Edmonton Rexall Indy 2010

The city of Edmonton has confirmed that it will run the 2010 Rexall Edmonton Indy despite large financial losses in the first two years of the event under IRL sanctioning.

Edmonton City Council has voted unanimously to run the race in 2010 to fulfill it's contractual obligation to the Indy Racing League. Mayor of Edmonton Stephen Mandel has even gone so far as to say that losses are expected to be less then 2009 citing poor sponsorship and luxury box sales that will be remedied in 2010.

"Every councillor realizes that we can't be a city that doesn't honour our commitments," said Coun. Kim Krushell. "Yes, we're moving forward with 2010. Are we happy about losing dollars? No."

Will Power won the 2009 version of the race for Penske Racing, leading from start to finish.

I'm happy to see the race return. Seeing Edmonton pay the fees to cancel the race would leave a blackeye on the IRL and would hurt all the good vibes we have going on right now. On top of that, I think we do not have enough races north of the border (ahem, Montreal or Vancouver, Vancouver would fill in the Northwest nicely).


Team Stargate Worlds to Indycar?

According to Autoracing1.com Simona de Silvestro will be testing with HVM this week at Sebring.

Team Stargate Worlds of the Atlantics Championship is apparently taking a look at running Izod Indycars in 2010 and is keeping a close eye on this test to see if Simona can handle the Dallara-Honda.

Team Stargate Worlds ran both Simona de Silvestro and Frankie Muniz in the Atlantic series in '09. Simona was leading the series until the final event where she was knocked out of the race by Marcus Niemela ('08 Atlantics Champion).

With Frankie Muniz' looking to move to up (as he thinks he is ready, but let's face it, he isn't) maybe he moves up to the ICS with Simona and helps fund a two car effort with Team Stargate Worlds in 2010.

Either way, if Simona enters the ICS in 2010 with either HVM beside Robert Doornbos, or with Team Stargate Worlds, it would be an added car and another beautiful female driver which can't hurt the series.

Edit: I've just gotten confirmation that HVM is testing Simona de Silvestro at Sebring on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Many people don't trust AR1 so take it from me instead.


What's Next?

Yesterday we saw the marvelous unveiling of Izod as the "first legitimate title sponsor" the league has seen. The now branded Izod Indycar Series (has a nice ring to it I think) got a big boost yesterday and is now in a much better position in the minds of fans and anyone related to the IRL and ICS, as well as financially. Obviously this isn't the thing that means the IRL will suddenly rise to the top of the motorsports scene, but it's a start. It's a partner who believes in the Indycar Series and is willing to put major dough behind it to increase it's profile in North America.

Izod sees the IICS as "an amazing sport with so many different stories and we see it as an under-developed asset and brand." I have not heard sponsors speak so highly (while at the same time, demeaning) of the series, and referring to it as an asset. Of course, company's that throw money around to sponsor the IRL or their teams obviously regard it as an asset, or they wouldn't do it, but I think this is the first time I've actually seen a company refer to the IRL as an asset in public.

That's one announcement down, but what is next in the "Hey, look! The sun is out everyone!" Izod Indycar Series? I mean, we've been strung along for a while now in regards to the Title Sponsorship, while there are obviously more announcements that need to be made.

So, first of all, Brazil needs to be announced. Whether that means that we are announcing the cancellation of the race, or the location of the confirmed race, fans and sponsors need to hear something, positive or negative, soon. This race is spinning out of control, and it is making the IRL look bad right now, and they are hurting other peoples plans for the race and 2010 season. Right now, anyone in North America is most likely holding off to book their flights down to Rio, or wherever this race might occur, simply so they don't get stuck with a plane ticket for the trip down for a nice 3 day vacation with no racing. Aside from that, De Ferran Motorsports is waiting word regarding the Brazil race to determine their 2010 plans. When Curt Cavin said that Gil de Ferran was bringing his team to Indycars in 2010, it would be with APEX-Brazil money for one car and possibly Formula Dream for the other. I would think that APEX-Brazil wants to make sure they have a race in Brazil before they dish out the money to support a full year effort with de Ferran.

Next on the list of announcements is the future of the Dallara and Honda engines. It's been a while since this has seen the mainstream on Indycar news, simply because of the Brazil and Title Sponsor/Izod rumors and news, but this is still obviously a big concern for Indycar fans. People are getting antsy, and simply want to know the deadline for a new car to hit ovals and road courses in North America. It's such a long and drawn out process that seemed like it was going well when the IRL held those engine discussion groups a while back, but since then, not much has happened. Just rumors of people not being interested, except the Audi/VW/Porsche group. Hey, IRL, atleast give us the feeling you're still working on this. Leak some rumors out to Curt Cavin or something, just get this back in the news, please. We want more manufacturers of both engines and chassis', and I'd think Izod does too.

Another announcement that needs to be looked at is the US-F2000 series and the FIL series. A schedule has been announced for the US-F2000 series which is good, however, not much else. But I'm more concerned with how this fits into the future ladder of North America's open wheel scene. There were rumors that Mazda would be involved with the US-F2000 series, and that they would also badge the Firestone Indy Lights series engines as a way to re-structure their ladder system to the AOWR big leagues (ie: IRL). Getting Mazda into the FIL series would be a big plus money wise and promotion wise. They were big in Champ Car during it's final season, even though they weren't the engine manufacturers. They provided money to advertising, and ran commercials at most, if not all races. They are currently the Atlantic Series engine badger, but they must be realizing, as we all are now (unfortunately) that the Atlantic Series is on it's last legs. If they want to continue providing a path to the Indy 500, they need to be in the US-F2000 series and the Firestone Indy Lights series. And simply put, the Firestone Indy Lights need an automotive giant to provide the engines. They've been nameless too long.

And the last announcement I am hoping for, and is almost nessicary based on the TV Ratings this year, is the NBC/Comcast deal. It's rumored the takeover of NBC by Comcast is imminent, and TV experts see a new Comcast NBC with Versus by it's side as a potential terror for ESPN and ESPN2. If we can get involved with NBC somehow, instead of ABC who could care less about us, we would be in much better shape then we are right now, and people would be a lot more willing to invest in the IRL knowing about a connection to network television.

Hopefully we hear about all this stuff soon, as we are on a wave of momentum right now. The IRL needs to ride this as best they can and approach all opportunities positively, and with an open mind. If they do that, we'll be good for a while, and will have the opportunity to grow back to what AOWR used to be.


The Day Is Here

Boy, the IRL is good at keeping secrets aren't they? I mean todays announcement could be anything from the sale of IMS to the announcement of new cars for the Indycar Series and FIL.

Obviously, if we are told anything except for the title sponsor announcement today when the IRL officials gather at IMS, I think there will be a revolt. Robin Miller, Curt Cavin, and anyone with a brother who has an uncle working on an IRL team somehow has some inside info on the Izod deal worth approximately $10,000,000, of which, will be split among the teams, the series, marketing, and finding Ryan Hunter-Reay a real ride (Hooray!).

This is all good news, and it is pretty obvious it is going to happen today around 2:00pm. I'm hoping, somewhere in there, is a hidden announcement about Brazil. If that happens, I'll fall off my seat and finally breath easily.

So where does RHR land? According to both Cavin and Miller, he will join Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick, and Marco Andretti at Team Michael Andretti Green Motorsports Racing. Miller says that 7 digits of the Izod title sponsorship is geared towards sponsoring RHR in a real ride (sorry AJ, you just don't count anymore), and Cavin is saying RHR is keeping his mouth shut seeing how he has signed a non-disclosure agreement with whatever team it is.

So, let's look at the big picture here. In 2010, we will have Izod sponsorship for the "Izod Indycar Series". Add to that, that we will most likely see Izod on the car of RHR in 2010 in a major way. We should also see HER Energy in 2010 at NHL Racing with Alex Lloyd behind the wheel. Don't forget about the APEX Brazil money we should see coming into the series if we get a race finally confirmed in Brazil.

All in all, 2010 is shaping up to look alright. I mean, considering most people think the sky is falling, I think we will do alright.


Newman-Wachs to Indycar?

Big news coming from Marshall Pruett regarding the future of Newman-Wachs Racing and one of their young american stars, the 2009 Atlantic Series Champion, John Edwards.

In Marshall's latest piece on SpeedTV.com, he more or less puts it out there that NWR will be headed to either the Indycar Series or GP2 in 2010, and his plans include watching John Edwards drive which ever car he enters.

This will most likely deal the final blow to the Atlantic series but will be a huge help for the Indycar Series. The Atlantic series will lose one of it's marquee teams and will add to the troubles that series is seeing right now while the Indycar Series could see the addition of a talented, accomplished, young American in a car no one had thought would be on the entry list in 2010.

Of course, all this depends on Eddie Wachs ability to find the funding, most likely from the Nuclear Energy sector, but in the article, he seems pretty sure he will pull it off, and Mr. Pruett also goes on to add to the article that it isn't beyond Wachs to pull money out of his own pockets to help fund the project.

Before we go any further, for those who don't follow American Open-Wheel talent, or the Atlantics series, this is not the John Edwards that ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008 (and subsequently was found to have cheated on his wife with some party worker).

