Tuesday, May 21, 2013
In normal years, I only post one pre-race blog. For those of you looking for my handicap of the 500, that post will be along either Friday night or Saturday morning, after I've had time to review the goings-on at Carb Day, as well as the latest odds from Vegas.
This piece will cover some of my interesting observations and thoughts about this year's field. Since I retired this year, I've had a lot more time to observe practice and qualifying than in previous years.
Once again, as last year, the 500 field is front-loaded with Chevrolet (Ilmor) engines. This year most of the "usual suspects" with Honda power are residing in rows 6-11, Alex Tagliani notwithstanding. In the case of last year, that advantage disappeared on Carb Day with the red Target rockets of Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti taking down the top times in the final practice session.
The main difference between this year and last is that the Honda drivers last year didn't install their Mark 2 engines until before Carb Day, while this year, many "race" engines were installed right after qualifying. And, there is no "fix" which was the secret to the Mark 2 engine. Whether that will change what happens this year remains to be seen.
Another big difference this year over last is the dearth of experience in the first two rows of the starting field. Starting in the middle of row 1, you have Carlos Munoz, a rookie. He's been fast all month as have most of the Andretti Autosport entries, but HE'S STILL A ROOKIE. He's never faced the havoc of a three-wide flying start down a 50 foot wide stretch of asphalt. Does the name Kevin Cogan ring a bell?
And what do we have right behind him? Well, that would be A. J. Allmendinger. OK, he's been here before. In NASCAR. To be sure, he does have some open wheel experience back in the CART/CCWS days, but, again, not running three wide down Indy's main straightaway at over 200 mph.
Then we move to the inside of row 2. E.J. Viso. Now, I know, Viso has been much better lately at not running into things like walls, other cars, and assorted other wildlife, but, lest we forget, this guy's nickname used to be "E. J. Crasho." Call me skeptical, in spite of all the "team driving" that Andretti pilots have been doing this year.
Taking all that into account, it would not surprise me one bit if pole sitter Ed Carpenter (who, having won the last two season closing oval races, no longer deserves the title, "Special Ed,") and a suddenly more mature Marco Andretti decide that it might be best to check out of this Holiday Inn early, like halfway through turn 4 on the pace lap. The pace car driver (as yet unnamed) had better have his eyes on his mirrors or he (or she) might get passed by those two.
Assuming we manage to get through the first couple of laps without mayhem, our next decision is determining what course the race will take. If, as was the case last year, we have long stretches of green flag racing, I believe that will favor the Honda powered entries. They seemed to get better mileage over the longer runs, and every lap you can stretch your fuel early on is that much more you can short-pit toward the end of the race.
In re-watching last year's race last night, I noted the near panic in Marco Andretti's voice when he realized that the Target cars (Honda) were getting significantly better mileage than the Chevy powerplant.
That advantage, if it is still as it was last year, gets neutralized by a load of yellow flag laps. If that happens, as one poster put it, the Honda camp had better hope that most of the Chevy products blow up.
The weather, frequently a factor at Indianapolis, is forecast for a high of 69, (avoiding the severe heat from the last two years,) with possible isolated thunderstorms. If this holds true, it should help the engines make power fairly efficiently. Living in a tourist market as I do, however, I also know that sometimes the Chamber of Commerce can fudge a bit on the forecast, so we'll put a final check on that one in Saturday's Part Two. Until then....
Saturday, May 4, 2013
It was 1973.
I was a sophomore at Butler University, rarely attending classes, and engaged to a girl who lived 600 miles away. We were doing the best we could to get together whenever we could, but the truth was, May was her exam month and she was pre-med, so chances we were getting together before her school was done were zero. I was two years removed from four years at Culver Military Academy. As much as I am thankful to Culver for my education, socially speaking, it was not the place to be in the middle of the Viet Nam War.
With these dim prospects on my immediate horizon, I had an epiphany of sorts: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway was but a 20 minute drive (on practice days) from my dorm room at Butler. I had attended Pole Day in 1970 and the race in 1971, so I was not exactly a novice at the Speedway; although those trips had been under the sanction of the Academy. I had never, however, considered going to practice. What a concept!
I had been addicted to the 500 since 1961. Our family tradition dictated that on the morning of the race, we drew a random pool, then gathered around the radio to cheer our picks and listen to Sid Collins. We'd be glued to the radio on Race Day, and, as we got a little older, qualification days as well.
I believe it was the first Monday of practice in 1973 and there were a couple of us generally hanging around the lounge in the men's dorm at Butler, being bored when someone had the brilliant idea, "Hey, let's go to the track!" We all loaded into someone's car and within 20 minutes we were inside the Speedway.
These guys were die hards, so we parked and headed immediately to what was then Tower Terrace. By climbing to the top row we could watch the cars all the way through the south chute and onto the backstretch. We also stayed really close to the entry to Gasoline Alley so we could see who was getting ready to come out to practice. It didn't take but a few moments and I was HOOKED. From that day on for the rest of the month, if there was the possibility of a wheel turning at the track, I was probably there or on the way there.
By the third time I went out to the track, I had equipped myself with a stopwatch and a camera. On one sunny day, I got some really awesome pictures of cars either in transit to the pits or parked there. I probably burned through two or three rolls of film which I dropped off to be processed on the way back from 16th and Georgetown. This was the "me" that went to the track by myself.
Then, there was the other me. This persona got together with friends to go to the first weekend of practice. Coolers replaced cameras. Sobriety was left somewhere along the side of 16th St. We all got a buzz and REALLY cold. I think there was even a snow flurry or two that day. Still, a good time was had by all and there was some practice to watch, even if through a haze.
In the week of run-up to Pole Day, I was back in Tower Terrace, stopwatch and camera, MAYBE a beer with a hot dog during the breaks in the action. (Hot dogs were about ALL you could eat at the track back in those days, unless of course you brought your own.) Another roll of film or two.
On Pole Day, we were parked early in turn 1's infamous Snakepit. We'd picked out a spot close to the center of the south chute, laid out blankets, coolers, even a pup tent. We were well into the cooler (and the Kentucky Fried Chicken) by the time practice got started. Almost as soon as the practice got started, we heard what sounded like a "chirp" and caught a glimpse of Art Pollard losing it. You could tell by the reaction of the crowd that it was serious. I grabbed the transistor radio and turned on WIBC to get their coverage. Even in my inebriated state, I felt the air go out of the Speedway.
Shortly thereafter, Tom Carnegie confirmed the worst, "Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with deepest regret...."
