Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Milwaukee IndyFest - Motorculture In Motion

Milwaukee IndyFest podium where two of the race promoter's drivers sit in positions P1 - Ryan Hunter-Reay, and P3 - James Hinchcliffe. A driver who use to race for Andretti Autosport and now drives for KV Racing Technology, Tony Kanaan came in at P2. Image Credit: Andretti Autosport

Milwaukee IndyFest - Motorculture In Motion

The IZOD IndyCar race last weekend was an interesting study of motorculture in motion (as viewed in more ways than just the race).

Traditionally, the open-wheel race at the track known as the Milwaukee Mile was held as the first race after the Indianapolis 500. The race is run on the Wisconsin state fair grounds and it garnered excitement for this distinction and the fact that this intimate short track race was on a surface that was wide and flat and this helped to increase the visual nature of the competition for all who attended. Further, this was a good race for television, as long as there was 2 to 3-wide passing throughout the field. Homes and West Allis town streets could be seen in the background as the cars raced by at speeds up to 168 mph.

The Milwaukee Mile track is also known as America's Legendary Oval because it is the oldest, continuously used auto racing track in the world. It started as a horse track in 1876 and the first auto racing event was held on September 11, 1903.

This race had been dropped off of the schedule in 2008 and again for 2012 due to tepid fan and corporate support. The last few years put the future of an IndyCar race at the Milwaukee Mile on life support, that is, until Michael Andretti's marketing company took over to stage Milwaukee's IndyFest at the Mile on Father's Day Weekend.

On October 14, 2011, Michael Andretti announced the launch of Andretti Sports Marketing LLC. This new venture is the result of the business expansion strategy of INDYCAR team Andretti Autosport to provide turn-key marketing solutions for companies both within and outside of its sponsor base.
Andretti Sports Marketing's agenda leverages the considerable expertise of its staff in multiple sports marketing formats on behalf of corporate clients in all forms of sport as well as in professional motorsports where Andretti Autosport made its mark as one of North America's leading sports marketing properties.

Then on February 10, 2012, Andretti Sports Marketing Wisconsin announced that it will promote the Milwaukee IndyFest at the Milwaukee Mile, June 15 and 16. The Father's Day weekend festival will be headlined Saturday afternoon by an internationally televised IZOD IndyCar race and will also include many other events designed to create a memorable family holiday weekend at the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds.

"Andretti Sports Marketing is excited about promoting IndyFest at the Milwaukee Mile," said Michael Andretti, CEO of Andretti Sports Marketing, LLC, and a racer who visited Milwaukee's victory lane five times as a driver and three more times as a team owner ... at the time of the announcement. "It's a historic track in a great city, and it's a place that has always been a favorite for my family. I think I had my first pole here. I know Marco had his first pole here. My dad has had poles here. We've done a lot of races here. There was an all-Andretti podium here one year, in 1991, so we've done a lot of things here as a family," Andretti continued. "But, more importantly, it's an ideal track for Indy cars and always produces exciting racing for the fans."

As for the race itself, it was beset by a scheduling delay due to late spring rain that rolled through the area. ABC Sports did its best to keep the television crowd that had to endure a 90 minute delay but could not keep with the race to the end because of additional broadcast commitments.

The race was transferred to ESPN News which is not carried by all cable fed operations in their general cable programming packages so many fans were left with finishing the race online and IMS Radio through Timing & Scoring found at

The race could have been a bit more exciting if it had not devolved into a "pack-racing" affair but it was good to see the DW12 formula cars take to this type of legendary venue for the first time.

Other than the rain delay, one other race time decision by Race Control marred an otherwise spirited contest and that was a drive through penalty assessed on one of the race lead challengers from the Target Chip Ganassi Racing stable, Scott Dixon. His car was one of the most competitive out there and Scott knew it. The best explanation of the situation that ended up in a penalty came directly from the President of competition and the final authority for race control during a race, Beaux Barfield.

Basically, an assumption that the technology of the race clock and the video assets of the race for review were in synchronization ... which turned out NOT to be the case. The race clock was set at almost exactly the time it would take for a lap to be completed around the Milwaukee Mile. Scott Dixon was observed to be jumping a GREEN Flag re-start of the race but the start was waived off with a YELLOW Flag so technically, Scott Dixon did not actually jump the GREEN Flag re-start. This was discovered after the race and Beaux held a lengthy press conference with track reporters in order to make it clear exactly the level of technology aided human error that had happened - "That's Racin'!"

