Monday, July 26, 2010

IndyCar Notes

Hello, all. It's been awhile.

I have a few things to say.

1. Could it be that the NASCAR model is fundamentally broken? The decline in attendance is becoming embarrassing. The television ratings are still very good when compared with historical standards for motorsports in the United States. Nevertheless, they're falling, too.

2. I am disheartened by reports that John Lewis has resigned. He has a terrific reputation both inside and outside of racing. He shall be missed.

3. Some might find it somewhat surprising that I have been silent regarding the Dallara-and-Clothes announcement. My reasoning is that we need more information before we can make any judgments about the program. There is one exception, of course. Given the market value of operating an Izod IndyCar Series team, we can say with certainty that the new Dallara costs too much.



  1. Where you been Roggespierre?

    Too caught up in the fierce Indy Car points race?

    Here is some news for ya'll...

    -Overnights for the BY 400 are the same as they were in 2009. A 3.6 national rating. The finals will trump the Indy 500 (which got a 3.6 final).

    -Indy Car will go through an entire season of having no non-Indy 500 races getting a 1.0 rating or higher.

    -Bernard wants to bring a few American short-track racers back to Indy Cars. Granted this plan will put a few long-time message board posters like anthonyvpop and king of the d-bags, rjohnson999, with their elitist formula car panties in a bunch. But this is actually a good way of thinking by Bernard. And those smart thoughts, are seemingly lost in today's Indy Car world.

    -Milka on probation? Talk about closing the barndoor, after all the cows got out. What does "probation" mean anyway? Take her out of the car, and watch Dale Coyne's team fall by the wayside. When you rely on ride buyers to run your raceteam, this is what you are left with.

    -Paul Tracy is now taunting posters at cleanupcrew's palace. Stay classy, PT. Instead of playing with the children at TF, why not spend your time looking for quarters in the seat cushions to help buy your next ride?

    -Indy Lights had 13 cars at Edmonton. What happens if Sam Schmidt and Bryan Herta go full-time Indy Car Racing next year? Does this series follow all the other failed formula car feeder series into oblivion?

    -John Lewis is a good man. Glad he jumped off the ship, and still found good employment somewhere else. Who is left at Indy Car headquarters?

  2. Did you want the new car to be free?

    I'm all for radical cost reduction in the IICS, but, come on, the car had to cost something.

    Demond Sanders

  3. Dickle, that was a serious throwdown...and I wouldn't argue with a word of it.

    I was wondering when RP's endorsement of Mr. Lewis would appear, and I don't doubt that Trick knows him well enough to have added his praise.

    And I sure don't know what restrictions Messers Lewis or Griffin worked under. But if you look at their length of service, and the job responsibilities they held, it's hard to see from the outside how any effective results were achieved during their tenures.

    The same could be said about Terry Angstadt, although he is treated like a dartboard here. Maybe he never went to your kids' soccer games, or picked up your dinner tab at the Brickyard?

    Mr. Bernard has said he will announce a new marketing plan in September. It's hard to imagine that Mr. Lewis was instrumental in the design of that plan, only to resign before seeing it through.

    From the flip side, I'd be scratching my head if he handed me his draft and said "Here's the cumulative wisdom of my 15 years of research and contributions. It's a great plan. Good luck with it, I quit".

    It seems a lot more likely that the Vice President of Marketing, who hadn't presided over very much marketing, couldn't sell ideas to his new boss either.

    And it sure doesn't look like he read his mail, because he could have stolen more good ideas than he ever came up with. Maybe you could add "honesty" to your list of superlatives.

    Who's left? I'd like to know too. I know there is a CEO, brought in for his accumen as a promoter and t capitalize on his corporate and broadcasting connections.

    Las Vegas will be your answer. If Bernard can't bring that in, he has nothing more to hang his hat on than the ringing praise for what a great guy he is, too.

    Nothing else has changed for the better in a solid year. There is a long list of gaffes and inadequacies to point out, but those don't matter any more than who is really responsible for them.

    All that matters is the Ideas from Indy aren't getting the job done. And anyone who is revved about the future hasn't checked to see if there is any oil in the engine yet.

    Dipstick reader

  4. Hey Demond, I could argue the cost breakdowns with you until your eyes glazed over, and we both know it wouldn't matter.

    Gil De Ferran said at the ICONIC press conference that the projected cost saving will reduce the normal one-car team budget from $6M down to $4.5M.

    That's the most generous estimate, and doesn't include the $1M loss for the value of old equipment, or the nearly $1M capital investment for two new chassis and a spares package.

    You can tell me that's enough of an improvement, but you won't convince me. Same 25% figure I came up with last fall.

    It's a revenue problem. The old guys acheived nothing. The new guys have done no better.

    On a related issue, Mario Romancini won't be around anymore. He ran out of money to pay for his seat.