The rest of that Pole Day is a blur. I suspect we left shortly thereafter, but frankly I do not recall. I had dealt with death at the Speedway first in the Eddie Sachs/Dave MacDonald tragedy in 1964. That was on the radio and Sid Collins so eloquently explained it to my 10 year old mind that sometimes bad things happen. Experiencing death before your very eyes, however, was quite different, somehow more personal.
Ironically, when I got my film back from processing, the last day I'd taken pictures, I had several really good pictures of Pollard's car. That should have been enough warning. But it was just getting started.
The week between Pole Day and the second weekend of qualifications, I went out there a couple of times, the highlight being one gorgeous afternoon when I had the tent out and was getting some rays and killing brain cells in turn 1. I was parked in the doorway to the tent, cold (probably ) Stroh's in my hand, when this guy and girl come strolling by. He had a serious camera and she was definitely NOT dressed for the Snakepit. He snaps off a couple of pictures of me and she steps up and starts asking questions. "Hi. I'm with the Indianapolis News. What's your name?" I told her. She asked what I was doing that afternoon, and I told her I was playing hooky from Butler. Then she asked if I was having a good time. I took a swig of beer and said of course. Then she asked, "How old are you?" I looked at her. She looked at me. We both looked at the beer in my hand as I said, "19."
Right after the second weekend of qualifying, I got a call from a buddy from Atlanta: He and three of his pals were going to come to the Race. I had a group already that included my brother, one of his friends, a couple of my Indy friends, probably 6 or 7 of us in all, loaded into a station wagon. Add to that two LARGE coolers, tent, blankets, radio, enough beer to float a small battleship, and at least two buckets of KFC.
By the time our group hit the Speedway, a steady mist was falling. We set up shop not far from the end of the pits in the entry to turn 1. I quickly discovered that Race Day in the Snakepit was wayyyy different from practice or time trials. When we set out first "camp" we put ourselves close to a trash can, thinking it would be easy to dump our empties as we went. What we didn't realize was that the horde of miscreants behind us would develop a habit of yelling, "Fore," and pitching their empties in the general direction of the can. Obviously, once this "shelling" began in earnest, we opted to move
a few feet further away from the barrel. Having corrected our initial error, the full party was on.
Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating. While it never really poured, the track never got completely dry. Finally, the mist ceased long enough for them to get the cars out on the track and attempt to start the race. Mr. Hulman intoned those famous words and we were off...
Of course, we all know what happened when they came down to take the green. All of a sudden, the number 77 car of Salt Walther became a methanol spewing pinwheel down the main straightaway as cars went everywhere. Our little group got our fist indication of the carnage when a tire rolled up to the fence near where we were sitting. I shouted, "Fellas, all Hell's broken loose. We better turn on Sid Collins," and grabbed the radio. Almost as soon as the race was stopped, the mist returned.
We didn't know it then, but that was the last racing we would see that year. Yes, they got the cars lined up one more time that day, only to have the rains return. After that, it was merely waiting for everything to become final.
Our little group began to wander about, looking for amusement in the Snakepit. Some clown who was more intoxicated than we were climbed the fence and began running toward turn one naked. (It was called "streaking" back then, and it was one of the amusements that could be found in the infield, along with topeless blanket toss and other such games.)
Meantime, one of our number decided that this would be an appropriate time to sneak into the pup tent with the one girl that was part of our group and well, you get the idea. Unfortunately for them, about the time that they really got going, some drunk kicked the tent poles of the pup tent which promptly collapsed, leaving no doubt whatsoever what was going on inside.
Wild cheering ensued.
When the powers that be at the Speedway finally gave up for the day, we began loading up our gear and planning for the next day. The group from Atlanta had decided that they were going to wait until the morning to decide whether to return to the Speedway or head back to big A. They had found some "no tell motel" south of town and would call in the morning. The rest of us began the process of getting everyone back where they sort of belonged. By the time we cleared all the Speedway traffic, we had at least a couple of people who were capable of driving.
We ended up on the north side of Indy, dropping off the young lady who had joined our congregation. Her folks were not at home, so we decided we'd have one quick beer before heading out to our final destination. Bad idea.
We did get to see the video of the first lap calamity. We were all amazed that Salt Walther had survived the accident and we all felt for the people on the front rows of seating who had been sprayed with invisible flaming methanol. While we were watching the replays, our personal situation got pretty hot as well. The parents had returned. It was only then that we discovered that the father of our distaff member had forbade her from going to the track. She was summarily grounded for life. We were threatened with immediate arrest and prosecution if we did not get clear the Hell away from their house and never come back. Suffice it to say, we beat a speedy retreat.
I was awakened the next morning at 7 am. My head was pounding from the actvities the day (and night) before.The guys from Atlanta had apparently had all the fun they could handle at the 500 and by vote of 3-1 had decided to get out of town and head south. I wished them well and then went to check the forecast. Same thing as the day before, showers off and on all day. I called a few of the people who had joined us the day before and by 7:30 we were heading back to the Speedway, all three of us. Because there were less folks there, we were able to snag a parking space in the (then) shopping center lot across from the main gate.
Thinking that it was likely to be another washout, we were milling about the lot when we came upon some poor souls who had southeast vista seats left over, but no beer. We arranged a simple barter transaction. They got beer, we got seats. They got the better end of that deal. Although they actually got the cars lined up, about the time Mr. Hulman told the gentlemen to start their engines, the rains came again. No racing today.
I did however, come across another group of people that had had their fill of Indy for 1973. As they were wandering toward their car in the lot, they offered their tickets up to anyone who wanted them. Free. They's simply had enough. Figuring it couldn't rain forever, I asked for two. Then I looked at the tickets. Penthouse Paddock. Best seats in the house. I was stunned. If only it would quit raining.
Soaked, disgusted and in need of a good meal, I headed for my parent's home in Anderson. I asked my mother if she would wake me at 7 am, and told her that I had great seats for the 500. For the third day, it dawned overcast and rainy. From all I was hearing on WIBC, there was almost no chance that the track would get dry anytime soon. My father, on his way off to work, asked if I would mow the grass.
Understand, my parent's home sat on almost 4 acres. "Mowing the grass" there meant about a four hour ride on the back of a Cub Cadet. Although it had quit raining in Anderson, the wet stuff was still falling at the Speedway, so I started off on the tractor. I'd been going along, about halfway done with the mowing when I saw my mother waving her arms at me from up by the house.
Once I had parked the tractor, Mom came up to me and said, "They're getting ready to start the race!"
Sure enough, they were lined up and Mr. Hulman was once again telling the gentlemen too start their engines. I was (at minimum) an hour and a half away, not counting for whatever traffic remained. As it turns out, my decision to just sit down and listen to the radio at my parent's house (and forego another trip to IMS) was the best decision I could have made. I too had had enough.
