Wednesday, April 28, 2010

News Stories of the Week – Connecting the Dots???

Two news stories have been on the radar, one official and one based on a curious comment from a track president in Florida.

The official news was the announcement of Discipline Championships for Oval and Twisties. As I mentioned back in a post last August, I am a proponent of the idea. A lot of commentary has focused on the purity of the sport and other various competition based arguments, but for me the benefits are clear and as we will see over time, financially based.

My guess is that at least one of these trophies already has sponsorship dollars behind it. Not only will there be trophies awarded but there will also be prize money. The prize money has to come from somewhere, likely a sponsorship. The league could sell these discipline title sponsorships for $2 -3M per, give away $500k cash prizes to each and roll the rest into TEAM fund allocations or just simply towards improving the bottom line. Despite their recent decision to drop Vision as a sponsored team, the oval crown seems like a good fit for Menard’s.

I anticipate we may now start to see a handful of split season sponsorships pop up where a driver targets their effort in one or the other championships at a price half that of the full season deal. Last year Tomas Schekter could have put together an oval package with his Mona Vie $$$ competing against the likes of Sarah Fisher and Ed Carpenter who themselves might be replaced by drivers like Charlie Kimball or James Davison for the twisties at SFR and Vision respectively with all 4 in 500 rides.

I also think this split opens up the potential for revisions to the TV packages, ovals on one outlet and twisties on the other. And Finally I think this move is a commitment from the league to say to fans of both the IRL and CART/Champ Car that both Twisties and Ovals are and will remain important components of the series. For the first time officially from the league side, Randy Bernard has mentioned the importance of a 50/50 split. It’s about time. Now lets work on getting this puppy up to 24 dates by 2014.

Based on this year’s schedule, the coronations may need some work. On principal, no oval title should be awarded in Motegi and no title of any kind should be awarded in Homestead. Sonoma is probably ok to stay as the title race for the twisty title, in particular if the title were sponsored by some technology company based in the Bay Area. Homestead could be moved (if kept at all) back to the start of the season and the oval title could be awarded at a place like Phoenix or Las Vegas.

But what of the overall Izod IndyCar series title? Well here’s where we speculate a bit (more than usual!) and try to connect the dots. MyNameIsIrl had a post earlier this week where the President of the Daytona Speedway name dropped the “I” word in the context of repaving the track at Daytona (as if potholes during a race weren’t motivation enough). Keep in mind that Joie Chitwood is now running the show over at the ISC tracks division and last time I checked he seemed friendly to the open wheel persuasion. So I ask, could the Izod IndyCar series title that recognizes excellence on both Oval and Twisty circuits be awarded at a road course that incorporates parts of the second most famous racing oval in the world?

Which also begs another question, would IndyCars racing at Daytona signal the IICS’s rise back to relevance the same way that the Brickyard 400 proclaimed nascar’s arrival on the big stage 20 years ago?

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Tale of Two Races

We’ve hit a transition point in the season where the introductions are over, we have an idea of who’ll be posing on the podium at season’s end versus those who will simply be posing for their sponsors. We are also going to have a transition in the type of tracks the series races on, from road and street courses to ovals. Many are breathing a sigh of relief that the series which began as a recommitment to AOW oval racing returns to its true purpose and leaves the cash grabs on city streets behind.

I attended my first Long Beach weekend last week and as I drove back to the hotel after the festivities were over on Sunday, my memory started to wander back to the final race I had attended last year and a great dichotomy was revealed. One that I understood conceptually as it has been a part of the IndyCar dialogue for 25 years now, but now when confronted with it face to face, I had no idea the magnitude of difference that really existed.

Let’s start by taking a look back at the sights, sounds and happenings from last weekend’s Long Beach race. It was a party, a festival and a happening. The city of Long Beach not only seemed excited for the race but most of the LA region. Overall, 170,000 people attended the event. Long Beach is the second biggest event on the Izod Indycar calendar. The weekend crowd probably was on par with or out drew either of the nascar weekends at Fontana. For race venues, Indy is the only other place that can make that claim. An interesting note, a number of people from either nascar or Toyota were in the grandstands handing out free passes to the fall race in Fontana – if that doesn’t say something about this event what does?

