Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Auto Club Speedway's President Gillian Zucker Talks All Things ACS

Auto Club Speedway’s President Gillian Zucker shares a moment with Penske Racing’s Helio Castroneves during a media PR stop with the LA Galaxy at StubHub Center, Carson, California. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

Auto Club Speedway's President Gillian Zucker Talks All Things ACS

For those of you who may not be familiar with folks who run and manage racetrack venues, Auto Club Speedway President Gillian Zucker is the first female president of a track that hosts auto racing’s most popular event, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and was recently named by FOX Sports and MSN as one of the top five most powerful women in motorsports.

The Verizon IndyCar Series will be holding their third championship season ending, double points paying, 500 mile race at Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, with the MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships - this coming weekend, ending at night, under the lights, Saturday, August 30.

Gillian Zucker, Welcome ...

Gillian Zucker, Auto Club Speedway with IndyCar driver Helio Castroneves and players from LA Galaxy promote the MAVTV 500, August 30, 2014. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)




INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:

1) First off, what training and background does one have to have to become a person to occupy a position as president of a major racing facility? What road did you travel to get at this point?

2) Just what was the interest in this challenge - are you a fan? a good business manager, both?

3) In this economic climate ... what are the challenges to drawing fans from the greater Los Angeles/Orange County basin for NASCAR and IndyCar?

4) There are other forms of racing held at Auto Club Speedway - for example, most people seem to think the only drag-racing that takes place in the greater Los Angeles/Orange County basin is another Auto Club sponsored facility in Pomona, but there are actually a couple more ... and Auto Club Speedway is one. Please tell us more about the drag-racing program at Auto Club Speedway's Auto Club Dragway - how professional is the activity?

5) Another program at Auto Club Speedway is a bit more fan interactive - Exotics Racing gives one the opportunity to drive their choice of exotic super cars on a race track with 1-on-1 coaching from driving instructors! How has the Ëxotics Racing¨venture worked out so far?

6) The facility at Auto Club Speedway has a large infield, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the Indy 500 is held, has successfully transformed its infield into a very compelling road course race track reminiscent of the layout pace found at the track in Portland Oregon ... is Auto Club Speedway planning on attracting professional sport-car racing through a road course addition as IMS has done?

7) The IndyCar competitors resoundingly enjoy testing and racing at Auto Club Speedway but for 2015, the series management is considering different options for a venue to hold the season finale ... given the banter in the broadcast booth during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma -

Do you see the Verizon IndyCar Series remaining on the calendar as the season finale? ... or any date, for the foreseeable future?

8) Lastly, what do fans need to be on the look out for while attending MAVTV 500 INDYCAR World Championships - this coming weekend?

TICKETS >>>
ENDS

... notes from The EDJE


Post Script:
This was written by Tony DiZinno at NBC Sports Network - Aug 27, 2014, 1:23 AM EDT - about the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season schedule where ACS President Gillian Zucker states what she said in the interview above at ... notes from The EDJE:

Lastly we come to Fontana, to come full circle from where this post began nearly 900 words ago. Frankly, and despite a strong and committed level of promotion from Auto Club Speedway, ISC, and track president Gillian Zucker, INDYCAR has done ACS zero favors in terms of a consistent date for date equity since its return to the calendar after a seven-year absence.

Yeah, it’s been the last date of the season for three years. But that last date has been September 15, 2012, October 19, 2013 and now August 30, 2014 in three consecutive seasons. How can most locals know when the race is if it changes on them three straight years?

This year, Zucker has justifiably spoken out, confirming to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin that a Labor Day date – one Miles has held firm the IndyCar Series needs to end by – won’t work for the track. It’s going to be a challenge because the NBCSN race telecast doesn’t start until 9 p.m. ET Saturday night, with the race scheduled to start at 7:20 p.m. local time (10:20 p.m. ET).

So suddenly one of the big things we have to watch this weekend is how Fontana deals with the date, and what could happen about its date changing again for the following season.

Essentially, here’s where we’re at for the IndyCar 2015 schedule.

Confirmed dates, as announced either by the track or series include:

March 16-17, Barber open test, March 29, St. Petersburg, April 19, Long Beach, May 9, Grand Prix of Indianapolis, May 16-17, Indianapolis 500 Qualifying, May 24, Indianapolis 500, May 30-31, Detroit Belle Isle, June 6, Texas Motor Speedway

Likely dates, based on projections and similar weekends as in 2014:

June 20, Iowa, August 2, Mid-Ohio, August 23, Milwaukee, August 30, Sonoma

Question marks, where the date or venue could change:

Barber (should be either side of Long Beach in April), Houston (currently last weekend in June, not yet confirmed for same date in 2015), Pocono (possible from either last weekend in June through second weekend in July), Toronto (as mentioned above, neither venue nor date is confirmed), Fontana (date TBD; we’ll see how this week shakes out)

Wild cards, either new venues and/or the proposed international races:

Canada’s date du jour. Assume the Canadian Grand Prix occurs June 7, and with IndyCar at Texas June 6, that potential Toronto-Montreal date conflict is averted. Either late June or one of the July weekends could work for a CTMP, Mont-Tremblant or other random Canadian venue date. Toronto’s streets could work June 13, potentially, but that seems a likely off weekend.

