Friday, December 27, 2013

No Fenders Second Annual Golden Tailpipe Awards (2013 edition)

Simon Pagenaud, (center) winner of the Baltimore Grand Prix IndyCar race is joined on the podium by 2nd place Joseph Newgarden (left) and 3rd place Sebastian Bourdais, (right Sept 1, 2013. (Image source: Associated Press)
Carrying on with this fine new season's ending tradition here of waving thy chequered flag at No Fenders,
, as in final post of the 2013 calendar year, your humble scribe Tomaso brings Y'all his second foray at listing his picks for this year's top performers of the year, along with some NOT so top performers - following in the footsteps of last year's debutant recipients which I awarded in;

Golden Goose
Initially was gonna give this to my buddy "TWINKIEBOY" (Seb' Vettel) for his mockery of the infamous "MULTI-21" affair but realized there was a far further FUCK UP that deserved this award... Can Y'all say the I500 CLUSTERFUCK "Entry-gate" scandal this year!!! I mean the BUFOONERY 'O Hulman & Co's Knee-jerk reaction to the perceived Baltimore (*threat*) caper was absolutely uncalled for, as really Mark Miles, 2 FUCKING Hours to get into the hallowed grounds of IMS - isn't even worthy of receiving the traditional Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot acronym indeed!


And almost as BAD! But not quite so horrendous compared to IMS's "Entry-gate" debacle was the atrocious bungling over keeping its loyal fans happy over the weekend by giving us the middle finger regarding attending what had become an annual tradition...

Silver Spoon
Since I awarded this last year to 'RASSCAR, let's keep the tradition going... As Y'all gotta agree that Good 'Ol Squeaky Clean Mikey "Ah Shucks!" Waltrip's Taxicab team's attempt to manipulate "The Chase" by having Clint "Fisticuffs" Bowyer report that his elbow was really sore before spinnin' out in order to insert team-mate Martin Truex into the Top-12 was a pretty sad statement towards the Made for TV Roundy-round Racin' series... Not to mention The Captain's team gettin' in on the action, but seriously, somebody should throw the book at Mikey Waltrip for his continuous cheating!

Brass Balls
This was a toss-up between Mikey "Ah Shucks" Waltrip and Nielsen Pickett, the latter who I once held in high esteem, as sadly Nelson Piquet Jr. wins the award for his STUPIDITY of using a  Gay slur upon his "Instagram" account, since even if he thought he was joking, he should have known better... After all having been accused of being Gay by Flavour Flav, aka Flavio Briatore during the infamous Renault Crash Gate affair...


New category this year, as I felt I needed to include this after being PISSED OFF at thee "Peacock lite" once again after sitting up into the 'Wee hours of Saturday night to catch a truncated replay of the Brazil F1 Qualifying...

Formula 1
My biggest problemas with this year's F1 broadcasts weren't the announcers themselves, as I'm a huge fan 'O Leigh Diffey's, 'Hobbo & Professor Matchett; NOPE! My problem with NBCSN was its shoddy second-class citizen treatment of thee pinnacle 'O motorsport, moving it around at will WITHOUT making it clear to the viewers which channel it'd be on; is it NBCSN, CNBC or NBC; Huh? As I think my buddy Leigh really dropped the ball only once when proclaiming Alberto Ascari was a 4-time Champ; Hya!

As I'll say the stupidity of NOT telling us where to catch either practice or the race was the fault of the Producer - I mean really? We've got to endure how the 'Qualie format works every week but NO info on the show being moved to CNBC; WTF?

Grade: C-

Really Don't have anything good to say 'bout ABC other than they at  least still broadcast some of the other races besides Indy, which thankfully I don't have to watch since I'm usually there live for the race instead. But what little I did catch seemed overly childish,  having even written 'bout "How this is a Steering Wheel" after that abomination they tried passing off for a Saturday Nite Primetime extravaganza at TMS... Never been overly impressed by Marty Reid while I call Scott Goodyear Somonex, and I found Eddie Cheever to be overly dull and belittling...

And as I've said before, I far prefer the NBC Sports Network broadcasts vs. ABC, as I enjoy two of the three "Booth Boyz," i.e.; Leigh Diffey and Townsend Bell... Not to mention my favourite Pitlane reporter "Professor 'B," aka Jon Beekhuis, while Kevin Lee tries to do a good job... Just really wish they'd cut out the 50-minute-ish Pre-race shows, I mean C'mon, 30mins should be the max!