    Better bean-counter than Chris Estrada

  5. Well.....It looks like it is time to make an offer on a Falcon!! I can't see anyone coughing up big bucks for the latest version of "spec" racing!!! As for bean counters Andrew....can I interest you in a job with Arthur Anderson?? The did such a great job with Enron that they to went into oblivion!!! Let's face it guys....Indy Car is out of chairs and the music is about to stop!!! Nice to see you back RP...we were getting lonely and bored!

    Future tax accountant for Indy Car & a potential Falcon owner!!!

  6. In regard to NASCAR, part of their problem may have been listening a little too much to the fans. Sounds weird, I know, but the fans clamored for more exciting finishes and NASCAR tried to deliver. The consequence: what had been average races for decades are now looked on as boring and the exciting finishes are expected as the norm instead of the exception.

    Andy, rumor is NASCAR may move their season finale to Vegas and if Bruton doesn't give the IRL the date for their season finale then he gets a Kentucky race.


  7. NASCAR needs to take the bull by the horn and make NEEDED changes to their series. Here is what they need to do:

    1. Drop the number of Cup races from 36 to 32. This would help teams in a tough financial time. How would we get to 32 races?

    -Drop 2nd races from Loudon, Pocono, Michigan, Fontana, Phoenix, Atlanta and Dover. That gets us to 29.

    -Add races at Kentucky, Elkhart Lake and Iowa. That gets us back to 32.

    NASCAR Cup needs to go to new markets and reduce their presence at several stale markets. No way in hell, that dump at Pocono deserves 2 races (they barely should have 1). Loudon should not have 2 events. Neither should Michigan and Fontana (who have acres of empty seats for both of their races). Oversaturation has hurt NASCAR and they need to "freshen up" their approach.

    -The Chase needs to offer a better/diverse array of tracks. Need to have more "traditional" Cup tracks as a part of The Chase. Can't have as many 1.5's. The "New Chase" would look like this:

    Race 1- Richmond
    Race 2- Loudon
    Race 3- Kansas
    Race 4- Phoenix
    Race 5- Sears Point
    Race 6- Texas
    Race 7- Fontana
    Race 8- Bristol
    Race 9- Talladega
    Race 10- Charlotte

    2. Cut the number of "provisional" starting spots from 35 to 30. There simply aren't enough quality cars/full-time teams left for the "35/8" deal. Have the top 30 in points automatically in the race. Make qualifying more interesting by having 13 spots up for grabs, instead of 8.

    3. Cut the race distances down at many races. Some of the 500 mile races, get cut down to 400 miles. Some of the 400 mile races, get cut down to 350 miles. Many of these races are simply too long and too drawn out. We want to see more racing; and much less riding.

  8. The Romancini Family Checkbook has closed for 2010? Damn! Just when American was learning about this world-class talent and just when all of these legions of Mario fanatics were being created, he is done? Come on folks!

    Look for noted check taker Eric Bachelart (who was a check-writer himself in his short Indy Car career) to find someone for each remaining event to help fund this car. I am sure somebody can come up with a couple of hundred K to play race driver at Mid Ohio or Sears Point. All Conquest wants at this point is for the car to start the race, so they can collect the TEAM checko. So I am sure literally ANYBODY could end up in this ride and I mean ANYBODY.

    "Mr. Bernard has said he will announce a new marketing plan in September."

    Which will be about the 198th different marketing "plan" that either the IRL or CART has come up with in the last 20 years.

    Let me guess what Randy's spiel is going to be...."We have the most diverse and fastest (which is bullcrap) drivers in the world". "These are some of the best drivers in the world". "Watch us because we are really, really diverse and when we actually get onto a oval, we run fast". "We have sexy cars and cool drivers". "We have all of these world-wide fans".

    Blah, blah, blah....

    If he can come up with a marketing plan that can actually sell Mario Moraes, EJ Viso, Mike Conway, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Vitor Meira, Adam Carroll, Takuma Sato, Mario Romancini, Bert Baguette, Hidecki Mutoh and Milka and Her Duno's, then he deserves a ESPY or a Nobel Prize or a Oscar or something. It will be one of the best high-wire acts ever seen by human eyes, if he can actually get American folks to want to tune into races on a obscure network, to watch those nobody's and no-talent's.

    But Ropin' Randy is great (I read that on CrackForum) and can literally do anything, so I am expecting something awe-inspiring in September.

  9. Good for you, I am expecting Labor Day to appear on Sept 1. The rest is promises.

    John, I'd have to look up the specifics again: The Las Vegas Visitors Bureau reportedly has $5-$8M on the table for Bruton to bring a fall race to Vegas...for the Nascar Sprint Cup chase.

    That was supposed to be Bernard's big connection. Bruton is supposed to be Bernard's new doubles partner. I'm supposed to believe that the ISC tracks are being selectively eliminated, and replaced with SMI venues.

