This isn't Hell, it's Iowa

Posted by Iannucci | 6/24/2007 | 5 comments »
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The inagural Iowa Corn Indy 250 is done and I don't think anyone would color this event a screaming success. Oh sure, the stands were packed and there were no raindrops, tornadoes or flying monkeys on Sunday, but the carnage...oh, the carnage. Oh, the humanity!

Before I start acting like My Name Is IRL Hater, I want to congratulate Dario Franchitti on surviving the ordeal. At the end of the race he had the best car and he took it to Victory Lane.

But just as putting a microphone in front of Ashley Judd's face is largely a bad idea ("Oh is he doing a Zanardi?") something seems to have gone sideways with all the hype of flat-out, three-wide racing that was promised. Instead, it was demolition derby on a Sunday afternoon that ended with a parade.

Maybe it was the tires, which were so hard the winner raced around a hundred miles on the same set. Maybe it was the newness of the track, and drivers were still figuring out where there were four grooves and where there were two. Maybe they were all ticked off they didn't get down to Knoxville.

Or maybe a couple of Vision teammates made a joke about a "Danica sandwich" that went to far. I dunno. Whatever the reason, the Rusty Wallace Extravaganza was a horrifying display of what Indy Racing is generally NOT. The marquee names we crashing early and often, the side-by-side racing wasn't promoting much passing, and when it was all said and done we were left with two teammates who were clearly not going to pass each other.

Come on, you didn't think Marco was going to try to overtake the points leader, did ya?

The Good

Hey Marco - 2nd place! Look at the good things that happen when you stay on the track. Now you know how Dario felt following you around the last few laps at Sonoma last year.

Scott Sharp stayed clear and finished in third, although that was largely due to the Block Parties he was throwing for Ed Carpenter and others. It occurred to me this is likely why Patron tequila is his sponsor. Synergy.

The Mirror Man was looking very strong - until someone broke out the voodoo doll on his suspension. What was that? Is Kosuke behind this?

At least it was a good day for Foyt Racing and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. When was the last time there were post race interviews with Buddy Rice, Darren Manning and Sarah Fisher? I bet folks almost forgot they actually spoke.

The Bad

OK - raise your hand if you want to see 10 cars racing at the end. Anyone? I mean other than you Foyt and D&R folks.

Apparently the weatherman and the Firestone people were not on the same page, as the participants all had tires ready for the heat while the forecast turned substantially less than heat-filled. Evidently they are not familiar with that saying about weather in the Midwest - if you don't like it stick around a few hours and it'll change.

From the best I can tell you'd have to go back to the '05 Indy 500 to find a race on an oval that no Penske or Ganassi car finished higher than Helio's 8th. Normally watching so many others compete with and surpass the standard bearers is good, but with two wrecks, a mechanical problem and a stalled car sidelining the red and white brigade...not so much.

Milka quietly pulled off after completing only 60 laps. How ironic it is that with all of the carnage she was neither the victim nor the cause of any wreckage. She might have broken the Top 10 if she could have managed some speed and hung around. Pity for Hugo.

The Ugly

I'll leave this to Pressdog, who truly needs your sympathy. Someone give this fine fella some tix to Chicagoland as compensation, please.

I left my house at 9:30 and got to the track at 1 p.m. It takes 45 minutes to drive to the track. Sat in a stop and start line of traffic for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. Mad props to the Iowa Speedway for such an effective traffic plan. Really. What you want to do is charge fans $50 a seat, talk up how super neat the racing facility is, then make them sit and wait for two and a half hours to get in.

Also, thanks for making me look like a total asshole for highly recommending everyone I know go to the race. I got to my seat on lap 89, but only after I walked by a few thousand totally pissed fans. The biggest professional sporting event ever held in Iowa was apparently too big for the Iowa Speedway.


  1. Anonymous // June 25, 2007 2:03 AM  

    I hear you. I feel bad for those stuck in traffic. I've, unfortunately, been to a MIS nascar race and, fortunately, many Buffett concerts at Deer Creek. Traffic can be a horrible thing. It is one of those troubles in life that piles upon you when it is to late to do any thing about it. But the problem with the Iowa race was the tires. Firestone almost always does an incredible job. Along with their sister company, Bridgestone, they are at the top when it comes to manufactures of racing tires. But just like Michelin at the USGP a few years ago, mistakes happen. The tires were way, way, way, way too hard. People are going to say things like "everyone had the same tire, so what's the problem?" I don't know, maybe the fact that Wheldon and Kanaan both lost control of their respective cars. Something that rarely happens ever, let alone in the same race. I'm from, and live, in Indiana, so I understand that open-wheel is the epitome of motorsport. I just hope that the great citizens of Iowa will see, and I'm sure they will, that most of the crap that went down today was just growing pains and not divert their attention to stock car. I'm sure it will be better next year. I know from experience that nascar races are what happened today minus talent. They suck.

  2. john clerk // June 25, 2007 3:54 AM  

    Tires, a really botched-up weather forecast pretty much sums it up,,, I agree with just about everything "anonymous" said, especially with respect to nascar races. Anything I could add would be redundant.

    i feel for scheckter... taken out twice in a row has to suck.

  3. Joe // June 25, 2007 8:05 AM  

    The race ended up being a mess on the whole. The folks at Iowa can only hope the decision to keep selling tickets doesn't backfire on them, as the resulting traffic snarl surely made some folks so mad they'll never be back.

  4. pressdog // June 25, 2007 8:43 AM  

    Here's the shits of it: Just saying "Ugly traffic is all part of it" ain't flying since you had a bunch of new customers walking into a traffic scene they were totally unprepared for. Bad first impressions. Many won't be back. I've been to IRL races at Kansas Speedway and Chicagoland and this was not a normal traffic delay situation. It was a total FUBAR that made KS and Chicago look like well-oiled parking machines. The tragedy is many who were convinced to give the IRL and Iowa Speedway a shot left disgusted. Unless the Speedway pulls it's PR head out of it's PR ass and starts explaining it and apologizing, those fans will never be back. So whether or not the fans should have expected the delay (it's usually the paying fans' fault) or not is immaterial. Damage is done.

  5. john clerk // June 25, 2007 1:46 PM  

    well put, pressdog