Monday, October 31, 2011

INDYCAR: Taking a Hard Look in the Mirror

The car of driver Will Power goes airborne during the 15-car crash that claimed the life of Dan Wheldon on Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Barry Ambrose / Reuters / October 16, 2011)
I’ve refrained from publishing this earlier - in order to let everybody grieve over the STUPIDLY WASTEFUL & SENSELESS DEATH of Indy Cars Two-time and reigning Indy 500 Champion Dan Wheldon...

Yet having been away from Der ‘Vurld de Motersporten - Ja Ja! For 8-Dazes in the overly warm climes of Scottsdale, AZ the week following the tragedy; I feel I had ample time to reflect upon my personal thoughts towards the Los Vegas catastrophe... Especially since I purposely took off 8-days  of staring at ze Confuzer - along with NO Motorsports reading whatsoever! As I always relish these short breaks away from that dreaded contraption that I spend several THOUSAND HOURS on yearly in order to bring ‘Ye Bastards all of my thoughts upon primarily Open Wheel Racing; but I digress...

Therefore, rightly or wrongly(?_ As I’ll let Y’all make the Call upon that I’d like to point out some topics which may focus a harsh spotlight upon Mr. Bernard, who I’ve dubbed The CandyMann ‘cause so far to date everything he’s done had come out smelling beautiful...

New Car Follies
Without spending countless words upon the whole New-for-2012 IndyCar selection process and subsequent delay of fully integrated ‘Body-by-Mennen Aerokits until 2013 - this may actually turn out to be a blessing in disguise, albeit I’d like to naturally assume the ICONIC committee or whomever responsible would  immediately mandate chassis changes in the need of Driver, Track Marshalls and Spectators safety...

DoubleWide Restarts
Yes, I’m afraid I’m ‘Juan of those Diehard Purists - who believe that the Double-file restarts mandated by Randy Bernard do nothing more then cause unnecessary carnage between drivers and was simply implemented in order to “Spice-up The Show...

“Whooze Your Daddy Sweepstakes
I have NOT been a fan of this Made-for-TV Spectali from the day it was announced - especially with the original GIMIC of attempting to lure “NON-Indy Regulars” into competing; WTF? BUTT NO! The Show MUST GO ON! And hence Randy Bernard concocted the $5m challenge; Hmm? Why does that make me instantly think of the Five-dollar Footlong jingle, eh?

To which we all know the HORRIFYING results of; with NOT one but three cars going airborne, i.e.; Dan Wheldon, Will Power and Townsend Bell/JR Hildebrand? - All being highly accomplished racers who were certainly capable of racing Side-by-Side on Ovaltracks.

Thus like it or not, I believe that Mr. Bernard has to have some portion of blame appropriated to him, as after all he is the CEO of the Sport, the Las Vegas Spectacle was his “Baby” and he was the force behind making the event a reality...

As I’m quite happy to see the many different entity’s saying “We’ve got Your Back - Randy!” And in NO way am I claiming that he is solely responsible for Dan Wheldon’s death - Nor did he hold a loaded weapon to the reigning Indy 500 champion’s temple and say: Look Boy; You’re gonna drive the Damn Son-O-a-Gun or else... BUTT! Bernard must be held responsible in some capacity since he was so HELL bent for leather upon making this race the END all to BE ALL For IndyCar season finales...

Yet I’d also like to say that I am certainly not as highly qualified or capable of doing the mostly masterful job of being the Chief Executive Officer of a motor racing league, yet it seems that somebody somewhere’s along the line either forgot to consider the consequences of what this PT Barnum stunt was attempting to do or was overruled upon trying to point out the potential of trying to mimic ‘RASSCAR Pack-racing on a 1.5-mile progressively banked Superspeedway... As all I could think of was CART attempting to race at Texas in 2001 - when wisely the Sanctioning Body cancelled the event after multiple drivers complained of ‘Vertigo!

As once again it was the delightfully Outspoken ‘Aussie Will Power who made me ponder this by calling LVMS ridiculously stupid Flat-out on the floor racing, and thinking it’d be like Chicagoland on Steroids. (My words NOT Mr. Power’s...)

