Help Wanted

Posted by Iannucci | 1/31/2010 | | 9 comments »
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Perhaps you've seen this mentioned elsewhere, like say at PopOffValve, pressdog, or Chris Estrada's temporary homeless shelter of a blog. If you have not already read this at some other site then...well I was going to ask "What in the world is wrong with you that you only check for IndyCar news HERE?" but considering I'm about to take the unusual step of asking you to actually do something I figured that would be counter-productive.

At any rate, as you may or may not have heard Vision Racing is now Vision Is Not Racing, due largely to the fact that they do not have adequate sponsorship secured for the 2010 season. As I mentioned before and as you probably are aware, Vision has become a special team for IndyCar fans due to the unparalleled access they have provided to anyone with a computer and access to the wild world of internets. If Tony George sneezes they will tweet it. If a decal flies off the car they will write a 1000 word blog post on what adhesive they were using. If Ed Carpenter has to take a potty break they will post pictures. (OK, maybe not the last part, but you get the idea.)

So what, pray tell, is it that I am asking YOU to do? I'm asking you to write a letter. Or even an email. That's it. It's like 5 precious minutes of your time. And the reason I'm doing this is not because I'm some kind of puppet who can be manipulated by the strings of some racing team - no, most certainly not. It's because our sport - yes, OUR sport - is suffering like many others from what businessmen, politicians and witch doctors alike refer to as "the economy". And by that I mean, "the economy that sucks".

Racing is a sport that thrives on sponsorship, which means the team owners race around in front of thousands of people in the stands and hopefully even more watching on television, and in doing so they provide exposure for those wonderful companies featured all over the actual race cars. However, "the economy that sucks" has made many business hesitant to pay for sponsorship on things like race cars because, well, they don't know if that's money well spent in comparison to a park bench or a billboard or a padded sign at the side of the court at a WNBA game.

So you, dear IndyCar fan, are being asked to do something for the sake of Vision Racing. Actually, if you REALLY hate Vision Racing you don't have to do it for them, but for a different team that might be having the same problem. But I would strongly encourage you to do it for them and pretty much every other team since most if not all could definitely use your help. It's time to activate yourself, and here's Vision's Pat Caporali to explain this simple request. The bottom portion of this post is entirely her words.

Oh, and in case you read this after Monday DO NOT use that as an excuse to not send a letter. Until sponsorship is secured there is no such thing as "too many letters". Just think - in the time it took you to read my contribution to this post you could have already completed this task. As pressdog said, "To arms, IndyCar Nation!" Now quickly, before I break out the Henry V "we happy few" speech at Agincourt and really irritate the bejeezus out of you.

Take it away, Pat.


Dear Vision Racing Fans,

We cannot tell you how much your words of support and encouragement have meant to all of our team members in the past few days. We want you to know that we are working hard to get past this speed bump and get our team back to the business of building race cars & IZOD IndyCar & Firestone Indy Lights racing.

Many of you have asked what YOU, as fans, can do to help.

Well, we thought about it and the fact is YOU guys count A LOT. We race BECAUSE of you. We race for you. Sponsors get involved because they want YOU to buy their products and support their involvement in our sport. Neither of us can succeed without you, the fans.

SO... here's what you can do if you want to help.


If you are willing, we would ask you to send a letter, email, short note, fax to Vision Racing that we can pass along to potential sponsors AND the sponsors that have been supportive of us in the past. (They don't all yet understand the power of twitter & facebook)

Think of it as a letter of reference that we can use to find and secure sponsors that want your business.

Please feel free to send these to us so that we can pass them along on your behalf:

by email at

by FAX at 317-295-7066

or by snail mail to
Letter of Reference
c/o Vision Racing
6803 Coffman Road, Indianapolis, IN 46268

The on-going economic environment has been difficult on ALL the IndyCar teams AND their sponsors. Sponsors need to know that you are still there to support open-wheel racing, the Indy Racing League, teams, and sponsors.

If you don't want to do this for us... then please consider doing it for the teams / drivers you DO support or for the league as a whole.

One of the sponsors that HAS supported Vision Racing and our driver Ed Carpenter for a number of years is MENARDS.

