The discomforts of street racing

Posted by Iannucci | 3/26/2007 | 4 comments »
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This week the action in the Ganassi Indy Racing League moves to St. Petersburg for the lone street circuit of the season, where some folks are not exactly marching around chanting “I am Mindy. HEY!” Tampa 10 news says those folks would be lawyers.

'We can't get back and forth to our office. We can't use the telephone. We can't work on the computer without being more than annoyed. The noise is amazing,' says Lydia Castle of Gulf Coast Legal Services. Her office sits right on First Street South, and her desk is just feet from the street.

'The cars are just so close to us. You just can't concentrate,' she says. 'When there are cars with huge engines zipping by at ungodly miles per hour, it's almost impossible to get work done.'

Her colleague, attorney Kathlyn Mackovjak, found it nearly impossible to carry out a business meeting at the Starbucks down the street.

'In general, it's very distracting. It's loud, it's very noisy and it just goes on forever,' Mackovjak says. 'I'll be glad when it's over.'
OK, I can appreciate how lots of loud Honda engines can make business conversations difficult. But come on, people – this will be the third year of this event. Maybe by now you can find somewhere else to chat other than the corner Starbucks, no?

What’s really fascinating is that THIS is the type of news being reported about this event. You would think the TV stations would be all giddy to get footage of cars screaming around the town, but instead they go out and find some sourpuss who hasn’t had her daily triple half-caff no-whip mochachino.

Here is the reality: for better or worse, this is the future of open-wheel auto racing. They won’t be building too many more ovals tracks when they can throw some barricades up downtown at a fraction of the cost. For all of their faults Champ Car manages to attract fans in Long Beach and Toronto with exactly this kind of event, and with ICS cars now featuring baffles for regulating the noise you can expect they are intending to add more of these types of courses in the future.

It smacks of heresy when compared to the Tony George manifesto of 1995, but the times are always a-changin’. Despite the fact a fan can only see one or two turns at a time, it would seem the braintrust of the IRL is bent on adding a few more of these types of races in the coming years. Street courses cost less, don’t destroy a lot of cars, and attendance figures indicate lots of folks dig the festival atmosphere.

In other words, a high-speed parade. It’s like twice the fun of oval racing, but without all that messy passing.

In the meantime, maybe someone could have the ever-charming Dan Wheldon drop by Gulf Coast Legal Services and hand out some free tickets. If nothing else, they could send those hard-working folks an IndyCard for their troubles.


  1. Johnny // March 26, 2007 9:30 AM  

    Don't forget this is also a tandem event with one of the fastest-growing racing series in the ALMS. And who runs in Indy Car and ALMS? Roger Penske. But if he's putting these deals together (and rumor has it that Belle Isle was all his doing) and they can tap into a profitable formula for it, I say great. More money, variation, and a chance to pick up some road race fans will be good for Indy Car. And for the record, there are still plenty of ovals on the circuit.

  2. Joe // March 26, 2007 12:17 PM  

    The revival of Belle Isle is 100% Penske's doing.

    Johnny, don't forget about the Honda influence. AGR also has a Honda ALMS team, and St. Pete is an event they put together/revived. Further, Honda has plants near Mid-Ohio, and the ALMS will be paired with the IndyCar Series there in July.

    Interestingly enough, the IndyCar Series runs twin-bills with the Grand-Am Series at Homestead & Infineon.

  3. Johnny // March 26, 2007 3:03 PM  

    Yeah. The Acura AGR pairing in ALMS is new for this year and they've already won their first and only race! There's tons of brand-extending "synergy" there for Honda as well as both racing series for sure.

  4. Joe // March 27, 2007 8:17 AM  

    Well, Robert Clarke admitted the ALMS program came about out of the cost savings from not having to compete with any other manufacturer in the IndyCar Series.