New Orleans is possible for 2015 – Michael Andretti’s group seemed keen on it happening next year during his Milwaukee pre-race media availability.

The two locations mooted for the spring international races, likely in February or early March, are Dubai and Brazil. Details on those would need to be forthcoming, but they wouldn’t feature the new-for-2015 aero kits as they’re not delivered to teams until March 1. Of course, we’ve been down the “international race” path before without it actually going anywhere.

Road America. As mentioned above, unlikely for 2015, but we can dream, right?


Friday, August 22, 2014

Ed Carpenter Talks MAVTv500, ECR Team Performance, & CFH Racing 2015

Ed Carpentet - Driver, Team Owner, Oval Track Specialist. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)
Ed Carpenter - Driver, Team Owner, Oval Track Specialist. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)


Ed Carpenter Talks MAVTv500, ECR Team Performance, & CFH Racing 2015

Ed Carpenter has been racing since he was 8 years old and balanced racing and education throughout much of his career. Carpenter graduated from Butler University with a degree in Marketing in 2003, a few weeks before he won the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Carpenter always has been interested in things with engines.

Carpenter started Ed Carpenter Racing for the 2012 season and is the lone team owner/driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He is driving in the oval races for 2014, while Mike Conway is driving the street and road courses. In their second event together, Conway won the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

This past weekend in Milwaukee Ed Carpenter finished in the top 10. Carpenter is successful at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. He won ACS's 2012 MAVTV 500 INDYCAR Race. Last year, he came in 2nd for ACS's 2013 MAVTV 500 INDYCAR race (lost to Will Power). He also won the pole position for back-to-back INDY 500 races - May 2013 & 2014. As an INDYCAR driver and team owner ... over last weekend, he announced that that his team (Ed Carpenter Racing) is merging with Sarah Fisher Hartman racing for the 2015 season.

As we go into the final two races of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series (VICS) championship season, Ed Carpenter answers a few questions and expresses his hope that Ed Carpenter Racing team ends the VICS season in the Top 5 in points accumulated.

One and a half weeks before the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season finale MAVTv500 race at the AutoClub Speedway, Ed Carpenter attends a USC Football practice and attempts a Field Goal. Image Credit: Albert Wong (2014)
One and a half weeks before the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season finale MAVTv500 race at the AutoClub Speedway, Ed Carpenter attends a USC Football practice and attempts a Field Goal. Image Credit: Albert Wong (2014)

Interview Questions:


(1) This year has been a pretty good year for Ed Carpenter Racing if one looks at the points the Fuzzy's Vodka DW12 has been able to post up with only 2 races left - Mike Conway's road course at Sonoma and Your Auto Club Speedway's super oval. The two of you are ranked right next to each other - Mike Conway is sitting at P22 and you are at P23 ... but the car's total points have the effort ahead of 3 out of 4 drivers on the two 4 car teams - Ganassi and Andretti - at P7 with 1 Pole and 3 wins.

A) Has this unusual team mix of specialists delivered the results that you expected? B) Has this mix of fielding a car with specialists for a season been done before?

(2) How do you see the team/car finishing the season with these two races that are left? - First, Mike Conway's road course at Sonoma and Second, Your Auto Club Speedway's super oval performance.

Last weekend, before the race was held in Milwaukee, the announcement came out that Sarah Fisher Racing, a team you use to race for and Ed Carpenter Racing were going to merge to compete in the 2015 season and form a 2-car team.

(3) With announced merger forming CFH Racing, what do you see as the advantage in a multiple car team over your present one car/two driver efforts which are impressive on their own? (4) Did the use of the new aerodynamic kit packages for 2015 enter into your decision to merge and grow the team? (answered in context of previous question - skipped)

(5) Does this merger forming CFH Racing allow your current sponsor Fuzzy´s Vodka to gain more exposure?

(6) Do you see the multi-car teams having an advantage in this area of sponsorship and racing platform changes?

(7) Sarah Fisher's driver, Joesef Newgarden seems to be becoming a hot commodity right now in the paddock. Do you intend to try and retain Joesef Newgarden as a driver on this new 2-car team?

(8) Will you continue with the 2-driver line up in one DW12 with Mike Conway taking up duty on the road courses as part of this 2-car team? ... or will you eventually join Sarah in a team management role?
ENDS

MAVTv500 Tickets >>>

... notes from The EDJE

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Spoken word documentary "Racing Through the Forest" at Pebble Beach delivers a 'Must See'

Crowd of motor culture enthusiasts gather to see the premiere screening of “Racing Through the Forest – The History of the 1950-56 Pebble Beach Road Races”. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

Spoken word documentary "Racing Through the Forest" at Pebble Beach delivers a 'Must See'

Boxes that contain photographs arranged in albums (not just images) of times shared in a lifetime are nothing more than just books with photos. It takes other humans who have courage, patience, acumen, and heart to attempt to capture context and tales associated with the lives and times of a bygone era so important to our modern day motor culture ... here, and throughout the world.

Race car driver, Rick Knoop is one such person who, with the support and talents of film-maker Dean Kirkland, Rick's wife Cydette Vikander Knoop, and the rest of the organization at K&K Productions, who stepped up to the challenge to bring forward the stories behind the images stored in book placed in a box then conducted and edited over 50 interviews, 100's of photos, and archive film into one 1 hour 16 minutes piece of informative movie entertainment.

