Roth makes like a tree and leaves

Posted by Iannucci | 10/20/2008 | 20 comments »
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Without a press conference or official announcement, the Marty Roth error era has officially ended. As the Toronto Star reports, Marty has cleared out his locker, filling up a box with tattered scoring sheets, crumpled Dallara parts, and all the bitterness he can carry. Here's the story he tells to Norris McDonald.

"I actually have not talked directly to the IRL about this," Roth told me in conversation this week. "I've called; they won't call me back. But this is what happened:

"I was approached by three men at the last race in Chicago who wanted to get involved with my team – to run it and to market it. That has always been a big problem for me, a lack of budgeting. That and a lack of testing really did me in. When I could test, I did well – including on the road courses. When I couldn't test – and they wouldn't let me test most of the time – I had a hard time.

"The IRL told them that they didn't want me driving any more, that they wanted me out of the cockpit and somebody else should drive. They wanted me to just be an owner. The quote was: `His demographic is as an owner, not as a driver.'”

(MORE from Wheels.ca)
The article indicates the IRL actually considered letting Roth run a few more races before Marty himself pulled the plug on the whole thing, and Roth – as well as the article’s author – seem to think this is an issue of Ageism. Which if you read nothing but this article of sunshine discussing Marty’s qualification times would make you think it is.

But it isn’t because he’s old; it’s because Marty sucked.

When discussing Roth, who by the way is no longer listed in IndyCar.com “Drivers” drop-down list, the first thing that comes to mind is how slow he is compared to his, uh, colleagues. And by slow we’re not talking about qualifications so eagerly mentioned in the article. No we’re talking about the kind of slow where the leaders try to avoid crashing when lapping repeatedly on race day when most fans are watching.

And speaking of crashing, that’s the second thing that comes to mind, because in four attempts at The Greatest Spectacle in Racing the youthful exuberance of Roth has managed to finish the race ZERO times. Accident, Handling, Accident, Contact - and that’s just at Indy. As mentioned before, he’s only finished 10 of all 21 ICS starts.

But those are only part of the reason for putting the kibosh on Roth’s IndyCar career. Being slow is one thing, being prone to crashing is another, but it’s how much it disrupts the other teams that gives the league valid reason for giving Roth and his racing license the heave ho.

With links mostly supplied by the braintrust at TrackSide Online, the un-official chroniclers or record of the Indy Racing League, here is the condensed version of the Marty Roth 2008 season. Check out not only how many times Marty crashed, but how many times practice sessions had to be cut short for all drivers due to his actions.

HomesteadParked after 53 laps for going too slow.

St Pete (Did Not Start) – Full course yellow in practice on Friday. And Saturday. And Sunday.

MotegiCrashed after 44 laps.

KansasParked after 43 laps for going too slow, but not before running over Luczo Dragon Racing tire changer Simon Morely.

IndyCrashed after 61 laps.

Milwaukee (Did Not Start) – Crashed in Saturday practice.

TexasFinished 22nd, 7 laps back.

Iowa (Did Not Start) – Crashed in practice Saturday.

RichmondParked after 117 laps for going too slow.

NashvilleFinished 13th, 1 lap down, for his highest career finish.

Mid OhioFinished 21st, 5 laps back.

EdmontonOff track in morning warmup. Finished 21st, 8 laps back.

KentuckyParked after 98 laps due to “mechanical” issues.

InfineonFull course yellow in practice on Friday. Finished 25th, 4 laps back.

Detroit (Did Not Start) – Full course yellow in practice on Friday. And Saturday.

ChicagolandQualified 9th and finished 16th, but...

Marty Roth nearly ended Helio Castroneves' day before it started. Roth pitted before the start with radio issues, then zoomed around the field to re-take his ninth place on the grid. Helio did not see Marty coming and nearly collided with the Canadian as he warmed his tires. Race control tried to get Roth to move to the back but failed.
Boy, from start to finish that’s a spectacular season there friends. In 16 races Marty started 12 times and finished 6 times – never on the lead lap. Astoundingly Marty says “When I could test, I did well – including on the road courses,” despite the fact he never finished in the Top 20 on ANY track that is not an oval. How Roth can complain “When I could test...” when he personally abbreviated so many practice sessions this year is an irony rich in either dishonesty or delusion.

Author McDonald ridiculously concludes in that article that if the IRL hasn’t sent the same “go away” message to all 15 drivers who finished behind Roth in the standings (including drivers who never finished behind Roth in a race) then Marty is owed an apology. Riiiiiight.

Sorry, but for being both a moving chicane on race day as well as regularly scheduled yellow flag during practice sessions it would stand to reason that it’s Marty that should be the one issuing the apologies, and he should be issuing them to every one of his former competitors.

20 comments

  1. Justin // October 20, 2008 10:34 AM  

    Screw you guys I'm goin' home!

  2. J E Clerk // October 20, 2008 10:47 AM  

    If Marty had left Jay Howard in the seat and got himself a laptop and threw it around on race day, he might have been OK. But when he dicked over jay at Indy, he lost me...

  3. J E Clerk // October 20, 2008 10:48 AM  

    oops, sorry about my language, Jeff.

  4. Iannucci // October 20, 2008 10:49 AM  

    It's OK. By "dick" you meant "detective", right?

  5. J E Clerk // October 20, 2008 10:56 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  6. Jesse // October 20, 2008 11:05 AM  

    Okay, I'm with you insomuch that Roth was definitely lacking the pace to be an IRL driver.

    However, there are others the IRL should be approaching in the same way. (How Milka Duno ever got a license is still beyond me.)

    Also, can the series afford to disenfranchise any owner right now? Doesn't look like they'll field many, if any, more cars next year. Maybe the IRL should have continued to park him at lap 50 for a couple of more years just so he'd continue to field cars after he eventually gave up?

