Thursday, September 30, 2010

Controversy Builds Over Technologically “Enhanced” IndyLights Driver

Controversy bubbled over today at Homestead Miami a day before practice began for the final Firestone IndyLights race of the year. At the heart of the controversy IndyLights Driver Pippa Mann and her recently surgically repaired left hand.

According to Press releases, Mann broke the hand during a practice incident at Toronto earlier in the season. She raced in the Toronto race and the following weekend at Edmonton before having the hand surgically repaired, forcing her to sit out the race at Mid Ohio. She returned to race at Sonoma and has been on track with the series ever since, winning the most recent race at Kentucky speedway.

Others however dispute the story, suggesting something more sinister might be at work. Pointing to a great disparity in finishing position before the surgery compared to after (avg place before surgery 11th place, after 2.66th place) as an indication that something more substantial than a plate and a few screws were inserted into the wrist.

One driver who refused to named commented “it’s like that wrist is now like a machine…bionic, like the bionic woman, and it allows her to steer the car more quickly and with more authority than before”, referencing the 1970’s Television featuring Lindsey Wagner. The show’s premise is that a young woman is nearly killed in a fashion shopping accident and is then repaired by a team of robotic scientists that replace all her nonfunctional extremities with robotic appendages which help her become a crime fighting superhero.

Others see things differently. “She’s a deep space mutant alien and she is here to devour the male drivers” said JK Vernay working through his interpreter Roy Hobson. “She takes on a pleasing form to distract our attention as she consumes our male vitality. She’s like that monster machine woman Seven of Nine from the Star Trek television show” Hobson continued after Vernay began talking to other reporters. The Seven of Nine character in the Star Trek Voyageur series was played by the buxom dimpled bombshell Jeri Ryan. Seven’s character background was that she was a human girl, 10 years old, when her space colony was assimilated into a Borg commune. 15 years later when the starship Voyageur destroys the Borg commune, unlike all the other Borg drones that short circuit and die, Seven’s remaining Human vestiges reassert themselves over her short circuiting machine elements. The Voyageur Captain decides to rescue Seven and dresses her in skin tight silver spandex in order to raise the morale of the male officers and distract them from the reality that they were sucked into a black hole and were 2 billion light years away from earth.

Driver Charlie Kimball postulated that “Since the alien technology was implanted into her left wrist, it was helping her to do exceedingly well on ovals”. In fact, in her two oval races since the surgery, Pippa has finished second at chicagoland and then first place at kentucky.

One driver apparently isn’t content to stay around and have his male vitality consumed. Sebastian Saavedra recently bolted from the league aqnd sketchy rumors persist that are tracing Saavedra's exit to a paranoid fear about Mann’s robotic appendage.

When asked what he thought about Mann’s robotic enhancement, driver James Hinchcliffe commented “I think it is sort of HOT! Just imagine the action she now gets on her spanking motion!”

When asked about the controversy, Mann responded “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, it was a metal plate and six screws!”. When asked to explain why her results had shown such drastic improvement since the surgery she responded “During some Idle time at Mid Ohio I went shopping and found this smart little store called “Fashion Bug” they had the greatest pair of jeans. I have never had such a great pair of jeans they made me feel so much better about myself. It’s like they have turbo charged my self confidence.”Outside the paddock, the controversy is seen in a positive light. Independent T-Shirt vendor, John Pemberton related “Pippa and her alien technology have really saved my season. I was looking forward to getting stuck with a bunch of Wade Cunningham, JR Hildebrand and Jon Edwards merchandise, but my latest design for Pippa has been selling like hotcakes” referring to a T shirt with Mann’s image and printed saying “Resistance is Futile” on the front and “Prepare to be A-Pippa-lated” on the back.

Mutant technology or smart jeans, the answer to this mystery is still being sorted out. But the final race of the Firestone IndyLights schedule will be run Saturday at Homestead Miami speedway and it will not be televised on Versus, because apparently they don’t care, but yet they can show 10 freaking hours of fishing shows every damn day. BASTARDS.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Championship Contenders Defect from Series on Eve of Season Finale

Izod IndyCar Championship frontrunners Dario Franchitti and Will Power have announced plans to leave the series just days before the season’s final race that was to crown the champion. Heading into the finale, only Power and Franchitti were mathematically still alive for the championship with Power leading Franchitti by 12 points.

Apparently the issue compelling both of them to leave the series relates to the unveiling of a new championship trophy for the series. “It’s a way wrong scary bugger ‘ee is” said Franchitti when asked to describe the new trophy. He added “Ashley won’t want that in the ‘ouse”.

Power seemed to be wavering on the decision, was quoted “It’s a very hard decision for me because It would be my first series championship, something I have fought for all year, but I can’t have that thing in my house, I’ll have nightmares”.

The trophy created by sculptor Ted Gall is meant to symbolic of man, machine and the symbiotic beast they become “We’re not just a human form; we’re what we use all the time,” said Gall. “It used to be if you were a cowboy you’d ride a horse. Now we’re really attached to wheels our whole lives. The arms are imploring; they’re reaching out for that golden ring, for that big win”.

Other drivers were asked their opinion of the new trophy and reactions varied. “I think it is really interesting, reminds me of a time back home when a movie was being filmed and the call went out for extras to take part. I went down and they made me up in layers of brown makeup so thick my cheeks were numb. I think they said we were orcs or something. Not sure if they ever finished the movie or not but it was fun staggering around in the makeup making strange noises” said Scott Dixon.

