Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thank You

Cyber Monday has come and gone, and now it's time to thank every one who placed an order for one of my T-shirts during the sale. Your business is greatly appreciated.

Didn't place an order, but still want a T-shirt? All of the shirts will be available for order again very, very soon. The bad news is that quantities will be limited. The good news is that immediate shipping will be available!

If you don't see the size/color that you want, or have a suggestion for a different color combination or product, please let me know! I will make an effort to get a run printed up!

Click here to email me!

Back soon with more Indycar stuff, I promise!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cyber Monday Special!

Thanks for visiting! I hope you noticed the t-shirts I have for sale above.

A couple of years back I realized that most of the racing t-shirts out there were uninspired, overpriced, or both. There was very little out there I wanted to drop my own money on. I started thinking about what would make cool shirts-for Indy cars and other things I like. Then it hit me-I should just make the shirts I like. Encouragement and support came from all corners, and I launched my little enterprise this year with a Kickstarter crowd sourcing campaign. I've since added two more shirt designs and can say that I have sales from all over the world!

Each design is my own. I have them printed onto 100% cotton Gildan t-shirts by a small business in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The price point is a very important factor to me. Regular price for each shirt is $20.00. If you're in the USA, that price includes shipping. I pack and ship within a day of receiving the finished shirts from the printer.

With the holiday season and Cyber Monday upon us, I am running a special on all my shirts. $15.00 buys any one of them. Same shirt, same design, same quality, same shipping time, same free shipping-just $5.00 cheaper.

Orders at this price will be taken only through Cyber Monday. If you've thought about ordering but have hesitated to pull the trigger, NOW is the time! If you think they're cool and know someone that might want one-tell him or her! Better yet, order one as a gift!

Thanks again, and I hope to be mailing you a T-shirt soon!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

An Indycar Thanksgiving

In the spirit of positivity and the holidays and love for the Indycar series, I thought I'd share what about the series and the 500 I am thankful for. In the spirit of Hanukkah, which begins Thursday night, this list has 8 things to be thankful for:

  1. Sebastian Bourdais, Tony Kanaan, and Juan Pablo Montoya. At one point or another, it looked like one or more of these guys wouldn't be racing Indy cars in 2014. In Montoya's case, it didn't even occur to us until September or so. Fortunately they all have funded rides and we can look forward to seeing them battling on track next year. By 'battling', I mean Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi, and Jimmy Vasser should order a few extra front wings from Dallara. 
  2. Will Power, Scott Dixon, Justin Wilson, and Simon Pagenaud will be back in 2014. No disrespect to anyone not listed, but these guys had some good momentum going in the final third of 2013. Plus, they'll be on track with the guys mentioned in 1, above.
  3. An Indycar leadership willing to try new ideas-and tinker to make them work. See: Road racing at IMS, Double headers, standing starts, and ending by Labor Day. Even if we don't always agree with the ideas, somebody is doing something-which is much more than a few years ago.
  4. A different, badass-looking race car. Yes, I still like the DW12. 
  5. An entire season of racing, and I can't think of a single one I didn't enjoy watching. The events at Sao Paulo, Indianapolis, and Fontana were classics. Seriously, watch the closing laps at Sao Paulo again. It's worth it.
  6. Another thrilling Indianapolis 500 with another crowd-pleasing winner. That might have been the loudest crowd I've ever heard. 
  7. For that matter, a marquee event that just so happens to be an American institution, a family reunion, a party, and an overall great time. This year I arrived in Indianapolis Thursday night before the race and enjoyed 3 days and 4 nights of racing, friends, food, history, etc. It's worth saving up vacation time and 'Daddy Goodwill' for an entire year. 
  8. One set of informed, intelligent, entertaining TV announcers for the series. St. Petersburg looked like things might get a bit rough for Wally, but everything smoothed out and he, Townsend, and Leigh did a great job for the rest of the season. 
Ok, maybe not the greatest list, but 2013 was overall a great year for Indycar and I'm really, really looking forward to 2014.

Would it be too much to hope for NBC Sports to rebroadcast some races on Thursday afternoon while we digest our turkey?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

An Embarrassment of Riches

With Dario Franchitti's retirement, the talk of the off-season has quickly shifted to "Who will replace him" in the coveted Ganassi/Target #10. If talk stays with 'available' drivers, there's a pretty good list going: Justin Wilson, Josef Newgarden, Oriol Servia, Ryan Briscoe, Alex Tagliani, and Simona de Silvestro. Any one of those would be a great story, but talk has expanded to Formula 1 pilots Paul di Resta and Sergio Perez. With Chip's track record of surprising us with unknown talent, the answer could lie still elsewhere.
Which is kind of disappointing. It's a little disappointing, in fact, every time a talented, worthy driver gets called up to Indycar from the feeder system. Not for him/her, but because some other talented, proven driver continues to go rideless. Recall that guys like Paul Tracy, AJ Allmendinger, Townsend Bell, Bruno Junquiera, and Buddy Rice have sat on the sidelines for most of the past few years (note the Champ Car Champion and Indy 500 winner in that list).

I rush to point out that it's not that I don't think Josef Newgarden, JR Hildebrand, Tristan Vautier, or Carlos Munoz have earned or deserve their drives. I'm just disappointed that someone I've been a fan of for a long time doesn't get the chance to be more successful.

So, Chip, please, pick one of those guys from the first list for the #10.

Though, I suppose if he doesn't, he's just as likely to bring us the next Alex Zanardi or Juan Pablo Montoya. Which would be all right, too.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Farewell and Thank You, Dario Franchitti

We've started to see, and will certainly see more, tributes to Dario Franchitti and his career-but I'm going to add mine, anyway. It's no secret that Dario is probably my favorite driver, but I do have something to get off my chest. Dario betrayed me. I thought he was one of us. I thought I could stand in solidarity with him, that I could be like him when I ran the clippers through my hair. I felt good-cooler in the summer, lower maintenance, looks better with male pattern baldness, and I was like wealthy, movie star-marrying, Ferrari-driving car racer Dario Franchitti. Then came 2009. Turns out Dario didn't have to wear his hear closely cropped. Turns out he's got a full head of hair. Not just a full head of hair: An award-winningly GREAT head of hair. Thanks, Dario. Thanks a lot.
Seriously, Dario Franchitti is one of the greats, even if he doesn't seem to get much respect from the fans. I've seen few drivers make this such a mental game. Even if his car wasn't the fastest, Dario somehow wound up running up front when it counted. When it was the fastest-watch out. I already had him picked to win Indy in 2014. Are his three 500 wins in five races some kind of record?
Two of my favorite memories come from the 2010 season. His performance at Indianapolis was one of the all-time great dominating drives. It sounds boring, but it's actually fascinating to watch performances like that. At one point in the second half of the race, as green-flag pit stops loomed, he pulled out a 7 second lead on the field-that's an entire straightaway at Indianapolis.
A few months later, I attended the race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL. Instead of being a thrill-a-minute pass-fest like races there and at Texas used to be, I noticed pretty quickly that if the leader could hold his car on the bottom of the race track, no one could get by. Dario was running well down in the top 10 when a caution came out in time for the final pit stop cycle. I said out loud (and texted to my buddy The Speedgeek), "Whoever gets off pit road first will win this race." Attention had been focused on Will Power, Marco Andretti, and Ryan Hunter-Reay. But the first car off the jacks was Franchitti's. By forgoing fresh tires and taking on only fuel, the No. 10 car gained 8 positions and the lead. It stayed in control for the rest of the race, and Dario won. (Will Power's stop was slowed by a fuel hose problem, which was compounded when he had to return to the pits for sufficient fuel to finish the race; losing a lap in the process. It was one of those moments when you just knew that the championship momentum had changed hands.)

