Richmond Cancelled as Schedule Shuffle Continues

Indycar’sset in sand 2020 schedule changed again Wednesday. First,  the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America moved to July 10-12 and is now a double header. Then the return to Richmond was cancelled.

The NTT Indycar Series is still expecting to open June 6 at Texas motor Speedway June 6. No fans will attend the first race of the season.

Road America is the third double header weekend on the revised schedule, joining Iowa and Laguna Seca in presenting two races on the same weekend. The Wisconsin switch was made in an effort to make fan attendance a greater possibility.

Richmond had hosted Indycar races from 2001-2009 and was looking forward to the series’ return.

Are we done with changes to the race lineup? I don’t think so. here is the schedule as of this morning, May 21.

June 6 Texas Motor Speedway

July 4-  Indianapolis  Motor Speedway road course

July 11 Road America

July 12  Road America

July  17  Iowa

July 18  Iowa

August 9  Mid Ohio

August 15-16 Indianapolis 500 Qualifying

August 23  Indianapolis 500

August 30  Gateway

September  13 Portland

September 19  Laguna Seca

September 20 Laguna Seca

October 3   Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course

October 25  St. Petersburg

Portland may move since fans would not be allowed to attend on the September 13 date. There is a gap in October, but I think one of the October weekends is being held in reserve in case the Indianapolis 500 needs to move again.

July has five races in 15 days.  August has four consecutive weekends. If this schedule holds, it will be a busy time for teams and fans. I just want to get the season started. Back tomorrow to talk about the 1970 500.

July Road America Double Header ?

The ever changing NTT Indycar Series calendar may be about to take another twist. there is heavy speculation that the REV Group Grand prix, originally scheduled for the weekend of June 20-22, will now take place July 10-12, the original date of the now postponed Toronto event.

The switch will mean two consecutive double headers, one on a road course and one on an oval. Iowa is the week following the new Road America date.

If Richmond takes place as scheduled, Indycar will run six races on four successive weekends. After a two week break, the series has four straight weekenddates in August.

I have a feeling this will not be the last schedule change.  I will have more, including the revised schedule, when the new Road America date is confirmed.

Chalk and Rain: Why Bill Holland Isn’t a Three Time 500 Winner

Bill Holland began his Indianapolis 500 career at the end of an era which crowned three three time winners. He very easily could have been one of them. In 1936 Louis Meyer became the first three time winner. Between 1937 and 1948 Only five drivers won the race. Wilbur Shaw and Mauri Rose won three times, Floyd Roberts and George Robson each won a a race, and Floyd Davis was the co-winner with Rose in 1941. But Holland just as easily could have been a three time winner as well.

From 1947-1949 Lou Moore’s Blue Crown Spark Specials, a Deidt chassis powered by an Offenhauser engine, , dominated Indianapolis. Rose, who co-won the 1941 race in a Moore car, the last race before World War II, was back with the team, paired with rookie Holland in 1947. It was a formidable but volatile combination.

In the 1947 500 Holland took laps 24-59. Rose led the next 26 laps. Holland regained the lead on lap 86 and appeared to have the race well in hand. Late in the race with a 1-2 finish fairly secure,  Moore instructed the crew to put the letters “EZY” on the sign boards for both cars. Holland thought he had a lap lead on Rose. When Rose passed him on lap 193, Holland thought Rose had unlapped himself. The pass was for the lead. Rose became a two time winner. Holland assumed he had won and learned he did not as he pulled into his pit.

“It’s the lousiest deal I ever got,” he said later.

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The 1948 500 had the same result but less dramatic fashion. Rose won by more than a minute and Holland didn’t lead a lap.

In 1949 Holland took the lead on lap 55 and didn’t relinquish it the rest of the race. With rose running second, both drivers were again give instructions to slow down. Rose continued to gain ground on Holland, who was probably not going to get caught again. The last lap drama was avoided when Rose dropped out of the race with eight laps to go. Moore fired him after the race.

For the 1950 race, Rose drove for Howard Keck, who a couple years later hired Bill Vukovich. Holland finished ahead of Rose again, but Johnnie Parsons won the race and Holland was second in the rain shortened race. Holland led eight laps, from lap 110-117. Parsons took the lead back and was leading when the race was called after 138 laps. Could Holland have caught Parsons? Possibly, but we will never know. Parsons was driving with what his crew thought was a cracked engine block. Their strategy was to lead as much as they could to collect lap prize money. If the engine blew, at least the lap prize money would salvage part of their day.

Holland ran just one more 500 Mile Race in 1953, finishing 15th, dropping out after 177 laps with a cam gear problem. He had been suspended in 1951 for driving in a  race in Florida which was not sanctioned by USAC.

Holland’s record in his first four 500s was three seconds and a win. This definitely puts him in some select company. Holland is in the same conversation with Shaw and Vukovich when the discussion turns to drivers who should have more 500 victories than they do.

 

 

IMS Presents Virtual Race Weekend

Photo from IMS webswite

You are probably experiencing the same thing I am. This trackless may is messing up my circadian rhythms. There is a flow to the month in Indianapolis that is just part of the annual cycle of life. last weekend was difficult. i can’t imagine what this coming weekend will be like.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is trying to help by presenting a virtual race weekend. Go to the link

https://www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/events/indy500/event-info/500atHome/Overview

Guides to all the activities can be found there. From the Speedway’s introduction:

“The Sunday of Memorial Day weekend is reserved for the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge and the heroes of our nation, and it always will be. That remains true this year, as we honor those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 fight and encourage our community to unite virtually to celebrate #500atHome with several activities that tap into the tradition and spirit of Indy 500 Race Day. It all leads up to a unique telecast of the 2019 Indianapolis 500 at 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday, May 24 on NBC. Get set to #500atHome with with these activity guides and follow along with all the fun below!”

