Things to bear in mind
Lap length: 2.31 miles
Lap record (old config): 1:16.4913, Ryan Briscoe, Panoz-Toyota (2005 WHOA THAT'S OLD)
Previous winner: Will Power, Dallara-Honda
Indycar pedigree: for a road course, ancient. Here's Dan Gurney winning in 1970 in an Eagle-Ford.
Remember last year?
It finished Penske-Penske-Penske-Ganassi-Ganassi. Bourdais and Pantano had a bit of a fracas and the man from Padua was assessed a Castroneves. Charlie Kimball's recovered from his injury so we've got no chance of a repeat this year. Don't rule out the Penske-Penske-Penske-Ganassi-Ganassi part though. Racer magazine has named Pantano the Next Roberto Moreno, so watch this space for 2013.
Incidentally, looking through Autosport's news archive I discovered that it was at the Sonoma weekend Indycar's commercial division announced they were "close" to securing a race in Qingdao. I think they've moved further apart since then. This year it's the turn of the only-slightly-more-credible NOLA Motorsports Park in Louisiana. I'll believe it when someone tells me what NOLA stands for. Favourite bit of the article? Tony Cotman expressing his enthusiasm for the project by declaring "This is an average track".
The exciting month of August, everybody.
Who's going to be champion? Who cares?
Ross Brawn warns about "randomness" ruining the narrative of the World Drivers' Championship. I have no idea why I put this here.
Let's forget all that random nastiness suggestive of an indifferent universe presided over by an incompetent or malevolent creator. We've got three races with which to make a Titanic Championship Battle to rank alongside Montoya-Franchitti, Schumacher-Villeneuve, Hart-Mondale. Indycar's press office is making a lot of noise about the diversity of tracks in the championship run-in: Sonoma, Baltimore, Fontana (did you know Indycar is the only championship that requires drivers to be strong in three racing disciplines? Oh, you did). Will Power showed at Texas this year that he's capable of winning on big ovals. Dixon and Castroneves are pretty good on them too, and Hunter-Reay's a real all-rounder.
Like at Mid-O, I think the main story of the race will be the championship protagonists' struggle to separate their identities as The Big Men from the ultra-classy and inconveniently quick likes of Bourdais and Pagenaud. Hinch ran well here last year, and he's probs due a good result. Then there are engine penalties and the crazy qualifying system to consider. Indycar, this isn't F1 circa 2005. We can have exciting races when fast drivers aren't pointlessly starting from 17th on the grid.
Sometimes I feel like a member of an apocalyptic cult, always proclaiming The End to be pencilled in for next Tuesday, but I'm convinced that Power will win from pole this time. It's all over. Hold the awards banquet already. Switch over to NASCAR. Complain about Nelson Piquet Junior. Do some Wikipedia research about Paul Ryan. Move on. It's a cold winter that's coming.
Is this aero kit news?
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Ayton Engineering, a racing design and consultancy company, has set up a machine shop in Brooklyn, NY, for "a project designing the Honda IndyCar". Some digging says they're mostly involved in engine building, although I'd have thought all that would be done by HPD in California. Any help?
Bonus: some 24-carat comedy gold from the Billion-mayor himself, Michael Bloomberg:
"You might say this is 'Silicon Alley' meeting 'Gasoline Alley' and it's another example of how when it comes to creating jobs our administration has the pedal to the metal," said Mr. Bloomberg, failing to elicit much laughter for his word play, during a news conference at the site at 105 Metropolitan Ave.
The reporters were probably all Democrats or Republicans or something.
Interesting news about the Category Formerly Known As The Infiniti Pro Series
IMS's search for tenders to supply the new spec Indy Lights car is attracting interest. You can register your disgust about the Delta Wing proposal here, "]here and "]here.
Formula Nippon suppliers Swift and F3 car builders Mygale have submitted plans, and now so have Dyson Racing in collaboration with some ex-Lola personnel. The chassis is currently designated the "Hulman HGIL014". Yes, after the Speedway's owners. Flattery will get you everywhere. Or will it? Again, watch this space.
On the engine front, we've got talk of ALMS builders AER (LMP1, inline-four turbo) and HPD (LMP2, turbo V6) offering to supply engines, on top of "heavy interest" from the series about liquified natural gas power. Honda being involved in Indy Lights, Indycar and ALMS makes sense to me.
Schedule, oh yes
We're in beautiful California this weekend (the Indycar people are, I am in my imagination), in what's scientifically the awkwardest timezone for fans of the 10 o'clock news. That's -8 hours GMT; people in the UK might be interested to know that Sky Sports 3's coverage begins at 9:30pm. In America/the mysterious live TV grey areas of the information superwebs, it's on NBC Sports at 4.30pm Eastern Time. Great. These times below though, they're local times. Remember that.
Friday, 24th August
12.15-13.45: SCCA Pirelli World Challenge qualifying
14.30-16.05: Indycar practice one
Saturday, 25th August
10.50-11.50: Indycar practice two
12.00-13.15: Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTS race
13.30-14.00: Formula Car Challenge (race 1) (I'm not really sure what this is, but a look on the website suggests it's sanctioned by NASA. Interesting!)
14.30-15.35: Indycar qualifying
16.10-17.30: Pirelli World Challenge touring car (races 1+2)
Sunday, 26th August
9.00-9.30: Indycar warm-up
9.50-10.30: Pirelli World Challenge touring car (race 3)
13.42: Indycar Greeeeeeen Flag
16.30-17.00: Formula Car Challenge (race 2)
A final word
James Hinchcliffe is hosting an INTERNATIONAL live chat on Saturday with Gray-Ray, Taku and the Newg. Details here. I estimate we're more or less Indycar's whole international fanbase, so I think it's our duty to get involved and not let the Mayor die on his arse out there. Occupy Indycar!
Edited by Risil, 22 August 2012 - 17:22.