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IndyCar hopes to maintain momentum after this year’s Magnanimous 100th running of the fabled Indianapolis 500 motor race

May 24th, 2016 · No Comments

Although both Motorcycle and Car races were held at the fabled Brickyard prior to its inaugural International Sweepstakes race held in 1911, this year’s Indy 500 marks the 100th running of this classic 500-mile event which was interupted only by World War One & Two.

As a ‘Wee lad, growing up I fondly recall watching the Indianapolis 500 on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, as the tape delayed broadcasts were announced by Jim McKay and Chris Schenkel, with other noted journalists as Chris Economaki being present.

These were the days of such luminary Drivers as AJ Foyt, Gordon Johncock, Mario Andretti, Al and Bobby Unser, Johny Rutherford to name just a few. Being joined later on by Tom “the Gasman” Sneva, “Rocket Rick” Mears, etc.

As back then the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was truly legendary as the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, alongside other “crown jewels” such as the Daytona 24 hours; 12 Hours of Sebring; Monaco Grand Prix; 24 Heurs du Mans and the Daytona 500.

These were the glory years of the United States Auto Club (USAC) leading up to its eventual demise, when McLaren and AAR Eagle chassis powered by the mighty Drake “Offy” (Offenhauser) 4 cylinder turbo ruled the brickyard, for which the Speedway’s moniker was derived from its track being paved with over three million bricks!

In 1979 a new Open Wheel racing series known as Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) broke away from then dominant USAC, becoming Indy Cars pre-eminent racing series. Although the Speedway would remain under the auspices of USAC until the late 1990’s, nonetheless USAC would be left largely commiserating with just the running of Sprint Cars.

Yet in the early 1990’s Tony George attempted to forcefully commandeer CART by announcing his desire to be president (Dictator) of the immensely popular racing series. CART’s governing body responded by telling George he could duly become president but would have no voting power.

Hence George, Grandson of track owner Tony Hulman formed the rival Indy Racing League (IRL) to host its inaugural race at Indianapolis in 1996. This was the year of the famous 25-8 rule, similar to NASCAR’s past Nextel Cup top 35 points owners being guaranteed a starting grid position, comparable to today’s Sprint Cup Top-36 Franchise; Err Charter Members being guaranteed inclusion in all NASCAR races…

George’s 25-8 rule back then stipulated that the first 25 grid positions would go to IRL entrants only with the final 8 up for grabs by CART, for which naturally the latter were not impressed with one iota!

CART countered by running its own U.S. 500 the same weekend as Indy on Michigan International Speedway’s Oval racetrack. Which was then owned by Roger Penske - and “The Feud” between Open Wheel racing series began.

CART vs. IRL: Who Won the War? A Short History on the Struggle for Dominancy

Also known today as “The Split,” both sides refuse to give any ground, as CART has folded after filing for bankruptcy. All of its engine suppliers have left as well as the majority of its founding race teams.

Yet Indy too has seen its share of troubles after losing engine manufacturer’s Chevrolet and Toyota in 2006 and perpetually struggling to maintain the tradition of 33 starters. For which the past several years Bump Day has become a JOKE! Now referred to as “boomp” day with literally NO contestants, which has caused Indy to change its qualifying format more than once.

And as mentioned above, even though CART filed for Bankruptcy in ‘03 and Tony George tried purchasing their assets, George was denied in court and the Feud continued a further four years with the formation of the Champ Car World Series before it too finally ceased after the ‘07 season, also filing for Bankruptcy in early ‘08 before the two rival factions finally mergified in what was known as Reunification!

Women in Racing

In 1977 history was made when Janet Guthrie became the first woman to successfully qualify and then race in the storied Indy 500, finishing 29th due to engine maladies, as Guthrie would contest the 500 three times between 1977-79 with a best finish of eighth.

It would be a further 13 years before the second female, Lyn St James raced at Mother Speedway, en route to becoming the first ever female Rookie Of the Year in 1992.

Then it would take until Thy Dawn of the 21st Century, more specifically the 84th running of the storied race on Y2k, nee Two-triple-Zero for the Speedway to record two females racing that year.

St James who’d failed to qualify the previous two years would run her final race with rookie Sarah Fisher becoming the third female Trailblazer to race alongside St James at the Brickyard, with St James effectively passing the torch to the younger Fisher.