We are NOT asking you to HARASS our friends at MENARDS. In fact, ALL we'd like you to do is let them know that YOU still support us and appreciate the support MENARDS has shown us. The folks at MENARDS love racing as much as you do but they also have difficult decisions to make sometimes.

Let them know how you feel Vision Racing & Ed Carpenter have represented them, and how much you LOVE the day-glo yellow No.20 MENARDS IndyCar.

We'll make sure to get your letters get to MENARDS or if you prefer, you can send you letters directly to them by fax at 715-876-2774.

We'd like to do this as quickly as possible so that we can put your letters in our presentations to potential sponsors first thing Monday morning. We'd also like to send any thank you letters addressed to MENARDS which may perhaps convince them to extend their support of IndyCar racing in some form.

We have no doubt this will have a positive impact and we will keep you posted on our progress because any success we have, on and off the track, will be because of our fans and your support.

Thank YOU!

Vision Racing

For the next 24 or so hours

Posted by Iannucci | 1/30/2010 | , , | 0 comments »
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Have you ever wondered what it would be like if just about EVERY blogger of IndyCar goings on decided to congregate together for an entire day? Me neither, but it's actually happening over at Furious Wedge right now.


We'll be covering the 24 Hours at Daytona as well as some other sporting events. Probably a bunch of other subjects, many of which may related to alcohol consumption (because, you know, we would all like some booze-base sponsorships like all the significant forces in racing).

We have a new leader

Posted by Iannucci | 1/30/2010 | , | 2 comments »
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Cue the white smoke because the bishops at 16th and Georgetown have collectively reached a decision on a new leader. Ladies and gentleman (and any trans-gender types as well in the audience), please welcome the IRL's new CEO...Andy Bernard!

A proud graduate of Cornell University, Bernard represents a curious choice for the IRL. He has a well-known competitive spirit, a strong sales background in the paper industry, as well as a diverse musical acumen...wait, what's that you say? It's NOT Andy Bernard?

Oh, I'm sorry. It's Randy Bernard. Well that's an honest mistake.

The Indy Racing League landed a new chief executive officer Friday when Randy Bernard accepted the position vacated by Tony George.

Bernard, the founder and now former CEO of Professional Bull Riders Inc., will be confirmed next week, industry sources told The Star.

Bernard turns 43 Sunday. He has never attended an IndyCar Series race.

(MORE from the intrepid Curt Cavin/IndyStar)
On a practical level I suppose this hiring makes sense. In the past year I've heard more than one person refer to certain events as "goat rodeos", and if that's what we've got then Bernard's resume makes perfect sense.

But on the other hand, let's examine that last sentence again.

He has never attended an IndyCar Series race.
Ummm, in the immortal words of Gary Coleman, "Whatchu talkin bout, Willis?!?!"

OK, I can see where this is going. Bernard has little if any ties to anyone in the IRL, so he's able to look at the entity through "fresh eyes". He's and "outside the box" pick. A good leader is a good leader no matter what he's leading, right?

Perhaps. But once again:

He has never attended an IndyCar Series race.
It is difficult to fathom handing the reigns of a sport over someone who has never actually attended an IRL event, because this presumably means he has never attended the Indy 500. Here we are, right in the middle of the IMS Centennial celebration, handing the league it features over to someone who has never attended the race upon which this entire series is based. Excuse me while my mind explodes.


Now, as I apply a cold compress to what remains of my head, I'll try to see the positives of this. Bernard has successfully built a national presence from a league that started from nothing, so he's got experience working with sports that have far more troubles that .1 TV ratings. And speaking of that, he's got experience working with VERSUS. And since he has no ties to the existing series perhaps he'll be able to make the hard choices in the best interest of the sport without worrying what certain track or team owners desire. That sounds like a good thing, I suppose.

But then is Bernard going to address the current engine badging situation? How is he going resolve the competing designs for the new car design? What will he base future choices of track additions, or for that matter subtractions? How is going to deal with his inevitable public conflict with Robin Miller?

And how much of all that will be affected when he collapses from the sheer awesomeness the first time he stands outside the Pagoda, with balloons in the air and hundreds of thousands of people cheering, and hears "Ladies and gentleman, start your engines!"

