Tag Archives: IndyCar

Get Involved – Buy the damn Koozies!!

I can’t think of a better reason to dust the cobwebs out of the blogcave than to give a shout out to my friend, IndyCar driver Pippa Mann, who  launched a very special Indiegogo campaign today in support of eradicating Breast Cancer.

For those who don’t know, Pippa is the poster child for perseverance, positivity, and hard work; never giving up on her goals, even in the face of unfathomable obstacles and criticism. Her Instagram feed is a daily source of motivation for me. For all of those reasons, I am honoured to personally be part of the “Pippa Posse” for the Month of May.

On top of that, she works equally as hard to bring funding and awareness to a cause near and dear to most of us.

Take a look

1 in 8 folks.
1. in. 8.

I personally know at least 2. One who had radical surgery today.
This is a nasty motherfucker of a disease, an equal opportunity destroyer, and every little bit of awareness and money we can throw at it will only help to eradicate it once and for all.

So where does Pippa come in?

Well once again Pippa will be supporting Breast Cancer Awareness by driving the Susan G. Komen Liveried IndyCar in this years Indianapolis 500, and in conjunction with this she is running an Indiegogo campaign with the hopes of raising $50,000

So, it’s time for us all to put our money where our mouths are and help Pippa be successful in both her goals, to run the Indy 500 and to raise awareness and money for Susan G. Komen in the process.

From the time I started writing this, to the time I published, the donations had already doubled, with the campaign now sitting at 26% fulfilled.

Some of the hottest, more sought after items, went in the blink of an eye. Some of the bigger ticket items are still available. (this is only the first day after all) and some…
like the much maligned Koozies…
barely a whisper of interest.
There are 500 allotted to this campaign.
That’s potentially $4000 worth of donations… just sitting there.

Hey, boys, we know y’all drink beer at the track and in your backyards/living rooms… so dust off your credit cards and
BUY A DAMN KOOZIE!!
No one will judge you. Hell, maybe a lovely lady will by you a beer to fill it with as a thank you for looking out for her… girls. 😉

That said, if you don’t want one, that’s cool, you can just donate the $8 bucks.
Or bump it up to an even $10

Whatever your desired item, or donation level, remember: every little bit helps.
There are 23 days left in the campaign.
$36,907 to go.

What can you do?

Click the link and donate —–> LINK

Get Involved: here
Follow Pippa: here, here, and here

Now share the link.
Repost the Instagram.
Retweet.
Share with your friends.
Share with your friend’s friends.
Share with your enemies.

Do it for your mom, your sister, your girlfriend, your wife, your BFF.
Do it for all of your friends female significant others.
Do it for yourself…
so one day, when there is a cure, you can say, “hey, I helped fund the research for that” then take a big swig of your ice cold beer swaddled in a fab Koozie … (see what I did there?)

See y’all at Indy

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Ok then… guess I should recap…

My colleagues and I arrived via media shuttle from the designated media hotel. Entering the Allstream Centre we headed up the escalator to the “Tim Horton’s Media room”, where a table of timbits and fresh coffee awaited us. We were greeted by a table of volunteers from race partner Toronto Tourism, who handed us our BPA free water bottle (we are after all a green city, using a green facility for the weekend) and a data stick containing a digital visitor guide with everything we would need to get us around this fair city. There was also a map at the table, and information on all of the attractions within the core of the city, including Summerlicious! We do after all have to eat, and having someone there to answer questions, make suggestions, and help with reservations was great! Especially for first time visitors to the city.

And then I woke up…

I was hoping that someday I, or one of my colleagues, would be able to open our post race review with that paragraph. It is after all my home race, once one of the jewels in the crown of top level open wheel motor racing in North America. But as much as I’ve voraciously denied it over the last handful of years, and fought with every ounce of my being to promote, defend, and improve the event (I do a post-mortem every year with a laundry list suggestions) those days are gone and they aren’t coming back anytime soon, if at all.

