So who's the most unlikely celebrity from this past IndyCar season? Milka Duno? Anthony Fedele? Security Chief Charles? All worthy contenders, but for my money that title belongs to the ever diligent Arni the Indy Insider.
Thanks to YouTube, we have been regularly entertained by vignettes from Arni (as well as some duds, but we aren't going to talk about that.) The Indy Insider has featured everything from driver interviews to girls in cages to Mari Hulman George to talking stuffed animals, all the while showing Arni as a funny and engaging sport who just loves talking about IndyCars.
And now after that completely sugar-coated introduction, it is with great pleasure that My Name Is IRL welcomes Arni the Indy Insider. It's time to find out what he's like without a video camera. Cue the questions.
So why did you start the “Indy Insider”? Was this your idea?
Well I’d like to take credit for the idea and all the sponsorship cash that came with it (none of that happened by the way) but credit actually belongs to a friend of mine who works at IMS Productions. He and his boss wanted to start a series of viral videos to get people excited about the coming season, the races, and if we could show the drivers in a different way. They thought I’d be a good host, since most of the drivers and crew guys know me from my primary job as one of the IRL’s PR guys, so I came up with some ideas, shot them at a test for the pilot and the thing was born.
How much time and how many people are involved in making any given episode?
When we started it seemed like it took forever – mainly the fault of the host, who couldn’t remember what to say or at times just couldn’t speak.
The last few videos we did in about 15-20 minutes with very few takes, except for the last party episode. We spent a good 45 minutes to an hour wandering around the DownForce party.
And by we, I mean: Me and one of three camera guys. Others involved were the exec producer/director, basically our own version of Billy Walsh (who added ideas of what to say and posts them on YouTube), a video editor and as many other guests as we could fit in.
People have been guessing you are anywhere from teenager to 50-year-old man. For the record, how old are you?
I drive the carny who tries to guess your age crazy. I’m old, but not nearly as old as Scott Sharp. I am old enough to drink (and still get carded for it. I know that’s shocking news). I’m 56.
Now that you’re famous are you struggling with autograph requests, groupies, or jealous co-workers?
I don’t have hero cards, so I don’t sign autographs (joking, I’ve signed a couple though I really don’t know why anyone wants my autograph, though Kenny Brack asked for one in a video). My only groupies are the people who want to be in the videos, and that includes the jealous co-workers and drivers. And anyone who would actually read this Q & A (And those random people I don’t know who asked to be my MySpace friend). So I guess the answer is yes...or maybe.
There were rumors on message boards that you fell ill during the season. Are you OK?
I’m fine now. July was tough. I really couldn’t put together two sentences because of the cold I gave myself in Iowa. I think pressdog or Rusty Wallace sprayed me with a corn-based anthrax or something.
Other than Tony Kanaan, have you gotten any feedback from drivers or other prominent figures in the sport?
I think most people enjoy the videos from what they tell me. Of course the second I go away, they probably talk crap about me and how much they hate them.
Has anyone refused an interview request or asked to be left out of your episodes?
Other than when Dario gave me the finger, I basically get to chat with anyone. As an aside, Dario did tell me “we need some humble pie” after he won the title. Ashley gave me a disapproving look when Dario told her the story of the video. We all had a good laugh at my expense.
Ed Note: Did he say "humble pie"? Would now be a good time to point out how in the Indy 500 Front Row Party episode where Mr Judd gives Arni the finger, the Indy Insider immediately declares "Not a championship contender, no way no how. Not even gonna win the race."? Ahem.
You put up a $1 bounty to the first driver to beat Alex Lloyd this year. Did Hideki Mutoh ever collect?
It actually got up to $5 and I’ve yet to give it to Hideki (If Hideki is reading this. I have your $5. I hope he doesn’t want interest). The payment was going to be a bit for the show (think about trying to cash a big check), but another race driver with a videoblog beat me to the punch. Damn you Hinchtown.com.
Now that the season is done, which episode is your favorite?
A lot of people liked the Japan episode just because of the subtle jokes. But how can you top interviewing girls in cages? Do you think we peaked in Week 3. I do.
Will you be back with more or are you going to NASCAR?
I’ll be back unless NASCAR finds a fan who acts like me and then takes credit for inventing YouTube and the Internet, making me obsolete.
Thanks so much Arni, and PLEASE don't stop. We can only watch the girl in the cage so much between now and next March.
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