Archive for the IndyCar Category

Getting The Facts Straight

Posted in IndyCar on July 30, 2014 by Oilpressure

For the entire time I have had this site, I’ve always maintained that I am not a journalist. There’s a reason for that. I’m not. I am a blogger, in probably the truest sense of the word. My definition of a blogger is someone who feels like they have a lot to say about a particular subject; so they go out and start their own website and post regularly about the subject for little or no money (for me, it’s the latter). That’s what I do – nothing more.

Over time, I’ve seen many of my fellow IndyCar bloggers completely disappear; while others have moved forward from regular bloggers like me, to blurring the lines between bloggers and actual journalists with what have become very sophisticated sites that rival traditional mainstream news sources. Our good friends over at More Front Wing have created a very good example of what I’m talking about. They do an excellent job, and if you haven’t checked them out – do so.

I have a great deal of respect for many of today’s motorsports journalists; such as Curt Cavin, Robin Miller and Marshall Pruett. They do an excellent job and probably don’t get enough credit for the job that they do. But this past weekend, I took exception to some of the mainstream reporting done by TV and print journalists; when Jeff Gordon tied Formula One driver Michael Schumacher with five wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by winning Sunday’s Brickyard 400.

Many reported this weekend that Gordon and Schumacher were the all-time leaders in wins at IMS with five wins apiece. That would come as a surprise to the real all-time leader in wins – Johnny Aitken.

Does the name not ring a bell? It should. Altogether, Johnny Aitken won fifteen races at IMS between 1909 and 1916. In that time, he earned one pole position; started in two Indianapolis 500’s and drove relief for two drivers in another. He also has the distinction of leading the first lap of the very first Indianapolis 500.

It will come as a surprise to some that Aitken’s forty-one starts at IMS is also a record. AJ Foyt is second with thirty-six; thirty-five consecutive starts in the Indianapolis 500 and one in the Inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994. I can assure you – Johnny Aitken deserves to be named among the greats at IMS. Gordon and Schumacher’s five wins don’t even rank second in all-time IMS wins. That honor goes to Ray Harroun, who had eight wins – including the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

Keep in mind, there were many races held at 16th and Georgetown in 1909 and 1910, before there ever was an Indianapolis 500. There was also a series of fall races at IMS in 1916. I’ve read where some claim that those wins shouldn’t count because those races were shorter in distance or were not considered major races. My question is – where do you draw the line?

The Formula One races held from 2000 to 2007 weren’t even 200 miles. One of Johnny Rutherford’s Indianapolis 500 victories was only 255 miles. All of those races seem to count in the eyes of many.

In the past three months, how many different winners have been crowned at IMS? Does anyone really know? Let’s see, Simon Pagenaud won the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, but how many ladder series ran that weekend. Quite honestly, I don’t know – but there were several drivers that weekend that became winners at Indianapolis. Then you had the Freedom 100 along with the Indianapolis 500. That was just in May alone.

In June, there was the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational. How many winners were crowned that weekend? Your guess is as good as mine. This past weekend, there were many different classes of sports cars running on Friday. They each had winners crowned, along with the winner of the Nationwide race as well as Gordon’s win on Sunday. That’s all before Moto GP shows up in less than a couple of weeks.

I can’t even begin to count how many winners that is – and that’s for this year only. Are you going to tell Ty Dillon that his IMS win last Saturday doesn’t count, simply because it was too short or wasn’t a top series? Probably not. Try telling Simon Pagenaud his victory in early May didn’t matter.

This rant does not originate from a disgruntled IndyCar fan that hates to see the hallowed ground of IMS desecrated by taxi-cabs from NASCAR. This is all about being fair to the history of IMS and simply getting the facts right. It makes for good hype to say that Jeff Gordon and Michael Schumacher are the all-time leaders – mainly because everyone knows who they are and their wins all came in our generation. It’s not sexy to say that Gordon is now only ten wins behind someone who won his races a century ago and most have not heard of. It may not be sexy, but it’s true – and factual.

