New Track Record

IndyCar Blog

Archive for the tag “Social Media Garage”

IMS Marketing: Hashtag FTW (for the win)!

I like to pretend I have insight into many things – IndyCar racing, marketing, broadcasting, and event management are just a few of the areas on which I pontificate.  It’s an ancillary benefit of writing a blog.  I have no credentials or resume to support any of my opinions.  So please allow me to offer another unsolicited morsel of my deep understanding of social media.

In some metaphysical way, my blogging and Twitter presence cause people to assume that I actually know something about the power of social media.  In fact, the fine people at IMS were so completely fooled dazzled by my social media cred last year that they asked me to participate in the inaugural Social Media Garage at the 2012 Indy 500.  That participation and my subsequent Social Media Garage activity at the IMS Super Weekend for NASCAR were great insights into how a business begins to incorporate social media into its marketing.

What I observed last year was the initial flailing about as a business tried to connect a relatively new and somewhat uncontrollable method of communication with a marketing strategy that may or may not have been fully fleshed out.  One senior member of IMS management alluded to last year’s Social Media Garage as “dipping a toe in the water” of social media.  It looks like IMS has decided to jump all the way in this year.

The Twitter use of #Indy500orBust (remember, you pronounce # as “hashtag”) is the 2013 social media campaign of IMS to connect to the increasingly mainstream demographic that uses the social media platforms of Twitter and Instagram.  You can go to to get the skinny on the campaign.  The marketing team at IMS has connected Twitter to Instagram, a social media photo sharing site.  Not a bad idea to connect the two platforms, especially since Instagram users are decidedly less snarky, judgmental, and reactionary than those on Twitter.  Or so I’ve heard.

The negative reactions I have seen on Twitter (surprise!) make a very valid point about the seemingly cross-purposes of marketing at INDYCAR and IMS.  The #Indy500orBust ads that we saw before and during the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg seemed to promote the INDY 500 at the expense of races at St. Petersburg, Barber Motorsports Park, and Long Beach.  While ticket promotion at those sites is the domain of the promoter, it would seem the series would have a vested interest in promoting the television productions of these races.  If viewership drives sponsorship, then the primary business of INDYCAR should be driving eyeballs to the broadcasts.  Even so, you cannot fault IMS for trying to sell tickets to the 500.  My guess is that the new management team being put in place by Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles will be putting more marketing and promotional personnel under one roof to drive advertising dollars, sponsorship, and viewership to both entities.  The long-term viability of the series demands it.

So keep the hashtags coming IMS and INDYCAR!  Continue to connect us to Instagram, and I look forward to using Vine during the month of May this year.  And I’m sure someone in the Snake Pit will be using Snapchat.  If you don’t know what that is, ask a teenager.  It’s the next big thing.  Until the next big thing, that is.

All bark and no bite: social media and IndyCar

Social media has allowed me to have a very small voice in the much bigger world of IndyCar racing.  A few incredibly supportive and intrepid souls regularly read my blog posts, which are almost all opinion pieces that I just make up.  I was even allowed to be a part of the inaugural Social Media Garage at the Indy 500 and the Super Weekend, for which I am forever grateful.  I do minimum research.  I simply watch the races and read what real reporters and insiders discover using real reporting techniques.  I’m just another fan with an opinion.

Social media has allowed me this access.  This blog and my Twitter account (@NewTrackRecord) allow me to pretend that my opinion matters, that what I think will somehow affect IndyCar in some vague but vital way.  It’s not true.  The truth is that what I write, either in the long form blog or the microblog that is Twitter, is read by very few and impacts nobody in IndyCar in any meaningful way.  My opinions mean nothing.  The time and effort it takes to write and comment have no discernible return on investment.  Yet the immediate gratification of publishing my opinions makes me feel like what I have to say has value, even though logic says it doesn’t.  That is the fact of social media.  It makes people believe someone cares about their opinions.

I liken the social media noise of IndyCar to a small yapping dog that just won’t shut up.  It will bark at anything that enters its line of sight.  This furry package of fury is an annoyance, not a threat.  That’s us.  That’s all of us who think our blogs and tweets influence anyone.  People hear us.  They notice us.  They just don’t really care.  Our power, for the most part, lies in simply making noise.  For all of its perceived shortcomings, Track Forum is still the most popular social media site related to IndyCar racing.  Posts often get over 1,000 views, and we are talking about multiple posts daily.  The site says that they have served over 3 million people.  I’m not sure what that means exactly, but it’s a big number.  Even so, the people who post and respond are relatively small, just like that damn little barking dog.

Another set of barks and growls comes from Twitter.  Every decision by IndyCar causes a blowing up of Twitter.  Fire Randy Bernard?  Boom!  Hire Mark Miles?  Boom!  Mention Tony George?  Boom!  Boom!  Boom!  How much actual power does Twitter have?  The few thousand IndyCar fans who are on Twitter are certainly vocal, but can a few thousand influence policy?  Randy Bernard responded to social media.  How did that work out for him?  He made the fatal mistake of thinking he worked for the fans.  I still don’t see a Twitter account for Mark Miles or Jeff Belklus.¹  I’m pretty sure we won’t see them.  They are too important to mingle with the great unwashed.  Our opinions have very little value to them.  Need proof?  Here are some IndyCar Twitter follower numbers compared to NASCAR numbers.


