Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Little Wednesday Notebook

A few quick thoughts as we start the month of May. Let's rock this one like never before.

*Michael Shank Racing dilemma. It looks like Shank has decided to take a pass on the 500 this year, barring some sort of last-minute decision because he couldn't get a Honda or Chevy. Let's repeat that for clarity...he couldn't get a Honda or a Chevy. Let's also chew on this for clarity...Shank could run the 500 with a (s)Lotus, but chooses not to. Which is his right. Still, it's time to get off the "Shank couldn't get a motor" tip, because there was one available and he didn't want it. That's a business decision and I respect that. Running the 500 is on his bucket list, but he wants that bucket to possibly have a Borg-Warner Trophy in it, since it doesn't look like it's possible he isn't coming.

I don't think that closes the book on his effort if he wants to wait. Obviously, Honda and Chevy need to take care of its full-season customers first, and since everyone is getting a new motor for the race they have a huge commitment to fill. I know Shank wants to have his affairs organized long before that, but if someone wants to hang around until the night of May 18 for a motor, one might be available. The hard part is having the crew, infrastructure and organization together and waiting for that to happen. Because if it doesn't you are out some serious money.

Which brings me to my next point:

*32 cars! With Newman-Haas pulling its entry last week and Shank not getting his effort put together, we may fall under the traditional field of 33 for the first time since 1947. Yes, it pisses me off but no, I don't think it is an indicator of the health of the series, but of course many people are raising their hammers for another nail in the IndyCar coffin. Look, it's a year of transition, and as I have stated before, the only question that matters is this: "is the series getting better?". From all indications, yes. I find it crazy that every move the series makes is nitpicked to the nth degree. If you do that, you will find problems, just like you would with any pro sport. When 100,000 people are buying tickets to every race weekend (and well over 400,000 people will pass through the IMS gates this month), I have a hard time figuring out how things are so bad. Are they rabid, die-hard fans? No, but they enjoy the circus when it is in town and they spend money on IndyCar. As long as they keep doing that it's all good.

I don't have a lot of business acumen, which is why I work in IT and write, so I'm not going to rack my brain trying to figure out why the series will or won't work. It's like Facebook, I use it and like it, I have no clue what goes into Facebook that makes it worth billions of dollars. I can speculate as far as users, reach, advertising, etc. That's the easy part, but it only scratches the surface. All of our pontificating only scratches the surface of what makes up IndyCar, so instead of driving myself crazy, I'll leave that up to the people in charge.

Plus, in the end it should be worked out. Just like the powers-that-be want to see a pole speed close to last year's (which should happen), they want 33 cars. Eleventh-hour deals are what make Indy what it is, and this is no exception. Randy Bernard is in China working on details for the August race there, but when he is stateside this will probably become a priority.

*No Jim Nabors. Now this, this is bad. If you have never been to the 500 in person, you have no idea the electricity that fills the Speedway when Jim steps to the mic. Coming off the somber moment when Taps is played to remember our fallen heroes on Memorial Day weekend, Nabors' amazing rendition of "Back Home Again in Indiana" sets the tone for the command to start engines. Sadly he will be unable to attend the race this year because of heart surgery, and he certainly will be missed. Nabors is almost 82 years old now, and perhaps the day has come to find someone who can step in and take over the tradition. Nabors should be able to sign whenever and however long he is able to do so, but it's such an amazing moment that I hope the Speedway takes great care in choosing a successor.

Edit! According to this story on the IMS website a crew is flying to Nabors' home in Hawaii to get some footage that will be shown on the video boards. Very cool! Nabors has sung at the Speedway on 33 occasions, and is missing the race for just the second time since 1987.

Unlike last May, I'm not sitting this one out. Look for a lot of content from me this month and some really awesome posts during qualifying weekend.

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