Overall, even with the rain delay, pack-racing due to more down-force and less power delivered in the approved set-ups on the DW12 chassis, and the Race Control error to Scott Dixon, the first Milwaukee IndyFest was a success over the previous IndyCar race in 2011 and looks to be a winner on the schedule in the years to come - thanks to Andretti Sports Marketing.

 This podium represents an almost "SWEEP" by the race promoter and IndyCar team ... Andretti Sports Marketing/Andretti Autosport - Tony Kanaan (P2) was once a winning driver at Andretti Autosport was joined by Ryan Hunter-Reay (P1) and James Hinchcliffe (P3). Image Credit: Marcus Hotels

This excerpted and edited from the Milwaukee IndyFest Post-Race News Conference Transcript - Discussion in 'IndyCar Headlines' started by John Kernan -



TAKE US THROUGH YOUR FEELINGS RIGHT NOW WITH GETTING A WIN, FINISHING THIRD WITH JAMES (HINCHCLIFFE) AND WHAT LOOKS LIKE A GREAT EVENT ALL AROUND: “Unbelievable, just incredible first of all. Thank you Milwaukee for coming out and supporting it. I think we had a great crowd [20,000] for the first shot out here. It’s something to build on and we are going to be back here next year and hopefully for a long time after that. We are excited about that and I think the whole Andretti sports marketing team did an incredible job and my hats off to those guys. We have a great team there as well as we have a great racing team. I think we showed that here coming out here and getting two cars on the podium. I’m really excited about that. Ryan (Hunter-Reay) did one heck of a job and so did the whole DHL/Sun Drop team just didn’t miss a beat. Pit stops were great, pit strategy was great and the car was really good. That was all good. James (Hinchcliffe) did a hell of a job just to hang in there and get himself on the podium for GoDaddy so that was awesome.”

FROM A TEAM OWNER STAND POINT TO KIND OF STEM THE HONDA TIDE THAT HAS BEEN GOING THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS TO GET ANOTHER VICTORY FOR CHEVY AND ALSO THE FACT THAT THE LAST TWO WEEKS IT’S BEEN NON PENSKE/GANASSI TEAMS THAT HAVE WON RACES HOW IMPORTANT IS THAT FOR THE SERIES? “I don’t know about the series but it’s good for us. We are one of them. Anytime you can beat those two you have done something. Those two organizations are total class organizations. They are the ones that set the bar. When you go out there and beat them that is great. I think it’s great for the series as you said to have other winners. I was really happy for Justin (Wilson) and the whole Dale Coin team last week. I’m glad we were able to come out and do this.”

MICHAEL, WHAT WERE YOUR FEELINGS COMING IN TODAY? RYAN, WHAT WAS THE TALK AMONGST THE OTHER GUYS ON THE TEAM? WAS THERE ADDITIONAL PRESSURE TO WIN BECAUSE IT WAS YOUR BOSS' RACE OR NOT? “Lot of extra pressure (laughter). No, I was feeling a lot of things. The first time at the event, so we had to focus on that. Then there was still the race. Honestly didn't know what to expect because it's an all-new package with the car and everything. We were cautiously optimistic. Until you get out there with everybody, you don't really know. After the first stint, I thought, You know what, we got a shot at winning this thing for sure. The guys did a great job calling the race, he did a great job driving it, great pit stops.”

DO YOU SEE MOMENTUM BUILDING IN TERMS OF GOING INTO IOWA? “I hope so. We have a great series. We have great drivers, great personalities. If you like racing, how do you not like what's been happening this year in all the races? It's been flat-out great racing. I think our product's great. That's important. Hopefully people are going to take notice. I think they're starting to more and more. Hopefully you guys will report a good show and hopefully create some more interest for us, as well.”

WHERE DOES THIS ONE RANK WIN-WISE COMPARED TO '91 (WHEN MICHAEL WON AT MILWAUKEE AS A DRIVER)? “You know, they're all special. Every win is special. When you're a driver, it's a different feeling as an owner. But it's special in a different way.

This one's special. To have Ryan go out and win our first race that we're promoting is huge. We had this sort of feeling back when we did the first race that we promoted back in St. Petersburg, we had a 1-2-3-4 finish there in St. Petersburg. People are probably starting to think these things are rigged (laughter). But those are things that will always go up there as being one of the special ones, and this one ranks right up there.”


