IndyCar – A New Hope

Wednesday evening saw the announcement of the car concept for the next era of the IZOD IndyCar Series starting in 2012, as decided after much deliberation by the ‘ICONIC’ committee.

Wednesday evening saw the announcement of the car concept for the next era of the IZOD IndyCar Series starting in 2012, as decided after much deliberation by the ‘ICONIC’ committee. This was a chassis announcement, engines were briefly discussed but they were not the focus of this decision.

The Committee

The qualifications of the committee seem to me to be unquestionable.

  • Gil de Ferran  – Indy 500 winner, IndyCar and (former ALMS) team owner, former sporting director of Honda F1;
  • Tony Cotman – among many other things the man responsible for the Panoz DP01 project at Champ Car, also the chief steward of Indy Lights I believe;
  • Brian Barnhart – President of Competition at IndyCar;
  • Tony Purnell – founder of Pi Research, formerly ran Jaguar F1 and Ford’s Premier Performance Division;
  • Neil Ressler – former Chief Technical Officer at Ford Motor Company;
  • Eddie Gossage – President of Texas Motor Speedway;
  • Rick Long – Speedway Engine Development;
  • and of course the new superstar CEO of IndyCar, Randy Bernard.

It was chaired by retired General Bill Looney, apparently he was responsible for a major engineering project in the US Air Force.

I can’t think of a better driver to consult than Gil de Ferran, he’s won races in the current cars and the CART Lolas, and has management experience in three major championships. Cotman was the last man to bring in a new car to a budget in North American Open Wheel racing and he and his group learned a lot, it is good to see that knowledge being called upon. Purnell and Ressler have a close working relationship from their time with Ford and Jaguar. Gossage is perhaps the most creative track owner/promoter in the series at the moment.
Continue reading “IndyCar – A New Hope”

I’m Watching… #3: NASCAR road courses, F1, F2, more

I watch too much racing. What have I been watching over the last couple of weeks?

I watch too much racing. What have I been watching over the last couple of weeks?

Formula 2 – Valencia 2009
Race 1 of 2. This was the ‘comeback race’ for the F2 name, unfortunately it was at the Ricardo Tormo circuit so it was rubbish, really boring. I don’t think I’ve seen a good race at that circuit in my life, any series. Maybe MotoGP. Martin Haven did his best to inject enthusiasm and a great deal of knowledge of ‘old F2’ and of drivers parachuting in from other series, but really you need the on-track stuff to be good as well and it really wasn’t. I missed the 2nd race, I have a feeling I watched it live on their site but I can’t remember, it was a year ago..

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”false” link=”term=Nationwide+Road+America&iid=9161555″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9161555/bucyrus-200/bucyrus-200.jpg?size=500&imageId=9161555″ width=”380″ height=”294″ /]

Nationwide Series – Road America 2010 *live*
I was curious to see the 2nd-tier NASCAR series on a road course, and it had Jacques Villeneuve guest-driving and a couple of guys were pulling the double with this race in Wisconsin on Saturday and the Cup race in California on Sunday. I was disappointed. JV and Carl Edwards had a great battle at the front, unfortunately the rest of the field were hopeless and it came to a head with a lengthy red-flag delay after a multi-car pile-up which is when I gave up following it. I didn’t expect a ‘Dega-style “Big One” on a road course! Apparently once the race restarted it was brought back under safety car multiple times, and finished some hours after I’d left it. Needs work.

IZOD IndyCar – Iowa 2010 *live*
This was a great race, you could tell that from the few times the Race Control cameras were pointing in the right direction. I’m going to have to watch this again with the TV feed. To give them credit they did stick with the lead battle for a good while, unfortunately the lack of direction meant I missed the battling in the pack. Tony Kanaan had a brilliant run and it was great to see him win and to do it with a pass for the lead as well, excellent. I wasn’t sure what happened to Marco Andretti’s early run, I guess the car went away from him just as TK’s was coming to him. Needless to say the ‘red cars’ were all up there in contention throughout, but I do think Andretti Autosport are regaining the relative pace they had against them some time ago. Good to see.

Sprint Cup, Sonoma 2010 *live*
Again I wanted to see how the stock car people handled the road courses. I expected something more professional than the Nationwide race and that’s largely what we had, after all most of them have driven at Sonoma for some years now. It was a pretty good race with a mixture of strategies throughout the field, it was great to see DTM driver Mattias Ekstrom lead the race for a while on his debut but it was former V8 Supercar driver Marcos Ambrose who was in control much of the time – until he threw it away with a driver error under caution, allowing Jimmie Johnson to win. It was interesting to see how the race turned into a knife fight in the closing stages, it was like a 25-minute BTCC race with cars being pushed all over the track and spun around. This race also had a red flag period caused by a multi-car shunt, thankfully it was cleared up significantly faster than in the Nationwide event. There was the usual problem of going full-course yellow for someone spinning and resuming within 30 seconds, though it wasn’t as bad as usual and some incidents were allowed to develop and recover before the safety car was called so there is some progress.

Formula 1 – European GP 2010 *live*
A moderately interesting race, it was better than I was expecting for this circuit so that is a small victory. Mark Webber was exceedingly lucky and that’s a huge victory. Kobayashi really proved his worth by staying out on one set of tyres for that length of time when nobody else seemed able to, then using his fresher tyres to put a move on Alonso. Well played, Kamui. There was that dodgy safety car call with Hamilton and his penalty, we’re a few days on and now I’m a bit talked-out about it but you can read more here.

