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Archive for the month “April, 2012”

New Track Record’s Ten Worthless Opinions – Sao Paulo Indy 300

What comes to mind when you think of Brazil?  Carnival?  Samba?  Nude beaches?  Crime?  I assume your answer is “yes” to all of those.  Another answer is auto racing.  Brazilians love fast cars.  It’s quicker to get to the nude beaches that way.  Or away from kidnappers.  But I jest.  I have formulated some totally worthless opinions about this week’s race in Brazil.

1.  How can you not love Bitchin’ Bob Jenkins.  For all of his mistakes ( confusing Brazil with Canada TWICE, starting the broadcast by misstating how long until the start,  miscounting the number of Brazilians in the race, and his usual assortment of using the wrong name for people), he is totally self-aware.  He knows he makes the mistakes and takes the ribbing of his booth cohorts with grace and good humor.  I had the opportunity to do TV color commentary for the Indiana state high school softball championships, and I can tell you it is the hardest, most humbling thing I have ever done.  Bob is the guy in the booth that must keep the focus on the race while watching a foreign broadcast from a studio in America.  I liked that he disclaimed the fact a number of times.  Even as I criticize, I realize we are lucky to have a guy like Bob Jenkins in the booth.  He’s sincere and honest, and that goes a long way with me.

2.  Does anyone else have a love-hate relationship with IndyCar 36?  I love that fact that NBC Sports is publicizing the drivers, but find myself being put to sleep by the narrative.  In my WO (worthless opinion), I would like to see more controversy and conflict.  The drivers are so politically aware.  We need some A.J. injected into the story.  Still, the meaning of Long Beach to Ryan Hunter-Reay and his wife was touching.  Maybe I’m not the demographic they are looking to entertain.

3.  Does anyone else find double file restarts exciting when they are done correctly?  True, the tight first turn in Brazil led to some, as Twitter aptly suggested, monkey/football romance.  But aside from that, I find myself leaning forward on restarts.  That’s good, right?  This has been a positive change.

4.  Speaking of positive changes, Beaux Barfield has been one.  After each accident, we were informed of an investigation and were informed (as well as TV, Brazil, Bob Jenkins, and technology allowed) of the outcome.  The rules seem clear to the drivers and the penalties seem fair and impartially enforced.  Unless you’re Sarah Fisher at Long Beach.  Speaking of which, the prerace had a moment of racing comedy as Kevin Lee questioned Dario Franchitti and referenced his contact with Josef Newgarden in Long Beach.  Tricky, Kevin, tricky.  Dario did not bite on the bait and continued to be blissfully unaware of “feeling” contact, Sarah Fisher’s sidepod evidence to the contrary.  I can only imagine Dario watching every video of the wreck and having a big grin spread over his face as he realized that no evidence existed that proved he punted Newgarden.  Plausible deniability, baby.

5.  Robin Miller was a ghost in the broadcast, which seemed to please some on Twitter.  I missed seeing what new way he could come up with to totally screw up the grid run.  I was hoping NBC Sports would do a hologram like they had of Tupac at the Coachella Festival.  A digital Robin Miller might not be so out of breath during his interviews.  If you can’t do a digital Miller, then at least give him a Segway.

6.  NBC sports, here’s my WO on your broadcast:  just because you have a great segment in the can doesn’t mean you cut away from the race to show it.  How the cam locks on the nose and tail assemblies work is cool information.  I like it.  But how about a side-by-side?

7.  Turbo wars!  You can expect the following press release from Roger Penske:

Since the turbo change resulted in an equalizing of the Chevy and Honda motors, it is COMPLETELY UNFAIR.  Fairness only exists when the equipment used by Penske Racing is superior.  HOW CAN YOU PEOPLE NOT SEE THAT? 

8.  Will Power is an absolute beast.  In all seriousness, he is in a class of one.  Same car, same aero, same motor, different result.

9.  And how about the other racing?  Takuma Sato showed that he really can drive.  What a dive bomb in turn 1 at the end of the race.  How about Ed Carpenter’s day?  His late spin, assisted by Ana Beatriz, kept him out of a possible top ten finish.  His improvement on road/street courses is vital to the success of his program.  It should be noted that this very fast circuit is probably better suited to his emerging road/street course skills than slower venues.  In any case, a nice day for Ed and Fuzzy’s Premium Vodka.  As much as I rag on Dario Franchitti for his it’s-not-my-fault responses to contact initiated by him, he really can drive a race car.  After spinning and being airborne, he steers it back to fifth place.

