I had the opportunity to interview popular IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan at Infineon Raceway this year. Tony, or “TK” as people like to call him, was so very nice and a fun interview.
I had the opportunity to interview popular IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan at Infineon Raceway this year. Tony, or “TK” as people like to call him, was so very nice and a fun interview.
Last night was the 2011 Indy 500 Victory Awards Banquet where they honored this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon.
There are a bunch of great WAGAHAB (Wives and Girlfriends and Husbands and Boyfriends) photos, so let’s not dilly dally.
(all photos courtesy of INDYCAR)
Yes, VERSUS the channel that broadcasts IndyCar action needs serious help. I asked everyone (ok, nobody, but did I really need to?) what they thought of this weekend’s coverage of the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama and they all said the same thing: It sucked!
Now, I don’t like saying negative stuff but you guys–I’m talking to you Versus–need to hear the truth. Your transitions, your intros, your outros, your lead announcer who was way to excited when it wasn’t necessary, and those moments of dead air really took the wind out of your sails. It was not good stuff.
That being said it wasn’t ALL terrible. I really enjoyed your pre-race coverage with NUMEROUS live driver interviews (take note, FOX) and the look back at what happened last week at St. Petersburg since I didn’t get to watch that race–now I’m all caught up. I also dug that segment with James Hinchcliffe when you had him trace the layout of Barber Motorsports Park blindfolded. That was fun stuff.
You guys need to step it up though. Maybe you should go on one of those team building retreats and foster some good synergy to make your broadcasts more seamless & in sync.
We, the fans who have to endure your coverage, want this for you more than you know.
But on to the race itself. It was pretty interesting watching the IndyCar drivers have to get used to double-file restarts. It wreaked havoc with cautions all over the place, but it just made me even more excited for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway later this year. It’s going to be really cool.
Another highlight was Simona De Silvestro. I’m so excited for this girl. She’s kicking butt right now, she finished the race in 9th (at St. Pete she finished 4th) but she’s sitting 5th in the points standings tied with Scott Dixon. As the SNL parody of Miley Cyrus would say, “It’s pretty cool!” (I’m obsessed with saying this by the way, I do it all the time in my head and sometimes out loud when no one’s around, it’s on a loop)
Things I learned while watching the Indy Japan 300 Saturday night (which was actually Sunday morning in Japan):
1.) Drivers exchange helmets with each other. Cool!
2.) Tony Kanaan only sees his 3-year-old son, Leo, once a month. His son lives in Brazil. I found this piece of news to be distressing because I don’t know how I could live only seeing my child once a month. I know, well I’m deducing, that Tony isn’t with the child’s mother anymore (since he’s dating someone else) but it still sucks right? I guess that’s the best you can do considering his schedule and where the kid lives.
3.) Anthony Joseph Foyt V (That’s number 5!) was born on Saturday to AJ Foyt IV and his wife Casey. More from FoytRacing.com:
Congratulations from everyone at A.J. Foyt Racing to A.J. Foyt IV and his wife Casey on the birth of their first child Anthony Joseph Foyt V. Coming in two weeks ahead of time and with a full head of black hair, Foyt V clocked in at 2:48 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18th in Indianapolis. He weighed 7 lbs. 1 oz and measured 20 inches. Mother and child are doing fine and the proud poppa hasn’t stopped smiling.
4.) Okay, so this tidbit I didn’t learn while watching the race, I found out by watching Oprah (it’s the last season! gah!). Last week Oprah had The Judds, Wynonna and her mom Naomi, on to discuss their comeback/farewell-for-reals-this-time tour they’re starting this year and it came up that the Judd women including Ashley and her husband Dario Franchitti all live next to each other on a 1,000 acre piece of land outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Ashley’s house is only 60 seconds down the road from Naomi’s and Wynonna’s house is 6 minutes from Naomi. I think this is super cool and their land is gorgeous, complete with a river running through it.
5.) How perfect is it that Will Power won the road course championship and Dario Franchitti clinched the oval course championship and there’s only 13 points separating the two of them going into the final race of the season for the overall IZOD IndyCar Championship? Couldn’t have written it better myself. My money is on Will.
Things had been relatively quiet during the Honda Indy Edmonton IZOD IndyCar Series race, that is, until those final laps.
Helio Castroneves was caught blocking (in this scenario it’s a no-no) his teammate Will Power which to me looked like the slightest of blocking, but whatever the officials know better than me. Plus Will did say in his post-race interview that Helio blocked him and well you’re not supposed to do that.