*poot* (again)

Is terribly different from hiring Andy Bernard instead? I sincerely hope so, and that my incredulity is just a case of my judgment being clouded from my mind repeatedly exploding. At any rate, welcome and good luck, Randy - God save The 'Nard Dog.

UPDATE: We have some persuasive arguments in favor of this hiring from pressdog and Chris Estrada.

She's gone

Posted by Iannucci | 1/29/2010 | , | 1 comments »
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Had enough bad news? No sir, you most certainly have not. Our good buddy pressdog alerts us to this winter's latest casualty: the lovely Lauren Bohlander.

The feature "Up to Speed" starring Lauren Bohlander is officially off the air.

The league has decided to shut down Up to Speed and go a different direction, according to Amy Konrath of IndyCar PR: "After three years of producing Up to Speed on the website, we decided it was time to do something new for the fans," said Kontrath. "So this year, our focus for videos will be on driver-generated content each race weekend on"
In the immortal words of Anakin Skywalker, "Nooooooooooooooo!"

When I think of things I appreciate most in the world, IndyCar racing and perky ladies who belch excessively are at the top of the list. Pesto is up there as well, perhaps because the garlic leads to much entertaining belching. At any rate, here is the final "Up To Speed", a blooper reel featuring Bohlander in all of her belcherific beauty, with a little Karaoke and a few "that's what she said"s thrown in for good measure.

A significant loss of Vision

Posted by Iannucci | 1/28/2010 | , , | 4 comments »
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Early this morning the complete removal of Tony George from IndyCar racing was suddenly finalized by Curt Cavin.

Tony George's Indy-car team suspended operations today due to a lack of sponsorship, completing a downfall of his involvement with major open-wheel racing.
And so it is that Vision Racing, for the time being at least, is gone. Excuse me while I react with the F-dash-dash-dash word.

Friends, this is nothing short of a tragedy because despite being neither an historic nor a dominant force in racing this team was head and shoulders above all others in one area: fan support. This team – particularly the PR team of Pat Caporali and Michael Kaltenmark – have built a fan base out of good ‘ol fashioned hard work, and they did it largely using the free medium of twitter.

This has truly been a case study of how to get people caring in your team, because a couple years ago this was just “Tony George’s team” that stepson Ed Carpenter drove for with occasional appearances by other drivers here and there. But while other teams continue to carefully choose what to say and when to say it, the folks at Vision were using twitter (and to a certain degree facebook and their web site) to say just about anything and everything, all of the time. We’re painting the car so here are some pics for you. We’re running test laps before a race and Ed says the car has too much push in Turn Three. We’re in the middle of the race and damn, that pit stop sucked. And if you sent them a note they would more than likely respond almost instantly.

Attention every other team in the universe: it’s this kind connection is that sports fans crave. It’s why some buy T-shirts, others rent race scanners and many more get garage passes to get oh-so-close to those magnificent machines and their pilots. I realize we fans often act like ex-girlfriends in chronic denial but we want to love you – please, for goodness sakes, let us love you! – but Vision’s unprecedented access and interaction was truly a model for making ANY team lovable.

Here, cobbled together from today’s tweets, is @VisionRacing’s own announcement.

It is with profound regret & heavy hearts that we share the following update with you all. Despite the team's best efforts, Vision Racing will be suspending all racing operations. We have an amazing group of people here that appreciate all the support you have given the team. Efforts to find a solid sponsor partnership have been difficult but will continue so that we may take to the track once again. We hope to see you all at the track in the near future.

"Racing is life... everything before and after is just waiting." - Steve McQueen

(Photo: Vision Racing)

A verbose retrospective of the Tony George era

Posted by Iannucci | 1/26/2010 | , , | 7 comments »
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If there's one thing this week has taught me it is this: the time it takes between "initial thoughts on subject" and "clicking the POST button" is directly proportionate to the actual length of the post. And as someone who has spent a week thinking about this post here, I humbly and sincerely apologize for it's length. And with that...

It's been a week since Tony George effectively divorced himself from any responsibilities of the Hulman family's business of racing, resigning from any and all positions of authority. The list of positions he no longer occupies includes board memberships at The Speedway, the IRL, IMS Productions, their parent company, and most surprisingly the panel that oversees quality control of tenderloin sandwiches. Mari Hulman George expressed shock and dismay thusly.