It’s not going to be the same, but it may help. Please let me know what your plans are for this weekend. How are you coping? What will you do to celebrate NotRace Day?

Three 500s, Two Monaco GPs on ESPN2 Sunday

ESPN2 will help keep the traditional biggest day in motorsports alive Sunday with five encore presentations. Two previous Grand Prix of Monaco will begin the day. later in the afternoon the network will re-air three past Indianapolis 500s.

The schedule:

6 am  2018 Monaco Grand Prix

8:30 am  2019 Grand Prix of Monaco

These races are two of the better Monaco races of late. In 2018 Daniel Riccardo held off Sebastian Vettel. Riccardo battled engine and gearbox issues throughout.

In 2019 Lewis Hamilton beat Vettel by 2.6 seconds, close by f1 standards.

Plus you get to see Monaco for 4 hours. i love the setting for the race, although the racing isn’t always great. It’s one of the most iconic, classic venues for a race.

3 pm  2006 Indianapolis 500  Great duel at the end between Marco Andretti and Sam Hornish, Jr. The winner wasn’t decide until the cars reached the finish line.

5 pm  2011 Indianapolis 500  The 100th anniversary 500 featured probably the wildest finish ever. The J. R. Hildebrand seemed to have the race wrapped up crashed out of turn 4.  Winner Dan Wheldon led less than a mile in what turned out to be a bittersweet victory.

7 pm 2014 Indianapolis 500  Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves stage a tremendous battle for the victory. Hunter-Reay’s pass in the grass was an incredible move.

NBC Replays 2019 Indianapolis 500

Overlapping ESPN’s replays will be NBC’s replay of the 2019 Indianapolis 500 from 2pm-6pm. The race features commentary from winner Simon Pagenaud and runner-up Alexander Rossi.  A pre -race segment hosted by Mike Tirico features interviews with the two drivers.

These shows aren’t the same as being at the track on Sunday, but they are the best we have until now. Race day is hopefully just a little more than three months away. DVRs will be pretty busy this weekend.

Signs of the Times

It was eerie yet comforting to be at Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday. There were a couple of groups tailgating in the new parking lot on the northwest corner of 16th and Georgetown. The facility, of course, was locked. The sign above was attached to the fence at gate 1.

I have been at the Speedway many times when there was no track activity to go to the museum or just hang out. I never thought I would see the track quiet in May.  It just feels wrong. The Speedway is preparing for welcoming fans and taking as many precautions as they can. It has only been a few years since security checks began and we have adapted to that. This is just one more layer to get used to. I hope this one is just temporary.

Definitive lines  have been created at the entry gates with designated spots six feet apart. This is probably similar to what each gate will look like.

 

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I went over to Main Street. There were a few more signs of life there than when I visited a week ago. I plan to make a couple trips to the track next weekend as well.

Amid the silence and weirdness of the empty tack and grounds on a weekend when it should have have been buzzing with activity, the sign over Gate 2 offered some promise of better days ahead.

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Qualifying Weekend- Bumped Day; Indycar News Roundup

Photo: Alberto Ascari at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1952. It was Ferrari’s only appearance in the 500 mile Race. Ascari crashed on lap 40 and finished 31st.

Today was supposed to be the first day of Qualifying for the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500. We are, however, three months away from that. It’s been a surprisingly busy news week. Here are some thoughts.

 Toronto

Yesterday afternoon’s cancellation announcement was not a shock. I was just wondering when it would come. The government has banned gatherings of 25,000 or more until August 31. Will Indycar add another doubleheader or just have one less race? It’s getting late to add another venue. Green Savoree is looking for a date later in the year to reschedule.

Ferrari

As with all things of this sort, I’m taking a wait and see attitude. Ferrari principal Mattia Binotto has confirmed that ferrari is looking at Indycar for 2022 if F1 lowers their budget cap. The Scuderia wants to keep its employees, and Indycar is way to do that. I have questions.

With Indycar still planning to go to a hybrid system, will Ferrari become the third OEM? Will Ferrari be happy using a Dallara chassis or are they willing to become a second chassis? If they do become the third engine supplier, they won’t be able to form a technical alliance with an established team. Will that put them at a big disadvantage?

A decision is still a long way off. It would be exciting to have a team with such international prestige join the series. We will just have to wait.

Car 47

One thing that caught my attention in the Conor Daly car unveiling yesterday was the car number. I didn’t recall seeing number 47 often. Some research confirmed my suspicions. The number 47 has appeared in just 12 500 mile races.

Its first appearance was 1929 when Ernie Triplett drove a Dusenberg powered by a Miller engine. The car started 20th and finished 26th. It completed 48 laps and retired with a broken rod. The number wasn’t on a starting car again until 1933 when 1924 co-winner L. L. Corum drove the number 47 Rigling Studebaker to a 12th place finish. That would be the number’s highest finish.

The most recent start to date for the 47 was 1984 when future two time winner Emerson Fittipaldi drove the March Cosworth machine. It was Fittipaldi’s rookie year. He started 23rd and finished 32nd, retiring after 37 laps with oil pressure issues.

Overall, cars carrying this number have not had a lot of success. This year could be the 47’s best finish.

Another Tradition Broken

Tomorrow I will  watch the NASCAR race. It will be the first one I have watched in more than 10 years. I’m watching to see how their COVID-19 protocols work. Will the empty stands give it the feel of the iRaces? What other things might Indycar learn that can be applied to the opener at Texas.

It will be nice just to have some live racing to watch, no matter what it is.