We all know what happened: Swede Savage whacked the inner retainiing wall shortly after warning his pit crew that the handling on his car was going away. The car erupted in flames which would claim Savage's life some days later. Mercifully the rains came and ended the disaster. Gordon Johncock, Savage's teammate, was the winner. Even he had had enough.
Over then next fourteen years, I would attend all but one 500. I would see two four time winners crowned and sit in almost every corner of the Speedway at one time or another. I would get rained on in 1975 and 1976. I would see Tom Sneva walk away from a crash that should have killed him. I would see the first woman qualify at Indianapolis and Rick Mears win a couple of times. I would see Danny Sullivan spin right in front of me and avoid wall contact to spirit away yet another win from Mario Andretti.
But, thankfully, I would never see another 1973.
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Yesterday's announcement that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was seeking $100 million in aid from the State of Indiana could have wide sweeping ramifications for the future of racing at the famed oval.
Make no mistake, there are some infrastructure upgrades that are necessary. Some of those changes would be to continue the upgrade of seating areas, as well as to improve the maintenance of the 100+ year old facility. The inadequecy of the Speedway in terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act is patently obvious. That won't be a cheap fix.
Perhaps some of that would have been better served had Tony George been left in charge of the IMS physical plant; Say what you will about the controversial George, he definitely had his grandfather's penchant for continuing to improve the Speedway, something that the current folks in charge at Hulman and Company obviously do not have.
More and better video boards are nice, as would be improved grandstand seating. But the real reason for the request is there in the fourth paragraph of yesterday's article in the Indianapolis Star. "Improved lighting" sounds innocuous enough, but what it means has the potential to be earth shattering, particularly if you happen to live in Speedway.
Look, I get it that the Brickyard 400 has been a (relative) loser because roasting on aluminum seats in midsummer Indiana has become less than fashionable. But then, I've been broiled there on Memorial Day Weekend too. In fact, in 2011 when last I attended the 500, the high that day was in the mid 90's. I was very glad my seats were under cover. The misting system was getting a major workout.
It hasn't helped that the economy is still stagnant. Nor has it helped that NASCAR has had issues with the tire situation. The diamond grind that helps Firestone's IndyCar tires hold on at 220+ has a negative effect on Goodyear's stock car tires at 190. And, to be truthful, in its current configuration, the track gets really narrow for the tintops.
So, the powers that be in NASCAR want to run the Brickyard 400 in the evening and apparently IMS agrees.
I don't know what the area just west of Georgetown Road is like now. It's been way too many years since I lived nearby and had all my "secret" places to park for the 500. It used to be nice working class middle America. I had several friends who lived in that area.Some folks have said that is no longer the case, and one of the bloggers I follow says that one no longer goes there after dark unarmed (at least not willingly.)
Assuming those reports are true, imagine 150,000 NASCAR fans all leaving the Speedway at or after 11 pm, some of rather dubious sobriety. Into what one person I know has called a "combat zone." Ya' think "recipe for disaster" might about cover it?
It gets worse. If they run the Brickyard in prime time, how long do you think it will be before some network wise guy wants to run the Indianapolis 500 in prime time.Maybe I'm being cynical, but bring a big enough bag of cash and who knows? Now you take the 150,000 NASCAR fans and basically double it. Probably push the end time back to midnight or after. Not a pretty sight.
I never would have even considered this possibility. Until now. Nor would I have ever considered that the Speedway would go hunting for state money.
In all fairness, from a strictly business perspective, it's about time. When you consider the mega dollars that Indianapolis has put into the Colts and the Pacers, as well as the total economic impact by comparison that the Speedway brings to the table, IMS certainly has a claim to their piece of the pie. Even though the Speedway is pledging $2 million for every $5 million in tax money the state puts up, I can't help feeling that Tony Hulman is spinning like a gas turbine.
They can couch this in any sort of nice terms like "motor sports investment district," but when a government agency starts using the word "investment," you can be damned sure it's taxpayer money that will be invested one way or another.
Now, assuming this is going to happen, let me suggest that there are other ways that money can be spent to improve the Speedway. Of course, first is to get into compliance with whatever arrangement has been worked out regarding the ADA issues. Second, completely replace the public address system. When I was there in 2011, it sometimes worked, sometimes didn't and was inadequate to keep me updated about things I could not see. It sounded like something right out of the 60's.
Third, the recent years when money has NOT been spent on maintenance have caught up with the Speedway. Back up the asphalt and concrete trucks, then get some plumbers in to fix the damned restrooms.
Continue the upgrades in the seating areas.
Once things have been fixed that have to be fixed, get NASCAR on the horn and tell them that they can have a September weekend. I'm sure the NFL would work out some sort of arrangement where the Colts spend Brickyard weekend on the road. Atmospherically, it works almost like May. It adds significance to the race in that it's now part of their "Chase." And let's not kid ourselves: NASCAR needs IMS as badly or worse than IMS needs NASCAR.
Now, if you really want to do something to improve the overall product in both series, take the money that was going to be spent on lights and get some engineers in to figure out how to safely bring the "apron" back. This gives immediate tangible benefit to both events. For the NASCAR folks, giving them a bit more track which, along with cooler fall temperatures, should improve the racing monumentally. For IndyCar, it brings the possibility of track records back into play, as well as allowing more passing.
I get that I seem like a stodgy traditionalist, but in an age when the best lower deck paddock seats at the Speedway have less of a sightline than they did 30 years ago (and a slightly higher price), it could be time to start paying attention to the customer.
Friday, February 1, 2013
As we head into Super Bowl Weekend, it's time to forget about the hype, the alleged "deer antler spray" usage by Ray Lewis, the "brother versus brother" storyline, and the gay slur comment by Chris Colliver. Most of that crap is courtesy of bored journalistas who have nothing better to do with their days while waiting to head off to Bourbon Street after dark. It's time to talk about FOOTBALL. With that, I bring you ...
Uncle Skip's Sportsbook and Casino's Official Handicap*
And, if all else fails, there's "Hey, Diddle Diddle, Ray Rice up the middle."
To be sure, Colin Kaepernick is a nice story, and I think he'll do some damage in this game, perhaps with his legs. In their playoff run, Baltimore hasn't been exposed to a quarterback who has the dual threat capability he possesses. (Neither Manning nor Brady were ANY threat to run, and Andrew Luck spent a lot of his afternoon running for his life.)
And then, there's the Madden simulation. Every year, EA Sports runs a simulation of the Super Bowl game. During the period it has been run, it has been correct something like 80% of the time. I've profited from it on several occasisions, most notably in 2002 when I took the "upstart" Patriots over the heavily favored Rams. (In fact, the sim's two most recent "misses" were on the Pats two losses to the Giants.) The sim has Baltimore winning by 3.