Fred 'Frosty' Knoop as he appeared during an interview in the film presentation of "Racing Through the Forest" at Spanish Bay. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

For those who may have been unfamiliar with Rick,  he is the son of Fred 'Frosty' Knoop who also happened to be a driver of sport cars while ranching, raising and judging horses in Northern California. Rick came by his skill through his DNA, in that Frosty raced sport cars in the formative years of modern road racing through the woods of the Monterey Peninsula.

For Rick's contribution to motor culture, as a driver, Rick consistently won and placed in the world’s most challenging and prestigious sports car races that include his victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans to winning at Daytona.

Rick Knoop as he winds up the V8 engine of the 1972 Can Am McLaren M8F on the front straight of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca during the 2014 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. Image Credit: Thomas Stahler (2014)


Today, Rick still straps on his similarly colored Bruno Junqueira helmet (or should this be stated the other way around) in an effort to keep alive race cars from past series so that the memory of these engineering marvels never fades.




Here, Rick moves from a qualifying position of 11 to finish on the podium in P3 at the 2014 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.


Movie Poster - Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

 This excerpted and edited from KSBW.com -

Pebble Beach race track remembered in 'Racing Through The Forest'
By Amy Larson - Aug 15, 2014 - UPDATED 11:48 AM PDT

"Racing Through The Forest," which premiered at The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach on Wednesday during Monterey auto week. 

The film revealed never-before-seen footage of the Pebble Beach Road Races, held from 1950-1956.

Before there was Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, young brilliant mechanics in California who had dreams of becoming race car drivers wanted to compete in their Jaguars, Ferraris, MGs, and Alfa Romeos, and they needed a place to race.

Photo of the track shown in the film presentation of "Racing Through the Forest" at Spanish Bay. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

They chose 17 Mile Drive to be their dangerous track.

The public road had sharp turns and dramatic elevation drops. Del Monte Forest's dense pine trees lined the road and created a strobe light effect. Dark shadows from the trees sharply contrasted against a bright white sky, and the visual effect distracted drivers.
----
The 1950s is now considered the romantic time of American racing, before the sport became a business for car manufacturers and competition between athletes for sponsors. The Pebble Beach Road Race's entry fee was $15, and drivers were only semi-professional because sports car racing was just being born in America.

Graphic of the original track layout as shown in the film presentation of "Racing Through the Forest" at Spanish Bay. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

Each race, the men behind the wheel got better, the pits become more innovative with designs, and some drivers went on to become world champions (In 1961, Phil Hill became the first American to win the Formula One World Drivers' Championship. Carroll Shelby went on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959 and design Shelby Cobra and Shelby Ford Mustangs).
----
Crowds of fans were nine-people deep along some parts of the Del Monte Forest track, and the only barriers between fans and the track were a few bales of hay. There was always an undercurrent of adrenaline and danger, fans said.

Crowds and the track as a Triumph TR2 misses a corner as shown in the film presentation of "Racing Through the Forest" at Spanish Bay. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

Pebble Beach's race track ended in tragedy, when driver Ernie McAfee crashed a Ferrari into a tree and died instantly. A race in Pebble Beach never happened again.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was built on Fort Ord in 1957 and became the modern day successor.

The goal behind making "Racing Through The Forest" was to unearth what these pioneering, fearless young drivers did in the 1950s and gather film footage that would otherwise be lost over time. The film was written and directed by filmmaker Dean Kirkland and produced by renowned race car driver Rick Knoop.
[Reference Here]


Invited guests watch the screening of "Racing Through the Forest" at Spanish Bay. Here, Bill Pollack imparts some memories in the movie as Bill Pollack (end of front row) watches. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014) 

This seminal set of races also placed in motion the process of finding lighter, faster, more powerful, nimble cars from around the world and helped to fashion a racing resource template used today that has its motor culture roots firmly based in the forest around Pebble Beach.

"What began as a tribute to my father, Fred Knoop, has evolved into a celebration of one of the world’s greatest road races," Rick Knoop said at the Spanish Bay movie premiere. "We’re thrilled to share this incredible story with audiences at the Pebble Beach Concours. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to explore this incredible history, especially just feet from the road where the men and machines did battle."

Rick Knoop and Dean Kirkland delivered on the promise these photographs stored in an album and held in a box to be brought back to life with heart in a way an image could never do ... through film.

A must see film where the heart of the making of the presentation comes through in every frame and leaves an indelible and permanent impression.

... notes from The EDJE

Friday, August 8, 2014

Helio Castroneves visits SoCal to promote MAVTV 500

Helio Castroneves explains to fellow Brazilian and 3rd year L.A. Galaxy midfield player #8 Marcelo Sarvas where a driver needs to look in order to key the Dallara DW12 to a corner ... the tires are the frame. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

Helio Castroneves visits SoCal to promote MAVTV 500

With only three races left in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season, Auto Club Speedway teamed up with their sponsored driver Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves. The last race of the season is a double-points paying event that is scheduled to run for 500 miles at Auto Club Speedway in just 21 days on Saturday, August 30.

