We’ve entered the IMS off-season. Labor Day has passed and Fall is on its way. Eight months and almost three seasons will go by before we can kick off the 2013 event season in May. Sounds depressing, right? But maybe it isn’t quite so bad.
If we didn’t have the off-season would May really be as special for IMS and all of our fans? If we didn’t spend months in anticipation and if we didn’t spend months reliving moments of greatness that took place on the hallowed Yard of Bricks, would it really be as significant? Think about it.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum is open to visitors all year.
Doesn’t this hold true for so many things in life? Christmas, summer, and the IU basketball season just wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t spend time missing them. Okay, maybe the IU basketball season is a personal preference.
Don’t let the off-season blues get to you though, because there is much more to do at IMS than our events in May, July and August. You may not be able to see cars speeding around the oval at 220+ mph anytime you want, but you can visit our facility every month of the year!
The Vendor Marketplace is one of my favorite spots this weekend. It’s a chance to stroll around and check out some fashion, new motorcycle products, score some sunglasses or accessories and learn more about the motorcycle culture. Plus it’s located in Gasoline Alley. Not bad.
Early in the day at Vendor Marketplace
This year I’ve noticed a greater digital influence. As someone that works in the digital arena, this had me intrigued.
As you may know, the Red Bull Indianapolis GP track got a makeover earlier this summer. The circuit has been repaved, and who better to break it in than Nicky Hayden? He took the inaugural lap on the IMS circuit in 2008, so it only made sense that we ask Nicky back to be the first on the new surface.
On the newly paved IMS circuit
The public filed in to watch Hayden’s test from the Turn 2 viewing mounds as he took the track around 9:30. Nicky tested until around 12:30. The new surface seemed to treat him well. I thought I would get used to the site of his bike being almost completely horizontal as he took the turns, but I didn’t. Each time he rounded a turn was unreal!
After the test Nicky said the track was better than expected! He said “it’s pretty much perfect”, and “IMS went above and beyond” the drivers’ expectations. He also thinks it will make things safer during the race. If Nicky Hayden approves, I guess that makes the new pavement a success!
The test definitely left us eagerly awaiting the Red Bull Indianapolis GP that happens on August 28. I know I’m looking forward to seeing more motorcycle action on the IMS circuit, aren’t you?
Check out the video footage from today’s run below.
Some serious hardware in Colin Edwards' collarbone (Thanks to www.motorcyclenews.com)
The information lines of the sports world are taut today with criticism of LeBron James after the heavily favored Miami Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in six games in the NBA Finals. LeChoke was a common name used for James after he disappeared in the fourth quarter of games in the Finals just 11 months after “taking his talents” to South Beach in “The Decision” show on ESPN, one of the worst PR decisions ever made by an American athlete.
LBJ compounded the ire from fans by saying after the game that he didn’t care about fan criticism of his lackluster play in the Finals. Really? Didn’t LeBron say he was following all of the fan criticism last summer after his decision to leave Cleveland for Miami and an unlimited number of titles? Then LeBron all but inferred people were jealous of him because he was a superstar and they had to return to their sad, pathetic lives today after the Finals ended.
Enough of that megalomaniacal clown King James and his tarnished crown. Instead save the royal treatment for an American athlete who flat-out delivered Sunday in a way that few could have imagined just a week ago.
American MotoGP rider Colin Edwards finished third Sunday in the Grand Prix of Great Britain. It was the 12th podium finish of his nine-season MotoGP career, which isn’t a world-beating stat at first glance. But when you consider that Edwards beat MotoGP World Champions Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo and 10 other of the world’s best riders Sunday, just eight days after having a titanium plate screwed into his shattered collarbone, that’s the stuff of legends.
Read that again. That’s right: Colin Edwards finished third in arguably the most physical form of major circuit-based motorsports in the world — hanging on to a two-wheeled, angry bucking bronco for 45 minutes — just nine days after breaking his collarbone in five places in a crash during practice at the Catalunya Grand Prix at Barcelona, Spain.
Incredible. A supreme display of what SPEED Formula One analyst David Hobbs like to call “large attachments.” Some serious courage, to be proper.
