Truckers News

May 2011

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 39 of 105

VIEWS FROM THE GRANDSTANDS KAY BELL Glad Tidings … and Good Luck As the Indy 500 celebrates its 100th anniversary, recapturing series glory days presents big challenge need it to help the Indianapolis 500 blow out the 100 candles on its birthday cake. Yes, the “Great- est Spectacle in Racing” hits the century mark this month, as the very first Indy 500 — known back then as the International 500-Mile Sweepstakes — was held Memorial Day weekend 1911. OK But as it begins its second cen- tury, the Indy 500 remains nowhere near the big deal it was in its glory days, when the field was packed with legends like Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones and the Unsers. It has at least climbed out of the depths to which it had sunk following the disastrous CART-IRL LOOSE LUGNUTS What channel is that again? I plopped down in front of the ol’ TV, ready to soak up several hours of the 12 Hours of Sebring, but the Speed Channel was showing something else. So I checked ESPN. Nope. ESPN2? Nope. ABC? Nope. Versus, MTV, Animal Planet, the Oprah Winfrey Network? Nope, nope, nope and nope. Exasperated, I flipped on the PC and discovered that the American Le Mans Series has a new broadcast deal in which its races are shown live only on with high- light shows to air on TV later. I hope the ALMS is getting paid a lot for this arrangement, because it is awful for race fans. Now, I love my computer and all, and I watch TV shows online sometimes. But if the ALMS thinks I’m gonna stare at my little laptop for the entire length of a multi-hour endurance race, they are sadly mistaken. And while the rival Rolex Grand Am Series is growing thanks in part to its consistent TV coverage, the ALMS has, in my view, made a potentially suicidal mistake. See ya later, carbu- retor We haven’t had carbure- tors in our street cars for more than 20 years now, and NASCAR will 40 TRUCKERS NEWS MAY 2011 switch the Sprint Cup cars to a fuel- injection system starting in 2012. The new engine-control units will come from McLaren Electronic Systems, which provides similar components for Formula 1, the IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans cars. The McLaren units help the rac- ers get better fuel mileage, and give the teams the ability to select from among a range of settings to deter- mine how much fuel is delivered to the engine. That’ll keep the crew chiefs busy. Green machines Most of the time, I’m happy to make fun of eccentric Formula 1 impresario Ber- nie Ecclestone, but the white-haired wonder and I agree on one thing: Neither of us wants F1 to adopt smaller and quieter “green-tech” engines as proposed for the 2013 season. Going green is a good deal most of the time, but this idea is just nuts. And the worst part is making the cars quieter. Just as feeling that deep-throated engine growl rever- berate through the grandstands is one of my favorite parts of being at a Sprint Cup race, hearing the ear- piercing whine of Formula 1 engines as they hit upward of 19,000 rpm is an integral part of the F1 experience. everybody, take a deep breath. You’re gonna split 15 years ago. As much as I like the Indy 500, it still feels like a dozen legitimate competitors surrounded by 20 cars that really need to get out of the way. The track is still spectacular, but the ongoing lack of depth in the field remains disappointing. The Indy 500’s real problem is, of course, that the IndyCar Series — as the IRL has been rebranded — is still struggling to come close to the prominence it once held in the world of motorsports. The open- wheelers had a surprisingly pos- itive 2010 season. Rags-to-riches Will Power drew the early-season headlines with his dominance of the first part of the schedule. Later, the popular Dario Franchitti won Reigning Indianapolis 500 winner and Indy Car Series champion Dario Franchitti his third series crown in a four- year span in the season’s final race — meaning the IndyCar title battle went down to the wire for the fifth time in the last six years. As fun as all that was, this off- season was disappointing. The new campaign arrived with such popular drivers as Paul Tracy, Tomas Scheck- ter and 2005 season champion Dan Wheldon without full-time jobs and with 2004 season champ Tony Kanaan landing a ride only at the last minute after being unemployed all winter. The off-season’s first big headline was largely negative, too. IndyCar officials announced a unique pro- motion: They would pay $5 million to any driver from another racing

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Truckers News - May 2011