Housekeeping, Indycar | Posted by James Ollinger April 29th, 2012

I’m out. I’m done. My apathy for IndyCar series racing is off the scale.

I’ll remain a fan of the Indy 500 and I’m still looking forward to it, but the rest of the series can disappear as far as I’m concerned. Long Beach was good, but it seems to be an exception, not a rule.

What it boils down to is that it’s been an increasing struggle against inertia to find things to post here for a sport I’m just no longer interested in. I don’t want to be one of those fan sites where everything is wonderful, because it’s not. But I don’t want to be a bitch-fest site where everything sucks, because it doesn’t.

But I’ve said everything I can think of, and I don’t want to repeat the same points every week or three.

Here’s to a great Indy 500. I’m hoping Reubens B or Tony K win. But if I were putting money on it, I’d bet it will be another Penske car or Scott Dixon.


WNV: 2012 Long Beach Grand Prix

Indycar, Videos | Posted by James Ollinger April 18th, 2012


Indycar | Posted by James Ollinger April 15th, 2012

LBGP 2012I will go on record as saying that not counting The 500, this will have been the best race of the year.

The only thing that would have made it better would have been if Willy P had run out of gas on the last lap.

Happily my man Marco didn’t let me down. If you don’t like someone, it’s nice to know that they aren’t going to mellow and mature; they just keep giving it to you. Every time I think Marco might be turning the corner, he just goes into the wall instead and blames someone else for it. He’s his old man’s son, all right. No DNA tests needed there.

Wonderful story here: Graham Rahal’s my hero.

A couple of selected comments: my buddy was impressed with Newgarden’s balls by trying to beat Dario into Turn 1. I thought it was monumentally stupid—out on the first turn of the first lap of an 85-lap race? Particularly one that’s known for eating cars like Long Beach? Patience. Dario had a crappy day but he was running at the end. If you’re a rookie trying to get experience, the 84.9 laps you didn’t get will be sorely missed next year.

A big stuff-eating grin watching Robin Miller hustle down pit row, looking for drivers who were out on the track for the introduction (the drivers stand on the beds of pickups and lap the track). Great work, Comcast/NBC.

I wasn’t running the remote when that anti-tobacco commercial ran, the one with people showing their various amputations. But this is exactly why God gave us DVRs and Fast Forward.

Sad to see Rubens B. having to come in late for gas. I was really hoping he’d get that podium finish.

But a smile to Helio. At least the debacle this year was at the very end.

and finally, I’m FedEx’ing a fat, frozen mouse to EJ Viso for his snake. That was a fine job holding back Power on the final laps but letting Pagenaud through nicely. Shame it couldn’t have lasted longer, but it was nice while it lasted.

Oh yeah, and as usual, Comcast/NBC can suck my left nut. Bring back Lindy Thaxton.

Sunday Snark Alert

Indycar | Posted by James Ollinger April 15th, 2012

I’ll be going to a buddy’s house to watch Long Beach. I’d tweat but we’re going to watch on the DVR so we can skip the annoying commercials. I don’t want to see spoilers on Twitter; nothing ruins a race like finding out the results in advance, unless Marco takes out Will Power (or vice-versa). I’d be thrilled to get an instant text message for that.

Regardless, I’ll be back this evening with comments. In the meantime: lots of snark on the net about the engine-swap rules, namely that you lose 10 spots on the qualifying grid if you swap engines. Seemed okay when it was just Lotus, but now Chevy did it with all their engines so Important People (e.g. Penske) got jobbed, so That’s Bad.

I understand that the rule is meant to save teams money, but in a year with new engines, it seems ridiculous. Next year would make more sense.

Since there’s so much grousing going on, if it were me and I had a Honda engine, I’d swap it as a protest to the rule; if everyone swaps engines and take the 10-spot penalty, the penalty no longer applies.

But if you’re Honda iron right now, you’ll take the advantage and screw the other guys. Until a couple weeks from now when something happens and your team gets dinged, and then you’ll cry the blues, too.

And before anyone complains that blipping the commercials hurts the sponsors, sponsors–make commercials people want to see instead of driving them from the tv set. You really think I’m going to seek out Izod clothes when the commercials make me want to put an icepick through my eardrums?

Sponsors would say that I’m not in their demographic and they don’t expect me to buy their crap anyway. Then it won’t matter if I skip your commercials, will it?

Stan Freberg was right: make commercials people want to see.

The Beach That Is Long

Indycar | Posted by James Ollinger April 13th, 2012

It’s raining here in The Southland, as the tv and radio people like to call this part of the world, so I’m sitting in a dry office instead of getting sunburned or going blind from sunscreen (which is what happened to me the previous two years) on a bleacher opposite pit row. The weather forecast suggests decent weather for qualifying tomorrow and Sunday’s race.

My real disappointment is that I may have blown my chance to check out Natacha Gachnang, if she’s here this weekend.

I’m actually looking forward to Long Beach, and not because it’s nearby. It’s actually one of the best of the street races because it’s unpredictable. In recent seasons dominated by Penske and Ganassi, this race was won by Mike Conway (2011) and RHR (2010). Dario and Will Power took it the previous two years. Before that you reach back in the CART era where Sabby Bourdais won it 3 years running (2005-2007) for Newman/Haas, then Paul Tracy with two back-to-back wins (2003 and 2004).

This is also a course that loves selected people. Multiple winners include Bourdais (3 times), Paul Tracy (4 times), and Little Al Unser (6 times). Multiple wins often come in clumps: Unser put four together (1988 to 1991); Mario Andretti split his three wins across 4 years because his son shoe-horned in for 1986. And so on.

We’re currently in the longest stretch of unpreated wins (not counting the F1 era from the early 1970s). Since I like to play the statistics, I think we’ll have a former winner back in winner’s circle this year. That narrows it down to:

Dario: I’ve been shocked at how crappy he’s been running so far. I think this has to change.

Sabby Bourdais: maybe, but I just doubt it. He’s my dark horse.

Paul Tracy: I have no idea if he’ll have a ride this weekend or not. I say no way even if he makes the field.

RHR: He’d be my favorite because this course loves Andrettis, both as drivers and owners; but I don’t think it’ll happen.

Mike Cownay: Foyt’s pit crew will set him on fire before that happens.

Helio: Maybe but I just don’t feel it.

Will Power: I’m trying not to let my emotions cloud my prognostication. I don’t want Power to win, but I think he will.

So there it is. Power to win, with Dario my back-up and RHR if Dario’s car is still shite.

Call your bookie and break the bank at Monte Carlo, baby.

… Actually if I were God, Barrichello would win.

Wednesday Night Video: Long Beach

Videos | Posted by James Ollinger April 11th, 2012

The Long Beach Grand Prix is this weekend. Here’s a blast from the past: 1984.


Indycar | Posted by James Ollinger April 8th, 2012

Watching Barber and I’m bored to death. I am trying to care, but it’s not working. I keep being told by the announcers and other rabid fans why this is great, but I’m not seeing it. It’s the equivalent of watching a 1-1 baseball game in extra innings, and people are explaining the nuances of pitch location. Yes it’s interesting on an intellectual level, but beyond that it’s only for people who are really into pitcher-batter mind games when there’s nothing else going on.

Just saw Jon B. describe the “amazing action” as one driver passed another in what, IMO, would be described as amazing only if the drivers were squirrels at a fairgrounds sideshow.

Long Beach is next weekend and that’s often good, so I’ll give that one a shot. But right now I’m ready to say goodbye to the Series and just be an Indy 500 fan.

Wednesday Night Videos: Rubens

Indycar | Posted by James Ollinger April 4th, 2012

Back, Finally, and No More Excuses*

Indycar | Posted by James Ollinger March 30th, 2012

* until I can think of some good ones.

The new corporate hq is finally open and ready for business. My apologies but it really has taken about 4x longer to do everything and anything than I’d originally thought. Except for the bills—those come in fast.

I finally got to see St. Pete. I already knew the outcome and had gotten some hints from friends who’d watched it live (“boring”), so I watched it with one eye. I’d say it was so-so. I was pleased that Will Power didn’t dominate the thing. If I hadn’t already known the outcome, at the half-way point I would not have picked Helio to win (I would have gone with Dixon). There were a few minor suprises and some disappointments—it’s not an auspicious start for Tony Kanaan nor Simona DeS.

But St. Pete is usually a snooze, so I wasn’t expecting something fantastic. I’d grade it as “meets expectations.”

Subsequently, I read this article on; in particular the section about the lack of Push-to-Pass. I still think the problem with most road courses is not Push-to-Pass, it’s a lack of passing zones. You can add all the technology you want to the software, but you’re driving up costs and complexity and moving ever away from the world your audience base understands. Passing zones don’t do any of that.

Barber is this weekend. I still don’t have cable or satellite and it’s likely not going to run at the local sports bar, so I’ll comment after I see it sometime next week. Wednesday Night Videos will be back with something or other. No excuses.

WNV Returns with Red Line 7000

Movies | Posted by James Ollinger March 21st, 2012

For the season opener of Wednesday Night Video, I’ve got Red Line 7000, a Howard Hawks film from 1965. I’m going to combine it with a movie review.

Hawks was one of America’s great directors, but like his contemporary, John Ford, by the mid 60s his best work was behind him. From a film standpoint, if you’re a Hawks fan, it’s particularly interesting. In 1959 you’ve got Rio Bravo. 1962 is Hatari!. Then it’s this movie, Red Line 7000 (1965), followed by El Dorado (1967) and finally Rio Lobo (1970). Skipping over Man’s Favorite Sport (1964), there are a lot of the same themes in these movies. You’ve got the tough guys (John Wayne, James Caan, Bob Mitchum), the women who fret over them (Angie Dickenson, Charlene Holt), the ones who are tough in their own regard (Michele Carey, and in some respects Elsa Martinelli) and gain the respect of the guys. And of course the Kid who has to prove himself (Ricky Nelson, James Caan in El Dorado, and GĂ©rard Blain) Hawks really liked those dynamics.

Red Line 7000 is less two-fisted than the others, probably because John Wayne’s not in it, though my guess is that he probably could have had Caan’s part if he’d been available. In fact, even though the movie takes place in the 60′s NASCAR circuit, back in the days when Richard Petty and AJ Foyt were racing (Foyt’s car is specifically called out in a couple of sequences, including the horrific crash that kept him out of Le Mans that year), the movie doesn’t have much action in it. I’d say it’s very nearly a chick flick: the major story lines revolve around the women who love our hero race drivers, Laura Devon, Gail Hire and Marianna Hill (plus Charlene Holt, who’s a racing widow and acts as mother hen to all and sundry). One of the big action moments of the movie comes from the battle between two racers over one of the girls.

Remember that scene from City Slickers where Helen Slater’s character opines about the difference between what guys talk about and what women talk about? Guys talk about sports and women talk about relationships? You want a movie where the stories are almost entirely about relationships? Try Red Line 7000.

As a movie, I didn’t care much for it. Hawks was old school and nearly all of this looks like it was shot on a soundstage with bad rear projection and NASCAR footage borrowed from the Wide World of Sports. The story lines aren’t particularly good. Charlene Holt’s dialog sounds like it was lifted from Dragnet, and even though I generally enjoy the loose plotting that Hawks’s later movies have, whereas Hatari! meanders and it’s colorful and fun, this meanders and it just feels like paddng for length; particularly the ubiquitous song that doesn’t really belong in the movie and adds nothing to it.

I’d recommend it only if you’re actively trying to watch movies where auto racing is featured (as I am). Otherwise, I’d recommend City Slickers, Billy Crystal and all.