  7. Iannucci // October 20, 2008 11:24 AM  

    Milka, and maybe even a few others, are stories for another day. As for Roth he's been given lots of opportunity to demonstrate that he is a hazard for both the blatant crashing during races but also in the more subtle way of lowering the amount of experience other drivers get with all of his practice mishaps. Planning to park him at lap 50 every race doesn't fix that.

    This is merely speculation, but I suppose race officials were willing to tolerate him so long as he also spotted a car for Jay Howard or John Andretti or whomever. But by the end of the year the team may as well have been called "Just Marty Roth Racing", which isn't exactly a team with a lot of, how should I say, upside potential.

  8. Jesse // October 20, 2008 11:44 AM  

    Two great points. I definitely think he would have been tolerated with another competitive entry, but that was my point. He should have been kept around if he was going to eventually give two spots to deserving drivers as the IRL is staring down a lack of '09 owner investment despite the ratings/popularity uptick in '08.

    You're right in saying that Roth cost a lot of deserving drivers valuable practice time. For that reason, I guess I can get on board the blacklisting. He also had the gall to complain about lack of IRL testing when he spent most of his Friday/Saturday sessions in gravel traps or against a white wall.

  9. Dale Nixon // October 20, 2008 12:21 PM  

    Does this mean I can now unveil my plans for a Marty Roth biopic starring Tom Cruise and thousands of Dallaras as "extras"?

    It's going to be titled "Born to Park"

  10. Anonymous // October 20, 2008 12:31 PM  

    The thing that honks me off isn't Marty's behavior. It's this guy McDonald. He gives unprofessional word butchers a bad name!

    I registered for wheels.ca just to rip his conclusion about how the IRL owes Marty an apology. (We'll see if it gets posted.) The gist is, if you calculate the average number of points Marty scored per race, he was ahead of only two drivers--Lloyd and Simmons--each of whom only ran one race. And he wasn't far ahead of them. Even Milka did better (averaging 12.7 points/race compared to Marty's 10.4). Even if we give Marty another 20 points for starting the races with a DNS, he only gets to 11.6.

  11. meeshbeer // October 20, 2008 1:26 PM  

    As much as I like and have the utmost respect for Norris, this was definitely a one-sided, bleeding heart article.

    As Jeff has pointed out with the numbers, Roth's version of his season definitely doesn't match up with the actual facts.

    Not that this is any excuse for lack of proper research, but unfortunately, here in Toronto, the funding and print space for open wheel coverage was severely slashed this year. The only open wheel event the major papers sent anyone to was Edmonton (thanks you PT)

    The fact that there was an article on Roth at all is likely due to the friendship between himself and Norris, not it's newsworthiness. (cause quite frankly you could probably walk down Yonge St. from Bloor to Front, questioning every person you passed with "who is Marty Roth" and not get one correct answer)

    The one-sided depiction is likely due to not having followed the season very closely, and relying on hearsay rather than first hand knowledge. Again, not an excuse, but a likely explanation.

  12. Jesse // October 20, 2008 2:39 PM  

    btw... I hope we have a decent conversation about Milka and others soon. I'm interested to learn what the IRL community feels about competition versus size of the field.

    @ dale nixon: I think Harrison Ford would be more fitting for the role of Roth. Though I think Cruise would more accurately convey how much of a "detective" Roth can be.

  13. Robbie // October 20, 2008 9:37 PM  

    I have to say I feel somewhat sorry for the guy.

    Living your dream of racing, trying to keep a team going, trying to improve--I can understand why he's angry. But still, no matter how hard you try, if you don't have the talent, you can't race. End of story.

  14. Duds // October 21, 2008 2:34 AM  

    Including Road courses?

    I think we'd all agree Milka Duno struggles on road course in these cars (I'd be stronger but I think there wouldn't be a debate on that statement).

    At the last road course, Marty was as far behind MILKA in 2nd last as Milka was behind the Pole.

    That's not just slow. That's glacial. I think they pointed out he'd have been 18th on the support race grid. In an Indycar.

  15. Duds // October 21, 2008 2:35 AM  

    "btw... I hope we have a decent conversation about Milka and others soon."

    Of course this is the Milka that led more laps in 2008 than Danica Patrick did... ;)

  16. Anonymous // October 21, 2008 6:44 AM  

    You forgot to add his lovely "No Show" to Watkins Glen (as a driver or an Owner).....he will not be missed (except by those of us who enjoyed picking him to finish last in Fantasy Racing) :)

  17. Anonymous // October 21, 2008 6:14 PM  

    I love this site. You wouldn't even know this happened if you went to indycar.com. They're image protectors on that site.

  18. Robert // October 22, 2008 5:57 AM  

    My point of view- I have no problem if Roth wants to spend his money to go race (I mean drive) each week. The IRL should not say he cannot race, rather make him pony up $10 million in an escrow account that the drivers that he wrecks can draw from to rebuild their cars. At the end of the year any left over money is split 50/50 between Roth and a charity/charities.
    If Roth says he can afford to drive and have fun and not be competitive - let him pay!

  19. Anonymous // October 22, 2008 8:33 AM  

    Marty Roth ,filling fields since 1989.Roth was also banned from the AMA for taking out half the field as they were grided fot the start fo the race.
    Marty Roth(The Sloth), worst Indycar driver all time.

  20. Dale Nixon // October 23, 2008 5:35 AM  

    Robert, according to my (admittedly incomplete) research Marty NEVER TOOK OUT ANOTHER CAR in any of his "incidents". So while we can criticize him for being off the pace, we must give him credit for at least staying out of the way!

    Marty's crashes seem to be all 100% unforced driver error, which makes it some sort of record in and of itself.