But the turnout was not only in spectators as corporate LA showed up as well. In the middle of the circuit is the Long Beach convention center, which was filled with booths and exhibits representing the corporate community wanting to be involved with the race weekend. All around the grounds, Tecate, a brand of beer that is garnering a growing share of the US market, was out in force with promotion a plenty, not even mentioning the large shiny blue army of Tecate girls roaming the premises armed with beads and skin tight unis (I hope someone in the league took notice, this is the kind of activated sponsor that might be right for a larger engagement –lest we forget the green Tequila that got away).

Of Course Izod was out also, continuing their “Race to the Party” campaign, so too was Toyota who didn’t have a car in any of the races all weekend. The massive exposure in the local community and opportunity to treat and entertain local the workforce is enough to justify the support of a car maker whose majority of racing spend goes to support selling trucks via their nascar program. (PS is there really any reason for a car manufacturer to be involved with nascar these days if they are NOT selling trucks? Taking this a step further, if nascar = truck sales then if someone at the league office can sell the story that IndyCar = car sales, then we are going somewhere as far as making a case for more mfctrs getting involved)

Overall, it was an event that created a buzz, not only with the fans and the sponsors in attendance but also with local media as several local radio stations were broadcasting on the premises and flying overhead were a couple helicopters from local TV stations. All in all a clear sign, that perhaps this series has a future.

Let’s now take a look at the last race I attended in 2009, Kentucky. I have seen three races at Kentucky with my wife and father in-law and it seems to me that the event is on a downward slide. This slide also happens to coincide with the track itself changing hands from being an independent entity to just another property in the SMI portfolio. Last year’s race crowd and this is being generous, was perhaps 15,000. 15K in a property built for 80k. Nothing kills a mood faster than the sense of wide open space at an event that collects tickets at the door. The magnitude of the crowd does not tell the complete story. Judging from the smattering of people around me, maybe 2/3rds of those fans wanted to be there. The rest either wound up with the seats as part of a season package that featured a truck and nationwide date or just were too “challenged” to purchase the right event on the internet. That portion of the crowd clearly didn’t want to be there, which just made things all the “merrier” for those of us that did.

As far as corporate involvement goes…ummm…let me think here…ummm…Oh yeah, it seemed like Dollar General had a some sort of perk promotion going on for their employees in the local area. Hundreds of DG employees, in specially minted Sarah Fisher #67 yellow t-shirts were on site taking it all in. It has been a while so I don’t remember if that group seemed to be enjoying themselves or not. I will say it was a very nice show of support for Sarah. I was initially a bit worried from the sponsor alignment perspective when DG signed on with Sarah. I was curious how they would play with the Izod and Apex Brazil crowd. But that is the power of the Indy 500, perhaps the only racing event in the world that can bring together interests both local and global and across the income spectrum together.

The event had a corporate sponsor, Meijer, a store that the Mrs and I tend to frequent, but other than naming, they seemed to have little involvement for in store activation or on site promotional activity concerning the race at all. A few weeks later, business took me to Grand Rapids and the corporate headquarters and I decided to get a feel for what the sponsor felt about the race they sponsored. While this is by no means a representation of any sort of corporate stance, one of my clients had no clue what I was talking about and the other rolled his eyes and under his breath said “that fiasco”. Reading into this a bit, it seems that they were not particularly pleased with the state of the race they put their name on.

So on this basis of this comparison of these two races, well, no comparison at all. Any league official with half a brain cell would see that the way to interest, bring and keep corporate sponsorship into the series is to shift the schedule towards these types of events into large media markets.

But that is not the whole story for these two races, we also need to talk about the competition itself and how that likely translated to a TV audience.

