Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Future Lotus Indycar?

1965 Lotus Indycar

There's a buzz going around about Lotus expanding their racing exposure by getting involved in the Indycar series. Would they actually put their name on a Dallara? Or are they gearing up for a chassis bid for 2012?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Saturn Leaves Penske Orbit, Heads for Sun

Sad news today: the Penske-Saturn deal is off, and GM is killing the brand. Read more at CNN.

I, for one, was excited about the possibility of keeping the fresh American brand alive. At one point, they were making the best domestic cars you could buy, but I think the decision to simply re-badge GMC vehicles killed Saturn's loyal following.

Monday, July 13, 2009


First off, I whole-heartedly support freezing track positions on a yellow. It's utterly essential for safety and good sportsmanship, laying rest to the preposterous practice of "racin' back to the line".

Here's the way the rule should work. Upon a yellow, a "snapshot" of all field positions is taken, just it has for the past 5 seasons. If a car has committed to a pit stop at this point (i.e. slowed down out of the race line, yielded positions, etc.), the driver has three choices:

* Drive through without stopping and rejoin the field in their "snapshot" position.

* If they are critical on fuel, they may stop for a splash of ethanol, but must then rejoin the field according to the blend line and no better than their "snapshot" position. If there's a problem in the pits or the crew is greedy with the fuel, they could loose positions as they cross the blend line, but never gain a position.

* Stay out on the track.

Dario & Team didn't break any rules today, but it was groaner for everyone else to see him get a "free" pit stop.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Indycar Heading to Baltimore's Streets?

It ain't the Streets of Manhattan, but it's probably as close as the Indycar series is going to get: a blogger at The Baltimore Sun is reporting that Indycar may be heading to the streets of the Momument City.

Will it happen? Eh, probably not, but we can add it to the list of events to talk about.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Texting Your Race Needs

This is kinda cool: Fans at the Richmond SunTrust Indy Challenge race will be able to text their needs to the track staff.

Medical emergencies are the obvious use. But how far will this go? "Bring me a beer"? "Neck massage please"? "Pleez telz the bald fatty in front of me to siddown soz I can raxor teh hawt blonde"?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Onward Iowa!

As the Indycar worlds shifts it's focus to the waving cornstalks and flatulent cattle of Iowa (see, I knew I could get both stereotypes into the first sentance), Danica has made her big announcement:

She's not deciding anything until after the 2009 Indycar season.

You know, if I was her I'd do the same thing. Might be smart to see how those NASCAR tires do at the brickyard before your throw your lot in with that group.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bunnies and Rainbows to DANICAR, Episode 428

Before we get started... DANICAR. You like that? Back off, jackals, you heard it here first. It's Copyright 2009 Racemind Inc. (Or at least it would be if such a corporation existed.)

Anyway, I just took a quick poll of a few very knowledgeable racing fans to get their take on the Danica-to-NASCAR media hyperventilation, and the results are unanimous: no way. Regardless of how you slice it, along lines of dollars or publicity or competition, it's a bad move. To use the NASCAR vernacular, "it just don't make no sense at all."

Which is why she'll probably do it.

On the other side of the coin: Pressdog correctly points out that she will have exactly zero chance to win in DANICAR, and sees her going to Ganassi instead. MyNameIsIRL posted an entry entitled Danica And My Crystal Balls (oh dear) where he goes a step further and predicts Danica running HER sponsorship in that third Ganassi car.

I think it's simpler than that; Target subcontracts their Ganassi sponsor space to products they carry in exchange for better store placement. Motorola (and now presumably the Boost people) have always been rather happy with Danica. So we just need to ask this question:

Who sells Boost phones?

Perhaps Boost Mobile and Target make sense together already. Danica at Ganassi with Boost... It could work.

Monday, June 15, 2009

How To Start a Tomas Scheckter To NASCAR Rumor

Tomas Scheckter to NASCAR? Naw, not to my knowledge -- but if you're looking to start a rumor, here's how you can back it up:

Scheckter is tweeting about how much he loves the new Palm Pre. The Pre, mind you has gotten lukewarm reviews, so why would Tomas like it so much?