  • Curt Cavin-(@curtcavin)-10,672-Indianapolis Star
  • Marshall Pruett-(@marshallpruett)-7,
  • John Oreovicz-(@indyoreo)-1,
  • Kevin Lee-(@KevinLee23)-5,376-NBC Sports,
  • Bill Zahren-(@pressdog)-5,
  • Tony Johns-(@TonyJWriter)-4,
  • George Phillips-(@oilpressureblog)-1,
  • Zack Houghton-(@indycaradvocate)-1,
  • Robin Miller-Not on Twitter-NBC Sports,


  • Marty Smith-(@MartySmithESPN)-73,460-ESPN
  • Jeff Gluck-(@jeff_gluck)-44,205-USA Today
  • Bob Pockrass-(@bobpockrass)-42,294-Sporting News
  • nascarcasm-(@nascarcasm)-32,341-SB Nation
  • The Orange Come-(@TheOrangeCone)-25,8110
  • Terry Blount-(@TerryBlountESPN)-8,619-ESPN

Notice a difference?  The IndyCar media added together do not equal the attendance of even the most poorly attended IndyCar event.  Once again, for all the effort, only the hard-core fan is listening.  And IndyCar cannot build a future by listening to the hard-core fan.  The future lies in grabbing the interest of fans who are not currently interested in the series.  The numbers of followers for NASCAR media dwarfs IndyCar, including an inanimate object and someone with a name that people cannot pronounce.²  And please explain to me how Robin Miller, a leading media voice on IndyCar, is not on Twitter.  Promotion of the series and yourself is part of the currency of the media. Being a curmudgeon only goes so far.  IndyCar is clearly losing the promotional war.  Nobody is listening.

As far as blogs go, I don’t have access to the number of daily, weekly, or yearly hits at sites other than mine.  And since I have already stated that doing deep research to illuminate my opinions does not happen, I am not planning on asking for them.  Suffice it to say that the page views probably reflect a ratio similar to the numbers listed here for Twitter.  Only the hard-core are seeking information on IndyCar.

These same numbers apply to driver followers on Twitter.  With the exception of a certain Brazilian, NASCAR blows IndyCar away.


  • Tony Kanaan – 577,197
  • Helio Castroneves – 78,078
  • Dario Franchitti – 85,188
  • Scott Dixon – 49,613
  • Simon Pagenaud – 9,420
  • Marco Andretti – 52,534
  • Graham Rahal – 43,941
  • James Hinchcliff – 26,310
  • Pippa Mann – 12, 387
  • IndyCar – 79, 309


  • Danica Patrick – 696,431
  • Brad Keselowski – 358,456
  • Jimmie Johnson – 352,061
  • Jeff Gordon – 348,567
  • Mark Martin – 130,407
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 67,442
  • NASCAR – 882,334

The numbers speak volumes.  IndyCar is not a mainstream sport in the way that NASCAR is.  Nobody is listening.  Nobody is watching.  And other than the few hard-cores left, nobody seems to care.  The followers for @IndyCar and @NASCAR tell the story.  We are outnumbered by over 10-1.

IndyCar continues to make efforts through social media, though.  The series has produced a series called The Offseason on YouTube, once again attempting to use social media to promote the brand.  The series, a take-off of The Office, stars Will Power, James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden, and Charlie Kimball as they work in the IndyCar offices.  The writing, like my blog, lacks a coherent theme and plot, but at least IndyCar is trying to generate interest.  The numbers, however, are not encouraging.  According to YouTube, episode one garnered 28,784 views.  Not bad, but the numbers for the following episodes have decreased significantly.  Episode seven has 2,126 views.  Probably not quite the viral hit IndyCar had in mind.  Kudos for the effort.

What’s the point of all this?  Right now, IndyCar can ignore the barking dog that is social media.  We affect very little and IndyCar knows it.  But to ignore the future of social media is shortsighted.  Simply put, IndyCar needs to put all its effort into finding new young fans to grow a base that is currently shrinking.  Using social media in all of its forms, some not yet invented, to attract and engage these fans is an absolute necessity if IndyCar plans to connect to new followers who use these mediums as their primary sources of information, entertainment, and engagement.  Social media cannot be ignored or marginalized.  To do so is to risk the future of the series.  Even though social media at this time is just a chihuahua nipping at the heels of IndyCar, it is on its way to being a pit bull in the future.  IndyCar can afford to ignore the noise of the remaining hard-core fans on social media; we are small potatoes.  It cannot afford to ignore the future fans who will use this media as their primary source of information about everything.  IndyCar’s marketing efforts must be directed at these future fans, and social media must be a primary focus for delivering these marketing efforts.

Marshall McLuhan, a philosopher of communication theory, famously said, “The medium is the message.”  I hope IndyCar gets the message about social media loud and clear.  It’s a brave, new world out there.


1.  In fairness, Doug Boles (@jdouglas4), the new COO of IMS, is active on Twitter.  As the former VP of communications at the Speedway, I think he understands the value of social media in the future.

2.  Just to be clear, I know @nascarcasm, an Indy native, and he is not only a great guy but is also a smart, snarky observer of all things NASCAR and IndyCar.  That doesn’t make his name any easier to pronounce, though.

Ten Worthless Opinions – Stranger in a Strange Land Redux

Well, I did my tour of duty in the Social Media Garage at the Super Weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Met some great people, had a few laughs, got caught in the rain, and saw “the other side” of racing.  I have attended 44 Indianapolis 500’s; this was my  first Crown Royal Presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard Powered by  OK, I copied and pasted the name of the race because GOOD GOD, THAT’S A LONG NAME AND WHO THE HELL IS BIGMACHINERECORDS.COM, ANYWAY.  With that said, I will refer to the race as the Brickyard 400 from now on.  You’re welcome.  Here is the tale of an innocent IndyCar blogger/social media neophyte as he observes and reports on the monolith we call NASCAR.  These are the WO’s (worthless opinions) on his experience.

