Random Thoughts On São Paulo

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I cannot tell you how tough it was to purposely stay away from any outside communication at work yesterday, in order to avoid hearing any race results. That way I could go home and catch the DVR recording of Monday’s race and watch it as if it were live. Some people find it odd that I do that, but it makes it much more enjoyable. I’m sure my boss appreciated my staying off the internet yesterday.

Had I succumbed to curiosity and checked the internet, I would have assumed it was another ho-hum Will Power runaway. When I watched it last night however, it was anything but status quo. Robin Miller summed it best when he talked about the cruelties of this sport. He pointed out that Marco Andretti drove his best race of the season, yet ended up fourteenth. Although the pass of the day was made when Takuma Sato passed Will Power for the lead on a re-start, he had to settle for eighth when he had to pit late.

For a race that was shortened by almost a third and took two days to run, it was entertaining. A tip of the hat goes to Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick, Helio Castroneves and Simona de Silvestro – those that were taken out in the first lap on Sunday. Their cars were repaired, but they woke up Monday morning knowing they were starting nine laps down to the rest of the field. It would have been tempting to take a Sunday night flight out of Brazil and call it a weekend. Yet, being the professionals that they are, they all did more than just show up. They all drove hard throughout the race and Simona even set the fastest lap of the day.

TV Coverage: I had already decided that no matter what happened, Versus should be given a pass this weekend. With only Kevin Lee on site, the booth guys a continent away in an Indianapolis studio and being at the mercy of a Brazilian television feed – those would be tough conditions for any network to perform under. That being said, I thought that Versus did an outstanding job.

Special recognition should go to the hardest working person in sports – Kevin Lee. There is a reason why they usually have three pit reporters at most races, so that they can adequately cover about eight to nine cars apiece during a race. Kevin covered all twenty-six cars flawlessly, both on Sunday and Monday. His equipment didn’t work too well in the rain, but he handled it like a pro. His reward was to catch a quick flight so that he can spend the rest of the week manning the microphone for two hours every night for the rest of the week – first on Trackside with Curt Cavin, then The Talk Of Gasoline Alley with Donald Davidson. Kevin, will have certainly earned his paycheck by the time May is over. I guess he should be grateful that the Pacers are out of the playoffs.

I cannot over-emphasize what Robin Miller brought to the booth this weekend. Is four too many in a booth? I liked him better with the three regulars than I did in his normal role, trackside behind the pits. His personality has been sorely lacking from open-wheel telecasts for decades. He is the most candid broadcast voice since Bobby Unser – only more so.

IndyCar Open Wheel Weekly: Don’t forget to tune in or record the debut of IndyCar Open Wheel Weekly. I am assuming that Kevin Lee will make it back for the first show, which also features Robin Miller and Lindy Thackston. It will run every Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 Eastern on Versus. Supposedly INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard will be a guest with some news about the 2012 chassis.

Facebook woes: My first foray into Facebook didn’t go well. I wanted to have it as a racing site and be called Oilpressureblog. What I didn’t know was that I had to set up a personal “George Phillips” site, then create an off-shoot site called Oilpressureblog. Most people (some I’ve never heard of) went to the personal site. So far, my impression is that there is a reason I never did Facebook. I’ll give it a while, but I am not yet a fan.

All in all: As I opined earlier, this season of stretch runs for each discipline gets a little old. After four straight road/street courses, I think everyone is ready to hit the ovals. We start out with not just any oval, but the Indianapolis 500. It’s good for Will Power that he was able to stretch out a fourteen point lead heading into four ovals. Although everyone is trying to say that he has learned them – I still see the ovals as the weakness in his game. Until he is able to win at least one oval, I’m going to be skeptical of his being able to win an overall championship. Due to the fact that he is on Team Penske, he will be considered one of the favorites at Indianapolis – but not THE favorite. Although he may not be my pick as we get closer, right now you’d have to consider Dario Franchitti as the favorite to drink milk four weeks from this past Sunday.

Whoever can win on ovals and road courses consistently will be the one winning the championship in October. Right now, my money is on Franchitti.

But now is not the time to talk about the championship or new cars. The Month of May started with a street course. We have that behind us now. It’s now time to focus our attention for the next four weeks to that plot of land at the intersection of 16th and Georgetown. It is my favorite time of the year. I can’t wait.