The event is called  MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships and rightfully so. Helio, who currently is in a strong position to get his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship, sits only four points behind points leader and team-mate Will Power who is also looking for his first title.

It turns out that with only three races left in the 2014 season - Milwaukee, Sonoma, and Auto Club Speedway - roughly 11 drivers are within mathematical striking distance of capturing the Verizon IndyCar Series World Championship Trophy, the Astor Cup. Helio felt that a driver would need a 75 point lead to feel safe ... that would be 75 points ahead after the next two races of the 1 mile bullring at Milwaukee and the 2.52-mile road course at Sears Point near Sonoma.


Helio points out that he is beginning to gain a collection of shoes to the gathered media. First, of course, are driving shoes ... then dancing shoes because of his winning appearance on Dancing With The Stars ... and now a set of professional soccer shoes with this L.A. Galaxy/MAVTV 500 promotion. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

At StubHub Center, formally Home Depot Center, in Carson California, a group of Brazilian athletes came together to draw media support to have folks become aware of the L.A. Galaxy soccer season and the end of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Three-time INDY 500 winner, Helio Castroneves was joined by L.A. Galaxy players Marcelo Sarvas and Juninho along with Auto Club Speedway President, Gillian Zucker.

The next two home games for the L.A. Galaxy feature the first Friday Night Fireworks & Lights Show, presented by Best Foods tonight with L.A. Galaxy meeting the San Jose Earthquakes - 8/8 7:30PM PDT and Back to School Night where the first 15K fans will receive a tin lunch box courtesy of The Flame Broiler with L.A. Galaxy meeting the Vancouver Whitecaps FC - 8/23 7:30PM PDT.


After about three tries, Helio Castroneves strikes an LA Galaxy practice soccer football toward the net situated on the practice pitch at StubHub Center. Fellow Brazilians and LA Galaxy Midfielders Juninho (left) and Marcelo Sarvas (right) look on. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)

The joy of GOOOOOOOOOAL was expressed by Helio Casterneves (flying off of the pitch) as he placed the ball through the upper right corner of a protected practice net. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2014)


Helio Castroneves started his day showing his interest in Little League Baseball at the opening of a contest in San Bernardino. He met with the teams gathered and threw out the first pitch prior to the Southern California/Nevada Little League Western Regionals at Al Houghton Stadium in San Bernardino.


The coastal North San Diego County club Encinitas Little League, along with 11 others, take their first steps toward Williamsport, as the West Regional and the Northwest Regional begin with four games at Al Houghton Stadium in San Bernardino. Helio Castroneves gives the team a thumbs-up! Image Credit: Albert Wong (2014)

Here, Helio Castroneves follows tradition as he removes his cap in observance to the pre-game playing of the National Anthem. Image Credit: Albert Wong (2014)


This excerpted and edited from Press Enterprize - 

Instead of entering Al Houghton Stadium in a single file line, Bonham said players will walk in more as a group and closer to the stands. Instead of the usual picnic the night before the opening ceremonies, this year’s regional teams have a planned night out Thursday at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino for a professional minor league game involving the Inland Empire 66ers of the California League.

“This is showtime for these kids,” Bonham said.

In the West Region, teams come from California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii and Utah to compete. In the Northwest, teams hail from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Most arrived Wednesday and will stay at the on-site dormitories during the duration of the two tournaments, which wrap up with championship games Aug. 9. The Little League World Series begins Aug. 14 in Williamsport.
[Reference Here]


Image Credit: Albert Wong (2014)

Encinitas Little League catcher gives Helio some tips on throwing out the first pitch. Image Credit: Albert Wong (2014)


After his So Cal MAVTV 500 Auto Club Speedway promotional swing, Helio participated in a test at Sonoma Raceway.

This excerpted and edited from San Jose Mercury News -

Eleven IndyCar drivers completed a one-day test session at Sonoma Raceway on Thursday.

Participants included Team Penske's Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Juan Pablo Montoya, Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan and this year's Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport. Power won last year's Sonoma race.

It marked the final test scheduled for the 12-turn, 2.38-mile course before race weekend. The Grand Prix of Sonoma is Aug. 24.

"Driving a Verizon IndyCar here is a rush. There's really no comparison to driving a stock car here," said Montoya, who won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma in 2007.

[Reference Here]

Then after the Grand Prix of Sonoma, the season comes to an end ... in August ... at Auto Club Speedway ... Saturday, August 30.

Come one and come all to see just who will celebrate winning the new 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Astor Cup.

... notes from The EDJE


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Oval gauntlet necessary/mandatory in Verizon IndyCar Series

Iowa Corn Indy 300 Podium: L to R - Josef Newgarden P2, Ryan Hunter-Reay P1, Tony Kanaan P3. Andretti Autosport made the call to put on a new set of tires on Ryan Hunter-Reay's car and with 10 laps left, sitting at P10, passed everyone in front of him to win. Image Credit: Andretti Autosport

 Oval gauntlet necessary/mandatory in Verizon IndyCar Series

To many fans of American open-wheel racing, the entertaining draw of a street course event weekend is the venue that had been created converting an everyday urban environment into a racetrack, followed by a weekend festival of cultural events (motor and otherwise), and consistency on the timing on an annual basis that adds to the cultural experience. Everyone enjoys something to look forward to on a "same time next year" basis.