1.  I thought I had at least a working knowledge of the power of social media.  Untrue.  I am a babe in the woods compared to Jessica Northey, Jenny DeVaughn, the myth that is nascarcasm, and the Idaho weatherman known as Brian Neudorff.  At the Indy 500, my Social Media Garage brothers and I merrily tweeted and blogged our way through the month of May, never once saying the word “impressions.”  It seems that this word is a vital component to judging just how valuable a Twitter account or blog is to someone.  The names listed above have MILLIONS of impressions.  Jessica Northey already has business plans to make these impressions pay.  The two bright things I did this weekend were to shut up when they were explaining the power of social media to me and to ask questions after they stopped talking.  I know nothing, but I’m interested in this stuff.  I suggest all users of Twitter start tracking their metrics.  And by the way, I would LOVE for you all to re-tweet my idiotic comments on Twitter.  It seems that is of value.

2.  People are always ragging on the yellow shirts at IMS.  They yell, blow whistles, and generally brook no argument.  When alcohol induced stupidity by the fans is not involved, I have found the majority of these men and women to be friendly and helpful.  The rest, of course, are petty tyrants and martinets.  Do the workers at IMS really have a sense of humor?  Check out this sign I saw as I entered the track on Sunday.

Love it, right?  Good stuff.

3.  I knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore when I walked down the merchandise trailer row.  I counted over 30 trailers hawking hats, shirts, baby apparel, models, scanners, and various and sundry cheaply made and overpriced items that a person does not need.  EVERY name driver has a trailer.  IndyCar cannot compete.  I continued my tour and came to a trailer that had a giant picture of Jeff Gordon wearing camouflage posing with what appears to be a large, dead elk.

This trailer was selling nothing but camouflaged team and driver gear.  I have never seen this merchandise at an IndyCar race.  I think we are appealing to a different demographic.  Of course I now have a Tony Stewart camouflage hat to wear golfing.  Stylish.  When in Rome…

4.  The Continental Tire Series, with its production based cars and “gentlemen drivers,” and the Rolex Series both put on damn good shows on Friday.  They run in the rain!  I consider myself an Indy guy, but I have no problem with Indy hosting other series.  It’s their track and their business.  Make some money so the IndyCar series stays strong.  Keep these races.

5.  The Indy 500 has its share of drinkers, tattoos, mullets, and boorish behavior, but I’m pretty sure the per capita on these belongs to NASCAR.  I’d bet the 500 leads in total arrests, but I’ll have to go the over on NASCAR with concealed weapons.  It’s a different crowd.  A strong need to root against someone seems to exist in stock car racing.  You not only rabidly pull for someone, you just as rabidly pull against an opponent you perceive to have done your driver wrong.  I’m convinced you could get shanked in the lavatory for wearing a Juan Pablo Montoya shirt if he had just wrecked Junior.  Or maybe just for wearing a Juan Pablo Montoya shirt.  And I’m just talking about the women’s lavatory.  It’s a rough crowd, particularly for my refined tastes.

6.  How about that race?  Be honest with me.  You took a nap, didn’t you?  In a race to race comparison, the Indy 500 laps the Brickyard 400.  Indy had lead changes, charges through the pack, and a last lap dive bomb in Turn One that THRILLED the crowd.  I get it that NASCAR has more pit strategy with 2 or 4 tires and all the adjustments you can make during a race.  In my opinion, it’s a product of a relatively low-tech series that is just coming to grips with its “shade tree mechanic” past.  Still figuring that fuel injection out, huh?

7.  Give credit where credit is due, though.  The traveling carnival that is NASCAR dwarfs the IndyCar show.  NASCAR is BIG.  They have a mass of haulers just for the series gear.  The downside to that is NASCAR has a very high overhead as a series in a very bad economy.  IndyCar’s more streamlined product may be in better shape to weather the economic storm.  IndyCar is lean.  NASCAR  has to feed the bulldog EVERY week.

8.  Traffic in the Brickyard 400 Social Media Garage was much stronger than the Indy 500 traffic.  Even though the room was hidden this week, a good number of NASCAR fans came in to check it out.  This second iteration of the SMG was also better suited to move people from entrance to exit.  Also, the Brickyard 400 brings the local Indy 500 fans.  It was good to see so many of my social media friends, especially those that had Fuzzy’s Premium in a chilled flask.  Cheers, friends.  I was hoping people were stopping in to see me, but I have a suspicion the air conditioning was the main attraction.

9.  One of the highlights of the Social Media Garage was when Chevrolet brought Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Tony Stewart in for special wristband interviews.  Doug Boles, VP of Communications conducted a very professional Q and A.  The drivers were relaxed, engaged, and funny.  When I asked Gordon if he ever wanted to get back in the sprints and midgets, he said he gets the itch every time he sees a race, and he plans to attend the Knoxville Nationals this year.  Loved that answer. When Tony Stewart was asked what he does when it rains, he said, “I try to get somewhere out of the rain.”  He said it with a smile.  When I asked him what car or formula had the steepest learning curve, he said the winged sprint cars he’s racing now are the hardest to learn because the left side digs in going through the corner, not the right like the non-wings.  The guy is a flat racer.  Johnson talked about moving from bikes to buggies to stock cars.  Basically, he has been in a stock car since his teens.  It’s all he knows.  All three love Indy, and it shows.

10.  NASCAR drivers are rock stars.  They can’t walk anywhere without a crowd forming.  One thing I like about the 500 is that the fans respect the drivers as they walk from place to place.  If they stop, then of course the fans will ask for autographs, but it’s not a free-for-all with drivers ducking for cover.  I like the more mature reaction of the IndyCar fans.