Grade; ABC: D; NBCSN: B+

Post-race Banquet
And although everybody’s either done it or doing I-T! Here’s my very un-scientific awards categories, which may or may not have been induced by thee eggnog; Hya! And thus overall shouldn’t be too radically different then what’s traditionally done by other Pundits...

Driver of the Year
This year I'm beginning my focus upon a yearly "KNOTTSOE" (Not So) obvious selection and hence, will select two deserving drivers who most likely won't be chosen for this award by the mainstream media...

F1: Romain Grosjean
So the easy choice here would have been somebody named Seb', but alas after being labeled a "First Lap Nut-job" by Mark 'Handlebarz Webber no less, I'll admit I thought that Romain was a bit 'O a Wild Child... Yet whatever his Sports Psychologist has been saying to him this year is obviously working, as I was really hoping Grosjean would "Break his Duck" at Circuit Of The Americas this year, but it wasn't to be, as he was just one step shy of scoring his debutant Formula 1 win.

Nevertheless, it's been scribbled 'N spoken before that Romain actually scored the most F1 points behind Vettel the entire second half of the season not to mention becoming a regular visitor to the podium while his best drive of the year was coming from 17th in India to finish a well deserved third! Now I only hope that Lotus can produce an equal chassis for romain to flourish in for 2014... 

"Symone Pagenoe's" (Simon Pagenaud) 'John Hancock secured by No Fenders 'Offical Photographer 'CARPETS during another 2013 Autosport Radio Show interview at McGilveries in Speedway, IN. (The Tomaso Collection)
IndyCar: Simon Pagenaud
Although Scott Dixon is the obvious choice here, and I suppose Helio Castroneves deserves consideration, with team-mate Will Power thrown in the mix, I'm thinking Dixon & Power's season were too controversial and really? 'HULIO drives for one of the two best teams on the grid.

therefore, because he's one of my top-3 favourite drivers along with driving for one of the dare I say I-T? Minnowesqe teams? Simon's never give up attitude, his always positive Demeanor and simply not taking the easy way out by whining - along with persevering for one of the teams with a smallish budget made it Uber rewarding to witness his Breakthrough season in Indy Cars this year by scoring not one but two victories for Sam Schmidt, Davey Hamilton & Co when first tasting the champagne at Detroit's Round-2 which should have belonged to Mike Conway, and then a truly superb win on the Mean Streets of Baltimore en route to finishing third in the championship points standings...

And as typical, my two choices above were made prior to sleuthing out the following choices - which I haven't had time to read yet...

Car of the Year
Really? Should we even have this category? As uhm, Duh! Can Y'all say RB9! As once again Adrian Newey's Red Bull creation is the scourge of Formula 1 teams up 'N down the paddock, as I'd guess that the only chassis coming close was Mercedes MGP W04 and Lotuses E21, right?

Race of the Year
F1: Hungaroring
Otay this was a toughie, especially since I felt like at least A-L-L of "TWINKIEBOYZ" wins DIDN'T deserve consideration... And thus my original thought was perhaps the Spanish GP where "Fredrico Suave" (Fred Alonso) delighted his home country once again with a brilliant strategy of making more stops then necessary in order to run the Buh-jesus outta 'Dem Pirelli's... As I also considered Nico Rosberg's triumphs, but one was overshadowed by exploding rubber!

Thus instead, after Mercedes ran afoul of their not so secret tyre test and not knowing how the new-spec tyres would affect their race, Lewis Hamilton seemed overly doubtful of securing a victory after his Pole on Saturday.

And although it's got the previously well deserved nickname of the "HungaBoring!" This year's race at the overly warm Hungaroring was  definitely not a snoozer - with eventual victor Hamilton claiming his maiden 'W for Mercedes after we'd all casted him off as LOONEY for leaving McLaren! As Hamilton would lead  four different times, taking NO prisoners on his forceful way to the front with multiple overtaking maneuvers before cruising the final portion of the race with the most entertaining "Dust-up" between eventual runner-up Kimi Raikkonen on severely worn rubber evading the whimpering Seb' Vettel cooing for the Stewards to make him move outta the way en route to an unusual third place finish this year...