And “The Texas Tornado” delivered when his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team needed it. His teammate, Cal Crutchlow, also suffered a broken collarbone in a crash this weekend at Silverstone in his home race, leaving Tech 3 with just Edwards on the grid.
Then Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies crashed a lap apart during the rain-soaked race. Guess who was the only Yamaha rider left in the race to score vital Manufacturers’ points? A 37-year-old “old dude” with a shattered collarbone held together with hardware, having the ride of his life.
When it came time to flourish, a healthy LeBron James choked and caved in mentally when his team needed him the most on the sunny shores of South Beach. When his team and manufacturer were down, a wounded Colin Edwards carried them to unexpected glory in a cold, English rain at Silverstone.
One of those guys is returning to his mansion with a private chef and a garage full of Maybachs and Ferraris. Another is heading home to Houston to see his wife, three kids and prepare for another round of happy riders at the Texas Tornado Boot Camp this weekend.
As February rolled around, the IMS Street Team turned its attention to the Dealer Expo. This year’s expo, the country’s largest power sports trade show, took place Friday, Feb. 18 through Sunday, Feb. 20. In efforts to share the exciting news about the fourth annual Red Bull Indianapolis GP, the Street Team and IMS staff headed to the newly expanded Indiana Convention Center for the weekend.
The team shared some key highlights that are being added to this year’s Red Bull Indianapolis GP such as “Main Street,” which can be seen below and will be filled with vendors, entertainment and, of course, motorcycles. “Main Street” will be located between Turns 9 and 10, along the green, dotted path which will be a “cruise path” so fans can cruise in and out as they please.
Track map of this year's Red Bull Indianapolis GP.
One of our biggest changes that we were eager to tell everyone is that our gates will be open until 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26 and Saturday, Aug. 27! There will be more than 12 hours of activity on and off the track each day! Fans and motorcycle enthusiasts were just as excited to hear this news as we were to tell it.
The entire weekend at Dealer Expo gave us a great opportunity to talk to folks who have been attending the race since 2008 and some who we will attend for the first time this August. Additional information can be found here.
The 1910 Indian that Nicky Hayden rode in 2008 was a big attraction.
Blythe and Maddie at the 2011 Dealer Expo
The weekend didn’t stop there, by any means! IMS hosted a kick-off party for the start of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Sunday. Fans join us at Jillian’s Downtown in Indianapolis to watch the Daytona 500 and get a chance to win some prizes, play games and enjoy some great racing.
This weekend also is full of events for the team. Friday through Sunday, the team and a few partners will be at the 20th annual Motorcycle Expo at the Indiana State Fairgrounds continuing to promote the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. On Saturday, Feb. 26, the team will be at the Children’s Museum for Engineer’s Day. If your child, niece, nephew, grandchild or neighborhood friend is an IMS Kids Club member, this will be the first of many fun opportunities for them to attend this year. (Spoiler Alert: If you purchase a Kids Club membership at the Children’s Museum on Saturday, you will receive free IMS Silly Bandz!)
This is yet another exciting weekend for the IMS Street Team, and there will be many, many more to come! March has lots of surprises in store for the collegiate crowd, including our first ever Snake Pit Tour! Stay tuned for those dates. Until next time, remember – only 93 days left until the start of the Indianapolis 500!
Welcome to 2011. No, Splash And Go is not working on the Roman or Julian calendar. It’s just getting quite busy around here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as preparations for this season — especially the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 on May 29 — are pedal to the metal.
Everything is just as hectic in the world of INDYCAR, where good news continues to be generated at a breakneck pace. The first big change is the elimination of the old Indy Racing League name and the creation of a new logo. INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard is right — the old name conjures too much bad mojo, too many memories of the split.
So INDYCAR it shall be. You won’t see any mention of Irrelevant Racing Lingo (IRL) around here anymore. Big-time open-wheel racing in North America is INDYCAR, baby.
The dramatic buzz created by these changes and other positive developments is catching the eyes of the INDYCAR blogosphere and media. Robin Miller at SPEEDTV.com pays tribute to Bernard’s role in INDYCAR’s resurgence, while Tony Johns at Pop Off Valve talks about the vital, smart decisions Bernard has made in the last 10 months. Mike Knapp at 15 Days in May mirrors the optimism of nearly every INDYCAR fan, while Christopher Leone at Open Wheel America looks at the importance the strengthened Mazda Road To Indy ladder system will play in INDYCAR’s future.