Let me just give credit where credit is due.  Cassie Conklin is the IMS person in charge of new media.  The social media people who come in (like me) are pains in the neck.  Cassie’s a saint.  Pippa Mann stopped in and was her usual friendly and professional self.  What an ambassador for IndyCar.  Jarrett Peyton, the son of Walter Payton, stopped in with his amazingly positive personality to just hang out and talk.  Ashley Stremme, wife of NASCAR driver David Stremme, stopped by to chat with Jessica Northey and stayed to talk racing.  She grew up in a racing family and drove dirt modifieds.  She had interesting comments on being a one car team struggling to find sponsorship.  I’m now a fan.  Last, but not least, Todd and Cary Bettenhausen, the twin sons of Gary Bettenhausen, were in all three days helping visitors to the SMG experience iRacing.  Every kid that needed it got positive and friendly instruction.  And the boys had some racing stories to tell.  IMS history was right there next to me.  My opinions may be worthless, but the experiences I’ve had this year through IMS, Twitter, and this blog have been far from that.  Sometimes that stranger mentioned in the title finds a home.

Super Weekend – Did IMS Really Lose Her Virtue: A Mother’s Story

The purists at Indianapolis Motor Speedway shake their gray heads and mutter to themselves whenever the topic of other series racing at the stately matron at 16th and Georgetown comes up.  The purists, like the children of a widow, want their wealthy and popular mother to act her age.  They see the Indianapolis 500 as their father, whose sainted memory should be forever put on a pedestal, so his adoring family – presumably dressed in frock coats, vests, and cravats – can genuflect at his spatted feet.  The future?  Godfrey Daniels, my good man, we here in Indianapolis live firmly in the past.  They believe Mother IMS should stay home and entertain her old friends at afternoon tea.  Well, guess what?  Mother snuck out the back door while they were trying to decide what was best for her.

And luckily for racing fans she did.  The old gal refused to be put out to pasture because others knew what was best for her.  She took off those gray rags and those hideously sensible black shoes and put on leopard print stretch pants, stiletto heels, and the brightest red lipstick she could find.  But you know how people talk.  Mama Indy had some, how do we politely say it, “gentlemen callers.”  The first was that France boy from down south.  He wooed her with promises of more money and prestige, even though he was what we call nouveau riche.  His family didn’t have the right connections, but he was loaded.  And that money would come in handy as a family rift with the Champ Car side of the family was on the horizon.  So Mother Indy hooked up.  And what’s wrong with that?  After him, she took up with that Bernie boy from England, and that caused quite a stir because she had to build him a new place on the family compound.  And then she had the audacity to run around with motorcyclists.  The purist family was aghast.  But she wasn’t done.  She brought in a support series for the man from the South, and she started keeping company with some young college types that call themselves “gentlemen drivers.”  Her purist family could hardly show their faces in public anymore.  How could their mother treat them this way.  Did she have no shame?

The simple answer is that shame, virtue, modesty, and tradition have nothing to do with what the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has done since 1994, when it hosted the first Brickyard 400. It has done what any business is supposed to do for its owners: make money.  And why is that a crime?  The purists say that the tradition of the Indianapolis 500 is paramount; there should be one race only.  Carl Fisher, the architect of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ran a series of events, including ones for motorcycles and balloons, and his first races put the cars in classes, very much like the support series for Formula 1 and the Rolex and Continental Tire Series.

Does the old lady look lonely when only 50 thousand of her friends show up for a party that can seat 250,000?  Absolutely.  Should perception be the deciding issue on hosting these events?  Absolutely not.  The bottom line for hosting an event should be the bottom line.  If it make financial sense to host a race, then host it.  Fenway Park is Fenway Park.  They play baseball, hockey, and host concerts there.  It’s the same for Wrigley Field.  I’m pretty sure the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs is not the only time the horses run in Louisville.  The Derby first ran in 1875 and the traditions (including mint juleps and ugly hats) seem to hold up pretty well with other events running on the same track.  Tradition can survive change.  It has to.

So the next time a new suitor comes knocking on Aunt Indy’s door, don’t purse your lips, look over the top of your glasses, and cluck a tsk, tsk.  Give her a big grin and shout “You go, girl!”  Tradition be damned.  Have fun.

Ten Worthless Opinions – Ennui Edition

*Deep sigh*  No IndyCar race this weekend.  And since I like racing, I tuned in to the TNT coverage of the NASCAR race at New Hampshire.  *Deeper sigh*  The WO’s (worthless opinions) just keep bubbling up, even with NASCAR as the impetus.  I don’t even have a theme for this week’s WO’s unless moodiness counts.  Hence the ennui.  Here are a few debris caution opinions for you.

1.  Just looking ahead, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has displayed an enormous lack of common sense and a disturbing disregard for its reputation by inviting me back to reprise my role as a blogger/mechanic/village idiot in the Super Weekend Social Media Garage.   Again, my reputation as shill-for-hire has resulted in access and credentials in lieu of any monetary considerations.  I’m still trying to get a grip on my persona for the weekend.  Should I have a supercilious smirk because I believe IndyCar is the most entertaining racing series in America?  Should I ask tough questions regarding the relatively boring style of racing and the heavy-handed management of the series?  Should I just drink the Kool-Aid and shut up?  Decisions, decisions.

2.  I am looking forward to meeting my Super Weekend SMGarage compadres at Indy.  Their Twitter followers, and one can only assume their blog hits, absolutely dwarf mine.  As a public service, I will include their Twitter numbers, Twitter links, Twitter profile, and other links.

