Monday, January 17, 2011

INDYCAR News & Good Intentions

While it has been quiet in Indiana-ville since the holidays, the same cannot be said for the INDYCAR world. A new logo was unveiled by Randy Bernard at the recent "State of INDYCAR" media event and a host of INDYCAR drivers have been preparing to run the upcoming Rolex 24 Hours of Dayton. As a result, the IZOD Indycar Series has splashed across the media in style already this year. I am not someone who believes that the road to hell is paved with good intentions so this post will not head down that road. Rather, as a spiritual mentor and peer coach once told me, it is important to be intentional in all that we do. I see the steps taken by INDYCAR to increase brand awareness and generate excitement about the upcoming 2011 season in that light. On a personal note, recent weeks have involved the holidays, my better half lost her father to cancer, and I have been consumed with the next steps in a career change into teaching, photography and coaching basketball. Most but not all of these involved intention on my part so other than posting on Twitter, I have not done much writing about racing so far this year. There has been no shortage of exciting news for Indycar fans however, and the silence in Indiana-ville is officially over.
In addition to the new logo and Rolex 24 participation, INDYCAR and the Indy 500 have created a buzz with the Centennial Tour of military installations overseas and the announcement of new double-file restarts on all oval track restarts. These would be attempted for the first time at the Indy 500 so it may have just been Brian Barnhart floating a trial balloon, but I think it was intentional in order to keep the Indycar Series in the news and gauge driver reaction. Firestone has announced it is negotiating its return to the series for 2012 and my guess is they want assurance they will be a sole supplier; say goodbye to the road course "reds" in the process - all intended to reduce costs for Firestone. Lots of new sponsor and team announcements have also been occurring which has the same effect, even with the first race still almost ten weeks away. As the last year of the current chassis & engine specification looms, lots more news will be made in the months ahead, and I intend to cover it with words and pix here and for American Motor Journal which will unveil a new website soon. For the time being, here are my fearless (crazy? foolish?) predictions for INDYCAR in 2011:
  1. Dario Franchitti will deny Helio Castroneves his first INDYCAR championship once again.
  2. Helio will win the Indy 500 and punctuate Penske's decades-long dominance of the race, 100 years since Ray Harroun won the first 500.
  3. Tony Kanaan will get a win for De Ferran Dragon racing.
  4. Danica Patrick will become the leader Andretti Autosports needs.
  5. Simona di Silvestro will finish in the top 10 in points.
  6. Alex Tagliani will win on a road course with the FAZZT team.
  7. Rookie of the Year will be fought to the last race between Charlie Kimball and James Hinchcliffe with "Hinchtown" winning because of the testing Newman Haas will provide.
  8. Ed Carpenter will get an oval win for Sarah Fisher Racing.
  9. The top five in the championship will be Dario, Helio, Kanaan, Scott Dixon and Danica.
  10. Graham Rahal will give the Ganassi "junior" team at least one win and finish in the top 10 in season points with teammate Kimball.
When all is said and done in October, we will see how great (or awful) my predictions are! Feel free to sling darts at any time and I reserve the right to claim temporary insanity as the season unfolds. Too much time in the sun and ethanol exhaust can do that to a person. As Helio said at Edmonton last year, talk to my attorneys...
With respect to my own intentions, when I started this blog in January 2007, I had no idea where it would lead but thought it would be a fun and creative outlet for my racing photography and especially my Indycar interests. It has been all of that and more. For 2011, I intend to bring home pictures that tell stories from whatever race I shoot. I will create more blog and photo content that is meaningful to fans and photographers. I will shoot the Daytona 500 next month for the first time. I will shoot at least six INDYCAR races as a media member and develop opportunities to provide photo support to teams, sponsors or drivers at the races. I will use my passport this year. I will integrate my passions for racing, basketball and photography in an educational context. I will get back to the dirt for USAC and ARCA races to reconnect with my racing roots. I will post to this blog, to and Twitter with sufficient frequency so that linkages between my work and the racing community become obvious to those within the motorsports industry. Finally, I will be a better father and friend to those I care about and to those who have helped me survive to this point in my journey. God bless and keep us all.