(*for the record: media shuttles ended years ago, Tim Horton’s has never sponsored the media room, and Toronto Tourism has never provided swag bags or info, this is just a fantasy version of the “Welcome to our City/Race” I’ve wished for for years* )

I was so complacent coming out of the weekend, that I wasn’t even going to bother with this blog/recap. Previous recaps have fallen on deaf ears for years now, so why bother. But I wanted to have something to look back on and point to a year from now either as a triumphant “look how far we’ve come” or as a “well, it’s not surprising” (hopefully it won’t be the latter)

Something is just… off.

I was thinking maybe it was me this year. Maybe the mental/emotional state I’ve been in leading up to the weekend had tainted my joy/excitement, so I was biased. I even tried to muster up a phony state of “hyper-cheerleader” mode the night before the weekend kicked off. But it just wasn’t there. In fact the hype wasn’t anywhere in the city prior to or during the event.

My “nephew” 😉 and colleague Tony DiZinno very eloquently expressed my opinion/words in his piece today. (the Detroit vs Toronto section) (actually I agree with the whole damn thing)

Yes, I know it’s unfair to directly compare one event to another, as each one is unique in it’s facilities and promoters, but this year… this year… I don’t know. There just seemed to be a sense of “meh… whatever *shrug*” in Toronto.

The On-Track schedule was jam packed. (over packed in my opinion with 7 series, 13 races) I’m guessing they make a pretty penny from each series for use of the track and facilities, so the more the better right? To some maybe, but I think having a bit of a break on track would have offered up more of an experience off track. Then again, with the lackluster presentation around the grounds, maybe it was best to keep everyone distracted by the constant drone of engine noise…

I’m not going to review, compare or contrast the on-track stuff. There are enough arm chair drivers/race stewards out there analyzing the shit out it, so I’m not going to jump on that noisy bandwagon. (again, fwiw, TdZ spoke for me in that regard too)

My reflection will be with the event itself.

There was a definite disconnect when it came to the “event” part of the race weekend. (Ironic when speaking of a street race where the main “insult” over the years has been that those attending are “event” fans not race fans) It’s like the writing was on the wall coming into the event, and the absolute bare minimum was put in motion to pull off the weekend, without any extra expense or effort.

Already gone were the days of street parties, restaurant and bar tie-ins, and well attended media kick offs. Next went the multiple beer gardens and entertainment stages on the grounds during the weekend.

Soon gone was the party and fun atmosphere of “Thunder Alley”. Followed by the rows of neatly laid out selections of vendor booths selling great food, sponsor related gear, and handing out samples, etc… (though come to think of it I did get a free sample of travel sized men’s deodorant and body wash)

Last year they tried to revamp the weekend a bit, adding “Fests”. This saw the return of a couple of Craft Beer gardens, a site wide liquor license, and two separate areas of some of the cities most amazing food trucks.

This year, walking around the grounds behind the grandstand, one got the impression that the vendors that did show up to participate for the event were told to “park it anywhere” when they arrived as there was no rhyme or reason to the layout whatsoever (and yes, the giant gaping hole/construction site can account for some of that, but it was mapped out last year, and there was a better set up on the grounds) There were only a handful of Food trucks (half of which were chain restaurant trucks, not the local independent ones) and one beer garden. There was a Fire-Fit competition, but with the heavy on track schedule, I wasn’t able to catch any of that. Apparently there was some sort of lumberjack competition too… (can anyone verify that?)

Anyway, the whole “fest” thing confused many, according to some I talked to at the track, as they thought they were separate events off site. (only highlighting how poorly they were executed at the track) We have a lot of festivals in the city on the weekends in the summer. In fact Toronto’s Festival of Beer is happening this coming weekend… but I digress…

Back to the race fan experience…

We’ve become used to being treated like the red-headed stepchild by the series itself (apologies to red-headed stepchildren everywhere) with the lack of Fan Village set up. At least in previous years there was an attempt at a set up, as weak as it was, but this year there was nothing. Added to that the absence of the Verizon Technology Booth and charging stations on pitlane, glaringly missing as it is acknowledged during every race broadcast south of the border (last time I checked all phones could use a charge, not just Verizon phones) To my knowledge Verizon is still looking at entering the Canadian market… so why the snub? Especially from the new SERIES sponsor. Target, an associate team sponsor, embraced the Canadian market a year before they arrived, with full signage at the track, and branded giveaways. (I still use my free Target travel grocery bag everywhere!) So where’s the love Verizon?