  • Jenny DeVaughn (@JennyDeVaughn, 11,685)  Pay-It-Forward Social Media Manager at @WasteManagement, Relationship Builder, Digital Marketer, Mobile Geek + a traveling NASCAR Fan. Views are my own.  Atlanta, GA ·
  • nascarcasm (@nascarcasm, 19,827)  Motorsports follower with poor sportsmanship. Reliable source of misinformation. contributor. Can’t pronounce his own Twitter handle.  Indianapolis ·
  • Brian Neudorff (@NASCAR_WXMAN, 10,804)  Unofficial NASCAR Meteorologist providing accurate weather forecast for Sprint Cup, NNS, & Camping World Trucks each week on Twitter & SBNation.comTwin Falls, ID ·

3.  I will compliment NASCAR on its partnership with Twitter.  Even though they seem to use it as another pit reporter, the quick access to information from multiple sources almost simultaneously will, if used correctly, make broadcasts better.  IndyCar and IMS should go to school on this partnership.  It will be interesting to see if the Social Media Garage at the Super Weekend will be marginalized in any way because of this partnership.  I wonder if the NASCAR Twitter feed will hook us up.  It would be an entertaining mistake choice.

4.  IndyCar managed to stay in the news with the “resignation” of Marc Koretzky as COO of IndyCar.  This might have been more interesting if we knew who he was, what he did, and what really happened.  Talk about a kiss off.  The rather terse press release basically said…well, it basically said nothing.  It could be translated as “don’t let the door hit you…” or, in a more modern vernacular, “AMF.”  In any case, we can speculate on what happened.  Either someone was not getting the job done, someone was left standing when the tune stopped in the game of musical chairs on the responsibility for the China race, or a purge to consolidate power in the IndyCar/IMS semi-dysfunctional family took place.  Or all of the above.  You can assume that politics in the IndyCar “bag of snakes” is ongoing.  I do hope that a kiss-and-tell book will be written someday.  I would stand in line for a signed copy.

5.  I attended the opening race of Indiana Sprint Week at Gas City I-69 Speedway Friday night.  Great show and a great crowd.  IndyCar needs the passion of these fans.  People from California, Colorado, and other states travel in RV’s to each of the races in the series.  After watching both, I have decided that I really like the wingless sprint cars.  They may not be as fast in and off the corners as their winged brethren, but they are fun to watch.  Go all grass roots this weekend and attend your local show, whatever they race.

6.  Bryan Clauson is the MAN in USAC.  And it’s possible that his being from my hometown of Noblesville, Indiana has nothing to do with this opinion  In the heat race at Gas City, he came from the back to the front, went over the cushion out of turn two, and came back to finish second.  In the feature, he rode the cushion to finally get by Levi Jones for the win.  Exciting stuff.  Would love to see him at Indy again next year.

7.  More short track props.  At Kokomo for Indiana Midget Week, we dined on pork chop sandwiches and $2.00 beer.  At Gas City, the beer was $2.50, but they had breaded tenderloins.  I am not a snob.  Even though these were frozen fritters, they were perfect with pickles, onions, and mustard.  I love it when the locals don’t try to gouge the fans at the big event.  Call it Hoosier Hospitality.

8.  Speaking of tracks, there was an interesting back-and-forth on Twitter this week between Randy Bernard and Brandon Igdalsky, president of Pocono Raceway.  Very flirtatious.  Almost uncomfortably so.  In any case, the series needs ovals, and they need the East Coast.  Let’s face it, IndyCar just needs friends, preferably friends with benefits, particularly if those benefits include an oval on which to race.  What will it take to make this happen?  Most likely IndyCar will be asked to make financial concessions.  Poor IndyCar is over a barrel.  The promoters smell blood (or money) and want a sweetheart deal.  IndyCar just got torched when China walked without leaving a deposit to soothe the burn.  The paddock sharks are circling IndyCar management, smelling the same blood.  IndyCar needs to cement a calendar for 2013 as soon as prudently possible.  I hope 19, as mentioned by Randy Bernard, is the number for next year.  A casual fan will find something else to do if the races are this sporadic.  It’s even tough on the hard-core fans.  I mean, I’m being forced to ignore NASCAR while I type this.

9.  Even though I believe Canada is a great market (anywhere that wants IndyCar is a great market), Toronto, followed by a week off, followed by Edmonton is a ratings and news cycle disaster.  As far as the media is concerned, IndyCar will cease to exist for three weeks.  After Edmonton, IndyCar has another week off, a race at Sonoma, and then THREE weeks off.  IndyCar has three races in seven weeks in the middle of the summer.  Thanks, China.  One more reason to buy American.  IndyCar has to build momentum by building the summer schedule.  And I know I’m preaching to the choir.

10.  Here’s a shout out to the Saturday morning coffee club of Zack Houghton (aka IndyCar Advocate), Eric Hall (aka anotherindycarblog), and Steve Wittich (aka Steve Wittich).  So far this year, some member of this illustrious group has attended Barber, Indy, Detroit, Milwaukee, Iowa, and Toronto.  It makes for some interesting conversation and not a little flat-out lying.  This past Saturday, the group decided that green/white/checkered has no place in IndyCar.  And that’s definitive.  I’m sure our opinion will influence policy.

There you go.  Take IndyCar away from me, and you get this kind of moody, self-serving drivel.  That’s reason enough to have a full summer schedule next year.