These are Timbuk3 times for INDYCAR. (Remember the classic one-hit wonder, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades?” Yeah, they sang it.)
The good news could keep on rolling on the television front, as a proposed merger between NBC and Comcast could signal a significant change for the IZOD IndyCar Series TV package.
NASCAR also is on the verge of a major change, as NASCAR.com reported Jan. 11 that drivers will be forced to choose one of the three major series in which they want to earn championship points in 2011. This could reduce the number of Sprint Cup drivers dipping into the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, as they won’t be eligible for championships.
This proposed move is going to take some digesting, just like the big Christmas meal I enjoyed. The ramifications are huge.
Will it reduce the marquee value of the Nationwide and Truck series if fewer Cup drivers participate? How can a driver who performs regular double or triple duty, such as Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, lure or keep a sponsor for the two lower series if he’s not running for a championship? How will that effect race teams in Nationwide and Busch owned by Cup drivers?
In another change, California Speedway is reducing its spring race distance from 500 to 400 miles. Halle-freaking-lujah. Here’s to hoping other tracks follow suit. Forcing fans to sit in front of a TV for a 500-mile race is just too much in the ADD world in which we live, especially when prominent drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. even admit the middle stages of those long races are nothing but parades to cut down laps to get to the final fuel stint. Five-hundred milers should be saved for a few special places and special races.
Dustin Long remains one of the top writers on the NASCAR beat, and he came up with this interpretive gem: It seems more and more Cup teams are hiring younger drivers, but the average age of participants in the Chase for the Sprint Cup continues to rise. Age and experience always can overcome youthful exuberance, I guess.
Some of the historic Indy 500 machinery on display at IMIS
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has a vibrant, visible presence this week at the International Motorsports Industry Show (IMIS) in Indianapolis, one of the largest, most prestigious racing trade shows in the United States.
IMIS has strong Indiana ties. The show was founded by Indiana residents Chris Paulsen, owner of Indianapolis-based equipment manufacturer and supplier C&R Racing; Tom Weisenbach, executive director of the Indiana Motorsports Association (IMA); Jeff Stoops, president of Stoops Freightliner; and two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, also a two-time winner of the Brickyard 400.
This is a hardcore racing show with global appeal. It’s based in Indiana. It’s organized and run by Hoosiers. So it’s a perfect fit for IMS.
Cars from all eras of the "500" are on display at IMIS
The large IMS display at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis included 10 classic Indianapolis 500 cars. IMS staff and the IMS Street Team promoted the popular Grounds Tour of IMS and the three Speedway events in 2011 — the Indianapolis 500 on May 29, the Brickyard 400 on July 31 and the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Aug. 28 — by distributing collateral material and just good, old-fashioned handshakes, smiles and conversations all three days of the Dec. 1-3 show.
Impressive variety of Indy 500 machinery on display at IMIS
Another popular piece of collateral distributed by IMS was a poster of the 33 Indy 500-winning cars lined up earlier this fall on the main straightaway at the Speedway, also promoting the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 in 2011. A few Indy 500 veterans stopped by to say hello, including Tyce Carlson and PJ Jones.
IMS was one of 579 racing companies that purchased 1,145 booths for the three-day, sold-out trade show. IMIS offers individuals and companies from all facets of the racing industry the chance to interact, share ideas and products, build relationships and attend seminars to improve motorsports business around the world.
For more photos of the IMS presence at IMIS, click here.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway played host to two very dedicated globetrotters in the last week. Both are parlaying their love of two-wheeled transportation into the trip of a lifetime.
Paolo kissing the bricks
Last week, Paolo Pirozzi of Italy stopped by to take a lap around the famed IMS oval on his Ducati motorcycle, affectionately named “Lidia.” Paolo is taking a year to ride around the world, making a point to stop by every MotoGP circuit on the globe in the process. So far, Paolo has taken seven months to cover 24 countries, starting in his native Italy and working through northern Europe, Russia into China, then back west across India and Pakistan and to Australia. He flew to Seattle and traveled down the west coast of the United States.