The World Cup
A lot of prime motorsport viewing time has been taking up with the World Cup instead. Some of it really wasn’t worth bothering with and I’m by no means a fan of the game, yet others have been enjoyable. There was a game last Tuesday between Japan and somebody which was the best game I’ve seen in ages.

Looking Ahead
Le Tour de France starts this weekend and over the next couple of weeks I’ll be watching the nightly highlights on ITV4 if they are as they were last year. I’m also heading to Goodwood for the Festival of Speed on Sunday.

Blog note.
You may have noticed I’m not very good at sticking to ideas, the weekly review each Monday/Tuesday hasn’t happened lately due to one thing and another (mainly the World Cup) so I’m reworking it into an ad-hoc approach to be done whenever I feel like posting an update. Better to be more ‘organic’ that way rather than doing a post for the sake of it.

I’m Watching… #1

The introduction to my TMR Game posts is often a recap of what I’ve been watching over the weekend just past, but as I was writing the post tonight I wondered if it would be better to write it as a post on its own every Monday/Tuesday. It gets across my thoughts on that week’s racing and cuts the Game posts down to size, which I’ve been pondering how to do for a while. Win-win!

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”false” link=”term=IndyCar+Texas&iid=9040101″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9040101/firestone-550k/firestone-550k.jpg?size=500&imageId=9040101″ width=”380″ height=”248″ /]

I stayed up most of Saturday night / Sunday morning to watch the excellent Texas IndyCar race along with the gang at Sidepodcast (and Twitter of course). Really good to get back on the fast ovals with Indy and Texas – I love the road courses but there’s something different about their oval races you just don’t see anywhere else. *cough*  Great to see the Andretti team back up front with a 2-3 finish. It was unfortunate what happened to de Silvestro – I’d planned to expand on that (and also recap Indy) in a dedicated IndyCar blog post but that has been delayed as I’ve been busy.

DTM and MotoGP clashes – as usual – and I watched the MotoGP as that’s usually the more entertaining of the two plus I can get it on my TV and the DTM would require a stream, though I wonder why I bothered because after the Pedrosa/Lorenzo thing was settled it was fairly boring. I’m just not getting excited about the current crop of riders, who the hell are they?

I don’t watch NASCAR Cup races (I’d watch highlights if I could), but I did catch the tag between Harvick and Logano on YouTube. What was that about? Commentary said they were going for the same gap, looked a little more suspect to me, perhaps not deliberate but maybe one didn’t back off when they may have done had it been someone else, apparently these guys have history..

Since I missed last week, what did I think of Turkey? Tense all the way through, the top four were pushing like hell throughout – it may not have come across on the TV screen but following the live timing a different member of the quartet set Fastest Lap with every pass. Then the clash! I jumped out of my seat. I never jump out of my seat. Vettel’s fault, clearly. Then the Maccas tried it! Sane heads prevailed and they took the 1-2.

What of the big race of that week, the 500? I LOVED IT. I’ve watched the Indy 500 since 2006 and this was the best yet. That’s not just for the racing but also the atmosphere, which was the most positive and forward-looking I’ve seen in my short tenure as a 500 fan – “unification” and the new management of the series are turning things around already. Many, like Pressdog, complained it was too much like an F1 race. So? It was like a very good F1 race or a very good sportscar endurance race. It had mystery, strategy, balls-out passes into tight corners (despite being an oval, at 230mph those turns are tight and the place only has one effective line), and top it off most of the front-runners hit trouble, so we had some different people in the top ten. Dario and team executed a near-perfect race. That’s fine – we watch this stuff to see the best of the best, this isn’t amateur hour – and if they hadn’t, we would’ve seen a non-Ganassi non-Penske winner. Roll on next year.

Another big one this week – Le Mans! Should be great. Mixed in with the welcome return of the Canadian GP and the stat of the World Cup, we’re in for a hell of a weekend.

[Photo credit:  IZOD IndyCar Series at Texas Motor Speedway, Getty Images, via Picapp]

A thank you..

Word emerged Wednesday that long-established IndyCar blogger Jeff Iannucci, of MyNameisIRL.com, has decided to stand down for personal reasons. You can read his ‘letter of resignation’ here.

I very much respect the decision, it shows certain priorities are in order. Many lesser bloggers would attempt to carry on under what I presume to be difficult circumstances (without knowing details, without needing to). Sometimes a break is needed to focus on more important things.

Nonetheless, My Name Is IRL’s absence in the community will be greatly felt. His was one of the first racing blogs I started to read, and became one of the first of what I consider the ‘big’ IndyCar blogs. This was at the time of the ChampCar/IndyCar ‘merger’ and his site had been running for a while by then. It has grown in popularity quite substantially since.

Personally-speaking, I said it in my very first post at the old site and I’ll say it again, without My Name Is IRL, Pressdog and Meesh, I would never have started blogging. They were the first to link little ‘ole me, even when I had little to add. I was astonished they’d even give me the time of day. Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m no way comparing my humble efforts to any of them, just they were jointly the inspiration to start writing.

I get the impression from the comments to his post, there are others who can relate similar stories. Jeff, I thank you for that, even if it were unknown and unintended. Not only that, but the quality of writing was always impeccable, whether it be a race report, a snippet of news or hilarious piece of satire. I like to think that attitude rubbed off on several bloggers.

Jeff: the blogging community owes you, mostly in the IndyCar community but also in a wider sense in the racing world, maybe even wider than that. I wish you well going forward, and hope that some day you will be able to return to take your place, whether it be weeks, months or even years from now. We’ll keep the seat warm. Stay in touch..