No, this John Edwards was racing in the Atlantic series at 16 years old for Forsythe Championship Racing. He was racing in FIA sanctioned racing series in Europe at 14 years old. He has won the Star Mazda Championship in 2008, and followed it up by winning the Atlantic Championship in 2009. He is American. He is young. He is more of what the IRL needs.

Of course all this means nothing in the grand scheme of things. Until the 18 year old Edwards straps into a Dallara and does some testing we won't know if he can handle the higher horsepower cars or if he can adapt to the ovals like many before him have. But if he manages to pull it all together, and NWR latches on (at first, to learn) with a good and experienced ICS team, then we can expect big things from the young American.

And the addition of NWR to the IRL, even if at first they are partnered with an existing team would lead to the creation of a strong Indycar Series team down the road.

There's not much bad you can say about this news coming from Mr. Pruett and Mr. Wachs. Hopefully it comes through. The number of Americans in the IRL are dropping and he would help counter that, especially talented Americans.


Exciting is in the eye of the beholder

First of all, after my lack of posting for a while, I must apologize. I've been relatively busy and this blog was shoved to the back burner, and for that I'm sorry. I know there are a few people that regularily read this blog and hopefully it wasn't too much for you to have to do without for a while.

Next thing on my to do list is to congratulate Dario Franchitti on a strong run to the 2009 IRL Indycar Championship. Dario was consistently fast and made the fewest mistakes of all the championship contenders, and subsequently won the championship because of it. Of course, there was some luck sprinkled in there at times (ie: the finale at Homestead).

Many of the forums I've visited the last few days seem to have arguments regarding the excitement level of the finale. I've seen posters saying this race was on par with the '09 Richmond debacle while some posters talk about the race being one of the more exciting races of the year for various reasons.

First of all, I think that if you are one of the people upset that most of the field was one or two laps down by about midway through the race, maybe Nascab is better for you? I mean, Nascab is the series that throws debris cautions to keep a number of cars on the lead lap. They are the series that pushes pack racing down our throats (and I know, we had Chicagoland, but I don't think that pack racing was the planned).

At Homestead, we saw the three fastest cars on the track show in a class of their own. They were the best on saturday, and they deserved to be that far ahead of the rest of the field. Look at any of the Indianapolis 500's from 1980 to 1990. They had a large number of cars laps down at the finish, hell in 1984, Rick Mears put the rest of the field 2 laps down on his way to the victory.

Briscoe and Dixon battled for the lead most of the race, with the 2 points for the most laps led a very important factor in determining the championship winner. I'm not sure if you noticed how loose Briscoe was running, he was all over the track. Any lap he could had lost it, and thrown the championship away. But, I was on the edge of my bed (yea, I couldnt watch the race live, because I'm Canadian, and I lost the online feed with about 40 laps to go... But I did get to see the end of the race on tape delay) hoping Briscoe wouldn't lose the little bit of grip he had.

And watching the battle for the lead was fun to watch, any given lap for a while, Dixon or Briscoe would pull ahead. Drafting down both straights and pulling alongside in the corners side by side, with the cars dancing around underneath them. Then knowing Dario was there if anyone made a mistake.

Versus did an awesome job of showing the battle for the championship and playing it up very well. I know listening to the race later on that night I was still excited even though I knew who won the race already. They played up the fuel mileage on Dario's part vs. Briscoe and Dixon running full out very well. Seeing which strategy would end up on the top step of the podium and with the winner's trophy in hand was fun to see play out.

Dario was a deserving winner and definately deserved the championship, as did the other two candidates. But knowing Dario ended up with the title keeps a smile on my face and is a very good story heading into 2010.


Bartender Rumors #7

Alright, I might had forgotten to get questions from Twitter, as I had originally planned to head over before the weekend, but then realized there was a race on Friday night, which changed my plans. So I bring you rumors only, no responses, sorry, I'll make up for it.

Anyways, I went by last night and here is what the good man had to tell you and me.

-He says LDR will be a two car team in 2010, no news on driver. He still expects Takuma Sato at LDR for Homestead.
-He says asides from the FAZZT Racing team with driver Alex Tagliani, you can expect one more new (or old) team for 2010, one that no one is talking about.
-Sponsorship packages are hurting for 2010. Teams are hoping that the Homestead numbers turn out to be very good being the championship deciding race. They figure that will finish the season off on a good note, and help sell sponsors on Versus.
-Vision will answer the call in 2010, but one other team won't.
-He says Brazil is 50/50 at the moment.
-A1GP is counting on Brazil happening because they want to be a support race, and have already held discussions with the IRL. They have scheduled their race in Brazil for the same weekend.
-VW may use the IRL as a way to introduce the high end Phaethon back to the USA. They are planning to relaunch the previously failed model to the US in 2011 or 2012.
-Milka is back full time for 2010.

Lots of stuff to go through here, what are your thoughts.


Time To Make A Stand

It's been a couple of years now since we've seen chassis diversity in the Indycar Series and who knows when we will see it again. During discussions about a new car, Indycar officials stated something along the lines of "Dallara will be the sole provided of the new chassis" when the car comes out in 2011 or 2012.

Well, the IRL has backed down from that, however, we still haven't heard anything official in regards to who would be allowed to build the new chassis' when the new car does come out some time in the next decade. I know some people still believe the IRL will go with one manufacturer because they believe it to be the cheapest, or maybe because, according the Robin Miller, the IRL gets kick backs from every part sold by Dallara.

Either way, most fans of the sport believe we need multiple engine manufacturers and multiple chassis manufacturers to keep the tradition of Indycar racing and Indianapolis alive. Spec racing can be fun, but I believe it has outlived it's welcome with ICS fans.

Throughout the engine summit, rumors have circulated about VW and Porshe and Alfa Romeo joining the series, but none of that has come through as fact. The latest rumor is that no one will join Honda in 2011. Indycar can't really control that, if engine manufacturers don't want to come on board, the IRL can't force their hand to do so.

However, chassis diversification can indeed be helped by Indycar seeing how there are multiple chassis manufacturers interested in the Indycar series. Imagine the step up the series would take if chassis' produced by Dallara competed with Panoz and Lola every week. Three different chassis manufacturers producing different cars that produce different levels of downforce would provide massive amounts of passing opportunities, and would bring in diversity to the sport again. Atleast it would make the fans we have now happier.

But in order to get the IRL to bring in these multiple chassis manufacturers, we the fans have to force their hand the best we can. Being the ones who buy the tickets and support the sponsors and watch the races on television, deserve to have some sort of say in the matter. So, I am hereby introducing the "Bring Chassis Diversity Back To The Indycar Series" Petition.

This petition will allow fans to voice their strong wishes for multiple chassis manufacturers for the new era of Indycar racing. Once we get enough votes, I will send this Petition on to the IRL. In the meantime, let's get as many signatures as we can. Send the link around, get your friends to sign it, any IRL fan you know, hell, any racing fan you know. Get the word out there, as this is our chance to have a say in the future of Indycar Racing in North America.


Let Danica Go To Nascab

I know, I ripped into Danica earlier this summer on the blog, and I got a good amount of heat for doing it. People couldn't believe I was ripping a strip off of the IRL's princess, oh well, these things happen. And if I ever feel the need to do it again, I probably will.

However, I will admit one thing, she has done rather well since then, staying in 5th place, even after a bunch of road courses which are her weak point. Even I have to give her credit. Being the best of the rest, atleast in terms of points, is a great accomplishment. Who knows, if she was in a Ganassi or Penske car, she could be near the top of the points standings and battling for a championship with two races to go.

So yes, I just gave her some props for her good runs. Bookmark this posting because it won't happen all that often.

Being an IRL blogger, I'm well aware that she is our biggest ticket in 2009, and probably will be for about 2 or 3 years along as she sticks around for a while. She brings in big ratings, is our biggest known driver, and her car consistently has the highest ROI in the end of season ratings.

If she happened to dissapear from the IRL and Indycar Series, it would hurt. But the latest rumors going around, specificially, Danica sticking with the IRL while doing a few ARCA, Trucker Series, and Busch League races for Tony Stewart's team could turn into a positive overall for the IRL.

Obviously, if she does run a few races in tin tops (which in my opinion, is a terrible career move for her, because she will most likely fail miserably), it most likely points towards her departure for Nascab in 2011 or 2012.

However, any fans she gains over there could follow her over to the Indycar Series race on ABC and Versus. Hell, if she is able to battle for the points title in 2010 in the ICS, as well as run competitively in some tin tops, she might even get some rednecks to tune in for the points race simply to follow her, and to see how Nascab's princess is doing. If these people happen to tune into Chicagoland and see the fabulous 3 wide racing these heroes put on in a few weeks ago, then maybe these Nascrap fans stick around to watch a little more often.

These additional fans might help turn Graham Rahal, Alex Lloyd, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tomas Scheckter and Ed Carpenter into more mainstream guys. Nascab fans know how to get behind a driver, and maybe they can do the same and teach some ICS fans to do the same.

Overall, Danica going to race in the various Nascrap series basically gives the IRL free advertising with potential for very high return on investment.

Thus, let her race tin tops. Whether she decides to leave full time for the taxi's or not, she will be doing the IRL a favor while trying them out.


