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Saturday morning update from Long Beach
Long Beach
Long Beach

Good Saturday morning from a sunny and much warmer Long Beach, California where IMSA will hold their 100-minute race today and the IndyCars will practice and then qualify.

Whereas we here at AR1.com were highly critical of the hideous looking original Dallara IndyCar, and even more critical of the 2nd iteration of Chevy and Honda bodywork that included the ridiculous Butt Bumpers (as we so affectionately called them), IndyCar has done a tremendous job with the latest changes.

The new car is universally praised and for good reason. 

It looks fantastic, and it puts a premium on driver talent, something that was reduced when the cars had more downforce.  After all, this is a sport, and in a sport the athlete's ability should be on display. And with the driver's ability now a bigger part of the equation, we will see a separation between the talented drivers and the wankers. And if you are a sport, that should be exactly what every participant and fan should want.

Contrast that to F1 there this weekend for the Chinese GP Row 1 is all-Ferrari, Row 2 is all-Mercedes, and Row 3 is all Red Bull.

We have said for a long time that F1 is a pure exercise in engineering, and the driver's talent hardly comes into play. We see that with how the team cars qualify with near identical times. You may as well have a robot driving the car. With the new wider tires and high downforce F1 is indeed 99% car and 1% driver.

So what is the IndyCar percentage with the new lower downforce car?

Are drivers like Rossi so strong this year because driver talent is now at a premium?
Are drivers like Rossi so strong this year because driver talent is now at a premium?

While it's hard to put an exact number on it, you see a big difference in teammate's times in IndyCar and we almost never see the grid lineup by row based on the team you drive for like they do in F1.

We estimate IndyCar to be 75% car and 25% driver. While in an ideal world it would be 75% driver and 25% car, unlike stick and ball sports, motorsports does include a vehicle that is serviced and setup by a team of humans. In baseball, football, soccer, etc. the ball is the ball and there is nothing anyone on the team can do to change it (deflategate aside).

Hence we are against IndyCar opening up more of the car to engineering R&D. If IndyCar does that the driver becomes less of the equation and it is absolutely the wrong way to go as a sport. In addition it drives costs up.

While the 'rich' IndyCar teams, and the engineers on these teams, want to open up development to gain an advantage, IndyCar must resist this to ensure the skill of the athlete driving the car remains at a premium.

Engineers want to engineer. It's in their DNA. But, as we have said countless times, engineering is not a sport. This comes from the person writing this article who is a licensed professional engineer. 

The driver must be the hero of this sport, not the engineers. Sorry guys and gal.

Hot tire compound mess

With today's heat look for the IndyCar teams to be scratching their head in qualifying, which is scheduled immediately after the 2-hour IMSA race. The only saving grace might be the fact qualifying is later in the afternoon (3:30 to 4:45pm PT) and the sun won't be as high in the sky.

Will the Firestone Reds be slower again today because of this? Time will tell and it's the team and driver that compensates best for the conditions that will be on pole today. It should be exciting.

No NBC for Long Beach?

Jim Michaelian
Jim Michaelian

We ran into Long Beach GP boss Jim Michaelian this morning. The sun was shining, fans were coming through the turnstiles and hence Jim was in a good mood. We did ask him if Long Beach will finally get a network TV date with the new IndyCar TV deal that will see two additional races on network TV.

If you want to showcase your series well, you would not put a loser race on network TV for over a million viewers to see what a loser you look like.

Long Beach, with its big crowds, and beautiful backdrop, showcases Long Beach well.

However, Michaelian is worried that the NHL on NBC might conflict and, therefore, prevent Long Beach from getting a network TV date. Michaelian is lobbying hard and we'll see if NBC does what's right for the sport.

The Bachelor

At dinner last night at a popular Long Beach restaurant sitting next to our table was 'The Bachelor,' Arie Luyendyk Jr. and his fiance Lauren Burnham and a bunch of their friends.  Luyendyk and Burnham appeared to be quite happy as the relationship develops.

Our condolences

In closing this morning, our condolences go out to the mother of AR1.com staffer Lucille Dust, whose mother passed away at 12:15am this morning. Lucille was at her bedside and unable to be in Long Beach this weekend.

Mark C. reporting live from Long Beach



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