Nor am I upset that AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears are being overlooked by winning only four Indianapolis 500’s each. Each event should stand alone. That’s why I was also perturbed by the hype-seeking statement by those that claimed that Kevin Harvick set a track-record on Saturday when he qualified at 188.470 mph. I’m sorry, but unless he topped 238 mph – Harvick did not set a track-record; he set an event record.

Is any of this stuff important? Most will say no, or that it’s just another angry IndyCar fan claiming that the pro-NASCAR media is trying to re-write history. To me, neither is correct.

I just want facts presented correctly, whether it be from a lowly IndyCar blogger in Nashville, Tennessee or a major worldwide news outlet – they need to get it right. Unless you are talking about the Brickyard 400 specifically, this was not a record-setting weekend. Kevin Harvick set a NASCAR record at Indianapolis, as did Jeff Gordon. But neither set or tied IMS records.

George Phillips


About That New IMS Scoring Pylon…

Posted in IndyCar on July 25, 2014 by Oilpressure

For many years, make that decades; I’ve been going to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – since 1965, to be exact. In that near half-century, I’ve witnessed a lot of changes. The first race I attended there still had some roadsters powered by Offenhausers and Novis. There were no Turn Two Suites and not near as many stands in the north-end as there are now. Infield parking was allowed in all four turns and the Snake Pit was not a corporate sponsored organized party event. It just spontaneously erupted each year inside Turn one.

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Should Double-Headers Stay Or Go?

Posted in IndyCar on July 23, 2014 by Oilpressure

The Verizon IndyCar Series just held their final double-header weekend of the season, with the Honda Indy Toronto. That’s now six in the past two seasons. After last season, I think most would agree that the jury was still out on the double-header concept but there seemed to be some optimism surrounding the idea of running two complete races in two days at a few events. After two full seasons of double-headers, I would say that the optimism from a year ago has waned.

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Random Thoughts On Toronto

Posted in IndyCar on July 21, 2014 by Oilpressure

Quite honestly, I’m not sure where to begin. But if you’re smart, you’ll fill up your coffee cup before you begin reading. This may take a while.

If I had to sum up the Honda Indy Toronto this past weekend in one word, it would be – “exhausting”. It had to be exhausting for the teams and crewmembers. I’m sure it was exhausting for the drivers. I’m also quite certain that those brave and devoted fans that sat out in rain are exhausted this morning. It was even exhausting for those of us at home that had the luxury to come and go at our leisure.

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Toronto Preview

Posted in IndyCar on July 18, 2014 by Oilpressure

Before discussing the upcoming double-header at Toronto this weekend, I would like to acknowledge the loss within the IndyCar community this week. Famed broadcaster Gary Lee passed away Monday at the age of 63. Gary was a regular on the old Saturday Night Thunder USAC shows on ESPN in the late eighties and early nineties. I most remember him for his melodious voice and how he used that voice to make some very memorable calls on the IMS Radio Network from Turn Two during the Indianapolis 500. I would like to send my condolences to the friends and family of Gary Lee.

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A Very Special Day

Posted in IndyCar on July 16, 2014 by Oilpressure

When the 1964 Indianapolis 500 was held, I was five years old. No one in my family had ever been to the race before, but my father had always been fascinated by it. He considered a five year-old much too young to take to a race. So he left me with my mother, while he took my two older brothers. I was not pleased.

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Random Thoughts On Iowa

Posted in IndyCar on July 14, 2014 by Oilpressure

Even if you didn’t care for the outcome of the Iowa Corn Indy 300, you had to come away knowing you had just seen a thrilling ending to a very exciting race. Over the years, I’ve made it quite clear that Tony Kanaan is one of my favorite drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Since I’m a blogger and not a journalist, I have the freedom to say who I cheer for. I was obviously pulling for Tony Kanaan to get his first win since winning the 2013 Indianapolis 500 and his first victory driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing. That’s not to say I don’t like race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, but you pull for your favorites.

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