Bartender Rumors #6

I headed down to the bar tonight for a pint and a chat. Figured after a nice long weekend, drinking on a tuesday would be a positive. Turns out I was too early for our favorite bartender, so I had to sit around an hour or so, gave me time to enjoy beer.

Anyways, when he did show up, he was lively and entertaining. I had shown up with a few questions in hand from some tweeps on Twitter. I got those questions answered and got a couple other tidbits for your enjoyment.

@indy44 wanted to know what the bartender thought about his theory in regards to the 2009/2010 silly season. "Dixon to De Ferran, Danica to Ganassi & AGR running 2 car team with TK and Marco".
  • He's not totally sure what is happening. Dixon all depends on the contract option, which no one seems to know if it is Dixon's option to return to TCGR in 2010, or Ganassi's option on Dixon for 2010. He says if Dixon can get out of the contract in 2010, Scott will be at De Ferran Motorsports asap. He says AGR runs three cars for Danica, Marco, and TK.

@PlanetIRLdotcom asked about where Dan Wheldon would end up in 2010.

  • He said he had heard a possibility where Wheldon ends up at De Ferran Motorsports to team with Simon Pagenaud, but it is nothing substantial right now. Dan wants to go back to AGR, but they don't have an interest in him apparently. Dan will have to wait and see how the cookie crumbles.

For future reference, I will always post on my twitter page within a day of when I head to the bar, so if you have questions for him, just tweet me.

He also had this to say.

  • He still expects Takuma Sato to be in a car at Homestead. Apparently Honda didn't want to break him in on ovals in front of his home crowd in case he had a bad outing.
  • He said AGR is the only good team that wants to put up with Danica running both Nascab and ICS.
  • He says to expect big things from HVM in 2010. Doornbos signed on with them for the rest of 2009 and all of 2010 because he was promised big improvements from his funding for the HVM Dallara's.
  • J.R. Hildebrand to Panther? Jonathan Bomarito to Coyne?

That's all for tonight, I'll be visiting him on Friday night after the local Ribfest. Should be a good night, and I'll have something for you guys on saturday or sunday.


The Dixon Chronicles

For anyone who believes in the 2010 Dixon to De Ferran rumors, you just got a little bit more news to nibble on. For those of you who don't believe he is going anywhere in 2010, well, keep reading for my sake.

SpeedTV is reporting that Dixon will be joining the young, and possibly ICS bound, Simon Pagenaud along with team owner Gil de Ferran behind the wheel of the race-winning #66 XM Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a prototype for Petit Le Mans.

This will be Scott's third time in a De Ferran Motorsports prepared prototype, and if rumors are true, he could be in a De Ferran Motorsports prepared Dallara in 2010 full-time. Leaving arguably the top Indycar team over the past 2 seasons and moving to a start up Indycar team (however, most likely backed by Honda) wouldn't seem the best career move, especially for a recent Champion. We've all seen what happened to Jacques Villeneuve's F1 career and his BAR fiasco.

However, there were strong rumors about Dixon being frustrated or upset over the summer that included everything from having a teammate that can compete with him (Franchitti) to Danica Patrick running a third Ganassi car. Robin Miller first broke the news of a possible Dixon to de Ferran, and Miller hasn't been too far off lately.

Oh, and there is something about an option for 2010 in Dixon's contract, yet, no one seems to know if it is Dixon's option or TCGR's option on Dixon. Obviously, if it is Ganassi's option, this could all be a moot point.

Of course, I'm sure de Ferran is doing everything he can to woo over the 29 year old Dixon. Start a new team with Honda and Apex-Brazil backing, then sign a two-time (possibly three time) champion in your first season would be a pretty big step towards becoming competitive from the get go. And who better to have Simon Pagenaud learn off of then the Iceman?

Anyways, make of it what you will. Most of this stuff is probably blown out of proportion in the first place, but, it's fun to speculate. Atleast Dixon running in Petit Le Mans is a sure thing, the rest of it, not so much.


Come Back Time

Well, I'm finally back on the scene. Took some time off from the blog simply because I didn't have the time for it unfortunately. I was in Edmonton for the Founders Cup (Jr. B National Championship), and prior to that, we were going 110% to get ready for the tournament. Hopefully you guys can forgive me and I can get whatever followers I had on the blog back for the last couple races and into the off-season. I'm planning on doing a silly season page for the site to keep everyone up to date on the multiple situations regarding empty race seats and new teams.

Anyways, I missed the Sonoma race as I was flying back from Edmonton, saw the intro show on the plane, and got home to see the winner interview. I had heard about the Will Power/Nelson Philippe crash and am very happy Nelson was not hurt further then he was. Happy both men will be alright. If Will is ready for 2010 hopefully we'll see him in a Penske Dallara. As for Nelson, if he is ready to go, expect him back at Conquest for a lot more races, if not the full season under the i drive green banner.

Luckily, I planned timed into schedule last saturday to watch the Chicago race, and got to watch another race from start to finish. And what a race I got to watch. Close action lap after lap, passing, side by side racing, and a top four that didnt involve Red-Red-Red-Red (or in Dario's case, the yellow Lifelock livery).

Mario Moraes managed his best finish in his still short ICS career in a race dedicated to his father. Graham Rahal also made a strong push for first with a couple of laps to go. I know I was on the edge of my seat to see if Graham could make it stick around the outside and take the lead, but he just didn't have the help he wanted.

As for those who are complaining about the Indycar Series at Chicagoland being dangerous and contrived, I say to you, Chicagoland has always been a very tight track competition wise. Look back at the 2008 race and you'll see that the cars were just as tight, yet there were simply less cars able to hang with the Penske/Ganassi bunch last year. And if I recall correctly, I didn't hear anyone complaining last year about the pack racing. As for the danger involved in the close, sidepod to sidepod action, perhaps the danger involved will help teach the drivers on track to respect eachother a bit more. It seemed like drivers had learned to be fearless with all the new safety innovations, and can be attributed to some stupid accidents where drivers didn't mind putting someone in the wall at 220 mph. Hey, by the way, unfortunately, danger gets the viewers attention.

Now we have this Versus/Comcast/DirecTV issue coming up. Obviously, people aren't happy about this, especially those subscribed to DirecTV. As far as I'm concerned, give it time. They've got about two more weeks before you really need to worry about not being able to see Motegi.

By the way, big thumbs up to Alex Tagliani who managed to put something together to run full time in 2010 (atleast that's the plan) with entrepreneur Andre Azzi. This current and future unofficial Team Canada seems to have the makings of something good right off the bat. They bought the remnants of Marty Roth's ICS team, which includes 4 top of the line (yet heavily crash damaged) Dallara's. Those cars, according to Robin Miller, are all top of the line Dallara's, and Roth spent top dollar to buy all the little extra's for his cars. If Tag's can bring up James Hinchcliffe and Andrew Ranger once he retires, then his team will be a success.

Grand-Am Rolex Series at IMS? Screw that. If you want a sports car race there, run a 12 Hour ALMS race there. An Indy ALMS 12 or 24 hour race would bring in the same major entrants from across the pond as Petit Le Mans brings across for Road Atlanta. Grand-Am is slow, boring, and very low car counts, and it's Nascabish.

Alright, well, I will drop by the Gryphon and see if our favorite bartender still has his job, hopefully he will be working and can give the dish on some silly season stuff. Stay tuned folks.


More Street Circuits... Sigh

According to a report in the Baltimore Sun, it seems like Terry Angstadt thinks running in Baltimore in 2011 is a good idea. He has sent a letter to the mayor of Baltimore, indicating that the IRL would like to sanction an event alongside Camden Yards in 2 years time.

"I am taking this opportunity to convey to you, collectively, how interested the Indy Racing League is in the possibility that our organization would sanction an IndyCar Series event in Baltimore starting in 2011," said the letter received by city officials July 20 from Terry Angstadt, president of IRL's commercial division.

"I respectfully ask the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland to partner with [Baltimore Racing Development] to make the Baltimore Grand Prix a reality," said the letter to Mayor Sheila Dixon and City Council members.

A race in the north-east appeals to the IRL, and it is an unserved market with a historically decent fan base. And the layout doesn't look bad, and Al Unser Jr. has a hand in designing it so it should be alright and it's another course with right turns.

On top of all that, it seems like this thing is ready to go. City Council members can't find any issues in regards to not staging the event. They all seem to think that it is a nice way to bring money into the area and promote the city. Hell, Mayor Sheila Dixon might even be a long lost relative of Scott Dixon which must be a sign.

But this is another twisty course on a road circuit. Why? We have plenty of tracks that we can go to that must be better then this. If Terry wants to grab a hold of the north-eastern market, Loudon is sitting un-used by Indycars, Pocono is sitting there un-used by Indycars, and a permanent road course facility in New Jersey is sitting there un-used by Indycars. It bothers me that the IRL seems to want to push these street circuits (don't forget this supposed New England/Gillette Stadium street course for 2011).

Why the sudden addiction to street circuits by the IRL? I'm all for the twisties, but, at some point, why waste the good permanent ovals and road courses for these temporary circuits that usually end up in a lack of action and excitement.