You get all this AND you can get better than a field goal too? Sounds good to me. You might want to wait til Sunday to play the spread, holding on to see if you can "catch" an extra half a point to 4. Or, you could just park a little sumpin' sumpin' on the money line at +155. If you just want "shits and giggles," play a teaser on Baltimore and the over. If you can get Baltimore at +4, it can be teased to +10, with the over teased down to 41 1/2.
Whatever you decide, enjoy your Sunday!
* FOR RECREATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY
Saturday, September 15, 2012
First let me say, I am not a Mitt Romney kind of guy. When this electon cycle began a long time ago, Mitt Romney was too moderate, Sarah Palin was too shrill, Michele Bachmann too scary, Tim Pawlenty too mild, Ron Paul too whacky on foreign affairs, Rick Santorum too much a lightweight, and Rick Perry sounded too much like George Bush. I guess you could say my tastes ran to three candidates, and only two of them were entered in the Presidential Sweepstakes. My absolute favorite, Condoleeza Rice declined interest in the job, and sadly, probably her most recent win (being granted membership at Augusta National Golf Club) is the only one she wants. That left me with two possibles, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain.
Because the Republican Party has a habit of destroying most of its own in the primaries, Mr. Cain was soon sidelined by a somewhat questionable scandal. It is pure speculation on my part, but I suspect that the source of Mr. Cain's supposed "indiscretions" might have been the folks currently occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It would not be a first for Mr. Obama, who has done similar hatchet jobs throughout his brief political career. (If you don't believe me, ask Bill and Hillary Clinton or his opponents for both the State Senate and U. S. Senate seats in Illinois.) In short, I think that the last thing Barack Obama wanted to face was another man of color with a record of success on which to run.
Newt Gingrich was a different story. I KNEW that there would be enemies both within and outside of the GOP who would want him out of the race. Gingrich, as leader of the 1994 "Republican Revolution" and author of the "Contract with America," had made quite a few serious foes during his term as Speaker. That is probably the reason the the Speaker of the House seldom ends up in the Oval: Running the many and diverse members of Congress is bound to ruffle some feathers and disturb a few egos. Yet, for a couple of weeks, Speaker Newt had many of us thinking it might be possible. His debate performances in South Carolina and Florida were magnificent, particularly when he stared down and fired back at the usual sniping from the left-leaning media. Sadly, Newt also has an occasional case of "foot in mouth" disease
As a result, as winter turned to spring, it became clear that, like it or not, Mitt Romney was the inevitable choice of the Republican Party. I told several friends at the time, "Get ready for Obama v McCain II." That's how unimpressed I was. And then, something happened: "Mr. Likeable Obama" became a snake on the attack. As I will detail shortly, the President has no record of achievements on which he can run; consequently, he must attack and "kill" his opposition, hoping to keep his minions in the main stream media focused on his opponent, rather than on his dismal record of his three and a half years in the White House.
1. The Blame GameIn my years of following politics (I first voted for Nixon in 1972), I had never seen what I observed from the very outset of the Obama Presidency. The President immediately set about blaming his predecessor, George W. Bush, for all the ills of mankind. In defense of "W," I suspect that someday, long after I'm dead, history will be much kinder to the man than in the immediate aftermath of his Presidency. Not that the media will ever mention it, but many of the ills blamed on Bush were the result of the takeover of BOTH houses of Congress by the Dems in January 2007. Looking back to that time, remember that gas was $1.87 per gallon, unemployment was hovering around 5%, GDP was growing at roughly 4% and the country was running on budgets proposed by the President and passed by Congress.
Once the Democrats took control of both houses, budgets became a thing of the past. The government operated on "continuing resolutions" and the outrageous spending which then-candidate Obama called "unpatriotic" began, (of course placing the blame squarely on George Bush for the spending approved by the opposition party in control.) Now, I'm as realistic as the next guy. George Bush overspent his welcome. But you can't hang all of that blame "package" on the President when faced with a Congress that, when money ran short, simply passed another "continuing resolution" to run the government and later continously raised the debt ceiling with no regard toward the future.
Another significant happening took place in January 2007: Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd took over critical chairmanships, Frank of the House Financial Services Committee and Dodd the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. This put them both in DIRECT responsibility of
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
It is no secret that George Bush asked 17 times during his administration for an investigation into the practices at Fannie and Freddie. 17 times he was rebuffed, with Barney Frank claiming, "There's absolutely nothing wrong with either institution." Of course, while Frank and Dodd were refusing to investigate Fannie and Freddie, they were both receiving rather generous political contributions from, that's right, Fannie and Freddie. We also know that number three on the Fannie and Freddie "hit parade" was none other than the junior Senator from Illinois, one Barack H. Obama.
Had there been any investigation of Fannie and Freddie, it is possible that the housing crash, which resulted from people being ushered into homes which either they could not afford or were not creditworthy enough to buy, might have been avoided.
George Bush was not the only "blamee" of the new President. Throughout his first year in office he blamed the Arab Spring, the weather, and even ATM machines for various underachievements of the economy on his watch. Now, of course, since he has an opponent with some business acumen, he's chosen to demonize Bain Capital, which thrived under Mitt Romney's leadership.(Of course, what he WON'T tell you is that one of his "bundlers" is also a Bain Alumnus.)
2. Promises, PromisesCandidate Obama promised several things upon which he has not delivered. One or two missed objectives are understandable, but to have accomplished NOTHING, especially when you consider that the first two years in office he had a majority in BOTH Houses of Congress, is unacceptable any way you choose to look at it.
Obama promised that if Congress passed the stimulus package that unemployment would be back to 5-6% by the end of his first term. Not only has it never gotten under 8.1%, but the only reason it has been that low is because people have given up looking for work. We've since been told that we need MORE stimulus, which makes me recall the old adage that true insanity is doing the same thing over and over, hoping for a different result.
Then there was that business about "shovel ready" jobs in infrastructure which later turned out to be "not so shovel ready." Funny, Mr. President, I don't hear many of the unemployed or underemployed laughing.
Similarly, he promised that he would cut the deficit (at the time of his election, roughly 5.8 trillion dollars) in half by the end of his first term. Not only has he failed to cut the deficit, he and his pals in the Congress have accelerated the deficit almost three fold. He has, in his first term, spent MORE than the evil George Bush spent in two terms. And that, mind you, is before the Affordable Care Act kicks into gear. Once that happens, the numbers will get REALLY big.
Oh, and the economy, which he promised to stimulate and get moving again? It's stuck in the mid 1%'s of GDP growth.
