Yo yo yo, peeps. Long time no dark roast. Pull up a cup and let’s cover some items, ‘kay?
Pippa Goes Pink — Woman of pressdog® Pippa Mann will attempt to qualify for her third Indy 500 this year driving a Susan G. Komen pinked out car. Here’s Pippa’s blog post on how it all went down. It’s not a sponsorship (Komen isn’t kicking out millions to put Pippa in a ride) but a partnership.
"Returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Dale Coyne Racing, Mann will pilot the No. 63 car in what will be her third Indy 500 appearance. From Opening Day at IMS through Race Day, Mann’s car, helmet, firesuit and more will be turned pink, in an effort to raise awareness and serve as a reminder to IndyCar fans about the importance of being informed about breast cancer and taking action for their own breast health. In addition, for every lap of the speedway that Mann’s Indycar completes throughout the month of May, fans and supporters will have the opportunity to pledge an amount via the website (http://www.racewithpippa.com/), from which all donations will go directly to Komen to fund breast cancer research, education and outreach programs.”
Read Pippa’s blog on how it all came to be here.
SHAZAM. I and all of Pippa’s are pumped and I know Pippa will make a fantastic spokesperson for Komen. When you sponsor/partner with Pippa, she’ll become your indefatigable spokesperson. Few in the paddock work the social medial and fan relations as hard as Pippa Mann.
Tammy Kaehler’s New Book (Due out in August) — I got an advanced copy of Woman of pressdog® Tammy Kaehler’s new book, Avoidable Contact, and inhaled same in three days, which is fast for me. You’ll want to pick up a copy when it comes out in August. I’ll slap up a full review as the book becomes available, but I was again impressed with Tammy’s effort.
Tammy’s main character, Kate Reilly, is a sports car racing driver. Her books are set at familiar sports car racing locations, this time the Daytona 24. Among my favorite parts of Tammy’s books are her descriptions of Kate behind the wheel. Tammy’s amazing at helping you imagine what it’s really like. I find myself looking forward to the interludes in her book where Kate drives her Corvette. Reviewers keep comparing Tammy to Dick Francis, who set all his mysteries in the horse racing world. That’s high and worthy praise.
Also to her credit, Tammy doesn’t just write the same book, different location, which is a trap some series writers fall into. Like a race car driver, she’s always pushing to find the edge, as with this book which is set entirely inside Daytona International Speedway and within the 24 hours of Daytona. You’ll want to pick up a copy in August. Learn more about Tammy here: http://www.tammykaehler.com/
Keselowski! — Brad Keselowski made some news over the weekend by taking out a bunch of cars at the NASCAR Cup race in Talladega. Well, what he actually did, was have an accident early, go about six laps down, and then came back out and raced with the leaders. Couple schools of thought here: one, when you’re laps down, don’t race with the leaders. It’s an etiquette thing (for some). Two: “Screw it. Race for every inch you can get.”
Personally, I go with the former … once you’re laps down, stay out of the way of the leaders. Because what does around comes around. Some day others will be laps down and you’ll appreciate the courtesy. You also don’t want to have happen what happened with Brad, that is lose it and take out some of the contenders. What bothered me more about Keselowski’s moves at Talladega is that Brad would be the first to get into someone’s grill if shoe was on the other foot.
"If it was the other way around and it was anybody else except for him, we'd all be getting lectured," Matt Kenseth said.
Bottom line: If it’s OK for you to race up front when you’re six laps down, then it’s OK for you to be raced up front by someone else who is six laps down. We’ll see if Mr. Keselowski recalls that next time he’s held up by someone who is minus six laps. I kind of doubt he will.
Twisties! — “Twisty” is my shorthand term for road and street race tracks. I don’t use it as a pejorative, just as shorthand for the long “road and street tracks.” With out of the way, the Associated Press popped that IndyCar hopes/plans to race at NOLA Motorsports Park outside New Orleans in 2015. Story here. IndyCar at NOLA website here.
Some familiar things happen every time a new venue is announced in IndyCar. One, people start listing the tracks they would prefer to have a race at besides the mentioned track (ROAD AMERICA!!). This is flawed because IndyCar can’t just pull up to a track and say “lucky you! We’re racing here now!” No. The track has to want IndyCar. So while “I wish they would go to (insert track here) is a fun exercise, it’s also kind of pointless. It’s not an either/or situation. IndyCar can only go where they have a willing promoter/track owner.