Luckily, St. Pete and Toronto usually put on a good show, and Long Beach can do it sometimes, and atleast Long Beach has the heritage to fall back on. But all these new street circuits like the proposed Baltimore and New Hamshire and Nashville tracks seem more likely to go the way of Denver, Las Vegas, and the non-existant Pheonix race then of the great street circuits on the ICS schedule right now.

It almost seems, asides from St. Petes, that street events need some history behind them to make them work, and the time where street racing was a niche event is over I think.

It just bugs me when we could see a schedule filled with a 50/50 oval/street-road mix with awesome historic Road America, Cleveland, Michigan, Loudon, Laguna Seca, Milwaukee, and Fontana instead of these temporary street circuits in Baltimore, Nashville, and New England.

Street circuits can be fun, but there isn't a whole lot of room for a bunch of room on the schedule for them when they take away other tracks spots. And I realize that a whole lot of people are getting mad that we are dumping ovals for street circuits and road courses. So, let's keep the small group of IRL fans happy and keep some ovals on the schedule.

Paul Tracy Officially In at KVRT

Paul Tracy is in at KVRT for Mario Moraes who will not be attending the event due to the passing of his father earlier this week.

Curt Cavin has just confirmed via Twitter that PT is in the number 5 car at KVRT for Mid-Ohio.

Tracy has experience at Mid-Ohio, and he will be in the primary car. He could make some waves this weekend if everything goes according to plan. I wish I was able to watch the race as it turns out it will be a pretty good one with Oriol back at NHL and Doornbos at HVM.

By the way, add another car to the usual car count as both HVM and NHL are running 2 cars this weekend.

Boy, I haven't been this excited about a race since Kentucky!


Doornbos to HVM?

Well, Autoracing1.com has posted alot of rumors, but this one is pretty good and it's getting alot of play from ICS types.

AR1.com is running a rumor that HVM is preparing a car for Robert Doornbos of NHL Racing. Obviously, things have been rocky over at NHL Racing with reports that the relationship between Graham Rahal and Bobby D was frosty at best. Graham could be heard on TV during the Watkins Glen telecast complaining about his teammate blocking him.

We've heard all year long that Doornbos was tight on having the money to run the full season for NHL, and it makes sense that if he is low on money, HVM would be able to make it work for a little bit less dough. Let's not forget that Doornbos has history with Keith Wiggins. Doornbos ran for Minardi - Team USA in the Champ Car World Series which was partially owned by Wiggins.

Hell, if I were Doornbos, I'd be fed up playing second fiddle to Graham. It's quite obvious that Graham is getting the better equipment, and it must be tough for an older driver to see a younger budding star out shine him in what the public must think is equal cars.

If this is true, it would be the meeting of two financially strapped items. Both Doornbos and Mr. Wiggins are hurting for money, so hopefully this works out for them.

Obviously, this increases speculation that Sebastien Bourdais will be returning to NHL Racing, possibly in time for Mid-Ohio. If so, awesome. If not, there is no big loss here since we aren't losing any cars in the field.

Seeing Sebastien Bourdais running at Mid-Ohio would be amazing. That is the type of course he excels on, and it would be awesome to see him dicing it up with the Penske's and Ganassi's. Add to that, +1 car on the grid and it's a good situation for the depth of the field and the fans sitting at home.

I'm going to make a stop at the Gryphon tonight, and hopefully our good bartender can shed some light on this situation for us.

Conquest Confirms 3 More Races

With Alex Tagliani leaving Conquest, effective immediately according to his column for RDS in Canada, Conquest have landed a couple of other drivers to fill their driver line up for the rest of the year.

Nelson Philippe will compete for Conquest at the snoozer called Sonoma and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Sonoma will be the first race Nelson has competed since Indy where he finished 25th for HVM Racing alongside E.J. Viso, and it will be his first road course race in a Dallara. This will be Nelson's third stint with Conquest after about 1 1/2 seasons with the team in the Champ Car World Series. It's unknown at the moment if Nelson is bringing his "i drive green" sponsorship (if there was even any money involved in this sponsorship) with him to Conquest.

And 2004 ICS Rookie of the Year and Indianapolis 500 ROTY Kosuke Matsuura will run for Conquest in Japan at the Motegi track Jack Arute so elegently describes as an egg. Matsuura is a veteran of 64 ICS races. He is the second Japanese driver entered into the Motegi event alongside Roger Yasukawa with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

The car count for Motegi actually looks pretty good for an overseas race. Looks like we'll have atleast 21 for the race, and if you still believe Takuma Sato will run the race with someone, it would make three Japanese drivers in the race, which would tie the most ever Japanese drivers in a CART or IRL race at Motegi.

It's good to see Conquest getting a couple more races in, but it's too bad it can't be full time from here on out. They seemed to have something set up for 2010 though according to Tags, but it involved multiple drivers. We'll see what happens.

Tags is another question mark for 2010. He seemed pretty confident that he would have a full time ride in 2010, and he mentioned his strong runs at Indy and Toronto opened some doors for him. Maybe AGR wants him to help set cars up for their younger guys? He can be quick, but he really has a knack for setting cars up. It's what he was known for in CCWS and CART, and Conquest raved over how much they learned from Tags running their car.

By the way, Homestead should be a nice turn out for cars. I'm counting 25 or 26 right now if Vitor is able to get back in the car in time.
Editor's Note: Nelson Philippe will be carrying the "i drive green" colors for Conquest as per Racer.com.


Barber Is A Plus

With the announcement that Barber is in the plans for 2010, everyone seems to have an opinion on the situation. Lots of people are talking positively and negatively about various aspects of the track and it's position on the schedule.

Personally, I'm very happy to see the track on the schedule. It's going to be a good part of the country to hold a race, and even though that might be Nascab country. I think with the decline in Nascab popularity the last year or so, however slight it might be, that holding a race in Alabama might be a good opportunity for the ICS to possibly grab a couple of their fans and atleast expose them to open wheel racing off of an oval.

On top of that, it adds another road course to the schedule. And the teams must like it and it will lower any crash damage they might endure. If it does end up between St. Petersburg and Long Beach on the schedule, it breaks up the east coast to west coast trip the teams have to make. Atleast it is a stop along the way.

Barber will need to work on a couple of issues to upgrade the track and add passing zones, however, I think it will work out alright even if they don't add passing zones for the first year. Rumors from multiple sources say that the track will be worked on for the second year of a three year contract.

So, we'll see what other surprises will pop up on the schedule, if any, come this sunday if everything comes together the way it should. Hopefully, in my opinion, we'll see Cleveland on there as well.


I Don't Like Danica Patrick

I went on Twitter today and asked for some advice about what to write. I was told that there is always something new with Danica Patrick, which spurred my creative juices. So I figured, "Hell, I can write a rant about Danica Patrick, and enjoy myself while doing so".

I don't like the fact that Danica gets paraded around as the IRL show girl. Luckily, it has declined a bit this year, but, I still find it terribly annoying that a driver who won 1 race in 5 years (74 starts) is the face of the IRL. Unfortunately, we seem to be stuck with this situation as she is the biggest name we have, since we can't seem to produce stars to carry the series. I guess we need multiple American Women to get even more popularity for our drivers.

The fact that she is creating headlines simply by showing up in Nascab shops is annoying as hell, and the fact she is eating it up in the media by waiting it out until the end of the season to announce her future plans.

I have nothing against women in racing, in fact I think it's a positive to see both men and women competing together, but it bothers me when I see Danica being treated differently then the rest of the boys. She keeps saying she just wants to be one of the boys, and just be another driver, but then she throws herself on the cover of Sports Illustrated in less clothes then Pamela Anderson usually wears.

Problem is, if she leaves, the IRL is relatively screwed. If ratings drop, which they most likely will unfortunately, if she leaves, it will be twice as hard to grow and develop new faces for American fans to grab a hold of as their own. To grow stars, we need people watching when Ryan Hunter-Reay beats the big dogs again and steps on top of the podium, or when Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson battle it out in the late laps in a historic Indycar race. If no one is watching, then no one cares how great these battles and drivers are.

Unfortunately, as much as I dislike Danica, I realize the need we have for her in the league. I guess if people hate Paul Tracy while agreeing he would be an asset, Danica could be put in the same boat unfortunately. Maybe Danica pushes some of the same buttons PT pushes with fans, some people love them, some people don't, but either way, they are both huge news makers when they are driving, or talking about driving, or pushing someone on TV in pitlane.

If Danica leaves, it's a huge blow, but that won't stop me from hating seeing her do well. I guess I know how all these PT hater's feel.


FIL & ICS Together?

With the weekend off in the Indycar series, I know alot of Indycar fans were searching hard for something fast to watch. I know alot of the bloggers and fans on Twitter were watching the ALMS race at Lime Rock on Sunday, we even had a blogger attend the event who produced some nice news on the ALMS teams to ICS for 2010 in guest writer for MyNameIsIRL, Declan Brennan.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to talk about IRL news and notes, rumors, and to discuss major topics Indycar fans were talking about. And this past weekend, one of the things I saw alot of people discuss on Twitter and some forums was running the Firestone Indy Lights and Indycar Series together during races, a la ALMS. So now, I shall provide my opinion on this subject for you lucky readers.