So Helio, who finished first, didn’t win the race and proceeded to go apeshit when he got out of his car. That had to have been one of the awesomest racing-related tantrums I’ve ever heard/seen on live television. The video is below and it gets good at about the 3:55 mark.
My only gripe was that Versus didn’t cut to Helio sooner. They should of had a straight shot on him the entire time, why bother talking to Scott Dixon, who would have been second but ended up winning the race because of the penalty levied against Helio. I’m sure Scott was grateful (who wouldn’t be?), but who cares what he had to say. Helio was where the action was at.
Will Power, whose name continues to make me smile after all this time, won the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen this weekend.
On Friday all of the Brazilian IndyCar drivers gathered to watch Brazil play The Netherlands in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Brazil lost, which sucks (I’m over the World Cup since the US is out of it — just being honest here), but there were some awesome photos (see below) of Helio Castroneves in some heinous glasses and Tony Kanaan blowing his vuvuzela.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (right), along with Andretti Autosport, announced that they’ve secured enough sponsorship money to continue Ryan’s #37 entry through the rest of the 2010 season. This is great news and to make it even sweeter the team has put together a new program called “Racing For Cancer” to raise money for cancer research.
Ryan’s mother, Lydia, died last year in November from colon cancer and he’s dedicating this racing season to her. For more information go to www.racingforcancer.org. You can also follow them on Twitter @RacingForCancer
Among Ryan’s sponsors for the remainder of the 2010 season is AirTran Airways. I’m noting this because once upon a time I wrote to Southwest Airlines asking if they’d sponsor me and they said they couldn’t because they make a point of not sponsoring things that can crash. Kudos to AirTran Airways for taking a chance and sponsoring a great driver anyway.
The last IZOD IndyCar Series race, the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer, was the same weekend as the NASCAR Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway. So of course I didn’t watch it ’cause I was busy at the track, which sucks because I didn’t get to see Tony Kanaan finally end his 2-year losing streak.
While I didn’t watch the race I did read the post-race quotes from Tony and his teammates at Andretti Autosport. I thought it was pretty telling that all of his teammates, except Danica Patrick, made a point of congratulating Tony. Very interesting. I guess Tony and Danica still have some sort of rift going on (He did say she needed to change her attitude) and who knows how that’s going to play out. Whatever the deal is I thought it was lame for Danica to not, at the very least, say something about how Tony’s win was great for the organization, ‘cause that’s just what you do. Duh.
“I have to thank my team and the entire 7-Eleven crew. They did a great job. I had a great car. I have to thank my teammates, Marco (Andretti) and Ryan (Hunter-Reay), who came over after qualifying. I was very disappointed. I made a mistake during qualifying and I was pretty down. They talked to me for 45 minutes and cheered me up. Marco gave me a little bit of his setup and Ryan actually helped me with the setup, putting it together for today. It was a great job as a team and it feels good.”
– Tony Kanaan
“We had an awesome day. We should have been on the podium with Tony today. We had an incident on pit lane and got black-flagged for it. We had to fight our way back up to the top 10. We had the Ethanol USA-Team IZOD car running in the top three. I’m really disappointed in the end. It should have been a great day for us. Congratulations to Tony; he deserves this for sure.”
“It’s definitely a disappointment to start third and finish where we did. The handling for the Venom car just didn’t make sense. We made all the right adjustments and we were still too loose. I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up finding something broken on the car. We just weren’t able to make it happen today on the ’26′ side, but I’m happy for my teammate (Tony Kanaan) and the ’11′ crew.”
– Marco Andretti
“It was a challenging race for the GoDaddy car. We had a good car, but the longer the race went on, the more difficult the car got, handling-wise. I wish we had a better day, but we’ll take a top-10 finish.”
– Danica Patrick
IndyCar photo fun time after the jump!
Red Bull Racing has selected Mattias Ekström to handle the road course at Infineon Raceway next week in the No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota:
“First of all, I’d like to express my sincere thanks — to Red Bull for inviting a Swede with zero NASCAR experience to compete in the United States and to Audi for the possibility and approval that enable me to fulfill this dream,” said Ekström, 31.