Kentucky was the race of the year for the 2009 Izod IndyCar series. David (in the form of Ed Carpenter of Vision Racing) battled Goliath (Briscoe and Penske) in a side by side duel over the last roughly 10 laps to yield one of the closest races in series history. But if a tree falls in a forest, and there is no one there to hear it, does it still make a sound? If the race is great, but no one sees it, does it matter? My party and those around us that night greatly enjoyed the drama of the moment, but as mentioned earlier there just were not that many of us, and of the ~15k that may have started the night in the stands only about 2/3rds remained as the rest of the “accidental” attendees mentioned earlier were off behind the back stretch drinking old Milwaukee, burning wieners on bonfires and pontificating where the 32 lane drag strip was going “now that the big boys owned the place”.

I don’t recall what the TV number was for the race, but I recall the Saturday night race numbers were pretty bad last year, perhaps like -.12 for this race in particular. Keeping in mind that the drama occurred over a 10 minute stretch at the end of the race, and that the 65,000 empty seats were there from the start to the finish over the 2.5 hour window it is not hard to imagine that if any casual fan stumbled across the broadcast, the empty spaces turned them off before the drama began.

As for the racing at Long Beach this year, well, it was Long Beach. In the podium positions past the first lap, we had one true pass for position. I don’t count Will’s shifting issue as a true pass. I never saw the race broadcast, but as we were listening to the truck feed for Versus on the race scanner, let me assure you that the race in person seemed duller than what was being telecast to the masses. Fortunately, there were those Tecate Girls. We were in Turn 1 off the front straightaway where it seemed most of the passing would have taken place, but we did not have much to reflect on. I have heard it mentioned that there was more passing on the back straightaway but of course there are no grandstands back there. Long Beach was the first of the US temporary street circuits designed and unlike more recent designs in Sao Paulo or St Pete, the quality of the racing was probably second to a variety of issues when the circuit was drawn up. With all that said, I look forward to going back to Long Beach one day. Since it involves cross country travel, it won't be a yearly staple but the event was worth the effort.

As for TV, the .5 it garnered is the best number any of the Versus broadcasts have ever gotten. Much of the extra audience over and above the core was likely the activated LA market. (remember all those radio stations, TV helicopters and Hollywood parties?) Now of course the burning question becomes, do any of those people stick around for the next race? That is the $60,000 question. It seems no one knows the answer. (I might point out that I can help answer that question, marketing research seems to be an innate talent I have that earns me a living…)

Now that I am 1,800 words into this it seems like perhaps I should have a gist, purpose or at least an ending. The series faces challenges as it puts together a schedule of events that have the goal of building and projecting the series into the future. On one hand temporary events are outstanding ways to get new people in the door and actively engage sponsors while on the other hand ovals, more often than not, provide more compelling on track competition. In the end, the expectations and standards need to rise for both types of venues going forward, street circuits need to be designed with competition in mind and poorly promoted events at road or oval locales need to be axed and the dates need to go to promoters and venues who care.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Image Overload...

I am working on a post describing the two most recent races I have attended and the philosophical conundrum they present, but until then here are some images from the Long Beach weekend.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Long Beach - Saturday

Thought I would drop in a few lines before I get going and headed to the track.

This is my first Long Beach weekend and I have enjoyed it so far. The event seems to have a bit more of a buzz than does a permanent road circuit like Mid Ohio or I would assume the others have. I enjoyed Mid O for the laid back atmosphere and I am contemplating a six pack of energy drinks before heading to the track this morning. Spent part of the day in the stands and part wandering around in the paddocks. I liked how the ALMS paddock was open to all comers, but clearly see the problems that would arise if the IndyCar paddock did the same thing.

I’ll be down in GS 40 in turn one again tomorrow and I think with P2P we may see a spicier race here than in some past years. Great location, can see cars flying down to turn 1, one of the best passing zones on the track, and then again heading into turn 6 to see if a pass sticks, you have a video monitor across the way and then you can see cars exiting the pits and blending back into the race. Really happy with the location.