First of all, this would provide a high level of excitement, just as it does in the ALMS. It would provide plenty of passing between classes, and would add some slower traffic to create dramatic passing opportunities. Watching two prototypes in the ALMS battling for the lead coming up on a couple of GT2 cars adds a little suspense to the race. That could of course translate to excitement and drama in the IRL as well.

On top of all of that, with the decent ICS car count, but a diminishing FIL car count, it would definately fill the track up and put about 40 cars on track. It would give the appearance that the fields are much larger and would give the fans at the track action all the time. That can't be a negative, even if the track gets a little crowded.

Running the FIL cars with the IRL cars would add the sponsorship value for the Lights as they would get a hell of a lot more exposure for the races. Running with the big boys can only help the exposure and bring in more money through sponsorship and butts in the seats.

Of course, this could only work on the road and street courses as the speeds on the ovals would just be too different. I wouldn't want Mario Moraes trying to get three wide with 2 Indy Lights cars at Kentucky Speedway. I love Mario, but I don't trust him to run 2 wide with another IRL car (ask Marco about that) and the rate of closing speed on an oval would be way too high.

Even in the ALMS, some of the prototype drivers complain about the skill level of the GT guys and their ability to get out of the way. They also think the rate of closing is too great even on road courses. Think about it in the IRL. The FIL is a development series for the ICS, where as the GT categories in ALMS are not a development series. The talent gap between FIL and ICS must be much greater then the gap between the prototypes and GT cars. Add to that, the fact that the ALMS runs fenders and closed wheels, if an inexperienced GT driver happens to get into the side of a prototype, it may cost the P1/P2 car a bit of time a bit of damage, but that is it. If you get an inexperienced FIL driver locking wheels with Scott Dixon, you have the potential for an airborn Dallara and a high risk of injury. Sure, racing is dangerous, but, we do the best we can to lower the danger, and FIL with ICS isn't a good idea for safety.

On top of all that, the FIL cars would have to be redesigned to either accept a much larger fuel cell or to accept in-race refueling, which would mean adding a bunch of members to the team, adding salaries which would boost up the budget for a FIL team. That would defeat the purpose of a low cost training grounds for a bunch of young guns trying to move up the ICS. And if you want to do pitstops for the FIL cars, you have to find a hell of a lot more pit boxes.

Take away the FIL race, and you're searching for another support race. We are hurting for support races in the first place at most tracks, and losing the FIL race would hurt the race weekends even more.

Basically, I can't see how this would work. I think it would be very exciting to watch, but, the safety would overrule any positives we could pull out of it. I doubt there is any talk at all from the IRL's perspective of doing this anyway. Just the pure danger of touching wheels and getting airborn is what will shoot this idea down if anyone ever brings it up.

For those who brought it up, on paper it looks good, but once we get to the details, it just doesn't work out. Atleast people are thinking of ways to improve the product though, which we can't stop doing. It's our job to push the IRL to think and try new things which will increase the excitement and fun on race weekends.


Bartender Rumors #5

Well, last night I made a quick trip to the Gryphon and The Other Side's favorite bartender was working. No beers for me last night, but, plenty of rumors. He was quite upset with me not showing up for a while. Said he didn't have anyone to talk Indycars with and joked that he thought the blog went under. Anyways, he sent along some juicy ones this week. Here we go.

  • To back up all the rumors about ALMS teams coming over to the IRL next season, he said de Ferran is already a done deal. Says it will be Pagenaud and a second driver, most likely F1 veteran Takuma Sato.
  • On top of de Ferran, he says all the Acura teams are likely to bolt to the IRL if the Prototype classes don't grow. This goes right along with various rumors, summed up well by Mr. Estrada over at IRR.
  • He says he can't figure out which other team Marco would drive for next year, unless it's one of the new ALMS teams that come over. He says he expects Marco to stay at AGR because there just aren't any other seats open that Marco would consider, unless, Panther is able to find sponsorship for a second car.
  • Apparently one of his old teams is already planning for two Brazil races next year even though nothing has been announced.
  • He says Milwaukee won't be on the schedule when it is released in a couple of weeks.

Well, that's what I got out of him last night. He said he was at the Toronto race and was not pleased with the off-track atmosphere and lack of ammenities compared to usual. He said that it was so far off of what it used to be that he was embarrassed about his home race.

Anyways, that is it. I'll make a trip back out there soon, and probably stay a bit longer for a drink or two.

Oh, let me know what you guys think about his stuff on the comment section.

What A Miserable Week It's Been

In a year where it's been pretty constant between between good news, bad news, and any news, this past week has seen none of the above. The Indycars put on a good show this past Sunday in Toronto, and that was after a nice race at Watkins Glen a week earlier. That's two good non-ovals in a row. Hell, if that isn't momentum for the series, I don't know what is. Just the fact that neither of these two races were ovals and provided more passing then most of the ovals so far this season says alot, and it is something good for the series to run with right now.

There were plenty of feel good stories dating back to Watkins Glen including Justin Wilson and Dale Coyne (finally) winning, the slight hiccup of the Penske/Ganassi domination, PT getting into a car for 3 races in a row, Will Power getting back into a car at Toronto and Edmonton, and add another Canadian in Tags for the Toronto and Edmonton. Fans were happy to see these things happen. I was so happy to see Dale Coyne get his first 'W', I haven't been so excited for a long time watching an IC race. Then you follow that up seeing a nice field in Toronto with strong showings from the Canadian boys, and just an overall excellent race with a little controversy involving PT (who would had thought?), and you've got two good weeks of Indycar racing heading into the second half of the season.

Of course, there were still some negatives like Milwaukee and the lack of passing that could or could not be fixed right now, how do we know? Throw in diminishing Indy Lights car counts and you've got yourself some news.

Basically, the point I'm trying to make is that it hasn't been all rosy the last couple of weeks, but atleast there has been news about the league and things to talk about. It seems like the IRL PR department took their summer vacation this week as all we really have of newsworthiness is Brian Barnhart talking about the radical new cars on Indycar.com. That wasn't even really that big a deal because he hardly even talked about it.

Come on, give us something to talk about. Give us a hint about the schedule so we have something to overtalk about. Or do an episode of 'Up to Speed' with E.J. Viso or Mario Moraes and get some dirt on them for the demolition derby they had after the Toronto race, get that mini-feud heated up a bit. Imagine Mario Moraes calling Viso a snake or Viso calling Moraes a... umm... he already called him a "Monkey with a bag full of money", so think of something else he could call him. Hell, put out a sex tape with the AGR drivers, it should get some news, and don't worry, they won't see eachother often after this season so it won't be too awkward.

Point is this, the IRL had a boatload of momentum with these last two races on ABC which had decent ratings (in comparison with the rest of the season) and this week, they are laying dormant and doing nothing to maintain that momentum. They have to do something to stay in the minds of the fans. Take a look at the blog roll, even us bloggers are having difficulty finding things to talk about. This silence from the league isn't going to help grow the league back to where it should be, it's only going to hurt.

I guess somethings might never change though.


Let's talk about Bourdais

Alright, Sebastien Bourdais is officially done at the Red Bull baby team of Toro Rosso in F1. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind for all of us IRL fans is, what happens to our favorite whining, snobby, fast, frenchman?

Of course, the top joke is that Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy will both end up at KVRT in 2010, making for a wonderful circus on the Indycar circuit. Call up the camera's and have Versus shoot a reality show following this team around for 2010 and watch the IRL ratings sky rocket.

I've seen a bunch of people asking how long it will take for Newman/Haas/Lanigan to dump Robert Doornbos and replace him with Seabass. I think it's safe to say we can squash that rumor since Doorknobs is paying his own way to run for one of American Open Wheel Racing's most historic team. Unless NHLR finds some funds (which they supposedly had done prior to the season to run Seabass before he re-upped with Toro Rosso), or Bourdais brings some Red Bull money with him as part of being let go, he won't be running in the Indycar's until atleast 2010. Doornbos is here to stay until either his money runs out, or atleast the end of 2009.

Other options or rumors have Bourdais running for AGR in '10 since they have 3 drivers out of contract after 2009. A team of Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais (if Marco and Hideki move elsewhere) would rival, on paper anyways, Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Throw in a third car at AGR for someone like J.R. Hildebrand or Marco Andretti, and you just think that AGR is much improved over 2009. There are so many open seats at AGR that this is a decent possibility, and a team with all the aero parts needed on ovals, that Bourdais could be a strong competitor right out of the gate.

Other options are Graham Rahal and Bourdais at NHLR in 2010 to reunite the 2008 team that finished 5th and 1st in the final year of the Champ Car World Series. NHLR has a sweet spot for Bourdais after he won them 4 drivers titles in a row, and they worked hard to find him the money to run for them in 2009.

Non-IRL options include driving full time for Peugeot in the Le Mans Series in Europe. His wife enjoys living in Europe and he already has a contract signed with them for the 24 hours of Le Mans. It's a good option for someone who has already made decent money in his career and might want to quiet down with his family. He can also try and hop on with one of the new F1 teams starting in 2010 or look for a seat to open up at the french Renault team. There are atleast 6 seats available for 2010 in F1 and he has experience which could help him land one of the rides.

