He ain’t a race fan… he’s my brother

Okay, play along…

You know that feeling when you find out guests are coming for dinner, and you know they like Italian food but you’re serving kielbasa? No? Must just be me then.

So I found out my brother was coming to Indy. Naturally, I was psyched. But here’s my dilemma: He’s a golfer. Not a race fan. I’m a race fan. Not a golfer. I want to go to the track. Finkle. Einhorn. Finkle. Einhorn.

Surprisingly, it took only a small dose of sedatives and a pork tenderloin sandwich to convince him to go to the track. I’m kidding about the sedatives. But you NEVER joke about pork tenderloin.

Going into that day, his race experience was limited to a few childhood trips to the Mile, Hales Corners Speedway and Road America. I’m fairly certain he was about five the last time he went to a track, which was when he hung up his earplugs and picked up a golf club. I knew I had my work cut out for me. I mean, it’s the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If, at the end of the day, he walked out saying, “Sure, I had a good time,” I would consider the trip (and myself) an epic failure.

I don’t know exactly what I expected from the experience. But it… was… awesome. Only minutes into the track, I found myself turning into my dad and trying to tell him every detail I knew. Spreading the wealth, I likes to call it. Did you know there’s part of a golf course on the infield? Let me tell you about that big building – they call it the Pagoda… You wanna walk through the garages? That guy right there is Jack Arute. Yes, he is very orange.

The random info just went on and on. Until…

“Stop,” Matt said as we walked through the pits. We were by the yard of bricks. “Will you take my picture here?” he said as he handed me his phone. I smiled and took it. We walked a little bit farther and he asked me to stop again while he took a picture of a stack of tires with the Indy 500 logo on them. Then he captured some video and joked about how he had no idea the cars went this fast.

We went up to the grandstands for practice. As the cars went out, I shared interesting stories with him about some of the drivers. I told him about the fire scare in TK’s cockpit last year that earned him the Tiki Torch nickname. About Sarah Fisher owning her own team and having the savvy to field Rahal for the road courses. I told him about the Scheckter Shotgun. About the Marco/Mario rivalry that started in turn one here last year and continued this year in Sao Paulo. About Vitor Meira’s wall ride and what it took for him to be back in a car this year. Needless to say, he was excited to see that Fuzzy Zoeller is sponsoring Ed Carpenter’s car. Every driver with their own very cool story. And every fan too…

On the way home, Matt told me he had a great time. I think I kind of sighed to myself, thinking, ‘A great time.’ Well… I tried.

Then he said, “More people need to experience what I did today. If it weren’t for your stories, these would be just a bunch of guys in a bunch of cars that drive fast. But when I walked through the pits, I wanted to cheer for the Tiki Torch. I wanted to see the Scheckter Shotgun. I wanted to thank Alex Lloyd for taking the time to shake my hand. Now I feel like I know the stories, so I want to watch the race. You can bet I’ll be checking out the Indy 500. And I’d like to go to more. Now we should probably stop and pick up some Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka.”

Epic success.

One fan at a time. But to me, it wasn’t just any fan. He probably won’t be selling his clubs to buy race tickets, but it confirms my belief that each day is a chance to fill one more seat in the stands. To get back to the days my dad tells me about when IndyCar was on the front page of the sports section (if you want Nascar, please turn to section 8b). To ignite the passion again. So that maybe one day my bro will take his daughters to IMS and say, “See that building over there? They call it the Pagoda…”


TOP TEN IN 2010

It’s May. In Indy. It’s frickin’ MAY IN INDY. I mean… it’s here. Insert devil horns and death metal. Let’s DO THIS.

I’m both thrilled and giddy to introduce you to this week’s post. It’s a list of some of the cool things-n-stuff from this season so far. Enjoy in moderation. No, screw that. Have at it.

In no particular order…

1. Sao Paulo Debacle
If you were lucky enough to attend the season-opener in Sao Paulo, then move onto the next one and please accept this middle finger as my gift to you. For the rest of us, the place to be was the Brickyard Crossing Flag Room. If you aren’t in the grandstands at a race, I firmly believe that watching it on a big screen with the IMS grandstands in your peripheral vision is a close P2. The service was horrendous but the company made up for it. And the chicken fingers were pretty darn good. The fact that I had to DVR the race and watch it later at home is merely a formality.

2. Panther Racing’s Hometown Hero
I’ll start by saying this is an epic FAIL on my part. Not sure why it took me so long to realize how incredibly awesome this program is, but as I sat at a table outside the Media Center at Kansas, I watched a number of our servicemen and women walking around the infield. I’ve seen them before and it never seemed out of place. So I pulled out my laptop and did a little research. What I discovered is that Panther Racing chooses to honor a Hometown Hero at every single race on the IZOD IndyCar schedule in the U.S. That Hero gets an afternoon in the hospitality tent, special recognition in the pre-race ceremonies and even a specially-designed hero card that he/she signs at the driver autograph session.