George Phillips

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6 Responses to “Random Thoughts On São Paulo”

  1. redcar Says:

    enjoyed the race. almost another defeat of Pressdog’s Death Star. Strategery. Nice to see Sato running so well. Marco’s stepping it up a bit. the two-wide starts are exciting and look awesome.

    agree that Miller needs to be in the booth. While I have learned to enjoy twisties, they need to mix up ovals and twisties more. I know that makes it more difficult on the owners, but this year is all about the fan, right? So next year they should alternate types of tracks when possible. and they really need to run on an oval prior to Indy.

    and lastly, I read where Nascar is going to honor Navy Seals this week. It makes me burst with pride to know that Indy–on Memorial Day weekend–refused to give in to national pride and the sacrifices of our soldiers and instead will honor that great, highly-decorated soldier, humanitarian and long time supporter of the 500–Donald Effing Trump.

  2. The Lapper Says:

    The weather certainly made this a tough one to watch. I hated that TK was out of it as well as RHR spinning three times. Miller, by the way, was excellent and I love this broadcast team.

  3. jerrycruz Says:

    George, I basically did the same as you…stayed away from all media and social network until I got at home by 7pm and saw the recorded race like it was live…it was a great race (coming from an oval fan) and I wish it had not rain that much and see more on dry setups to see everyone running full blast. Still, very very enjoyable race…on to Indy now!!!

  4. billytheskink Says:

    Very much agreed on the Versus broadcast. Lee did an outstanding job hustling up and down pit road.

    I’m very much in agreement on Miller in the booth. Actually, I thought the booth as a whole was great, if crowded. A Jenkins-Miller-Dallenbach Jr. booth could probably be the best since Page-Unser-Posey. While I certainly don’t mind Jan Beekhuis in the booth, he’s been an outstanding pit reporter in the past and I think is better suited to be down there than Miller.

    Jenkins, sets the tone, brings the focus back to the race when it strays, and makes mistakes just often enough to be charming. Miller and his spontaneity fill the Unser role, and Dallenbach’s tendency to talk more than anyone else in the booth keeps Jenkins from droning.

    I’m not going to complain when the booth likely returns to Jenkins-Dallenbach-Beekhuis, but swapping Miller and Beekhuis is an idea that I think has a lot of merit.

  5. I watched the whole Sunday show and then woke in Central time zone earlier than I normally do to watch every minute of Monday’s race b4 going to work. Enjoyed it.
    I agree that the Versus crew, watching remotely and reporting on-site, was very good! Mr. Lee certainly earned his paycheck!
    Mr. Miller and Mr. Beekhuis added a lot of entertainment/info to the commentary while watching race on monitors.
    I agree that IndyCar ought to mix up ovals and non-ovals more to race on an oval prior to Indy.

  6. Ron Ford Says:

    Hi George. Facebook seems to be for folks with a lot of time on their hands and you don’t strike me as someone like that.

    I also thought the TV broadcast was good under the circumstances. Miller is good in or out of the booth. Having said that, I find his “Mailbag” on Speed to be relentlessly downbeat and depressing. His constant harping on BB, for example, is really getting old.

    I had to listen to the race live and watch it on TV later. I find Mike King’s delivery annoying and I stongly disagree with his remarks that Simona should be “scolded” for challenging the leaders late in the race while she was nine laps down. Last time I checked this is called racin’. At the time she was the fastest car on the track and had an opportunity to practice her craft on a wet track. Was she supposed to just put the car in Sunday drive mode? She did not put Marco at risk of crashing.

    It is not likely that you should find yourself short of subjects to write about in May, but if you do you perhaps you would consider writing about the sounds of racing and how that adds to the excitement. There is a wealth of racing engine sounds and other racing sounds on YouTube. Using YouTube and a fine little program called Audacity I have made some very enjoyable racing sound CDs for my own use. Thankfully, the turbines did not catch on and hopefully the electric cars won’t either.

    Finally, Indy and some ovals:) Why we need another twisty in Brazil is beyond me.

    Ending with this fine quote from the Simeone Automotive History Museum in Pennsylvania: “The first race was conceived when the second car was built” Amen.

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