Alas, perhaps in an attempt to spice up the final ‘07 IRL Indy 500 Spectale du Jour, history would be made once again when for the first time ever there were three females competing at the Speedway. Although arguably only Danica Patrick’s name was known after causing a furor by brazenly leading for nearly 20-laps in her rookie debut in ‘05 before finally finishing fourth.

Thus Sarah Fisher was largely underneath the shadow of Danica Mania while Venezuelan rookie Milka Duno joined the party.

Female participation topped out with Quattro Femme Fatales racing at Indianapolis in 2010, with Queen Danica topping her previous record for best finish by a woman (fourth) with third in 2009 before the greener payday of NASCAR spirited her away - whilst Sarah Fisher made her Swan Song as a driver.

As there were actually a record Cinco le Femmes that May attempting to qualify for the Indy 500, as the aforementioned Patrick & Fisher would be joined in the race by two rookies: Ana Beatriz from Brazil and Simona de Silvestro from Switzerland - whilst Milka Duno, whom I’d taken to calling “the Wandering Milka” failed to make the show, and was asked to not return afterwards!

The following year once again saw four women racing at the Brickyard, albeit another changing of the guard as it would be Danica’s final 500, with Beatriz & De Silvestro making their sophomore outings while Great Britain’s Pippa Mann, the only female to win a Pole at Indianapolis, although in the lower Indy Lights ranks made her rookie debut.

Yet from the dizzzying heights of Chicagoland 2010, when the All-time record for most women racing in an IndyCar race occurred, with all five above taking the green flag, i.e.; Beatriz, de Silvestro, Duno, Fisher and Patrick. Thereafter, the luster of Femme Fatales in Open Wheel Racing lost its luster, as the tide of le Femmes slowly began subsiding, with only Pippa Mann contesting her fifth 500 in this year’s Magnanimous 100th running of said race

After Danica, when will a woman break through at Indy 500?

And although anybody can win, theoretically there’s only a small group of competitor’s who can clearly be seen as potential victors. With Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi’s four car teams being the Bowtie’s (Chevrolet) two powerhouse entrants who have to be considered the favorites.

Honda’s Anchor team is Andretti Autosport with five entries and prior to qualifying this year seemed an outside Dark horse. Although the Japanese auto giant’s fortunes suddenly turned round during the week of practice leading up to the revised qualifying format where three of Michael Andretti’s cars ultimately qualified for the Fast-9 Shootout, which determines the Pole winner on Sunday afternoon.

Then there’s the remainder of the field to pose as potential spoilers, as surprisingly none of Chip Ganassi’s driver’s made the Fast-9 shootout, nor did the defending race winner Juan Pablo Montoya of Team Penske! Although the cagey Columbian has finished an astounding first twice and fifth in his three races to date.

While neither of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s two entries made the cut. Although their second driver, rookie Spencer Pigot wasn’t expected to make the show, Graham Rahal, son of team founder Bobby Rahal’s been the apparent top Honda racer since late last season when he was fighting for an unlikely championship title.

Another driver surprisingly not making the Fast-9 Shootout was two-times consecutive Pole winner Ed Carpenter, who has three cars entered in the field for his own squad Ed Carpenter Racing. )ECR) As his only Fulltime season driver Josef Newgarden made the cut, while part-timer J.R. Hildebrand also missed out, and thus like those not making the Fast-9 Shootout can only qualify tenth best on Sunday.

One of the little teams to watch will be Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, for whom Y’all can never count out the crafty veteran Oriol Servia who’s running a “One-off” at Indy - while their two regular season drivers James Hinchcliffe, fondly known as thee Mayor ‘O Hinchtown put his Honda P1 Saturday with a four lap average of 230.946mph.

Meanwhile, Hinch’s team-mate Mikhail Aleshin, the series lone Russian stole the final Fast-9 Shootout position with a gutsy run after beating the final gun’s firing by one second! As Aleshin bumped fellow rookie Honda driver Alexander Rossi, America’s latest Formula 1 driver out of the party!

Aleshin says he’ll remember first lap’s corner forever

And the melodrama would play out with the top nine driver’s from Saturday having their times wiped out and each making one lone 4-lap qualification attempt in the reverse order of Saturday’s results where Hinchcliffe was quickest and therefore will go last, with all nine driver’s making the grade averaged over 230mph!

Red Hot IndyCar series points leader Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske in P9 with the “relative” slowest Top-9 speed of 230.102mph will go first, followed by Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport with Aleshin next, followed by ECR’s Josef Newgarden and Indy-Only Specialist Townsend Bell in one of Michael Andretti’s three cars, as only Andretti Autosport and Team Penske had three cars apiece in the Fast-9 Shootout.

Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves and Will Power roll off next ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay, the third Andretti car and then lastly the aforementioned Hinchcliffe.

As it’s very Apropos that thee Mayor ‘O Hinchtown retained his top Qualie’ spot and secured his first ever IndyCar Pole position at Mother Speedway NO less. Where just exactly one day before the one year anniversary of his life threatening crash during final practice before the 2015 Indy 500 occurred!

A very interesting perspective upon Hinchcliffe’s life threatening accident

Runner-up Josef Newgarden in the somewhat Minnowesqe Ed Carpenter Racing team claimed the middle of Row-1, just some scant tenths of a mile slower with Chevrolet power, while Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Top Dog at Andretti Autosport in another Honda on the outside of Row-1 with team-mates Bell and Munoz hogging two-thirds of Row-2. While Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was the only team with all of its (Honda) entries in the Top-10 with Aleshin seventh and Servia tenth.

thus with Honda ultimately securing five of the Top-9 starting positions vs. Chevys four, perhaps we’ll have a more balanced field and theoretically more potential winners on Sunday, May 29th, where your somewhat knowledgeable “Stick ‘N Ball” Sportyblog scribe Touchdown Tommy will be braving being Ringside with 230,000 of his closest friends; Aye Karumba!

→ No CommentsTags: Racing · Misc · Uncategorized

Deflate This NFL! Like Seriously?

May 5th, 2016 · No Comments

Yeah, although I find it Hilarious over the Mega Flip-flopping the Courts are doing regarding Tom Brady’s underinflated footballs… Like seriously, do we care? Like sit down ‘N Shut Up for four games Brady, cause you know you cheated by using under-inflated footballs, and NO Mr. Kraft, you cannot have your Draft Pick back!

As Kudos to the Judge who threw out the baseless lawsuit by Patriots Fans claiming emotional duress; Err monetary loss from the National Football League stripping New England of a first round Draft Pick for their unscrupulous behaviour in Deflategate; Boo Hoo-hoo!

But instead of ALL this Nonsense, or perhaps should I call it NOISE! Shame on you National Football League for continuing to condone the brandishing of Homophobic behaviour throughout your league, as yeah, that “Sensitivity Training” for innocently asking potential Draftees Do You like Men is working pretty good, right?

As it would be unbelievable if a player chosen by the Carolina Panthers said I’m NOT going there because of House Bill 2! Which obviously won’t happen due to the monetary loss said individual would incur, but I can Daydream, right?

All of which leads to how Michael Sam, the first openly Gay athlete to be drafted by an NFL Franchise, the St Louis Rams was really never given a proper chance to succeed in the league. As seriously Roger Goodell? You’re telling me there’s not a single Gay player currently active in your Bastion ‘O Male Football? Oh Never Mind!

Now if we could just get somebody to let the Air out of that Windbag named John Gruden; Hya! Uhm, afraid there will be copious amounts ‘O Oxygen being consumed ‘N contaminated over Thy NFL Draft weekend…

Cowardly NFL still shows anti-gay bias, two years after Michael Sam’s draft

→ No CommentsTags: Misc · NFL Football · Uncategorized

A Belated Shout-out to Craig Sager…

April 21st, 2016 · No Comments

While I know we’re all supposed to be ah-wash in thy final game of Kobe Bryant’s Magnanimous NBA career just having passed. Not to mention the first round of the Playoffs having commenced with most likely the Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers for the finals. Although I suppose Yuhs can never count out those cagey San Antonio Spurs, with the Seattle Supersonics; Uhm, Oklahoma Thunder wanting a piece of the pie…


Yet For Mwah, who doesn’t even know who all’s playing this year? It seems somewhat a travesty that nothing was apparently done for longtime National Basketball Association television reporter Craig Sager who’s also ending his Basketball career forever!


And although I haven’t watched the NBA in a Bazillion years, pretty much ever since Thy Round Mound ‘O Rebound, nee Sir Charles (Barkley) retired. And certainly not since the Seattle Supersonics left town!


Nonetheless I’m familiar with Sager’s prowess on the Sidelines - as it seems a horrible way for one  to retire from life, and I truly hope he gets to do & experience his greatest wishes remaining before the final whistle blows…


TNT’s Craig Sager given three to six months to live in leukaemia fight

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When Basketball Positively Changed Sports…

April 15th, 2016 · No Comments

While two NCAA teams, their respective schools, State’s and residents were reveling in Thy taste ‘O victory in becoming National Champions, how many of Y’all are aware of a truly monumental basketball game having occurred fifty years ago that same championship weekend.