    Smells like a rodeo to me. It will take a pretty good schedule to convince me that the IRL isn't busy scraping for any venue that they can nail down. Give Bernard the full Jack the Root Awards Ceremony if he brings Vegas in.

    Still no confirmation on Watkins Glen, some guy wrote an article saying that Angstadt read last rights. The Romancini news was a direct quote.

    Jack, thanks to Bernard's tag line, I like to call them "the low-hangers at FruitForum." Work for you?

    John Lewis memorabilia collector.

  10. Wrench, I may well have said this before too, but it still holds up:

    You're out of your Falcon mind.


  11. Scott Gates's Garbage ManJuly 27, 2010 at 6:51 PM

    BTW, the bestust series in the world with the greatest drivers in the world, drew a 0.7 rating this weekend on FOX for the German GP.

    I guess all of those "lost" Indy Car fans Rodeo Randy keeps talking about, aren't watching the top genre of formula car road racing either.

    Wonder why America doesn't seem interested in road racing?

  12. I'm pretty sure RP isn't a hater, but most of the rest of you guys are old school haters.

    The truth is, Andy, none of us know if the cost reductions will be enough. None of us know if the new rules will work... but some of us here are hoping it works as promised and some of us here are hoping it doesn't.

    Demond Sanders

  13. Haters?? Highly unlikely!!! Most of us knew of a different Indy Car series. A series that let anyone participate if they could make the show. Cars could be of any year or design. Engines had to meet a displacement requirement and that was it.Boost on turbo's had a limit, but other than that, it was up to you. Now, we have to race what we are told. One chassis, one engine, one gearbox,etc. Not much competition in that! The best come for a word getting lost in our socialized society....innovation. Being smarter than the other guy. That in its self is the lost art. People can't and aren't allowed to think anymore. The goverment or the sanctioning body will do that for you. That is something Indy Car and I don't need. I can think for myself. Washington can't run itself. Neither can this mess called ICS. It is time for change, not a rehash of what has already failed. On both fronts!!

  14. Demond,

    You've got it right. I do hope that the Dallara and Clothes model works. I am a fan of certain elements.

    For example, the notion of a "driver capsule" that allows for open development of the rest of the car is something that I view favorably. That said, what the series has put forth to this point is just a $300K+ Dallara. That fact tempers my enthusiasm somewhat.

    In addition, I don't understand why IndyCar could not have simply drawn a spec - it could be similar to what Dallara proposed - and told the teams that, whatever they do with their cars, the series-mandated core chassis is compulsory. Why did it have to be a Dallara-branded product? Why did the series have to determine the "maximum price" - which, let's face it, will end up being the actual price at which it is sold to teams.

    Why not let the teams bargain with whatever vendors they like? The notion of competitive balance has been blown away by the fact that TCGR and Penske are already dominant in what has become a spec series.

    Innovation isn't always about going faster. Sometimes it can be about going just as fast at a much cheaper price. Sometimes it's the ability to mass produce and sell at a profit something that others have only figured out how to do by hand. Innovation is a function of market necessity.

    IndyCar management has taken the market out of the equation. This, in my view, is counterproductive. The big winner in this deal, from what I can tell, is Dallara. Is IndyCar a winner, too? Maybe. But I would prefer that it be the other way around - maximize utility to IndyCar and let Dallara fend for itself.

    Best Regards,


  15. "Innovation isn't always about going faster. Sometimes it can be about going just as fast at a much cheaper price. Sometimes it's the ability to mass produce and sell at a profit something that others have only figured out how to do by hand. Innovation is a function of market necessity."

    Isn't this the reason as to why the price of computers, cell phones,HD television and a whole host of other products came down in price after their introduction?? If it works in "free markets" it can work in Indy Car. There is NO reason it should not be permitted other than individuals that are effectively trying to "control" a market. Monoploies and ologopolies are the reason why price fixing is the new norm! If you are the only game in town, you pay what they want you to pay, not free market value. Competition at all levels breeds lower cost and lower pricing. That has been the main point of my statement of letting older equipment back in. You can develop an exsisting chassis at a far lower cost than building a brand new one. Same for engines, gearboxes, aero packages,etc. That in itself cuts the budget simply because you have a starting point. New equipment means you start the learning curve all over again at square one!

  16. demond,

    You've got that wrong.

    "old school haters" Nice, two mistakes in one snappy epithet. Try reading my opinions and you won't have to assume anything.

    That would be like me assuming 18 to 88 is your I.Q. range. And there's no need for me to assume that at all.


  17. To the Garbage Man:

    Please stuff your customer in a can and wheel him by for a visit. Cheers


  18. I wish this blog was still going.

  19. Well I am still here!!!! Anyone for Beer??