"As members of his family, we are sorry to see Tony leave," said Mrs. George. "We are grateful for his service to our company as a board member and of course for formerly serving as CEO and president of our companies. I speak for our whole family in wishing him well."
I suspect that last line was actually written by Tony's sisters and in the original draft read "...wish he falls in a well", but I can't confirm that.

Perhaps he grew weary of being told "no" after years of being in charge of the whole she-bang. Perhaps he threw a tantrum at no longer getting his way. Perhaps he just threw a virtual middle finger at his family and like Pontius Pilate decided to wash his hands of all responsibility for what may come of open-wheel racing in America. I won't pretend to know which of these is true because the news came while Mr George was out of the country, more than likely NOT partying with Max Mosely.

While most everyone who has followed the Indy Racing League since it's inception would agree this brings to close one of the more, uh, eventful eras of Indycar racing, most everyone will also disagree on what exactly was the meaning of that era. Take for example our good buddy John Oreovicz, who started his latest feature for with this:

No matter how true the statement actually is, Tony George will go down in history as the man who effectively destroyed Indy-car racing.
Ouch! OK, I don't think I'm telling tales out of school here but I don't think it's going to be any surprise that (a) a guy like Oreo feels this way and (b) folks like your humble host is going to disagree.

First though, instead of slamming Oreo like a word butcher might be inclined to do it's more purposeful to understand that there are a lot of people who feel the way Oreo does. In fact, many of them are major writers (pick anyone not named "Curt Cavin") and they have and will continue to lay many if not all of the ills of racing on the shoulders of Tony George, offering him up repeatedly as some sacrifice to the gods of racing in the hopes that one day Greg Moore would be resurrected to save us all from this purgatory.

To many of them and amany of you Tony George caused the split, Tony George ruined racing, Tony George made the cars ugly, made them sound bad, dictated everyone race on "death trap" ovals, caused the Andrettis and Unsers get old and retire, and is likely responsible for the whole Brittney Spears head-shaving incident a few years ago. Everything wrong with the world that can't be explained is Tony George's fault.

And that's all well and good for those who look at 1994 and then 2010 and note that the man who carried the most responsibility for running Indycar racing during that period was Tony George. But as many of us know the world just isn't that simple, and this isn't a case of a guy waking up one day with a plan to TEAR IT ALL DOWN, MAN.

Now before you tune out let me quickly note I'm not going to rehash the whole power grabbing escapades among USAC and CART and the engine manufacturers and track owners that was going on before 1994. That's been documented ad nauseum and it's obvious now that at some point somebody was going to be in charge and a whole bunch of bitter somebody's were not. And if there's one thing I know it's that just because one guy named Tony got his way doesn't mean that it was either the best or the worst possible outcome.

That's not giving him a pass; it's suggesting we judge his era by what the man did and said, and not by what someone else thinks could have been. And while historians appear decidedly against him, history itself appears to already have vindicated him to a certain degree.

On a primary point, George justified the formation of the IRL because he felt it was in the best interest of The Speedway and The 500, two entities he was entrusted to protect regardless of whatever conflict existed in racing. That was his job, what his family entrusted him to do, because they know and AJ Foyt knows and any number of race fans – Hoosiers or otherwise – know that if the Indianapolis 500 is diminished in value then all of American open-wheel racing is essentially of little or no value. It is, and always was, all about Indy.

And to this end George was absolutely correct. To a fault, in fact. Without any affiliation to the Indy 500 the holdings of the CART series declined to the point bankruptcy twice. But this was a double-edged sword since “the split” also affected The 500 negatively, which reduced the anticipated value of the IRL. Yes, everybody lost to some degree, but the point here is THE REASON for the split was Mr George’s view that de-emphasizing the Indy 500 had already begun.

Was it a case of cutting off his nose to spite his face? Well, obviously some people think so. And some do not. I just ask that you try to argue amongst yourselves with some civility.