In Los Angeles, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has been a success for 40 years and it has done so observing and deepening the above formula elements regardless of which sanctioned racing series was to headline the actual Grand Prix competition test that was to take place on Sunday afternoon.

What American open-wheel racing has yet to perfect is to answer the event draw question, how does one replicate the success of a Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach event weekend at an established oval racing venue and assure fan interest while being able to fill the stands that are a permanent part of the established track experience?

If the question could be answered through the nature of the racing competition itself, the races held at Texas Motor Speedway, Pocono, and last weekend's small and tight oval race in Newton, Iowa ... the problem would be already solved. The competition could not be any more unpredictable or professional. The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series is even attracting drivers/rookies that have beat some of the best drivers in European professional racing of F1 and DTM on the way to perfecting their craft.

This still does not explain, then, why the attendance for these type of racing venues (outside of the Indy 500) is down from their pinnacle of standing-room only to a mere fraction - ranging from 30% to 60% fall off.

American open-wheel racing needs to be able to showcase all forms of racing from all of the venues it has performed through the decades because, besides racing that includes Yellow Flag caution periods and planned pitstops, it is the breadth of racing venue experience (road/temporary street courses, super-speedway oval/tri-oval, banked oval, small bullring oval) that separates the American experience from all other series of open-wheel racing.

Iowa Speedway during the Verizon IndyCar Series Iowa Corn Indy 300. Image Credit: Iowa Corn

This excerpted and edited from Racer -

Why IndyCar must make ovals work
By Robin Miller - Racer - Sunday, 13 July 2014

The dichotomy was front and center Saturday night at Iowa Speedway: great racing with another disappointing fan turnout.

That's the sad but true tale of oval tracks in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Once the pillar of the most popular form of motorsports in this country when USAC and CART were on top, ovals have become an endangered species. Other than Indianapolis, it's tough to draw anything resembling a crowd.

Texas Motor Speedway, once a stronghold that put 75,000-80,000 people in the stands to watch the Indy Racing League's version of Russian Roulette, has been sliding recently and withered down to 25,000 (at best) last month. After an encouraging return of an estimated 25,000 in 2013 following a 24-year absence, Pocono slumped to maybe 15,000 a couple weeks ago. Iowa, which packed the grandstands the first few races for IndyCar, looked about half full last Saturday evening. Fontana, a big ticket back in the late '90s when CART was cooking, went away after embarrassing crowd numbers for its IRL races and has struggled since returning to the schedule three years ago. Ticket sales are supposedly down for next month's finale.
----
And the conundrum for Hulman & Company CEO Mark Miles and IndyCar is that it needs ovals to retain its heritage, maintain its status as the most diverse series in the world and remind people why many of them fell for Indy car racing.
----
Michael Andretti, who stepped in to rescue The Milwaukee Mile, echoes The Captain's thoughts. "We can't ever stop running ovals," said the former CART champion who was a badass on the short ones as well as superspeedways. "It's what sets us apart from everybody else."

So what's happened to the culture that thrilled us with A.J., Parnelli, Mario, Ruby, Rutherford, Johncock, Mears and the Unsers? Why doesn't anybody care to attend anymore? What needs to change?

First and foremost, the oval-track model for IndyCar isn't working and hasn't for quite some time. Two-day shows are a waste of time and money for teams and promoters alike.
----
Other than Indy, every oval needs to be one day – practice, qualify and race just like the old days and besides saving money, it ramps up the intensity and maybe draws more interest. Pocono's Brandon Igdalsky, for instance, said he had no problem with that concept.

Secondly, ovals have got to change their approach. Texas, Pocono and Iowa had nothing on track except the Honda 2-seater and pace car rides prior to their IndyCar races. They've got to start giving the paying customers a lot more for their money – a la street races and road courses. There is always something going on at Long Beach, Detroit, Barber, Mid-Ohio, St. Pete and Toronto, be it Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000, drifting, TUDOR sports cars, Pirelli World Challenge or Robby Gordon's truck series.
----
You can't start a race at 3 p.m. and give the fans NOTHING beforehand. That's ignorant and arrogant.

Scheduling also needs a makeover and some common sense. You can't run Fontana on Labor Day when it's 100 degrees at 6 p.m., Pocono wants off July 4th if it sticks around and Milwaukee needs to be re-instated to the week after the Indianapolis 500.
----
But there is one oval interested in giving IndyCar another shot. Curtis Francois, who owns Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., wants to talk to Miles about a date and maybe a potential partnership. And that may be the key and answer to keeping ovals on the schedule. Instead of charging a sanction fee that scares potential tracks away or puts them instantly in the red, IndyCar might need to be partners with the five ovals still in play. Share expenses and promotion and tap into Verizon's wealth of available assets to control your destiny and take the message to the people.
----
A good example: there wasn't ONE LINE about the IndyCar race in last Thursday's Des Moines Register – 48 hours before the green flag (and that paper does a nice job of covering the race). Last April, nothing in Thursday's editions of the Los Angeles Times about the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and only one TV station mentioned the race on Saturday night...with polesitter Ryan Hunter REEAHAY. Fans from Philadelphia swore there was nothing about the Pocono 500 in their market.