Yours truly would love to see Bourdais land in the States with Newman/Haas/Lanigan first, and any other IRL team second. But I think seeing Bourdais running in the Indycar series for 2010 is a positive for the depth and talent of the series if someone can run him full time. Problem is, he probably doesn't bring any money which is an issue in these times. Hopefully the economy picks up a tad bit before the end of the year.

We have to wait and see what happens. Rumors will spiral out of control and I'm sure Bourdais to Ferrari will show up, and Bourdais to Penske will show up. For now though, let's watch Bourdais and Wilson running in the rain at Mexico City in '06.


Changes are done!

Well, some of you noticed that The Other Side comment section used to be in spanish. No big deal really, I mean, some of you probably speak spanish, but, for those of us who don't, seeing the comment section in spanish was a bit of an eye sore. And combined with that, the old green layout was getting to be a bit of a bore.

So now that I'm back in the saddle with the blog, I decided that throwing a new layout up for all your wonderful viewing eyes would be a nice touch for you fine folks.

I think it is a nice upgrade over the last layout, and thanks to my wonderful girlfriend, I was finally able to put together a fancy banner for the site with her. I think I sent her a bit crazy doing it, but it was worth it in the end.

Let me know what you think, you can vote on the top left of the site and leave comments in the now english comment section, in english.

Hope you guys like it. I'll have something up in a bit, and I'll be visiting the Gryphon tomorrow night for some more rumors hopefully.


Toronto Race Review

Well, I didn't get to catch the race live, but, thanks to the channel I moaned and groaned about not getting, which made many IRL races unavailable to me, I was able to watch most of the replayed race as soon as I got out from my lacrosse game.

And thank the Lord I was able to see most of it. I'm a road/street course fan, and I make no secret of that amongst many oval enthusiasts who read this blog. But even at the beginning of the season, I would had told you that atleast one of the two most exciting and best races this year would be an oval.

Now, I haven't seen every race myself, but, so far, among all the races I've seen, Watkins Glen and Toronto are both at the top of the list (Iowa is a close third). These races included passing! What a novel concept, one car going past another, for position, out side of the pits. There has been drama at both races, racers have put on some great driving, decent car counts, and no sense of knowing who would win.

Of course, Toronto, being my home track and seeing two Canadians running 1-2 part way through the race, it was special. And seeing PT picking off car after car at turn 3 was priceless. It's too bad Helio and PT got together, because they were both having a good run. I don't think there is anyone to blame, but Helio should had known PT wasn't going to give Helio the spot. PT isn't racing for points or a championship, he was racing for a win. I recall PT running down the inside of Bourdais at Denver in '06 with the same mentality.

And what a treat to see Tags run up front most of the race. You've got to feel good about seeing Alex Tagliani and Eric Bachelart having a good day. They scrapped everything they had together just to get out to the track for Toronto and Edmonton, and they are probably done after that. Hopefully they can have another good run and woo some sponsors for 2010. Only bad part about today was Tags taking out Scheckter on a dumb move. It sure did get Mona-Vie some airtime though.

Anyone have any objection to calling turn 3 in Toronto one of the most exciting right turns of the circuit? Did you see Dixon pass Wilson on the outside of turn 3? That takes balls to put your car out that close to the wall on the exit of turn 3.

Big day for Ryan Hunter-Reay who finally got a full race under his belt and came home with a 7th place finish. I'm sure that 7th place feels like a win after all he has been through this year.

At the end of the day though, I'm happy with the way things shaped up. Sure, the top five included 4 Penske and TCGR cars, and there was no PT or Tags involved in the podium ceremony, but, one of those Penske's was Will Power, and it was nice to see him run well. Also, seeing "Bad Ass" Justin Wilson run in the top 5 again was wonderful. DCR was running some Canadian sponsorship this weekend as well, with Leon's on both wings.

I enjoyed the race, and it seemed like a pretty good crowd was on hand, you could tell from all the boo's Helio got after the Tracy incident. But, it felt good to have the race back in Toronto and seeing the Indycars running down Lake Shore Boulevard again. I might had missed it this year, but I made a promise to my girlfriend that we'd do our best to keep next year's race weekend open so we could make it out there. I can't wait.


I'm Back

Well, it's been about a month now I believe since I've written on here. There were many reasons, some of which were due to the IRL, some of which were personal. I've been working through a bit of sickness, and the latest is Strep Throat which I'm getting over right now. And all of this is on top of our lacrosse playoff schedule where we are working hard, so time has been slim.

This weekend is my home race, and, as usual, I won't be able to go. Not exactly pleased I won't be attending, probably more upset I couldn't get my media pass for the event. Either way, I wouldn't be able to get to the race on sunday. Another lacrosse game is scheduled perfectly to ruin my race watching ability.

Mind you, I was able to watch the last half of the Richmond procession after a lacrosse game in a hotel in Ottawa, and was able to watch the Watkins Glen race on Sunday sick as a dog. That was a hell of a race. This was all on top of the Iowa race, which gives me three races in a row. That streak will be snapped this sunday.

I thought about buying a ticket simply for saturday for my girlfriend and I, but, there just isn't much happening tomorrow to make it worth while I think. I still might depending on what she is interested in doing.

Anyways, I made my Indycar.com debut today, sending in a couple of comments during the second ICS practice. Got lacrosse a big mention regarding BMO Field inside the track, asked about Seabass, and then mentioned the Standing Start comments one of their pit reporters butchered (last year of CCWS ONLY).

Looks like a good crowd though, for a friday anyways. I'm very impressed with how many fans are there for practice. Lots of people must have called in sick, or maybe all the garbage workers (Toronto garbage workers are on strike) are attending the race.

I'm happy to see qualifying 2 finished with 4 former CCWS guys on top. I'm really getting my hopes up that Justin Wilson (P2 - Q2) can do it all over again and take this race win too. If not Justin, then I'd love to see Matos (P1 - Q2), Doornbos (P4 - Q2), or Power (P3 - Q2) take it. It is just such a good feeling to see someone finish ahead of those red cars.

I'm hoping PT jumps up the charts a bit tomorrow and pulls something out. It'd be nice to see him do something. Hoping for good things from Tags tomorrow too. On the Indycar.com coverage, not sure who it was, but one of the commentators mentioned something about PT having something lined up for a few more races. Hoping that comes together.

Anyone impressed with Richard Antinucci? He is stickin' with Team 3G for now, and has found a touch of speed. I say that, in comparison to Stanton Barrett who is thankfully out of that car now. And it's a younger American kid, which is good for the series. Hopefully he can teach those guys how to set a car up better and get them some decent times. Hope he sticks around.

The more I think of it, the more I think I might make an appearence tomorrow, if I can get the cash together. Drop me a comment if you are there.


Gotta Feel For Ryan

You know, Ryan Hunter-Reay probably thought he was set for this season once he landed that gig with IZOD over the fall and winter of 08/09. He must had figured he'd be in the Rahal Letterman Racing car, with Ethanol and IZOD sponsoring the car. He would contend for wins on most courses again, pushing the RLR car to the top of the grid.

He was happy at RLR, and RLR was happy with him. Then it all started to unravel.

All of a sudden with the worsening economic condition, RLR loses Ethanol sponsorship, and with the sudden loss, are without a major sponsor for 2009. After looking around, making efforts to sign a new primary sponsor for the car, they are unable to find the funds nessicary to run the full season. Instead of taking lesser funds to run around near the back of the pack, Rahal decides to pull his team for 2009 and tells Ryan to look for another ride.

Right about at this moment, I'm thinking something along the lines of "&$%#" went through RHR's head.

A race winner from 2008 at Watkins Glen, an American, an awesome driver, and the face of the biggest marketing promotion the IRL has ever seen, he was out of a ride for 2009. So, what now?

Tony George, realizing the need to have RHR in the series for 2009, if for only the IZOD campaign, began making some phone calls. All of a sudden, rumors of RHR to HVM Racing start up, and things get serious when HVM announces they are putting Ryan in a car at a Sebring test. Just as that happens, Dale Coyne also jumps into the mix and tries to land RHR for the '09 season. However, when the deadline comes to put a deal together, and either HVM or DCR were unable to do so, Tony George snapped him up and put him in the number 21 car at Vision Racing.

Well, this is a positive for Ryan, as Vision is probably ranked higher then HVM and DCR for most drivers. He is getting a ride in a decent squad with a teammate and some real money behind him. Not only is Ryan happy, but IRL fans are pleased with the inclusion of RHR in the 2009 ICS.

So a week before the season, Ryan is confirmed, and gets fitted for a seat at Vision. All of a sudden, St. Petersburg is upon us, and Mr. Hunter-Reay puts in a performance no one, including himself, expected. Ryan finishes runner up to Ryan Briscoe during his first week in the Vision car, and all of a sudden, expectations for 2009 sky rocket. Ryan Hunter-Reay, whether realistically or not, is not considered a major player for the 2009 championship, and fans of the Indycar Series are thrilled with his result.

But ever since, Ryan has been plagued by less then expected results. A string of races out of the top ten has put Ryan in tenth place, 59 points back of points leader Scott Dixon. A terrible month of May and a rough race at Kansas has put Ryan behind the 8-ball for the '09 season. A promising start has turned into a dissapointing streak of races, and it has continued with another difficult qualifying performance at Texas, where he struggled to out pace Jacques Lazier in the Team 3G machine.