Two, (especially in the case of twisty tracks) people (often who have never been to the track itself) immediately judge the track (it’s crap, it’s cool, it has potential, etc.). Three, there will be some people at either the despondency or the elation pole.
Me? Hard to say. NOLA is a “club track” right now, which means it’s used by amateur racers, but that doesn’t mean a ton. The deal with IndyCar includes millions of dollars in improvements to the track, including fan amenities (I don’t think there are any there currently) and track improvements. It’s hard to say if the place will work for IndyCar until we see what the improvements will be.
In general, I think IndyCar should go to places like NOLA that can be enhanced into IndyCar venues. Not only does that offer promise that IndyCar will have a longer run there, but the enhanced venues can bring more pro twisty racers and hopefully build the twisty fan base. Belle Isle was a gigantic rehab project funded mostly by Roger Penske and it has since become a staple on the schedule. Also, IndyCar should go to places that are under served by other racing. Barber Motor Sports Park comes to mind. Iowa also fits into that category somewhat. Iowa has NASCAR Nationwide and other lower-tier races, but no NASCAR Cup race, so it was under served by top-tier racing (insert argument here whether IndyCar is “top tier”). If nothing else, the lack of Cup gave Iowa an open spot on their schedule which created an opening for IndyCar.
New Orleans certainly is a destination area with lots of stuff for people to do off track, so it should also be attractive for the weekend visitor, like Long Beach and St. Pete, especially in March for us northerners.
Lamentation over the ratio of road/street to ovals usually comes up when a road/street track is added. Honestly, I’m pretty over the oval/non-oval balance angst. I think the writing is increasingly on the wall and it says: “NASCAR is the superpower oval racing brand. IndyCar should differentiate itself with twisties.” It pains me to read that wall writing, honestly, because I love me some ovals, but the market is the market. The wall writing also tells me every IndyCar driver except Ed Carpenter comes from a twisty background, and I suspect if you pumped them full of truth serum they’d say they prefer twisties.
IndyCar could probably make a deal tomorrow with some ovals like Chicagoland and Kansas if they agreed to race there for free or a dramatically reduced sanctioning fee, but I don’t see that happening. I don’t know how you charge some venues a sanctioning fee and then give it away at another venue. If I owned a paying venue, I’d have a biiiiig issue with that. I’m not saying IndyCar should stop trying to find new ovals, but I am saying they should add races where possible, including twisties, and do some things to help build the road/street fan base in this country (see “encouraging the development of NOLA” above).
Also, I suspect many oval fans have fallen away from IndyCar. If you’re into ovals, and IndyCar don’t go to them, then you find a series that does (NASCAR, sprint cars, etc.) It’s not personal. It’s business. I hold no ill will or anger toward IndyCar for doing what they have to do to be profitable. I for sure don’t want to see them DIE DIE DIE as punishment for not racing on ovals.
Road/street racing actually has a lot going for it in the racing marketplace. Whereas oval racing is perceived to be all the same (turn left turn left turn left), the twisty tracks are a Festival of Diversity. Left, right, fast, slow, a lot of “different” from race to race. And maybe the young folks like that kind of thing. Witness the Fast and Furious movies, all 19 of them or whatever it is. Festival of street racing. Maybe IndyCar and sports car racing can work together to hook more kids on the twisties.
GP of Indy — It’s Saturday May 10 at 3:30PM ET on ABC. Should be interesting. Look for everything from attendance to “how it looks on TV” to TV ratings to be scrutinized. Haters gonna hope everything sucks so they can ridicule it. Lovers gonna hope everything is awesome so they can declare that IndyCar will soon rule the world. Both sides will be ready with reasons why bad is not that bad and good is not that good. The posturing has already started. The race happens right when my oldest daughter is graduating from college, so it’s DVR city for me. I haven’t seen any video of the GP course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway yet (because I haven’t looked real hard, not because it’s not out there) so it will be interesting to see it on TV.
I hope it’s a success, but then again I generally hope stuff is a success these days. Success means revenue for a lot of people (from vendors right up through teams and The Family) and entertainment for many many more. Part of the “interesting” for me here is how well it goes over, how it impacts the Indy 500, if at all, and the always-amusing argument between lovers and haters. Don’t let me down, people.
That’s it. Gotta walk the dog. Check out some racing life or on the tube this week. Always remember: we’re not curing cancer here. Have some Fuzzy’s Vodka (I like mine straight up with a splash of lemon) chillax and remember: life is too short to get bunched up over goofy stuff. Peace out.