Rookie Orientation and Various Ramblings

Summer has officially started in Indiana. On Wednesday, the temperature crept into the 80s with a fair amount of humidity. Thursday under gorgeous blue skies the rookie orientation practice marked the start of official on track activity for May. Today also is the day that my productivity at work falls through the floor due to the explosion of indycar related material on the interweb. Seven lucky contestants got their chance to roll the dice for the first time at Indy. The excitement is palpable and the race to the race officially kicks summer off.

The week leading up to today has been filled with news and excitement. Streaming will make a return, showing all on track activity that is not being broadcast by the big boys, unfortunately its only for Indianapolis but something it better than nothing. This doesn’t really affect me personally, but I am positive our Canadian friends will appreciate any expanded coverage they can get. (UPDATE: Obviously, as soon as I post this I find Canada will get qualification coverage. Good for you INDYCAR) What gets me going in the new live timing and scoring page. Personally I have not had a single issue with it.  I will begrudgingly admit to DVRing most races and delaying the start in an attempt to skip through the commercials and watch the end live. With that said, I usually do not get to bask in the light that is INDYCAR live timing and scoring but with Indy and the Brazil race I have come to respect the new look of the page.

Seven greenhorns got to cut their teeth at IMS today. JR Hildebrand came out on top of the six, full card carrying Indy pilots. James Jakes have fuel system issues and was unable to complete the fourth and final phase of orientation. Jakes has until the opening of qualifying to complete this, which should pose no problems. James Hinchcliffe completed a whopping 101 laps during the five and a half hour session today. Was he already working on some kind of development program already? Newman-Haas could be slightly ahead of the curve in comparison to the best of the rest. Charlie Kimball ran 73 laps and Pippa Mann interestingly said she completed the ROP while using as few tires and little fuel as possible. Scott Speed and Ho-Pin Tung shared a car today on the way to a successful completion of the program. Everything looks like all systems go for the rookies heading into opening day on Saturday.

Speaking of opening day, it looks spotty weather wise. High of sixty and a  90 percent chance of thunderstorms does not bode well for a fun day at the track. Today I trekked down to 16th and Georgetown to buy a bronze badge. I have never had one before, and I am looking forward to taking full advantage of the privileges the badge gives me… rain or not. Opening day was wet last year as well, maybe we will catch a break this year. (Ed: watch out… slightly not really indycar related material…) Even if practice is rained out, I will be out there to see the band Here Come The Mummies. Rumor has it these guys are a group of Grammy award winning studio musicians. They are supposedly unable to play outside of their respective groups due to contracts so they dress up like mummies and play great music. It’s silly and fun, the perfect light hearted act to support the start of the greatest month in motorsports.

On Tuesday, we all got to see two show car concepts for next year. They both look sharp, and although early days in the design process, these two rides give promise to some sweet looking lines for next year. First thing I thought of when I saw the front wing of the road car was, Red Bull. This thing looks legit. Mike Conway really put it well when he said it has a respectable diffuser, these chassis’s were built to be racy and cutting edge. Everyone will have something negative to say about those two designs, but in the end they are something new. Something to get excited about. Something, finally, to look forward to in the off season. Sure it seems rear heavy to me, but man it looks sexy and far better than what we have to stare at currently.

Finally, news comes from the owners that they have “taken” a “vote” to “oppose” the introduction of aerokits in 2012. Hmm, I don’t remember them running the series. Here, again, I think that INDYCAR, the owners and the manufacturers can take a cue from another motorsports series. Last year in Formula One, the rules stated that the teams were allowed to run KERS. Kinetic energy recovery system, a way to harness to turning of the drive shafts during braking to charge batteries and use the energy for an extra 80 horsepower. The constructors entered into a “gentlemen’s agreement” to not run the KERS system. There was no penalty for running it, but the constructers were united in their decision and no one had the technology on the cars during the 2010 season. The INDYCAR owners could possibly do the same thing. Just agree to simply not purchase kits during the 2012 season. I would not like to see this, but you do not have to purchase a kit. Seems like an easy answer to a difficult question.

Happy almost-the-month-of-May. I hope we see dry weather, close action and fast speeds. 230 mile an hour laps are not out of the question.  It will just take the right circumstances and a bit of good ol’ fashioned luck. With the possible addition of a new four time champion on the hundredth anniversary of the first running and the fiftieth anniversary of the first win by the first four time winner, the starts seemed aligned for Hellio. Add the deepest field in 15 years, growing popularity, some mainstream coverage and the most competitive, top to bottom, the series has ever been, this will be a month to remember.

Eric Hall

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