How To Survive The Offseason

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For the past week, we’ve all basked in the glow of the exciting season-ending race at Fontana that not only settled a dramatic championship battle, but also saw Ed Carpenter score his second win in less than a year. The race and the subsequent championship won by Ryan Hunter-Reay had everyone buzzing for the past week. But now that that glow is beginning to subside, it’s now dawning on me that the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season has ended. Uh-oh. Now, what are we going to do?

Yesterday, I went to what may have been the most exciting NFL game I’ve ever witnessed in person. The Detroit Lions and the Tennessee Titans played in a crazy game that saw trick plays, big plays, improbable plays and controversial plays – on both sides. Ultimately, the Titans prevailed 44-41 or else I would have been using terms like gut-wrenching.

But you know what? As exciting and exhilarating as that game was; for me – it doesn’t match the drama that IndyCar racing provides. I’m a big college and pro football fan, but football doesn’t hold my focus like racing does. The best way to describe it is that during football season, my mind will always wander to racing. During racing season, and the month of May in particular – football never enters my mind.

I started attending the Indianapolis 500 at age six, I was twelve when I attended my first NFL game (Jets-Patriots) and fifteen when I went to my first college game (Tennessee-Ole Miss). Maybe going to a race at such a young age is the reason I’m partial to IndyCar over football.

Whatever the case, it’s going to be a long, cold offseason before the drop of the green flag next spring. It might help once we know the full schedule. The most recent date I’ve heard is October 1 for the new schedule to be announced. Knowing when the first race will be will ease the pain of the offseason. Still, we are looking at around six months of no racing. I’ve been an advocate of ending the season around Labor Day weekend, in order to not compete with the NFL. I still believe that is the best course for the series to take, but it does make for a long offseason. Hopefully in the next few years, the series can find a way to start the season earlier than the last week in March.

Many of us have old recordings of races we can turn to, in order to get our racing fix. I’ve still got this year’s Indianapolis 500 and the season finale on my DVR. Both of those should provide a little entertainment on a snowy weekend. I’ve also got plenty of racing books and my collection of of Indianapolis 500 programs to occupy my attention for a little bit. Others, especially those in Indiana will immerse themselves into following various college basketball programs through March Madness. By then, the season will be starting anyway. Others will just have to count down the days to the start of the season as they begin their spring thaw.

For us bloggers, the offseason is a double-edged sword. Sometimes it’s tough to find things to write about in November and December. The flip-side to that is that I can take more liberty during the offseason and write about whatever is on my mind – even if it is only very loosely related to racing. Readers don’t care for such posts during the season, but put up with rambling rants more in the offseason.

Although I usually take off a few days around Thanksgiving and even up to two weeks off around Christmas – I purposely don’t take off too many days from here. I’m afraid if I took a month or two away, I’d get completely out of the writing groove and what few readers I have would forget to stop by here – so expect me to be here throughout all of the offseason.

Last year’s offseason was interesting to say the least. It began with the death of Dan Wheldon and all of the controversy surrounding the Las Vegas race. Then there was the excitement and anticipation of new engines and chassis. Then there was the engines shortage situation that saw one team left out in the cold for the season and very few available rides for the month of May.

Except for what promises to be a very active silly season, there is not as much offseason anticipation this offseason compared to last. Still, with the certain exit of Lotus and driver movement – there shouldn’t be a lack of things to discuss as the temperature outside begins to drop.

So, let’s stay warm and keep some buzz going throughout this offseason. Next spring will be here before you know it.

George Phillips

Please note – One item that will not help make the offseason seems any shorter, is the random appearance of One Take Only – the video blog of Oilpressure.com. It is uncut, unscripted and unrehearsed – just two old blokes blathering on about racing. Another edition hits the blogosphere here tomorrow as John McLallen and I sit and discuss the championship among other racing topics. Please come back here Tuesday and join us.

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9 Responses to “How To Survive The Offseason”

  1. billytheskink Says:

    Racing season runs into football season, which runs into basketball season, which runs into racing and baseball season.

    Not that I would mind racing and basketball year-round… and I’m not even from Indiana.

  2. I am an enthusiastic participant in the INDYCAR Silly Season and I will keep an eye on the Chicago Bears and University of Memphis Tiger basketball. With that noted, I am like you George, come May, football never comes to mind because I am all about the Indianapolis 500 and INDYCAR.

  3. Football in May! You guys clearly did not grow up in Columbus.

    • Oilpressure Says:

      That’s only because May is normally when your coaches are asked to step down due to recruiting violations. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist)

  4. I think this year’s “off season” will be interesting because of the consternation regarding cost control with the Dallara chassis and parts. I know nothing of this issue other than what I read here on George’s blog and that of Pressdog, but I sense that this is a big topic and concern for racing teams–as well as perhaps Randy Bernard, so how this issue is addressed could cause a ripple of changes in the forthcoming racing season. It would also be interesting to learn what plans Bernard may have for growing the fan base.

    It would also be nice to have some sort of mid-off season event that us racing fans could look forward to–something akin to the NFL draft that seems to provide an off-season “fix” for pro football fans; or something like the Arizona Fall League baseball season for MLB fans (maybe a 4-race circuit for Indy Lights in the warmer climate states?).

    All I know is when I look at my calendar, May is long way away!

  5. Savage Henry Says:

    I think this year’s offseason is going to seem longer than usual (well it is longer than usual, but that’s not my point). Last year there was a lot of anticipation about the new car and engines. There was testing throughout the winter and concern about the weight distribution and so on. There seemed to be a lot to keep up with.

    This year, since they aren’t doing the aero kits, there’s nothing new to look forward to. I’m sure that they will make evolutionary improvements to the cars, but there aren’t going to be exciting announcements throughout the offseason. Additionally, since they put in the new restrictions on testing, there isn’t going to be anybody on-track until the “spring training” open test just prior to the season starrting. I think it is going to seem bleak, especially in contrast to last year.

    I think they need to work out ways to start the season earlier. There is a massive sports dead spot between the NFL conference title games and March Madness that should be taken advantage of. I’d like to see 2-3 races plugged into that time period. They could try to sqeeze something in on the weekend of the Daytona 24. They could do one the Saturday of Super Bowl weekend when there is literally nothing else on. After the Super Bowl there’s a gap before NASCAR starts. If you are looking to build and audience and ratings, why no target the times when there is little to no competition? If you’re going to have races in Brazil, this would be an excellent time to do so.

  6. Looking back there were so many issues at the beginning of the season and throughout that held our interest. There does not appear to be much of that on the horizon. I agree with Henry and others that it would be good to begin the season earlier.

    Those of us up nort here in Wisconsin are used to watching the Packers beat up on Jay Cutler at this time of the year. But that has become a bit boring, so we are anticipating the Christmas matchup with those Tennessee Tartans.

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