Normally I leave the sad parts to end my column, but my heart is so heavy this week I have to begin with a few words on Japan first. I was up when the 8.9 hit Japan, being the ultimate Gaijin I tend to read the news from Japan many days after midnight ET.
First the footage of the quake broke my heart, but then the Hollywood like aftermath with the Tsunami just made it ache with pain. On behalf of everyone not just at Open Paddock; but the entire North American INDYCAR community, our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow fans and humans in Japan.
Also here are some words from Takuma Sato on Japan. (VIDEO)
Testing, testing, 1,2,3….
Earlier this week was a two day test session at Barber in Alabama, while the first four drivers in speeds are the usual suspects (formerly known as “red cars”) drivers that were 5th through 7th are not so much.
In day one Canadian rookie and Mayor of Hinchtown; James Hinchcliffe was in the top five of speeds. He was far faster day one than his more experienced “teammate” for this test in Oriel Servia. However after a day of struggles, day two really brought Servia up in speed (114.429) and I suspect confidence. When the test session was over Servia was 5th overall.
Between Servia and Hinch in speed was Japan native Takuma Sato who ran a best lap of 01:12.4742 around the 2.3 mile road course, which translates to 114.248 MPH. Hinchcliffe the only rookie in the top ten of speeds (out of six total rookies) he ran a speed of 114.175 in practice session 5. All other rookies were ranked from P20 to P24. (Of 24 drivers testing)
JR Hildebrand was the slowest at 01:14.5534 around the Alabama course. Just three seconds off the pace of the fastest man for the week Helio, who ran 01:11.9434 in practice 5. (Notice in a Milka free world, the slowest driver is not double digit seconds off the pace of the leader.)
Here is the complete rundown of drivers from the Barber test (RESULTS)
More than just testing happens in Alabama
Also while the IZOD INDYCAR Series tested at Barber came some news about drivers and teams for 2011. However none were the big names and places we all are still waiting on nearly one week until St. Pete.
First, we learned this week that Sebastian Saavedra and his rocking head of hair will be in the #34 Conquest car for all of 2011. (Unless he decides to quit hours before a race) This really tosses a monkey wrench into the silly season gears, since not too long ago Paul Tracy told Jeremy Scott on The Inside Groove (Monday’s 9PM ET at RaceFanRadio.com) he had a “letter of intent” with Conquest.
Also the “Twitter hitman” Scheckter had been rumored to be with Conquest for 2011. So now we are left to wonder with so little time left if Paul Tracy will even be at St. Pete come next week. I’m starting to think; as much as I love PT myself, clearly old age, and an abrasive personality are catching up to him. In these tough economic times; it is a tough sell to a corporation a driver who might tell it like he sees it. Not to mention an excessive amount of burned bridges only hurts his search for a team.
We also got confirmation of maybe the worst kept secret at Andretti Autosport, Michael’s cousin John will return with NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, and North Carolina based Window World as sponsor.
This is the third year in a row for Petty and Andretti at Indy, and the second year in a row now cousin Michael will provide the car and staff. Each year the paint scheme is a little different for the John Andretti number 43, and this year will be great for old school fans of Indy. They are using the Gordon Johncock paint scheme from his 1982 winning car.
Personally I will make sure to buy John’s tee shirt for the 2011 Indy 500. (I have been buying his swag since the 1994 season when I had his Indy 500/ World 600 “Day & Night double header” tee.)
Video of the Petty/Andretti announcement (VIDEO)
We don’t need any stinking streams….
Ok so many people are up in arms about a lack of streaming for INDYCAR in 2011. Welcome to my world folks. I am a long time American fan of the Canadian Football League. (Go ARGOS!) Well it has been years since I can watch a regular season game on-line. The CFL blocks any free streams to the US in hopes we will pay them to watch.
I am also a big fan of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) they too do not allow us Gaijin in North America to watch streams. Plus, the last two UFC pay per views I watched for free on-line. How do I do it?
Its called “pirated streams”, anyone who watches European soccer knows it very well. You depend on some geek to connect a computer to a TV line and then put the video on the Internet for people like me.
I personally think once people learn about the sites that host this, it will be a non-issue. My bigger concern is that the series lacks any weekly TV shows. There is a rumor of Robin Miller getting a weekly gig at Versus, but I doubt he can work for both NewsCorps (owners of SPEED) and Comcast at the same time. (That is like a news reporter working for both Fox News and MSNBC, just isn’t going to happen at the same time.)
Recently in preparation for the 2011 MLB season and my 40 hour round trip to St. Pete, I made the switch to XM from Sirius. I was disappointed to learn the INDYCAR Series channel will only have broadcasts of the race. According to the screen on the channel “Next event March 27th”. No qualifying on XM, nor does the channel even run the handful of weekly radio shows about the series. (Like Mike King, Trackside)
You know how many weekly and daily shows are out there for NASCAR? (Hell, they even have a redneck version of “America has talent” on SPEED!)
You want exposure; worry less about a video stream, and more about the “cult like” coverage the Series has on mainstream outlets. Imagine if people driving around America could listen to Trackside from their car. I mean for crying out loud; the most listened to show on radio for the Series is Trackside, who is really just a local show for the Indianapolis market, with a ton of internet listeners. Not every person in America is crazy about internet radio. Heck why can’t the Series twist ABC/Disney’s arm about ESPN Radio?
I mean if ESPN is getting more TV dates for 2011, shouldn’t they be required to give more coverage to the series, just like NASCAR requires of ESPN & SPEED?