Recall Scheckter's post-race interview after at Kentucky in 2003, when he impetuously exclaimed that Sam Hornish, running the Chevy Gen IV engine, won the race with "that Ford Cosworth". Now fast-forward a few short months, when Hornish had moved up to Penske and Scheckter suddenly found himself in Hornish's old ride at Panther -- which Scheckter suddenly felt was powered by a Chevy once again.

It was an amazing change of opinion, was it not? There he was in his Chevy hat, making sure his Chevy bowtie lapel was on-camera, complementing the Chevy power when he won at Texas. Not so much a Ford anymore, was it Tomas?

As much as he may cringe at the memory, Tomas has always been able to adapt to the cards he's delt. Which brings us back to the Schecker's much-praised Pre. The Pre, carried exclusively by the Sprint network. The Sprint network, series sponsor for NASCAR. Exclusive wireless carrier of NASCAR. You see where I'm going with this.

Of course, any hypothetical rumor arising from this can be easily debunked: Perhaps he just likes the Pre.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Saturn Now in Orbit Around Penske

As the auto industry makes room for another Sheriff in town, the media lets the speculation fly: What will Roger do next? What does this mean for future Saturn cars? How many ways will Roger Penske win?
  • U.S. Today declares that Penske may strike gold. Of course, anyone that been paying attention to the Indy 500 the last 30 years won't be surprised.
  • breaks out the numbers: 350 dealerships and 13,000 jobs saved.
  • delves into the manufacturing options on Penske's table, including Chinese or Indian production lines.
I expect that the dealerships will carry more than just Saturn. Look for a European make like Renault at at Saturn dealership near you.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Pair of Tickets: $74
Track Beer: $9.50
Danica Trinkets for the Kiddies: $29

Indycar Series: Riceless.

In a season full of good news about increased sponsorship, better TV coverage, and higher car counts, the most baffling question of all remains: Why is 2004 Indy 500 Champ Buddy Rice without a ride?

Maybe Paul Tracy's hamburgers and hot dogs don't cut it for him either, and he's holding out for steak. Maybe he doesn't bring a gift-wrapped sponsor. Maybe he smells funny, wears his lid too straight, or has funny facial hair.

Or maybe he's just a dang fine racer who's getting overlooked.

I've asked around to find out if there's a knock on this guy, but I'm not hearing anything but praise. So what gives, team owners? If you have a decent budget and you're tooling around in the back-half of the field, don't you want to get your sponsor some camera time near the front?

I'm not looking for Penske to hire Rice: Roger looks for drivers struck from a certain die. And I'm not sure that Andretti wants to reunite Danica and Rice again, that didn't work out too well the first time. But What about you, Jimmy Vasser, Carl Haas, John Barnes?

The Racemind Take: If Andretti loses Danica, hiring Rice is by far their best option (as it stands today). And if Panther loses Wheldon in the silly season shuffle, Buddy's the guy they need.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

CEO-Gate Wrap-Up

For those that missed this bizarre news cycle, let me sum it up for you:
  • Robin Miller claimed that Tony George had been ousted from the position of CEO at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
  • The Indycar metasphere of posters and bloggers lit up like a roman candle.
  • Two hours later, Tony George held a press conference and said the reports were incorrect and that he remained as the CEO.
Sounds like the end of the story, but it isn't:
  • Robin Miller then announced that his source was impeccable and he stands behind his story.
Most analysis are now saying that Robin Miller's source probably meant that Tony George will step down "someday", but somewhere between the source's lips and Robin's keyboard a misunderstanding occurred.

The Racemind Take: TrackSideOnline was extremely cheritable to Miller when they said that "there does appear to be some truth to Miller's initial report". That truth only exists if at some point in the future George actually steps down, but for today I don't see a shred of truth in Robin's article. Remember, the original article began with ""The controversial, ground-breaking, tumultuous 20-year reign of Tony George at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is over." That's a bit like annoucing in 1989 that terrorists just attacked the New York City, and then throwing your hands in the air on September 12th 2001 and declaring, "See! I got the story right except for the date."

Robin Miller: FAIL.