A couple notes from the day:

Hideki Mutoh is sporting some new side pods. The team has made the space available for “Be a Donor Save a Life” for the David Foster Foundation. I took special interest in this placement for a couple reasons. My sister in law donated a kidney last year and sending her the picture of the car made her day. It was another thank you reminder for her of the incredible sacrifice she made for the benefit of others. I lost my father from kidney disease when I was a year and a half old, back in the days before transplants were possible. This is a good thing NHL is doing here.

This is not the first time they have carried livery for a charity on the side of their car, Graham won St Pete with Hole in the Wall camps on the side of his vehicle. But this is an incredible community service. I wonder why this doesn’t become a more regular thing for teams without true primary sponsorship. It is great PR and linking it to a handful of driver appearances in the markets the league appears could certainly raise the profile of the league with special interest media pieces in those markets.

Some may argue that the empty side pod sends prospective sponsors the message that the hotel has vacancy, I would argue that most non profits have corporate donors and for those corporate donors, seeing their charity recognized by the league, raises the profile of the League with those same corporate entities when it is time to allocate promotional dollars.

I spent a couple moments with JR Hildebrand in the ALMS pits yesterday. You all know how much I feel this young man is as vital to the future of the league as Graham or Marco. The good news is that he thinks things are coming together for a foray into the IndyCar series yet this year, but when you have such large amounts of money flying around, things take time and lawyers have to review contracts et Cetera.

Cavin reported that one of the engines Honda was working on for May was for Petersen racing. Petersen has been the co-owner of the Lights team (along w/Andretti) that JR raced for last year. Draw conclusions as you wish.

In the ALMS Race, JR was in the LMP Challenge car for Genoa Racing. Starting 3rd in the class, JR raced hard, busting moves all along the way and succeeded to move up to first in his class, picking off a LMP car along the way. As ALMS has a team of drivers in the car during a race and pit stops are not always as bang bang bang as they are in IndyCar, the team wound up back in third for the complete race. But JR was fast yesterday, I hope Randy Bernard was watching. Sir you want Future stars in this league? You don’t have to look any further than last year’s lights Champ…

And Finally, Mrs JP had the meet up of a life time…A picture describes it best… Eat your heart out Pressdog…

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Month of May: Threshing the Wheat from the Chaff

I thought I would drop a few lines about the new qualification schedule this evening, because tomorrow evening I will be packing like crazy to get ready to head to Long Beach and then the next night in route @ 35,000 ft.

When it comes to the Izod IndyCar series, many people consider themselves to be traditionalists. Whereas, I consider myself a Futurist. Not a futurist in the sense that I secretly dream of Phallic shaped Tricycles zooming around the speedway @250mph using single cell cold fusion engines, rather a Futurist in a more simple interpretation of the word. I simply want this race, this series and this sport to have a better future than it currently enjoys today. Anything that does not contribute to a stronger tomorrow is expendable. This explains my obsession with younger drivers, younger fans and my apathetic dismissal of older journeyman drivers and fans who insist on living in a cold war (cart/IRL) box as to what the series should look like.

And onto the topic at hand, That is why truncating the month of May does not elicit immediate panic and rage from me. You can move my cheese if there is more cheese in the place where I ultimately find it. Judgement is found in evaluating the benefits of the move. The historical schedule has simply fallen out of touch with how people live today and the list of entertainment alternatives people have when it comes the their free time in person or in front of the tube. This new schedule acknowledges that fact and simply respects a casual fan’s ability to engage the spectacle.

From a television standpoint the plan for qualifications is brilliant. It insures that on day one, all the most important action, the laps that will determine the pole and the first three rows will occur in a compressed 90 minute window. Likewise, for bump day, the drama is back loaded into the final 90 minutes by circumstances. This plan requires a lower investment of time from a viewer who may have an interest in seeing the meaninfull portion of qualifying, but not the interest in investing 9 hours to see it. My guess is that these two qualifying events could have better ratings than many races, perhaps even being ABC worthy. Overall, it creates a scenario where across two weekends, three broadcasts with strong television numbers are staged which can be leveraged with current and future sponsors, and doesn’t stoop to having relatively meaningless “shootout” races as a lead in to the big show.