As usual, there was a sad makeshift IndyCar swag merch booth with but a skeleton selection of wares. None of the individual team or driver merch trailers make the trip (too much hassle at the border apparently) but I guess that’s ok, because we can order that stuff online, or get it at one of the American events that most of us travel to (that’s right, we have no problem making the trip across the border to support US events)
And besides, we could get the Toronto event branded swag at the … on no, WAIT… There weren’t even ANY Event souvenirs!!

Wanted a t-shirt that said “Honda Indy Toronto”? you had to sign up for a grocery store credit card. That’s right. No pins, no mugs, no t-shirts, no jackets, no lanyards. Nothing for anyone to purchase to commemorate the weekend besides the program. (which by the way PRN did a stellar job on once again)

Hell, we don’t even get any scanner rental love up here anymore. (something that would have been useful for the stands full of people wondering what the fuck was going on both Saturday and Sunday)

Pre-race…

It was a who’s who of “who??” “celebrities” being driven around in the back of the pick up trucks behind the drivers, with our embarrassing joke of “Mayor” bringing up the rear. (way to taint our event by association doofus) FYI, every news outlet used their entire allotted “talk about the Honda Indy” time to run clips of his slothiness in the back of the truck riding around the track, gut hanging out, jacket flapping. In case you were wondering? There IS such a thing as BAD publicity.

Then came the most horrifying version of O’Canada I’ve heard in a long time. At least pre-race ceremonies (as lacking as they were) would be capped off by the signature, spectacular fly-over which Toronto is known for… or not.
Not even a fucking traffic helicopter to buzz pitlane for those of us looking to the sky in anticipation.

Post-race…

Now, I certainly wasn’t expecting a personal thank you for attending and covering the event. (Kudos once again to the powers that be in Detroit for that extra special touch) But with all of the rumours and speculation circulating regarding the future of this event, one would THINK, this year of all years, that the promoters, or at the very least Charlie Johnstone, would hold a post event wrap up press conference in the media centre. (which happens every year and at most events on the circuit) to quell the rumours, and perhaps lay out the steps being taken/suggested for the future, so we all have something more than a shrug and an “I don’t know” in response to questions from readers and fans.

Nope. Nothing…

So there is it. The weekend started with a whisper and ended with a whimper.

One would think that if this were in fact potentially the “last hurrah’ for this event, that the powers that be would want to go out with a bang! Creating desirability for current partners to re-up and future partners to jump on board, or at the very least to leave everyone wistfully longing for it’s return (see Baltimore) rather than sadly acknowledging that it was time to put the old girl down…

FOOTNOTE:

I would be remiss if I weren’t to acknowledge the “good” as well.

To all of the drivers, crews, and teams, (and their families) who bring their A-Game and skills to the streets of Toronto every year, and put on a stellar show for us. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Big ups and a hearty thank you to all of my Honda Canada peeps. A++ effort all around, in particular your support of Make-A-Wish Canada. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The fine folks at Torchia Communications. I know your hands are tied a lot of the times, but you guys put in a fine effort to work within those limits to make our jobs easier on the weekend. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The Keg Steakhouse. Once again, two stellar meal experiences for me and my out of town guests over the race weekend. (the same cannot be said for our experience at Jack Astor’s on Saturday night… )

and the heartiest thank you to my all of my colleagues who do make the time and effort to travel to my fair city to cover this event, contributing to the city coffers with your tourist dollars 😉 Safe travels my friends. See you on the other side of the border soon.

Let the 2013 scheduling begin…

I just got finished registering for the 2013 Canadian International Auto Show, which takes place next February.