I felt like Dario Franchitti was very easy to relate to because of his appreciation for racing machines, racing history, and road cars-something I don't sense from a lot of race car drivers (someone, correct me if I'm wrong!). Dario has driven Jim Clark's Lotus and owns a Ferrari F40, and acts as excited about those two as I think I would be!

I can genuinely say that I'm going to miss seeing Dario Franchitti on track.

What will be next for Dario? I'm sure he has his own ideas and his own plans, but I (selfishly) hope he stays visible and involved in the sport. Chip Ganassi's comments make me wonder if he might end up on the scoring stand as a team strategist in the near future. He made at least one appearance in the NBC Sports broadcast booth, and did an outstanding job in his brief time there I (and many others) think he would make an excellent TV analyst. I also think his experience would be useful in Indycar Race Control.

Farewell, Dario! You had a fantastic career that made at least one person love Indycar, its past, present, and future that much more!
Dario Franchitti and Parnelli Jones Receive Baby Borgs at the 2013 Indy 500 Driver's Meeting

Thursday, November 7, 2013

2014 Championship Prediction

I've been doing some thinking lately, and I've come to a conclusion: Will Power will win the 2014 Indycar championship. He came close three years running, and spent most of those dominating the street- and road-course races. At this point in time, all the remaining elements are falling into place. His victory in the 2013 finale was unusual for him-it was on an oval in a 500 mile race-and it was no fluke. He qualified on pole, led the most laps, and won the chaotic race. He called the win the best of his career. His critics have been silenced and, most importantly, he knows that he can take charge and win on the ovals that have bedeviled him up until this point.

In my opinion, it would be foolish to bet against the guy who is probably the best in the field at making up positions, at turning out fast lap after fast lap, and at conserving fuel. Oh, and he's easily the most entertaining to watch on the in-car camera. 

Will Power leaves the pits at Milwaukee, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Won't Let Tom Cruise Ruin My Fun

I realize I'm a little behind the curve, but news came out recently that Tom Cruise has been cast to play Carroll Shelby in a movie version of the book, "Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari and their Battle For Speed and Glory at Le Mans". I only had to read a few of the comments below the story on Racer.com to have my suspicions confirmed-Mr. Cruise is not a popular figure. My take? I think that, as an actor in a movie, he'll probably do fine as a fast-talking Texas tire salesman. I'm willing to give it a shot. I'm just excited that they are talking about making this movie. Which, as the Racer story points out, has yet to be greenlit. Meaning: It (and Tom Cruise) are several years away from the big screen.

The reason I'm excited about the movie is below-it's an edited review of the book I wrote shortly after it was published:

Go Like Hell 
Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle For Speed and Glory at LeMans

By A.J. Baime
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, 2009
304 pages, 20 color and black and white photographs

Numerous books chronicle Ford’s challenge of the Ferrari dominance of LeMans in the 1960s.  Here, the characters take center stage and breathe life into a story usually told in terms of chassis numbers and race results. 
A young and inexperienced Henry Ford II dragged his grandfather’s industrial giant into modernity while Enzo Ferrari built his racing car company into a dominant competitor in the Grand Prix and sports car racing worlds. Often, Ferrari’s dominance came at the expense of racing drivers’ lives. The two companies’ interests appeared to dovetail as American car buyers responded to a massive youth-centered marketing campaign and Ferrari found himself short of funds. When the boardroom maneuvering ended, Ford was humiliated and empty-handed while Ferrari retained solid control of his own company. Ford’s wounded pride launched an all-out assault on sports car racing, with LeMans as the ultimate goal. 
This story tells how Ford’s and Ferrari’s men struggled to design, develop, and race the fastest, most technologically advanced cars in the world.  The stakes were the biggest race in the world, millions of dollars, personal and national pride, and the lives of the participants.  Success at Ferrari required staying alive and in the good graces of the company’s namesake.  The massive corporate entity that was the Ford Motor Company demanded immediate results from its heavy financial and intellectual investment.  Emphasis is on the principle characters, primarily Phil Hill, John Surtees, Carroll Shelby, and Ken Miles.  Technical details are few, but the personalities’ perspectives give a unique take on the story that can be appreciated by the most casual automotive enthusiast.  Both sides produced heroes and compelling stories, presented here in a riveting, thoroughly researched account. 

1966 Ford GT40 Mark II at the IMS Museum

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

2013 In Review: Breakout Star

Looking back on the 2013 Indycar season this week, I realized that among all the breakout stars of this year, one driver and team really stepped up their results: Josef Newgarden and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.
Josef leaving the pits at Milwaukee, 2013
The 2011 Indy Lights champ joined the big series in 2012 with a best result of 11th in his debut race. He finished the season 23rd in points and was a factor to win at Toronto.
In 2013, Newgarden and SFHR finished the season 14th in points-ahead of respected veterans Ed Carpenter, Takuma Sato, and Graham Rahal. He likely would have won in Brazil but for Sato's blocking, and he took a car with failing brakes to second place on the podium in Baltimore. There were 5ths in Brazil, Pocono, and Houston, along with several other top 10s.

Best of all, Josef Newgarden is a great story, the kind Indycar should be going all-out to promote: All-American hometown kid uses his ability to win a championship in a feeder series, then translates that into a multi-season ride with a popular American team owner, and they start producing results. On top of it all is Josef's "Aw Shucks" demeanor-every time I see him on TV, he's so gosh-darn happy to be there! Need any other reasons to be a fan? Oh, yeah, he adopted a poor, cute little homeless kitten out of a shelter after the Baltimore race...

Josef Newgarden: Yet another reason I'm looking forward to 2014

As usual, I'm going to slip in another plug for my Indy car t-shirts, available at the link above. Order now for immediate shipment! Thanks,

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bring on 2014!