The other thing that I have noticed (and the media, again, WON'T tell you,) is that almost every time an economic number is released and digested by Wall Street, that number is later revised DOWNWARD.
And finally, we get to energy. Remember candidate Obama promising that he was going to help save the planet and provide us with energy independence? As President, he has tried almost single handedly to dismantle the coal industry, our primary source of affordable electric power. We still aren't allowed to drill offshore or on Federal lands, but we can sure send billions to Brazil so they can.
Oh, he did do something. He approved loan guarantees (to the tune of over 500 million dollars) to Solyndra, a company which had already been turned down by the Bush administration. Surprise, surprise,Solyndra goes bankrupt, but not before kicking in to Obama's campaign cash. I think he blamed that one on the Chinese for undercutting Solyndra on the price of photovoltaic cells. This is crony capitalism at its WORST.
Here again, I have a bit of personal experience. Back in 2006, my wife and I examined the possibility of taking our home "off the grid" through the installation of solar panels. Even the most aggressive salesperson would not recommend this until they could get a source from China for the photovoltaic panels, and that those made domestically were not efficient enough or cost effective enough to take our 3 bedroom house to where we wanted it. We could do small things like heat our pool or run attic fans, but nothing like generating all of the power that we needed.
Meanwhile the taxpayers are still on the hook for the 500 mil. Had Bush done this, there would have been cries for impeachment or beheading. But what's a paltry 500 million among our friends on the left. And, there may yet be other shoes (like Solyndra) to drop.
3. It's the Economy, Stupid...James Carville, one of the preeminent democratic political hacks, used this phrase famously in guiding Bill Clinton to his electoral win over George Herbert Walker Bush. Now, even as partisan as I am, I have to admit that Bill Clinton presided over one of the better economies in my lifetime. He also had a lot of help.
After his first two years in office, the Republicans won control of the House in 1994. The impact of the mid-term election was to drag President Clinton toward the center of the political spectrum. Clinton, sensing the political reality of the situation, worked with the Congressional Republicans and some very good things were accomplished, among them a balanced budget and welfare reform, (the latter of which, President Obama has recently gutted by taking away the work requirement for welfare.)
Just the other day, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, obviously looking for some way to save his job, intiated QE 3 or quantitative easing (for the third time). This process, by which the U. S. essentially buys back some of its debt, (on credit of course, usually from the Chinese) only exacerbates the debt problem.
Speaking of the debt problem, has anybody been paying attention to all of the fallout that has occurred in Europe? As Europe has become more and more socialist, many of the economies there have fallen into some serious bad times. Coincidence? I don't think so. You simply cannot mortgage your future by allowing government to be all things to all people. The Greeks have tried it, the French have tried it, Spain has tried it, and all are in serious trouble.
Not only has President Obama failed to keep his promises as noted above, he has also pushed us ever closer to the cliff in terms of the debt and deficit. Some liberals don't think that's very important. Let me explain it by using the model of Porter Stansberry. Currently, the U. S. dollar is the world's reserve currency. That status alone allows us to "print money" even though it devalues our currency at the same time.
Now, let's say for the sake of argument, that the Indians or the Chinese, our two primary creditors, get serously worried about the creditworthiness of the United States. (Bear in mind, our credit rating has already been downgraded once on the President's watch.) The time could come when the creditor nations decide that they will no longer accept service on our debt in U. S. dollars. Maybe they ask for another currency, or gold, or Lay's Potato Chips. Doesn't matter, we can't print or make it fast enough to service our own debt. And we become Greece, virtually overnight.
Can we say honestly that we've done ANYTHING to forestall this nightmare?
4. The Affordable Care Act a/k/a "Obamacare"I will be the first to admit that the healthcare situation in this country needs improvement. I have, however, a BIG problem with being mandated by government to buy something which, if liberals get their way, will only be SOLD by government and which will be managed by government bureaucrats.
First of all, when has government EVER run anything successfully? The Post Office is broke, Social Security is broke, Medicare is broke, and Medicaid is broke (and shot with fraud and waste.)
A lot of people bought into candidate Obama's line, "If you like your doctor, you can keep him." Well, I can tell you that's not necessarily the case. Since the passage of Obamacare, I've already lost one personal physician who left private practice because he could no longer deal with the fact that to make his practice profitable, he had to limit patient time to 5 minutes per visit. He also had to hire exrta staff to handle the paperwork for both medicare and medicaid. Does anyone really think that adding more patients to less doctors equals better care?
A lot of people made a big joke out of Sarah Palin's "death panels" remark. As I said before, I'm no huge fan of Ms. Palin, but this one she had just almost right. To paraphrase the act, of which I have read and digested more than 1000 of the 2000+ pages, "The Health and Human Services Secretary or his designate, shall be empowered with the responsibility... to determine end of life care as well as decisions as to the viability of procedures on an individual basis."
Considering that healthcare is roughly one sixth of the American economy, can't we do better than having health care decisions rendered by bureaucrats? Moreover, did anyone really even read as much of the Act as I did? Not anyone who voted for it, you can bet. Speaker Pelosi said it herself: "You'll have to pass it so you can see what's inside it." Is this any way to run one sixth of the economy?
Now, if you want to talk about healthcare reform, the first place you need to start is tort reform. During my personal health crises this spring and summer, I have become aware that healthcare professionals have gotten perilously afraid of malpractice. Why? Because around every corner there's a trial lawyer looking for a huge judgement or windfall both for his client and (on a contingency basis) for himself. They advertise on TV all the time. Until we cap these awards and take away the "lottery win" aspect of the system by stopping all the frivolous lawsuits, the professionals are going to "over test" just to cover their asses.
There are other things that can be done without crashing the whole system. How about making the insurance industry more competitive by allowing companies to sell policies across state lines?
Instead, the President demonized the insurance companies. I personally believe his eventual goal is to bankrupt all of the insurance companies. At some point, when you add in those who need coverage with pre-existing conditions (one of the few things the Act got right,) you get to the inevitable (and ultimate) goal of the Act, a single payor system with the government being the payor. This will, by necessity, lead to health care rationing. There's no way it can be avoided.
If allowed to stand by the re-election of President Obama, I submit that by 2016, we will be at or near that single payor system. What do you think THAT is going to do to the debt problem?
Not only that, but the President "borrowed" 750 billion dollars from Medicare to pay for this monstrosity. That only hastens problems for the over-stressed Medicare system.
5. "You Didn't Build That!"When I heard the President say this, I almost lost my lunch. Since 1997, I have been the owner of two businesses. With all due respect, Mr. President, I DID BUILD THAT! Not only did government NOT help me, but in both cases, government (either state or federal) made it increasingly hard to STAY in business.
