Friday, February 10, 2012

Frenetic Friday -- State of IndyCar edition

Another Friday, the end of a crazy week. My trip to Cancun was "lovely" (as my mom likes to call things), stayed at a beautiful hotel, swam with the fishes (snorkeled in a beautiful national park) and drank lots of maragaritas. Oh yeah, I also got caught up in a riptide and needed to be assisted out of the ocean by a lifeguard, or as my girlfriend and I have now coined it "being baywatched".

baywatched (v): When a gringo goes to Cancun and needs to be fished out of the Gulf less than 15 minutes after getting in the water.

Actually it was a scary experience (not to mention embarrassing) that I am no doubt using humor to try and hold off the post-traumatic stress disorder that may follow. Hope that never happens again!

Anyway, here are a few musings that have hit my mind this week:

* State of IndyCar. Randy Bernard's yearly address goes down Monday and should cover some very interesting topics. I think in 2011 the series took two steps forward and one back, meaning things could be better but at least they are better overall than a year ago. What I like is the fact that it is open to the public and will be streamed live to those of us who can't make it down there. The best part of how the series currently stands is that if you are a passionate fan, you can be involved in the process and even at times get your voice heard. Hats off to Randy for that because I think one of the problems with the pervious regime is that everything was cloaked in secrecy and that made it tough for the fans. No matter how far the series has progressed over the last four years (and two of the Bernard Era), a lot of long-time fans (me included) sometimes worry that the other shoe is going to drop. Knowing better where the series is going and what they are doing to improve it is a big deal to a lot of the Nation.

*I haven't heard anything more about Milwaukee. So I hope that is covered on Monday. I'm not one of those who are upset about the "lack" of ovals this year, but would like to see a couple more additions if possible. Say what you want about the schedule, but to do well you have to be a complete driver. All four ovals are different lengths, speeds and configurations, and each road and street course is its own animal. You have to be skilled in so many areas to win in this series, which is why Will Power is still seeking his first title. Will is no doubt the full-on master of twisties -- someday I believe he might win all of them in a season -- but his struggles on ovals will keep him from winning that coveted championship.

Edit! Apparently there was an internet malfunction on the Milwaukee Mile website that showed a race was a go and would be promoted by Andretti Sports Management. Even Tony Kanaan responded with a tweet. But according to a Milwaukee Sentinel blog post it is not a done deal, just a page that went live a little too soon. Still, good news on that front.

Edit No. 2! Looks like it is an official deal, with the race to be run on Jun. 15, a Saturday. Look for a soapbox-minded post on this next week.

*I have been reading that Beaux Barfield has been working on the rulebook. A good thing, and hopefully that will be addressed too. If what I have read is correct, he has whittled down his iron fist (discretion of race control) to just a few items, and has implemented systems to communicate better with teams and drivers. If all he does is improve communication in the paddock he will be head and shoulders better than the previous regime.

*He has also been giving thought to double-file restarts. I can take those or leave them. I admit I loved them at Indy last year as my seats in the first turn were prime viewing for the absolute chaos that ensued when the green fell. Still, I would take better execution of single-file starts (i.e. don't let them jump on the gas until they see the green) over double-file, only because while it was exciting it is also gimmicky. I like things being about the fans, but not at the expense of the integrity of the competition (ahem, green/white/checker "overtimes", ahem). Yeah I know I was excited about them when I wrote a little something about a year ago, but in the long run it just didn't inspire me, especially because for the most part the drivers never bought into it.

*Another interesting take on race starts comes from Zachary at IndyCar Advocate. In an open letter to Randy he makes mention of standing starts. I kinda like it, just to give things a different look and keep the cars bunched up a little at the start. Some of the starts last season were atrocious and made the series look bush league. Anything that helps alleviate that would be awesome.

*It's been quiet on the Rubens front lately. Apparently he is looking for sponsors and does want to drive in the series, though he isn't quite sure about the number of races. I don't blame him for sitting out the ovals if he so chooses, but I would love to see him at Indy since despite its flat-out nature it is very technical and I would be interested in seeing how his cerebral approach would work there. Hopefully it all gets worked out.

*Finally, a little NRR (non-racing related) thought. As I have mentioned several times before I love great writing. As a former hobby-level tennis player I had been looking forward to reading "Open" the autobiography of Andre Agassi. I finally picked it up at the airport last week and just absolutely devoured it. Agassi and I are about the same age and I have been a fan since the beginning, so it was a great read. Like many sports-related books and movies over the last few years, it isn't a tennis book, it is a book about a tennis player who lived, learned and evolved into a great human being who is giving back tenfold over what he got. Very deep but also at times utterly hilarious, it is worth every second I spent reading.

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