Everybody else is doing it

Posted by Iannucci | 11/24/2008 | 9 comments »
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You knew eventually this had to happen, right? Your humble host gets through enough interviews that the ego starts swellin’, the ideas start gellin’, next thing you know BOOM it’s time for internet to have another podcast.

And so it is that My Name Is IRL proudly presents it’s first ever podcast – the “I Am Mindy Show”. Based on audience reaction it might also be the last ever podcast, but hopefully you’ll find something of value in this effort.

A word of warning: this isn’t your typical “two guys talking in a library” podcast because I couldn’t in good conscience turn out something that sounded about as lively as a Tony George press conference.

Anyhow, here’s the show, which among other things features the fourth actual verbal conversation between me and pressdog. For real.

You make the call

Posted by Iannucci | 11/24/2008 | 8 comments »
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Years ago during NFL (that's American football for those of you outside of the US of A) games there was a commercial feature caled "IBM presents: You Make the Call" where a weird play would be shown and you the viewer would get to decide if Eric Dickerson scored a touchdown or Terry Bradshaw fumbled or whatever. There's no equivalent in racing - or any other sport - because football has so many rules that literally no single person on earth knows all of them.

Racing is usually much simpler, but every once in a while something happens that's either the fault of Driver A, Driver B, or simply "one of them racin' deals". Today, we have such an example.

Here is footage from the A1GP race last Saturday or Sunday, depending upon your hemisphere. For those who do not know of A1GP it is a World Cup style of formula racing, where each team represents a nation. And they're all driving Ferraris. There are certainly worse forms of racing.

What you are about to see happened right before the start of the Sprint race feature, which may confuse stock car fans because it has nothing to do with mobile phones or "The Cup". Why might you ask am I discussing A1GP footage? Because the first car you see launching is driven by none other than American driver Marco Andretti.

Here's the Harry Callas voice-over for today's "You Make The Call": "As the race is about to start in Malaysia, Marco Andretti of Team America (World Police?) appears to accelerate, while directly in front of him Team India's Narain Karthikeyan slows down, resulting in Andretti launching over the back of Karthikeyan. Who's at fault? You make the call."

Marco said he was shifting up when it appeared everyone was suddenly slowing down, but I gotta admit it sure looke like he suffered a brain cloud at the start. Confirming this was this picture from the A1GP site.

Uh oh. Looks like Marco jumped the gun before the green light was on.

However, check out the next picture from a car behind Andretti.

Now, I don't know about your eagle eyes, but I sure as heck can't see any freaking red lights down the course from that cockpit. The best I could tell is that a driver in Marco's position probably needed to be watching the cars in front of him and not trying to squint for red or green in the distance.

So - you make the call. What happened here?

As a footnote, all cars were repaired in time for the Feature race where Andretti finished third. Hooray for America!

(Thanks to our buddy meesh for finding the video.)

The most bestest solution for Penske

Posted by Iannucci | 11/23/2008 | 25 comments »
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Since there’s no actual racing to discuss the predominant conversation for IRL fans has revolved around the question “Who’s gonna replace Helio?” Many journalists are openly suggesting Ryan Hunter-Reay or Justin Wilson or Oriol Servia because they’re good drivers who are unemployed. Many fans are hoping, begging, pleading that that Roger Penske bring back Sam Hornish Jr because he’s been there and done that quite well. One word butcher even suggested that The Captain might be looking to hand-pick a driver named Vitor from another team.

This just shows there are lots of options for Team Penske, which means that (a) they’ll likely end up with a good driver and (b) whoever it is will be second-guessed the first time they faltered. Look how many people were suggesting Ryan Briscoe should be fired after his first few races in 2008. Come on, you know who you are – don’t try to act like that didn’t happen.

But forget the Briscoe Inferno for just a moment and allow me to express a personal opinion on who should be his teammate for 2009. (That is, the best driver other than Helio Castroneves, who IS the best driver available.) A premier team like Penske needs not just a replacement but THE BEST replacement, so after careful consideration I’d like to offer my two cents who would be the best option for everyone.

For real. I’m not joking. Seriously. I really think Marco is the guy.

Remember that for Roger Penske the primary goal every year is to win the Indy 500, or should I say yet another Indy 500. Winning that race brings everything else, and taking the checkers 14 times as an owner has allowed him to pretty much write his own checks in racing. It is the goose that lays his golden eggs.

Now consider how Marco Andretti has fared in exactly three Indy 500s.

2006 - Marco was passed for the lead between the final turn and the yard of bricks, finishing 2nd at The Brickyard at only 19 years of age.

2007 - Marco brief leads a rain-filled race, crashing while battling in the Top 10 right before the race is called.

2008 - Marco again leads 15 laps before eventually falling behind Scott Dixon and Vitor Meira, lock-stepping his way to 3rd.

In three races he’s got two Top 3 finishes and has led 30 laps, all by the age of 21. And, as John Oreovicz points out, he’s quite possibly still a free agent.