Whether it is the car, the engineering team put around him, or perhaps difficult communication amongst the team, RHR is not where he should be right now. He has to be wondering how he got to this point, when over the winter, he and RLR were considered the next team to jump into the Big 3/4 status.

Unless things change for the better, RHR will be stuck in the mid-to-back of the pack for the rest of '09. And that isn't where this great, young American deserves to be right now.


Scheckter to Quit Racing, Become Monavie Salesman

Sources at The Other Side have learned that Tomas Scheckter's big announcement tomorrow is in fact not what people are expecting.
People around the country are waiting on Tomas to announce either his part time or full time entry into the Indycar Series for the rest of 2009 with either Dreyer & Reinbold Racing or Dale Coyne Racing. However, we have learned that Mr. Scheckter will do just the opposite.
"He's done, he has found a new passion and we can't figure out why" said a source who asked to remain anonymous since nothing has been announced yet. "It is like that Monavie stuff has brainwashed him. He went into a meeting with the founder of Monavie with a Monavie Gel in hand, and walked out of the meeting a different person."
Tomorrow, Tomas will announce that he is taking a short hiatus from racing to pursue his new goal, being the top Monavie Salesman in North America (excluding Texas and the province of Quebec).
Apparently, part of his deal to run the Indianapolis 500 included him becoming a key distributor and salesman of Monavie products. As you can see above, Tomas was a walking billboard for the start up company during the last week of May as he pushed Monavie on everyone.
Further evidence of his decision to leave racing for the foreseeable future hit Twitter earlier today as Tomas was advertising job openings in his distribution team through tweets.
Email me at tomasenergy@googlemail.com if you interested in been part of my
monavie distribution team !!!!!!
Obviously, this story will not be confirmed until the press conference tomorrow at Texas Motor Speedway, but we this is all but confirmed. Also, rumored that Eddie Cheever will be joining this new distribution team as Scheckter's right-hand man.


Shake 'em up

Well, Milwaukee is done, and count that towards another race I missed due to my terrible lacrosse schedule that this past weekend, included a 5 hour bus ride to Ottawa to play a team we knew we'd beat, and we did. Unfortunately, game time was race time, which meant I had to go have rubber lacrosse balls hurled at me while Indycars flew around the Milwaukee Mile a couple hundred plus times.

Anyways, Dixon won, Briscoe continued his strong performances at Milwaukee, Danica finished top 5 again, and PT had a rough day. It's all over now, time to move to to Texas for this coming weekend and the Bombardier Learjet 550k/341.75m at the Cheesegrader Texas Motor Speedway. I like Texas, but something tells me the drivers fear that track. Hitting the wall there at 210ish can't be very much fun, and it has the reputation for tearing cars apart.

However, let's not forget the positives from Texas, the great side-by-side racing it provides us, the great crowd they pull in, the wide array of winners it produces, and drive through liquor stores.

As for the driver line up, there are a couple shakeups. First of all, PT is out, which seems mutual after AJ was embarrassed by the car he provided PT, and after PT realized he would be a lapped car in the Foyt equipment at Texas. Instead, AJ Foyt Numero 4 will pilot the ABC Supply Co. machine at Texas.

Stanton Barrett has finally stepped out of the car, for now anyways. Jacques Lazier will drive the car in Texas after Greg Beck said his Dallara needed an experienced driver right now. Atleast J-Laz will be up to speed and running with the back half of the field instead of being lapped every 10 laps. Beck did say Barrett will be back in the car at some point this season, just not sure when yet. I guess whenever the car doesn't need an experienced driver?

Conquest hasn't announced their driver yet. It will most likely be Alex Tagliani, Tomas Scheckter, or they won't show up. If you believe the rumor I threw up from the Bartender last week, they just won't show up.

As for the aforementioned Scheckter, he was on Twitter saying he is "looking forward to Texas" which led to rumors he would be driving in Texas obviously. Options are limited, either a second DCR car (please, please, please!), a third DRR car which has been rumored by Indyinformer as the number 43 car, or the open seat at Conquest. Hoping it isn't Conquest as this will raise the car count by one if both Conquest and Scheckter show up seperately.

Milka Duno is back in the number 23 car this weekend after stepping out for T. Scheckter last weekend. Milka will provide ample challenges for the leaders, she will most likely get about as much exposure as a top 5 car will, as she will be on camera about once every 10 laps as the leaders lap her.

By the way, all these shake ups are adding to the suspense of the "The Other Side - Weekly Poll". With Stanton Barrett and PT out, with Milka and Schecks in, the point standings will change a little bit. Make sure you vote, there are only 4 days left.

For now, this is how it has shaken out. I'm sure we'll hear more possibilities as we get closer to qualifying on Friday afternoon/night. Anything changes, I'll let you know about it.


The Other Side - Poll of the Week

Last weeks poll was a short one, so votes were limited, however, we still had 18 people check a box to pick which team would win the Indy 500. Even though there was a small sample size, I still cannot believe Target Chipsahoy Racing only got 2 votes. For a team that had the previous two Indy 500 winners, I expected them to be right up there with Penske, however, they were behind Penske and AGR, and tied with a team that has limited experience at the Brickyard in Newman/Haas/Lanigan.

This weeks question is a bit of a doozie. You're going to have to use your thinkers for this one as some math and guestimations will have to go into it.

Who will finish the 2009 point standings higher? Milka Duno, Paul Tracy, Stanton
Barrett, Vitor Meira, or Tomas Scheckter?

This one should be fun to see whose logic places who where.


Bartender Rumors #4

Well, another trip to the Gryphon means some more brews for you fine folks. The bartender fired up some cold ones to me to pass along to our faithful followers. Buckle up ladies and gents, here we go.
  • He said Dallara is working pretty hard designing an F1 entry for 2010. He doesn't know if they will run it themselves or if they are doing it for someone else, but the braintrust at Dallara is definately working hard.
  • Dale Coyne is still working to get his second car to the grid. A couple of deals have fallen apart, but, he is working hard towards making it happen.
  • PT is only going to run races at for AJ when he thinks he can win, Quattro will run the rest.
  • He says to expect title sponsorship talks to pick up again after this little slap on the wrist TG got from his family about spending too much money on the IRL.
  • Conquest will only run road courses from now until the end of the year.

There you have it, another night, another hang over. Let me know what you guys think about this one.


RM, You're A Bad Boy

Robin Miller, I am thinking you're going to be in a bit of trouble for this one. Same with Bruce Martin. I think you two both might had done something not good today. Either someone fucked with you, or you fucked with someone else pretty poorly. Either way, you guys are going to take the fall for all of this I would believe.

Unfortunately, many people will no longer believe what either of you post. This isn't your run of the mill, "Conquest to run 2 cars in China" rumor, this is much bigger then that. You put out a story about someone losing their jobs, that someone is probably the most powerful man in American Open Wheel Racing. Something tells me that might have a little bit of backlash to it.

Either way, if you can't tell by now already, Tony George is still the CEO of IMSC. Now he is trying his best to subdue rumors he has either been removed from power or will be removed from power in the next couple of days or weeks.

Is TG still the big boss at IMS? Yes

Will TG still be the big boss in the near future at IMS? We aren't as sure as we were before.

If your a fan of what TG has done and were upset he was ousted from IMS, then be happy because he is still around. If you hate TG for what he has done in the past with AOWR, and were happy he was no longer in power at IMS, then be sad, you still have to put up with the man.

Tony George out?

Well, Robin Miller is at it again. He is reporting that Tony George has been ousted from the CEO position of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a board meeting late last night.

Apparently, Tony's siblings were upset with how much money he has spent the last few years in purses, cars, fees etc... is running the bank dry and they didn't want to be left with nothing. Understandable. However, personally, I could care less about the money at the moment. What I care about is what happens to the IRL?

Now that Tony George has lost control of IMS, this in no way can be a positive situation. IMS was a source of cash, a source of stability, and a source of tradition for the IRL over the last 12 and a bit years. When you think of the IRL, the first thing that comes to mind is Indy.

Now, I'm not saying that with Tony George out of power at IMS, the IRL will disapear from the Indianapolis, however, it doesn't make me comfortable that we don't have Tony George in power there anymore. If his siblings are upset with him spending so much money, could they in turn be upset with the IRL? I mean, if they really wanted to now, the Hulman-George family sans TG could really make things hard for the IRL.

And now that Tony doesn't have IMS to run anymore, he will probably take a more active role in the IRL's day-to-day business, and I'm not so sure I like that. I haven't been a fan of a lot of Tony George decisions. Now I'm not a TG hater like some people, I just don't nessicarily like his decisions all the time, but, I still don't think he is the right man for the job in the IRL.

I guess we are sort of stuck in limbo until all of this gets figured out in the near future hopefully. Most likely a press release will be put out to make it official amongst the media, and the IRL will have to put something out to explain what is happening and how this affects the ICS and FIL. Once that happens, I'll make sure to post it asap.

Edit: The story is now being reported as false by Tony George and Mari Hulman-George. They say there was a board meeting, but that the meeting was typical and TG's leadership was not discussed at all in the meeting. This is a very odd situation. We've had both Robin Miller from Speed and Bruce Martin from SI.com reporting Tony George's firing as truth.

