Texas Pre-race Report It's hot as hell and the "breeze" is akin to a convection oven. JR Rutherford welcomed me to his home town. The drivers are nervous. I must be in Texas.
- Will Power told me that he was looking forward to race, and Scott Dixon admitted to be smiling from ear to ear. However, not many of the drivers are all that comfortable this weekend. Josef Newgarden joked with me about the possibility of the “butt pucker factor” improving grip. Most of the rest are left muttering that everyone is in the same boat, and they hope they hit the setup, and above all, they need more downforce. Gosh, they miss downforce. Did we mention that they believe they’re missing a few hundred pounds of downforce from last year? IndyCar says that they didn’t make rule changes to eliminate downforce, but drivers beg to differ.
- Firestone engineers were anxious to tell me that they brought exactly the tires that the drivers asked for after last season’s race. This tires loses grip a bit more quickly, and a bit more predictably, than the tire brought last year.
- If someone gave me VIN #1 of any model Corvette I think I could find a way to live with a few glitches. This weekend JR Rutherford will drive VIN #1 of the 2014 Corvette Stingray, but only after he gets a jump start – something somewhere drew down the power overnight. Beyond that, ol Lonestar JR was looking fit and happy and healthy as we stood next to the car and discussed the need to stay in the A/C while in Texas.
- Texas Motor Speedway is probably the best oval track we visit – and that includes Indy. Indy doesn’t have as many suites, or a “Speedway Club” suite building, let alone condo’s next to the track. The parking isn’t on paved lots, and the media center seems to be more modern.
TMS officials detailed to me changes they’ve made in an effort to fight the decline in auto racing crowds. For starters, their fans told them that $50 per ticket was too much for a child – so now all children get in for $10. They also have a package deal with 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs and 4 drinks for $99, which is something that most families can afford. And I’m sure that all of those junk cars that were painted white last night, which are being stacked in the grass along the front stretch, mean something interesting is about to happen. In the meanwhile, they’re drag racing cars down the front stretch.
One of the ideas we kicked around was putting WiFi in the stands. The feed would allow fans to watch the broadcast feed as well as have timing and scoring on any WiFi-enabled device without running up their 4G bill. In an emergency fans could get information on what actions to take. Certainly other sports venues are already putting WiFi into their facilities, but I know of no other track that is considering doing this.
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