Unless the team chose not to publicize it, Marco still has not re-signed with Andretti Green Racing. Many observers believe Marco will not achieve his full potential until he gets away from AGR, the team owned by his father, Michael. And what an opportunity Penske would offer to the 21-year-old! Grandfather Mario drove Indy cars for Penske from 1976-80 and would certainly endorse this career move.
I know, I know. You’re saying “Jeff, come on, we know why you’re doing this. You’ve already told us how you want to see Marco win the 500.” Yes, and thank you for mentioning that, because not only does it show you've been a frequent reader here but it’s also my next point.

Look, we’ve got a crisis on our hands with this Helio trial. One of the two most recognizable names from the series might be gone, which means we’re back to having Danica! as the primary representative of the sport. We need someone else to step up and garner some Q Ratings, and no one other than Mrs Hospenthal would bring more attention by winning at Indy than Young Marco. No offense to Vitor Meira, but if he wins it’s a week of interviews. If a guy named “Andretti” wins, it’s a lot more.

So you’ve got good driver at Indy and a marketable name – what could be better? Well, don’t forget the fact that he wouldn’t be racing for his dad anymore. The AGR team has at times turned into Comedy Central, what with Michael trying to figure out how to respond to incidents involving his son and other teammates, most notably at Infineon in ’07 and Indy in ’08. If Marco went to drive for Team Penske it would not only take away that conflict of interest, but it might also get Marco’s ever present grandfather out from hovering around and casting his long shadow over the AGR team. Allowing Michael to just be team owner and not family man on race weekends might actually add back the years to his life he’s lost watching Marco turn his cars upside-down.

And the cherry on top of this is the idea of seeing former combatants Sam Hornish Sr and Marco’s buddy Anthony Fedele chumming around at the Penske holiday party. This is such a win-win-win idea for Penske, for Marco, for Michael, and for the entire IRL that it can’t be ignored.

Unless of course you think it's completely ridiculous.

(Photo: Trackside Online)

Quote of the day

Posted by Iannucci | 11/21/2008 | 16 comments »
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Many years (ago) at Toronto, when there were some 60,000 people packed into the grandstands, I said to a friend of mine, “Why would anybody pay $80 to watch 100 feet of cars going by?” I can’t explain street racing, other than it’s worked in big cities because it’s a 3-day festival of noise, drinking, eating and pretty women. It’s not racing, as we know it, and watching a 200 mph Indy car creep around a corner at 20 mph is not exactly thrilling.Robin Miller, proving that I am not the only person that doesn’t get street racing. No offense to fans of city circuits, but if I ever run into Robin I’ll gladly spot him a Pepsi for this admission.

Rampant speculation

Posted by Iannucci | 11/20/2008 | 20 comments »
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OK, remember how our new buddy Kevin Lee of the IMS Radio Network warned a few weeks ago about stuff you read on blogs? How it may or may not be true? Well, this time that's the case because in the interest of conversation I'm just going to throw something out at you. If I were Robin I'd be running for a microphone and a TV camera right now, but I'm not so I'm attaching a humongous disclaimer.

WARNING: This is unconfirmed! The information contained in this post is currently for entertainment purposes only.

Alright, now that we have that out of the way we can continue. Here's the deal: I've recently been told by someone who is a lot closer to the goings on of the IRL than your humble host that in lieu of the recent decision to deny Helio Castroneves a delay from his schedule March court date that Team Penske has already decided lock up a different driver for the 2009 season. Could this mean they think the trial will drag on for months? Could it mean they think the evidence against Helio is rock solid? Could it mean he's agreed to plead guilty? I have no idea on any of those.

But wait, there's more. I was also told that the driver that Penske is eyeing is Vitor Meira and that they are negotiating with Foyt Enterprises to buy him out of his newly signed contract. Does this mean Foyt will let Vitor go? Would Tony George try to influence this decision? Who would replace Vitor at Foyt? Sorry, I haven't got a clue.

Once again, WARNING: This is unconfirmed! The information contained in this post is currently for entertainment purposes only.

If this in fact true, and really considering all we've read I don't think this is an entirely a shocking chain of events, it would demonstrate three key points.

1. Roger Penske is most concerned with winning the Indy 500. While the idea of finding a replacement for Helio has been water cooler material for weeks, most of the conversation has focused on drivers like Ryan Hunter-Reay, Oriol Servia or Justin Wilson. Those guys are good drivers, but that's in the context of the entire IndyCar season. Quick question - how many times has Roger Penske won the Indy 500 as an owner? I know many of you know the answer is 14. Now how many "series championships" has he won? Yeah, I don't know either.

That's because it's all about Indy, and since it's all about Indy you go for the best guy there. 2005 winner Dan Wheldon is locked up with Panther, '04 winner Buddy Rice hasn't, well, looked that great lately, and the last two winners are racing for Big Chip. And Sam Hornish Jr still likes gunning for the Top 30 in stock cars, thank you very much. So of the drivers remaining you gotta look at Vitor who finished 2nd twice in the last four years. In fact, he's never finished worse than 12th at the Brickyard, so he's probably the best option if his current owner is willing to consider negotiating his release.

2. Helio's legal prospects do not look good. There's no way to sugar coat this, because you know The Captain would rather go to Indy with a two-time winner driving his car, but if he believes Helio isn't going to be available then it leads to wondering about what Team Penske knows.

