There’s A Lot To Be Thankful For
One of my favorite times of year is now upon us. No, it’s not when the nation gets its once-a-year look at the Detroit Lions. But it’s when we all take the time to reflect and eat…and eat. I have a lot to be thankful for, as I’m sure most everyone does. But I won’t bore you with my sentimental list of good things happening in my life. There is only one thing more trifling than someone taking inventory of all their personal blessings – and that’s someone that thinks you would like to hear all of their problems.
Instead, I’d like to focus on all the good things that are going on in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Since Thanksgiving of 2009, there have been many, many good things to happen to this series we follow. In no particular order, here are a few…
IZOD as the series sponsor: OK, this happened a little more than a year ago. It actually became official on November 5th, last year. But at this time last year, all we had to go on was a list of promises and a glitzy announcement. In the past year, IZOD has made good on their word and I have this feeling that we haven’t seen anything yet. Now that IZOD has gotten the lay of the land, I think that they will really be putting their stamp on the series in 2011. Their marketing power is unquestioned and they give other potential sponsors a good reason to take a long look at this series.
The Indianapolis 500 Centennial: For the past two years, we’ve been hearing about the Centennial Era of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 2009, the Speedway celebrated the centennial of the opening of the facility. That was a unique look back with historic balloon races and such. 2010 was an awkward year because there was nothing significant to celebrate other than the first races run on bricks a hundred years ago. But, get ready! For those of us that really get excited about the history of this sport, the spring of 2011 promises to be one nostalgic trip after another. It has already started with Donald Davidson’s daily “Gasoline Alley Unplugged” at Indy500.com. If you haven’t stumbled upon these two-minute narratives, go give yourself a treat.
Sometime next month, I plan to do a post examining all the possibilities the Speedway might have in store for us in the upcoming month of May. I have my own suggestions, but I have an idea they’ve pretty well got things under control.
Finally retiring the current Dallara: Although I was significantly under-whelmed with this summer’s announcement that Dallara would be the sole provider of a common tub that other groups could design bodywork for – it’s better than the status quo. I was in favor of multiple companies building completely different chassis. However, I understand the economic climate we are in makes that very impractical. Hopefully, we’ll at least have some different looks on the grid in 2012. With all of the hoopla surrounding the centennial of the Indianapolis 500, we’ll need something to get us through the summer months after Indy is over. Looks at different aero-kits should keep us tantalized throughout the second half of next season.
New engines, new manufacturers: When new engine requirements were announced for 2012 last summer, I’m not sure anyone really thought that the list of engine suppliers for 2012 would look any different than it did in 2010. I’m not sure anyone thought any different at the beginning of November. Then suddenly, we heard that Chevy was coming. Less than a week after Chevy’s official announcement, Lotus announced they would be joining the party. Amidst those stories were rumors that Fiat was taking a close look – possibly for their Dodge brand or maybe Alfa-Romeo. Although the deadline for 2012 has officially passed, I think that if Fiat came calling in the next few weeks – I doubt that they would be told “Sorry, it’s too late. Try back next year”.
Suddenly, what has been a single-engine series since 2006 has suddenly become a three-engine series for 2012.
Last, but not least…IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard: I was one of the first to scoff at the idea of a guy from Professional Bull Riding who had never seen a race, being the one to save the IZOD IndyCar Series from a slow, but seemingly eventual demise. I’ve never been so glad to be wrong in my life. If I had to narrow everything down to one item that the series should be thankful for – it would be Randy Bernard.
He came along at just the right time to form a synergistic relationship with IZOD. He has proven to be a quick study in the one hundred year history of this sport. He has embraced the traditions of the Indianapolis 500 and wasn’t arrogant enough to think that IndyCar racing began in 1996. He recognized that the Milwaukee Mile needed to be on the schedule and he had the wherewithal to tell ISC to take a hike.
But above all the wonderful things he has done in the past nine months, the best thing he has done is to actually listen to us – the fans. He doesn’t sit there and patiently nod and go about fulfilling his agenda. Instead, he actually listens and has acted on many fans concerns – the most recent example being that fans wanted competition among manufacturers.
So, there is a lot to be thankful for if you are an IndyCar fan. Last year at this time, I was cautiously optimistic about the series. Now, I’m downright giddy and bullish on the future. I can’t wait to see our list of blessings this time next year.
Unrelated shameless plug: Be sure and catch the third annual "Blogger Night" on Trackside with Cavin & Kevin tonight on a special Wednesday night edition from 8-10 EST; featuring many of the IndyCar bloggers, including yours truly. When they call me, I’ll be driving for the weekend with plenty of road noise, my daughter and my yellow lab in the car. It should make for an interesting conversation.
*Note – I will be traveling over the Thanksgiving weekend to visit with family. Rather than be rude and blog during family time, I will take a little time off. There will be no post this Friday Nov 26, nor Monday Nov 29; as I’ll be traveling on Sunday. I will return here on Wed Dec 1. I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving weekend. – GP