10.  Twitter responses were interesting today.  It seems that people are made uncomfortable by commercials showing people who have lost limbs, required surgery, or have become incapacitated because of smoking.  I think that’s the idea.  And since they pay for the commercial time no one else wants to buy, I think we will see more of them.  People also seem slightly entertained by the Honda commercial featuring the “Hoodie Ninja” song by MC Chris.  People, have you ever listened to the lyrics of this song?  I’m surprised that Honda uses a song that refers to…well, refers to so many things that probably don’t need to be in a commercial for Honda.[1] You REALLY need to check out the footnote to listen to the song and read the lyrics.

Another set of worthless opinions offered for your perusal.  Don’t forget to check out the “Indy Tenderloin Tour” post coming up later this week.  A good breaded tenderloin is never worthless.

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1.  Entertain yourself with this link that has the music and lyrics to “Hoodie Ninja” bu MC Chris. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8aMumvh9eI

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Indy Tenderloin Tour – Plump’s Last Shot

(First in a series of five appearing every Tuesday through May 22, 2012.)

Any food tour needs to include things iconic in nature.  Other than the Indy 500, what else is synonymous with Indiana?  You got it – high school basketball.  And what basketball movie is most connected with Indiana?  No, it’s not Blue Chips.  What’s wrong with you?  It’s Hoosiers.  Filmed on location in Indiana,[1] the fictional Hickory Huskers were inspired by the small school Milan Indians of 1954 [2].  The player who took the last shot to beat Muncie Central that day was Hoosier hero Bobby Plump.[3]  Bobby, who still advocates a return to a single-class basketball tournament in Indiana, is the owner of Plump’s Last Shot in Broad Ripple, an Indy neighborhood near Butler University.  And a bar with that kind of pedigree MUST serve a breaded tenderloin sandwich.  They call it The Hoosier Tenderloin.

We rolled in on a Sunday at noon.  Plump’s radiates…something.  And that’s not a knock.  It has a hippie/hiker/neighborhood vibe.  The location is an old house adjacent to the Monon Trail [4] and off the main drag.  It’s dog friendly with a great outdoor seating area.  Our friendly bartender Robin offered up menus and beer specials.  We ordered two breaded beauties and watched ESPN while we waited.

Here’s what arrived.

Look good, huh?  The sandwiches were HOT.  As we decided our plan of attack, we heard a serious pounding coming from the kitchen.  My son and I exchanged knowing glances.  It was Fred, the cook, pounding out pork loin for the sandwiches of the people who had just ordered.  I believe that’s called “fresh.”  Zach chose to cut his tenderloin in half and double it.  I sliced the overhang off and dipped it in mayo until the sandwich was small enough to hold.  It was great.

When Fred emerged from the kitchen, he told us that Plump’s cuts, trims, and pounds its tenderloins daily.  Nothing frozen here.  It’s coated in buttermilk and dredged through panko bread crumbs, flour, and spices.  The panko gave it a really crisp texture that held up for the half-hour it took to eat it.  With pickles, onions, and mayo, it was an absolute game winner.  My rating: it’s a checkered flag.

Ratings:
Checkered Flag: It’s a winner.  Picture should be on the Pork-Warner Trophy.
Green Flag: It’s a go.  Solid competitor with a chance to be a winner.
Yellow Flag:  Warning.  Something is not copacetic.
Black Flag:  Get this pig off the track.

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1.  Here’s the link to the gym that was the home of the Hickory Huskers in the movie.  It’s in Knightstown, Indiana, just a short hop on US 40 or I-70 east of Indy.  When I was in high school, we would occasionally sneak in and play ball on a weekend.  The gym was no longer used for competition.  We would crawl through the window of the old Wilkinson High School gym to do the same thing.  Good times.
http://www.thehoosiergym.com/

2.  This is the true story of Bobby Plump and Milan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_Milan_High_School_basketball_team

3.  Bobby Plump is truly iconic.  Here’s his Wikipedia page.  The links to the USA Today and The NY Times articles are worth the click.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Plump

4.  The father coaching the team in Hoosiers tells Gene Hackman: “Fact is, mister, you start screwin’ up this team, I’ll personally hide-strap your ass  to a pine rail and send you up the Monon Line!”  We really do talk like that in Indiana.  The Monon Trail is a hiking/biking trail in the Indy area that was called the Monon Line when it was still a railroad.  Pretty cool.  Here’s a link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monon_Trail

Are the Mayans to blame for turbo wars?

