Ten Worthless Opinions – Detroit Grand Prix Edition
Holy hell, how do you even start the list from Belle Isle. I normally follow a semi-chronological order, but for this…uh…CF, I will make an exception.
1. The track falls apart. Let me rephrase that – Roger Penske’s track falls apart. I acknowledge that Belle Isle is not really RP’s possession. With Detroit’s property market today, it’s obviously better to lease than own, and you expect RP to always make the best financial choice. But this is HIS race. Kudos, though, to the powers-that-be for getting the surface fixed for the sprint to the finish. I just did not expect Roger Penske to follow up a great 500 by giving IndyCar this black eye, particularly after his comments regarding Randy Bernard this week. Did you read between the lines? The Captain said it was business as usual with INDYCAR CEO’s, and he did not support a change in the middle of the season. The italics are mine. How does it feel to be human like the rest of us, sir? The hoi polloi salute you in Will Power fashion, Captain.
2. Beaux Barfield owned this race. He did not make a knee-jerk decision after the track came apart. He let the workers finish the job and sent Tony Kanaan and Will Power out to look at it. He did not wilt under the pressure of the TV camera. He spoke to the media and explained exactly what he planned to do, even if that was to just wait. He did not allow the teams to switch tire compounds from the ones they were using when the race was red flagged, a very fair decision. And he stopped teams from doing so, much to their chagrin. It makes me wonder if people got away with stuff like that in the past. It rewarded the teams that made the tire decision earlier. He decided to race until lap 60, creating a 15 lap sprint. Take a bow, Beaux.
3. I cannot believe that Randy Bernard’s Twitter comment moved down to #3 on my WO’s (worthless opinions). In the pre-race, Marty Reid made an interesting comment (Yes, THAT Marty Reid). He said Randy’s tweet was either a stroke of genius or a big mistake. I go with stroke of genius. It was a throw down of epic proportions. Whoever the owner was, he cannot come forward because it proves Randy right. He just has to shut up. Randy wins. If the owner does come forward, he shows himself to be a sneaky shit who is working to the detriment of the series. And Randy wins. Regardless of the final reckoning, Randy Bernard has taken the series forward with aggressive marketing and a relentless work ethic. He has made mistakes, but “getting after it” is not one of them. At Detroit, he faced the media and said he was just getting the facts out. He also said he does not work for the owners; he works for the IMS board of directors. Here’s the translation: “Kiss my ass. I don’t work for you.” Stay tuned. This story is just starting.
4. Normally, only a driver or two get “Visoed.” At Detroit, almost the whole field got it. What’s the problem with racing at Belle Isle? Simply put, the problem is EJ Viso. He can hold up the entire field because there is no place for an IndyCar to pass at Belle Isle. We follow up a GREAT Indy 500 with this pig. Put all the lipstick you want on it, Belle Isle is still a porker. Either create some passing zones or follow Indy with an oval.
5. Here are some plugs. The Verizon IndyCar App really worked for me this weekend. I listened to the radio broadcast on it (it worked, as opposed to IndyCar.com), followed timing and scoring, and listened to some team/driver communication. I was not displeased. Also, if you do not subscribe to TrackSide Online, stop reading this right now and subscribe. For $22, you get TSO’s coverage of the race on site, and TSO sends out every press release from the teams and the series. Invaluable.
6. Once again, I will provide my consulting totally free to IndyCar. Add on-board starters RIGHT NOW. Do you realize how many full course yellows could be avoided? No, I don’t know, but it’s a bunch. High tech series, my ass. I’m going to start charging for this stuff sooner or later.
7. Don’t worry, ABC. I didn’t forget you. To be honest, I liked the short pre-race. It was just a few interviews and a recap of Indy with a little Randy Bernard gossip. Nothing bores me more than the interminable NASCAR “Oh my god, this racing series is so spectacular we just can’t stop talking about it” pre-race blather that all the networks foist upon us. Let’s get the race started. Luckily, ABC was able to save some of that stuff for the red flag time. Of course, ABC’s thinking was probably “Let’s not waste any time, effort, or money on this series.” I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they really just wanted to go racing.
8. During the stoppage, ABC aired a segment about speed and danger. I thought it was well done and accurate. It is absolutely part of racing, and the drivers interviewed acknowledged it. Twitterland responded that it was in “bad taste” or “too soon.” Sorry, folks. Danger is inherent in this profession and cannot be ignored. Pull your ostrich heads out of the sand and accept the truth: speed is dangerous, and it attracts interest. We watch because the cars and drivers are on the edge. I will suggest that is the same reason the drivers race. That’s who they are. And for better or worse, that’s who we are.
9. During the race, I turned down the ABC coverage and listened to the radio broadcast. What a difference. The radio broadcasters made the race seem exciting. They told the listeners who was trying to pass and where. Passes did take place in the pack. It’s just that TV only reports on what it sees with its cameras, and they NEVER see passes. Radio reports what the broadcasters see with their eyes. And that’s a huge difference. Radio has people reporting from around the track. ABC has Marty Reid and Scott Goodyear tethered to a monitor, reporting only what they see at any given moment. There has to be a better way.
10. All in all, it was an interesting week and race. Randy Bernard fights back. An online petition to keep Randy pops ups (sign it here). Robin Miller names names (read it here). And check out Tony Johns’ “The IndyCar Fan White Paper” at Pop Off Valve (read it here). The owners back down publicly, but you can assume the smear campaign will continue. Randy intimated that the China race is not 100% and that he has a back-up plan. Detroit’s infrastructure continues to fall apart, as does the momentum of the IZOD IndyCar Series. IndyCar is like the 1971 Mafia comedy The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight. You had better work on your aim, guys.
There you go, another semi-lucid set of opinions called “Ten Worthless Opinions.” I’m not sure they even make sense to me.
For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the first part of the race personally. I don’t care that much if there are 10, 20 or 100 passes on track. Watching those guys(and girl) racing around this demanding and unforgiving concrete canyon, in such highly powered cars is fascinating enough for me.
Just a shame about that race shortage though. It removed a lot of valuable race time, messed up with race strategies, and provided a rather anti-climatic finish.
#8 Needed to be said. Thanks Mark. Racing is not a sport that will ever be 100% safe. We as fans need to recognize this, ignoring it won’t make it go away.