Well, that's it. The 2013 season has wrapped up. I'm not even sure where to go with this or what to talk about. There are a lot of topics out there begging for attention (silly season driver changes, manufacturer changes, the 2014 schedule, road racing at The Speedway, etc), but I think I'm going to settle on the immediate:
Scott Dixon is your 2013 Indycar series champion! And I'm happy for that! Scott and Ganassi Racing aren't always easy to cheer for. They are the overdog team and Dixon is the multiple-champion, frequent winner with the demeanor of a dull, boring accountant. He doesn't say much, he doesn't fly off the handle with excitement, he's just not that interesting... Signs like this are an indication to me that I need to take a closer look. Someone with this level of success is probably more interesting than their persona lets on. I read a column after the end of last season where the writer interviewed every Indycar series driver and asked who (besides themselves) was the best driver in the series. Yes, the most popular answer was "Scott Dixon." Here's a guy who is mostly ignored by the fan base, yet has widespread respect (if not adulation) from his peers. So I made it a point to watch him closer and cheer a little louder. What I saw this season was a driver who dug in and did what he had to in order to win the championship. His season started slow (if not as bad as his teammate's), and we all listened to the talk about Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato, and if it would finally be 'the year' for Marco Andretti or Helio Castroneves to get the respect they deserved. RHR and Sato never found consistency, and Andretti's consistency wasn't as good as Helio's. The Target team really hit their stride after an oft-discussed Sebring test and a new Honda engine spec was installed before the Pocono race. Dixon went on a tear, scoring wins when he absolutely had to and outscoring Helio as the season wound down. It was the fun, exciting way to watch a championship. Last night's race at Fontana was the icing on the cake. An exciting race with lots of lead changes, mistakes by strong-running drivers, extreme attrition, and unusual sights (shop vacs and garbage cans had strong roles in the broadcast). Best of all, the two championship contenders kept their cars alive and took the fight to the very, very end.
I went to bed last night feeling good for both Scott Dixon's championship and Will Power's victory. Then I saw a Tweet that said we're only 160 days away from starting it all over again in 2014! I can't wait.

Some observations from 2013 (More may follow in future posts, be warned!):
  • How many wins would James Hinchcliffe have had if his Andretti cars had better reliability? (3 times this year he didn't make it past the 3rd lap)
  • Most impressive drivers of the season: Simon Pagenaud, Justin Wilson, Josef Newgarden, Sebastien Bourdais. 
  • For their impressive reputation, Team Penske sure seems to make a lot of strategy-related mistakes and miscues. 
  • Really disappointed we didn't get a Will Power/Sebastien Bourdais battle to the finish at Fontana. 
  • Am really happy that Bourdais will stay in the series, and that it's not with the most volatile team in the paddock. 

There's more to say, of course, but I think I'll save it for the coming weeks. As usual, the shirt above is available. Hanukkah is early this year! Make sure you order soon enough!

Monday, October 7, 2013

The tide shifts...

First off, housekeeping: preorders are closed for the Racing History Shirt. The modern DW12 shirt is still available, and I can get it to you in time for the Fontana season finale if you order this week!

Next, obviously I hate to see any driver (and fans) hurt, and I wish Dario a speedy recovery. I'll be shocked if he races at California, but I'm really looking forward to seeing him race next year. Of all the active drivers, he is probably the most dominant at Indy (see 2010) and is certainly the most likely next 4-time winner.

Finally, How quickly fortunes change! Tough luck for Helio at Houston, but Scott Dixon was able to capitalize and made this championship exciting! When the TV crew reported Dixon was on the radio screaming about Helio leaking oil, how many of you said, "Sure he is, Scott..."?

More soon. I have to start looking for a local Fontana viewing party!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Foray into Fashion, Mk 3

If you scrolled down to read the body of this post, you no doubt at least scanned the upper part of this page and (hopefully) noticed that I have a new option above. Yes, I've designed a new T-shirt, one that celebrates old-school racing and race cars with four carefully chosen icons.
It's available for pre-order now through October 1, 2013. If there are enough orders at that time, I will take the art to my printer (a local small business!), who should turn around finished shirts in 1-2 weeks, when I will immediately ship them to customers. If I don't receive sufficient pre-orders to go to production, refunds will be issued October 2, 2013.
Bottom line, if you like the design and want to own the shirt, act now! Click the "Preorder" button above to start the process. If you have questions, problems, special requests, or are Paypal-averse, PLEASE email me! Thanks!

As can be seen above, the current modern Indy car shirt in green on gray is still available for immediate shipment. Click the "Buy" button above to purchase.

Thanks again, and watch this space and my Twitter feed for racing talk and more T-shirt news!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

An Old Friend Returns... To Kick Ass!

A text message rattled my phone while I was at work last Monday morning. I was pleasantly surprised to see it was from my close personal friend The Speedgeek. I was shocked to see that it contained the surprise bit of information that Juan Pablo Montoya would be returning to Indycar for Team Penske in 2014. In what may be a first, my Twitter feed was almost exclusively positive comments for the better part of a day. What great news: a great driver gets out of an environment I don't think he ever really fit in and back to where he dazzled us.
Montoya, of course, came to our attention in 1999 when he replaced outgoing double champion Alex Zanardi at Chip Ganassi Racing. I found it odd at the time that the press called him "unknown" when he'd been Formula 3000 champion and a Williams F1 test driver, but ok. Montoya is one of the rare drivers who we knew was one of the Greats from the very beginning. He won in his 3rd CART race (at Long Beach), and would go on to take 7 wins and the championship in his rookie season. Some personal memories of the Montoya Era in open-wheel racing:
The first Indy 500 I attended was in 2000. This also happened to be the year Ganassi became the first CART team to cross over and enter the 500, with Montoya and Jimmy Vasser. Montoya dominated the race, leading the vast majority of the laps. The only time his eventual victory was questioned was late in the race when rain seemed imminent. Ganassi's strategy almost guaranteed that one of his cars would win that day, and when the race hit lap 200, Montoya was leading.
Later that summer, I attended the US500 at Michigan International Speedway (Somebody get this track back on the schedule!!!). Montoya battled with Michael Andretti for the lead in the closing laps of this Handford-era race. At least once, they look to nearly have banged wheels at 230+ mph! Montoya crossed the line ahead of Andretti for what would be his penultimate CART win.
Montoya moved back to Europe in 2001 to race in Formula 1 for Williams, but his recent CART tours made him feel like a hometown hero to us. At one point in the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis late that year, he passed Michael Schumacher for the lead of the race. That would have been reason enough to cheer, but the rows in front of us were full of Colombians supporting their actual hometown hero on. The shouts and the high-fives made that one of my top-5 most joyful moments in race-watching.

I'm really, really looking forward to seeing Montoya race competitive open-wheel cars again. I don't know that he'll win any popularity contests or make many friends on the track, but it will be a lot of fun to watch him!

(Go back to the top of the page and order a shirt while you still can!)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Wow-has it really been 2 weeks since I last posted? Ah, well, it's not like anything interesting happened since- wait, what?
Oh. Both Ganassi cars out? Both Penske cars had problems? High drama. Maybe it's a bit late to make a relevant comment, but it looked to me like Scott Dixon was on his way to snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Until those jaws snapped shut, courtesy of Will Power. (I believe WP when he said he didn't intentionally block or wreck Dixon, by the way. Dixon's rage was perfectly understandable, though.)
Dixon is still second to Helio Castroneves in the points and it's surprising to see Pagenaud and Andretti in 3rd and 4th. Unless Helio runs into a string of bad luck, I'm not sure anyone can catch him. I'm looking forward to watching the rest of the field try at Houston. Which is coming right up in... 3 weeks from this weekend.

Yes, The Manifesto will return.

I've been pushing those shirts you see above all summer long. Well, consider them limited editions with just a few units remaining. So, if you want one, if you've been thinking about one, you should go ahead and click above to order one. The $20.00 includes shipping to you (within the USA), and I usually ship out the day after receiving payment.