“I am disappointed that they got rid of the old trophy, I promised my son that next year I would win it and he could take a bath in it” said Tony Kanaan. “He’ll take a look at this and he’ll cry”.

Danica Patrick was quoted as saying “and they wonder why I am leaving for nascar?”

IndyCar officials were confident that after initial reactions subside, both Power and Franchitti would return to their cars Saturday night. “We only create the trophies and prizes, it is up to the drivers to decide to accept them or not”. Said Brian Barnhart, President of Competition.

When asked what motivated the league to design such an unorthodox prize, President of Commercial Stuff, Terry Angstadt related “After Kentucky we were hanging out polishing off a case of Fuzzy’s, and we were thinking how hysterical it would be for Ashley to have to display some hideous monstrosity in her house after Dario finished off Power during the oval part of the series and then EJ Viso went by on his unicycle”.

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard was quoted “We believe it is important to leave the politics of the split behind. That includes the symbols of that era, like the previous championship cup. Taking things further, we want people to forget that we are even an auto racing series. People said that in rejecting the Delta Wing, we weren’t bold enough, we didn’t take the risks necessary to move this series forward. I would suggest that this trophy represents a commitment to bold, risky thinking that will carry the series into the future”.

Persistent rumors suggest that there were other motives to the retirement of the IRL trophy. Rumors on the internet have sprung up suggesting that since the IRL trophy was made of solid Silver, it was sold to a local cash 4 gold location for an estimated $100,000 which was used to pay the bonuses to the two new discipline champions. The trophy was melted down and made into dental fillings.

Meanwhile, a perplexed Will Power struggled with his decision “I really want to win a championship. Maybe I can just take the hat home with me. They can keep the trophy at the Museum or something”.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pulling for The Fairytale Ending

The Izod IndyCar championship will be determined this weekend at Homestead and I need to pick a side. None of my Fav’s are in the hunt: JR Hildebrand is Home in Sausalito eating copious amounts of Italian food, hunting for funding for his big chance; Vitor Meira drives for Foyt – enough said; Ryan Hunter Reay has had a solid first season with Andretti Autosport – but not championship quality. I have no chips on the felt. So I resort to plan B in picking a favorite and that plan is rooting for the outcome that I see as the best bet to move the needle for the league. But who would that be, Will Power or Dario Franchitti?

This year my nod goes to Will Power.

The Versus promo spot for Homestead says it all. The replay of the horrendous accident at Infineon last year, the images of Will in traction being loaded into the Evac chopper with the voice over from Bob Jenkins summarizing the list of broken vertebrae in Will’s back. During the chopper flight, the tears and fears of potentially ending Nelson Phillipe’s life during the accident’s impact. The doubts about ever racing ever again. The long difficult Rehab. The commitment of a class organization to keep a seat open for his return. All followed by the general beat down that Will has dealt out to the rest of field on the road and street circuits this year.

Indeed, compared to where Will was a year ago, this would be the top feel good, fairytail story in racing since Alex Zanardi got back into a car for the first time after losing both legs. This storyline is why we love the personalities in racing and in sports in general. It is the reason athletes become our heroes. We love athletes with the “will power” to overcome difficulties and adversities to climb to the top in the competitive endeavor.

Many are counting Will out. He’s never won on an Oval. He has one of the greats of his generation in the rear view mirrors. His team has had hiccups in the pits and has been outsmarted by the TCG boys more than once.

But, never has does not imply Never will, and Will has been very close to that first oval win multiple times this year. But on three occasions, it was bobbled away in the pits. With a championship close at hand, Team Penske has begun to shift pit crew members around. The group that will sport Verizon fire suits this Sunday will be an all star crew. The story only gets better if Will seals the deal by winning at Homestead on Saturday.

So why is a Will Power championship the best outcome for the league? Simple, the story is great and it will get legs. But some promotion wouldn’t hurt either. I would hope that Randy Bernard would be on the phone to Bristol, CT Monday selling a story, looking for commitment from his broadcast partner. What might this entail? As the Versus promos show, the story is great copy and would be strong support material for ABC’s promo activity next year.

Then there are those things called the ESPY’s, ESPN’s own little awards ceremony. Aired on the slowest day of the year, the day after the MLB All Star Game. The event draws the eyes of the entire sports world. Two awards nominations for a Power championship would seem logical: Top Racing Performance and Best Comeback Athlete. Fan voting determines the winners, and after Sunday momentum is rolling on a fifth Cup championship for Jimmie Johnson. The racing prize probably goes there. BUT the comeback award is a bigger deal in the show’s program and the Will Power story will be a tough one to beat. This is the kind of exposure the league needs from a source is sorely needs it from.

Another likely outcome from a Power championship is the likelihood that Power’s sponsor, Verizon will want to brag a little. This could mean full page ads in prominent national papers. It could mean television spots during other sporting events. But most of all it would be a favorable coincidence for a sponsor who has begun to step up their involvement from a single car to a wider association with the league as a whole. Activation friends, activation.

I respect and admire Dario Franchitti. His 2009 championship was about redemption, for himself and in some larger sense the league. His second 500 victory was about legacy. But the sport has enough legacy and history, it now needs new heroes to sell to a new generation. A Hero that stars in a Fairytale ending is a good place to start.

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