Thursday, March 15, 2012

Indycar: The Pivotal Season

We're two weeks away from what appears to be a critical juncture in the history of Indycar. When the series opens in St. Petersburg in two weeks, here are the important questions to keep in mind:
  1. Those ridiculous rear wheel pods... once they see the cars are on the racetrack, will fans still hate them? I think the pods will be short-lived. They serve no real purpose on road and street courses, which makes up two-thirds of the Indycar schedule. They are largely a reactionary, Johnny-come-lately public relations response to Dan Wheldon's death. Fans despise them for good reason. They're ugly. They ruin the concept of open wheel racing. They'll disappear on road and street courses within a year and no one will miss them.
  2. Can the introduction of three engine manufacturers (Chevy, Honda and Lotus) divert attention away from the fact that Indycars are still spec cars? To an extent, I believe so. Indycar will not regain its former glory until the last remnants of its recent spec-series past are laid to rest, but this is a good band-aid until real variety returns (anybody got Bobby Unser's cell number?). Indycar is heading the right direction. At least we'll see a few blown engines to mix up the field.
  3. Does anyone realize how badly Indycar needed Rubens Barrichello? If they don't now, they soon will. He brings more fans than a dozen bikini-clad Danica Patricks. He internationalizes the series overnight. He brings none of the stuffy arrogance that was (rightly or wrongly) associated with Nigel Mansell. He will make KV Racing an instant contender and a much-needed competitor to The Big Three (Andretti Autosport, Penske Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing). This is the best thing to happen to Indycar in years.
  4. Is there a better field of drivers anywhere on the planet? For the first time in years, this Indycar field stacks up very nicely in a head-to-head talent rating with F1 drivers. Dario Franchitti, Will Power, Tony Kanaan, Rubens Barrichello, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud and Justin Wilson are top notch competitors who match or exceed anything F1 can put on the table. Top to bottom, the 2012 Indycar field may actually be better than F1. Given equal equipment, the lovely Katherine Legge, veterans Orial Servia and Alex Tagliani, rookie Josef Newgarden and several others may fit in the same category. We've yet to see all that can be accomplished by enthusiastic Twitter maniac Pippa Mann and fan favorite Simona de Silvestro. 
The real world driving champion may actually be crowned in Fontana this autumn, not Sao Paulo. That's not a knock on F1. On the contrary, I love Formula 1 racing. But for the first time in many years, Indycar drivers really are that good.
So don't miss St. Petersburg, okay? We're watching the future of the sport unfolding right before our eyes.

I'm getting ready to leave for the Kansas City Mecum Auction in a few weeks. Hope you'll tune in to Velocity Channel and watch the show live all weekend. Here's the TV schedule. We'll have 750 of the finest muscle cars in the world for sale. My wonderful co-hosts (Scott Hoke, Bill Stephens, John Kraman) are a blast to work with and we're looking forward to the show.

As always, I'll have a nightly blog update for our viewers every day of the auction (well... every day when I'm not so exhausted that I fall asleep at my keyboard). If you wanna know what happens when the cameras aren't rolling, check this blog after every broadcast.

On the racing scene, I'm working out super hard right now 3-4 times per week in preparation for the season. 150 crunches, lots of isometrics, cardio and core training, and driver-specific exercises. Anxious to be working with Packs Racing this year. Honestly, I just can't tell you how excited I am to have a full season ride in a top notch car. We'll save that for another blog.

See you in KC!

Stephen Cox
Co-host, Mecum Auto Auction, Velocity channel
#21 Packs Racing/Boschett/McGunegill Engines Chevy 
Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of any other party. 

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