Archive for the IndyCar Category

Great Minds Think Alike

Posted in IndyCar on November 22, 2019 by Oilpressure

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If you’ve been reading this site for very long, you know how much I appreciate and respect Robin Miller of NBC Sports and Racer.com. That goes against the grain of many fans because they either (a) don’t care for what he says or (b) don’t like the way that he says it. Like him or not, he has a long track-record of almost everything he says coming true – long before anyone else is reporting it.

The best example I can think of is when the sisters of Tony George ousted him from his role as CEO of IndyCar and IMS back in 2009. Robin Miller had been the only one reporting this for a month before it actually happened. During that month, Miller took a beating on social media for spreading false rumors just to make Tony George look bad. More than a decade later, we now know that Miller was dead-on accurate with his story.

I don’t agree with all of Robin Miller’s opinions, but I agree with most of them. Back in the early 2000s, Miller was always a champion for driver Memo Gidley. I never really understood his fascination with Gidley. I considered him a decent driver, but not the hottest American driver out there. Did Gidley ever get a fair shot in IndyCar? Probably not. He had stints with Derrick Walker, Gerry Forsythe, John Della Pena and Chip Ganassi – but always as a replacement driver in midseason. He was entered to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 three times, but never made the race. His lone IRL start was a twenty-first place finish for Dreyer & Reinbold at Fontana in 2002.

But that is one of the few exceptions when I have disagreed with Robin Miller. My opinions usually coincide directly with his; whether it is about a driver’s ability or which direction the series should go.

Most of you have probably seen the article he wrote this past Monday for Racer.com where he posted his Top-Ten list of things he wanted to see Roger Penske change for the Indianapolis 500. Some I agreed with, but surprisingly – I disagreed with more than one thing on his list. Rather than copy and pasting his list, I’ll just paraphrase the wording of those I do and don’t agree with and tell why.

In his first statement, Miller said that he thought the purse should be increased dramatically. While I agree with that wholeheartedly and even with how to go about it, I took issue with an example he gave. Miller suggested that Penske should find a $5 million title sponsor and pump that money directly into the purse. OK, I can go along with that. For the past four years, we’ve had the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade and then Gainbridge. That’s something I wasn’t in love with, but I accepted it as a sign of the times.

But when Miller said that he was fine with something along the lines of “The Menard’s 500 at Indianapolis” – that’s where I draw the line. The Indianapolis 500 cannot be called anything else. Period. When college bowl games started adding corporate sponsorships to their names, again – I saw it as a sign of the times. For example, I was OK when the Gator Bowl became the Mazda Gator Bowl in the mid-eighties. As the different corporate sponsors changed throughout the years, they still kept the name “Gator Bowl” in there. But they lost me when they dropped “Gator” and simply became the TaxSlayer Bowl. If my team is playing in the TaxSlayer Bowl, I at least want to know where it is. I always knew where the Gator Bowl was. The TaxSlayer Bowl? Not so much.

Call me old-fashioned, but the Menard’s 500 just doesn’t conjure up historic images in my head. Some things are just too sacred to change.

I also disagreed with Robin Miller’s second item on his list, when he said that Roger Penske needed to bring back the apron that was taken up after the 1992 race. He cites the 1982 and 1991 races as to why the apron inside each of the four turns needs to be brought back. This has been one of Miller’s hot-buttons for years, but it’s never been one of mine.

I’m more ambivalent about the apron than anything else. I’m not an advocate for it, nor am I opposed to it. It just doesn’t matter to me. I’m not an engineer and I’m not going to pretend to know whether or not the apron created a more violent angle whenever a car hits the wall. But I do know that the 1993 race, immediately after the apron was taken up, was one of the more exciting races of the decade.

I’m not saying Roger Penske should never bring back the apron, but I can think of a lot of other things I’d like to see before that massive undertaking is approached.

Miller’s third item, I have mixed emotions about. He says IMS should put up fencing between the main straightaway and the pits. He notes that only luck has prevented a car being launched into the pits and/or the Tower Terrace. Kevin Cogan’s 1989 crash comes to mind, but his car didn’t hop over the pit wall – it just went into the pit entrance and he slid on his side for several hundred feet.

My hesitation on this is extremely on a selfish basis, but it’s still a concern. Like many, my seats for the Indianapolis 500 are along the main straightaway. I sit in Grandstand A, across from the pits, just south of the entrance to Gasoline Alley. One reason why I chose those seats is so that we can see the action during pit stops. We already look through the fencing that goes along the outside of the track. With an extra layer of fencing and cables to look through, our view of the pits will be fairly obscured. I realize that all it takes is one tragic incident, and fans will question why such fencing was never up in the first place – so I tread lightly disagreeing with Miller on this one.