On a secondary point, George was also vindicated for that which he was initially reviled. Recall that when he formed the IRL much was made that he thought racing in America needed more ovals, more American drivers, and lower costs. Lo and behold the most popular series here in the States employs (shock!) a series of almost exclusively American drivers on ovals in cars that cost less. I’m not advocating the abolishment of road courses or xenophobia here, just noting what Mr Market seems to have said on the issue. (Note: I realize it costs WAY more to be competitive thought an entire season in N----R, but it’s my understanding that it would probably cost less to participate in any given race. It certainly was that way in the late 90s when stock car racing rose to such prominence.)

Bear in mind that I personally have never met Tony George, although I almost did a couple of times. Once at a pre-race IRL Ministry service he sat at arm’s length across the aisle from me, although that wasn’t exactly the time or place to strike up a conversation about motorsports. Another time at a race he was standing alone by a trailer and I thought of going over to say something, but then a friend called out and re-directed my attention. I note this because, as you can see from this site's name, I've been a fan of his series based on the merit of the product and not because he and I have ever hung out together at Union Jack.

So all I have to go on are all of the various reports, all too few interviews, and unlimited opinions published throughout the last two decades, and with that here’s my own conclusion about this era. As bad as it is, Indycar racing exists today as a result of the procedural and financial efforts of Tony George. If nothing else those efforts – no matter what you think of the result – show not only a concern for Indycar racing, but a willingness to act in what he felt was for the best, regardless of the consequences.

I don't agree with everything George has done, and I would bet based on the dramatic change of course the series has taken in the last few years that even he wouldn't agree with everything he's done, but his commitment to what he thought was best for the most famous speedway in the world and The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, as much as his successes and failures, defines his legacy. Not as a protagonist or an antagonist, but as a racing enthusiast with a whole lotta "hand". But that's just me.

And if after all of that you don’t like what I have to say then at least check out Tony John’s level-headed take. Yes, that’s former My Name is IRL guest contributor Tony Johns now at his own SBNation site, and yes that also means the traitor is BANNED FOR LIFE from ever contributing here. And by life I mean the life of "Pop Off Valve", which I hope in all sincerity enjoys a long and prosperous run. I mean it. He's that good, and as you can see I'm not a hater.

If a picture says a thousand words

Posted by Iannucci | 1/14/2010 | , , | 15 comments »
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What does this one say?

Photo: Ryan twitpic

Ask not for whom the Bell tolls

Posted by Iannucci | 1/13/2010 | , , , | 0 comments »
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This year he tolls for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

For the second consecutive year, Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing will team up to compete in the Indianapolis 500.

The No. 99 SSM/CGR entry will be driven by IZOD IndyCar Series veteran Townsend Bell of San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Bell, the 2001 Indy Lights champion, will seek to make his fourth start in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." His best finish was fourth in 2009, giving KV Racing Technology its highest finish ever in the race.

(MORE from
Four teams in four attempts, but this is no typical journeyman. Consider Townsend's brief Indy 500 career (Team/Start/Finish):
2006: Vision/15th/22nd
2007: (involuntary sabbatical)
2008: D&R/12th/10th
2009: KVRT/24th/4th

Put it this way, if you are going to draw names out of a hat for your office pool, you could certainly do a lot worse. And when you consider he'll be in a car that qualified in the Top 11 last year, well, I'm certain I won't be the only one slotting in Bell for my TrackSide Online fantasy team that week. Dude gets it done in the race that matters most, which may be why he's able to race so infrequently and still have such a swank pad.

Driver of the Decade

Posted by Iannucci | 1/09/2010 | | 3 comments »
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Tony at recently discussed what he thought were the "top 10 drivers of the decade", using lots of stats *thumbs up* to support his rankings. It's a fine review and the discussion even led to a poll in a later post that allows readers to pick their own Top 10 from a list of 20 drivers. Feel free to venture over and exercise your right to vote.

I didn't vote, but I did put at least 21 seconds of thought into this and I've concluded the "Driver of the Decade" is not only missing from Tony's Top 10 but is also curiously absent from the 20 selections available. As anyone who has watched the IRL, err, IZOD IndyCar Series over the last decade can tell you, hands-down, staring-you-in-the-face answer to "Driver of the Decade" is...Danica Patrick.

OK, stop laughing for just a moment and hear me out.

