Fixing IndyCar & Turbo The Snail

The turmoil in the IndyCar Series seems almost never-ending. Whenever a problem is fixed or a new idea is tested it seems as if there are always two or three clouds following closely behind. Part of it is unhelpful gossip and hearsay, part of it is genuine inanity from various figures inside and outside the series (and by that I mean the organisation itself, the teams, drivers.. well, anybody really). The series doesn’t really deserve it.

IndyCar has come a long way since the ‘split’ and the messy post-unification days of 2008-2010. The racing is good and there are some top-notch drivers and team personnel as well as good people in the ranks of the series, all of whom I’m sure are being let down by others.
The fact some good folks were fired recently, some of them not in the job for all that long, for cost-cutting reasons is a terrible sign particularly as some are in marketing which is a chronic weakness of the series, they hadn’t been around that long and were just starting to make their presence known with some great ideas.

The whole parent organisation seems introspective, in denial, or working to outdated business practices. It feels as though everyone is clinging to the 90s, or even the 70s. I really hope the recent top level management changes bring about a change in attitude even though the early signs (the firings) are not good. Some certainty would be appreciated. New boss Mark Miles keeps talking in management-speak of a ‘deep dive’, which apparently means he’s ordered a data-rich analysis of the whole company (or even the group of companies controlled by the Hulman & George Co. of which he is CEO).

In much the same spirit, Steph at More Front Wing recently performed her own multi-part analysis which is well worth your attention. She has run through all the different factors which need addressing, some of them are pretty fundamental. All the same, they needed pointing out in a rational manner and that is what she’s done.

I don’t agree with all of the answers but that’s fine, what was needed was a dose of realism and some potential suggestions. Do read and comment with your own ideas and observations. I’m afraid I rambled for far too long in the comments sections with my own thoughts!

Turbo

There is some positive news in the pipeline. DreamWorks are working on a feature film connected to the IndyCar Series – it is about ‘Turbo’, a racing snail who wants to go faster and faster, sees the Indy 500 and wants to race in it. Yes, really. At first I was sceptical too because it sounds ridiculous, but then I saw the trailer and saw how well DreamWorks rendered IMS and the IndyCars themselves. I’ll reserve final judgement until I see the film but do you know what? This might work.

Check out the trailer here:

Allen at Grab Bag Sports made a great point: this is going to shift the demographic of the average IndyCar fan, which is currently getting older and fewer in number. If this film works – even if it is only moderately successful – it ought to attract kids and their families and skew the ‘casual’ fanbase in a younger direction. It might even open up interest internationally. Allen also spotted word of a mooted spin-off cartoon series. Let’s hope that happens.

Quite how many people outside the US ‘Mid-West’ will connect the race in the film to the real life Indy 500 and IndyCar Series remains to be seen. IndyCar and the H&G parent company need to be sure their house is in order in the next six months so that they are ready to make the most of this opportunity.

How to Watch the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Time to get this season started with the first major circuit-racing event of the season. We’ve had off-road events such as Dakar and the Monte-Carlo Rally. All fine and good, but my main interest is in fast cars on racetracks. We’ve had the Dubai 24 but that’s not an easy event to try and follow and to be honest I gave up after a while.

Daytona is different. Because this race takes place in January there are a lot of famous names involved who might not usually race in the Grand-Am Rolex Series:

Allan McNish, Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Paul Tracy, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Wilson, Giancarlo Fisichella, Ryan Briscoe .. the list goes on and on.

Add that to the quick teams and drivers who do race these cars regularly, like Scott Pruett, Darren Law and Max Angelelli and you’ve got a real competition on your hands.

Not to mention these guys: Brian Johnson of AC/DC is competing, as is the actor Patrick Dempsey. Neither are quick on a professional level but they can handle themselves very well at amateur/gentelman-driver level. Is that enough at this race? Probaby not, but let’s see. Johnson is actually racing in a car which only contains over-50s, but some of them are (or were) pros.

So how do you watch?

UK / Europe:

MotorsTV live on Sky/Virgin throughout, with Radio Show Ltd commentary (that’s Radio Le Mans).

Intermittant coverage on Eurosport or Eurosport 2, also on Sky/Virgin. It is programmed for E2 but if you know Eurosport you’ll know they like shuffling things around channels and not sticking to timetables – the perils of covering live sport. The great thing about them is the Eurosport Player which is absolutely flawless, and is also available as an iPad app at £2.99 for a month of viewing. I’ll watch using these services for as much as I can.

USA / Canada?:

SpeedTV for most of the race, and SpeedTV.com for the times when they don’t. It’s possible the SpeedTV.com feed will be available outside the US.

Worldwide:

Audio coverage from Radio Show Ltd (the people behind Radio Le Mans) live throughout on their website.

Useful Links

The race starts at 8.30pm GMT / 3.30pm local time Florida.