Dan Wheldon's death raises questions about IndyCar racing


Aftermath
First ‘N foremost; Obviously I am NOT a qualified Physicist, Engineer or Trained Accident Investigator and will therefore await for IndyCar to conclude its accident Investigation before making my own personal judgment upon its recommendations.

Yet obviously a further rethinking of this type of ‘PacMan “Wreckers or Checkers” racing mentality upon High-speed Ovals needs a clear rethink - and regardless what you may/may not think about the drivers and their perceived lack of ability upon Ovals, Road courses and Street Circuits: Racecar Drivers are and will ALWAYS be racers first, which after all is MOST exemplified by the phrase: Second place is First loser!

And while so far I find The CandyMann to be simply trying to emulate the successes of Humpy Wheeler while trying to throw IndyCar a Lifeline by trailblazing the Open wheel arena as a modern day Barnstormer... I like his tireless pursuit of trying to right a sunken ship and enjoy the breath of Fresh Air he’s brought to my cherished North American premiere single seater series.

And if nothing else, Mr. Bernard’s proven he’s “A Dooer.” Willing to make mistakes, gamble, re-evaluate and then correct said mistakes... Thus I’d like to see the following ideas implemented in order to help the Indy Car Series move forward. ‘GAWD! I HATE THAT STATEMENT... As let’s NOT forget Dan Wheldon’s senseless tragedy all in order to pump-up television ratings! As Mary Ellen said it most succinctly: What an utter WASTE of that young Man’s life! And all in the name of what???

Observations
I for one am NOT a fan of the new 2012 Dallara’s rear bumper design - as what’s next; turn signals? As I’m all in favour for minimizing careening cars being catapulted Skywards from hitting a competitor’s rear wheel - but will this minimize this effect or potentially lull drivers into a further false sense of security because they’ll be  able to get away with more? Perhaps the front end of the car needs to be made wider, longer and higher - along with having its front wing and tyres re-designed to help lower these types of collisions?

I do not know if wheel tethers are currently employed or not? If so it seems that either further strengthening or implementing double tethers should be considered.

According to second hand knowledge - I was told that Bruce Martin had reported that Dan Wheldon’s roll hoop was completely sheared off and this potentially played a role in Dan’s massive Head trauma that occurred from hitting the wall. Therefore IF? This is indeed correct? As I cannot find said article - then it would seem that the roll hoop structure needs additional reinforcing, should be made larger and potentially a secondary back-up structure be mandated for use on all Ovaltracks...

And I said the same words that fateful afternoon, albeit I couldn’t think of the wing’s name - before Robin Miller mentioned the Hanford Device on Wind tunnel Sunday night. As it appears that either a very tight lid is being kept upon this aspect and hopefully NOT being treated as the Elephant in the Room... As not only are we possibly slated for a return to Las Vegas in 2012 as the Season Finale? But we’re also going back to someplace called Fontana... Where Gil De Ferran holds the current ALL time Speed record at 241-plus miles per hour! Not to mention Randy’s desires to break Arie Luyendyk’s one and four-lap Qualifying records at the Speedway... As Earth to IndyCar: what’s WRONG with this picture...


Whilst I think ‘Big Daddy Don Garlits put it most succinctly on a previously wind tunnel interview regarding how he felt absolutely 100% certain on NHRA Drag Racing needed to return to its roots and go back to Quarter-mile (1,320ft) racing by SLOWING the Top Fuel Funnycars and Dragsters down with a reduction in Horsepower. As Garlits noted that NASCAR did that awhile ago when the cars were getting airborne when traveling over 200mph - yet the fans have NOT gone away - and NASCAR’s more popular then ever!

Like I said I’m NOT an Engineer or Chassis Designer and may be ALL of these concerns have been addressed already with the new 2012 Dallara Safety Cell DW12 chassis which sounds like an accident waiting to happen... Yet, I’d like to see Mr. Bernard set up a permanent Technical Committee that will evaluate all aspects of chassis design & safety concerns for multiple competitors on any new venues that Indy Car competes on along with vigilantly overseeing all current events increased safety for all concerned, including Crewmembers...

Zanardi hits out at pack racing

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