McLaren/Alonso Split- Thoughts

Motorsport Magazine reports this morning that McLaren and Fernando Alonso have parted company. The separation is believed to be amicable.

“We have no plans to run him in any further F1 test sessions this year…He is free to pursue other opportunities in motorsport and we support him doing so,” a McLaren spokesman said.

Alonso has had an off and on relationship with McLaren since his first season with them in 2007, when he complained of the team giving preferential treatment to Lewis Hamilton. When he returned to McLaren for the  2015 season, Alonso complained loudly and often about the uncompetitive Honda engine.

This past May at Indianapolis Alonso and McLaren failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 after a series of missteps by the team.

Where does Alonso go from here? If he wants to pursue the triple crown Alonso will need to find an existing team. Will it need to be Chevy team? I’m not sure. it seemed Honda was less happy with McLaren than Alonso.  He will also need to bring a lot of money.

I believe his commitment to Toyota in WEC ends after this season as well.  Alonso has talked of racing in virtually every major series in the world, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him doing a bunch of one-offs. We might see him in the Daytona 500 next year as well as the Indianapolis 500.  Perhaps a couple more races with Wayne Taylor Racing are in the cards.

I would like to see  Alonso try a couple of Indycar road races, especially road America and Laguna Seca. While McLaren may eventually come to the NTT Indycar sreries full time, I see Alonso just running selected races.

We know wherever he races there will be crowds of fans and press following him.

1946- The Rebirth

It was my best find yet at the memorabilia show the day the day before the 500- a 1946 program with a starting lineup insert for less than $50.  My goal is to collect all programs beginning with the year I was born, which was 1946. That there is a program for that year, let alone a race, is nothing short of a miracle.

Tony Hulman had purchased the track from Eddie Rickenbacker the previous November at the urging of Wilbur Shaw.  From the November 14, 1945, story in the Indianapolis Star, Hulman appointed Shaw president and general manager and announced work would begin immediately to get the track ready for next year’s race. There was a lot of work to do.

The grandstands had deteriorated. Brush and shrubs hid many of the garages, and trees had grown on the track.  Weeds sprouted from the bricks on the front and back straights. I imagine the Pagoda also needed some repairs.

My biggest shock about the program is that it didn’t seem to celebrate the achievements of the previous six months.  It is a straightforward program as if the last race was the year before. There are some congratulatory notes from advertisers, but nothing that screams, “We’re back!” I want to get a 1947 program to see how it depicts this race.  Some of the welcome back ads are below:

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And this modest note from the Speedway:

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The subdued tone sounds like Tony Hulman.

The program contains ads for three different spark plug brands- Blue Crown, Champion, and Bowes Seal Fast. I did not know Bowes made spark plugs.  Bowes Seal Fast and Blue Crown sponsored multiple winning cars over the years.

The Speedway staff page showed some very young looking people, who you see age as you look through later programs:

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The Order of the Day page shows little pre- race ceremony. At 8:30 am a parade of vintage cars preceded the national anthem and a salute to “Our Soldier Dead.” Cars lined up at 9:35 and twelve minutes later the cars rolled off for the pace lap.

My favorite picture in the program is this one of the Pagoda. i assume it’s from 1940 or 1941 and is before the start of the race. It is one the closest, clearest shots of the old Pagoda I’ve seen.

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One other interesting feature that did not continue in future years- in addition to the  race statistics of all previous races, there is a separate section with photos of the winning cars and drivers. I like that this gives a clearer view of the winners and their cars, rather than the tiny photos with each race summary we see today.

The starting lineup sheet has a different look. Apparently the lineup sheet was printed before cars finished qualifying. Only 19 cars are listed as starters. Below is a list of drivers listed as possible starters subject to qualifications after May 25. Some drivers who hadn’t qualified by the time of publication are Duke Nalon, Ralph Hepburn, Henry Banks, and Shorty Cantlon. They all made the race.  Nalon was part of the Maserati team.

Race day saw huge traffic jams as fans returned in larger numbers than expected.  George Robson won the race, leading 138 laps. Only nine cars were running at the finish.

The IMS facility today is a product of the humble beginnings of this first post war race. I have seen more of this develop than I care to admit.

 

Logo Logic?

If you liked the logo for this year’s Indianapolis 500, you’re in luck. You’ll get to see nearly the same design for several more years. For 2020, a checkered flag pattern replaces the bricks (above photo). I assume this background element will change some each year. I though this year’s logo was the best one since the 100th running logo in 2016.  The idea is to create a consistent branding.

I didn’t have a problem with a different logo every year. I thought a new logo said, “This is a brand new race in a new year.” Repeating the same basic logo with a slight variation is similar to what the NFL and NCAA do with the Super Bowl and the NCAA basketball tournament. At least next year won’t be the CIV Running of the Indianapolis 500. Their event logos have become stale and generic. The NCAA has even mandated the same basketball  floor for every site. You have to really look carefully to find the location of a game if you don’t know where it is being played. I hope IMS isn’t head that way.

The bricks are unique to the Speedway. Why that was the part that changed is puzzling.  Every race has a checkered flag.  I think part of the background should retain the bricks in some fashion.

Some logos have been great and some have been clunkers. The 2017 and 2018 were rather bland following the great one in 2016. The Centennial logos from 2009-2011 I like a lot, but they too were followed by just okay badges in 2012 and 2013.

I do like the badge-like center of the design, which we saw in 2007 and 2009.  I think of all the 21st century logos from the chart below, my favorites are from 2019, 2016 2011, and 2014.    The chart is from an article from 2018 on sportslogos.net.

The different logos also help me select the program I need when I’m researching something. Now I’ll need to actually find the year on the program. I wonder if there will be a different logo in 2026 for the 110th running of the 500. That will be another milestone race deserving of special recognition.