Either both RM and BM were mis-informed or flat out lied (I'd pick the first one), or Tony George is not aware of either his lack of a job at IMS or his impending firing.

Pressdog made a good point on twitter though, people both reported unification prior to it happening, and denied it after it had happened.

And from 16thandGeorgetown, we have video of TG dismissing the claims.

Stay tooned, I'll update this as more becomes available.


Multiple Notes

Bunch of news broke today. I go out with the lady friend for a few hours and return to see multiple emails and news reports having to do with the IRL. Scrolling through all the blogs, I see a whole bunch of new things and my mind hits IRL-overload. Let's see what I can talk about this time around.

Probably the most important thing is that Vitor Meira will be going home tomorrow. To go along with that, probably the most exciting news is that Paul Tracy will be in Milwaukee running in his place. The 40 year old former CCWS Champion will run this weekend for A.J. Foyt Enterprises in the number 14 car. No news if this will continue until the Canadian events where KVRT have agreed to run him already. As for now, take it as a one race deal. Personally, on a track like Milwaukee, I think Paul Tracy can compete and finish near the front. Aero doesn't matter as much here, and PT get's two extra hours of track time to get back to speed on the Milwaukee Mile. Instead of using that time to get reacclimated to a car, he'll be able to use that time to set his car up, giving him a big advantage over the other veterans. Score one for the guys in the blue masks.

It seems like Conquest is bailing from Milwaukee. They are no where to be seen on the entry list for this weekends race. Maybe this is the team that won't be competing after Indy like the bartender was talking about back in early May. You would have to assume they are atleast guarenteed for the two Canadian races if not more of the road courses.

One of the emails I got was from the Luczo Dragon Racing. Luczo Dragon hasn't won any races yet, and they may never win a race in the IRL for all I know, but damn, they have some sexy lookin' race cars. This weekend they will run the Marines car, and it just looks hot. If you thought the Air Force car was nice, add about 3 Megan Fox's to that and you've got this beautiful Marines livery.

LDR will run the USMC livery at Iowa, Richmond, Watkins Glen, Toronto, Edmonton, Ohio and Infineon on top of the Milwaukee race.

Over at Planet-IRL, Kohl found an article about Duncan Dayton's likely entrance to the IRL with Highcroft in either 2010 or 2011, depending when the new rules come out. He basically says it makes more sense to be in the IRL right now then the ALMS, and then pretty much confirms to the author the article that he'll be in the Indycar Series at some point somehow. I guess Patron and Scott Sharp like it here, either that, or ALMS fans drink more wine and champagne then Tequila. I could get used to Patron if they moved over to the IRL.

I stopped by the Gryphon tonight, spoke to the barkeeper again. I'll have that post up tomorrow morning. He did confirm that PT would be in the car at Milwaukee, but it was so sudden he didn't know about the other races. A couple nice tidbits so make sure you stop by at some point tomorrow folks.

Been a nice month

Well, I haven't been around as much as I have wanted to be to blog away. I have fallen off the pace of some fellow bloggers and am not happy about it. The past few weeks with lacrosse have been pretty hectic, hell, I had to miss the 500 because I was on a bus to the middle of nowhere to play a team we beat 18-1. Whatever, over the last little bit, I've missed lots of things to blog about.

So, I missed the chance to tell everyone how excited I am that I finally get TSN2 up in Canada, so I should be able to watch every race, relatively close to the actual time is it run. That means either more live blogs or some hardcore twitter time which is good news because I'd like to be more interactive on the race days if you guys are interested in it.

I didn't get a chance to talk about Carb Day and Wade Cunningham taking home his second Freedom 100 or Ana Beatriz taking one of the hardest hits I've seen from an IPS car at Indy. I don't like talking about the taxi cabs on here, because this is an anti-taxi cab blog, but, does anyone else think that Ana's crash was a bit like the crash Jeff Gordon had at Vegas in '08 where he hit the angled inner wall at a 90 degree angle? Ana hit a part of the inner wall that was not parallel with the outer wall, which means she hit it a sharper angle, causing higher G-Forces and greater chance for injury. This should be fixed for next year.

I didn't get a chance to talk about PT's extension to do both Canadian races for the KVRT which is good news. The tickets probably sold at a much higher rate in Edmonton for the race then it would had earlier. I bet the tickets at Toronto picked up big time once he was announced. However, over at ChampCarFanatics.com they are probably laughing their asses off that their hero is being sponsored by the engine company they hate the most in Honda.

I missed a crash filled race. I've seen highlights and heard stories about the race, but it seemed like an average 500. Now, mind you, an average 500 is better then a good Kansas or Iowa, simply because it is Indianapolis, and Indianapolis makes everything better because of the history and the show they put on around it. And seeing Helio take the checkered flag is great. No one else deserved it more then him, thought I would had been happy to see just about anyone win, it was still a nice little touch to see Helio climbing the fence (to someone's dissapointment) then to see him in jail. He adds so much to the series outside of his publicity and talent. He is just an all around great guy. I don't like Penske Racing all that much, but I was happy to see him win even when he is in a Penske car.

How about T. Bell? He walks in second week and puts the KVRT #8 Herbalife car in 4th place? Not bad for a one-off. Maybe he will be lucky and talk Herbalife into sponsoring a second car at HVM for next season maybe? That would be sweet. Townsend Bell has, in my mind, with that drive, put himself on the list of drivers we should have in the series. Unfortunately, he seems to have lost William Rast sponsorship and is only hope right now is Herbalife. However, this is one guy who has proven he can go out and make friends with the higher ups which is good for his future.

My boy Tags wins Rookie of the Year at Indy which is nice. This decision might be more about the cheque accompanying the award then the award itself as it is a little extra cash flow for Conquest who is hurting.

Anyways, I doubt you folks want to read through all of this, I was just doing my best to catch up on all the news I haven't been able to blog about. I'll throw something up about the #14 car tonight and my opinions on who should or will get that drive. I'm also stopping by the bar tonight for a chit chat with the bartender. Hopefully he has some news from the weekend.


Bartender Rumors #3

After a tiring hard long weekend (yes, up north was a nice long weekend for us Canucks) refereeing some minor lacrosse, I needed to head to the pub to down a beer or two. I figured I might as well head down to the Gryphon and hope for my trusty bartender to be in. Unfortunately, he wasn't, but that didn't stop me from dulling the pain in my legs.

Anyways, I found out he was working last night, so simply out of curiousity I went down there and spoke to the man for a little while and shot the breeze with him about the IRL and Indy. He said he used to work with Tags and says he probably feels the worst out of any one that he had to take Bruno's seat. But he did give out a couple more rumors for the trusty readers, and he also confirmed one. He is getting a little crazy, think he might had been poppin' back a couple root beers behind the bar on his break.
  • Dale Coyne is very happy that he and Scheckter were able to put a deal together. Apparently, they are both working trying to get the rest of the season secured. Dale is trying to talk Rockstar back into hopping on board with Tomas. A good result will most likely get Tomas a Rockstar/Z-Lines/Sonny's car for the rest of the season.
  • He says Target Chip Ganassi is already signed on to run the VW engines if/once they enter the ICS. VW wants a top team and they promised big money for TCGR to run their engines. He says they are trying to grab another top team too, but they haven't settled an agreement with anyone.
  • He confirmed Paul Tracy's participation in the two Canadian events. He says they are close with Geico on some other key American races, mostlikely Chicagoland and Texas.
  • NHL Racing is working very hard on finding the sponsorship for Sebastien Bourdais for the rest of the season. If he gets let go from Toro Rosso, there might be some Red Bull money available for him.
  • Unfortunately, unless Will Power does something miraculous at the I500, he is pretty well done for this season. Maybe one or two other races, but that is it apparently.
  • Without the Herbalife sponsorship HVM signed for Indy and beyond, Keith Wiggins and his new partner didn't think they'd make it through the season.

Anyways, like I said in earlier versions, I don't know how much to think about these rumors, but a few of the things he has said have come to fruition, and he has told me a couple things the night before they have been announced (Servia and Tracy). Make what you will of it, but some of them make sense.

Let me know what you guys think about this stuff in the comments section.

The Other Side - Poll of the Week

Well, Bump Day has come and gone, and so has the last poll. The amount of cars bumped on Bump Day has always been a hot topic since the split, usually due to the lack of cars being bumped. However, since bimergification the number of cars trying to bump their way into the field has been high enough we have seen some bumping. Drama ensued near the end of the day with drivers pushing to get into the show. When 6:00pm on sunday rolled around, 3 cars were left off the starting grid, including Alex Tagliani, Stanton Barrett, and Buddy Lazier.

Now, this is the first Weekly Poll you folk have gotten right. Congratulations, and go ahead and gives yourselves a pat on the back. Mind you a minority of you chose the correct answer, I'll still give it to you since you picked it more then any other one answer. I think anyone that picked 5+ cars was just hoping a whole lot, though it was possible.

This weeks question is as follows.

"Which stable will the 93rd Indy 500 Champion come from?"

Mind you, for practical reasons, Alex Lloyd's pink sensation car will be lumped in with Target Chip Ganassi for this poll.

Have some fun with it, and let me know who you think will win by voting, then tell me why in the comments section. I'd love to hear your reasons.

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