In the very near future I'll be introducing a new shirt design that will be sold in a somewhat different manner. I'm really excited about the graphic, so I really hope we can make it a reality, too. A hint: the design moves back towards the 'vintage' end of the spectrum.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What Controversy?

The Indycar world is abuzz about the closing stages of last weekend's race at Sonoma, where Scott Dixon's championship drive took a hit when he was penalized for causing an incident in rival Will Power's pit. I wasn't sure what to think at first, and might have even leaned to the pro-Dixon side. By the time I turned off the broadcast after hearing Beaux Barfield's explanation for the penalty, I was convinced it was the right move.
Dixon drove through part of Power's pit stall, where he made contact with a crewman and/or equipment. That's it, that gets a penalty. Period. Where he drove in prior or later stops is irrelevant. He was in Power's pit stall and hit one of Power's crewmen. Things were kind of vague until Barfield explained where exactly the pit stall boundaries were, but once that was clarified, it was an easy call to make. Power's guy was where he had every right to be, doing what he had every right to do. Dixon got too close and there was an incident. Therefore, the penalty was just and should stand.

For what it's worth, the real 'Dick Move' was Dixon accusing Power's crewman of cheating (i.e. being where he shouldn't have been). Not that I blame Dixon, his emotions were understandably high at the moment. (See! Scott Dixon does have emotions!)

The last few races might just be a bit more fun to watch now that Badass Scott Dixon has a few more points to make up. I'm looking forward to them!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Now There's an Idea...

(Yes, more of the Manifesto is coming. It's just that other news items are cropping up...)

Once again, racer.com is reporting interesting Indycar news. This week, it's that a series of high-paying international races are being considered for the off-season. My opinion is that Indycar should focus on the North American market for several reasons (see the upcoming Manifesto entries for elaboration). However, what is being proposed is apparently something slightly different from what I expected. If international races are run outside the championship (or under a second championship) and during the off-season, they could resolve a few problems. First, money. If the international races pay and the series needs money, then go for it. Second, a half-year off-season. Stay out of the domestic market when football and NASCAR rule it, but keep on the fan's radar. Use the time to build or maintain international fans, make some money, AND keep us die-hard domestic fans happy. I was dead-set against racing outside of North America, but this makes sense. I'm intrigued. It's an example of some new, fresh thinking that we feared was lost with the departure of Randy Bernard. Could it still fail to deliver? Sure, but I'm willing to see where this goes.

Until next time,

(Don't forget about the shirt above-you'll be the envy of all the new global Indycar fans! Thanks!)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Complaining About Speculation

(The Indycar Manifesto series will continue. I just wanted to get this off my chest.)

Last week, Racer.com published an article discussing the state of Indycar's 2014 schedule. Several things stand out in that article, which I'd like to discuss with the fine folks at Indycar:

1. More doubleheaders. Ok, I'm game. Rolling starts, please.

2. Ending the season by Labor Day. Why??? Ok, I guess I can see the argument for it: Unbeatable competition from football and the NASCAR Chase. That doesn't fix a couple other problems. Is it really in the series' best interest to drop off the radar for six months? Going silent-no news, no race coverage, no fan interest for an entire half a year. I wonder how many new fans are lost to these long off-seasons. Do many fans turn to NASCAR and realize they can get a fix anytime they want for 10 months of the year? Do many fans watch football and forget about Indycar, instead of vice versa? Is fear of your competition a wise strategy? Is there some other calculus behind this I'm not aware of?

3. This is the big one. An Indycar race at the IMS road course. Sure, there are practical benefits: No travel for Indy-based teams, a dedicated infrastructure, etc. But I think running Indy cars on the road course can only cheapen the Speedway and the 500. (That point has very nearly been reached already; I'm waiting for the announcement that some cones will be laid out and SCCA autocrosses run on the front stretch Sunday morning, while an NHRA christmas tree has been procured and bracket racing will start on the back stretch next Thursday night.) Stop it. Protect the heritage. Maintain the mystique and keep the 500 special.
Ok, ok, ok. You've looked at the bottom line. You've been a steward of the heritage. You've consulted Donald Davidson. You're running a race on the road course and no one can stop you. All right. I'll yield. I'll stop the kicking and screaming while you drag me into the 21st century. On one condition: Don't run the road course in May! That sounds like the easiest way possible to damage the 500's cachet. Keep May pure. (Even if it is just a fortnight now...) Keep all the events you do, and keep doing them. Build the entire month up to the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. Don't put on another race before then. Don't confuse fans with the Indianapolis 250 Mile Race, or whatever you have in mind.
Since I'm a reasonable person, I'd like to propose a compromise. You get to have your IMS road course race. We get to keep our May pure. You get to build more value into the facility and the season. Run the IMS road course as the season-ender. Crown the champion there. That puts it as far away from the 500 as possible on the schedule-giving you maximum time to promote during the season, and minimum downtime after the season. It also gives you a reason to promote the championship harder-not only at the other events, but with double the opportunities at the 500. Make it a big deal-maybe even a week long. Practice Friday and Saturday, qualify Sunday, spend a week hyping it up, come back for 'Carb Day 2' with the season-ending Lights race the following Saturday, and race on Sunday. Or not. But push it, and stay away from May.

On the upside, there's racing again this weekend! Looking forward to it.
Still have some of the shirts above available for sale. Still on special for $20.00 shipped. Just click on the "Buy Now" button to purchase! Your purchase makes future shirts possible! Thanks!

Until next time,

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Indycar: A Manifesto, Part 1

This is the first of a series of posts about what I think Indycar needs to do in order to grow and thrive. In this entry, I've laid out the problem. Subsequent posts will deal with what should be done about it. I hope you enjoy the reading, and please post your own comments and suggestions!

One of the by-products of Indycar's current niche market/narrow fan base is a sense of ownership felt by the close-knit fan base. Every one feels that he knows what's best for Indycar and what, exactly, should be done to grow the fan base and take the sport back to its former glory. (This was exemplified by the outcry over Randy Bernard's ouster last year. How often does a CEO's firing cause fans to declare en masse that they'll no longer consume said product?) I'm no different. While I understand that I don't own the series, call any shots, or have any say (beyond my race-going and sponsor product-buying dollars), I do have ideas and suggestions.