TAKE US THROUGH MAYBE YOUR EMOTIONS OF GETTING A WIN HERE AT YOUR BOSSES EVENT: “What a storyline it really is amazing. Milwaukee has been so important to IndyCar for so long and I think this is a huge event for Milwaukee. These two belong together. I really thank Michael (Andretti) for sticking his neck out coming back here and really doing it the right way. Andretti sports marketing if they are going to do it one way it’s definitely the right way. They have done a great job with this and hopefully this is the basis for years to come. We have laid the foundation now and hopefully many years to come and this will be a very successful event on the schedule. Getting the DHL/Sun Drop car though in DHL victory lane is quite a big deal for us. We are very happy about that.”

WHAT WAS THE LAST THIRD OF THIS RACE LIKE? IT DIDN’T LOOK LIKE ANYBODY HAD ANYTHING SERIOUS FOR YOU: “I didn’t really like the restarts I would rather just gone green, but you can’t always get your way. It was definitely tough work. You really had to look after the tires, know when you use them and know when not to. Michael (Andretti) really knows his way around this place and he was in my ears during the race and kind of coached me along. ‘Hey make sure you have those tires when you need them.’ That is what we did we saved them for when we needed them. We pounced we were right there ready to go when somebody slipped up and on the restarts we were aggressive. The guys did a great job in the pits. Really just a very strong day for Andretti Autosport overall, they just did such an amazing job. Those last few laps were a lot of fun just opening up the lead counting me down on the number of laps. I will tell you what though, 225 laps around here feels like a 500 mile race. It is a long race. It’s a short little place and it adds up quick. One thing I wanted to mention to was Happy Father’s Day to my dad he wasn’t able to be here. I want to dedicate this win to him for sure. He has done so much for me and my career he is the reason why I’m standing here.”

DO YOU SEE MOMENTUM BUILDING IN TERMS OF GOING INTO IOWA? “Yeah, absolutely. On the racing side, this is tough to beat. We've just been having great races. Big props to everybody involved in developing the car, to the engine manufacturers. It's been a lot of fun. But one thing I also forget is thanks to Go Daddy for an awesome site. It's pretty much the only site you need on your web browser. It's new, improved, awesome. Thank you, guys, for the support.”


TALK ABOUT TODAY’S RACE: “It was kind of a long day for us. In the beginning of the race on the first stint I was just trying to manage the tires and to see how the track was after the rain. When it was time to go race after the second stop I felt that my car lost a little bit of speed and I didn’t know why. So I couldn’t save as much fuel. I could not run the lane the mixture because I was starting to lose a lot of positions. Those guys went three laps farther than I did. I was a little bit concerned about that. If the race had gone green which we had a long period of time of green flags I said ‘well we are hanging in here. I know this place well enough to the last year with 30 laps to go I put it in the wall so I said I will wait until the last stop and we will see what we can do.’ We got extremely a very good pit stop. A very good four or five out laps and I was able to gain a lot of positions and put myself in contention to be on the podium. Once I was there it was just a matter of trying to manage your position.

“For me it was a long day just because it’s very unlikely from me not to attack on restarts and I didn’t have anything for Ryan (Hunter-Reay) like I said I felt that the car was down like I didn’t have enough speed so I was actually defending myself on restarts which I realize I do not know how to do that. I did a very poor job on that. I decided that was one yellow to go. The last yellow I said you know what I’m going to go as fast as I can and I did. Ryan (Hunter-Reay) did a great job. I got a gap we had a lap car in between us which kind of got me. I lost those two precious seconds there and after that I knew it was over. Second place we will take it, it is my best result. We are building some points. I had two terrible races in the beginning of the season. The race before Brazil, I came to Brazil I was dead last in the championship. It was important. I’m happy for Ryan (Hunter-Reay) I think it is nice to see another team winning a part from the two we are used to seeing all the time. Michael (Andretti) did a great job by bringing this race back.”

ON COMING BACK TO MILWAUKEE NEXT YEAR: “I love this place. I always did. I was glad to see the fans, I was glad to see the infield with all this entertainment for the kids. I think every race should be like that because then if your kid wants to come you will come. I’m glad and I know Michael (Andretti) quite well and the people that work for him on the other side which is Scott Walsh which is the guy that does this event. They are very capable people and I was so glad that it was a very successful one. Having only a few months to put an event like this like Hinch said it’s remarkable. I by default I was catching a ride back to Indy with Michael and I did an appearance for free for him and people were extremely excited and I think Michael Andretti is still a big name in racing. Everybody that tried to organize this race up until now I think they were not successful because it was not that they couldn’t organize the race it was because they didn’t have the name that Michael has and the credibility that he does and what he brings to the sport. He said we are coming back and I’m extremely happy about that.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IOWA NEXT WEEKEND? “I don’t know about the heat races but I feel extremely confident. I knew the next two races which were here and Iowa those are places that I did quite well and places that suite me. I got to take advantage of that and I’m confident that we are going to be in contention there. It’s a shame what happened last weekend with us because we’ve been in contention to win a race. It’s like Hinch we’ve been knocking on the door and it looks like it never happens but to be able to win a race that is what you’ve got to do.”


