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.