After Indy, Paolo traveled east to New York, and the plan is to hit Florida (who wouldn’t, in November!) and then work west then south through Mexico, Central and South America, and skip across the southern Atlantic from Brazil to Africa, then north toward home. I’m weary just thinking about it.
On Nov. 23, Az Heydari, one of the world’s newest yet most passionate MotoGP World Championship fans, ran the 2.621-mile road at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of the Red Bull Indianapolis GP.
Heydari, who attended her first MotoGP race at Estoril, Portugal in 2010 and immediately became a self-proclaimed MotoGP fanatic, is raising money for Riders for Health by running 16 of the 18 circuits upon which MotoGP runs around the world. Her goal is to raise 15,000 pounds; so far her running shoes and MotoGP fandom have raised more than 9,500 pounds.
The resident of Kent, England, left London on Nov. 6 and first ran the track at Qatar; she has ran most of the European circuits since and, after her run at IMS on a sunny-but-chilly day, she next heads west for Laguna Seca.
Jimmie Johnson put himself in the same room as NASCAR legends Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt — both seven-time Cup champions — by winning his fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup on Sunday by finishing second to Carl Edwards in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Johnson rallied from a 15-point deficit to pass Denny Hamlin for another championship. Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus endured a tumultuous Chase, during which Johnson’s crew was benched, to continue their reign over the sport.
Say it five times fast: This guy is a legend.
And the great debate begins: Is Johnson’s dominance good for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and help it gain more attention as it attempts to rebound in 2011 from a season of decreased attendance and TV ratings? Or will it hurt, as fans are getting sick and tired of seeing Johnson and Knaus hoisting the big silver trophy every year at Homestead?
SBNation’s Jeff Gluck, an avid Tweeter, posted this interesting smorgasbord of Twitter reaction from fans after the race Sunday. Many fans complained about Johnson’s victory. And those fans are wrong.
What Johnson is doing here, folks, is beyond special because it’s almost beyond comprehension. NASCAR rule makers toil long and hard to build equality into the sport. The COT has homogenized the machinery. The point system rewards consistency more than winning. The Chase system was created to prevent a runaway champion late in the season, erasing any early-season dominance. Four of the 10 Chase races are on 1.5-mile ovals, with no road courses and only one short track.
This is racing’s version of the salary cap and free agency, two components that have killed dynasties in the NFL, NBA and NHL. Yet Johnson, Knaus and Hendrick Motorsports continue to just deliver under pressure, year after year. Think about it: The last time Jimmie Johnson failed to win the Sprint Cup, only Alaskans had ever heard of Sarah Palin. Justin Bieber was a kid dreaming of stardom in his bedroom in Canada. Joey Logano was 15 years old.
Why is this criticized? Why is this seen as boring? I agree with Peter DeLorenzo at Autoextremist: It’s not like Johnson and Knaus are crushing the competition due to superior equipment, an argument that could be made about the Ferrari that Michael Schumacher drove to five consecutive Formula One World Championships last decade.
It was one of those weekends why we dig this sport. The unexpected happened, which is one of the most appealing aspects of motor racing.
Here are the facts after the Kobalt Tools 500 Sunday at Phoenix: Hamlin leads four-time reigning champion Jimmie Johnson by 15 points entering the season finale this Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. 2003 Brickyard 400 winner Kevin Harvick is third, 46 points behind. It’s the closest three-way Chase with one race remaining.
Muzzle the mouth or walk the walk, Mike.
Now to the opinions. It might be a good idea for Hamlin’s crew chief, Mike Ford, to keep a low profile heading into South Florida this week. Ford crowed after the Texas race Nov. 7 that crew chief Chad Knaus may have lost a fifth consecutive title for Johnson by essentially firing Johnson’s crew mid-race and replacing it with the crew of Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon.
The end result was that Hamlin is rattled. He ripped his team after the race by saying, “Like I said, I did my job.” Not exactly a rousing vote of confidence or rallying of the beleaguered troops by a wise veteran. More of the impetuous Denny we thought had grown up. And at just the wrong time.
Hamlin pledges a pedal-to-the-metal approach at Homestead. He’s going to need it, as there are only two guaranteed routes to the championship for him, either winning the race or finishing second and leading the most laps.
My money still remains on Johnson to hoist the Cup for the fifth straight year. Who is your pick, and why?