TODAY WAS OBVIOUSLY AN IMPORTANT DAY FOR YOU WITH THE PODIUM FINISH BUT ALSO IN TERMS OF POINTS MOVING INTO SECOND IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP YOU SAID YOU DIDN’T START THE SEASON THINKING CHAMPIONSHIP ARE YOU THINKING IT NOW? “No, I think not thinking championship is what has gotten us to this point. If you had told me eight races into the season we would be second in the points I mean it just doesn’t add up it wouldn’t have made sense to me. I think that just shows how hard everybody at Andretti Autosport has been working. They don’t get the credit that the team guys deserve. Whether it has been road circuits, street circuits now superspeedways and short ovals we have been quick. Whether it has been qualifying trim, race trim and the results are showing. We are finishing races we are staying on lead laps and things like that. The consistency is really paying off. I’m happy to get back on the podium. I was kind of bummed that seven races in we had only had the one. So it’s nice to be back here especially with where we started and huge congrats to Tony (Kanaan) and especially Ryan (Hunter-Reay) he has been on a bit of a down streak so it’s been tough for him I know. It’s great to see him bounce back, especially at a race that an Andretti sort of brought back to life. It’s kind of a perfect day in a lot of ways.”
HOW SPECIAL IS THIS FOR THIS RACE TEAM? “I think the plane ride home with Michael will be a lot more pleasant than it was last week from Texas. It’s tremendous. He really put his neck on the line for this race. It is tough to get an event so late into the season. These guys I’ll tell you they have been working 24-7 since January to make this thing come off the way they have. You look around and I think they did a hell of job. The fans came out, the fans sat through a rain delay which is awesome and ultimately we went out and put on a good show again. That is why we all love coming to Milwaukee. The drivers love this place selfishly because it is so much fun to drive but it was really a good show so for Michael to pull off not only what I think is a successful event as a promoter to then have two cars on the podium as a race team owner it’s a good day to be Michael Andretti.”

WAS MICHAEL BEHAVING DIFFERENT BEFORE THE RACE THAN HE WOULD NORMALLY DO? “No, I don't think so. I mean, Michael has been a professional sportsman for a long time. The pressures I think of promoting an event are not dissimilar to the nerves you feel in the buildup to a race. If he was feeling nervous about how the event was going to turn out, he certainly didn't show it. With what you saw here today, I think he leaves here pretty happy on both fronts.”

CERTAINLY SOME GUYS WERE ABLE TO MAKE UP GROUND, BUT I DON'T KNOW THAT ANYBODY REALLY PASSED THE LEADER. IS THERE SOMETHING THAT COULD BE BETTER OR WAS IT JUST THAT THE GUYS WHO LED WERE THAT MUCH BETTER? “Clean air is king, especially at this place. It was difficult to follow other guys, especially on the restarts. If you were three, four, cars back, guys in front of you, it was sketchy. When you're in clean air, it's such an advantage. But the leader should have an advantage. He's up there for a reason. I'm for that. I don't think the leader should be handicapped by restarting in first.”

Numbers to note following the Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by XYQ, the eighth of 16 events of the 2012 IZOD Indy Car Series season.

2 - Drivers to finish every race this season -- Ed Carpenter and Simon Pagenaud. ... Number of laps Pagenaud has failed to complete (1,061 of 1,063).

6 - Indy car wins for Ryan Hunter-Reay, the most by a current American-born Indy car driver. ... Different teams represented in the top 10 in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings.

12 - Different drivers to finish on the podium in the first eight races of 2012.

15 - Different drivers with at least one top-five finish in 2012.

16 - Positions gained by Oriol Servia en route to his fourth-place finish at Milwaukee, most of any driver in the field.

27 - Poles for Dario Franchitti, tying Al Unser for eighth on the all-time list.

31 - Points separating front-runner Will Power (274) and James Hinchcliffe (243) in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings.

84 - Laps led by Hunter-Reay. Most by any race winner this season.

108 - Points scored on ovals by James Hinchcliffe, who leads the A.J. Foyt Trophy standings.

189 - Consecutive Indy car starts for Tony Kanaan dating to the 2001 CART race in Portland.
(numbers ht: IICS)

... notes from The EDJE

** Article first published as Milwaukee IndyFest - Motorculture In Motion on Technorati **

No comments: