Overheard at Indy - Carb Day (ABC Deal) UPDATE #2 As an ABC/ESPN Insider told AR1.com back in May at Indy (see below) - they were keen on renewing the 5-race IndyCar deal and indeed they did just that with Wednesday's announcement. So that part of this rumor is now 'fact.'
05/28/11 A reader writes with regard to the rumor that ABC wants to keep the Indy 500 - I think if IndyCar splits the next deal with NBC-Versus/ABC-ESPN, they're making a big mistake. The Indy 500 is their only leverage, and they have to force the next TV partner to take the rest of the season in order to get the Indy 500. The problem for the next TV partner is the Indy 500 is not lucrative enough to make up for the cost of the boat anchor the rest of the season is, especially if Danica leaves. Kenn Fong
Dear Kenn, Unfortunately IndyCar signed a 10-year noose around their neck contract with Versus and they have 7 years to go on that contract, 7 more years of 0.2 and 0.3 ratings. So unless NBC takes it all (Versus is now an NBC property) and markets the series as a whole, they will continue to have some races on ABC and some on Versus. How dumb is that? One has to hope that NBC wants the Indy 500 bad enough to outbid ABC for the contract. Nothing against ABC mind you, but having the entire series as either an NBC/Versus property or an ABC/ESPN property is best. Mark C.
05/27/11 A lot of talk today about the Anchor Teams signed by Chevy (Team Penske) and Honda (Ganassi Racing) and what advantage the Anchor Teams may have over the other teams. The Anchor Teams will be the first to test development pieces but we talked to Will Phillips and he said on race day everyone must have access to run the same pieces. Whether they can afford to buy the new faster parts is another story.
IndyCar is asking Lotus to try and pick their Anchor Team by tomorrow......Look for the Anchor Team deals with the manufacturers to be multi-year deals but IndyCar will probably mandate that all other deals be one year deals so that if and when a new manufacturer comes into the series, they will find there are no decent teams to pick from.
Now that Chevy and Honda have announced their Anchor Teams, the manufacturers can start to sign their other teams starting tomorrow.
Chevy chose Penske Racing and Honda chose Ganassi as anchor teams because of their top notch engineering staff and their ability to help develop new enhancements. Chip Ganassi told AR1.com that he considered running different engines for his two teams but decided to run Hondas in all four of his cars in 2012 and beyond.
Honda tells us they really want to have the opportunity to run their new Aero Kits in Next Year's Indy 500. We hear the pieces will be developed in conjunction with Honda USA, Honda of Japan and Wirth Engineering, but the project will be led by HPD.
We hear that ABC/ESPN and very keen to keep the Indy 500 and 4 or more other races. An ESPN insider tells us they would be open to doing more network TV races if it made sense to both parties.......ABC will use 64 cameras Sunday "to capture the action live -- including 360-degree rotating onboard cameras on multiple cars." All 33 cars in the starting grid "will carry GPS boxes to provide telemetry and pointers to help identify the cars for viewers." In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley wrote the race is "still a spectacle, but lacks the vivid colors and verve it had from the 1960s to the early '90s." Wolfley noted 49% of the sports industry execs who responded to a Turnkey Sports poll found the Indy 500 to be "on the decline," compared to 37% who thought it was "holding its own" and 7% that thought it was "on the rise." However, 41% of respondents consider Indy "the most prestigious motorsports race," ahead of 33% for the Daytona 500 and 14% for the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco.
Ryan Briscoe's team beat Dario Franchitti's team to win the annual pitstop competition.
We hear the 2nd Brazil race is not yet done. One issue is whether to run the event as a street race or on the existing road course. We hear the street circuit being batted around is a long lap at over 3-miles and we hear southern Brazil is a very nice place to visit, so if you are thinking about taking in an overseas event, that might be the one.
Jim Michaelian of Long Beach tells us the final numbers are in and they definitely topped 175K attendance over 3 days by a comfortable margin.
Look for the new cars to have 700 HP on road courses and up to 100 HP for Push-to-Pass but the thinking is that there will be enough variation between the various car combinations that they my not need to have the full 100 extra HP to have passing. The engines can run one or two turbochargers and the manufacturers can choose, but IndyCar has not yet been asked by a manufacturer if they can run a single turbo on ovals and dual turbos on road courses if they wanted to, hence they have not decided whether they would allow that or not.
The Mattel Toys ramp is huge and takes out almost 25% of the infield parking of the Speedway, making a lot of people unhappy.
The crowd for today's Papa Roach concert was bigger than ever, which bodes well for attendance on Sunday. The weather forecast is for it to be much warmer and dry. Mark C. reporting from Indy