Belle Isle Preview; Thoughts on The Victory Banquet- I Don’t Know You Any More

The Verizon Indycar season improbably reaches the halfway mark this weekend with The Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit.  It seems way too early in the year to be talking about the halfway point, but with a 17 race schedule, , Sunday is number 8. After next weekend’s race at Texas, the schedule slows down and the races are spread out more.  Texas will be the fifth straight weekend Indycar has been in action, plus the week of practice at IMS. Crews must be exhausted. Here are some thoughts on the Belle Isle event.

This is a very nice event. The volunteer staff is friendly and helpful, and GM throws a lot of support toward the race. The track is not one that produces great racing. Drama usually is dependent on how cautions fall and the weather. The last two years weather has had an effect on the outcome in at least one race of the weekend.  This year, there is the added drama of Honda unreliability and the lingering question of whether Helio Castroneves will break his three year victory drought. There have been six different winners in six races this season. How long will this continue? I think it goes for one more race, then Sunday will see the first repeat winner of the year.

Other things to look for- Will Ed Jones back up his third place finish in the 500? How will Esteban Gutierrez do in his role subbing for Sebastien Bourdais? What effect will Dixon’s foot injury have on his chances? Can A. J.  Foyt Racing finally have a successful race? Conor Daly has three finishes in the top six here.

This track should give Honda a slight edge as we witnessed in the street courses at St. Petersburg and Long Beach. Chevy won the poles there, but Hondas were strong in the races.  I look for the same situation in race one and a Chevy pole and win in race two. Remember, this is a home game for Penske.

My picks- Tony Kanaan will win Saturday’s race.  Sunday Will Power wins from the pole.  The points race will continue to be topsy-turvy at least through Road America. As long as there so many different winners at the beginning of the season, no one will take command for a while.

Both races are on ABC at 3:30 pm Eastern time both days. Practice and qualifying will be live streamed.

The Victory Banquet

As much as I look forward to the Indianapolis 500 every year (already excited for the 102nd running), I also eagerly anticipate watching the Victory Banquet the day after the race.  Each driver gets to speak about his race and thank those who helped him compete.  It used to be a clean, straightforward program. Short clips of the driver in action preceded each driver’s appearance, there was a brief chat with the emcee, then the racer spoke.  I miss those days.

I have seen this program deteriorate for a few years. Last Monday’s edition was the worst abomination yet. From the dreadful jazz number that began the show to Dave Calabro’s constant attempts at hipness, I finally stopped watching until the time Takuma Sato was about to accept his reward.  He had a long speech, not necessarily unprecedented for winners, and Calabro tried to get him to wrap it up.  If someone wins the Indianapolis 500, he or she should get to talk as long as they want to. Next year, I will most likely record it and skip right to the winner’s presentation.  The late night talk show bit with two drivers interviewed at once takes away from each of them a chance to talk to the fans directly.  I’m not sure how the selections for the  chair talks are made, but it classifies the field into those more important to talk to, and those who are just supposed to just get their check and sit down.

I realize the old format was dated and changes occur over time, but this format needs to go.  It was tedious and over the top Hollywood wannabe.  I don’t even recognize this Monday after the race thing.  End Rant.

Enjoy the races this weekend. I will be back next week with thoughts on the action from Detroit, a Texas preview, and possibly another feature.