Ten Worthless Opinions – The Indy 500 Edition

I was on overload at the 500 this year.  As the wrangler of our extended entourage, numbering 16 this year, there is always the stress of buying supplies, packing coolers, hosting the Checkered Past Soiree on Saturday afternoon, and cajoling and threatening my extended family to get out of bed on race morning.  And that is every year.  This year, I had the additional stress of being a member of the inaugural Social Media Garage at the 500.  I needed to get to the track early this year. In past years, my feckless family truly enjoyed my angst on race morning.  They love it when I threaten to leave their asses at home.  To a person, they are intelligent, witty, and sarcastic.  As a newcomer to the race said of my nephew this year, “Everything he says is the opposite of what he means.”  Yep.  We are that family: happiest when identifying a person’s weakness and exploiting it for humor.  I love them dearly, and they have my eternal gratitude for getting up early (I was up at 4:15 AM) and making sure I had my Social Media Garage experience even though they mocked me without mercy the entire time.  In any case, here are my “Ten Worthless Opinions – The Indy 500 Edition.”  Feel like a member of my family and mock them without mercy.  They are a compilation of both the at-track experience and the TV viewing later.

  1. First and foremost, my sincerest gratitude to IMS and Cassie Conklin for the opportunity to be a part of the first Social Media Garage.  The other bloggers and I didn’t really know what to expect and were gratified to be included in the evolution of the SMG.  Apparently, my loud voice and rather large personality put me in the position of tweet-up wrangler and lead interviewer when I was there.  You can check out my interview with Wade Cunningham here.  If you want a real interview, then watch Zack Houghton follow my cat queries with true race questions.  Blah, blah, blah.  And thanks to @TheMiniChad for the cat swag.  I wore my cat button proudly, and the can cooler really came in handy in the heat.  I also had the opportunity to embarrass drivers Pippa Mann, Ashley Freiberg, Shannon McIntosh, and’s John Oreovicz.  Thanks for playing along.  And huge thanks to my fellow bloggers: Zack Houghton, and @IndyCarAdvocate; Chris AKA Johnny Montona, and @andhesonit; Mike Knapp, and @15daysinmay; and Eric Hall, and @Erock_in_Indy.  You guys really do rock.
  2. The drive to the track (earlier than normal as explained above) was the easiest in memory.  The only line we had was for one or two minutes as we pulled into the Coke Lot.  And thank you IMS for the parking credential.  It got three cars into the front lot.  After last year’s changes in traffic, I was expecting a similar FUBAR.  Good job, nameless traffic pattern people.
  3. I had the opportunity to interview John Oreovicz from in the Social Media Garage Sunday morning.  He has some strong opinions.  The best part is he did not treat the bloggers like the bottom feeding catfish we are.
  4. Eric Hall from and I used our credentials to walk the grid.  I have been coming to the Indianapolis since 1966, and I never thought I would have that opportunity.  I felt like I was doing it for every fan who will never have that chance.  Neither Eric or I used the opportunity to take many pictures; we simply wanted to focus on the moment and the experience.  The track on race morning breathes; it whispers.  It speaks to you about history.  It makes you think about all the drivers who motored down that narrow front straight.  It say, “I’m here.  I’ve been here.  I’ll be here.”  It moved me.
  5. The pre-race was well done.  Martina McBride knocked it out of the park with the “National Anthem.”  The Jim Nabors video of “Back Home Again in Indiana” worked.  I wept during “Taps.”  Never forget what Memorial Day means.  The fly-over absolutely blew me away.  Two P-51 Mustangs flanking an A-10 followed by an F16 in tight formation?  Are you kidding me?  Beyond cool.  Did anyone else notice that the balloons were released a little late?  Trying to coordinate all the actions of this event must be tough.  The prayer was interesting.  It was a Catholic priest giving a Baptist call and response.  Can I get an “Amen?’
  6. Thanks to IZOD for sponsoring the spotter’s guide that could be found in the Social Media Garage and other places.  If you could not recognize the livery of the cars, you could not identify them.  For a series that touts the fan as paramount, they did a poor job on numerical recognition.  I can fix the problem:  BIGGER NUMBERS ON THE CARS.  You’re welcome.  I am available as a consultant.  I will work for credentials, swag, and a small per diem.
  7. The restarts, even single file, were AMAZING.  The almost made me incontinent.  Here’s a marketing sell: “This restart brought to you by Depends.  Feel free to piss your pants.”  Or is that too NASCAR?
  8. Do I even have to list the reasons I love Tony Kanaan?  Our stands erupted when he took the lead near the end.  He gets Indy, and Indy loves him for it.  With that said, I have to give credit to Dario Franchitti for his emotional Dan Wheldon remarks after the race.  It made me cry.  And what a classy gesture to take Suzie Wheldon on the victory lap.  Much respect to Dario.
  9. And now, my ABC television coverage review:
    • The pre-race was world-class.  Give it the Emmy right now.  The Dan Wheldon tribute was poetry.  It made me and everyone else in the room weep.  As much as I malign ABC’s race coverage, their feature productions are superb.  Well done, ABC.
    • The Tony Kanaan/Rubens Barrichello feature was touching, particularly with TK choking up talking about his father.  I knew the two were friends from karting days, but I did not know how Rubens father was such a surrogate to Tony.  This segment was powerful.  Again, well done, ABC.
    • The Charlie Kimball story about his impact on a young female athlete with diabetes was moving.  Once again, the camera caught someone choking up without making us feel like voyeurs.  That’s the art of a producer.  Well done, ABC.
    • J.R. Hildebrand talking about last year had to be done.  Insightful and humanizing, I felt for him then and feel for him now.
    • Brent Musburger can be cloying, but he has a certain combination of gravitas and enthusiasm that I like.
    • Scott Goodyear, Eddie Cheever, and Marty Reid made their usual number of head scratching mistakes, but the race was so good that I refuse to point them out.  The best I can say is that the trio did not ruin the race.  And that’s saying something.
    • Vince Welch did a great job in Victory Lane.  The raw emotion of Dario Franchitti tells you that Indy is more than a race.
  10. Every year we create a shirt for the Checkered Past Soiree.  Here are some of the quotes from past years: “Drive it like you stole it,” “Race Globally – Drink Locally,” “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough” by Mario Andretti, and “You just don’t know what Indy means” by Al Unser, Jr.  Here’s this year’s shirt.  Considering the race we just had, it still seems apropos after all these years.