Tony George... Errr, Nevermind

Unbreaking News: For two hours today, the Indycar world burned with the news the Tony George was "ousted" by the IMS board, according to Robin Miller.

Only it is not true.

It appears that Robin Miller was given some information (the details of which are still unknown), and he interpreted it to mean that Tony George was ousted. How many times have we seen this already? Anyone remember Robin saying that F1 boss Bernie Eccelstone was buying CART?

I know, I know, good ole' Racemind passed the news along too. Yep. I got Miller'ed. I take some solace in seeing pressdog, MyNameIsIRL, 16thAndGeorgeTown, and a few others get Miller'ed as well. How about a beer, guys?

This ought to officially end The Robin Miller era as a credible source.

Some updates:
  • appears to be down at this moment. Wouldn't surprise me if it was overwhelmed with traffic.
  • continues to keep it's suspect article posted, along with the unaltered opening declaration "The controversial, ground-breaking, tumultuous 20-year reign of Tony George at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is over." Cue the sound of air escaping that balloon.
  • The Indianapolis Star posted a spashy article by Curt Cavin: "Tony George: I'm Still In Charge of IMS".

Tony George, We Hardly Knew Ya

Breaking News: According to, Tony George has been voted out as CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He will remain as CEO of the Indycar Series.

This will certainly be the "Topic of the Day" in the Indycar world. Trackforum is discussing it here, and check the blogroll on the right as the major bloggers weigh in.

My primary concern at this point is the process for deciding on new leadership at IMS. If any parties from rival racing series find their way into IMS leadership, this could be a grave mistake.

Update: Or Did We Know Ya Afterall? Tony George is reportedly denying Robin Miller's report.

Luczo Dragon's New Marines Livery

Pretty sharp! Nice work as always, aowzone.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Twitter Makes Indy 2009 a New Experience

Dan Wheldon tweets about the car's handling, while Sarah has her crew broadcast out tweets while she's driving. Tony Kanaan's been keeping us in stitches all month. Heck, even Danica's gotten into the act.

For better or worse, this level in interconnectivity has been the story of the month.

The old-guard media like Curt Cavin have seemingly moved effortlessly to twitter's handheld-based medium, and the power of the technology really shines at a sprawling facility like Indy, where stories can happen a long way from the media center. When blogger MyNameIsIRL ran into Dan Wheldon and asked "Dan, what do you look for when cars bunch up?", we got Dan's response almost as it happened: "Paul Tracy."

Of course all this comes with a downside. Certain nameless young well-pedigreed drivers tend to tweet out the prosaic: "fried chicken for lunch, yum!" And do we really need to know how often the Vision drivers pass gas in their own motorcoaches?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Vision Gets Hunter-Reay's Car Right

Well, the paint job anyway...

Now *this* is nice livery. Vision went from having one of the poorest examples of sponsor placement to perhaps having the easiest sponsor logo to read at speed.

Tony Kanaan and Wallace: Separated at Birth?

Tony Kanaan sent out this picture via twitter:

Separated at birth? You decide.

Calm Before the Storm at IMS Media Center

MyNameIsIRL has a great photo of a currently-empty media center room for bloggers at the Speedway. Might have to get a pass next year and blog from the track.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


In non-Indy news...

TV wins some... and loses some. TNT cancels one of the sharpest shows on TV, Trust Me, while NBC renewed geek-chic Chuck for another season.

From Ryan Hunter-Reay's Mailbag

Dear Ryan Hunter-Reay,

It's not you. It's me.

Your Car

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's Time to Shorten The Month of May

Yes, I know. I've committed Indy 500 heresy. Summon the ghost of Hulman and purify me with ethanol.

But as we all sit around with no activity on the track on this gorgeous 70-degree Tuesday, we owe it to ourselves to ask: do we really need 20 days to run the Indy 500?

Just take a look at the track schedule, which is empty for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We have two days off next week too. Couldn't we focus the attention of the racing world a little better if the action went for, say, 15 days without abatement?