My first such business was a video poker casino. It was tremendously successful. For a time, my little company was the second largest employer in Marlboro County, South Carolina, right behind the county hospital. We were very active in the community, hosting free Thanksgiving dinners and monthly cookouts, buying police equipment for the local P. D.'s, offering off duty police personnel the opportunity to work security for us, and even helping to fund a problem gambling "hotline," (somewhat ironic, considering the State of South Carolina refused to help fund it.)
We employed over 200 people at our high point, many of whom had not worked since the textile mills in the area closed back in the early 90's. We paid the State of South Carolina $1000 per year for each gaming station, and considering that the State had some 80,000 machines in operation in 1999, that amounted to about 80 million a year into the State coffers.
But that apparently wasn't enough for South Carolina. Just before we opened in 1997, the State came down with a requirement that all gaming stations (each machine) had to be connected to a statewide network. From that network, the State would then assess a tax based on the amount of dollars put into the machine. Not what we, as casino operators WON, but what our players paid in REGARDLESS of whether the player won or lost. None of us in the business were terribly sure that we could continue to make money if the State instituted this change, but we were willing to try it and see.
But we never got the chance.
The South Carolina Supreme Court, an amalgam of old farts who couldn't care less how valuable we were to our employees or the communities surrounding us, ruled that video gaming was an "illegal form of lottery." We were ordered to close by June 30, 2000 and were required by judicial fiat, to remove our machines from the State permanently. Not only was this "judicial activism" at its finest, but this decision disallowed a statewide referendum on video poker. With one stroke of the pen, these geezers put 200,000 people in the State out of work, effective June 30.
Needless to say, less than a month hence, the State instituted the "South Carolina Education Lottery," essentially telling everyone that it was ok for the State of "South Confusion" to be in the gambling business, but not private enterprise. THEY built that.
Even after all that, and being put out of business, I started another. I decided to take my money from the gaming business and start something a little less controversial. I decided to sell toilet paper. I spent small buckets full of money to get the appropriate legal paperwork, business licenses, and such in order. However fast the licensing agency cashed the check, they sure took their time about sending out the business licenses.And, as far as my vendors were concerned, no license, no sale, no delivery. As a result, my new partners and I ended up selling "air" for about a month and paying for the privilege.
Let's just say that selling paper products, chemicals, janitorial and food service supplies is not as exciting or profitable as the gambling business, but at least I didn't think anyone would run me out of business for selling toilet paper. Enter the Environmental Protection Agency and its state version, the Department of Health and Environmental Control or DHEC. DHEC, for its part, mandates what you must do to sell food or beverages to the public. They do restaurant inspections predominantly as well as mandating cleanliness standards for bars, restaurants, and even convenience stores. The EPA on its own can rain on your parade by demanding that chemical compositions be changed for often unspecified reasons. This imposes a hardship both for my business and my client's business. Got an oven and grill cleaner that you really like and your clients love? You can bet the EPA will change the composition so that it doesn't work quite as well.
Above and beyond that, you have the usual suspects, all wanting some sort of paperwork on a monthly or quarterly basis, to include the IRS (payroll taxes), South Carolina Department of Revenue (sales and payroll taxes,) Department of Employment and Workforce (unemployment/worker's compensation). So, as a result, I have to hire a bookeeper/accountant to keep me straight on all the stuff that has to be filed whenever.
Don't get me wrong. After years of working for someone else, I enjoy being my own boss. There are, however, times when I would rather work for $10 an hour hauling freight at WalMart. At least I'd know I would get paid every week, something most small business owners can't guarantee. We get paid after all the insurances, taxes, vendors, vehicle maintenance, and employees get paid. Quite often, I don't take a salary between October 1 and February 15. And, anytime the company comes up a little short of meeting its obligations, guess who steps up and goes to the bank to fund the shortfall out of pocket. That's right, me.
Would I like to expand my business? Absolutely. I cannot, however, justify doing so when I have no idea what the economic future of my country, as well as my business, is. Given a little more stability and a little less regulation, maybe, but not in the current context.
And this President, who has never met a payroll, never run, or even worked at a small business, wants me to acknowledge that I didn't build it or that government did something to help? Get REAL, Mr. President. I'd rather have someone in charge who at least KNOWS what a business goes through. DO NOT tell me or any of the thousands of small business owners that WE didn't build that!
6. "Foreign Policy? We Don't Need No Stinking Foreign Policy..."Or, at least that's the way it seems. Maybe it was the drugs I took back in the 70's, but I seem to be having flashbacks to Iran and Jimmy Carter this week. Ask Jimmy how that worked out.
Seriously, I am not suggesting that Hosni Mubarak or Muammar Ghaddafi were nice guys, but do we have ANY idea what we're getting with the Muslim Brotherhood? We KNOW they want Israel wiped off the face of the earth. We KNOW that ISLAM mandates its followers to dispose of or convert the infidels. We've been around this block a time or two.
We know that the Assad regime in Syria is slaughtering dissidents by the thousands, so why are we not reacting there? Maybe because that regime is supported by Russia and Iran? Hello, does anyone have a CLUE? Hillary? Mr. President? Buehler.....?
In the meantime, we disrespect our one longtime ally in the Middle East, Israel, who aside from Saudi Arabia represents the only stable government in the region?
And now, when a career diplomat pays for this with his life, (and the lives of three others,) you really expect me to believe it was all about some nondescript movie the trailer of which has been posted on YouTube since July? That's right, "It's Only a Movie."
Sorry, No Sale. The incidents of this week and the worldwide actions of Radical Islamists (oops, I guess we're not supposed to say that anymore,) are a clear reaction to the weakness and lack of any consistency of a foreign policy. Dick Nixon might have been a crook, but when he spoke, Brehznev listened. So did Mao.
Then I hear that during the week of 9/5 through 9/11, that you, as President didn't bother to get a "live" intel brief? And you have the GALL to call yourself Commander in Chief? Of all times to go MIA, you choose the week of the 11th anniversary of the attacks? How DARE you, sir?
No, I wasn't a Mitt Romney kind of guy. And, Mr. President, you may still get away with it. But at least with Mitt Romney at the helm of this government, the world and the country will know where we stand.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
In that span, I saw more than my share of triumph (A. J. Foyt's fourth win,) tragedy (the death of popular race driver Art Pollard,) near misses (Tom Sneva's incredible crash in turn two from which he walked away,) and various and sundry acts of drunkenness and debauchery.
After 1987, when I saw my second four-time winner (Al Unser, Sr.) crowned, I moved away from Indianapolis and discovered that I had a much better seat in my living room recliner. This was a far more comforatble seat, from which I could easily acquire my beverage of choice, (generally Crown Royal,) have whatever food my heart desired (not just fried chicken,) and have a short walk to a restroom (my own) that didn't stink (well, not usually, anyway.) The advent of HDTV only solidified that belief, although I have to confess, I did miss being part of the crowd and tumult of the opening ceremonies.