Recall that when the news first broke about Helio's tax evasion indictment that Team Penske was listed as being asked to provide evidence. That's probably because they were writing the checks, but we don't know what else. As bad as the thought about Helio going to trial is then dare to ponder this: Helio is not a US citizen, so if Helio is convicted he faces the likelihood that he will be deported. For good. Whether or not he goes to jail. I'm sure it's not his biggest worry at the moment but let's at least get this out there - his IndyCar career could be over RIGHT NOW.

If you happen to have any, please pass the Excedrin...OK, once more, with feeling. WARNING: This is unconfirmed! The information contained in this post is currently for entertainment purposes only.

3. Tony Kanaan is silently weeping. Let's not even get into his personal loss relating to his longtime friend and/or rival, but rather consider how his gamesmanship in silly season played out. Depending on who you believe Kanaan may have been angling for a ride at TCGR or he may have been simply using the negotiations to leverage more money from AGR. The entire issue is clouded because if he had gone to Ganassi he would have been #2 to reigning champion Scott Dixon's #1, and equipment aside Kanaan's not a #2 type of guy.

However, had he known what was going on with Helio, he likely would have been the guy on the top of Team Penske's list today, and he's definitely be top dog next to Ryan Briscoe. As good as Vitor has been at Indy, Kanaan has set a record by leading the race in all seven of his attempts. Sure, he's still winless at the Brickyard, but you know next May just like every other he's going to be a betting favorite (and fan favorite) no matter how his month goes. If he were available one would suspect Roger would be all over him like white on rice.

Again, these are a lot of words for something that isn't yet confirmed. Maybe Robin or Cavin or someone else will verify it all soon, but I thought you all should be in the loop. If nothing else it certainly makes for quite a conversation.

Bohlander blooper reel

Posted by Iannucci | 11/19/2008 | 1 comments »
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Who needs a cheap laugh? Chuckle, chortle, giggle or snort when appropriate.

“I’m not addicted to smoking or drinking or anything like that, but I like to do other things ... daily ... that nobody knows about.”

That just never gets old. Ever.

Paul Page is also a word butcher

Posted by Iannucci | 11/19/2008 | 5 comments »
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I’m old enough to have caught a few of the Sid Collins years, but the voice most prominent in my recollection of Sunday mornings in May by the radio is that of Paul Page. His excitement level goes to 11 and he sometimes shouts like the house is on fire, but on radio that always played well, and even on TV there were plenty of folks who enjoyed years of work Page did at Indy and elsewhere.

Recently some folks have lamented how the names associated with the new Versus (VS) IndyCar broadcast team have not included Page, even mentioning how they “emailed Page”. Now, it’s always a treat here in the 21st century to just fire off a missive and have it come back to the Inbox with a personal reply, but I was intrigued at the prospect of exchanging pleasantries with Paul Page. I mean, he may be announcing dragster races and competitive eating, but he’s still Paul Page.

And glory of glories, not only did I find his email but an actual blog at www.PaulPage.tv. Sweet fancy moses, Paul Page is a word butcher just like me! After taking a moment to add him to the sidebar, I too sent an email asking him about the VS gig. I won’t quote him directly, but I will say he not only confirmed the same names being auditioned like Davey Hamilton, Mike King, Jack Arute, and Jon Beekhuis, but he also said he was told they were only interested in folks who were young, fresh, and vibrant.

Aside from the fact that those adjectives sound more like a Gordon Ramsay menu than a broadcast team, I think anyone with two eyes can confirm that Jack Arute is not young, and he hasn’t been for at least 86 years. But what’s more troubling is that if this is indeed the dictate then there’s zero chance of Derek Daly appearing in the booth, because for all of his faults he’s a lot more interesting as a commentator than Scott Goodyear.

Then again it’s entirely possible someone was giving an excuse to Page along the lines of “you suck for siding with CART a dozen years ago”, although that would purely be conjecture on my part. That could go for Daly as well, I suppose.

I sincerely hope this isn’t the entire list, because it’s not very encouraging to see that there isn’t anyone else out there who might be on the VS radar. Mike King is great on radio, but I don’t know how he’d do on TV where the requirements involve less description and even less shouting. Arute has been in the booth before and from what I recall it didn’t work. His brilliance has been best served in smaller portions. Beekhuis is solid, but I’ve never come away from watching races thinking of a memorable quote of his. Maybe Davey Hamilton will prove an inspirational choice, although he’s so calm I think he’d need to be paired with a total loon to avoid sounding like Goodyear.

I’m not going to criticize the performance of these possible candidates before they’re actually on VS, but in case anyone from the new network is reading right now I’d like to make two suggestions to those responsible for this decision. First, under no circumstances should Todd Harris be allowed on an IndyCar broadcast. Once more, with emphasis: under no circumstances should Todd Harris be allowed on an IndyCar broadcast. He’s already at VS doing cage fighting, and good for him but but please please PLEASE resist the urge to use this available “talent”. I mean it – do not let him within 5 miles of Danica Patrick ever again. 2005 was embarrassing, and we’re only now scrubbing our memories of that horrible season.