I, too, would like to express my sincerest thanks to Red Bull for inviting a cute Swedish dude to race in NASCAR for the first time ever. Can you say, “fresh meat?” It’s perfect timing since I’ll be at Infineon next week for the Toyota/SaveMart 350. Can wait to see Mattias in action. Zero NASCAR experience and his first race is at Infineon. I love it.
That’s Mattias (left) with Casey Mears, sporting his wedding ring. I forgot Casey got married!
In other news…
– The 2010 Gillette Fusion ProGlide Prelude to the Dream was held last night and drivers from all kinds of racing disciplines were on hand, including Travis Pastrana who is famous for his motocross & supercross & general extreme sport background. I really, really wish Travis would try his hand at NASCAR. It would be a good time for sure. That guy is funny and super talented.
Consider this your warning that I’m going to be posting more stuff about the IZOD IndyCar Series. It’s surely not a bad thing. Quite the contrary actually. I have to thank the Indy Racing League for giving me access to their media site because without that I wouldn’t be able to bring you these awesome photos. Who knows, maybe I’ll go to more races too instead of just the one at Infineon Raceway.
Scott Dixon won the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway this past weekend. He was joined in victory lane by his wife Emma and their super adorable baby daughter Poppy. Her red hair is so cute!
Anyway, you all know how much I love to compare drivers to celebrities and I couldn’t help but think that Scott bares a striking resemblance to the lead singer of one of my all time fave bands, Stephen Christian of Anberlin. Check out the comparison below. Don’t they look like they could be brothers? They were born in the same year just days apart. How freaky cool is that??
|Scott Dixon (left) and Stephen Christian (right)|
In other news…
– It’s time for a Richard Antinucci update. If you remember he’s that super hot racer that carries a dual Italian/US citizenship. I gushed about my sightings of him at last year’s Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. He was in the IndyCar Series last year for five races and this year doesn’t seem to have a ride. Which boggles my mind considering that Milka Duno gets to cruise around as the resident safety hazard. Anyway, Richard is set to make his debut in the Italian Gran Turismo Championship. He’ll be driving an Audi R8 LMS for Audi Sport Italia in two events at Valleunga this Sunday and Magione in June.
– Check out this great article by Graham Rahal about his stint with Sarah Fisher Racing and his future in the IZOD IndyCar Series. I can’t believe he’s only 21. Racing sure does know how to make young guys grow up fast.
Scott Dixon and his wife Emma celebrate his victory with their daughter Poppy at the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, May 1, 2010.
On Sunday, last weekend, at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma when I arrived at the track, again at 8am, I realized quickly that there wasn’t much to do. I sat on pit road and watched as fans and VIPs took spins around the track with professional drivers from the Jim Russell Racing School. The whole thing made me wish I owned an Audi, the car of choice for the day’s hot laps.
Eventually, I ducked into Jennifer Azzi’s press conference. As I wrote a few days before the weekend started Azzi was on hand as the race’s Grand Marshal. It was cool to see her and I must admit that I totally missed my opportunity to introduce myself and tell her what an inspiration she’d been to me as a kid. I’m shy, OK. And I have to work up what I’m going to say in my mind before I actually do it and make sure it’s not lame. There never was a perfect time, but whatever, she’s on Twitter and I plan on saying something to her at some point over there.
Sunday was the IndyCar race day. Driving to the track was a considerably different experience than it is for a NASCAR race, there wasn’t any traffic. Leaving was an entirely different story. It still sucked and what should only take 45 minutes took 2 hours. But that’s the way it goes with race weekends. Although, next year I have a plan for a new route to take me home that should cut down on the time I spend in my car wanting to slit my wrists from all of the stop-and-go traffic.
Anyway, back to the track. It was firefighter appreciation day and as I walked into the paddock area the first thing I saw was this old timey fire truck with the cutest and smartest Dalmatian dog sitting on top of it. I couldn’t believe how obedient he was! He just sat there in the seat and didn’t freak out or bark at the people gathered around staring at him. There was another dog, whose breed I couldn’t tell you, that was barking a lot but the cute Dalmatian could not and would not be baited into barking back.
And then there were these big creamy-colored horses to pull the old timey fire truck. They were huge, but absolutely beautiful. They had a special moment during the pre-race festivities when they pulled the truck down the track and in front of the grandstands.