In the end, I don’t go to the track or the race because of the logo, but it is nice to distinguish each race by its unique logo. I’ve been to 53 races now, and I really can’t pick  any two that were exactly alike.

 

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Lessening Post Race Depression by a Day- The Victory Banquet

Last year I decided to attend the Victory Banquet. It is something I have always wanted to do and the time was right. I knew after five minutes 2018 would not be my one and only Banquet.  The best thing about it is that it delays the post race blues for another day.

This year my good friends Frank and Nola Proctor joined me for the first time. Marty was planning to go, but had to change her plans at the last minute. The Proctors were awestruck.  They loved the proximity to the drivers.

This year featured tributes to Mari Hulman George and Mario Andretti on the 50th anniversary of his 500 win. A. J. Foyt gave a touching tribute Mrs. George.

There were humorous moments. Conor Daly pretty much did a stand up comedy routine.  Colton Herta said His $351, 000 prize would allow him to move out his parents’ basement. James Hinchcliffe warned him that since Herta lives in California, that wasn’t enough money to move.

The evening’s most awkward moment of the night occurred when Helio Castroneves seemed to be pleading for Roger Penske to let him drive in next year’s race. I thought he had a three year agreement for the 500. Penske did not seem to be smiling. The room got eerily quiet. while Castroneves spoke.

Santino Ferrucci received the Rookie of the Year Award. This rookie class was so close that I thought it would come down to which rookie had the highest finish in the race. Ferrucci finished seventh. No other rookie finished any better than 22nd.

The Banquet Format Needs Work

The one thing I don’t like about the banquet is that some drivers come to the podium to speak and others, sometimes two at a time, sit in chairs and have a late night talk show type chat with a different host.  This format sets some drivers apart as being more important than others.

I especially don’t like when they talk to two drivers at once. the banquet should be a chance for each diver to talk about his day and thank his sponsors and others.  The two driver portions diminish each driver’s accomplishments.  We don’t learn how much prize money some of the drivers get.

Here are some photos from the banquet. Tomorrow look for my Detroit preview on Wild fire Sports.  The thing I like about Detroit is that I get to incorrectly pick two winners instead of one.

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A. J. Foyt remembers Mari Hulman George
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Mario Andretti talks about winning the 500 in 1969
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Santino Ferrucci receives the Rookie of the Year Award from Speedway President Doug Boles

gets

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Simon Pagenaud gets the checkered flag signed by the other drivers.

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Thoughts 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500

Photo:     Kyle McInnes

That was an exciting ending to an otherwise mediocre race.

The red flag and the excessive yellow laps afterward saved Pagenaud from a race killing fuel stop.  If the track wasn’t ready, why did they put the cars back out there?

Great runs by Takuma Sato, Santino Ferrucci, and Pippa Mann. Sato moved up 11 places to 3rd, Ferrucci started 23rd and finished 7th, and Mann went from 30th to 14th. This is Mann’s best finish in the 500.

Cotlon Herta finishes last again. I hope the team can find a solution next weekend in Detroit.

Conor Daly finally got a top 10 result in the 500. He drove a great race and ran as high as fourth.  I hope he gets a couple more races this uy.

This was one of the messiest races in the pits I can remember.

Nice to see that the Speedway put banners over the seats in the south short chute that they haven’t been selling. It had to improve the look on television.

Opening ceremonies continue to be too long. Please cut two of the musical selections and let’s tighten it up.  Also, “Taps” should follow the Jim Phillipi speech.

I was happy to hear , “Lady and Gentlemen, start your engines.” again.

This was not the weather we were promised. I for one am darn glad.

Pagenaud won despite poor fuel mileage.

Zach Veach’s disappointing season continues.

Look for my full race report on Wildfire Sports tomorrow afternoon and more thoughts here tomorrow as well.

 

Racing to 101?

HiGood morning from a windy Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Race Day!  There has been lightning in the area and the video boards are already displaying the warning to exit the grandstands.  The weather forecast leaves very little time to squeeze in the race. If the race begins, 101 laps is an official race,

Knowing the race will be a short one will definitely play into teams’ strategy.

The last rain shortened race was in 2007. Dario Franchitti won a race that was interrupted by rain after 113 laps, restarted about three hours later, then halted after 166 laps. If the race is shortened, I hope we can get in at least 150 laps.  101 seems too short.

I wll keep you posted on weather developments through @PitWindow on Twitter and The Pit Window on Facebook  after 10 am.  Before then, I will post an update to this story.

If you’re coming to the track, be safe. I’m not suree there will,be an official announcement from the track or NTT Indycar Series officials before 9 am.

Update

It’s 7:17 and the skies are clearing. Things look better for an on time start. The weather is moving north.

9:59

Weather appears not to be an issue at all now. Thanks Tony Hulman

Legends Day

It’s Legend’s Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Two events, the drivers’ autograph session and the memorabilia show behind the day. The public drivers’ meeting is at 10:30 followed by vintage cars on track at 11:15.

The meeting is mostly ceremonial with awards and introductions. The start procedure is reviewed and the drivers are asked to play nice tomorrow.

My favorite parts of the day are the memorabilia show and the vintage cars. I have purchased some great items at the show at some good prices.  I also just enjoy looking at the things fir sale.

You know you’re getting old when  all of the vintage  cars are ones you saw race.  I guess I’m a vintage fan. Maybe I should get a lap around the track too.

There is also an autograph session for former drivers, but you need to stand in line until noon to attend, which doesn’t allow time for anything else.

I’m working on a piece concerning the aeroscreen announced yesterday. I want to get some questions answered before stating my opinion. Look for a story Tuesday or Wednesday.

Tomorrow after the hopefully completed race watch for Quick Thoughts here and a full wrap up on Wildfire Sports Monday.