I completely agree with Robin Miller on items Four, Five and Six; which address upgrading restroom facilities, widening the area along Georgetown Road and allowing mechanics and media to park inside the track again. I’m especially in favor of the one addressing media parking. Until 2014, the media was allowed to park inside the track all month – not too far from the Media Center. In 2014, we were banished to Lot Two, on the outside of the track across Georgetown Road. Not many of you will sympathize with me on this one, but carrying cameras, laptops and personal belongings all that way every day of every weekend in May gets old. And when it rains, Lot Two quickly turns into a quagmire.

Item Seven, I have no real opinion on. It involves the gambling legislation and getting pari-mutuel betting windows at the track. I don’t gamble and I’m not keen on the gambling world infringing upon the Indianapolis 500. But I realize that is an untapped source for revenue, so I know it’s eventually coming. But personally, I’m not looking to that day getting here.

Items Eight, Nine and Ten I completely agree with. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware about Item Eight which says that fans shouldn’t be charged to park for practice and qualifying. I’ll admit that I have had free parking at IMS since I started this site. The last time I paid to get into qualifying was in 2009, and we parked in the infield. My parking was included with my admission fee, which was only $10 at the time. I know that infield parking is much more limited than it was then, but do fans now have to pay to park for practice and qualifying? If so, by all means parking should be free.

Item Nine dealt with building a new museum big enough to display all the cars in the entire collection. I agree with Robin Miller, that it’s stupid to have a “secret” collection down in the basement that only a select few can see. Since I’ve never been to the basement of the museum, I think they should display all the cars, all the time.

Robin Miller’s Item Ten says that the BC39 on the Turn Three infield dirt track should be run in May when an open wheel crowd is there. He further proposes to give the winner a ride in Carb Day’s Freedom 100. I completely agree on both counts.

So out of ten items on Robin Miller’s list, I really only had a partial disagreement with three of his points – changing the name of the race, bringing back the apron and adding fencing between the main straightway and the pits. And I agreed with parts of each one of those.

The rest, I completely agreed with. It’s funny how great minds think alike. And for those that think I’m arrogant in comparing myself to Robin Miller, this is very much tongue-in-cheek.

George Phillips

An Apocalyptic Sign of the Times

Posted in IndyCar on November 20, 2019 by Oilpressure

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To some, this will come across as a rant from a grumpy old man in full-out Get off my Lawn mode. I don’t mean for it to, but younger readers will probably view it that way. Instead, I consider it simply a look at the ever-changing landscape in sports.

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The Offseason Drama Continues

Posted in IndyCar on November 18, 2019 by Oilpressure

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This past Thursday, we learned from a Marshall Pruett article at Racer.com that Spencer Pigot’s employment at Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) has come to an abrupt end. At the season finale in late September, Robin Miller reported that Pigot was likely coming back to the team he has driven for in some capacity since the 2016 season.

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Does it Really Matter?

Posted in IndyCar on November 15, 2019 by Oilpressure

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Among all the speculation that has occurred over the last couple of weeks regarding Roger Penske’s purchase of IndyCar, IMS and IMS Production there is one that doesn’t interest me in the least. I’m very curious to learn of the big-picture plans that Penske has for both. I’m also anxious to learn about the little details; like who will give the command to start engines next May or will double-points still be a thing.

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The Right Person in the Right Job

Posted in IndyCar on November 13, 2019 by Oilpressure

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This will seem like shameless self-promotion, but I promise you it’s not. Just stay with me on this. This past Saturday, I was a guest on Steve Zautke’s radio show, The Final Inspection, on 105.7 FM The Fan in Milwaukee; to discuss how I think Roger Penske’s purchase of IMS and the NTT IndyCar Series will affect the series specifically.

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What to Change, What to Keep

Posted in IndyCar on November 8, 2019 by Oilpressure

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During Monday’s press conference to announce that Roger Penske had bought the racing portfolio of Hulman and Company (IndyCar, IMS and IMS Productions), Penske made a point to say that he will go around different departments within all three entities and have them tell what they think needs improving. By the time the sale is finalized in early January, he and his team will have a Top-Ten list to work from.

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The Sale

Posted in IndyCar on November 6, 2019 by Oilpressure

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Where do I begin?

It’s been roughly forty-eight hours since we learned that Roger Penske has purchased the NTT IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from the Hulman-George family. But even after a couple of days, I’m still having a little trouble sorting all of this out in my head.

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