The Mayans have been on my mind lately.  The mythology that has sprung up about their calendar truly provides food for thought. [1]  Why exactly did the Mayan calendar end in 2012?  Did modern pop culture simply add meaning that wasn’t there?  What the heck does this have to do with IndyCar?  Allow me to explain.

After deep and difficult research of the available texts and maybe a little spin through the internet, I have arrived at the possible reasons the Mayan calendar ends in December, 2012:

  • That’s the date the aliens arrive.  Have you ever noticed how the carving on King Pakal’s sarcophagus looks like a space ship? [2]  Chariots of the Gods, indeed.
  • The great calendar writer, whoever it was, fell down one of those damn pyramids.  Experts are sometimes difficult to replace.
  • The great calendar writer finished the cycle that ends in 2012 and said, “Well, that’s it.  Let’s go get a beer.”  Isn’t it possible that the job was over?  He was probably working on contract.  Many writers are freelance, you know.
  • The Mayans got their asses kicked by drought, disease, or the Spanish and were a little too busy to update the calendar.  Missed deadlines happen.

What do the Mayans have to do with the IndyCar turbo problem?  I think we can find some connections.  Here we sit in 2012 trying to figure out what happened two thousand years ago.  It seems the Mayans wrote a calendar, but did not take any notes as they did it so future generations would be able to know exactly what was happening at the time.  Didn’t those guys have a scribe or something?  In today’s IndyCar version, Tony Cotman is our modern Mayan calendar guy.  He was so wrapped up in turbo talk that he managed to lose the notes of what seems to be a very important meeting.  According to Honda, when the engine manufacturers were meeting in 2010 to determine the rules, an agreement was reached among the builders that would allow a Borg-Warner turbo that was underperforming to be upgraded.  Honda had it in their notes.  Apparently, Chevrolet was not taking notes or chose not to write this down.  Chevrolet (read: Roger Penske) was dumfounded when Honda asked to upgrade their turbo to be more competitive.  That conversation NEVER took place.  If it did, it would be in the rules.  And it was NOT in the rules.  What could have happened?

Tony the Mayan lost his notes.  Or something.  We are still waiting for a clear explanation.  In any case, some people might say it’s amateur hour once again at 16th and Georgetown.  I don’t blame Roger the Conqueror for insisting that Honda follow the written rules.  I would, however, find it distasteful if the turbo fix was discussed and agreed upon and Chevrolet is pulling the “it never happened” card.  Then again, what would IndyCar be without backstabbing, bitching, and gamesmanship? It has always been part of racing’s DNA.

Even with Chevrolet’s continued protest, it looks like Honda will be allowed their turbo upgrade.  If that happens, Honda and the fans are winners.  If Chevrolet gets its way, then the opinions of Sarah Fisher and A.J. Foyt ring true.  After the shunt at Long Beach, @SarahFisher tweeted, “Politics.  Love it.”  And Robin Miller quoted A.J. on Speed.com saying it best when commenting on the turbo issue, “This ain’t about racin’ this is about politics.’’  Here’s my prediction:  If Chevrolet gets its way on the protest, then the IndyCar world we have been seeing emerge begins to unravel.  And if that happens, then I am canceling my 2012 New Year’s Eve plans because the myth of the Mayan calendar may just be fact.

1.  An overview of the Mayan calendar and the modern corruption of the meaning.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_phenomenon

2.  Proof?  Here it is.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%27inich_Janaab%27_Pakal

New Track Record’s Ten Worthless Opinions – The Grand Prix of Long Beach

I’ve been cogitating on a quote to describe the racing at the Grand Prix of Long Beach (or #TGPLB as their PR flak shrilly demanded on Twitter).  The best I can come up with is Kramer’s review of a novel for Elaine on Seinfeld:

“Well, it’s a story about love, deception, greed, lust and..unbridled enthusiasm…You see, Elaine, Billy was a simple country boy. You might say a cockeyed optimist who got himself mixed up in the high stakes game of world diplomacy and international intrigue.”

OK, the world diplomacy and international intrigue is really the F1 situation in Bahrain, but I think I can finesse the others into my Ten Worthless Opinions.