More importantly though, I’d like to offer the novel suggestion of finding someone who has recently driven in the IRL to play some part of the broadcast team. If there’s one thing the IRL has recently had in plentiful supply it’s personalities, and surely one of them can be persuaded to jump up in the booth. The ever animated Darren Manning – who is currently without a ride – is the first name that comes to mind. Also young James Davison, who struggled a bit in the Indy Lights but performed well enough to garner attention for his work at Surfer’s Paradise. PJ Chesson might be worth a shot. Also Paul Tracy, or either of the Lazier brothers, or heck, as improbable as it seems even Helio Castroneves might have some free time.

The point is that often IndyCar drivers often end their careers by going off into another slower racing series and then fade into oblivion. Davey Hamilton may be the exception, but his is a rather unique story. The point being with so many unemployed drivers standing around it would be a total waste of resources to not find at least one of them who has some on-air talent and the ambition to show it. Hopefully the VS folks can find someone to chat us up who has the benefit of experience of racing on the current tracks and/or driving the current car.

And whoever it is, I hope they don’t mind having a blog as well.

If Milka could drive as fast as she talks

Posted by Iannucci | 11/17/2008 | 1 comments »
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Jack Arute once famously noted that when Milka Duno speaks excitedly in English she sounds “like a Chihuahua”. Those are, or rather were, his words describing The Towel Incident, although since then Arute or someone like him amended the original line from “Milka went ‘Charo’ and started yipping like a Chihuahua” to simply “Milka went ‘Charo’”. There may or may not have been some negative feedback related to that comparison, probably from a pro-Chihuahua lobbying group.

However even a fun loving linguist like Jack would agree that Milka is certainly more intelligible when talking en Español, and she’s fully coherent when speaking in Spanish while accompanied by English subtitles. Here she is appearing on “Tr3s”, which is some channel with bilingual programming that I’ve never seen, probably because I would need to pay extra to my cable provider would that I ever wanted to watch it. Milkalicious is basically talking about all the super groovy things that go into racing an IndyCar, right down to the overtake button. Of course, she doesn’t actually demonstrate the usage of the overtake button, but ... I’m just going to stop there because that’s a setup that writes its own punchline.

(Thanks to IRL-O-Rama for the finding this glorious video.)

Plan B for Penske

Posted by Iannucci | 11/17/2008 | 12 comments »
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As you may have read elsewhere (you really should be reading is it May yet? daily right now), on Friday the judge in the Taxman v Helio trial gave a big thumbs down to the defendant’s request for delay. The current start date of March 2nd will stand, meaning that until about a month before the season Roger Penske will either be sitting on pins and needles hoping against a 90-plus percentage federal conviction rate hope that Helio emerges from the throes of justice unscathed, or The Captain must soon go about the business of planning 2009 with a different driver in the #3.

Yes friends, it’s now time we all get our brains around this: no matter what, Helio will probably not be driving for Penske next year. Heck, if he gets convicted he may never race again. Let’s all take a deep breath, hold it, grab that wastebasket, and if you must go ahead and vomit the contents of your stomach.

The most appealing solution would be Commissioner Penske to switch on the bat signal, beckoning Sam Hornish Jr from his cave in Defiance, Ohio. It’s too bad Sam and other drivers don’t have their own music of choice played during driver introductions, because the only hope of turning even a temporary loss of Helio into something positive would be to hear Jack Arute or whoever on the opening broadcast shouting in their best Jim Ross, “No! It can’t Be! That’s Sam Hornish Jr’s music! What’s HE doing HERE?”

(OK, I admit to listening to too many Live Fast Racing podcasts. So sue me.)

Unfortunately reality is a lot more boring than that, as Sam has repeatedly said that no matter how much he, uh, struggles in stock cars he’s having a blast and he isn’t coming back to the IRL. So this means The Captain will probably have to go find another driver to replace an otherwise irreplaceable one. There are obviously a lot of “good” drivers out there without jobs, but this is Team Penske where winning in dominant fashion is the goal. Team Penske can put a winning car on the track, they just need a driver who’s comfortable with winning. To that end, allow your humble host to offer a few suggestions for who might best fit this opening.

Seabastien Bourdais – Current Formula One driver (well, maybe), SeaBass kick all kinds of tail in the former Champ CART entity to the tune of four straight championships. We’re talking about a guy who in those four years won 28 of 55 races – that’s INSANE! Plus, having a French guy with ultra Euro glasses would send old school Penske haters to a whole new level.

Lance Armstrong – Seven time consecutive Tour de France champion knows how to turn a wheel in the biggest of events. If you can do a month in France then you can do a month in Indy. As a bonus, folks at the VERSUS network are already familiar with his work and have innumerable “packages” at the ready.

Ronaldinho World-class footballer (read: “soccer player”) has won titles wherever he’s played, proving he’s quite adept at two-hour sporting events that often are utterly boring and without action. Can anyone be better prepared for racing at Infini-yawn? More than anything though he’s Brazilian, which we know has to count for something. I mean, they grow championship-caliber drivers on trees down there.

Julienne Hough – This two-time winner of Dancing With the Stars worked intently with Helio to bring out the best dancer in his pedal-pushing feet. Perhaps, if he’s not incarcerated, Helio could return the favor. She could be just as huge, if not huge-er(?), than Danica, and she’s only got one less win. Bonus points for the sassy, sparkling firesuit potential.