To begin, the question "How did the sport get into its current state?" must be answered. The easy answer is the 1996 CART/IRL split. I'm of the opinion that the split dealt a crushing blow at exactly the wrong time. The early 1990s saw several things happen nearly simultaneously. First, all of the hugely popular old-time heroes retired for good within a few years of one another: AJ Foyt, Johnny Rutherford, Al Unser Sr, and Mario Andretti. Emerson Fittipaldi and Rick Mears also hung up their helmets in that timeframe. Second, American open-wheel racing became a stepping stone on the way to or from Formula 1: Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet, Christian Fittipaldi, and Jacques Villenueve fall into this category. (For that matter, 12 of 19 CART/Champ Car champions from 1989-2007 had come from would be F1 drivers.) It's hard to market your series and its drivers as the best in the world when they have their eyes elsewhere. Finally, an ascendent NASCAR was gaining serious traction on its march into the mainstream.
Just as open-wheel racing faced these challenges (whether realized or not), it was split into two antagonistic, competing circuits. Overnight, the experienced fan realized that his series was now two, both run by people who appeared to be more concerned with their own bottom line than what the fans wanted. New and would-be fans were faced with confusion that would take at least a 5-minute conversation to even begin to understand the issue. I was able to relate much better after a personal experience: I was a big Formula 1 fan in the late '90s and early '00s. Sunday mornings I would make an effort to wake up early and watch the races. As Ferrari and Michael Schumacher's dominance grew, it became more and more difficult to justify rising early to watch a race where I knew who the winner would be. Eventually, I made the effort only to tune in to see who was on the podium. As my obligations and responsibilities changed, it was easy to allow my Formula 1 enthusiasm to wane to almost nothing. It just wasn't worth the effort with other demands on my time. Since 2003, I've watched only a handful of F1 races. Even when I had more time, I didn't go back to watching full-time. I think 1990s open-wheel fans faced a similar situation: they were given an excuse to turn their attention elsewhere, and they did. They won't be back. Even now, when a former race fan learns of my enthusiasm for Indycar, the almost universal statement is, "yeah, I watched until the split and never got back into it." Why would they now? They have other hobbies and interests that don't threaten to insult them.

Next: Solution #1.

Of course, the shirts above are still available! If you like it, please click the link above and buy one! Your purchase will help make future designs (of which I have a lot I'm excited about) possible! Thanks!

Monday, August 5, 2013

More (Yes, More) Mid-Ohio

It's a New Winner Special! In honor of Charlie Kimball's first victory, my green-and-gray shirts (take a look to your left) are on special for $20.00 for one day only. Shipping is still free within the USA. Be like the cool people and get one!

On that note, I have to again extend special thanks to those who helped fund the effort on Kickstarter, who continue to help, and those who spread the word. If you've Tweeted or ReTweeted or Facebook Shared or Pinterested: Thank you. Special thanks also go out to my lovely wife, to Steve Cunningham, and to Jason Piro (need some design work? Get in touch with him at Piro Graphics).

I don't know about anyone else, but I found Sunday's race at Mid-Ohio fascinating. Most of the big names guessed wrong on the strategy and paid for it, while the guys who went all-out were rewarded. It appeared that most of those big names had planned on minimizing their time on pit road by making only two pit stops. In order to make the fuel economy numbers needed for that strategy to work, those on the 2-stop strategy had to drive conservatively (to put it mildly) the entire race. This usually works out for the conservers, since typical strategy is to minimize time slowing down and being stationary for the pit stops. On Sunday, however, it appeared that the reduced pace those two-stoppers had to run slowed them down to the point where they actually lost time to drivers who made three pit stops, but were able to run all-out for the entire race. I believe the TV announcers said that the total time penalty for a pit stop (in-lap, pit road time, and out-lap) was 24 seconds. That meant that the two-stoppers hoped to save 24 seconds over the three-stoppers. Which sounds good on paper-but it means that they would have to run within 0.267 seconds of the three-stoppers for the entire 90 laps of the race. I believe I heard on TV that the speed gaps were more like 2 seconds per lap... Did the engineers miss the strategy because the Firestones fell off faster than expected? Or did the engines burn more fuel than expected? Either way, the result was a lot of fun to watch.

Being free of cautions helped make this a "Pure Strategy" race. It was entertaining, and maybe it showed a new fan or two how much of a chess game auto racing really is.

Mid-Ohio looked GREAT on TV. Made me miss going there. I wonder how much the look of the track and the broadcast was affected by the relatively late running time? Everything looks more colorful and more dramatic with the sun lower in the sky. I don't recall CART races starting that late there.

I'm happy for Charlie Kimball. I've come away from every interview I've heard with him impressed. He's a great spokesman and a great representative of the sport. I don't think he's gotten a lot of respect the past few years, but that might be changing. 2013 has turned out to be a breakthrough year for him. Plus that Mid-Ohio trophy is cool!

Dario Franchitti's record over the past 4 races is second only to Scott Dixon's. Add a win, a second, and a sixth from Kimball, and it looks like Ganassi is back on top. So long as Chip stays off of pit walls.

Anyone who is ever surprised by Simon Pagenaud's performance hasn't been paying attention. Notice that he's currently an invisible 5th in the championship standings. Which is the same position he finished in the 2013 standings. It's no wonder Penske tried to hire him for 2013.

More later. Enjoy the schedule's off-weeks. Maybe they won't seem so bad if you have a new shirt; one with an Indy car on it! See elsewhere on this page about picking one up!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Other Reading: Trickle, Tagliani, Oriol, and Ohio

Read two great articles today:
It's been 2 months since we lost Dick Trickle, which is something hard to think about. I'm sure this has been sent around the internet a few times today, but the article is very good: Elegy of a Race Car Driver. It seems that every Wisconsin short-track racer has a few Dick Trickle stories. It's a shame that his unlikely name overshadowed his character and his accomplishments. I wonder if I could find another one of those Dick Trickle t-shirts like I had back when I was in high school...

A few days ago I wrote about Alex Tagliani's unfortunate situation. David Malsher at Racer.com has a much more detailed and interesting article about Tag, with some real insight and more reasons to be a fan of his.

In another bit of news about a driver I recently wrote about, Oriol Servia will be back in the Panther racing car at Mid-Ohio. The circumstances surrounding Ryan Briscoe are unfortunate, but I hope Oriol will make a great impression on those team owners looking to make changes this silly season.

I probably wrote it before, but I'm looking forward to Mid-Ohio. I wish I could make it back to attend the race in person, but I'll just have to put it on the list...

Finally, if you like the green and gray Indy race car shirt off to your left, click there to buy it right now!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Alex Tagliani

Disappointing news came through last weekend with the announcement that Alex Tagliani would not be driving the Barracuda Racing Indycar this weekend at Mid-Ohio. 2012 seemed to show what that team was capable of: After struggling with Lotus 'power' through Long Beach, they skipped Brazil and returned at Indianapolis with Honda engines. The rest of the season saw a number of very strong runs: A win at Fontana looked certain until an engine failed in the closing laps.
Alex has been in top level open-wheel competition since 2000, often running up front. In the fallout of the 2008 Champ Car/IRL merger, he was left rideless and raced sporadically in 2009. He failed to qualify for Indianapolis that year, but he ended up driving the car Bruno Junquiera put in the field. In 2010, he put together his own team (FAZZT), which had its share of strong runs-notable in those years of near-absolute red car dominance. In a classy move, FAZZT fielded a car for a lightning-quick Junquiera at Indianapolis. The highlight of 2011 was a pole position at the Centennial Indianapolis 500.
Tag has long been a fan-favorite, and his appearances at the Carb Night Burger Bash in 2012 and 2013 were highlights of those events. With Silly Season in full swing, I hope he lands one of the high-quality rides avaialble and we keep seeing Alex Tagliani at Indycar races!
Alex Tagliani (77) About to Start the 2011 Indy 500 from Pole Position

(I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't direct you to the left side of the page to check out my Indy race car shirt, now available!)

Friday, July 26, 2013

They're Here!!! Get Yours!!!