Series Website: Grand-Am.com
Entry List: HERE
Live timing: HERE
Spotter guide: HERE
My Twitter feed: HERE (I hope to pass on relevant info from tweeting teams, drivers etc)

In addition to Twitter I *insist* you join me at one or other or both of the following places:

Sidepodcast

A group of us will be hanging out chatting about the race at Sidepodcast’s awesome live-commenting service – do join us! Keep it clean and friendly and you’ll encounter knowledgeable fans, and not-so knowledgeable fans who are enthusiastic and willing to learn.

Grab Bag Sports Blogathon

For something like the 5th year now the GBS Blogathon will run alongside the Rolex 24. A group of motorsport bloggers*, largely from the IndyCar community but also elsewhere, come together at the Grab Bag Sports blog to write posts over the course of the race. They don’t have to be about the 24. They don’t even have to be about racing. Any sport is on the table if it happens between race start and end, for example several may dip out of the race to watch the Australian Open final. It’ll be fun!
* and Mike who is a co-blogger at GBS but doesn’t know anything about racing except that he likes the name of a team: Flying Lizard!

Enjoy!

A New Chapter?

This is a difficult post to write. You see, a few of us may have trod on a few toes whilst trying to do something we think is nothing but positive.

Perhaps you can think of this as an open letter, albeit one with an explanations here and there for people unfamiliar with what’s going on, or simply to state my own version of events for the sake of clarity.

There is plenty in the way of crossed-wires, misunderstandings and behind-the-scenes chatter at the moment and this is my attempt at clearing the air. Perhaps it will backfire and make things worse, I don’t know, but I’m certainly not going to sit here and do nothing. As I said before, I’ve been through the split and loss of one community already, if not two, and I’ll be damned if I’ll let that happen to another one.

These are my thoughts and not necessarily representative of everyone involved, and I hope readers of the IWTMR blog excuse the intrusion.

Continue reading

F1Predict: Valencia

I was asked by Greg at the F1 Results Predictor to make my choices for the upcoming European Grand Prix at Valencia. I had to pick the finishing order for all 24 cars, not easy! It helps that there are three very distinct groups in F1 at the moment:  title protagonists, midfielders, and tail-enders.

You can see my predictions, and Greg’s, at the F1 Results Predictor blog and do leave your thoughts in the comments there, and follow him on Twitter at F1Predict.

Thanks hugely to Greg for asking (it always amazes me when people do), and let’s see who gets the better strike rate!

Friday Favourites: 22 April 2011

A series highlighting the best around the motorsport web.

I feel like I’ve given up writing race reviews and opinion posts. Just don’t seem to have it in me any more to write a long treatise about why X is Y especially when others do it so well. Much more fun to read their excellent words and then join the conversations on their sites or on Twitter. What I am good at is picking up news and opinion from elsewhere and sharing it with other subsets of fans. That’s why I started this series of posts. Cross-pollination. Learning from what others are doing.

  • Sidepodcast: An Aside With Joe – This Is Way Above All Our Pay Grades
    F1 journalist Joe Saward’s latest appearance with Christine and Mr C is, as ever, very much worth spending an hour of your time. Even his off-topic divergences are good to listen to! Unlike some, Joe is actually willing to do a some digging in paper trails to work out what is going on with the bigger picture of F1 ownership, and as part of looking things as a bigger picture that he keeps a good eye on what is happening in other forms of racing too. Joe is a great listen and also a great read. I assure you, even if you know a lot about F1 and racing, you will feel much smarter after listening to this.
  • Sidepodcast: Hands On With Fanvision’s Portable F1 Interface – Part 1 and Part 2
    Staying with SPC, guest-writer Amy Fulton has attended two of the three F1 races held this season and at both she tested out Fanvision’s brand new device. You may know Fanvision by their old name KangarooTV, and their G2 model has been a feature at F1, Le Mans and NFL events for a while now. Amy’s got her hands on the new-generation, much-improved G3. Now you have to check out this device, because you’ll wish they covered every racing series on earth with the data they provide!
  • Motorsport Musings: Time For F2 To Deliver
    Dan takes a look at Formula 2 and asks how the series has fared now it is in its third season (wow, that went quickly). Is it living up to the original billing or should it refocus?
  • Motorsport Musings: TT3d: Closer To The Edge
    Another post from Dan, who does ‘too much racing’ far better than I can, sees him review this new documentary film about the Isle of Man TT and rider Guy Martin. Do check out the included video clip, that alone is breathtaking so I can only imagine what the full feature is like. The TT has always scared me somewhat and sometimes when watching the coverage I have to look away, so close are they to hitting solid objects and causing themselves and others an injury. The talent and bravery – and stupidity? – of these riders is astonishing. This documentary looks like a must-see.
  • Oilpressure: Stop The Gender Comparisons
    George makes the great point that TV coverage, reports, the written media, fans, and even the drivers themselves should stop acting as though women racers are taking part in a sub-class of the main race. It is time for driver comparisons to be based on ability alone.
  • Brits On Pole: Could Holding A Road Race Become Easier In Future
    If you hadn’t noticed, BoP has quietly started blogging again – about time too! Last year they kept up with developments to allow road races* to be held in the UK without having to seek the currently-required Act of Parliament. It seems as those things are progressing well, could we see more events on the roads of Britain soon?
    * North American readers in particular may not know that ‘road racing’ here doesn’t refer to ‘road course racing’ (as obviously most tracks here are road courses) but instead to the closing of public roads for the purposes of racing. There are no street circuits in the UK and most rallies take place off-road or on private land.