Tiger Woods – I can’t think of a better way to rehab and injured knee than to take some time off by sitting down for a whole year. The guy is as proven a winner as there can be, and if you’ve ever suffered through a golf telecast – and goodness knows U.S. IndyCar fans have had races pre-empted by plenty of them – then you know he certainly has the vocabulary required of a race car driver.

Speed Racer – If you want a young driver with potential than this kid is the benchmark. I’m not sure what his contract status is with his current team, but if this guy can successfully navigate the Casa Cristo then Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio should be a total walk in the park. Maybe Team Penske could even build auto jacks and rotary saws into their cars.

The line forms around the block

Posted by Iannucci | 11/13/2008 | 14 comments »
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Chalk one up for the word butchers. Our buddy Will at is it May yet? is so smart that not only can be be a big brain for NASA by day, but by night he can do the work of a serious journalist. Will has been spending this evening on fun stuff like the affidavit filed on behalf of Helio Castroneves asking for an extension from his March court date.

It seems everyone's favorite fence climber worries about the timing of a verdict in such a case. It also seems his boss is more than a bit worried as well. According to Will, the affidavit reads:

[I]f the trial proceeds as scheduled on March 2, Penske Racing will be forced, in all likelihood, to change drivers now to avoid the risk that Mr. Castroneves will be unavailable for the entirety of the 2009 Series.

(MORE from is it May yet?)
Now normally you'd think a two-time winner of the 500 and one of the two most recognizable faces in the IRL would be secure in his job, but the reality is it's a buyers market for teams looking for a quality driver. As Robin recently noted, the current lack of sponsorship available to race teams has left proven drivers like Oriol Servia, Justin Wilson, Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay are all pounding the pavement in search of a ride.

As an aside, does anyone know why N/H/L would keep Graham Rahal over Justin Wilson? No offense to the youngster, but he was clearly the lesser of the two drivers this year. Is this an "upside potential" deal or what?

Unintentional tin top humor

Posted by Iannucci | 11/12/2008 | 7 comments »
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Admittedly this news isn't directly related to Indy Cars, but it does involve Classy Chip Ganassi and the most amusing racing team nickname ever.

Teresa Earnhardt and Chip Ganassi will combine their sponsorship-strapped race teams next season, an effort to stabilize their organizations in a tough economic time.

The combined team will be called Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and will field cars for Martin Truex, Aric Almirola, Juan Pablo Montoya and a driver yet to be named.

Both teams said details of the new organization will be announced later.

(MORE from AP)
Did you catch that? Chip Ganassi's team is merging with the late Dale Earnhart's team? Chip, Dale. I know Disney owns ESPN, the new network of the N-Word, but...You gotta be kidding me!

Incredibly, there's even an official racing game for the team.

A different Buddy Rice

Posted by Iannucci | 11/11/2008 | 12 comments »
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We hardly ever talk about Buddy Rice, and that's not good. Buddy's an Arizona guy like your humble host, Buddy never causes problems, and Buddy won the Indy 500. What's not to like?

Although he's become notwrothy for being the only IRL driver to have had three different women as teammates, Buddy hasn't noteworthy for winning a lot of races since going over to Dreyer & Reinbold. In fact, he kinda drops off the radar from time to time, expecially in the winter. So in case you forgot about Buddy and his flat billed hats reader indyfive has discovered a sign that will remind you.

Makes you wonder who else could attach their names to a business.

Helio Castroneves Dancing School?
Darren Manning's Steakhouse?
Dan Wheldon's Shoe Pavillion?
Vitor Meira's Second-Hand Clothes?

Hey, it's a long winter, people. We gotta pass the time somehow.

Cabbies in Mexico define irony

Posted by Iannucci | 11/10/2008 | 1 comments »
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Back in 1994 a young Ben Stiller starred in Reality Bites, portraying the first of many successful "neurotic dork" roles. And by "many" I mean every freaking film in his entire career with the exception of the long since forgotten "Permanent Midnight".

Also in "Reality Bites" was a young and previously unconvicted shoplifter named Winona Ryder, who played the female equivalent of the "neurotic dork", which should probably be called the "chattering navel gazer". Honestly, if you watch a movie like this you'll wonder how my generation ever won friends and influenced people.

At some point in the movie Winona (or rather her character) is at an interview for a newspaper job and gets asked to "define 'irony'", and she falls short of the mark like Marty Roth on Pole Day. Now, the reason I present all of this to you is not because I'm going to define "irony", but rather because this story from the PCM racing team today just reminded me of that part of this long-since forgotten movie.

Remember, the PCM car sported this sponsorship for much of the year.

Statement from Mario Dominguez regarding his traffic accident in Mexico City:

"Unfortunately I was involved in a car accident here in Mexico City on Saturday and thankfully no one was hurt. I was on my way to an early golf tournament and I made an error and hit a taxi cab. I left the scene for help because I was assaulted by another taxi driver that stopped at the scene. It was an unfortunate accident and despite there being no citations issued, I have offered to cover the vehicle damage. I am frustrated by the false interpretations reported of this incident, and I would like the media to know and report the truth, which is why I've asked to include this police report. I hope in the future my good results and charity efforts garner the same type of coverage."

It should be noted that PCM no longer has this sponsorship, so maybe Mario arranged all this to happen. Or not. At any rate, if the "Reality Bites" reference wasn't to your liking then I could always re-write the entire post using "Man of Fire" instead. It's definitely a much better movie.