Here's my proposed schedule for the 2010 Indianapolis 500 that cuts out the empty days and adds more days of practice to boot:

  • Fri May 14: Centennial Era Balloon Festival.
  • Sat May 15: Centennial Era Balloon Festival.
  • Sun May 16: Rookie Orientation.
  • Mon May 17: Track opens for practice.
  • Tue May 18: Practice.
  • Wed May 19: Practice.
  • Thu May 20: Practice.
  • Fri May 21: Fast Friday.
  • Sat May 22: Pole Day Qualifying.
  • Sun May 23: 2nd Day Qualifying / Coke Zero Music Festival.
  • Mon May 24: Bump Day Qualifying / Armed Forces Day.
  • Tue May 25: Indy Lights Practice (Rain Day Indycar Qualifying).
  • Wed May 26: Festival Community Day / Indy Lights Practice.
  • Thu May 27: Indy Lights Qualifying.
  • Fri May 28: Indy Lights Freedom 100 / Miller Lite Carb Day
  • Sat May 29: Festival Parade, Public Drivers Meeting, Autograph Session
  • Sun May 30: Indy 500
It's just a first draft, and I'm sure I left something off. I'm sure those living in Indianapolis would love for the festivities to draw on as long as possible, but packing all the fun into two weeks just might entice some visitors to stay for a week. Or two.

(Photo Credit: Humane Society of Indianapolis)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Have and Have-Not at Vision

I agree with some twitterers that have interpreted Ryan Hunter-Reay's comments as suggesting that Ed Carpenter's car is getting a speed treatment that his isn't. But it's borne out by the evidence: Hunter-Reay, a solid oval driver last year with mid-quality Rahal equipment, was embarrassingly slow at Kansas and hasn't looked any better at Indy.

And it seems like it's got to be more than lower-quality oil. Both Foyt cars made it into the field today while Hunter-Reay simply had to wave-off his attempt. What does Foyt have that Vision doesn't?

One year ago, I thought Vision was a team on the rise. But today when their cars have such a vast performance disparity, I'd say they've taken a huge step backward.

Friday, May 8, 2009


  • Tony Kanaan showed good team support by hanging out in the garage with his team while they thrashed his new car. Crew wrenches will tell you that they roll their eyes when drivers do this, but secretly nothing is more aloof than for a driver to disappear to his coach while the team stays up working of his car. The team sent him off to bed around 11:25pm.
  • I have big concerns about Ryan Hunter-Reay even making the field unless they change something.
  • Paul Tracy is driving that car on the knife's edge. He has a shot at the first 11, and I hope he makes it just to shake things up a little.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

So Who Is DAFCA Software?

A possible sponsor for the #17 Rahal Letterman entry got a bottom-of-the-page mention over at Furious Wedge: DAFCA Software. Who no one has ever heard of -- unless you are a chiphead.

Trying to connect the dots, I wandered over to It turns out that they produce post-silicon waffer validation systems, otherwise known as chip testing software. Now why would they want to be on the side of an Indycar?

Recall Danica's new livery for the Indy 500, which no longer carries Motorola and now features Boost Mobile in cross-promotion deal with Motorola. I'm going to go on a limb here and speculate that DAFCA is a leftover part of Motorola's cross-promotion. In short, Rahal took Andretti's castoff sponsor.

Now there's several things that still don't line up here... for example, why not just put DAFCA on Danica's car (or Marco's) as an associate? And why would DAFCA want Servia in the car instead of 2004 Indy 500 Champion Buddy Rice?

I may be off on some details, but I'm betting on a DAFCA - Motorola tie-in here.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Conquest Expected to Tap Alex Tagliani

Breaking News: After the today's post about Indy TBA's and Conquest Racing, I've received word now that Conquest will name Alex Tagliani for the Indy 500.

After I speculated about Tomas Scheckter and Alex Tagliani, I was told "You are correct about one of those two, and it isn't Scheckter." Sly, huh?

Nevertheless, this isn't a shock as Tagliani was the presumptive driver if Conquest answered the bell. But it's one more piece of the TBA puzzle.

Some Clues About Indy 500 TBA's

The two Conquest Racing Indy 500 entries are still listed as TBA (driver To Be Announced), but there's some signs of activity.