Another Indianapolis 500 has come and gone.  We had new cars, new engines, a Social Media Garage, credentials for the race, and the love and abuse of friends and family.  I will now go sit moodily on my back porch and start the countdown to May 26, 2013.

Ten Worthless Opinions – Time Trials Edition

You would think after spending the last three days at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I would have more than ten WO’s (worthless opinions) to give you.  I assume you expect only the best in WO’s, so I have culled the herd, so to speak.  I will just be trotting out the best selection of trimmed USDA Prime opinions.  Just don’t look in the back room where the cutting occurs.  In no particular order, here are this week’s Ten Worthless Opinions.

  1. The Social Media Garage (yes, I am shilling again) has been a hit.  Tons of Twitter followers have come through and the elite, select, top-notch bloggers (I may be exaggerating) have had a great time.  Go to the Social Media Garage and follow Zack Houghton, Eric Hall, Mike Knapp, and Johnny Montona (real name is Chris…long story) on Twitter and bookmark their blogs.  They are great writers with interesting perspectives.  The staff has been wonderful, and the access has been unbelievable (did I mention the credentials?).  Again, I can be bought.  I am without shame or conscience in these matters.
  2. I do miss the very unique appellation “Time Trials” over the more pedestrian “Qualifications.”  If you have something special to your brand, don’t just keep it, market it.
  3. I have never met a nicer professional than Pippa Mann.  If you need a model on how a racer should interact with fans, then watch her.  She’s gracious, friendly, and accessible.  Pippa had agreed to show up in the Social Media Garage on Saturday afternoon.  Moments before she was to arrive, she got the news that any possible deal to race at Indy was gone.  We would have completely understood if she had passed on the Social Media Garage.  Not Pippa.  She showed up, smiled, and took questions from the bloggers and the audience.  She let her emotions show as she spoke about what Indy means to her.  She gets Indy.  She made some new fans, and I’m one of them.
  4. I had a chance to interview Wade Cunningham, and the result is posted on his rookie diary on YouTube.[1]  Cats, rugby, and A.J. Foyt were discussed.  He was a great sport, and now has another new fan.  That’s the benefit of being a blogger: I don’t have to be impartial.  With that said, I may be partial to the Canberra Raiders in Rugby League.  Wade is an Auckland Warrior fan.  The Warriors do have a cooler logo, though.  The Maori symbolism rocks.  Give us the Haka, Wade. [2]                                                                                                                                                                        
  5. Love the music selection on the PA at Indy.  I noticed some Lynyrd Skynyrd [3] on Bump Day.  I guess they are warming up the crowd for Carb Day.  Good idea.  We discussed Lynyrd Skynyrd in the SM Garage.  We wondered what demographic the marketers at Indy were after.  It seems a departure from Kid Rock, Stone Temple Pilots, Staind, and Papa Roach.  It seems closer to the ZZ Top choice two years ago.  Skynyrd was popular in the mid-70’s.  I guess the older crowd will show up to hear songs from their youth, and the younger crowd will show up to hear “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird.”  In any case, wouldn’t you like to listen to the suits in marketing discuss who they are going to bring to Carb Day.  It makes me smile.
  6. And there was more music at Indy.  Here Come the Mummies [4] played on the Pagoda Plaza after Pole Day and they KILLED it.  The have a great horn section and play dirty, undead funk.  I had to shout, “Play that funky music, dead boy!”  And the lead singer Java is one sick dude, you know, for a dead guy.  You MUST see this band.
  7. Pack racing may make me incontinent.  The cars sliced and diced all week in practice and REALLY chopped on Sunday evening.  Wow.  Let’s hope the car is as safe as it seems because if they race like this on May 27, then someone is saying hello to the SAFER Barrier.  Will Power and two other drivers were VERY displeased with James Jakes taking a Sunday drive in the groove in Turn 1 on Bump Day.  Say hello to my one fingered friend, James.
  8. There were a number of feel good stories.  Bryan Clauson, the local boy from Noblesville, Indiana, came back from a hard hit in Turn 1 on Saturday to qualify for the race.  The SFHR team did a great job getting the car ready.  The same can be said for the ECR team after Ed Carpenter hit hard in Turn 2.  Fuzzy’s Vodka Bloody Mary’s all around tonight, boys.
  9. The DW12 is still ugly, but it has done its job.  It may rotate on contact but it did not get airborne after three hard hits that took the cars off the ground.  If that’s the case, I can live with ugly.  I know that because I look in the mirror every morning and am still able to walk out the front door.
  10. We have pissed and moaned for years about competition and good racing.  I’m glad Lotus is in the race.  We need as many marques as we can get.  Steve Wittich (@stevewittich) did a guest post for New Track Record on Thursday called “Honda: Checkered Past to Checkered Flag” that followed Honda’s rise to the top of the heap.  Give Lotus time.

