yes, it’s (the 500) been around for a century, but sadly it will likely be around long after IndyCar has gone belly up because of their stagnant and myopic all the eggs in one basket viewpoint that it is “all about Indy” everything else be damned. Being the oldest, or biggest, or most “pomp and circumstancey” race does not necessarily equate to it being the best. There are many events out there that are better for a multitude of reasons. Again, just my opinion based on my own experience attending many, many races over the years (including several 500’s)

How about “Fontana or bust”? Or, how about mapping out the “Race to the Championship” with X’s on the map outlining each stop on the way, including the 500? Play it up like the Amazing Race with Road Blocks and challenges. Or, how about “Road to Rookie of the Year”? (er… strike that… that is pretty much an express train for Tristan, and he’s riding in first class all by his lonesome) How about just doing something DIFFERENT?!

Why was it Dario Franchitti and the Borg Warner at the Detroit Autoshow?
Why wasn’t it the new AMERICAN Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won with a CHEVY engine, standing alongside the Astor Cup ?!

Does anyone think outside of the safety of the big boring cardboard box anymore? Anyone?? Bueller??

*and exhale*

ok… there are still a few slips of paper in my bucket but I’m tapped out for now…

OH, on a happy side note, 4 weeks from right now, I will be sitting at the bar of my hotel in St. Petes (one of those 4 races before the 500 😉 ) with some of my racing BFF’s toasting the start of the 2013 season!! woot woot! Can’t wait!!


8 responses to “The Tipping Point…

  1. It’s like Aunt Meesh! 1) Kat go to lights. Coffee spew. Why does everyone want people who can’t find ride to go to lights? Lights is pretty much a 100% bring your own cash situation (as far as I know, which isn’t a lot about Lights). If I had enough money for a lights ride I’d try to leverage it into an IndyCar ride. Besides, proving talent gets you nowhere when it’s all about the size of your check, which it is in 75% of the field. 2) I also don’t get the froth over Allmendinger. He’ll be a great competitor in races because he has skills, but move the needle beyond that? Not seeing it. 3) Agree on the 500 rant. I live in Iowa, and have opined at length about the disparity of promotion. I will say the Indy or Bust thing isn’t so much about attendance as ratings. You’re right, Meesh, You could have go-karts on the track and have to dodge snipers to get in and 80% of the attendees would still show up. Maybe puke these thoughts out more often? Just post ’em. Shit and git.

    • Well hidy-ho Uncle P-Dog!
      1) I know, I take much grief for my rebel suggestions of taking a lights ride, but my suggestion was merely due to the fact that her last N.American Open Wheel appearance was 2007, followed by 3 lackluster years in DTM, followed by a year out of a car. Most people don’t remember what a driver did last season, let alone 5 yrs ago. Telling someone you’re good enough is a lot less effective than showing someone you can still cut the mustard. I guess I wouldn’t expect to be cast in a show based on my performance 5 yrs ago, so I think in those terms. But you’re right, big cheques trump talent more often than not anyway, and sadly that ain’t gonna change anytime soon.
      2) tips hat and nods
      3) Shit and git! LOL! Sir, yes sir.

      I adopted a “take a beat” modus operandi for 2013. (do not engage the crazies, take a deep breath & exhale, measure twice-cut once, etc…) but I guess I went too far to the extreme. Less beats, more trigger pulling for the rest of the season 😉

  2. it’s all about Indy because to most people the 500 is the only Indycar race they’ve ever heard of or care about in the least. but I think Indy could be even bigger (like the Olden Days) if Indycar would work harder (and spend the dough) to market and promote the other races on the schedule.

    But that would involve real effort and an investment of money and the suits at IMS/Indycar have no interest in either.

    • yes, and sad but true. (and the inherent problem with having the series falling under the IMS banner rather than IMS falling under a completely separately owned/run IndyCar banner)

  3. Kat etc: Yes it sucks. Yes it happens all the time and racing people are crooks. See also Alguersuari getting screwed out of an F1 seat this year despite having an agreement. An agreement should be watertight and in racing it *never* is… either that or there were loopholes she missed.
    I agree, she’s not proven herself. She didn’t set the world on fire 5 years ago though yes, she was a rookie and gets a ‘bye’ on that count. In DTM she was often in the oldest/worst Audi in the field (along with Susie Stoddart/Wolff in the oldest/slowest Mercedes.. apart from by marriage I have no idea how Susie parlayed that into standing around the garage of an F1 team barely driving the car, with the title ‘development driver’, but good luck to her). So no she’s not the worst driver around the paddock right now but she also doesn’t deserve to walk into a seat unless she proves otherwise. The classic Catch 22.
    She’s not the only female driver hanging around the IndyCar series needing to prove her driving abilities yet apparently seems ‘above’ getting a seat in *anything* to keep the skills fresh while talking to ICS teams – whether it be sportscars or whatever. The mantra should be: seat time, seat time, seat time. In the meantime you’ve got the likes of Plowey following the career path laid out by Pagenaud: drive well in another series, especially one close to the level of an IndyCar (which a P2 prototype is), make people notice and you’ll get your chance in IndyCar. Even one-off deals at Rolex 24 or Sebring, *anything*. Hanging around paddocks tweeting endlessly about ‘getting a deal soon!’ isn’t good enough. Sorry.