IndyCar: Brazil
Ha-Ha-Ha! Betcha Y'all thought I'd go for the easy choice here and pick Mother Speedway again, right? And even though Indy was arguably the best race of the year, perhaps only diluted by its insane amount of lead changes, nevertheless, being a Diehard Twisty' Fan and really thinking we'd see Joseph 'STUD! Newgarden get his debutant victory, even if Takuma "Take charge" Sato was BLOCKING, Ducking & Weaving with Newgarden squaring off his Flinstone rubber whilst in hot pursuit it was AWESOME to see thee Mayor 'O Hinchtown simply say pardon me,  playing thru when picking off cars one-by-one before calling SMOKE ON! And outsnookerin' Sato to take the win in the very last  corner, as really IndyCar? You're gonna throw away this race; WTF?

Which leads me to another few races deserving consideration, i.e.; Mid Ohio & Baltimore, while Indy once again rules for Ovals, although I think may be Milwaukee should be thrown into the mix?

Most Inspiring Driver of the Year
F1: Nico Hulkenberg
Although I believe the season started off slow, the mid season tyre change really seemed to suit thee Incredible 'Hulkster's driving style, as his Sauber C32 came alive with the German regularly landing in the Q3 Top-10 'Qualie sessions of the season's second half en route to scoring multiple points.

Yet the race that I found myself  becoming a true believer of the 'Hulk's overlooked talents was when in Korea he held off not one, two but three former world champions as in Hamilton, Alonso and button for a fantastic fourth place finish - equaling his to-date career best, as even Hamilton asked over the radio incredulously if anyone had any suggestions on how to get around the pesky Sauber!

IndyCar: Mike Conway, Charlie Kimball
Although this category is supposed to be singular, this year's winner is a tie between two very deserving drivers. As Kimball's choice was made upon his stirring drive  to his debutant IndyCar win at Mid-Ohio this season and not because he's the first fulltime diabetic competing in the sport, as I have to say initially I wasn't that overly impressed by Kimball - thinking he'd just brought money; Err a big sponsor and good publicity to the Ganassi "G2" squad 'Wayback in 2010.

Yet this season "Charlie Murphy," as I think 'Ol Dario (Franchitti) nicknamed him really started to impress - having podiumed and obviously his highlight being his maiden BIG CARZ victory, not to mention his heady race at Fontana, where I'm not sure, but he seemed likely to win that race too if his Honder' lump hadn't gone Kuhblamoe! And although I still expect 'TK to be in the No. 10 car next year, (since I began scribblin' this way before it was announced...) having either Kanaan or Ryan Briscoe as his team-mate in '14 can only be beneficial.

Meanwhile, what can I say about Mike "Ice-Ice Baby!" Conway who should have swept the Belle Isle weekend, even if in a Back marker DCR entry... Nope, Conway's the real deal and it was fantastic seeing him garner Dale Coyne's third IndyCar victory, then slumping to a disappointing third  on Day-2; CRIKEYS! As the amazing point of this story is Conway's gumption to say he didn't want to drive on the Ovals anymore - which we all thought was the death knoll to his racing career, but instead he's bounced back nicely and deservingly now will campaign the entire Twisties portion of next year's IndyCar calendar for 'FAST EDDIE, aka Ed Carpenter...

Scotty "the Iceman" Dixon's 'John Hancock procured by No Fenders 'Offical Photographer 'CARPETS during another 2013 Autosport Radio Show interview at McGilveries in Speedway, IN. (The Tomaso Collection)
Most Improved Team of the Year
F1: Sauber

Originally was trying to decide between Gasp! Force India or Switzerland's lone racing team, yet although "VJ-duh-Playah's" (Vijay Mallya) Force India squad had the audacity to start the season like a cork shot out of a bottle and comfortably leading the rival Big Boyz component supplier McLaren in the vaunted Constructors chase, nevertheless the fizzy-water went flat and the gang at Woking rightfully overhauled them.

On the flip side, the Hinwil gang of Peter Sauber's 'lil privateers started off poorly at the beginning of the season, somewhat understandable due to having 50% of the driving strength being a rookie, not to mention I think having a somewhat questionable chassis underneath them to begin with.

Yet after the season's infamous "Tyre-gate" scandal the Sauber C32 suddenly came on song, especially with Nico Hulkenberg at the controls, finishing tenth in the Drivers points standings, with 51 of Sauber's 57-points scored, just twenty shy of Force India's tally. As the German driver was the only one in the Top-10 not associated with a Major team, i.e.; Red bull, (Vettel 1st; Webber 3rd) Ferrari, (Alonso 2nd; Massa 8th) Mercedes, (Hamilton 4th; Rosberg 6th) Lotus (Raikkonen 5th; Grosjean 7th) or McLaren, as Hulkenberg was the meat in the Woking sandwich with 'JENSE (Button) ninth and 'Checa (Sergio Perez) P11. And to think that thy Incredible Hulkster will once again languish with a midfield team in 2014... 