Through those years, I have sat in almost every corner of the famed brickyard, including the now-gone-but always-to-be-remembered first turn "Snakepit." Now for those of you under 40, the third turn "Snakepit" is but a shadow of the small city that used to gather in turn one. The Speedway now provides entertainment there, in the form of concerts, Euro-electronic DJ's, alcoholic beverage sales, and other such conveniences that were never considered in the days of turn one.
In its day, the first turn Snakepit was either the 5th or 6th largest "city" in the State of Indiana. For entertainment, there were often "streakers" (again, those of you under 40, ask you parents about them,) topless (and sometimes naked) blanket toss, collapsed pup tents going up and down (use your imagination,) "beer can golf," which generally involved motorcycle riders heaving empty beer cans in the general direction of the trash cans along the fence after yelling, "FORE," and other such pursuits. Concerts? We didn't need no stinking concerts. We WERE the concert. Many vans, motor homes, and other conveyances moved speakers onto their roofs to blare out their particular flavor of music from country, to top 40, to metal, to acid rock, to Sid Collins and the IMS Network broadcast, depending on the occupants' tastes.
Last year, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Speedway, my wife and I made the pilgrimage back to the corner of 16th and Georgetown, my first trip back since 1987. My how things had changed. In our advancing youth, (our late 50's,) we opted to take the public transport from downtown, arriving at IMS between 8:30 and 9 am. Because some bureaucrat decided that it was unethical for IndyGo to actually MAKE money for something, this transport has been privatized. The problem with that is that while METRO, and IndyGo had perarranged routes with the Indianapolis Police Department, the private contractors did not. Hence the trip away from the track particularly, was MUCH longer than it was in the old days. This made me ALMOST wish we had opted to drive out to 16th and Georgetown. Almost, but not quite.
The first thing I noticed was the paucity of alcoholic beverages being consumed. It seemed as though we saw far more Aqua Fina than Budweiser, although there were vendor stands selling bloody marys and screwdrivers, something I NEVER saw in the old days. The second thing that hit me was the presence of misting stations underneath the main grandstands. KUDOS to IMS for this innovation. I can't tell you how many times we saw people being rushed to the infield care center in days gone by suffering from heat exhaustion.
Unforutnately, progress also has its drawbacks. As I have posted to several other folks' blogs, the top level lower deck grandstand seats which had served me well back in the 80's now have lost about 50% of their sighlines thanks to the reconstruction of the former Tower Terrace. I guess I have Sir Bernie the fickle to thank for that one.
The other thing that was noteworthy was that the track PA system has probably not been replaced since Mr. Carnegie last intoned, "ITTT'SSS A NEEEWWWWW TRAAAACCCKK RECCORDDD!!! During the melee that was the final lap, the only way we had any clue what had happened and who had won was the scoring boards in the grandstand. We saw J. R. Hildebrand slide in front of us with wheels askew, but we had NO IDEA if he or someone else had won until it was posted in the scoreboard.
On the whole, it was a great experience, but due to my wife's infirmities, it's probably not an experiece that we will repeat.
Above and beyond that, the best seat in the house is still the one in front of the TV, despite my disagreements with ABC's ever-diminishing coverage of the 500. That's where I'll be watching tomorrow. I'll add one positive note to the ABC coverage. Marty Reid, of whom I have been no great fan, earned my eternal respect during the telecast from Las Vegas and the tragedy that occurred there. On that occasion, Mr Reid, whom I have often felt would rather be doing NASCAR Nationwide Racing than IndyCar, must have been channelling his inner Sid Collins. He handled the broadcast and its tragic conclusion with all the grace one could muster in a trying situation.
So, here we are, full circle, back again to May. Forgive me the homage to days gone by for those of you wanting to find out how Uncle Skip's Sportsbook and Casino is handicapping this years race. For those who may have forgotten, we brought home the cake last year with a little 20-1 play on Dan Wheldon, so we are on a bit of a roll. This year's polesitter, Ryan Briscoe, headlnes a Penske comeback of sorts. The Captain had an AWFUL year last year with pit snafus and cars that weren't competitive all day. Unfortunately, Mr. Briscoe goes off at 4-1. If he were head and shoulders faster than anyone, maybe, but a non-winner who has not had the best of luck here (remember the year Danica stormed after him in the pits after a screwup on his part only to be stopped by Charles Burns?) Think I'll pass.
On the other hand, Helio Castroneves, a three time winner who nows how to negotiate a "greasy" racetrack is a much better play at 5-1. Is your one unit bet gonna bring rain? No, but a win there pays for 4 other plays that aren't so lucky. (Besides, you don't have to tell the folks around the water cooler on Tuesday that you broke slick, do you? You just cashed a winning ticket on the Indy 500!) The other factor that NO ONE is talking about is fuel mileage. We have no clue whether Honda or Chevy has the fuel consumption equation figured out, but what we do know is that these new cars travel well in packs. This could be a race similar to what we see every summer in Texas, and a stupid mistake could have dramatic consequences.
Now here's a little USSBC secret: Will Power has been competitive in almost everything. Problem has been, he's so strong on road and street courses that you cannot afford to put a unit on him, as there's just too little payout. In some races hes actually been a -125, which means you have to put a hundie and a quarter on him to win a hundie. With Power at 6-1, I'm in for a unit.
I know, James Hinchcliffe is a newcomer to the GoDaddy seat, but he has been very fast all month, narrowly missing the pole. A front row guy at 8-1 is well worth a swing here. If he can bring this one home, a lot of people will be saying "Danica who?" Put me down for a unit.
Now, can someone tell me how a guy on the outside of the front row, a spot from which there have been numerous winners, goes off at 12-1? Andretti Autosport, much like Penske, has had a huge comeback year, with their top three mounts in the front of the field, and even Ana Beatriz, who's not on the board, has been pretty fast. Ryan Hunter Reay goes from the third spot at 12-1. Ditto for one here.
On the basis of yesterday when Scott Dixon was fastest in Carb Day practice, I'm putting a unit on him. If any of the Hondas are going to have a chance, you gotta figure that Dixie will be right there.Why? One, I didn't want to lay all my coin on Chevy power: If they start going off like grenades, you need a backup plan, and two, I'm just not sure Dario Franchitti's head is all the way in the game. Getting Dixon at 10-1 is not too bad either.