It went something like this. (totally paraphrased by moi)

Dear Person we value!
Since you attended our event last year, and we value your presence and coverage, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to attend our event again this year. Yes, it’s over 2 months away, but we want get the pre-registration of our valued regulars completed before moving on to new attendees, so WE are reaching out to YOU to make you feel special and entice you to attend again.

So here is an invite with a link to your profile with all that info you filled out previously, which we saved in a handy database. Please verify that your info is still correct and then click to answer these four easy questions so we can assure you have everything you need when you get here.

Why yes, you can do it right on your cell phone.

Oh, you’re done! Great! now we’re going to send you a confirmation immediately and then mail you your credential so you’re good to hit the ground running on media day.

************************
There you go. One event locked and loaded. Confirmed. In the calendar, no questions marks, no “tentative pending approval”.

This got me thinking, as I have been spending the morning mapping out my 2013 season schedule. There are two events that do this “pre-approval” every year, without fail. The Autoshow and the Indy 500. I love how easy it is, and I love how it takes all of the guess work out of my schedule and my planning.

This would be such a GREAT and SIMPLE thing for all of the races on the circuit to do, especially for those of us that cover the entire season every year.

Here’s how easy: Continue reading

You can’t unsqueeze toothpaste…

I had some downtime before my show Saturday night, and since I’ve been asked by a few people “what I think” and “where I stand” post implosion, I figured I’d write down a few thoughts now that I’ve had a few days, well a week actually, to digest.
I wrote a little more before bed last night, and just amended the end a few minutes ago after a day blissfully offline.

While I was poking around twitter earlier, I discovered a bunch of my peers also posted similar “recaps” (apparently we all came to the surface at the same time following last weeks “Deep Dive”)(*snort*) I haven’t read any yet so as not to alter my course or have anyone influence my own first response (I promise to read them all now)
So apologies if this is a rehash of someone else’s post or inadvertently comes across as a rebuttal of some sort (like last weeks weirdness) I am curious to see if we’re all on the same page, or if I’m charting my own weird course…
Anyway… read on. Continue reading

The Catch 22 of Fandom…

Last one for today I promise. (Bear with me, everything on tv was a rerun tonight, and I was enjoying a glass of red wine, which put me in a “thinky” mood)
So… What is it? The “Catch 22”? Well, you’ll just have to scroll to the last paragraph for that bit of wisdom 😉 (what a bitch eh?)
But before that, I just want to clarify my last post.

It wasn’t aimed at anyone in particular. It’s just that I’ve seen myself, my friends, my colleagues and my fellow fans being chastised and belittled virtually, for the last 24hrs in particular, for expressing their opinions and venting their anger/sadness over the mess that is IndyCar right now, and well, it really pisses me off. Here’s why: Continue reading

Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes…

How do you measure, measure a year…

In daylights, in sunsets In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, a year in the life?

I kept waiting for the moment when I could sit down and just write this, with dry eyes and clarity of thought. I thought that moment was now, but just like a few hours ago, and a day ago, and a week ago, and a month ago, the minute I began to type… the second I let my guard down…  my throat tightened and my breath quickened, and my eyes betrayed my stoic resolve, spilling hot tears down my cheek once again. Continue reading

Ok Toronto, Time to Step it up.

I tend to put blinders on, and sometimes get a little “cheerleadery” when it comes to my home race.
I mean, who wouldn’t.
You want to support your “home team”
You want to encourage people to come to your event.
But… it’s time to take the gloves off me thinks.
Not in a “negative nellie” way, but in a “come on gang, we can do a hell of a lot better” way. Bear with me if it is one long run on sentence, but  I’ve had a week to mull this over, and I have a lot to say.

Unless you had your head up your ass last weekend, there was no denying that attendance was down this year. All three days. I thought maybe it was just my imagination, so I polled a few of my colleagues at the track, and looked back at previous photo galleries. Nope. Definitely down.

Of course, long gone are the days when the daily gate was proudly and boastfully posted on the wall in the media centre, so there are certainly no hard numbers to compare. Sure, the suits say all the right things pre-event;  all their targets have been met or surpassed, etc… but the proof is in the pudding. The pudding being the bodies on the property, and bums in the seats. Continue reading