IndyCar: Dale Coyne Racing
So you're saying how could this be possible with Coyne's revolving door policy for the team's second seat this year? As NO less than five drivers took turns at the controls of the No. 18 Dallara DW12, most notably being Mike "Ice-Ice Baby!" Conway's most excellante weekend in Detroit where he scored his second IndyCar win and followed it up with a third place finish the day later.

And although my hero Justin 'B-I-G UNIT Wilson's season ended on a sour note with his bone crushing crash, nevertheless until that point "JW" was en route to his and Dale Coyne's best ever season points finish, having started the Fontana finale in an incredible fourth place before slipping down to finish a very respectable sixth. As once again, Messer Coyne and Company did the proverbial  saying that makes me cringe: "More with Less!" Which is traditionally Biz-speak for redundancies...

And while I'd like to see Wilson finally get the calibre of ride he so justly deserves, i.e.; 'Cheep's fourth seat, etc, it appears that "Booby Rubles" second seat alongside "grahamcracker" would be his best bet, although I'd enjoy seeing him stay put at DCR and teaming up with Tristan "Turbo" Vautier, although the Engineering staff definitely will be a consideration for Wilson, eh?

Most Underrated Driver of the Year
F1: Nico Rosberg
Originally I'd chosen 'Checa (Sergio Perez) for this honour; after all, the Mexican did get a Raw deal at McLaren this year, as what was he supposed to do with that Sow of a car, the MP4-28 no less?

But in tossing it around in my head, the driver I think has possibly surprised the most people this year  is Nico Rosberg, as 'Brittany was supposed to be dusted off by his superior new "Team Leader," thy young 'Louise this year, right? Yet I'd say that the German who lives in the shadows of some other German more than handled himself vs. Lewis Hamilton by winning two races to Hamilton's one, not to mention out qualifying and out-racing him multiple times this season. As wouldn't it be funny if the driver that ended Vettel's championship reign was Rosberg? Since I'd hazard a guess that Mercedes is expecting it to be Hamilton instead...

IndyCar: Joseph Newgarden
Otay, so the personable Nashvillian' only finished 14th in the overall standings this year, yet I've been stoked upon him ever since he graduated to the BIG CARZ, and this year saw him score his debutant IndyCar podium with a fine runner-up finish in Baltimore, along with I believe a trio of top-5 finishes - impressive for the  Minnowesqe Sarah fisher Hartman Racing team he drives for. And while I'm hoping he'll continue his upwards trajectory, it'll be interesting to see how he fares with a new engineer since his current one (Nathan O'Rourke) vaulted to the Big pond of Andretti Autosport...

Biggest Cock-ups of the Year
F1: Tyre-gate; "MULTI-21;" Spa and India.
What more can I really say about the Silverstone fiasco which saw the Pirelli tyres popping willy-nilly! Yet as later revealed, it wasn't all Pirelli's fault, especially with teams running weird camber angles, tyre inflations and putting them  on the wrong axles! As I think Pirelli's been unjustly thrown under the bus this year while trying to do what the FIA instructed them to do.

And Y'all know about my feelings towards "TWINKIEBOY" ignoring the Multi-21 order, as really Seb', did Yuhs need those extra seven points?

Yet nobody seems to wish to talk about the nastiness of our Corporatist State of affairs regarding the right to free speech as the inspirational Greenpeace organization "blazingly" dared to voice its opposition against 'Mega Oil institute Shell and Royal Dutch petroleum by protesting its Arctic ocean drilling by scaling the grandstand bleachers at the mighty Spa-Francorchamps circuit and decorating it with a banner before David "Square Jaw" Coulthard was nothing less than nasty during the Post-race podium interviews by saying we know what's going on but we're NOT going to say what as how dare a Greenpeace activist attempt to crash their party!

And finally, India had two low points, the first being pretty stupid as Vettel was fined $25,000 Euros for stopping on the front straight and doing Doughnuts... While even worse was Lotuses Trackside Boss telling Kimi Raikkonen to get out of the FUCKING way!