First, the team twitter ( sent out a teaser pic of a black-and-yellow bit of body work with this caption: "Our car will have a new paint scheme for Indy. We can't show what the car will look like just yet but you can try and guess!"

And guess I shall. The use of "our car" suggests they are planning to run just one car, not two. And the paint scheme looks vaguely like the Symantec car from last year:

(Photo Credit:

Now the word is that Symantec is not in a good financial position to be sponsoring Indycars, but it begs the obvious question: could this be a car for Tomas Scheckter?

...Or could it be for Alex Tagliani, Conquest's driver at Long Beach? Curt Cavin listed Tagliani as one of the Indy 500 rookies, even though Tagliani does not appear on the Indy 500 entry list.

Conquest has schedule an announcement for Tuesday, and I expect we will hear about either the sponsor or the driver -- hopefully both.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Buddy Rice May Reunite with Rahal for Indy 500

Breaking News: The word this morning is that Buddy Rice is working with Rahal-Letterman on an Indy 500 reunion. This would put the 2004 Indy 500 Champion into one of the better TBA rides out there. What's not yet known is the financial end; Buddy brings some money but probably not enough for the month, and Rahal seems to be holding out for a fully-funded shoe.

No word yet from Curt Cavin or Robin Miller on this pairing.

UPDATE: We're discussing this over on TrackForum here.

Racemind on Twitter

Yes, I've decided to give Twitter a try. You can find Racemind at

Friday, April 17, 2009

Helio's Agonizing Wait

As the racing world awaits Helio's fate at the hands of the jury, I find myself imagining what Helio is going through today. To come from the top of the world as a back-to-back Indy 500 champion, winner of Dancing with the Stars, loved by his fans in several continents... now he sits with his head in his hands after an enormously complicated tax trial, helplessly waiting for 12 people to decide if he spends the next few years behind bars.

Given the facts in this case, I believe that Helio never intended to break the law. He may have tried to find the best way to structure his money to minimize his tax burden. He may have gotten some bad advice. And it does appear that he may have been tinkering with the idea of moving to Monaco to avoid future taxes -- but that's the future, and this isn't The Minority Report.

And so Helio waits, with some of the verdicts already sitting in a sealed envelope on the judge's desk. With every passing minute, all he can think about is his lovely fiancee he'd be leaving behind. The storybook career as an Indycar driver that might be left in tatters. The love of his fans that would eventually fade as he sits behind bars.

I can imagine him wringing his hands. Breathing in, breathing out. Trying to think about something, anything besides that sealed envelope on the desk containing your fate.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jury Deliberates Helio's Fate

Helio Castroneves' tax-evasion trial has gone to the jury. With deliberations underway, we have to wonder what a hung jury will mean -- will the government go through the effort of retrying the case?

The IRS will have a tough time walking away from the case at this point, because it might open the door for others to attempt this tax-avoidance method. But re-trying a case like this has a low probability of yielding a conviction. Most likely, they would announce their intent to re-try, and then offer Helio a one-time chance to pay up and plea down to a misdemeanor. But it will cost him, probably big.

The Racemind Take: The burden of proof is heavy on the prosecution, who must show that Helio knowingly attempted to break the tax law rather than just legally minimize his tax burden -- and they must show it "beyond reasonable doubt". While I think it's likely that Helio was planning to avoid paying the tax altogether in the future, he doesn't appear to have done it yet. Hopefully the jury agrees.

This whole episode has already revealed one loser, regardless of the verdict: the former Penske employee who called the IRS to snitch on Castroneves out of spite.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tweeting the Season

There are so many questions left unanswered as this postseason winds down, perhaps the least of which is do Indycar fans use twitter?

What at first appeared as a cutesy way for 12-year-old girls to tweet each other when Hannah Montana tried a new shade of cheek glitter has now turned into a interesting news tool. The interface is still a bit too Limited Too for my tastes, but it might be more than a toy; many Indycar teams and drivers are starting to tweet news out to their followers.

Yes, they "tweet news out". That's the term, I'm not comfortable with it either.