UPDATE: OK, maybe the irony of cabbies assaulting Mario just went out the window. Joel at IRL-O-Rama has discovered some articles in Spanish, and thanks to the trusty translators of the internet we can see they say things like this.

In an unexpected way, Dominguez, who has the title of sporting ambassador of Mexico City, abandoned his car and tried to escape but was caught minutes later and had to agree with the taxi drivers to pay for the damage and was left with that at large, despite driving under the ingestion of alcohol, according to witnesses of the events.

Oh dear. So what we've learned is that when "Visit Mexico City", even though you can escape a possible DUI with enough cash you should still try to NOT drive anywhere near Mr Dominguez. Otherwise you might end giving him a serious shiner.

UPDATE AGAIN: But wait, there's more from Joel at IRL-O-Rama, who is clearly the most prolific racing blog for fans south of the border.

Today, I opened my e-mail and was greeted by a forwarded message. This message, assumed from someone within the Dominguez staff/mob family, contained the official press release and some pictures (one of which is above). Here is the explanation I was given for the news articles released in the Mexican newspapers.

"The reports in these newspapers sadly, are inaccurate in effort to sell papers.

"Mario was not drunk and as stated in his quote below, he left the initial scene because he was being assaulted (hence the wounded eye) by another taxi driver who stopped at the scene. Mario feared his safety, he did not have two accidents and he is the person who called the police!"
No offense to Mario or anyone else in our fellow NAFTA nation, but regardless of which version of this story is true I'm pretty sure the whole mess hasn't exactly left readers clamoring to "Visit Mexico City".

Paradise lost

Posted by Iannucci | 11/10/2008 | 4 comments »
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The open-wheel marriage of the IRL and Surfer's Paradise is officially over. Between the scheduling issues and the dollars involved this union had about as much of a chance of lasting as Madonna and Guy Ritchie. Or Sean Penn, for that matter.

IndyCar's will no longer be featured on Australia's Gold Coast after the open wheel series and local government failed to come to an agreement on a new race date.

A1GP will instead replace the IndyCar series in the traditional October festival which has lured thousands to Surfers Paradise since 1991.

The stumbling block to a new agreement was the government's refusal to move the date of the annual open-wheel event from October to March.

(MORE from TSN)
Of course this all but officially kills the Australian Vineyards sponsorship for KV Racing Technologies. Somewhere Will Power is weeping over a Foster's.

Meanwhile, before you get too choked up be sure to check out The Furious Wedge, where the idea of replacing the IndyCar series with A1GP is considered a win-win for everyone. Everyone except Mr Power, that is.

Craig Gore backtracks ever so slightly

Posted by Iannucci | 11/07/2008 | 3 comments »
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According to an freshly crafted press release, when Team Australia benefactor Craig Gore said he was “retired from motorsport” he didn’t mean it as an official announcement.

“I have not made any announcement regarding my retirement from motorsport,” said Gore.

“I did state that I was taking time this week in Byron Bay to reflect upon things and my future after a life threatening illness and that if it came down to having to make a choice, I would prefer to spend time with my kids rather than go racing. I made no comment of whether I discussed this with my family or close friends. I considered this conversation to be in confidence.

“I am disappointed by the reports in the media today but it would not be the first time I have been disappointed by the way media has dealt with my answers. For the record, I was answering questions asked and there was no announcement being made by me.

(MORE from Team Australia)
So he’s not retired yet but he’s also NOT not retired. OK then. I don't know about you but I'm thinking this guy should run for public office.

Thank You, Curt and Kevin

Posted by Iannucci | 11/06/2008 | 7 comments »
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On behalf of the handful of us blogger types who were interviewed - starting appropriately with his excellency Bill "pressdog" Zahren - I'd like to thank Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee for the opportunity to speak with them tonight during their Trackside program at 1070 The Fan in Indianapolis. While others might view bloggers like lepers these two rolled out the red carpet for us.

I hope I sounded OK because I was speaking a lot more extemporaneously (look that one up, P1) than intended. I was told initially that I would have 5 or so minutes to "have a take" like they do on The Jim Rome Show ("Phe-nomenal!") and as such I had written out a few paragraphs to try to be as entertaining as the callers on that show.

The unused transcript went something like this.

Hey guys, thanks for the time. I first want to say a word about the misconceptions relating to bloggers. Contrary to popular belief we don’t blog from our basements in our pajamas. First off, I only wear pajamas when I sleep, which is to say when I’m dreaming of a Phoenix Suns championship that never comes. I know this is a racing show but I wanted to at least mention Amare Stoudemire dropping 49 on the Pacers last night.

Also, I live in Arizona where we don’t have basements. The only folks out here with in-ground dwellings are snakes and scorpions, although I suppose Danica Patrick might have used some of her gazillion dollar sponsorships to build one so she can privately practice her international sign language skills. I mean thank goodness for Danica and her hand puppet shows when she stalls on the track, because I don’t know about the rest of America but personally I was about to fall asleep during that race in Australia...

Eh, maybe it's a good thing I ended up just answering their questions.