Today I picked up the first batch of Flat Into One shirts. They are actually the first shirts I've ever designed and had printed. It was thrilling to finally see my ideas on real, actual, wearable t-shirts! This is a project I've worked on since 2011 and have now brought to fruition.

As mentioned back in June, I plan to expand the line to cover my hobbies and interests, but the first item offered for general sale is the modern Indy car in green on a charcoal gray t-shirt. The design is mine, with some suggestions and a bit of cleanup. It was important to me to use a local small business to print on 100% cotton t-shirts. Please note that the $25.00 price includes FREE shipping within the USA (foreign shipping is an additional cost). To purchase one of these shirts (and support at least a couple small businesses!), click the "Buy Now" button on the left. Purchase processing is done through Paypal.

If you have any special needs or suggestions, please let me know. I want to make this successful and depend on customer feedback!

Keep an eye on this space and my Twitter feed for news and updates!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Turbo, Off-weeks, and Something big

First off, go see "Turbo"! I took a 7 year-old, and we had a great time! (Ok, that sounds weird. Yes, it was my 7 year-old!) I'm very picky when it comes to movies, so saying I really liked this one means something. It was a standard kid's movie plot set in a lovingly animated Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with action and strategy respectful of reality (mostly-more on that below), without a hard-sell by Indycar or the product placements. (Yes, they are there, but somehow none of them are as egregious as the Pepsi in "World War Z".) The racing action was explained, but not overly so, and nothing got in the way of enjoying the story of a snail racing in the Indy 500. Which is ridiculous, but the film had the good sense to make the ridiculousness a key plot point. Perhaps the most far-fetched part of the movie was where an Indycar official actually listened to fan demand...
But seriously, it was great fun. Even if I'd have a hard time not enjoying a movie with the Speedway and a hobby shop as two of its settings...

Second, it's been a hectic few weeks. It's going to be nice to sit down in front of the TV for a couple of hours and watch Mid-Ohio in just over a week. Scott Dixon has made the championship interesting, stepping up just as Ryan Hunter-Reay has had a few bad weeks. I'm looking forward to Dario Franchitti, Graham Rahal, and Sebastian Bourdais turning their seasons around.
I just realized it's been 10 years since I saw an open-wheel race at Mid-Ohio. I miss going there. It was a not-too-bad 3 hour drive from home; down in the morning and back in the evening. The track is compact enough to walk around a time or two during the course of a race, and has a number of great places to sit and watch. I recommend going if you have the chance.

Finally, a few weeks back I talked about my Kickstarter campaign, and my reasons for it. Well, the campaign was a success. That means that my backers will be getting exclusive roadster shirts. It also means that another batch of shirts is being printed up with a design like this:
Watch this space for the chance to order one! There will be a post soon formally announcing its availability, and plans for the future.

Thanks for checking in! Until next time,

Monday, July 15, 2013

I Don't Like Standing Starts. And Other Stuff.

The first thing to say about this past weekend's Toronto doubleheader was that Brian Barnhart was back as race director while Beaux Barfield was unavailable. My first question is, why??? I spent much of 2011 railing on Barnhart and his vague, inconsistent, nonsensical, and just plain crazy calls. They, in my opinion, did damage to the sport and held it back. This weekend had it all: Blocks that weren't called, blocks that were called, blocks that weren't called but then were called but wait I guess they're not called, leaders jumping restarts, 'double file' restarts that weren't, and so on. I'm not going to say that Barfield is perfect or that I agree with every single call (or non-call) he's made, but he's far better than Barnhart.

One big news item from this weekend was the implementation of standing starts, at least for one of the races. That didn't go so well... Actually, it went exactly according to the protocol published several days before the race. It was just a letdown that the big, hyped event didn't happen for a technical reason (Newgarden's car). In one of the few cases when changing rules mid-stream made sense, Indycar elected to try again for a standing start on Sunday, which went off without trouble. Well, except for Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe. But that brings me to my point.

Are standing starts good for Indycar? I say "no." And I'm not just trying to be contrary. Part of my Grand Philosophy, my Manifesto, for Indycar is that it needs to distance itself from that other big open-wheel racing series. Yes, yes, yes, we racing nerds can lecture at length about how different Formula 1 and Indycar are; how the cars are different and the teams are different and the races are different-but none of that means a thing when it comes to the general public. All they see are funny-looking cars. To them, a current Formula 1 car is indistinguishable from a DW12, which is indistinguishable from a 1986 March, which is indistinguishable from a 1974 McLaren. Indycar needs to carve out its own brand and identity, so that no one ever uses the phrase "those F1s" while referring to Indy cars again. (And that person was a car guy!) This is the biggest reason I was Delta Wing Superfan #1, and why I'm a fan of the current cars and their rear wheel fairings and guards, and of the current Super Speedway rear wing package. Anyway, Formula 1 does standing starts. It's one of the hallmarks of that kind of racing. I don't believe Indycar should use them just because F1 does. Instead, let's make the rolling start an Indycar hallmark. In fact, didn't they used to refer to the start of the Indianapolis 500 as "The Worlds Fastest Flying Start"? Isn't that one of the most dramatic moments of the year? (At least since Brian Barnhart hasn't been in charge...) I don't believe a rolling start on a street course, road course, oval, or anywhere, is at all lacking in drama or excitement. In fact, I'd suggest that fans watching near the start/finish line are treated to a more exciting moment in a rolling start-the cars are moving faster, accelerating faster, and the entrance to the first turn will be that much more exciting.

In other news, the promotional shirts from my Kickstarter will be in production soon. Here's a sneak preview of what's coming:

Monday, July 8, 2013


Thank you, Everyone! My Kickstarter has been successfully funded! That means that my generous and supportive backers will be receiving t-shirts featuring the roadster graphic above. I hope that this is the start of something big for me and Flat Into One, and I can't wait to share it with my readers!
Funding the above shirt also means that I'll be introducing a second shirt for general sale here in the next few weeks. As they say, Watch This Space (and my Twitter, @FlatIntoOne).

Oh yeah, there was a race this weekend... A great one. Pocono is a fantastic place for the Indycar series to race. It's now high on the list of 'events I'd like to attend.' I was glad to see the Hondas' superior fuel economy finally come into play on an oval. (The Hondas could go further on fuel at Indianapolis than the Chevrolets, but were never able to use that to their advantage.) Dixon's victory was another example of strategy going right for the Ganassi team, which we haven't seen much of this year.

In contrast to everything going right for Ganassi, everything seemed to go wrong for the Andretti cars. James Hinchcliffe crashed by himself on the first lap, Ryan Hunter-Reay was clobbered by Takuma Sato (looking like his old self) on pit lane, and Marco Andretti was forced to save fuel, running out after the checkered flag, but before returning to his pit. His post-race interview was given indoors with sunglasses on, and he dashed off as quickly as possible afterwards. It's hard to cheer for a guy who seems annoyed all the time, and who sounds at times like he believes he's entitled to win races...

Anyway, I'm a little sad to see this stretch of oval-track races end, but if this season continues as it has, the coming road and street courses will make that sadness disappear quickly.

Speaking of which, Toronto is looking very wet right about now. Here's hoping everyone there is ok.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Pocono is here/One more push!