There they are, my “Ten Worthless Opinions – Time Trials Edition.”  So grab your knickers on Sunday, May 27 because my opinion, worthless or not, is that we are going to be highly entertained.  Once again, it’s going to be the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”


1.  Here’s the link to Wade Cunningham’s Rookie Diary on YouTube.

2.  I tried to convince Wade to intimidate his opponents with this New Zealand Mauri original.  The Haka rocks.

3.  Dig the dinosaurs! Her’s a link to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

4.  Party with the undead.  Check out the Mummies site.

Ten Worthless Opinions – Indy Social Media Garage Edition

Through some legerdemain, hocus-pocus, super moon cosmic connection, or dumb luck,  I have been selected to be a blogger in the IMS Social Media Garage.  I’m pretty sure it was a combination of more qualified writers being unable to participate and a deadline where the vivacious Cassie Conklin, one of the primary SMG mechanics, simply said, “We have one more spot to fill.  Who’s next on the list?”  However it happened, I’m just happy to park New Track Record in the garage for the month of May.  I do have a few WO’s (worthless opinions) regarding the Social Media Garage and the first weekend of practice.

1.  Bloggers are normally happy in the shadows.  I mean, take a look at our pictures on the SMG web page.  Yikes.  Would you call us edgy, classy, or cool looking?  How about old, fat, or geeky then?  By and large, bloggers live on hope. We hope someone will read our opinions or laugh at our jokes.  We hope that people will follow us on Twitter or comment on our stuff.  And we hope for the blogger bonanza: money, swag, or credentials.  In the case of the Social Media Garage…Yahtzee!  We have been HOOKED UP.  We are still doing it for free, and I haven’t seen any shirts or hats yet, but we scored credentials for the month of May.  Normally, bloggers are told they can come in the back door and not to touch anything.  The SMG people said come on in, and you can even sit on the furniture.  It’s like the Jimmy Buffett song “Gypsies in the Palace.” [1]  We are just taking advantage of the situation while we can.  And I have to tell you, my family and friends now think I am an insufferable ass.  Or as Steve Wittich (@stevewittich) said, “You mean more of an insufferable ass.”  Well, yes.

2.  I have always contended that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is really just a large Mom and Pop business.  It’s family run, and the people you come in contact with in the ticket office, credentials office, the gift shop, and the museum are invariably friendly and helpful.  Maybe it’s the business culture or Hoosier hospitality, but IMS people are just nice.  After getting word that I was one of the chosen/lucky bloggers, I was instructed to head to the corner of 16th and Georgetown to pick up my credentials.  I was hoping for Bronze Badge access, but was given a parking pass, a pass for race day pit/garage/grid access, and a Silver Badge.  Since I previously purchased a Bronze Badge, there was some paperwork/computer issues to work through.  Jennifer, one of the supervisors, was professional, pleasant, and helpful.  I might add that the credentials office runs a tight ship.  I would guess that not too many things fall through the cracks in there.  To add to the festivities, Eric Hall (@Erock_in_Indy), one of the other SMG bloggers, was in the office with the same problem as I.  We both felt like interlopers, waiting for someone to say, “Just a minute, you two.  There’s been some mistake.”  But we walked out clutching our badges and passes like kids gripping bags of candy on Halloween evening.

3.  The sidewalk and lawn in front of the IMS office on 16th and Georgetown is a great place to see the various team personnel pick up their credentials.  And the best part is they have to stand in line in the credentials office just like everybody else.  I love the great equalizers in our society.

4.  As Eric and I left the IMS offices, a woman who was picking up credentials at the window between us stopped to ask what was going on in there.  She was friendly (Hoosier hospitality once again) and interested in our story.  She introduced herself as Joan Parsons Voyles and very quietly, but with great pride, said that her father was a former 500 winner.  Her father was Johnnie Parsons, the 1950 champion. [2]  Stories are everywhere at Indy.

5.  If you see Eric at the SMG this year, be sure to ask him who else we met in front of the IMS offices.  And ask him where he got his picture that you see on the SMG webpage.  It only looks like a mug shot.

6.  Need another place to go to see the IndyCar personnel?  Get to Charlie Brown’s Pancake and Steak House on Main St. in Speedway early on any given practice morning.  Good food and good people watching.

7.  Opening Day at the track is just cool.  The auto show behind the Pagoda this year was superb.  Just assume the cars were beyond description.  Even better was watching the blazer wearing judges making their choices.  They talked, walked, dressed, and smelled like money.  My favorite was the judge wearing a “Gulfstream” logo cap.  Does he think we can’t tell he’s already rich?  And I can mock him all I want because I absolutely know he does not read my blog.  Small victory, I guess.

8.  Planning to buy your beer at the track?  The Foster’s Oil Can [3] holds 25.4 oz. of beer.  At $7.00 a beer that’s only $3.50 for 12 oz.  I dare you to find a better deal at any major sporting event.  At New Track Record, we believe in value.

9.  If you are a regular at the track and do not have a Bronze Badge, you are making a mistake.  Walking through the garage is flat-out fun.  The drivers are approachable, and you are up close to the action.  (Thanks to Bryan Clauson, a Noblesville boy like myself, for taking time to talk to my son and I on Saturday.  He’s genuine, and that is some of my highest praise.)  Plus, having a badge is great just because you can feel special.  And who doesn’t like that?  It’s human nature.  And for $100, you can feel special, too.  Also, I found out that badge envy exists.  Twice, people saw my badge, looked me up and down, and said, “Silver?”  I smiled.  If I only had a hat that said “Gulfstream” on it.

10.  Oh.  And there were some cars on the track, and they went kind of fast.


1.  Here is a live version of “Gypsies in the Palace.”  I hope I don’t get a cease and desist order.  I hear JB is harsh.

2.  Here’s a link to Johnnie Parson’s Wikipedia page with an interesting story about the trophy.

3.  And of course, a link to Foster’s beer.  Enjoy. 

Post Navigation