Let me start by saying I have a related ongoing discussion with friends over the Baseball Hall of Fame, where they ask me if I think a guy like Bert Blyleven who "has the numbers" to be a Hall of Fame member should get voted into the establishment. My response is usually along the lines of "It's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Very Good, right? Then if he doesn't get voted in it's because he wasn't famous enough."

Now obviously Driver of the Decade isn't the same as Hall of Fame membership, but my personal standard - and admittedly, it's subjective and arbitrary - includes not just achievement but also this caveat: would your or did you pay money to watch that person? I don't think a lot of people ever said "Oooh, I gotta get tickets to that game because Bert Blyleven is pitching," and I'm pretty sure even less people said "I can't wait to get to the track and watch that Scott Dixon". (And there you go: Scott Dixon is hereby determined to be the Bert Blyleven of racing.) Contrast that with the zillions of visible Fanicas at any given race and you start to see my point.

Of course, if you are still reading you're already itching to add the comment "You're an idiot - she only won one race and even that win was (blah blah blah)" and I'm not going to argue that with you. If I had to start a team with one driver from the talent pool of 2000-2009 then I'm reasonably confident she WOULD NOT be my selection, but on the other hand I don't know that I could definitively pick a particular driver. In fact, the series itself has transformed so much that I don't think I'd pick the same driver to race in Long Beach as I would in Homestead, or the same driver to race all season given the 2000 schedule as the 2009 one. So the whole argument of "best driver" is rather muddled at best given the circumstances.

But then again, the question wasn't (well, not directly at least) about determining the "best driver", and if it was then as I noted it seems not only impossible but also secondary to the title of "Driver of the Decade". It's as obvious as the nose on Tony Kanaan's face that when historians look back and see how much ink was spilt and how many photographs were snapped and how much merchandise was purchased for each driver I don't think this is even a close call. She's indisputably the most famous IndyCar driver, the one with the biggest societal impact, the "face of the league", the one who's lone win was considered an epic sports moment for an entire gender, and the one who's popularity was launched by the most famous fourth-place finish in sports history. The driver who has been in more advertisements, been on more talks shows, graced more magazine covers, has more fan sites, and who every single person reading this story has an opinion about is Danica Patrick.

It's more of a commentary on the state of American open-wheel racing, or possibly of sports in general, that she's more popular because of her swimsuit photos or her public appearances or her usage of the word "beaver", but the fact is the 2000s have been conquered and all are hers. She is indisputably the Driver of the Decade.


Posted by Iannucci | 1/08/2010 | , , | 5 comments »
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As enjoyable as IndyCar racing is there's always room for improvement. Not that anyone is asking me, but here are just a few ideas off the top of my head:

  • Finding a fiscally viable way to return to historic ovals in Phoenix and Michigan
  • Having pit assignments based on something more dynamic than points standings
  • Adopting names like soccer teams, such as "Arsenal", "Juventus" or "Penske 1812"
  • Ripping "the knob" off to deter passing-free festivals of fuel conservation
I know these are all simply nutty ideas that will never be implemented, but...hold the phone! What did Honda Performance Development Technical Division manager Roger Griffiths (and yes, that's EXACTLY what it says on his driver's license) just say?

"Right now, we are in discussion with the IZOD IndyCar Series to remove the fuel-mixture switch from the car completely. This would make the driver responsible for controlling the amount of fuel consumed with his or her right foot."
Excuse me while I repeatedly pound the "OMG!" key on my laptop.


A post about not posting

Posted by Iannucci | 1/08/2010
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Hey there. Before you say anything I know, I know - I've been away a long time. I haven't said much in the last few weeks other than a couple of tweets about my wife's health. Well, here I am, although I don't have anything to say about IndyCars right now. If you're looking for IRL-related news then just click on one of the finer sights on the sidebar and go about your business.

If you're going to keep reading the only thing you're going to get is a painful and lengthy explanation of why it seems like I've totally flaked out. I'm sharing this as sort of a public service because after the last few weeks - well, last few months actually - I owe it to you. And since this post won't be about IndyCars I'm turning off the comments because I'm confident no one comes here to discuss me. If you have something you need to say about this particular post you can always email me, or drop me a line on facebook or twitter.