Of course the tracks have to help shoulder the load but if IndyCar was 50-50 partners in selling tickets, marketing and promoting the event it could make a difference – especially with Verizon on board. IndyCar needs to go Barnum & Bailey and pull out all the stops to try and save the ovals.

Watching the non-stop wheel-to-wheel action at Iowa and listening to the excitement in Paul Tracy's voice in the NBCSN booth reinforced how vibrant a short track IndyCar race can be and how vital that little oval in the Corn Belt is to this series.

"Before I passed all those cars at the end, it had been a helluva night of racing people all over the track," said 2014 Indy 500 winner RHR following his 10th-to-first miracle Saturday night. "It's fast, it's close and it's what IndyCar racing is all about. We can't ever lose places like this."
[Reference Here]

Improve the formula which services established oval track venues by offering MORE in a shorter period of time for each event capitalizes on what is common to most motor culture events (racing, or otherwise) ... overload.

Just as with Autoweek in mid-August held at the mouth of the Salinas Valley in California ... Concours de Elegance, Pebble Beach and the Rolex Motorsports Reunion, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca ... expand the  points of interest of fan draw at the venue to where no one person could take in all of the event. No excuse to NOT attend should be the available prescription to the motor culture fan.

... notes from The EDJE

Monday, June 30, 2014

Two race weekend at Grand Prix of Houston delivers high octane fan results

Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Tony Kanaan, driving the No. 10 DW12 car that Dario Franchitti drove to injury last year, leads a large group of cars at the beginning of Race 2/Round 10 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. Image Credit: Richard Dowdy via IndyCar.com (2014)

Two race weekend at Grand Prix of Houston delivers high octane fan results

The assumption in most high-level professional exotic open-wheel automobile racing is that one has to qualify their car faster than anyone in order to achieve a good result. The well funded multiple car super teams always are able to out perform and dominate because once the favorable top order starting positions are filled, the race can feature great control with little passing and the wins and points all go to the best qualifiers.

At the 2014 Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston this template was thrown out of the window save the points garnered for the season's championship race.

The two race weekend highlighted everything that is great about American open-wheel racing and did this under all weather conditions. Rookies, relatives, and relocation drivers were the stars while drivers of the so-called super teams of Penske, Ganassi, and Andretti were pushed aside (figuratively and literally) of the limelight at race's end of Race 1/Round 9 on Saturday and Race 2/Round 10 on Sunday to deliver the most entertaining weekend of any racing series in this world in recent memory.

Penske Racing's Juan Pablo Montoya - P2, Dale Coyne Racing's Carlos Huertas - P1, and Andretti Autosport's Carlos Munoz - P3 celebrate a first time all Colombian driver IndyCar podium achieved on Race 1/Round 9at the Grand Prix of Houston. Image Credit: Andretti Autosport (2014)

Race 1/Round 9 - Three Drivers From Colombia On Podium

At the halfway point in the Verizon IndyCar Season, one would like a bit of clarity from season points leaders after the strength of the last three races shown by Penske Racing, but none was coming at the 2014 Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston [Twitter idents: @MtrsprtsJournal @TheEDJE #IndyCar #GPHOU].

Through the previous practice sessions, Will Power showed that he had the stuff to tame the track. He ended up with the second fastest lap time just behind Schmidt Peterson Motorsports standout Simon Pagenaud.

When it came to the three dry weather knock-out qualification sessions for the Firestone Fast 6, however, season points leader Power could not advance out of Group 2 to the top 12. As for Simon Pagenaud, he was able to grab his first ever pole award in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Power, starting from deep in the field at P18 of 23 cars, stated the blame was his fault on the dictated set up of the car ... “Definitely not starting where we would like to be but we just have to go out there and see what happens and hope the Chevy can make its way to the front,” Power said. "It's a much more difficult track to come from the back, but in IndyCar races anything can happen."

When it came to race time, rain had Race Control declare a Wet Start ... and soon after the Dallara DW12's roll out on the improved temporary parking lot/street track to warm-up for the planned standing start, the race was further declared a timed event at one-hour and fifty minutes (1:50.000).

Temporary street course (mostly parking lot and run counter-clockwise) layout for the 2014 Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. Image Credit: Pensky Racing (2014)

This excerpted and edited from For The Love Of Indy -

First Impressions: Houston 2014 Race One
Saturday, June 28, 2014

1. I thought I was more likely to win an IndyCar race this season than Carlos Huertas. Nine races and he is an IndyCar winner. A guy who's lone victory in Formula Renault 3.5 came in a monsoon. A guy who was rumored to be the sugar daddy savior for Panther Racing over the winter and now he was more wins this season than the four Ganassi drivers combined. It may takes me six months to wrap my head around this victory.

2. And Colombians finished 1-2-3 with Juan Pablo Montoya and Carlos Muñoz rounding out the podium. They used strategy to perfection in this timed race. They stopped at the right time when they knew they could make it to the end while the leaders stayed out. Not to mention Colombia advancing to the quarterfinals in the World Cup with a 2-0 victory over Uruguay. They will play Brazil on the 4th of July while these three go at it again tomorrow.

3. Graham Rahal had a day that started out from hell, appeared to made it out alive, only to be dragged right back down after getting into the back of Tony Kanaan before going green. What else could go wrong for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing? Luca Filippi was running well before slapping the wall on a restart due to cold tires. They can make it all up tomorrow but it will be difficult to recover from the way today ended.