According to the Panther website, owner John Barnes says this: “Honoring these men and women has honestly become my favorite part of the IndyCar race weekend. I’m a racer at heart, but the extraordinary people I’ve been able to meet through our Hometown Hero program is something that is very special to me. I’m appreciative to the National Guard for allowing us to honor these heroes.”

Panter Racing… I salute you.

3. New IMS website
The first time I laid eyes on the old IMS website, it was like that feeling you get when you bang your elbow really hard. It hurts like a motha and you feel a little sick. Yep, it was like that. Cuz it’s IMS… it’s so rich with tradition and there’s a feeling that you only know if you’ve been there. And the website captured… NONE OF THAT. But it’s a new era. I got to see a little of the site before it launched this week and when I did, my head was like, ‘Awesome’ and my heart was like, ‘Hell yesssssss.’ It captures the feeling. It respects the memories. And it effing rocks. Nice work to all involved. When you have a moment to enjoy the journey, check it out at www.IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com.

4. The Inside Pass is Born
Warning: This is a shameless self-promotion. But I’m excited, so just smile and nod. The Inside Pass was launched at Barber Motorsports Park. From the two chicks who brought you Winter Indy Tweetup and May Indy Tweetup, it’s a racing organization for the fans, by the fans. It exists to be the connection between the fans and the IZOD IndyCar Series. And there’s some cool shit a-brewin’. Want to know more? Go to www.TheInsidePass.com.

5. IZOD Race to the Party
I’ve been pretty clear about my love for IZOD so far this season. But if ever there was an event to make my heart go all grinchy and grow three sizes, it was the Race to the Party. For the love of fast cars and hot models, these guys rented out Hollywood Blvd for the entire freaking day. The event included a mobile pit stop challenge, meet & greets with the drivers, a variety of celebrities and bunch of other cool stuff. The Firestone Firehawk even brought out his bevy of beauties to launch shirts. That guy don’t miss the high-profile events.

6. Pace Car ride at Kansas Speedway
It’s not every day that I go 125 mph. It’s every other day. But that’s beside the point. Should you do the IZOD IndyCar Pace Car ride? Magic Eightball says, “Without a doubt.” It’s spectacular. I had the pleasure of riding the oval with Martin Plowman, Firestone Indy Lights driver. James Hinchcliffe was also there to escort fans around the Kansas Speedway. Both are a lot of fun, as are the rest of the Pace Car team, I’m told. They even chatted with us before the ride, at which point I asked them to please go as fast as the car would allow. Unfortunately the limiter stopped us at 125, so I’ll consider this practice for the two-seater. No matter… either do it or hop off the train to TrueFansVille.

7. Pinhedz.com
So we’ve all heard of Fathead. You know those giant wall sticker thingies of your favorite athletes? Well check this shizz out… an Indianapolis-based company is bringing the same concept for the IZOD IndyCar Series. You can get your favorite drivers, their cars, series logos – you name it. And for once, it’s not a primarily-Nascar-but-what-the-hell-lets-do-IndyCar-too type deal. These guys rock. The IndyCar part of the site is still being built but contact them for your orders. Check it out at http://www.Pinhedz.com.

8. Joel Miller Competes at Long Beach
I love this story and had to share. Watch for this guy to come up through the ranks. And you can be his sponsor for only $10. I already am. BAM.

Joel Miller’s driving talent is important, but pounding the pavement is what got the 21-year-old from Hesperia, Calif., a ride in the FIL race at Long Beach. In his Andersen Racing entry, Miller finished P11 despite having lost 2nd gear during the race. Miller has racked up all sorts of accomplishments in karting, Skip Barber, USF2000 and Star Mazda to earn his chance. But, as is often the problem in racing, money was the stumbling block, and one day he decided to do something about it.

“I just took off driving from home to Long Beach, and I visited every single company and person I knew along the way,” Miller said. “With smaller amounts from a lot of different companies and individuals added together, I was able to get close enough to say, ‘I think I can do it.’”

Miller is still soliciting funds to help make his appearance at other races a reality. He took some time off from school to pursue his racing career, but he’s currently a junior mechanical engineering major at the University of California, Riverside. Looking to build on the idea of local supporters, Miller has established the website www.jmillerindy.com for anyone to get involved for $10. Also check out www.joelmillerracing.com for updates.

9. Andretti v3.0
This is just cool. And by ‘cool,’ I mean, ‘hot dayum, that’s swell.’

If you’re not subscribing to RACER Magazine, you need to be. You can subscribe online at www.racer.com. Click on the “Subscribe” link in the upper left-hand corner. They even have a daily newsletter so you’re constantly getting the latest news.

10. ABC Cares About the Fans
Until this morning, I only had nine cool things on my list. Wasn’t really sure what to add for the tenth. Then I got an email from one of the Media Relations team at ABC/ESPN. He had read last week’s blog (complete with full-on rant about ABC’s coverage) and decided to do something about it. In the email, he said, “I know our coverage isn’t your favorite but hope you’ll see the effort and care that goes into our Indy 500 telecast.” Now that, my friends, is pretty sweet. It’s what I like to call “pulling a Randy Bernard.” If you listen to the fans and do something about it, you get a gi-nor-mous race gIRL thumbs up. Nice work.

Editor’s note: Your eyes are completely buggin’ right now, aren’t they? I know (because you’ve told me) that you hate the white-on-black text. I’m working on a new website. Be patient with me or go get your sarcasm somewhere else.


Roadrunner Turbo Indy 300 (Kansas)

My sparkly red shoes are packed, I’ve stuffed my tiny-ass dog into a tiny-ass basket and I’m off to Kansas. If you know me, there’s no need to tell you that I’m psyched out of my mind about the upcoming stretch of ovals. If you don’t know me, then how the hell did you wind up here?

Since our last rendezvous, the IRL announced a new multi-title format for the 2010 season. As I understand it, the goal is to have an overall season champion as well as two “division” champs – one for ovals and one for road/street courses. It’s kind of like giving medals to all of the kids on the third grade soccer team, instead of just the ones who played well. I kid.

I actually like the new format. I think it will add excitement, as well highlight the diversity of talent among the drivers. Plus, not only will we be able to look forward to an exciting fight for the title in Miami, I imagine now Sonoma and Motegi will offer the same spirit of competition. Although I kinda wish Chicagoland was after Japan. But beggars can’t be choosers.

In addition, props to Randy Bernard for just trying something different. Even if it doesn’t have the desired effect immediately, who cares? At least the league is trying. It’s been speculated that this is an attempt to give some more bling to the “face of IndyCar,” miss Danica. I personally don’t think that’s the reason behind the new format, but if it is, it won’t work. First of all, she actually has to win it, which I’m quite certain she won’t. She might be decent on the ovals, but there are quite a few other drivers who are decent…er. Wait… what? And I’d be willing to bet on Simona over DP based on what I’ve seen so far.

This week, I even saw reports of Patrick being a favorite to win at Kansas. Are you guys yankin’ my chain or what? Don’t get me wrong – I like Danica. I do. If you want to know how I really feel, check out last season’s blog, In Case You’re Confused: She’s a Driver, Not a Savior. Why does it fire me up so much? Because if one more guy I meet finds out I like IndyCar and says, “So you like that Danica girl?” I might start dating women. At least they listen. Calm down… I’m kidding. I thought when I moved to Indy I’d be rid of this nonsense, but not… so… much.

On to the picks for Kansas. This will be quick so try and keep up. First, I’ll take Dixon because he won it last year and he’s due. Second – Kanaan because I can’t seem to stop picking him and well, he’s TK. I can’t wait to see what Andretti Autosport has in store for the ovals and a back-to-back AA win would be like a little slice of heaven on earth. Third – dark horse pick – Mike Conway. Write it down.

Don’t forget – the Kansas race coverage is on ABC this weekend. So for those of you looking to miss all the action and witness the greatest spectacle in “what the eff just happened,” make sure to tune in. Otherwise feel free to send me an email. I can almost guarantee that by the time you send it and I respond to it, ABC still won’t have told you what’s going on. Fine. I do think it’s cool that there’s a race on ABC on May 1, which should help to build some momentum for the 500, but let’s call a spade a spade. We can count on Versus. The same can’t be said for ABC and that is truly unfortunate. Someone needs to tell ABC to step it up. And since I know they’re among the millions of people who read my blog, I’m doing it. So click your heels together, IndyCar nation, and repeat after me: “There’s no place like Versus…


Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

So what’d ya think of Barber? Oh – the facility is beautiful, huh? Wow – I hadn’t heard that before. The museum is cool, hey? Interesting. What did you think of the actual race? Yep, there was a race. Castroneves won it. You know – the guy from Dancing with the Stars. Yea, him. He also won the Indy 500 last year. Yep, I did hear ZZ Top will be there this year. That is what’s important. Oh, your friend went to Carb Day one year? Cool. Yea, you’re right – Nascar is real racin’. Thank you, Alabama.

I don’t know what the hell that was, but if you’re still reading, you get a gold star. I’m flying to Long Beach right now on very little sleep. The only thing that can cure this insanity is an In-and-Out burger. A few friends recommended that I try it “animal style” or something like that. Sweet Jeebus. So many jokes… don’t you guys know I have an inexplicably hard time keeping it clean with friends like you?

For the record, I loved Barber. Okay fine, there were a few parade-ish moments when I thought, ‘Screw this. Get this track off the schedule and give us another oval (ahem – the Milwaukee Mile).’ But overall, it wasn’t that bad. The fuel strategies and final ten laps made it all worthwhile. Add in a few more opportunities for passing, take out that giant creepy spider, park Milka and you’ve got yourself a race.

Let’s talk about our good friend, Milka, hmmm? I’d be remiss if I didn’t give her props for actually finishing a race. That’s quite an accomplishment after four years. Snaps. You know what else was special? By around lap 12 or so, we watched the entire field go by and then… wait for it… wait for it… wait… for… it… oh, there she is. Whew. Was worried aboutcha, Milka. But you’re JUST. THAT. SLOW. Awesome.

On to Long Beach. First pick – I’ll take Franchitti. The Scotsman started second last year at Long Beach and ended up with the win. And although the reigning IICS champ hasn’t done a whole lot to live up to his title this season, I think he’s due. But look on the bright side – he hasn’t gone back to Nascar, a la 2008, so let’s have a bowl of Lucky Charms, shall we? But I’m not even Irish…

I can’t fight the Power this week. I’ll take slick Willy for my second pick. If you actually need an explanation, we can’t be friends anymore. For those of you who saw the eliteness at Sao Paulo, St. Pete and Barber, please move to the next paragraph. For English, press 1. Power had the pole for last year’s race at Long Beach and finished second. Coupled with what he’s done this year, we can continue to expect nothing but greatnesss.

I’d like to take Kanaan for my third pick (he finished P3 last year and is – as always – due for a win), but I’m going with Marco. Stop laughing. I think his car has looked pretty good this season (aside from when Moraes’ car was on top of it) and it appears the Venom boys are starting to figure out the road course setup. Props to Marco for making some great moves at St. Pete and for the incredible pass to take the lead from Helio on lap 15 at Barber. I think he’s got great momentum going into Long Beach and needs to end his 50-something-race dry spell.

This season has been much better than last for my picks, but let’s be honest… there’s only one thing that’s really important: who’s going to win IZOD’s Race to the Party? Don’t lie to me – it’s all you can think about, isn’t it? At first I thought TK had it on that jetski, but then RHR came along on the board. And last week I was completely thrown off by Marco’s motorcycle. Since then, I’ve barely been able to sleep thinking about what Wheldon’s got in store for us. I mean, who will get to the party first? The suspense is killing me. See you in Long Beach.


Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

YEEEEEEEEEEEEHAW! I reckon we rustle up some horsepower and head on down to AaaaalaBAMa. BAMa. BAM. I just like saying it.

It’s truly unfortunate that no one in Birmingham will be able to see this week’s picks – they still don’t have the internet there, right? What… really? Well then! A giant race gIRL welcome to all five of the IndyCar fans in Alabama. Yippe-ki-yi-yeh mother… sorry. Welcome. I’m doin’ a little boot-scootin’ boogie in your honor. Tell your neighbors to turn off the Nascar race and come sit at the cool kids’ table.

Fine. I know there were a lot of people who came out to watch the testing at Barber. But are they really IndyCar fans, or just regular people who don’t normally see cars that don’t have rust on them? It’s been nice knowing all of you. I’m going to get my ass kicked as soon as I cross the Alabama border. Maybe I’ll walk in with Randy Bernard – that would give me some street cred, huh? Or hide under his ten-gallon hat. Won’t offer much protection but have you ever seen a redneck riot? Me neither, but I can imagine it’s not pretty.

There are three things I know about Barber Motorsports park: 1) It has a giant spider, which creeps me out beyond belief; 2) It has a great museum, which I intend to stroll through; and 3) The IZOD IndyCar Series has never run there before, which means little suprises around every corner, but nothing dangerous (yes, that in fact was a Willy Wonka quote, for those of you keeping score at home). Although I’m guessing we won’t need a gravel-grinder this time. But you never know.

Can we talk about Will Power for a second? UNBELIEVABLE. Moving on.

So rumor has it that Dryer & Reinbold is trying to decide between Scheckter and Ana Beatriz for their third car at Indy this year. I can see why that’s such a tough choice. Sometimes it’s hard to decide whether you want to win or not. Holy balls. Absolutlely no disrespect to Bia – I think she’s got potential – but that’s like choosing between James Cameron and your mom to direct your next film. I mean, let’s go with the professional here, people. But word to your mother. I’m sure she makes a great casserole.

You came for my picks. Let’s get on with it already. Every week I write out my list and then narrow it down. Here’s what I have right now: Power, Castroneves, Briscoe, Dixon. Why? Because they finished 1, 2, 3, 4 in testing. Someone give the freakin’ Penske/Ganassi boys a challenge, for the LOVE OF GOD.

First pick… I want to pick Will Power, but I won’t. Feels like cheating. I’ll take Dixon. It’s more about the fact that I think he’s due for a podium finish than his third-place finish in testing. And I’m making this pick with very little confidence, which I hate.

Second pick is between Castroneves and Briscoe. So I’m going with Justin Wilson. Again. What is it about that guy? It’s like I have a “good feeling” about him every time we’re not on an oval. You could call it woman’s intuition. (You’d be wrong… but you could call it that). It’s really just a serious amount of raw, road-course talent that piques my interest. Or whatever.

I’m going with a dark horse for my third pick… Takuma Sato. I’ve heard a variety of comments referring to the fact that Barber feels like a non-American course. Since Sato came from F1, I think he might shine on this track. His sixth-place finish during testing also shows his potential to rock it out in good ‘ol Bama.

That’s it. Grab your can-koozies, rig something with duct tape, put on your best “People of Walmart” getup and let’s blow this popsicle stand. See you in Barber…

Editor’s note: In my weekly picks for Sao Paulo, I mistakenly called the Kansas Jayhawks “sons-of-bracket-busting-bitches.” I apologize, because my bracket was not busted. I actually won the pool I was in… for the second year in a row. Thassss right. Booyah.


Always Be Prepared… with a Poncho

There’s a lot to be said about St. Petersburg, Florida. It’s a beautiful city with some great people, and if you happen to be there on just the right day, you’re bound to get caught in a torrential downpour that can only be compared to some level of Dante’s Inferno… but with water. And if you’re REALLY lucky, that day happens to be race day.

But never fear… because if you stick around for just one more day, the rain will subside, the clouds will part, the wets will go on, then they’ll come off, then the slicks will go on, you’ll hear the command, and the world will be a wonderful place.

If you’re looking for lap-by-lap coverage of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, you’ve absolutely come to the wrong place. (But check out the blog roll to the right, for some of my awesome IndyCar blogger colleagues have got ya covered). What you WILL find here is what I like to call my St. Pete Aha! moment.

On Friday night, I was lucky enough to attend the local 100th anniversary celebration of the Boy Scouts of America at the Great Explorations Children’s Museum. If you haven’t noticed, their emblem is beaming from the chassis of Alex Lloyd’s car this year. Special props to Dale Coyne for his partnership with the organization. Words can’t describe the excitement on these kids’ faces as they got to meet Alex, get his autograph, sit in his (show) car and do a Q&A session. Maybe this pic will do it justice:

As a side note, we were fairly certain some of those adult Boy Scouts were still wearing their original uniforms. Either get a new uniform or stop trying to earn your fast food badge. Ahem.

After the event, you could sense the excitement from both the kids and their parents, all anxious to head out to the track on Sunday and cheer Alex on. As you can imagine, most of them weren’t IndyCar fans before that night. Which got me thinking two things…

1.    The IICS needs more events like this.
2.    The events need more media coverage.

Where was the media for something like this?! Feel-good story of the year? I think so. Small local story plus big local event equals more fan interaction and interest. And all it takes is a press release and some follow up.

In an almost ironic twist, as if the racing gods were angry with this lack of coverage, I happened to be walking through the hotel lobby on Sunday night and caught this:

http://vodpod.com/watch/3337283-honda-grand-prix-of-st-petersburg

You mean to tell me that an event this big comes to town and – although delayed for a day – THIS is how you cover it? Yes, random TV station, it DID rain that day. And yes, we looked like flippin’ idiots trying to find the holes in our ponchos, but WHAT ABOUT THE RACE?! You’ve got drivers who live in St. Pete. You’ve got recognizable names from the series who you could’ve interviewed about their strategy. You could have talked about where the next stop on the schedule is. Or how die-hard fans have traveled from all over the country (and Canada!) to see this race because it’s something you don’t want to miss. But ponchos? Pfft. St. Pete local news crew, I shake my plastic-covered fist at you.


Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Imagine – if you will – that you’re excited about something. No, not THAT. Geez, man. A cold shower might help. Now focus. I’m talking about something you love. Something that you wish other people would love too. But imagine that people across the nation either aren’t aware of this thing you love, or just don’t give a tiny rat’s booty. Until a corporate sponsor comes along and… absolutely flips the script.

Welcome to 2010. There’s no other way to describe my feelings right now – I heart IZOD. And the IZOD IndyCar Series. And my IZOD IndyCar wife. What? She’s tremendous.

The ratings for the season-opener this year were 76% higher than last year. Can ya hear me now, chief? SEVENTY-SIX PERCENT. For those keeping score at home, that’s the same percentage of people who saw Moraes lined up next to Marco on the starting grid and said, “Well, shit.” In contrast, only two percent of viewers predicted that by turn one, Marco would be wearing Moraes as a hat.

St. Pete has some big, fireproof shoes to fill. But where there’s a Will (Power), there’s a way. How can I not go with WP as my first pick? That’d be like punching a gift horse in the mouth. Which I don’t recommend. I warned you. Coming off a victory at Sao Paulo, and a thirst for racing that can only come from a debacle like last year’s, I expect Power to continue doing great things this season.

Secondly, like so many of you, I’m excited to see Graham behind the wheel for SFR this weekend. First of all, snaps to savvy Sarah. Recognizing strengths in others and using them to benefit your endeavors is both intelligent and commendable. Whoa. Apparently this paragraph has been sponsored by Thesaurus.com. And the letter S.

Anywhoo… it’s because of this (and his history at St. Pete: pole-sitter in 2009; winner in 2008) that I’m going with Rahal for my second pick. Is it wrong that I still want to call him the Graham-burglar even though Mickey-D’s gave him the Middle McFinger? I’ve been trying to boycott, but let’s face it – that Shamrock Shake is a frozen miracle, isn’t it?

Third pick – I’m going with Kansas to win the whole tourney.  Sons-of-bracket-busting-bitches. Stupid NCAA family pool. Looks like I owe somebody $2. What a kicker.

Seriously – I’m torn on this third pick. If I see Franchitti sit one more pole or win one more race, I might go play in traffic. And I can’t pick Briscoe because… it hurts. It physically hurts. Fine. I’m going with Justin Wilson. He started on the pole last year at St. Pete and finished third. Good enough for me. He’s fantastic on the twisties and I think he’s going to go places this year. That’s right – bring da ruckus, J-dub.

BTW, I’m headed to St. Pete this weekend. There’s a 76 percent chance that if you see me there, I’ll be drinking a Dirty Banana and yelling, “I’m on a Boat.” If this doesn’t happen, there’s a 76 percent chance that I’ll be highly disappointed.

I got my swimsuit… and my flippy-floppies…


Sao Paulo Indy 300

HE’S got big balls. And SHE’S got big balls. But who’s got the biggest… balls of them all?

Oh. Hi neighbor. Sorry about that. I was thinking about picks for the season. Hold on while I put down my air guitar.

Alrightythen.

So… how’ve you been? Enjoyed some tea and crumpets this offseason, did ya? Spent a little time visiting the relatives? Well stop it. It’s race season. Send the wifey out with the kiddies to do some family stuff because you need to focus.  (Note: To my female readers – all two of you – change “the wifey” to “that dude you’re with” and let’s move on).

Before we get into this week’s picks, one quick note. When I made my 2010 season predictions last fall (click here if ya missed ‘em), I said I expected McDonalds to return as Graham’s sponsor. Not only was I the exact opposite of correct, I never in my WILDEST dreams would have figured he would sign with Sarah Fisher. Yes, it’s only two races currently, but come on – clearly I published the “I’m being punk’d” post a wee bit too early.

What a hot mess. Speaking of hot…

Brazil. Ahhh, Brazil, you saucy little town. I was recently informed that Brazilian women are among the most beautiful in the whole world… until they turn 35. So to all of you men who are lucky enough to be going to the season-opener, I have two pieces of advice. One: Enjoy the scenery. Two: Learn how to say, “No thanks, I don’t want syphllis” in Portugese. You’re welcome.

This is the inaugural race in Sao Paulo. So exciting to see new courses being added to the schedule, even though some of the best ones (ahem, Milwaukee Mile) are being dropped like Mario Moraes’ women. I’m not bitter. (I’m bitter). Since we don’t have any track history, I’m asking for a tiny bit of slack on my picks for this one. Throw me a frickin’ bone here. I’m a tiny little woman and it’s a really big track. Sweet Jezebel – are you still reading this? Let’s get to the picks already.

First race – first pick. I’m going with Tony Kanaan, baby. TK came out strong in 2009 with top-five finishes in the first three races, two of them on street courses. More importantly, this is Kanaan’s home town. If you don’t recognize the Brazilian pride radiating from this guy, then you don’t know the essence that IS Tony Kanaan. If that’s not enough, it’s my humble opinion that Andretti Autosport might be stepping up their game this year. Because so help me, if I have to watch one more Penske/ Ganassi battle with no other team in sight, I’m going to… well, I’ll just…

Can I stop for a second here? I’m gonna throw this out there. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of tweets and comments from the IndyCar nation threatening to stop watching if this happens or that happens. Whether it’s the Delta Wing or Randy Bernard or whatever – you’re going to stop watching IndyCar altogether? Really? REALLY? I think the Delta Wing is ridiculous too, but I’m not going to abandon the sport if the league adopts it. I’ll just suck it up (careful boys) until the next redesign. Here’s my point: If you’re that fair-weather, then the IndyCar nation will be fine without you. Don’t let the door hit ya on the chassis on the way out. Annnnnd… scene.

Second pick… Milka Duno. Ahahahahaha – I’m such a jokester.

I’ll take Ryan Briscoe. First race out of the gate last year went to Briscoe.  He followed that up with two more wins and seven… count ‘em… SEVEN second-place finishes. I’m fairly certain he’s still recovering from the Homestead Hangover and doesn’t want to be the number-two man anymore. Plus, he probably doesn’t want this to happen EVER again…

Final pick. Tomas Sheckter. Damn it.

I’m taking Ryan Hunter-Reay. What? Two Andretti Autosport guys, you say? Hell to the yea. He’s the new face of the IZOD IndyCar Series, he’s got a new team, a new ride – I say we sit back and let him do his THANG. You know… lean wit it. Rock wit it. I’m certainly not basing this on 2009, which wasn’t fabulous, but RHR had his stellar moments. I do, however, think 2010 offers him a lot of potential and hope to see him harness it. See how I got through that whole paragraph without mentioning that everything’s gonna be alright? Gold star.

So the true question is this: Are you guys ready? Are you as effin’ pumped as I am?! And most importantly – who does have the biggest balls of them all? Here’s to a colossal, historic, balls-to-the-wall season. Now go practice your Portuguese.


Yes, Virginia, there really is a Delta Wing

A long time ago, at a Speedway far, far away, we said farewell to the 2009 season. We cried ourselves to sleep. We bitched about the offseason. We even went so far as to watch NASCAR. It was that rough.

But miraculously, a new day has dawned. Suddenly, but with nearly six months to prepare, the 2010 season is upon us. The open wheel gods have seen us suffer long enough – so long, in fact, that many of us can tell you what happened at this year’s Daytona 500. It’s heartbreaking. It’s unforgivable. It’s all we have.

Twenty-seven days left until Brazil. I’m not counting. Okay, I’m counting. I mean, it’s not a big deal. You think that just because I’ve given up Metallica and Jay-Z to workout to “I am Indy” on continued repeat means I’m excited? Because I drive through Speedway, Indiana just to “see what’s going on?” Because I moved to Indianapolis solely because it’s the racing capital of the world? Because I occasionally yell out drivers’ names in my sleep? Fine, I’ll give you that one.

As the countdown clock winds down and the excitement grows, I figured I’d cook up some thoughts on the offseason delicacies. If you picture me doing this whole recap in the super-fast Hot Wheels voice, I’d really appreciate it. That would be so cool.

The OFFICIAL Top Five Offseason Moments When I Thought I Was Being Punk’d:

#5 – The Pagoda is told to be Silent. Crickets chirping. Didn’t feel right about posting this nonsense until all was resolved, which appears to have happened. But if you don’t let The Silent Pagoda speak his mind, the IndyCar nation loses. And I mean bad. Like if Milka… okay, I promised myself I’d get through one post without bashing her. Moving on.

#4 – Up to Speed is cancelled indefinitely. If I haven’t said this before, Lauren Bohlander is my hero. That girl rocks. And I thought that BEFORE I saw the blooper reel. Tiny girl crush – not gonna lie. I truly looked forward to seeing her and Arni do their thang each week. Here’s hoping they’ll be back soon.

#3 – Tony George’s freefall… and the end of Vision Racing. I don’t like to think about the moment when I saw that fateful tweet about Vision Racing closing its doors. Nor do I ever want to read “FML: The Tony George Story” whenever it’s published. Can someone help me get up on this soap box? It’s really high and I’m kinda short. I’m about to throw down, so deal with it or move on. Say what you will about TG, but I admire his passion for this sport. I can’t even begin to speculate on what has happened in the inner circle of that family or the thoughts that are running through that man’s head. But nevertheless, when I see someone with a fire burning like he has, I can’t help but step back. Pit stop for a moment: About a month ago, I had the unbelievable fortune of meeting Michael Andretti. I was like a kid in a frickin’ candy store. I stumbled through the introduction and composed myself enough to get to my car and call my dad, who had no idea what “DADYOULLNEVERBELIEVETHISIJUSTMETMICHAELANDRETTI!” meant until I calmed down enough to explain what had just happened. Get to the point, you say. My point is, I don’t ever want to lose that excitement. I don’t care which driver it is… which crew chief… which chassis design… which seat at the 500… pick any aspect of this sport and my goal is to never lose the goosebumps. I think Tony George knows what I’m saying. And it scares me to death that he might have lost that lovin’ feeling. And it’s gone… gone… gone… whoa-oo-whoa-o.

#2 – The IRL announces new CEO, Randy Bernard. Special thanks to MyNameIsIRL for stealing my angle about Andy Bernard from the Office. Well played. Great minds… and all that crap. Seriously, though, I’m still uncertain as to how someone from the elite world of professional bull riding can mosey on over to the open wheel arena. Scratch that. And hold the effing phone. I’m more uncertain as to how someone who has NEVER ONCE attended an IndyCar race can fill this position. And I would pay an exorbitant amount of money to sit with that guy for his first race.  ‘Mr. Bernard, unlike yourself, we know a thing or two about this sport. This ain’t our first rodeo, cowboy.