IndyCar: Officiating; DRR, Panther & BHA; Loss of races; Houston Hi-jinx and Scheduling Shenanigans.
Although the officiating has improved overall, nevertheless it does seem at times they're making it up along the way while it would only take "Billybob Brazenheartz" (Brian Barnhart) his lone race as guest Grand Poobah to throw a Canary amongst the Pigeons when he attempted stripping Dario Franchitti of his third place finish!

Sad to see longtime IRL supporting cast team Dreyer & Reinbold go by the wayside, although Oriel "Suitcase" Servia got some more seat time by filling in at Panther for the fired J.R. Hildebrand, as Panther seems to really be a shell of its former self while I'm not impressed with Bryan Herta tossing out 'TAG (Alex Tagliani) like cold bathwater after he'd driven his home races Up North Eh!

And it was a travesty that Baltimore and Brazil, arguably two of the best street races on the entire calendar got the heave-ho, while Houston's four day flyer to build a racetrack was pretty sad! Just ask 'HULIO 'bout that 'Yump! Whilst I find the new & improved 2014 shoe-horned season schedule utterly disappointing...

Most Disappointing Teams
F1: McLaren
Originally I'd penciled in Team Willy for this honour, as they really did have a stinker of a year, I mean C'mon Sir Frank, ninth in the coveted Constructors cup with ONLY five Bloody points scored; YIKES!

Yet upon further review; Gawd, I'm getting tired of A-L-L of the 24/7 references to football; Stop the Madness! Nevertheless, 'Ol 'Hobbo summed I-T up best by proclaiming how thy mighty McLaren finished and unbelievable 474-points behind Red Bull (596 vs. 122) in the Constructors championship, not to mention barely fending off Force India for fifth place; Aye Karumba! As really what was 'Checa (Sergio Perez) supposed to do with that pig of a chassis, the MP4-28, which I'm guessing its major deficiency was its Pull-rod Front Suspension.

And I suppose it's somewhat ironic, since history knows NO bounds, as case-in-point, this year was McLaren's 50th Anniversary yet the team scored NO podiums for the first time since 1980, had its worst qualifying performances since '83 and only in the season's final round tied its lowest finishing position since 1966 with Button's fourth place finish...

IndyCar: KV Racing Technology
Although they won the Indy 500 this year, this seemed to be their only high water mark I can recall along with "Symona-Symona's" (di Silvestro) debutant podium in Houston. Yet certainly this team should have managed more success than that, right? Or perhaps was I expecting too much from this team? Or more specifically expecting 'TK to have better results than really possible with this squad that seems to enjoy being a pretender...

And although the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Panther teams come to mind when casting about for disappointments, I never expect either of them to win races, although I was disappointed to see DRR needing to turn out the lights after Indianapolis this year...

Rising Starz' ("Big ‘Boyz Pants")
F1: Valtteri Bottas; Jules Bianchi; Esteban Gutierrez
Although initially I've been super high upon Monsieur Bianchi, and like the readers of Autosport would have picked him as my F1 Rookie Of the Year, (ROY) I have to say that lately I've become more impressed with Team Willy's Flying Finn Valtteri Bottas, which perhaps isn't a fair comparison to Bianchi since after all you'd expect the Williams chassis to be leaps 'N bounds ahead of the Marussia...

Nonetheless, these two rookies impressed me the most of the Formula 1 Newboyz, although I also like Mexico's Esteban Gutierrez who finally found his footing during the second half en route to a fine seventh place finish and scored the most points of this year's quartet of rookie Gran Primo Piloto's...

IndyCar: James Hinchcliffe; Luca Filippi

Otay, so thee Mayor 'O Hinchtown shouldn't be a surprise, eh? As I'd be remiss to not mention him somewherez in this overly clever awards tome - as Hinch' definitely had his breakout season this year by winning not one but three IndyCar races: St. Pete, Brazil and Iowa, while the relatively unknown Italian Luca Filippi impressed me mightily with his electrifying pace in both 'Qualie and races and is my pick to fill the Minnowesqe Bryan Herta Autosports seat next year...

And there Y'all go, my 'Uber UN-Scientific choices for another completed year of motor racing's Top-2 series... And NOT even a whisper or mention of America's Sweetheart Danica; Hee-hee-hee... As now I can turn off thee lights here at No Fenders and go drink some more Eggnog; Yeehaw!

Happy Holidazes Y'all!