    AJ: Completely agree. It almost passed me by completely and I still have no idea what times he did, and I don’t care. It’ll be nice to have him ‘back’ but he won’t bring many fans from NASCAR.

    Promo: I agree! Let’s have some focus on the season. No wonder hardly anybody seems to know the series actually races somewhere apart from Indy. Yes Indy should remain a big deal but not to the exclusion of all else. Lesson from Le Mans: for the last x years the 24 has been IT in European sportscars, but now the World Championship is here, it is getting real publicity and it is raising the profile of the whole thing. Result: LM itself gets more popular and so do all the other races. Nobody is going to say winning the 24 is devalued just because the other races are getting attention, so it would be for the 500.

    The odd thing is, over the off-season I’ve felt IMS have been doing a much better job than the series. The Offseason videos.. nice idea poorly executed (not funny until the eps 9 & 10). Meanwhile IMS throws out this Harlem Shake thing which knocked it out of the park. The ICS side seems to have an idea then excitedly rushes it through. The IMS side pauses for a breath to make sure the quality is there. IMS is doing the right thing by promoting its own race in this way, that’s their job, it should be accompanied with a big push from IndyCar.

    Sorry you’re suffering the same feelings as me when it comes to blogging! Either someone has explained what I mean using better language than I can manage, or I’m fed up with everything I say being picked apart even though it makes complete sense to me (sometimes I wonder why I bother going to some sites), or simply the moment has passed. Maybe it is time to go back to the phrase used a while ago: Publish and be damned!

    Sorry for ranting in your comments box.

  4. ” She didn’t set the world on fire 5 years ago though yes, she was a rookie and gets a ‘bye’ on that count”
    I concur with this sentiment.
    I always thought, and maintain to this day, that she was brought up to the big cars WAAAAY too soon. It was an obvious ploy to try to stave off the Danica machine on the IRL side, but CC never capitalized on it. The only real publicity garnered for/by her happened organically due to her spectacular crash at RA. But again, they dropped the ball. Then when she didn’t produce the desired results, she was farmed out and languished mid-back of the pack, again with very little guidance. I suggested then that she step back into Atlantics and hone her craft. That was met with… well, lets just say our budding friendship was no more.

    “The mantra should be: seat time, seat time, seat time.” EXACTLY!

    I don’t think there is any shame in taking a step back or to the side and re-evaluating. Look at my not so little anymore Johnny Edwards!
    When his Atlantics ride went away, he stepped down to Star Mazda to stay relevant. Won the Championship. Took that trophy and prize money and went back up to Atlantics. Won the Championship. It fucking tears me apart that we lost him to sports cars because of the clusterfucked state of the upper tier at the time he was ready to move up. He is blazingly fast with the most unbelievably smooth lines on track.
    Now HE would get me excited were Mr. Penske to offer HIM a test in the DW12…

    Oh I agree 100% that IMS is doing a great job! And certainly no one can fault them for their efforts. If anything it should just encourage all the other events on the circuit to step up their game. UNFORTUNATELY, IndyCar seems content to just hitch their wagon to the IMS publicity train, and therefore it appears to the outsider that they are unfairly biased towards and are endorsing IMS more so than any other event on the schedule.

    “Publish and be damned!”

    Damn right sir! And feel free to ranting endlessly in my comment section any time!

    • Anyone would struggle after a crash like that, let alone a rookie. And yes the Danicamania aspect was a pity. Still, nobody should feel ashamed about stepping back a level. It works.

      People often make their race attendance decisions at the end of winter. Planning their spring/summer, that sort of thing. Not in the week before the race. Should be filling their Twitter/FB/website with mentions of the other races – tempt people to come along!

      —Damn right sir! And feel free to ranting endlessly in my comment section any time!—
      Heh, thanks. 🙂

  5. AUGH! I could’ve been the first to respond if I’d done it immediately after reading yesterday.
    By now, y’all have covered the observations/opinions that I would’ve written.
    But I’ll chime in and say that one ought not go ‘down’ to Indy Lights (old crapwagons) from D.T.M. Legge should’ve been racing for someone in 2011, though, while residing in Indiana …
    Then 2012 was an utterly ridiculous sLotus/Dragon mess. WISH that Legge had raced for Dale Coyne a whole season with Honda power or had raced in A.L.M.S.
    I have never been to I.M.S. to observe the ‘awesomeness’ of the Indy 500.
    So I’ve never said publicly, even in the heyday of C.A.R.T., “I don’t get it; why SO much emphasis on one race? There’s a whole SERIES of fascinating races!”
    Aggressively marketing all races in a season AND distributing all races on mainstream television (and full-screen, hi-speed Internet streaming) would increase public awareness of the series, increase attendance at the races, increase viewing on television, and as redcar wrote, increase interest in the ‘crown jewel’ at I.M.S.
    I am surrounded by persons who don’t know when the Indy 500 is raced or what television channel shows it.

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