Overheard at St. Pete - Sunday UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, I noticed you mentioned colleges doing aero kits for IndyCar. Wow. That’s a no brainer really. IndyCar TV ratings would be boosted by incorporating colleges into the sport directly. If you had a bunch of college kids, and the alumni tuning in, and the colleges sponsors with a reason to watch...well wouldn't the ratings come up then? What about all these companies that just about cut each other’s throats to capture that college market? Soft drink manufacturers, clothing, computers, beer, cell phones and cell providers...gee. It seems like that’s most of the IndyCar sponsors...isn't it? The FIRST place I would go if I wanted to find an Izod alligator on a shirt, would be my nearby major university? How come nobody is figuring this out? Mordichai Rosen, Los Angeles, CA
03/24/13 As the skies appear to be improving here in St. Petersburg, Florida less than one hour before race time, there is hope we may have a dry race today. The attendance today appears to be a record for IndyCar. Champ Car had a bigger crowds, but for the IRL/IndyCar this appears to be a record.
Word is that Katherine Legge's lawyers are working hard to negotiate a financial settlement with Dragon Racing for terminating Katherine Legge's contract. Legge maintains that TrueCar was her sponsor, not the team's.
Rumor in the paddock is that the first standing start race might be Long Beach. It's a slim chance and a decision will be made soon, but Long Beach wants it we hear. And all the drivers we have talked to say they are ready for it. Champ Car did a standing start at Long Beach a number of years ago and it went off without hitch. A rolling start at Long Beach is horrible. Half the field is strung out around the final hairpin and start 1/2 mile behind the rest and they always crash in Turn 1. Almost always.
All the doubleheaders were going to use a standing start on the Sunday event but now Detroit is going to use a rolling start (start straight too short). Toronto and Houston will be using a standing start on Sunday.
With all the controversy about the performance of the Honda engines vs. the Chevy, we confirmed with IndyCar Technical Director that the turbos were set for two years, so if Honda wants to go with a twin-turbo setup like Chevy they can do so at the end of 2013.
However, the single turbo appears to be better at high speed circuits like Indy, and it is a smaller package, so if body kits come into play next year, the single turbo may be a better choice to improve aerodynamics at the back of the car.
Speaking of body kits there is still disagreement among the team owners as to whether they should be allowed. If it was up to us, it is time for IndyCar to have a collegiate tie-in. They should make each team tie-in with a different University that has an aerospace department and have college students design the aero kit for the team in conjunction with the team's engineers. IndyCar needs that collegiate tie-in.
What a boon it would be for the series to have a University associated with each team. The design would be free and Universities have a lot of different funding and they too can benefit from the association with an IndyCar team. The average age of the IndyCar fan is old and getting older. They need to work every angle possible to engage a younger audience. Imagine if the students and alumni start following their team car at every race? We won't charge IndyCar for that free advice.
Spoke to Dale Coyne Sunday and he confirmed he is close to a deal that will see Stefan Wilson in Ana Beatriz's car for Barber and Long Beach to start. Ana will be in the car here, Brazil, Indy and some other ovals later in the year. Dale did not rule out a possible third driver later if enough sponsorship cannot be found between Ana and Stefan.
Some team owners are adamant that the NBC Sports network deal must be broken. The poor TV ratings are holding back the teams from landing bigger sponsors. Since IndyCar signed an exclusive deal with ABC for the races on network TV, it makes sense to do a new deal with ABC and ESPN. TV ratings are king. Almost nothing else matters in sports marketing.
Did you notice KV Racing is doing better all of a sudden? Well they fired most of the team, kept the good engineers and now are a much leaner organization.
A few weeks after a report suggested that IndyCar could abandon the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the series' leader said the race's future wasn't in doubt.
"I think it's secure and really kind of a pillar of our season," said Mark Miles, the CEO of Hulman & Co., which owns IndyCar. "I hope we'll have some more specific announcement about that before long."
In June, the city council unanimously approved a three-year extension to keep the race here through 2017.
But a report from the Boston Consulting Group that was leaked to the Associated Press this month left St. Petersburg off of a proposed 15-race schedule. Miami and Atlanta were instead listed as possible sites. Ft. Lauderdale can fill the Miami recommendation but Atlanta? Perhaps Road Atlanta. Mark C. Reporting from St. Petersburg.