Click here to listen to the show. My time is in the last 15 minutes or so, which Andy Warhol would state is appropriate. However don't skip around because you'll miss putting voices the other scribes, as well as the super blogger friendly Sarah Fisher who got shoe-horned in as well on word butcher night.

Oh, and be sure to listen for when it sounds like Curt calls Bill a "racist", because Cavin swears that's not what he said.

Craig Gore “retired from motorsport”

Posted by Iannucci | 11/06/2008 | 3 comments »
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You may not recognize the name, but this will have all kinds of IndyCar implications.

GOLD Coast business giant Craig Gore has quit motor racing. Speaking from a family holiday at Byron Bay, Mr Gore said he had an epiphany when he underwent life-saving surgery in London last month, forcing him to rethink life's priorities.

"I was given a week to live before my operation, and that's really changed my view of things," he said.

"I would rather spend time with my kids than race cars."
(MORE from GoldCoast)
To those wonder who this Gore fellow is, he’s not the same guy who served as Vice President of the US of A. Craig Gore is an Australian “businessman”, which is to say the son of a successful real estate developer. That’s all well and good, but here are the two points you need to know:

1. Gore owns “Aussie Vinyards”, and as such the sponsorship the paid for the second KV Racing Technoligies entry drive by Will Power.

2. Gore runs the Surfer’s Paradise race, which has been speculated to be removed from the 2009 IndyCar series schedule due to issues related scheduling, which is to say issues due to “who’s gonna pay us to haul all of these cars and teams down here every year?”

So as you can see, if this story holds true then this could potentially be not only the end of a well-attended race but also create tremendous sponsorship problems for a prominent team. Remember, the “K” in “KV” is for Kevin Kalkhoven, also Australian but more noteworthy as the former head of Champ Car who famously shook hands with Tony George at the Bimergification Summit at Mount Homestead.

Looking beyond the "epiphany", this probably means that it won’t be long before there is word that the Surfer’s Paradise race is declared dead. In fact, Mr Gore telegraphed this exit as much a few weeks ago with some very telling quotes.

"I think Tony George's management has a huge influence over his decision-making process and in business you employ people to give you advice so you can understand the path forward…I just don't think he has the best people advising him."

"I just hope that Tony George and the rest of his boys of the IRL see sense and recognise that this is probably like throwing away the Indy 500.”

"It is far and away their second biggest race. They ... probably need to hand out corn cobs at some of the races to get people to some of them. This (Surfers) is an already made up and set up race for them."

"I can tell you now if there's no IRL on the Gold Coast, there's no Team Australia," he said. "I have invested $20 million into this event and this team and flying the Australian flag, and made a significant contribution to the state and the country. Hopefully we can win it this year so if I do have to walk away, I can say we that have achieved what we set out to do."

"Tony George needs to make a decision and needs to make that decision without the influence of his lower management. He needs to decide based on the merits of the event."

Hmm, not feeling the love there. And not to discount Mr Gore’s current health status but it sure reads like he already had one foot out the door.

Which in a way is lamentable because the Surfer’s Event surely seems popular with the folks down under, although as noted with other events of a street car nature it’s not very clear “popular” means “profitable”. My guess is that when a “businessman” like Gore walks away the answer isn’t too difficult to derive.

In the meantime let’s hope there aren’t giant virtual dominoes striking Mr Kalkhoven, Mr Power and everyone else on that racing team so forcefully that they aren’t able to show up for the 2009 season.

(Thanks to our sometime guest host "mmack" for bringing this to our attention)

What a difference a year makes

Posted by Iannucci | 11/04/2008 | 1 comments »
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About 12 months ago most of us were sitting around in shock at the departures. Newly-crowned series champ Dario Franchitti had just signed with Classy Chip Ganassi Racing - as a stock car driver. Previous champ Sam Hornish Jr was "thinking" about a similar move, losing himself in thought in a Penske stock car every weekend. Even previous IndyCar drivers like Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Carpentier were getting their boogity-boogity on.

But now, pffft. Of all of those drivers the last man standing in the Sprint Cup series is Uncle Sam, who despite remaining in contention for Rookie of the Year over thar might soon be following the exodus of open-wheel drivers AWAY from stock cars. So sayeth SI's Lars Anderson.

For the past few weeks the garage has been rife with rumors that Hornish is considering moving back to IndyCar in 2009. Hornish has been a huge disappointment this season. The three-time IndyCar champ's best finish was at Charlotte in the spring (13th) and his average finish is an underwhelming 29.5. He'll likely win rookie of the year honors, but that says more about the weakness of this rookie class than it does about Hornish's season.

Why has Hornish struggled so much this year? I chatted with him earlier this season and he pointed to the fact that stock cars have far less grip through corners than the open-wheel IndyCars. Hornish simply hasn't been comfortable behind the wheel because he frequently feels like he's on the verge of wrecking in the turns. And this problem doesn't seem to be going away, which is why there's so much speculation in the garage that Hornish will be done with NASCAR after the final checkered flag waves at Homestead.
This information is provided purely for the sake of discussion, as there seems to be more than a few reasons why Sam wouldn't be back to the IRL just yet.

For starters, there's Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe, who arguably drove as well or better this year than Sam did in 2007. We all know about Helio legal problems but so far Roger Penske is standing by his man, and should Helio somehow emerge victorious with his "the agent did it" defense there seems to be no reason to think Penske would kick him to the curb.

