Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In Which We Discuss Silly Season

Ahh, "Silly Season." For years, it has been nothing short of farcical in IndyCar/Champ Car racing. Why?

In short, due to the "troubles" facing the sport the last decade-plus, it has become, outside of the already funded teams (few and far between), an exercise in ride-buying. Talent is a secondary (if that) consideration. If you have money/bring money, you'll have a ride.

Given the dire economic conditions, this isn't changing. Example? Mario Moraes. Is Moraes on the Dennis Vitolo level? No, he does have some talent. But, really. he's only getting the ride for one reason: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. All of which means no ride for Will Power.

Wait, hang on! Nevermind! Will, with the best name in all of racing, is Penske's new hire. Justin Wilson and RHR were also contenders and, sadly, both are likely out of rides altogether in 2009. As for Power replacing Helio, 1) it has to be done; RP can't count on someone facing possible deportation, and 2) Power's an interesting pick. He's plenty fast, but he must learn to harness it, particularly on the ovals. Of course, having Rick Mears as your tutor won't hurt.

A day earlier, Robin Miller gave us other interesting newsbits. The possibility of BOTH Doornbos AND Bourdais joining N/H/L is, great, but to novices, also curious. After all, they couldn't afford Justin Wilson, but CAN take on both Doornbos and Seabass? Well, Bobby D is supposedly bringing along $$ (ING) and given his connections, Seabass might too. In this case, there are two ride-buyers I'd heartily support.

The "Team France" tidbit is... interesting. I was one of many who mocked Nelson in his 1st year. Mea culpa. He's damn good and SHOULD be in this series. Still, like others, this smells of "vaporware," i.e. something that won't really happen. I'd love to be wrong.

Finally, this interesting news. Let's be honest, ever since the 60's (Winning, Grand Prix, and Le Mans), racing-oriented films have, ummm, what's the word, SUCKED. Seriously, you need to watch Driven to appreciate how awful it is.

This film, should it really happen, could, could be different. For one, the film will deal explicitly with the Indy 500, and it's origins. Interest in the modern 500 might be at an all-time low, but it still resonates (well, it's past) in the American sports world. Portraying, in dramatic fashion, the first Indy 500 in 1911 starts with compelling possibilities. Furthermore, period films, like Cinderella Man, can be far more compelling to a larger audience. It goes without saying that Ray Harroun is no Jim Braddock, and despite Escue's hopes, you won't be seeing a Russell Crowe anywhere near this film.

Still, if done well (and Pizzo's presence gives me some hope), it could, at worst, be an interesting "sports movie." The fact that racing in 1911 was an altogether different, more dangerous venture that had no idea what boundaries it could break gives filmmakers the potential to create an almost mythological air. I wish them well.

Bonus funny note: While looking at pages discussing racing films, Super Speedway. It remains a truly stellar look at the sport (though given the timing of it's production, it depresses me whenever I watch it. The crowds! :sigh:). Anyway, after some exploring, I found... A Teacher's Guide to the film. Really? I know there is tremendous science involved in the sport, but LOL, a teacher's guide? OK.

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