What Scratches My Itch Before The Season?

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Sports fans get excited over some of the smallest things. Baseball season is still almost two months away, but the fact that pitchers and catchers report next week has baseball fans giddy with excitement. Football season doesn’t start until September, but when training camp starts in late July – it’s suddenly football season.

We IndyCar fans are gong through the same excitement right now. Back in the early nineties, it used to be that those of us starving for information had to wait for our monthly magazines to show up in our mailboxes. My two subscriptions were Racer and IndyCar Racing magazines.

Racer was like a gift from heaven when it was launched in 1992. It covered most forms of auto racing. NASCAR had the obligatory big presence, but they gave just as much coverage to CART, Formula One and IMSA. They also covered USAC to a lesser degree. Just like now, their articles and photos were first-rate and their print was of the highest quality.

Racer

IndyCar Racing magazine (ICR) had more of a homespun feel to it. Ned Wicker was the editor of ICR, which was published in the Milwaukee area – a hotbed for IndyCar racing. Ned always had a full page editorial in each monthly magazine. I didn’t always agree with what he said, but he always had an interesting take on things.

ICR4

ICR2

The January and February issues of both magazines were always my favorites. These were where we fans got our first glimpse of the latest model Lola or Penske chassis; and what new liveries or numbers cars would be running. ICR was where I saw my first glimpse of the Galmer chassis. When the Reynard was first unveiled for the 1994 season, my initial view was in Racer.

Keep in mind this was in the days before the internet. Liveries weren’t leaked through Twitter before the sponsorships were even announced (like what happened with the PNC sponsorship for Scott Dixon). The Prix-View at Phoenix (which is what they used to call Spring Training) doesn’t start until tomorrow, but I believe we have already seen every livery of every car, before it even starts.

Prior to our online world, we had to check our mailbox every day just to catch a glimpse of just a couple of liveries. Back then, most teams tested their new cars as they came out of the box – mostly black with a couple of gold panels. Nowadays, it is rare for a team with sponsorship already nailed down to not be flaunting it.

In the past week, we’ve had official announcement with new partnerships, sponsorships and liveries. To me, the most notable were the ones regarding Sébastien Bourdais, Graham Rahal and Scott Dixon.

With Bourdais, not only is there a new livery and sponsor in SealMaster – there is a new alignment on the No.18 car between Dale Coyne and two of the owners of the now defunct KVSH Racing – Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan.

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Graham Rahal unveiled a good-looking livery which apparently will be run in only one race – Long Beach. That’s too bad because it’s really eye-catching. But Total Petroleum getting back involved in the series is a huge deal. Rahal

Then on Tuesday, Chip Ganassi Racing unveiled a new sponsor for Scott Dixon’s car for the entire 2018 season – PNC Bank. That’s big for Dixon, who ran sponsorship for GE Lighting, Camping World and the sponsor for Tony Kanaan’s car – NTT Data – for most of the second half of the season. Finally, there is a permanent primary sponsor for Dixon to fill the void left by Target when they left following the 2016 season after a twenty-seven year association with Ganassi.

Dixon

My thirst for liveries and views of the new body kit has been quenched with a multitude of photos from last week’s test at Sebring and this week’s test at Sonoma. (All of the following photos courtesy of IndyCar.com)

Bourdais

Hitachi

JKing

Pigot

Kanaan

Power

Sato

Veach

We’ve come a long way from the days of gazing at a few photos in monthly magazines as we wait for the season to start. I can remember even making special trips to the local bookstore that was known for their extensive magazine section to thumb through other periodicals I didn’t subscribe to. Now all I have to do is check out a few websites or go through my Twitter feed and I can see what every car looks like. Like the other sports during pre-season training, this scratches my itch for IndyCar until the season starts. The new way is obviously better, but which was more fun? I’m really not sure.

George Phillips

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9 Responses to “What Scratches My Itch Before The Season?”

  1. I remember the days without the internet, being surprised on who ended up where. Even in the 1990’s, we didn’t have a computer so that first race of the year, I would be thinking “he signed with them?!?!?”

    I also love seeing the drivers in their new firesuit for some reason, just seeing Kanaan in the ABC suit is really neat, not sure why.

    The only motorsport that is now not covered in the offseason well is the NHRA. They start this weekend and I am sure someone signed a big sponsor or swapped drivers and I will be surprised about it, they don’t cover their silly season well. But still, there is something exciting about that….

  2. How much the world has changed since the days of waiting for a monthly magazine to arrive at your house. I remember the Racer magazine days of the 90’s very well. The first editions had really thick pages and then a few years later they had to thin them down. It must have been because of the cost.

  3. Bruce Waine Says:

    Competition Press & Autoweek – Weekly printed news source back then in the 1960’s – Your up to date source for motorsports ……………… May have even predated – Robin Miller?

    • I had forgotten about Autoweek. I subscribed to it for years, until they went bi-weekly. By that time, I was getting all news online anyway. Good catch on that. – GP

  4. Why no love for Chris Economaki’s National Speed Sport News? That was a fantastic weekly that covered seemingly every series in the world from F1 all the way down to the tiniest local weekly series. Gary London was also a great read!

  5. I subscribed to Midwest Racing News. My favorite now is Racer.com that just covered-so to speak-the hilarious story of Bourdais having to drive on sheep poo at Sonoma recently. If Sonoma management can’t afford a lawn mower that meets California’s strict air pollution requirements and have to utilize sheep, then perhaps Firestone will have to develop a sheep poo compound. This gives a whole other meaning to slicks.

    • Bruce Waine Says:

      You are onto an idea here……….. Sheep Poo Tire Compound ! !

      A tire that you can drive on you daily driver or race which is environmentally friendly.

      As the tire degrades, the tire dust or tire bits are guaranteed to fertilize the vegetation in the vicinity of the road/trackside. Said vegetation/ trees thus purify internal combustion engine emissions thereby producing clean air…………

      In the case of Firestone Sheep Poo Racing Tire Dust or Tire Bits, customers of said Firestone Sheep Poo Tire Dust/Tire Bits have the option to select the particular race track venue (NASCAR, USAC, NHRA, INDY, F1, etc., etc.) from which said Firestone environmental friendly material is sourced by the track sweepers following each race event.

      Expect to pay according to particular race venue and race sanctioning organization. Formula 1 sourced material thought to be the most expensive.

      Soon to be available at your neighborhood Firestone Store ? ?

      • Bruce Waine Says:

        My apology to your readers, George, for my oversight.

        I should have prefaced my above technical dialogue with the appropriate word ………

        … Sha-zam ! !

        You are onto an idea here…………….. Sheep Poo Tire Compound ! !

      • Thanks for the added hilarity Bruce. The story was just too funny, at least to me, to pass up. Bourdais is known for being skilled at driving on slick surfaces, so Robin Miller teased him about that during the video interview they did from Sonoma.

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