And as for Briscoe, all he did was win more races than Helio.

Additionally, it's been reported that Penske can only field two cars, because the Team Penske contract with the primary-sponsor-that-cannot-be-named-due-to-legal-reasons requires that Roger provide two and only two cars that look like a pack of smokes for each race. I suppose with enough wild-eyed lawyers in the room any contract could be changed, but that's definitely another hurdle.

And lastly, well, have you seen Sam? He's not gone on the full Tony Stewart diet (who by the way was shockingly dropped by Subway as a spokesperson), but Sam appears to have added some sympathy weight since the birth of his first child. I'm not saying the guy is out of shape, just that he could afford to mix in a salad here and there.

Regardless of whether or not this report holds any water, I look forward to innumerable reports of the massive migration from tin tops to IndyCars this winter. Har har.

(Hat tip to IRL-O-Rama for the article)

Robin goes to the N-Word

Posted by Iannucci | 11/03/2008 | 5 comments »
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More than a few of you have excitedly sent the link to the Inbox, so for the rest of you here it is: Robin Miller riding along with Dale Junior Junior.

"Slow it down to 110. I want the Milka Duno experience."

I bet you do. Blow out the candles and make that wish, big guy.

Look, that certainly seems like it would be a lot of fun, but at the risk of looking like an even more partisan hack than I already am I need to ask: why is a guy known for being an open-wheel reporter taking a ride along in a stock car?

I know, I know - Robin needs to sell that autographed firesuit on eBay to pay for Pepsis in these troubled times. Whatever. I'm just saying that if you're gonna bad mouth Milkalicious then at least take a ride in something like her car. The Junior fans might disagree, but the entertainment factor would have been off the charts if Miller had agreed to ride the 2-seat IndyCar. With Milka driving.

He might have ended up in the wall, but that would only prove his point, right?

Opportunity lost

Posted by Iannucci | 11/03/2008 | 3 comments »
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Today the IndyCar Race Control product died.

Dear 2008 IndyCar Race Control subscriber,

Thank you for your past support of IndyCar Race Control. Over the past year we have been able to deliver many exciting hours of top-level racing to our subscribers. We hope you enjoyed the content we were able to provide this season. Regrettably, we will not be able to provide access to the race archive as previously intended. Effective November 3, 2008, the site will no longer be accessible to view.

Partial refunds will be issued in November. Please ensure your account information, particularly the credit card information, is up-to-date, so we can refund your credit card appropriately.

Your humble host was pretty jazzed about this product when it was first announced in the Spring, as this was the first product to allow race fans to listen to the driver/crew interaction during an entire race. So I was all too happy to plunk down the cash and even feature a link on my site* for other fans who also wanted to partake in the "sounds of racing", which also included an on-board camera for noticing heavily flourished hand gestures.

Unfortunately, after a full season, it became all too noticeable that the product failed to fulfill in three critical areas.

1. As anyone who has recently attended an IndyCar race with a scanner and a frequency list can attest, listening to someone racing along at 220 mph trying to have an intelligent conversation with a spotter is unlike anything in sports. And by someone we mean the hyper-spastic communicator that is Marco Andretti.

Spotter: "Here he comes...outside...outside...clear!"


Spotter: "Uh, yeah, OK, so we're gonna pit this lap. Pit this lap."

Breathtaking, isn't it? Sadly, Marco was only listed as one of the four drivers covered in only a handful of races.

2. Even more unfortunate is the fact that Marco was not incredibly competitive in the races he was covered. Maybe the Race Control feature was a bit of a jinx, but every time I turned around it seemed Marco was out and we were back to watching and listening to Scott Dixon, who was usually leading out there by himself with not much to talk about other than fuel settings.

3. Most shocking of all is that for whatever reason, something happened to Marco that made him calm down to a sensible level. I don't mean he was sedate, but gone were the days of "WHATTHEFU...!!!!!!", replaced in 2008 with perfectly intelligible comments like "What the f*** is he doing?" and "I can't drive this f***ing thing!" Sadly, this sounds the same as every other driver.

So unless someone else steps up to the plate for 2009 a sad farewell is due to the Race Control feature and it's accompanying video archive. I for one will miss it greatly, almost as much as I will miss the youthful exuberance of Marco Andretti's early radio transmissions.

*And on a separate note, I'd like to thank the one reader out there who used that link to purchase the product. Thank you so much for your support of the sponsors here at My Name Is IRL. Because of you the kids and I went to town at Taco Bell earlier this year - in your anonymous honor.

Quote of the Day

Posted by Iannucci | 11/01/2008 | 3 comments »
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"The biggest problem we have is materialism. What kind of car does he own? What kind of clothes does she wear? People get so wrapped up in that stuff, they don't see the other things. What about family? Friendship? Health? Sure, I want to be the richest guy in the world, but I'm not going to be, and being the richest guy in the world isn't going to solve any problems. A lot of people think 'If I had a million dollars, I'd be happy." I know a lot of people in Brazil who don't have much at all, but they're very happy. They have love and family and friends. That's what's truly important." - Helio Castroneves, speaking with irony set to "full rich" in the latest issue of IndyCar magazine.

For some reason this song comes to mind.