1.  Robin Miller has moved to the top of my list.  At Barber, he interrupted the prayer.  Last time, I called his grid run half-assed and asked that NBC Sports add additional ass.  It seems my pleas have been ignored.  If anything, ass has been deleted.  Maybe the reason ass for Robin Miller is in such short supply is because Charles Barkley has convinced everyone to go to Weight Watchers.  I don’t know.  NBC Sports, once again I ask you to have an intern or SOMEBODY produce that segment.  Maybe you could speak to the teams before the race to let them know that Robin is planning on his grid run.  Perhaps you could verify that the drivers are IN THE PITS FOR THE SEGMENT and not still tooling around the track for introductions.  Now, I have observed that Robin is dressing better now that NBC is in charge.  That’s a nice shirt.  Very professional.  But lose the sunglasses when you are in the booth with Kevin Lee.  Here’s some free advice.  If you really want to dress Robin appropriately for this segment, try big floppy shoes and a bright red nose.  You are already making him look like a freaking clown.  Unless this unintentional comedy is part of a bigger, secret plan to make us laugh.  Then carry on.  (Kramer quote connection: deception)

2.  Kramer said the book was about “unbridled enthusiasm.”  That about sums up Josef Newgarden’s move on Dario Franchitti in turn 1.  I guess you could say that Newgarden was a “cockeyed optimist” when he thought a turn 1 outside move on the first lap was his best chance to win an 85 lap race.  My opinion?  We need more cockeyed optimism. (Kramer quote connection: unbridled enthusiasm and cockeyed optimism)

3.  Does anyone have a problem with the starts?  They seemed acceptable to me.  I’m sure someone wants them to be perfect.  I just like the fact the drivers seem to be attempting to do it.  We’ll see if a bad one gets waved off.  Stay tuned.

4.  Townsend Bell gets better and better.  I think he likes the gig.  Two things he said stood out: “gnarly” and “twenty-six of my fellow wack jobs behind me.”  Where else are you going to hear that?  Keep this guy.  Lindy who?

5.  Finally, the new breed is back to finger-pointing and complaining.  I don’t know whose fault Marco’s shunt was; it doesn’t matter.  The fact that blame cannot be squarely assigned makes this drama more entertaining.  Graham Rahal said that Marco Andretti hit him from behind. Marco said that Graham “chopped” him and could have killed him.  After hearing this Graham said that was to be expected from someone with that last name.  THIS is the soap opera we have been waiting for.  Whiners, start your bitching.

6.  It appears the honeymoon is over for Beaux Barfield.  He’s making calls and people are reacting.  Sucks to be Ryan Hunter-Reay, E.J. Viso, and Simona De Silvestro doesn’t it.  Personally, I have no problem with any of his rulings because the new transparency lets us know that the race director is reviewing a situation and actually making a ruling.  If you watched IndyCar 36, you know Graham Rahal was a little cranky with Beaux about qualifying at Barber.  Be prepared for more grousing about blocking.  The fur will fly when Beaux hangs a penalty on a certain Brazilian or someone with the last name Andretti.  And you just know it’s going to happen. *rubbing hands in anticipation*

7.   All the problems with the motors has created controversy, conversation, and conflict.  That’s good, right?  We want the competitors talking and the media buzzing.  It makes us watch every lap and every puff of smoke.

8.  Twitter BLEW UP when Marco Andretti went airborne after contact with  Graham Rahal.  The armchair engineers had all they needed to categorically state that the new rear bumpers do not work.  I will use my daughter’s favorite response to my idiotic musings: Really?  One inconclusive camera angle proved it.  Damn, I wish I had a degree from your school.  You be smart.

9.  I give NBC Sports a B+ for this broadcast.  It seems to be much more difficult to position cameras at street courses as opposed to road courses.  It might have something to do with, you know, all those BIG BUILDINGS.  But it would have been nice to see the penalties on Viso and De Silvestro.

10.  I truly appreciate those who can work it to “accidentally” be in frame on a national TV broadcast.  Kudos this week to Chris Sheridan who blogs at IndySoup.com and can be found @indysoupdotcom on Twitter.  Here in Indiana we have a term for that kind of grin, Chris.  Something about ingesting feces.  Good on, ya.  See you at Indy.

I understand that I did not connect every WO to the Seinfeld quote.  If you see how I missed one, please let me know.  I hope these opinions are as worthless to you as they are to me.