Good morning Race Fans! The Pocono 400-miler starts in a couple of hours, and I'm pretty excited. I bet it's going to be a good race, with Indy-like turns, long straights, and one super-wide front stretch. I'm afraid it might be another Andretti/Chevrolet beat-down, even though there were 3 Hondas in the top 5 of final practice. (See also: Carb Day at Indy this year).

Looking for a cool t-shirt of a classic Indy roadster? See the design at the top of the page... That design, in those colors (without the lettering!), is available for just two more days! Click here to make it happen through Kickstarter!
This T-shirt is the beginning of an enterprise I'm very excited about! It is about to accomplish some personal and professional goals I didn't even know were possible a short time ago. The future looks very exciting, and I hope you can enjoy it with me!
Take a look at the link above and let me know in the comments what my next shirt should be,

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Why Oriol Servia Should Be a Superstar

One of the most frustrating parts of being a fan of a series as deep as Indycar is seeing all the talented, experienced, and proven drivers who are relegated to the sidelines. One of my favorite drivers is Oriol Servia, who recently found himself out of work when Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing ceased operations after Indianapolis-a victim of lack of sponsorship.
While he has filled in part-time after Panther Racing let JR Hildebrand go, I think Oriol deserves a full-time ride in the Indycar series. A look back on his career shows a knack for getting great results even in underdog situations:

He scored podiums and top 5s while driving for PPI Motorsports, Sigma Autosport, and PWR in the hyper-competitive 2000-2002 CART seasons. For the rest of the decade, he was a fixture in the top 5, highlighted in 2005 by a win at Montreal and 2nd place in the championship.
In the 2008 season of the united IRL series, he was again a regular visitor to the top 5 while driving for KV, but was unemployed at the start of 2009. He impressed at Indianapolis that year driving for Rahal, but his march to the front was ended by an electrical problem that put him out around the halfway point.
Oriol returned to Newman-Haas for four races at the end of 2009-which produced finishes of 11th, 6th, 7th, and 4th. Unfortunately, he wouldn't compete in Indycar again until 2011, when he ran the entire season for Newman-Haas. The 2005 win excepted, this might be the high point of his career: Three podium finishes, including a 3rd at Milwaukee and a 2nd at Baltimore. He was the first to take the checkered flag at New Hampshire, but the appeals surrounding that infamous officiating fiasco ended with the win in another driver's hands. At the end of 2011, he had finished 4th in points, beating a list of rivals that included Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Tony Kanaan.
2012 looked full of promise, but Newman-Haas shut down before the season began. Oriol landed at Dreyer & Reinbold, where he made the best of the boat anchor Lotus engine. After switching to Chevrolet power and teaming up with Panther, he scored a shocking 4th place finish at Indy, and backed that up with several more top 5s. 2013 hasn't gone as well, splitting seat time with Ryan Briscoe in the Panther entry since Indy.

Servia's good results almost always seem like a surprise at the end of the race. He spends most of the running distance mid-pack, adjusting the car and strategy until he's in position when it counts. It's always fun to keep an eye on him throughout the race and watch him quietly move up through the field. That's what he did at Indy this year, spending much of the race making progress through the bottom half of the top 10. My race-watching companion commented, "He's running a very Oriol Servia race."

In the "relatability" category, his engineering education (rare in race drivers) is something I can identify with. If I had the opportunity to talk to a driver about the technical aspects of the sport, he'd be my first choice.

Finally, Servia is one of the few drivers who seems to have a brand for himself. His helmet incorporates the Spanish flag and his countryman Salvador Dali's art. It's frustrating that none of the merchandise available utilizes any of this. If it were geared more toward the driver and his own personality instead of just slapping his name and the number '22' on the shirts and hats, I'd be more inclined to pick some up. (Which is part of the reason I want to make my own-see my Kickstarter for more details and a chance to play a part!)

Oriol Servia is a great driver with a proven track record, and I'm mystified as to why he doesn't have a full-time ride. Hopefully that will be rectified soon.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Some Random Comments

 Belated congratulations are in order for Indycar for holding a great event at the Milwaukee Mile. There was a lot of advertising (billboards, radio spots, etc) in the months leading up to the race-something that can't be said for past years. Ticket prices are good. My south terrace seat was $35. I'm sure the higher rows in the main grandstand are better, but for someone on a limited budget, I'm 100% happy with my seats. The infield carnival is a great idea. More activities for more fans. I wasted no time getting to my car after Ryan Hunter-Reay's victory donuts, but I was still surprised at how quickly I got onto the highway and got back home.

After their performances at Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Iowa, I'm concerned how dominant the Andretti cars will be at the season's remaining oval races. The upcoming road course season should be interesting, too. Looking back on the 6 road course races in the book for 2013, three were won by Honda-powered cars. Hopefully that parity will return shortly.

This season has seen wins by the Foyt, KV, Coyne, and Schmidt teams. Think about that for a minute. It wasn't that long ago that the Penske/Ganassi juggernaut dominated absolutely. Those two teams combined for all but one win in 2009, for example.

The next Indycar race will be held July 7th at Pocono. That sounds pretty strange at first blush. Cursory research reveals, however, that I only have my youth to blame. Indy cars ran there from 1971 through 1989, conveniently running the last race right before I became a hardcore race fan. In the intervening years, Pocono has always stuck in my mind as that strange triangle track where the drivers actually shift going down the main straightaway. The fact that it seemed nearly invisible made it more strange-I believe the June Cup race was one of the last to be regularly shown live every season, plus summer months = less time to watch 4 hours of racing every weekend...

It actually makes a lot of sense to run Indy cars at Pocono. It has long straightaways, three dissimilar turns, little banking, and a massively wide front stretch. It's like Indianapolis. If Indianapolis had only 3 turns, had a super-wide straightaway (how wide is it, exactly? Google wasn't forthcoming with an answer for me), and was in the middle of nowhere. Um, Ok, so Pocono is its own animal. Which is good. Its features (like Indianapolis') might not be conducive to great stock car racing, but they should be perfect for Indy cars.

In any event, keep watching this spot! And please check out my Kickstarter for something racing-related!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It's Time

One day in May some time back, while daydreaming about the Indy 500, I started a search. I looked everywhere I could think of and put Google to the test. I never found what I was looking for: Cool racing shirts. I found a few, and I found some that were 'OK', but nothing that made me excited to spend $25 plus tax, plus shipping, etc. Several ideas came to mind that I thought would make cool shirts-the kind of stuff I would actually buy. Interesting, thoughtful designs. Rejection of the existing race shirt conventions. Celebration of what racing is. Recognition of racing's heritage.

Then it hit me. Why shouldn't I design shirts? And have them made? Surely I can't be the only one looking for this kind of thing. I reached out to friends and professional graphic artists and got some validation for my thinking. Then I started working on designs and the technical questions that came up. Finally, now, my ideas are coming to life.

I decided to begin the project with a Kickstarter campaign. Click the link to back the Flat Into One project. See the site for details, but basically if you back my project you will get a t-shirt of the above image (well, a larger, higher-resolution, cleaner version of that image). This color combination will be available only to my Kickstarter supporters.