Read more over at

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hey Daytona... I'm Just Not That Into You

I tried, I really did. With beer in hand and pork rinds on the arm of the barcalounger, I fired up the Daytona 500 in surround sound. Lots of fans, 43 cars, the beginning of the NASCAR season...

Meh. I was asleep in 15 minutes. For a die-hard Indycar fan, it's like kissing your sister.

If NASCAR didn't want us to nap during the race then why did they give us a COT?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Buddy Rice Set for 2009 Season

Rubicon is now listing Buddy Rice as their driver for the 2009 Indycar Series season, and all indications are that this is a full-season deal. If everything holds up and Buddy takes the green flag at St. Petersburg, then this is a huge step forward for Rice, especially considering the economy.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

I experienced the kindness of a stranger today -- a stranger driving a heavy-duty diesel snowplow.

Like most of us living in the upper midwest, I've spent a good portion of yesterday and today with a snow shovel in hand. The snow is the heavy, crusty variety that requires lifting instead of just pushing to the edges of the driveway, the kind of shoveling that leaves one with sore muscles and a feint despondency about the temporary nature of the work. The mail carrier drove by with spiked tires to handle our stll-unplowed steets, causing me to stop and wonder... why bother shoveling the snow when there's no way to go anywhere?

I was about half-way through clearing the driveway -- again -- when I noticed an unmarked white Ford F-350 with a dark red Western plow carving a path through the streets. The driver slowed in front of my driveway and called out, "Want me to pull the rest of this off for you?"

It was temping. There's always a certain amount of pride in finishing the driveway without pulling my wallet from my pocket, but since I'd already finished this job before -- a few times, actually -- I was willing to treat myself.

"How much?" I asked.

The man smiled and lifted his fingers slightly from the steering wheel. "No charge."

I thanked him profusely and immediately banked my shovel as he slipped his truck into gear. He was done in 3 passes and about 30 seconds, and before he left he introduced himself and said he lived in the other side of the neighborhood.

Maybe he's some sort of snow angel, or maybe just he's a guy who likes to use his 4X4 in the snow. Maybe both. I like to think he's a race fan, maybe one of the TrackForum regulars -- but hey, what are the odds. But as he headed down the street, I noticed his brake lights as he approached another of my shovel-weary neighbors. I probably can imagine their conversation being very similar to ours, as another driveway was cleared in another 3 quick passes.

Who knows how many neighbors that snow plow owner helped today.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Penske Taps Power, Fans Want Hunter-Reay

In the wake of Roger Penske's hiring of Will Power as an insurance policy to cover trouble-laiden Helio Castroneves' driving responsibilities, fans of other available drivers are disappointed -- and in some cases, scratching their head.

Certainly the Aussie-born Will Power is talented, as his wins in ChampCar demonstrate. It's not that. It's just that you got a couple of proven Indycar winners on the sidelines.

Guys like 2008 Wakins Glen champion Ryan Hunter-Reay. He ran near the front all season in so-so Rahal equipment. Guys like 2004 Indy 500 Champion Buddy Rice.

So I put the question to the community: Who *Should* Roger Penske have hired? After two weeks of voting, Hunter-Reay is the top choice with 40% of the vote. Will Power, Penske's choice, trailed behind at 26%.

The fans wanted Hunter-Reay.

With indications that Buddy Rice may end up at Rubicon/Pacific Coast Motorsports, all eyes now turn to Hunter-Reay. The team that signs him may find themselves finishing races higher on the pylon than they thought.

Or the Indycar Series might let this talent get away.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Audi Confirmation

Audi Sport’s head of engine technology Ulrich Baretzky has now confirmed the information I posted on the 11th, although they are targeting 2011 instead of 2010. You can read his statements over at

It will be interesting to see if this initiative will come to fruition amid these tough economic times.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Audi Indycar Engines in 2010?

You heard it here first: The latest information from Germany is that Indycar officials met with Audi racing recently about supplying engines to the Indycar series.

There were similar rumors last June about Audi's interest in the Indycar series. Waiting for supporting information about this one.

UPDATE (1/13): I have info from another source now to corroborate the recent discussions between IMS and Audi.