New Track Record

IndyCar Blog

Archive for the tag “The Shawshank Redemption”

IndyCar’s street cred

IndyCar’s credibility with sponsors, television, and the media is not, as most would agree, at an all time high.  Ovals are an endangered species; potential title sponsors for races are keeping their checkbooks in their pockets; television ratings are in need of resuscitation; and, if some people are to be believed, the mainstream sports media are cackling as they complete their nefarious conspiracy to relegate the IndyCar Series to the margins of sports entertainment.  What does IndyCar need to do right now?  It is obvious that the series needs some street cred.  It’s time for IndyCar to throw down.

After looking up words in the Urban Dictionary to give this post a “street” flavor, I’ve come to the conclusion that not only can I not use any of those words without sounding hopelessly like an aging hipster, I can’t even use them ironically without sounding like I’m trying too hard.  Sometimes it really stinks to be so Midwestern suburban, yo.  See what I mean.  That’s the last time I throw in any urban argot, I swear.  In any case, IndyCar is beset on all sides by critics and reality.  The only thing to do is fight back.

Mark Miles started the IndyCar response by announcing that IMS would be hosting a road course race, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.  He had on his Breaking Bad Heisenberg pork pie hat throwing up IMS and IndyCar gang signs to the audience saying, “If you ain’t down with a road course at Indy, then you ain’t down with IndyCar, yo.”  Sorry.  I said I wasn’t going to that again.  That’s wack.  Anyway, Miles is doing what he can with what he has. He HAS the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  To have an opportunity to use the facility, make a profit, and be on network television is money in the bank.  Hopefully that interest can be parlayed into more sponsorships and more races.  To many fans of the series, the down side to more races is that it may include more street courses.

While I’m still waiting to see how a hotter-than-the-hinges-of-hell Houston in June race plays out next year, the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston had two things going for it: the names of Shell and Pennzoil in the title.  Any race, no matter where it is run, will be on the schedule if it brings the Benjamins.  Was Benjamins too hipster?  Sometimes the line between hipster and doofus is a little blurry.  In any case, IndyCar can only race where it is wanted, and it is only wanted where there is a chance to make money.  Just like a great athlete trying to come back from an injury, IndyCar has to rehab and train if it wants to compete at the highest level again.  If racing in a parking lot around the Reliant Center in Houston gives the series the exposure it needs to garner interest from Road America and Watkins Glen, then do it.  For the series, money is the name of the game.  And IndyCar needs to get back in the game.  How about that?  Was a The Wire reference to the game street enough without sounding all I’m-trying-too-hard-to-be-hip?

IndyCar really is the most diverse series in the world with its ovals, street courses, and road courses.  This IS the point that IndyCar needs to hang its pork pie hat on.  The series will never again be an all oval or mostly oval series.  That ship has sailed, and the taste of the fans has changed.  IndyCar has a great product for which it needs to find an audience.  An engaged title sponsor for the series, relentless selling by the yet-to-be-hired commercial director for IndyCar, and creative marketing by the series and race promoters are first steps to show television and sponsors that the series is a viable platform for investment.  If more street cred means more street races, I say bring on Providence, Rhode Island in two years.  As Andy Dufresne says in The Shawshank Redemption, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice really.  Get busy living or get busy dying.”  It seems IndyCar has started to make its choice.  And I’m down with that.

Ten Worthless Opinions – The Shawshank Redemption Edition

What better way to preface my WO’s (worthless opinions) than with quotes from one of those movies you always have to stop and watch when you are flipping through the channels.  Here’s this week’s “Ten Worthless Opinions – The Shawshank Redemption Edition”  Let’s see what Red and Andy have to say about IndyCar racing.

1.  “I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.” 

This is Red on his way to meet Andy in Mexico.  If you substitute “Indy” for “Pacific,” you have how it feels to live in central Indiana in May.  For an Indy 500 fan, nothing compares.  You just can’t wait for the track to open.  Of course, if you are regular reader, you know I can’t keep a thought in my head any other time of the year, either.  If you are an IndyCar fan, the last two words sum everything up.

2.  “Andy crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of shit smelling foulness I can’t even imagine, or maybe I just don’t want to. Five hundred yards… that’s the length of five football fields, just shy of half a mile.”  

This is Red talking about Andy’s escape.  Have you ever seen the campground in the Coke Lot?  Have you ever walked down Georgetown the night before the race?  Have you ever been in the third turn infield at Indy?  Were you ever in the real Snake Pit in first turn?  Yep, this is Indy.

3.  “I believe in two things: discipline and the Bible. Here you’ll receive both. Put your trust in the Lord; your ass belongs to me. Welcome to Shawshank.”  

Warden Norton said this to the new prisoners.  Taking away the fact that Norton was completely corrupt, isn’t this what Beaux Barfield has been telling the drivers?  Substitute “rule book” for “Bible” and “IndyCar” for “Shawshank,” and I think you’ve got it.

4.  “I  must admit I didn’t think much of Andy first time I laid eyes on him; looked like a stiff breeze would blow him over. That was my first impression of the man.” 

This comment by Red seems to be how so many people viewed Randy Bernard when he was first hired.  And yes, I’m looking at you Track Forum and Miller’s Mailbag.  Randy’s got some sand.  He is handling the stiff breezes, and the tornadoes, quite well.

5.  “What is your malfunction, you fat barrel of monkey spunk?”

Captain Hadley said this.  I don’t know if A.J. Foyt ever uttered these words to anyone, but he should have.  I can hear that Texas twang now.  It makes me smile just to think about it.

6.  Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

Red’s comment sums up exactly how I feel about the present and future of IndyCar.  I continue to hope, but things like the continuing Lotus saga and the Michael Shank Racing issues keep popping up.  Insane?  Not yet, but give me time.

7.  “I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.” 

Red’s response to Andy playing opera on the prison PA defines the power of music.  At the 500, you don’t have to have a music degree to understand “On the Banks of the Wabash Far Away,” “Back Home Again in Indiana,” “Taps,” or the music of the engines on the first lap.  Those songs and sounds may not make us feel free like they did Red, but they certainly make us feel. [1]

8.  Bad luck, I guess. It floats around. It’s got to land on somebody. It was my turn, that’s all. I was in the path of the tornado. I just didn’t expect the storm would last as long as it has.” 

Andy Dufresne talking here.  This could be either Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, or Dario Franchitti being interviewed after a shunt when there is no one else to blame.  It must be fate, since it can’t be their driving.

9.  “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”  

This is Red again, and I think he makes a valid point about the future of IndyCar.  As fans, we can embrace the past, but we have to stop living in it.  Other than Indy, the series needs to make a new history with new drivers, new cars, and new motors.  This series needs vitality, and that is found in new things.  If IndyCar continues to live in the past, then the series will continue its descent out of the public’s eye.  Get busy, Indycar.

10.  “Sometimes it makes me sad, though… Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.” 

Red describing Andy being gone is how I feel every other month of the year.  May is magical for an Indy 500 fan.  The race is on the horizon, and every day the excitement builds.   The only thing keeping depression from setting in the day after the race is knowing the next race on the schedule is coming up.  The checkered flags and banners on the house are carefully folded and stored for another year.  Life is much more drab and empty.  I miss my friend the 500.

I’m glad Red and Andy took the time to share their thoughts on IndyCar racing with us.  I am sure they would both understand when I say that the night before the 500 is “the longest night of my life.”


1.  Here’s Straight No Chaser, founded at Indiana University, singing “Back Home Again in Indiana.”

Post Navigation