Other shirts will follow in the near future. There will be shirts with themes for what I'm interested in: Racing, race cars, modern race cars, vintage race cars, technology, tools, photography, model cars, and so on.

I am very, very excited about this enterprise and the possibilities it holds. If you are, too, please contribute to the Kickstarter campaign linked above, and spread the word to anyone else who might like what I have to offer.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Accidentally Changing the World. For the Better.

The current Indycar is basically a spec formula. Dallara produces every chassis and every part of that chassis, and each team is required to buy and run it. Yes, there are multiple engine manufacturers, but I would imagine that they weigh nearly the same and produce nearly the same amount of power.
Historically, this is a recipe for dreadfully boring racing. The 2012 and 2013 Indycar seasons, however, have given us something different. Very different. The 4 tracks the 2013 season started out on were a street course, a natural road course designed for motorcycles (i.e., it's narrow), a street course, and a street course. Every one of those races was interesting, if not just plain great. Even the Detroit Belle Isle street circuit doubleheaders were good races. But why, when before 2012 seeing another street circuit coming up was reason to groan, were these races so good?

These races have been so good because Indycar has changed the nature of top-tier professional racing. A team's performance on any given weekend depends on several factors: The driver, chassis setup, fuel/tire strategy, and race tactics. The most important factor is the one not mentioned: The equipment. Every team uses an identical Dallara chassis and either a Honda or a Chevrolet engine. That's it. No individual engine calibrations, no trick suspension components, no proprietary aerodynamic packages. Driver performance and chassis setup are the same factors they have always been. Different ways to swing the hammer, so to speak. Things get interesting when the other factors come into play. I'm thinking in particular of the Option tires and of Push-to-Pass. I'm the first person to speak up about the "purity of racing" and to decry such artificiality as a video game gimmick-but I think I've changed my mind. Push-to-Pass and the Option tires have taken racing from the manufacturers, designers, and engineers and given it to the drivers, teams, and strategists. No longer is racing an (extremely expensive) engineering contest, but a game-a sport!-with strategy and tactics and courage and spirit played by teams. Teams that must manage resources, execute strategy, and rely on every member to step up when the time comes in order to win.

I never would have guessed, but it appears to be the way forward for Indycar. Elevate the heroes-both in and out of the cars, and celebrate the different paths they can take to Victory Lane.

The danger still exists for a team with deep pockets to exploit its advantages and find a way to make the base car outperform the other teams'. I believe Indycar has baked a solution to this issue with the upcoming aero kits... But that's for a future blog...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Go See a Race!

Five of my favorite hours of the entire year come during the two Indycar races I attend annually. It feels good to settle into a seat (er, balance on the edge of a bleacher) and watch a race unfold. The sights, sounds, smells, and general experience are nothing like one gets on TV. A modern race-watching experience usually includes video boards and scoring towers that convey most of the information the coverage is good for. Television universally, however, misses and flattens out the real experience. Just how long does the backstretch at Indianapolis look? How busy are two dozen drivers on a flat 1-mile oval? How fast does a car slow down to negotiate the esses at Mid-Ohio?
I've given up trying to do basically anything on my phone during a race (if you know who you are, sorry... I didn't want to miss anything...), but my stopwatch and camera are always at ready. I spent the final couple of stints at Milwaukee timing Will Power's deficit, and got a lot of good (for my skills, anyway) pit stop photos. Anyway, it will be a long wait until Indianapolis next year, when I plan to be at my next Indycar race...

In any event, maybe the most fun part of actually going to races is meeting and hanging out with all those friends I seldom see any other time. To everyone I met up with at Indianapolis and Milwaukee, Thanks and I'm looking forward to next year!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

It's May... Time for Rambling Nostalgia

Three road and street course races into the season, and Will Power has yet to finish on the podium, much less win. In fact, neither Penske nor Ganassi cars have scored a win yet this year. Takuma Sato won in a Foyt car. What im trying to say is... it's shaping up to be an unusual season. Even the teams that have done well have been less than consistent. 
I guess we'll probably start to see some patterns this weekend at Sao Paulo (like RHR's pole...)-Just in time to shake everything up at Indianapolis. 
The hectic schedule of this month has me struggling to keep up-outdoor work in what's still 'Early Spring' here in the Midwest, kids' activities, daily hours of BOTH Trackside AND Talk of Gasoline Alley... I guess it's a part of the changing seasons as anything else: A week from now, the Speedway will open for practice. One week after that will see the two most exciting qualifying events in racing. Then things really get going as the 33 starters are dispatched to national media to talk up the race in the week leading up to it. All the while, we're getting daily hours of "Trackside" AND "Talk of Gasoline Alley". 
I'll be keeping an eye on speeds, times, and news all along, but things will really start for me on qualifying weekend. There will likely be dozens of texts sent between my friends and I over the course of the weekend. I like to watch the showdown for the pole on Saturday afternoon, and the last hour or so of Bump Day. By the time the gun fires on Sunday afternoon, I'm making packing lists, double-checking driving routes, and planning to gently remind my boss that I'll be out of the office on Friday... I hope I can keep the same schedule as last year and arrive in time for at least some of the Carb Day activities. Then it's two and a half solid days of friends, history, and racing. 
Whew. First, let's concentrate on Brazil. Then maybe I can start packing that bag...
Watch this space for some actual commenting and analysis in the next few days. There are a lot of things brewing (and I'm sure a lot of announcements coming) that I'd like to weigh in on. Until then,

Monday, March 25, 2013

And 2013 Begins...

 (Note to readers: This post was written last Saturday, but software troubles kept me from uploading it until now. Sorry...)
The 2013 season opens tomorrow at St Petersburg. It's about time. The 6-month off-season gave plenty of time for us to forget about the greatness that was 2012's on-track action while simmering over questionable Indycar management decisions. 
It's really a topic for another blog post, but the environment exposed by randy bernard's firing went a long way towards disinteresting me in the remainder of the off-season. That's not something the sport's leadership should allow to happen, but I'll get into that at another time. For now, there's a racing season to get started! 
Some hopes and predictions for the months ahead:
1. Ryan Hunter-Reay will continue to be the threat he was in his championship 2012 season. I'm not sure he'd my pick to repeat with Will Power in the field, but he'll be a factor.
2. Alex Tagliani was a guy I always liked and someone who was fun to pull for, but I was beginning to lose faith. Until Bryan Herta Autosport got Honda engines several races into 2012. Tag ran up front consistently and was the car to beat in at least two races. I hope he continues to prove me wrong in 2013.
3. The guy with the quietest best results in 2011 and 2012 was Oriol Servia. I'm a fan of his for several reasons, but his ability to make the Lotus look fast early last year and his habit of sneaking into the top 5 mid-season and later are two of them. I'll be really, really happy if he wins a race or two in 2013. 
4. 500-mile races. Even if Indy isn't always the best race of the year, it's usually the most interesting, simply because 500 miles is long enough to watch multiple strategies develop and play out. Now there are two, plus a 400-miler. Include a car as racy as the dw12 and we have race geek nirvana. 
5. Double headers. I'm skeptical of this idea for several reasons, but it's an attempt at doing something different and stoking interest. The guy who implemented it certainly has a long career ahead of him in the series... Er, never mind...