No idea of what I’m talking about? Well neither was I aware of its significance until hearing about it in the most offhand way, since after all I thought I was tuning into my weekly Sunday Night’s Speed Freaks motor racing show!

As the basketball game in question was the never seen before audacity of five African American players starting in the NCAA Championship game, when the Texas Western Miners, as then Student Assistant Trainer Fred Schwacke points out in the interview, how they were more calmingly known then as “Teeny-Weenie-College,” slang towards Texas Western College. Now known today as UTEP, who thoroughly trounced the all white Kentucky Wildcats, which included one player named Pat Riley!

As the interview was quite insightful, very enjoyable and definitely worth listening too, as Nevil Shed’s points are truly poignant towards the state of our nation just a half century ago!

Whilst I know it means very little, but have to say I was quite impressed to hear Nevil mention how only two white players were willing to come over after their defeat and congratulate Texas Western; their names were the aforementioned Pat Riley and future NBA Hall of Famer guard Louie Dampier.

Yet as The Speed Freaks Statmann’ said before and after the interview, it’s just plain impossible to understand the significance of this event unless you lived thru it and what he left unsaid was if you were of the skin colour being derided then! As he still gets questioning looks in certain parts of California today if he crosses certain neighborhood streets…

Nevil Shed & Fred Schwacke on the biggest upset ever in NCAA Basketball History

→ No CommentsTags: Misc · College Basketball · NBA Basketball · Uncategorized

March Madness in the Tar Heel state

April 6th, 2016 · No Comments

So, whilst I should theoretically have been getting excited over the possibility of an all Pacific Northwest Shootout for the Women’s NCAA Championship between my University of Washington Huskies vs. next door’s Oregon State University’s (OSU) Lady Beavers…

Although I’ve realized that No. 1 UCon, who’s the only one of the remaining final four contestants to have ever played for the title surely is the odds-on favourite now - especially since they crushed the Beavers whilst Syracuse smothered UW’s DAWGS!

Nevertheless, if Y’all haven’t noticed lately, I have to say I’m pretty turned off by Stick & Ball Sports right now, which in large part stems from what appears to be the University of Tennessee’s abhorrent behaviour regarding sexual abuse towards women!

Hmm? The lawsuit’s trial Judge says that Peyton Manning’s sexual adventures may stay in the lawsuit and Wallah! Peyton’s spotted doing charity work for the Red Cross; Co-inky-dense? Just sayin’

And although it’s not Sports related per sei, nevertheless, I find North Carolina’s just passed Anti LGBT House Bill 2 signed into law by Republican Governor Pat McCrory totally DISPICIBLE! And strongly urge the National Basketball Association to remove their All-star weekend’s game slated for next February 19th to be moved out of state immediately!

McCrory signs HB2 into law, barring LGBT rights

As I’m constantly dismayed by our nation’s and ultimately the world’s continuous increase of what in the most simplest of terms is simply known as Homophobia! For which there really seems like shouldn’t even be an issue in this day and age!

As I wrote about another state’s Governor’s monumental blunder by signing another DISGUSTING law into order last year over at my No Fenders website, regarding Indiana’s Mike Pence’s STUPIDITY in signing into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which thankfully the NCAA rightly helped entice Indiana into Quashing, albeit there’s still much to be done to improve Citizen’s rights there today.

What are We Fighting For…

And I won’t try persuading Y’all over the merits of why this should be a total Non-issue, since after all Trans-gender people are Humans too! But instead here’s a novel concept that one, apparently very progressive New York College took towards the matter, while Charlotte, none other than the home of NASCAR. Not to mention North Carolina being home of Air Jordan’s NBA Charlotte Hornets Basketball team’s state is apparently afraid of who may or may not go into a bathroom…

New York College moves to strip all gender markings from Bathrooms

And while I totally support and applaud the States of Washington, Vermont and New York joining the cities of San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Oregon and Chicago for all banning any Governmental Employee’s travelling to North Carolina! I’m just left wondering the following regarding the NBA All-star game.

If Arizona was denied hosting the Super Bowl for years and years due to its lack of celebrating Martin Luther King Day, then shouldn’t North Carolina be summarily held to the same consequences in regards to Professional and Collegiate Sporting events in regards to the passage of their Anti LGBT law HB2?

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