In addition, I would imagine that the 2011 schedule will feature an additional Oval track the week after Kansas (or whatever replaces it) on the schedule. That date is a month or more removed from the first cup dates at Michigan, Pocono and New Hampshire. Plenty of spacing for an IndyCar event until the cup boys come to town giving the promoter and track time to sell tickets and turn a facility around. Since I am not a fan of having 4 cookie cutter 1.5’s on the schedule, replacing Kansas with one of those other tracks would be just fine with me. New Hampshire, Michigan, Indy and Texas in a row would be a tremendous stretch of track variety and good racing. More TV momentum.

Something else that we are all excited about this year is the potential to have 40 cars vying for 33 spots. That is the way it ought to be and it will make the 90 minutes of bump day qualifying riveting TV. The risk though is this, for cars not named Penske or Ganassi, there is now a 20% chance your ride won’t make the show. That is up significantly from the 5% chance that fringe teams were facing last year. I worry that in future years, that risk of failure will again drive down car counts for the month of May. Which, is why I am a proponent of a Pay 36 rule. Where 33 qualify for the race but 36 get Money. Positions 34 – 36 would not need to get the $270k that a non TEAM alotted back marker gets. $135k would be enough to cover an engine lease and some out of pocket expenses. It mitigates the risk of failure, enticing a predictably regular entry list of 38 – 39 entrants each year. Overall it will insure that there is always bump day drama leading to a good crowd and Tv number.

These are all good reasons to be optimistic for the future of the 500 and for leveraging even more exposure out of it to take to prospective sponsors. The race for the Poll and Bump day are vital, qual days 2 and 3 are not. It’s wheat and chaff. It’s about money makers and money losers. It’s about making tomorrow better than today and these are good steps.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The JR Hildebrand Powerball Ridebuy Lottery

As I noted in my last blog, I’m mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore. JR Hildebrand has no ride and I simply must do something. I am not poverty stricken but neither am I Richard Branson. If JR was looking for some help getting into Go-Karts I could probably help him out. IndyCar – um well I can buy him an extra ticket for the races I am going to.

SO In order to help, I need to figure out a way to raise massive amounts of capital, fast. Many legal repercussions exist for drug dealing, money laundering and roughing up little old ladies. Prospects for both My and Mrs JP’s potential porn careers ended about 40 pounds ago. I doubt that if I asked for a $5M dollar raise that I would get it. So what’s left? The Lottery…

Being a professional statistician by trade, I understand the concept of “the expected value of a random variable” and know that the lottery generally returns about 50 cents on the dollar, and hence is a sucker bet in casino terms. BUT where I currently stand at a zero probability chance of finding enough money to back JR, the lottery would give me a positive (but small) probability of actually raising the funds. SO that is the clear solution.

It is a not a solution without problems. The first has to do with the size of the jackpot. Just because there is a $5M jackpot, doesn’t mean I can get JR hooked up. You have to remember that the pot size values are distributed over a 30 year window and I would need the cash now, SO if you take the all at once cash option, you only get $2.5M. Then after Uncle Sam get’s paid you’re down to $1.4M. Enough to get JR and a buddy back into lights for another year, but not into and actual IndyCar seat.

On top of that if I were to win the lottery, in addition to my original plan to use the money to get JR into a ride, other people might have expectations on the money. MrJP seems to have the idea that we should pay down some bills, perhaps take in a bunch of broadway shows and buy a new 6 cylinder Outback. Obscure distant relatives are sure to show up and take a renewed interest in family bonding, random cub scout troops and Dale Coyne will show up with boy scout popcorn to sell, Nigerian ambassadors will ask for humanitarian aid to assist their country recover from devastating blizzards etc. And honestly I may want to spend a little money on myself, perhaps getting the better part of Jennifer Jason Leigh’s early body of work on Blue Ray disc or perhaps expanding my growing collection of rubber ducks.