New Track Record’s Ten Worthless Opinions – Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

DISCLAIMER:  Yes, this post is exactly one week late.  I know this.  Please refrain from pointing it out to me.  I have been on a lonely mountain in West Virginia without cable or phone service.  After leaving the mountain severely sunburned, I visited relatives in the Washington, D.C. area and will toss in a few worthless opinions regarding that.

I watched the race on Sunday, April 8.  Please pretend the race just happened at Barber and that I did not read any other blogs or news services regarding said race.  Today’s post is a time machine, if you will.  And the opinions are still worthless, but I proudly present them to you.

1.  NBC Sports must have read my last post!  They used intro music that had a pumping beat that might actually, you know, WAKE YOU UP.  Kudos.  Now, how about grid girls?  I cannot emphasize this enough.

2.  I know it was reported that the ratings for the race were way down.  Understood.  Accepted.  But I counted 26 different ads during the broadcast.  True, some of them were NBC Sports advertising its own programming, but most were not.  How many times on Versus last year did we watch the same Firestone, IZOD, Honda, and Versus ads over and over?  Not this time.  I’m guessing the marketing department for NBC swings a bigger stick than Versus and are anticipating (and can live with) a loss as the network ramps up.  And Bob Jenkins mentioned the sponsors on the cars multiple times.  Gee, who thought of that.  Maybe they can become broadcast sponsors, too.  I truly believe that IndyCar and hockey are positioned to be cornerstone properties of the network.  Please get the lemmings off the ledge.  To quote Kevin Bacon from Animal House, “Remain calm!  All is well!” [1]

3.  I love Bitchin’ Bob Jenkins.  Really.  He makes me laugh.  From the race, we have the following: a. “Newt cars”  b. “Grand pee”  c.  “Barber Spartan Park.” d.  “Helio Castro.”  You can’t make that stuff up.  Unless you’re Bob Jenkins, that is.

4.  Speaking of announcers, I am going to make a very unpopular comment:  I like Kevin Lee on the prerace much more than I liked Lindy Thackston.  That is not to say that I had anything against Lindy Thackston.  She was perky, pretty, and perfectly fine.  But Kevin Lee is better.   He is more knowledgeable and a much better interviewer.  In my WO, the broadcast is improved.  Feel free to disagree.

5.  Robin Miller needs a handler or a producer or something.  His grid run was a joke.  Do it or don’t do it.  The potential is there for a fun and interesting segment.  Right now it’s half-assed.  NBC Sports, please add additional ass.  And Robin, saying “hell” multiple times does not make you edgy.

6.  Marty Snider and Townsend Bell were fine in the pits.  Jon Beekhuis always tells me something new.  The info about the pedals, while not thrilling, was informative.  Look, I’m a fan of minutia.  I like the esoteric.  Jon Beekhuis completes me.

7.  Oh,  yeah.  The cars raced.  I mean they really raced.  They passed for position on the track.  They defended.  Or blocked.  Whatever.  They nudged each other.  It was fun to watch.  I think that’s what the networks, fans, and drivers want, right?  Most fans like to see the drivers mix it up.  I’m still waiting for a WWE type heel to emerge.  Marco Andretti, IndyCar’s CM Punk, is the favorite to fill that role.  If  these comments confuse you, then you need to watch Wrestlemania or see my post called “Can you smell what IndyCar is cookin’?”

8.  The camera angles on the cars were great.  ABC take note:  the viewers like to actually see things.  Complicated, it’s not.  This is not long division.

9.  NBC Sports showed passing throughout the pack and throughout the race.  Hint:  keep doing this.  Believe it or not, many race fans actually like to see racing.  Don’t over think it.

10.  Here are some WO’s if you plan to visit the Washington, DC area.  If you are at a bar and they make a point of posting the ABV (alcohol by volume) of their beers, TAKE NOTE.  It becomes important later in the evening.  Also, a trip to the open-air seafood restaurants at the docks on the Potomac is recommended if you don’t mind waiting.  And waiting.  The spicy peel-and-eat shrimp and the gumbo were both quite tasty.  A recommendation: see the Smithsonian American Art Museum. [2]  Currently showing are Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage and The Art of Video Games.  Culture is what separates the IndyCar fan from the NASCAR fan.  Get some.

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1.  Here’s Kevin Bacon talking to IndyCar fans regarding the TV ratings.  It was, I believe, his first film role.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDAmPIq29ro

2.  In case you want to check out the American Art Museum’s offerings.  http://americanart.si.edu/

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