4. Any other day and Sébastien Bourdais, James Hinchcliffe, Jack Hawksworth, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Hélio Castroneves are the top six. Andretti of all people probably had the race of the day. From being spun by his teammate Muñoz to being black flagged for running competitive laps to then leader Takuma Sato and the Japanese driver failing to get by the American to recovering and being one of the half dozen caught out on pit strategy. Keep your eyes on all six tomorrow.

5. Justin Wilson finished tenth (at least I think he will after Graham Rahal and Ryan Briscoe are assessed their penalties) and did 46 laps on one stint. Huertas did 39 laps to make it to the checkered flag. I don't know what Dale Coyne Racing did to their cars over the break but it appears to have worked. Great job by the whole team.

6. This was a day that appeared to be one where Castroneves, Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud could catch up on Will Power as he started eighteenth and was a non-factor all day before sliding into the tires, ending his run of completing every lap in 2014. But, with the likes of Pagenaud, Mike Conway, Charlie Kimball, Scott Dixon, Luca Filippi and Takuma Sato having problems, Power finished fourteenth and only lost six points over Castroneves in the standings. Things are falling Power's way in 2014.

7. I hate to think that this race could have ended better. It was a timed race and I enjoyed it. They did the hour and fifty minutes like they said and I should take that. But after being so close to a green flag finish and having the Rahal-Kanaan contact deflate the balloon stinks. Who knows? Maybe Huertas would have won anyway but what could have been?

8. Tomorrow's race will be nothing like today's but what a race it was. My jaw is still on the floor. Everyone get some rest, rehydrate and we will dance again tomorrow. By the way, there are no Dutch, Mexican, Costa Rican or Greek drivers in the race, so no IndyCar/World Cup double like today.
[Reference Here]

Factoid:
Caution flag is out due to a spin and stall after catching a puddle by Will Power - Time Remaining in Race: 27:080. Power was the only driver to complete every lap in 8 races but with this spin, no more drivers will have "perfect attendance" in 2014.

Best Television Broadcast Quote:
With 11 minutes remaining, an Englishman (Justin Wilson) was being chased by four angry Colombians - Huertas, JPM, Kanaan and Munoz!

Note - Justin Wilson had to pit on Lap 74 for fuel ... so much for anger.

Commentary:
Car 8 - Ganassi's Ryan Briscoe and 15 - Rahal Letterman Lanigan's Graham Rahal received 30-second penalties for avoidable contact with Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan respectively.

Season Points leader Will Power escapes two very poor qualification sessions and two poor race finishes by leaving Races 9 and 10 of an 18 race season with the same points lead as he entered the weekend. Image Credit: Steve Swope via Penske Racing (2014)

Race 2/Round 10 - Non-Super Teams Sweep Podium (rookies secure 2 of 3 positions)

On Sunday, in a two session of Group A and Group B qualifications process where the drivers go out on track and pray for at least one clear lap in a few short minutes - about enough time for three laps after one out-lap - times posted are fanned into each other, every other position, starting from the fastest time from the group that this time was posted.

Example: Say Group B had the fastest overall time, so, P1=B, P2=A, P3=next fastest B, P4=next fastest A ... and so on, and so on.

Penske Racing's Helio Castroneves gained a point by winning the pole for today's race (3:45 p.m., NBCSN). Castroneves gained only six points on Power on Saturday when he finished ninth as Power finished 14th.

The pole is the 40th of the Brazilian's career, tying him with Penske Racing's team manager Rick Mears as being only five drivers to achieve or surpass this mark on IndyCar's all-time list.

Penske Racing team-mate Will Power, again qualified poorly and ended up with the same starting position as Race 1 - P18. His lead over Castroneves at the season's halfway point is 32 points.



 This excerpted and edited from Miami Hearld -

Pagenaud wins Race 2 in Houston
By SportsNetwork.com via Miami Hearld Open Wheel


In this 90-lap race, run in hot and humid conditions at Houston's NRG Park, Helio Castroneves from Team Penske started on the pole and led 47 of the first 48 laps, but Pagenaud overtook Castroneves for the top spot on lap 49. Pagenaud had led one circuit earlier during a round of green-flag pit stops.

Later on that same lap, Castroneves tried to catch Pagenaud but bumped into Sebastien Bourdais and then made contact with the wall near turn 6, ending his race.
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Castroneves wound up finishing 21st, as he lost an opportunity to narrow the points gap between him and leader Will Power, his teammate.

"When I lost the lead with Pagenaud, I was trying to pass him, but I had no idea [Bourdais] was there," Castroneves said. "When I'm attacking, I can't have eyes in the back of my head. It's absolutely ridiculous when the guy has to put the car over there. But anyway it's the rules of traffic...I'm upset because we had a great car. There were [42] laps to go, and I wasn't panicking. It is what it is, and I'll move on and see what happens."

Power started 18th for the second day in a row but had moved up to third before he sustained a broken rear suspension in the closing laps. He limped across the line in 11th. Power's point advantage over Castroneves is now 39, the same margin between the two entering the Houston doubleheader.