I'm also throwing a unit at Tony Kanaan at 12-1. This is, for me, a "heart" play and not one I would recommend, but TK has done well here an awful lot of times without tasting the milk. I'd love to see him get one before he hangs it up and he has stayed WAY under the radar this year. Those of you who are faint of heart can leave this one alone: I'll go solo.
That leaves us with TWO potentially HUGE paydays. With new engines and cars, you can go just about anywhere you want and find a possible. But consider this: Panther Racing has been second the last THREE races at Indy, and came within one corner of winning the WHOLE deal a year ago. J. R. Hildebrand at 40-1 is looking for redemption and we all know that John Barnes can get his car to the finish. So, for 40-1 odds you can get the second place finisher from last year.
And guess what. You can get last year's THIRD place finsher, Graham Rahal, at 40-1 also. Normally those odds are reserved for folks who don't have much of a chance, but we're looking at two of the real "young guns" of this series and a race about which we don't know much. Engines are variable, the track will be greasy, and we don't know a lot about fuel mileage,so why not take a swing at a couple of big paydays. I had one back in 1990 with Kenny Brack tht see4med far less possible than this pair.
I can hear a lot of you crying about so many picks. I completely understand. When we get around to next year and we have a little better idea about how these cars will handle 500 miles, I'll probably return to my normal 4 or 5 plays. But this year, first for the new cars and engines, there are just too many variables, hence, I'm covering almost a quarter of the field. (And, bear in mind, Josef Newgarden, another serious dark horse, is not even on the board in the Islands where I place my stuff. A Newgarden win would be EXCEPTIONALLY popular for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, and don't forget they won the last oval race completed.)
Wherever you are watching the race, please be safe, and take a moment to remember the reason for the weekend. God Bless our Troops and God Bless America.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
First, we have Ed Carpenter's announcement of his own race team, Ed Carpenter Racing, with a primary sponsor of Fuzzy's Premium Vodka. Co-owner of Ed's team is his stepdad, Tony George. That in and of itself is likely to cause some among George's "Legion of the Miserable," some level of apoplexy. More on those folks later.
Ed is no dummy. With a three year committment from Fuzzy and the help of whatever dollars TG brings to the table as co-owner, (and let's face it, like him or not, TG still has a pretty substantial fortune,) this is his opportunity of lifetime to really go racing. Full time. He's popular which makes him good for the series in a time when the series NEEDS good things to happen. Adding Derrick Walker to the equation adds another plus. The big question remains road and street courses, where Ed has never been strong.
Of course, with the good comes the bad. Having just won a race, Sarah Fisher Racing loses not only a sponsor, but a driver as well. As Trackside's Curt and Kevin have said, this probably puts Sarah in the position of needing a driver to bring dollars in terms of sponsorship to the team. There have been some rumblings that such a program might fit with Ana Beatriz, but this one stays in the "to be continued" category.
In the category of "OK that's settled," Penske Racing re-signed all three drivers. The more I've thought about it, the more unsurprising this is. In the final analysis, the only mystery was whether Roger was going to scale back to two cars, but with all new equipment, obviously, the more input the better. Consequently, a whole series of dominoes that were tottering, just got stable.
It has been decreed that we're going racing in China. I hope that INDYCAR is getting a pretty substantial fee for this endeavor, since the series ditched Motegi because it was a logistical nightmare. (And China isn't?) Look, I am all for developing new places to race and new INDYCAR fans, the more the merrier. I have no idea how they're going to do this so that you don't have the same dilemma of a race that is "none of your business" unless you want to watch it in the middle of the night. And, it's supposedly going to be a 3.6 mile (or so) street course. I know I am going to piss a few people off by saying this, but someone is kidding themselves if they think ANYONE on this side of the Pacific is going to stay up after midnight to watch another street parade.
It all gets down to money, in the final analysis.
Speaking of the green that makes the wheels go 'round, let's talk for a minute about Robin Miller's latest missive on the mystery of why the 2012 car isn't fast on the Speedway. Apparently, the new ride was lapping Indy at between 208 and 216 mph, hardly the rocketsled everyone thought we were getting. It also mentioned handling issues, unspoken up to this time. We all knew this was going to take some time to get dialed in to high speed ovals. According to Miller's piece, Dan Wheldon reported the car to be "wicked loose going into turn 1 and pushing badly exiting." Apparently he conveyed this information to Dario and TK prior to the Vegas race.
The fact that the new car is having some handling issues doesn't bother me too much: I figured it was going to take more time and development on real tracks rather than sim time. What floored me however, was the sheer number of posters who commented on Miller's piece about how typical this is of INDYCAR that they've produced another "crap" product, and we're in for more "spec racing," the usual CART-centric garbage that everyone is used to hearing.
What none of the computer critics and RAM rocket scientists seem to remember is that all this development costs money. Back in their "golden age," there was more money than sense tossed all around racing. Well, I hate to tell ya' fellas, but this is 2012 we're coming into, not 1995. There are not sponsors willing to throw around gazillions of dollars so we can all have the latest thing. Hell, the way some of the owners wanted it, we might have been driving '03 Dallaras for another couple of years. If you're not Penske, Ganassi, KV, or Andretti, just buying enough cars to start is a major expenditure. Even with Dallara helping, teams are going to have development costs.
Frankly, the old business model just won't work in the current economy. There are not the dollars coming in for teams to develop their own chassis or engines, nor are there the unlimited fountains of money that were available back in the heyday. Everyone can see exposed tin at places where we used to see fans and the tv ratings are laughable. Both of these situations need to be turned around before the coffers of others will open.
As a result, if you're going to move forward, you're going to have to do it differently, in small steps, careful not to turn these machines into F-1-esque "money gobblers."
Give Randy Bernard credit: He's trying anything and everything he can think of to regain the fanbase, but it isn't going to happen overnight. We're hearing murmurs about Phoenix, we're "offically" going back to Fontana, but it's going to take time. The series spent too many years on the Hulman-George teat, and now, with the new cars, we have what will, given development, be a more up-to-date and safer car. But, if you think we're going to see Reynards and Panozes, and Marches, and Lolas, well, you'd better go find yourself a few billion (with a "b") dollars to make that happen on a faster schedule.
In the meantime, the "Legions of the Miserable" need to relax. We have young drivers, lots of them trying to make "new" history. J. R. Hildebrand, Justin Wilson, Simona DiSilvestro, Graham Rahal, Josef Newgarden, and who knows, in another year or so, perhaps Katherine Legge or Conor Daly, ALL have the potential to be leaders of this series going forward.
We have a new car. Next year (2013) we'll have more variations of the new car.
We have two engines, maybe three if you count the "Lotudd." We have turbochargers back again, along with the possibility of (gasp) engine failure.
At least to me, that's not a bad start.