So after taking all these sorts of thing into consideration, It makes no sense to play any lottery, Hoosier, Powerball or Mega Millions until the payout is over $100M. Otherwise, the winnings are enough to screw up my life without allowing me to accomplish the original goal. For $100M the take home after doing the cash option and Uncle Sam would be about $25M, Set up some annuities to guarantee income for the remainder of Mrs JP and my remaining years whacks off another $8M. College funds for nephews, nieces and other inane requests from other groveling relatives – another $5M. $2M for silly frivolity in the immediate short term and then I am down to $10M enough to get JR hooked up for the next two years. After that, he’s on his own. I gotta draw the line somewhere.

Wednesday was the first day that Powerball was over the threshold, coming in at $120M. The extra $20M is great because the additional net of $5M could be used to do something good for humanity other than sponsoring an IndyCar team. Once it gets over $200M I can entertain the Idea of actually purchasing an IndyCar team for JR to drive for.

SO on Wednesday I bought my first ever $1 lottery ticket. I did the Quick Pick. JP and JR’s numbers were as follows:
9 43 45 49 54 PB 20
The Drawing yielded the following numbers:
4 36 40 44 52 PB 33

Since we did not win, the Jackpot rolled over and there is $150M available for us to win on Saturday. Also in the mix for next week could be the Mega Millions drawing. This Friday it was a $95M jackpot, again - enough to screw up my life, so I am holding off until potentially next Tuesday when it will pass the $100M mark. Perhaps, I am being a little closed minded here, suppose Powerball was $75M and Mega Millions was $25M, if we won both, it would reach that $100M mark and we would be good to go…There has to be some logical flaw with that plan some how – I will have to think about it…

I will be sure to keep everyone posted on our progress so be sure to check back every so often to see how we are doing…

PS - See my last post for some insight on how the FIL championship is a mixed blessing as far as helping a young driver advance their career...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Dropping Back into a Promising Season...

It makes me happy on that rare occasion that I am correct in an assessment. About a month and a half ago when I logged off for a while I boldly predicted the following:

“I see a season coming with a slight tick up on car counts, some promising new faces and races at So Paolo and St Pete that will be better than expected. No fuel knob, more juice in the P2P and long straightaways that will provide more passing action than we are used to. Regardless, the season will be underway, ethanol fumes will be in the air and all will be right with the world. Until then, happy blogging...”

Happy to oblige…

As for the next couple weeks…Not so bullish on the action (non contact related) at either of the next stops, but if you are worried about the show on tv; buy a ticket, bring a cooler and enjoy the party. Because before you know it, May is going to be outstanding.

But with my first post back in a while, it's time to get freaky long winded Marshal Pruett Style...

Announcing the JPIndyCar Season Schedule

Last year I took in Indy, Milwaukee, Mid Ohio and Kentucky in person, currently I have enough sponsorship to post another 4 race schedule. I kick the season off in style at the Long Beach Grand Prix, then off to Indy. Losing Milwaukee had me in a scramble but we plugged the gap with Iowa where MrsJP and myself will be crashing the couch in Pressdog’s family room.

No Mid Ohio this year, we will be on vaca in Yellowstone hoping that all this recent seismic activity doesn’t trigger an explosion of the massive supervolcano underneath the Yellowstone Caldera. That would extinguish life on earth and sort of suck.

We will definitely be at Kentucky hoping the new hosts their improve the hospitality from a year ago. If we don’t trash any equipment along the way, we may be able to squeeze in Chicagoland, but that may set me back another musical with MrsJP (Long Beach cost exactly two tickets to Phantom in Vegas).

