Welcome To The Month Of March

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When most sports fans think of March, their minds immediately go to March Madness – the NCAA Basketball tournament. I enjoy the tournament as well, but my Tennessee Vols haven’t made it in a couple of years and they seemed determined to underachieve their way out of it again this season – although they did put a thrashing on Vanderbilt on Saturday, so all is not lost. Nevertheless, my excitement over March Madness has waned recently. Baseball fans view March as a time for optimism. When their teams come close to winning the Cactus or Grapefruit Leagues, they convince themselves that they are looking at a pennant run in the fall.

For IndyCar fans, March means something else. It is when teams take the wraps off of their new liveries and finally go racing. Although we still have almost a month to go, we can now say there will be an IndyCar race this month. We haven’t said that since October. It doesn’t quite have the same ring as the Month of May, but it is a welcomed sight just the same.

It’s been a long and cold offseason. IMS is still encased in snow, but it won’t be long until it thaws out. It’s a good thing too, because there is still work to be done on the infield road course in order to have it ready for the Inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Official practice for that race will begin in just a little more than two months from now on Thursday May 8.

But there is business to be settled before then – some on-track business and some off-the-track. On the track, there are still some seats to be filled. Probably the most attractive seat left is the second seat at Rahal Letterman Lanigan. To hear Graham Rahal talk, it’s not a given that they will run a second car. I think Graham Rahal has always preferred to go it alone without a teammate, for whatever reason. I’m hoping the wisdom of his father will prevail. The input and additional feedback a teammate provides is essential in today’s IndyCar world. Assuming adequate funding is found, I would think that they should pursue a second car.

Dale Coyne also has a vacant seat at his team. The conventional thinking is that James Jakes will take his family’s Alcorn funding with him back to Coyne after a year at Rahal. But Coyne always has a way of going against conventional thinking.

Bryan Herta Autosport has some new sponsors. They are expected to sign Luca Filippi, but Jack Hawksworth is still in the mix. Something should come from their camp sooner than later. It is believed that Dreyer & Reinbold is focusing on an Indy-only program at this time, so they are not expected to answer the bell at St. Petersburg. With so many questions surrounding Panther Racing, I think it is highly unlikely they will turn a wheel this season – but you never know.

Off the track, we continue to hear that there will be an announcement regarding a title sponsor for 2014 before the season-opener at St. Petersburg. Speculation continues to center on Verizon. I had heard way back in September that they had been approached and had subsequently turned down the opportunity. If they are indeed named the series sponsor, I’m wondering what changed. Regardless of who it is, if there is one – I’m wondering why it is taking so long. Remember that Mark Miles teased us in early November that we may have an early Christmas present announced. Maybe he meant Easter.

For many of us, it’s hard to fathom that there will be an IndyCar race to watch in less than four weeks. Nashville has endured one of the coldest winters in decades. We have escaped the bulk of the snow that hit our neighbors to the north and south; but we are under another winter storm watch for today. I feel guilty complaining about any wintry weather compared to what the city of Indianapolis has had to deal with. I believe I saw somewhere that they have had more snow this winter than any winter in the city’s history. That’s saying something since they are a city that usually gets a lot of snow anyway. It’ll be interesting to see how the long Midwest winter has affected the track surface at IMS.

So for many of us, the sound of Paul Page describing that first practice on Friday Mar 28 is going to be music to our ears. It will be the official end of a long offseason, which will be considerably longer next year. So the beginning of March is a signal to all IndyCar fans that the testing is almost over and they will be racing for real very soon. And when the green flag falls at St. Petersburg, we can take heart that the green flag for the 98th Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be only eight weeks away. Is it May yet?

George Phillips

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13 Responses to “Welcome To The Month Of March”

  1. Bent Wickerbill Says:

    Looking forward to heading over to St Pete from here in Melbourne early Saturday morning the 29th…

    • And here’s a Palm Bay resident equally as excited. Tickets have been in hand for awhile now. Counting the days…..

  2. You need another item in your poll. “I am not excited about March, but will be excited about May when it arrives”

  3. Jim Gray Says:

    While I love May I, like many who read this blog, am an IndyCar fan. Cars on track excite me and make the world seem a little brighter. The LONG off season is winding down, news is trickling at a faster pace, PR for teams are starting to try and sway your support, I say bring on the action! March is a good month, now can we do something about this dang weather?

  4. Here in Indy, it’s basketball and racing. Unfortunately, all of our college teams this year are under water, but it’s still basketball in Indiana…

    Obviously our Pacers are looking for a title this year, but things won’t really Heat up (pun intended) until late April, when the playoffs begin.

    Still, it’s the home of the series, and the home of the greatest race course in the world. It would still be nice to have an oval race before the 500, but it is what it is. Hopefully the snow will be gone by the time May arrives : P

    Looking forward to St Pete… finally.

  5. billytheskink Says:

    March is a good month.
    The local track starts racing this weekend, Indycar at the end of the month, NASCAR and Supercross are underway (if you like that kind of stuff), and we’re coming up on the conference tournaments in college basketball. I think I may enjoy the conference tournaments more than the NCAA tournament.

  6. I don’t think the Indycar season is necessarily too short, I think the season for all other sports (especially Nascar) is too long. (I’m not impressed with Nascar’s new plan to race an entire year in order to create a four-car shootout for all the marbles sometime next winter. As I understand it, if Junior wins 12 races, dominating the season, then has a blow-out on lap 1 of the final race, it’s all over right?)
    Indycar could use a few more races, but (sigh, hopefully) that will change in 2015. Meanwhile, I’ll look forward to a relatively short but sweet season.

    As far as young Rahal, it seems like he wants all the attention to be on him this year and for that reason thinks older Rahal shouldn’t run a second car. Just when I want to like that kid, he does or says something that makes me think he’s just a spoiled prima donna.

    • Ron ford Says:

      I don’t recall Graham Rahal saying anything like that, just George.
      Having just read Marshall Pruett’s story about the Panther lawsuit, I believe that any uncertainty about the second RLL car has more to do with that mess.

  7. Ron ford Says:

    I’m going to spend the next week watching the Iditirod race. A refreshing change from the lawsuits and yellows for phantom debris on the track. No Danica news, no Bernie. Just hitch up the 16 dogpower team and let er rip! I did notice that most of the dogs are on reds.

  8. Ryan Johnson Says:

    George, the forecasted snow accumulation for this weekend’s storm was supposed to put Indianapolis past the record of 1981, but a few things changed last minute and those of us just south of Indy got the brunt of the snow while Indy metro got bout 2-3 inches… So we’ll need another 2.5 to break the record. As for your remark bout how this winter will have affected the IMS track… That’s a good question! The roads here in the southern suberbs are just falling apart everywhere as this has just been a brutal winter snow/especially temperature wise. But hey, conference tournaments/NCAA tournaments, MLB and IndyCar all get their start in what is one of my top 3 sports months (second behind May and second ahead of October).

  9. Ballyhoo Says:

    FINALLY!!! I thought March would never arrive. I have been watching reruns of racing on MAV-TV to get by. Saw a short outtake last week from Dave Despain’s new show on MAV . He was trying to interview John Force, who was all over the map. Really amusing.

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