"We were in position for a good day, considering where we had qualified," Power said. "We were going to maximize our points, but we had a parts malfunction with two laps to go. We fought really hard all day with nothing to show for it."

Ryan Hunter-Reay, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Briscoe, Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan finished sixth through 10th, respectively.

One day after scoring his first career victory in IndyCar, rookie Carlos Huertas completed just two laps before he experienced an electrical issue, as he stalled on the track. Huertas finished last.
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Pagenaud went on to lead the final 42 laps and crossed the finish line 7.2622 seconds ahead of Aleshin. The Frenchman scored his first win of the season in the May 10 inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, held on Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course.

In Saturday's rain-soaked Race 1 in Houston, Pagenaud started on the pole but ended up finishing six laps behind in 16th after he struggled with brake issues in the early going and then was involved in a multi-car crash during the mid-stages.

Simon Pagenaud owns the curb as he tracks around the parking lot temporary circuit during Race 2/Round 10 at the Grand Prix of Houston. Image Credit: GPUPDATE.net (2014)

"Awesome race," said Pagenaud, who won for the fourth time in his IndyCar career. "The car was just beautiful. Awesome braking. Awesome traction. Awesome grip. What else could you expect as a driver. That's why I was so disappointed yesterday."

Aleshin's race on Saturday ended on lap 33 when he made contact with Takuma Sato and crashed into the turn 6 barrier. The Russian finished last in the 23- car field.

"I can't really explain my feeling. I just have so much emotion," Aleshin said after his runner-up finish in Race 2. "I had a flat tire on my car in the last few laps. I was really lucky to finish, actually. I'm very happy. The team did am amazing job. I don't have enough English words to thank the team for that."
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Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports claimed its first ever 1-2 finish in the IndyCar Series in Sunday's Race 2 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston weekend doubleheader.

Simon Pagenaud captured his second win of the season, while his rookie teammate, Mikhail Aleshin, finished a career-best second.
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Rookie Jack Hawksworth earned his first career podium finish in IndyCar with a third-place run, while Charlie Kimball took the fourth spot. Bourdais suffered a broken front wing during his incident with Castroneves but rebounded for a fifth-place result.

[Reference Here]


Fan reaction to the weekend's action was over the top (sample tweets):







As stated before ... probably the best and most entertaining weekend of any racing series, in this world, in recent memory.

... notes from The EDJE

Saturday, June 21, 2014

2nd Annual Carroll Shelby Tribute and Car Show

The invitation only Founders Reception unveiled the plans for the museum. It included some of Mr. Shelby’s collection followed by a presentation about the museum. Image Credit: Brandon O'Brien - Motor Driven Images (2014)

2nd Annual Carroll Shelby Tribute and Car Show
Entry Written and Photography by: Brandon O’Brien / Motor Driven Images

The weekend of May 17, 2014 was a big one for Carroll Shelby fans in the greater Los Angeles area. 

The single day event took place at the new home of the Carroll Shelby Automotive Museum at 19021 S. Figueora  Street, Gardena, California.  It featured at least one original example of the cars produced during the life of Carroll Shelby.   

The only models that appeared to be absent were the Toyota 2000 GT, and the Dodge powered Shelby’s. Did you realize that Shelby had a hand in these?

Mr. Shelby’s children, Pat and Mike Shelby, were in attendance, along with their spouses and children. They shared personal stories of their father. Image Credit: Brandon O'Brien - Motor Driven Images (2014)

Featured speakers included the legendary Bob Bondurant who was a factory team driver and co-drove with Dan Gurney  the 1964 Le Mans winning  GT class Daytona Coupe; A.J. Baine a journalist and author of “Go Like Hell”; Lucas Foster a film producer; Lynn Park an avid Cobra collector and a close friend of the late Carroll Shelby; and finally Aaron Shelby, Carroll Shelby’s grandson.  The fans loved hearing the many stories from these individuals.

The car show featured over 75 Ford and Shelby offerings including authentic early and current Shelby American cars as well as some very historic Cobras.  The building which also houses the Shelby American engine shop was full of the authentic Cobras while the outside area contained all the old and current Shelby American offerings as well as “replica” cars including, Cobras, Daytona Cobras, and a GT-40.  

Shelby AC Cobra badge. Image Credit: Brandon O'Brien - Motor Driven Images (2014)

Those historic Cobras included the prototype 260 Cobra CSX2000 that was assembled during one long day and night in 1962 at Dean Moon’s shop in Santa Fe Springs; CSX2005 another 260 Cobra was used exclusively by the Shelby School of High Performance Driving located at Riverside Raceway; CSX2589 the final 289 Cobra built, personally owned by Carroll Shelby until the time of his death; and CSX2299 the 1964 Le Mans winning Daytona Cobra. For Cobra fans these can be considered “holy” (images below).

This was a fun filled event and we can now look forward to the 3rd Annual Tribute and car show next spring.




















NOTE: The Carroll Hall Shelby Trust unveiled plans for the new Carroll Shelby Automotive Museum (CSAM) at a founder’s reception on May 16, 2014, in Gardena, California. The museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization created to educate the public about the high performance automotive industry. The CSAM is being formed by the Trust around the private collection of Mr. Shelby to celebrate his legacy and to inspire future generations.

... notes from The EDJE