That’s all this week, apologies for the double-mention for two sites but sometimes that’ll happen when sites put out more than one good post in a week! I’ll be back next Friday with more, do let me know if you spot anything interesting in the meantime.

Friday Favourites: 15 April 2011

A series highlighting the best around the motorsport web.

After a trial run in January (wow, that long ago?) I’ve decided to make a links post a weekly feature, and it has a new name purely to make sure I do it regularly. I’ve found if I leave things free-form they never happen again so I need to create a weekly schedule. I started posting TMR Game results exclusively on a Tuesday evening, and the new Start Times series will be posted on a Thursday night.

Items I list here aren’t necessarily up to date but they are always, in my opinion, worth a read or a listen. Whilst I have over 1000 items in my Google Reader, many of them are news articles so in terms of true blog posts and podcasts it is probably nearer 200. That’s still a hefty backlog so if your thing appears here a couple of weeks late, please don’t take it personally. I will take suggestions whilst retaining the right not to include things, I want these to be concise updates!

On to this week’s links.

  • More Front Wing: MFW Podcast Episode 36- I’m going to be honest, I struggle to stay up to date with podcasts, people release far more than I ever have time to listen to and I always feel bad for not keeping up. This is one such show, and one that had dropped – not purposely -  from my rotation in 2010 when I got snowed under with content. I won’t be making that mistake in 2011.The episode I highlight here is the show after the St Pete IndyCar race, with special guest Shane Rogers who is ridiculously knowledgeable about IndyCar and F1 (and who knows what else)!
    His input is fantastic, particularly since he’d attended the Australian Grand Prix that weekend and was able to offer a direct comparison of F1 cars and IndyCars – and events – from the perspective of the stands at the track. Steph and Paul put together a great show and subsequent shows feature Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe, I’m listening to Ed’s show as I write and I can’t wait to hear the show with Hinch!
  • Oilpressure: Randy Bernard Interview Part 1 and Part 2 – Even if you are not a fan of IndyCar racing you should still read this interview. Randy Bernard, CEO of INDYCAR, has been a real breath of fresh air in his just-over-a-year in charge of the series. Such a huge change from the fighting, dictating attitudes of the 90s to early 00s and the introspection and cluelessness of the mid-00s – and I count all flavours of Indy racing in that: CART, Champ Car, IRL.  The unified IndyCar Series is now led by a man who is not just open to listening to teams and drivers, but also to fans and bloggers. This is just one of many Q&As he’s granted to bloggers, but what’s good about this one, is that it was Randy’s idea! He saw George at Oilpressure ask his readers for questions ‘should I bump into Randy’ at the Barber round, and Randy came back and made it a meet-up in person for a real Q&A. And it is a top notch Q&A as well, good questions (as you would expect from the learned readers of Oilpressure), great answers – not banal PR fluff.
    Do also take a look around the rest of the site to see more photos and words from George’s weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.
  • Sidepodcast: F1 in China – Christine has questioned why F1 still races in China when it seems there isn’t a single person in the world who wants it to happen. The personnel don’t like it, there are no fans in the place.. why bother?
  • VivaF1: The Prince of Motorsport (Part 1) – A great guest post at VivaF1 from The F1 & Motorsport Archive’s Leigh all about the life and times of the man recorded in the F1 history books as Prince Bira, or ‘B Bira’. Check out Part 2 later this weekend and do have a look at the other articles at both VivaF1 (some really great F1 articles in the past few days) and F1&MA (coming live from Monza for British F3).
  • Neil Hudson: New BTCC Regulations: Who is the fastest? – This season the BTCC has added new technical regulations alongside the existing S2000 and BTC cars. NGTC is a new spec for both chassis and engine, but there’s also the option to fit NGTC engines to existing S2000 cars. But which is faster? Neil checks the lap times from the opening round at the 1.2 mile Brands Hatch ‘Indy’ short circuit and graphs the results. I hope he does the same later in the year so we can see how the cars develop. (Sadly my comment appears to have been moderated).
    Note – This article appears on Neil’s own blog, he also writes for Touring Car Times which I urge you to add to your RSS rotation immediately for superb coverage of WTCC, BTCC, STCC, CCTCC, DTM, V8SC and more.

Do let me know of any interesting articles and podcasts you find around the web, and I’ll have more here next Friday.

Guest Post at F1 Archive

It occurred to me earlier that amongst watching the Rolex 24 at Daytona last weekend I forgot to mention here the guest post I wrote for Leigh at The F1 & Motorsports Archive. It was written a little late but was for the previous weekend’s 3rd VivaF1 Blogger Swap Shop.

You can read my post here “Are Pay Drivers Getting Better?” and the rest of the articles in the 3rd Swap can be found in this bundle including RubberGoat’s post here.

Thanks to Leigh for hosting and to VivaF1 for the swaps.