Planning to be at any of these races?? Keep an eye peeled for me, I’ll be the one wearing the button that says “Respect Me I’m a Blogger” MrsJP will have a button that says “Pick Flick”

Already starting to think about the 2011 schedule, in the next month or two JP rolls the airdometer again at Delta and can again start thinking about strange and exotic lands – specifically race tracks hewn from the Ardennes forest…

The Road to Indy Rant

Of course I cannot let my first post back go without mentioning His Greatness, Mr JR Hildebrand. As you might suspect I am a little more than peeved that JR is not in a car right now. Hopefully someone at the league will finally take notice from JR, Alex Lloyd and Jay Howard’s situations and realize that winning the FIL title in October means absolutely nothing if most lobbying for budgets the following year goes on during the summer before. It’s like being a new college hoops coach trying to convince a junior he has never talked to before that the player should attend his school, not the one that has been recruiting him since he was an eight grader.

Some sort of financial incentive has to come with the FIL title to bridge the gap between when a lights driver wins the title and when he can begin to effectively leverage that achievement with sponsors. The simplest way to me seems like it would be selling a badged engine sponsorship for the FIL series and using the proceeds to help out FIL champions for up to two years post title…Until then it looks like I will have to take matters into my own hands and no I am not talking about stalking Marco and his knees with a lead pipe...Despite my extensive statistical training and understanding of the principle of expected value … I noticed that Powerball is up to $125 M, got any lucky numbers I should pick JR??? I got the livery all planned out... (Can you imagine the Swift 33 rocking this imagery???)

Some Thoughts on this, that, the other thing and bold wreckless prognostication

News came today that the Fisher/Rahal motor romance will continue onto Long Beach. I am now taking wagers on whether or a third loaner car from RLR shows up in the SFR garage during the month of May. After that, will we see Sarah again this year? Late last week Graham issued one of those “I got really bad news today but can’t tell you what it is” tweets. He may already have enough money raised to buy out the rest of the twisty season with SFR, but not enough to do much at NHL. The question then becomes does Sarah step out of her seat for the ovals sans Indy? Lots of complicated things could be in play here – including plans for next year, sponsor expectations and something I’m not sure I should talk about. I expect more news in the weeks to come.

Speaking of female drivers moving on after Indy…Could Indy or shortly thereafter be Danica’s swan song?? If you told me that after Iowa, there would be an announcement that Ms. Patrick’s contract with Andretti Autosport had been bought out so that she could pick up where she left off in fenderland, it would not surprise me a bit…

I would be a little more than disappointed that a young American Named Hildebrand, Edwards or Summerton is not in the BSA car, except for that fact that I can’t think of another young man so overdue for a crack at the big cars than Alex Lloyd. Nice pick, Dale.

Speaking of John Edwards – am I just paranoid or does it bother anyone else that the defending Atlantics Champ is racing a front engine car, sporting fenders in a series owned by ISC??

As for Jonathan Summerton, If I were him I would be thinking of the future, specifically 2011 and what happens if after spending 2010 wearing a yellow driver’s suit “Stache Jr” dawns a red one in 2011…

I would love to be a fly on the wall at the Iconic meetings. Compromise and strategic thinking seems to be in the air, Roger Penske has spoken. SO what would you think if the League expanded engine options in 2011 (excuse me but is that a Lotus sticker on the side of that Cosworth engine?) (equivalency regulated by the Delta Wing fuel drip system), accompanied by the gradual expansion to 28 FT equivalent cars racing 20 – 22 dates a season with multiple new chassis (ie the Swift #33 and a couple other homely pretenders) rolled out in 2013? Not saying this is exactly what will happen but I think something pragmatic and hopefully well thought out is on the way.

The Podium at So Paulo was one short of JP’s Mount Rushmore of favorite current Drivers (if only JRH had been around…), but as good as all of those stories felt, I have a vague feeling and hope that there will be an even bigger stunner and attention getter in one of the next two races…

Looking for that Marco Andretti Hot Wheels diecast that somehow eluded you during the 2009 season? Check out your nearest Indinapolis Meijer stores. Seems as if they are stuck with hundreds of them. The batch at my store has made its way from the toy Aisle, to a Toy End Cap, to the automotive section and now onto some ambiguous endcap near the crafts aisle…

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