#1 – The unveiling of the Delta Wing. Ground control to Delta Schlong… commencing countdown. Engines on. Houston, we’ve got a problem. And it appears to be a phallic-shaped chassis. Somebody call Vaseline Man Lotion. They’re going to want to see this. I can’t stop. You want my honest opinion? It looks like a Transformer’s penis. I would like to ride it. I mean, ride IN it. Wait… jeepers. This is a family show.  Is it hot in here? Seriously, the marketer in me loves the fact that it has generated some attention for the Series. It has united the fans (albeit through absolute hatred – strong enough to have generated  a facebook page in revolt). It’s new and it’s different. But in my humble opinion, it’s not an open-wheel car. In fact, I hardly consider it a car. HOWEVER, I like what I’ve seen from Swift, Dallara and Lola. Still forming opinions. More to come.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m fairly certain Ashton Kutcher is around here somewhere…


The road to friendship is best traveled at 230mph

They say the three biggest stress-causing events in life are moving, starting a new job and planning a Winter Indy Tweetup. Check, check and… CHECK. If you haven’t heard, the race gIRL is officially a resident in the Racing Capital of the World. Alleluia! I can’t wait ‘til May when I can open my windows and smell the Ethenol.

I started this blog mid-way through the 2009 season, when my feet were firmly planted in the great state of Wisconsin. At the time, I had no idea that the next six months would be flat-out, balls-to-the-wall mania. If you’ve read my blog, you know that the race gIRL specializes in sarcasm, not sappiness, but there are a few times when you have to give credit where credit is due. Grab a tissue and let me have my moment.

The offseason is the perfect time to celebrate the behind-the-scenes goodies that aren’t seen because our eyes are on the track, or that aren’t heard over the roar of the engines. During race season we’re all so caught up in the lap times, the fuel strategies or the Milka debacles that we don’t stop to appreciate the greatest spectacle off the track… the IndyCar Nation.

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I didn’t know any of my IndyCar friends a year ago. So a special (and weird) shout-out to Twitter for bringing us all together. And also for helping me add new words to my vocabulary, such as tweeps, twackin’ and twiracle. I feel smarter already.

First, I gotta give mad props to my fellow IndyCar bloggers. If there’s anyone reading this who hasn’t checked out The Silent Pagoda, My Name is IRL, PressDog, PlanetIRL, Indy Racing Revolution, Is It May Yet, The Inside Line, The Other Side IRL, etc., consider yourself uninformed in the IndyCar world and just plain uncool. These guys are awesome at what they do.

Secondly, I’m extremely thankful for my new job here in Indy. So I have to send a great big thank you to my boss, David, who just happened to find me through my blog. At least I know one person is reading it. The fact that he has one of my autographed headshots hanging in his office makes him the coolest boss I’ve ever had.

A big, huge, GINORMOUS twug (that’s twitter hug – are ya catchin’ on?) to all my tweeps. I wish I could tell every one of you how much I appreciate your friendship. I’ve really enjoyed watching the races with you and laughing hysterically at your tweets. Special hugs to IndyRacingNut and Donny2001 for being among the first people to follow me. You guys rock! Let’s not forget the Cheesecake Debaclers (Fieldof33, GoDanica7, Indy44, BrianJee, vc46880) and my IRL homegirls (99forever, lmkenny, FionaHewitson, SpeedFreakBash, AKWaxy).

I certainly can’t leave out my tweeps GaryTrib, MikeNele and MitchDoner. You know our story… enough said. I have to include a thank you to Curt Cavin and Kevin Lee for helping us promote the Tweetup. Finally, to every single one of the Winter Indy Tweetup attendees… you guys made that event awesome and I will never forget the feeling in my heart as I watched your excitement.

Let’s see, I think that’s everyone… oh wait, I think there’s one more person I might be forgetting… or intentionally saving for last. HappyFish, I HEART YOU. If you don’t know, HF and I met through twitter a month or so before the Miami race. She is my race-watching, event-planning, sarcastic-commenting, monstrosity-lugging, radio-interviewing, sushi-eating, pajama-shopping partner-in-crime and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Keep us on your radar. And if you see us walking around talking about how we are so fierce and sexy, don’t question. Embrace it.

Oh, and one more thing. Thank you to all of you who have asked my opinion on Schumacher making his F1 return. While I humbly appreciate your interest in my opinion, the IRL in my name stands for IRL… and I’m a die hard, baby. Otherwise my name would be the race gF1. Which doesn’t make any sense. Or the race gNASCAR, which actually sounds like a disease that one might contract at a NASCAR race. No sir, I don’t like it. I’m stickin’ to what I know. And I know that IndyCar = awesome.

Aaaaaaand cut. We now return you to your regularly scheduled race blogging. Thanks for coming out.  Thanks for being you. Be sure to tip your waitress.