Anyhow, here's how my year has gone: I was unemployed for six months. My youngest son was hospitalized with a nasty reaction to an H1N1 vaccine. I even had my laptop go on the fritz, which any blogger can tell you is a tragedy equal to having his or her thumbs cut off. Worst of all was dealing with the fallout this summer from that which I often referred to as "extenuating circumstances", which for months robbed me of my confidence, my voice for writing, and my joie de vivre (which is French for "joy of mocking the French"). I won't elaborate on this any further other than to say I may one day find myself sitting in a circle of chairs, sympathetically passing a tissue to Elin Nordegren.

Truth be told, this is why earlier this year I invited guest contributors to post on my site. This is why I had a Blogger Appreciation Day drawing attention to other sites. This is why I didn't appear on the Cavin & Kevin show this fall. I've been uncertain about what to say, how to say it, and I don't want to "mail it in" or "go through the motions" or whatever other cliche you prefer that describes inferior discussion. You deserve more, especially when others have proven more worthy of your attention, and at the very least I wanted to let them introduce themselves to you while your humble host was off in the digital wilderness searching for shoots and leaves.

Alas, the final smack upside the head came last month, where as I noted on twitter my wife suffered a bizarre accident. We had taken the kids up to Williams, Arizona, for a "Polar Express" train trip to the "North Pole", and in the middle of the night the Mrs woke up, went into the bathroom in our motel, and with a blood-curdling thud passed out, head-first onto the tile floor. I awoke to find her semi-conscious and looking like Rocky Balboa right before he said "Cut me, Mickey", and from there it was a blur of blood, paramedics, and police officers, followed by packing up four kids to drive 30 miles through a snow storm to the hospital in Flagstaff because evidently the "North Pole" doesn't have any sort of hospital.

She was treated and released with a handful of prescriptions so we returned home to our lower snow-free elevations, but a day later she noticed an unusually persistent runny nose and went back to a closer hospital. The doctors looked her over and said she was "leaking cranial-spinal fluid (CSF)" and needed to be transferred to yet another hospital that was better equipped for this kind of thing. Tests there confirmed she had two skull fractures in her face that likely had a "breach", which if not sealed presented a risk for infection that would result in spinal meningitis. In the mother of my children. A couple weeks before Christmas. And I'm not ashamed to admit that right then I wasn't terribly concerned with Danica Patrick's stock car schedule.

Thankfully, within a few days the "CSF leak" began to dissipate, which meant she was healing without requiring micro-neuro-scifi surgery. She's been at home convalescing since just before Christmas, up and around and on the road to what appears to be a full recovery, and might I add a sincere word of thanks for all of the prayers and kind words by those who offered them. They mattered significantly to me in a year where I learned repeatedly that anything - from your livelihood to your loved ones to your laptop to your very life - could all be gone in an instant.

So why am I telling you all of this? It's not because I want to air my dirty laundry or to have you think "oh that poor, poor Iannucci". It's because in spite of not knowing about all of this I have been truly humbled by the outpouring of support I've found from my friends, virtual or otherwise, using the various digital media. People, who have no idea who I am sending me encouraging emails and publicly praying for my family. People I've never actually met in person like my friend Jerry have offered me immeasurable support through days where uncertainty kept entering my world with all of the fervor and frequency of Kramer bursting into Jerry Seinfeld's apartment.

All because I'm an IndyCar fan with a website. From the bottom of my heart, I sincerely thank you all and pray the Lord blesses you in your trials as He has blessed me through you.

So is this some kind of "goodbye cruel world" post? Hardly. I'll still be there for you, like the creepy dude near the restrooms at IMS who smells like an ashtray and keeps following you around to tell you that nobody really understands the true story of 1981. Except I'm not creepy (I know, “Keep telling yourself that”) and don’t smell like an ashtray (except when I'm sitting next to that Kanaan Fan in SW Vista), and while we may have conflicting our theories about 1981, we can continue to share our love for IndyCar racing, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, Jim Nabors, Danica Patrick's tweets, Arni the Indy Insider, Dan Wheldon's teeth, tenderloin sandwiches, and every line from the movie "A Christmas Story".

And that is all I have to say about that, other than I finally got my laptop fixed. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some writing to do.