So I guess IndyCar has this reputation for being more upscale than NASCAR in terms of its fans and such. They’ve got Cristal and Izod for sponsors after all. Well I’m here to tell you that it’s all a bunch of hooey. Why is it that I saw more boobs during this race weekend than I ever have at any NASCAR race I’ve been to? And when I say that I saw boobs I’m not saying that women were flashing them, of course they weren’t but let’s just say they were on display. And why is it that I saw more fans wearing NASCAR gear than anything else? The Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans were out in full effect. Instead of trying to act all hoity-toity I think they should try to soak up some of the NASCAR marketing tactics and get some more butts in the seats.
Oh, speaking of butts in the seats, that’s exactly where they stayed when it came time to try and break the record for the most people doing the twist dance. Yea, that whole idea crashed and burned the minute the music started up. A group of people did dance but mostly everyone just watched. To make something like that work you really have to have a group that’s invested in its success ya know?
So I was totally right when I said that George Lucas would probably make an appearance at the race because Marco Andretti’s car was running the special Blockbuster/STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS paint scheme. George hung out with Marco during the pre-race festivities and then in his pit during the race. Marco’s race suit was made to look like a storm trooper uniform. I’m not a big fan of the whole codpiece detailing.
In the end, Helio Castroneves won the race, his first of the season and Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan were mathematically eliminated from the field running for the Championship with only two races left on the year. This win was a sweet one for the Team Penske guys after having their primary cars go up in smoke (literally) earlier in the week. It’s amazing they were able to come back and finish first with Helio’s Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe coming in second. Briscoe has the most awesome accent by the way. I gotta get to Australia.
Danica Patrick walks to the garage after the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County on Sunday, August 24, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Marco Andretti gets ready for a warm-up session on Sunday, August 24, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Ryan Briscoe chats with someone on pit road on Sunday, August 24, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Fans gathered around victory lane to watch the first through third place finishers receive their trophies on Sunday, August 24, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
I thought this guy looked a lot like paparazzo/ex-Britney Spears boyfriend Adnan Ghalib only cuter, but I figured he was probably just a guy from William Rast. WR is the clothing company started by Justin Timberlake and his best friend Trace Ayala. The company was the sponsor of Townsend Bell’s car.
Some dude on pit road on Sunday, August 24, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
And now for my IndyCar at Infineon adventure. Friday was dedicated mostly to practice for the IndyCar teams, and because of that it meant that the garage was dead. You’ve never seen a cleaner garage in your life. Things didn’t get interesting there until Sunday when the teams actually had to use it for preparation before the race.
So the really big deal was the press conference set up to unveil Firestone’s new “Magic Circle.” They’re the tires they created specifically for the top drivers who are still in the hunt for the IndyCar Championship. The tires have a white wall on the outside so that they can be easily spotted in the field during a race. Just another way the fans can keep track of the Championship contenders. Before Sunday’s race there were 4 drivers mathematically still in the hunt — Tony Kanaan, Dan Wheldon, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves.
So I decided to stand outside of Victory Lane where the media had gathered for the announcement. I just wanted to try and get good shots of the drivers as they made their way over. What I didn’t know was that I managed to situate myself in the precise spot they were all going to stop their little motorcycles and scooters. Scott Dixon was the first guy to roll onto the scene right behind me. I find him to be incredibly cute and I can’t believe we’re the exact same age; he always strikes me as being a lot older. Then there was Helio who as far as I’m concerned seems to be totally over the whole Dancing with the Stars hubbub. Everyone loves to bring it up with him but he never goes into it and I can understand why. It’s been forever ago and he’s a race car driver, and that’s what he’s really about.
Finally Scott Wheldon rode up with his wife Susie on the back of his Target scooter/bike thingy. Instead of going around all the bikes where there was more room to walk, he had to walk on the inside of them causing me to try and squeeze myself against the Victory Lane fence. I think my bag hit him, but that’s what he gets.
Scott Dixon’s scooter on Friday, August 22, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Dan Wheldon and his wife Susie roll in for the ‘Magic Circles’ media event on Friday, August 22, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Helio Castroneves arrives at the ‘Magic Circles’ media event on Friday, August 22, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Scott Dixon walks in to the ‘Magic Circles’ media event on Friday, August 22, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan pose for photographers during the ‘Magic Circles’ unveiling on Friday, August 22, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
No outfit is complete without pockets!
Dan Wheldon speaks to the media on Friday, August 22, 2008 at Infineon Raceway. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
I usually love the whole green, white, checkered, ending — now dubbed Overdrive — but this weekend it was pretty lame. It was very anti-climactic.
I’m not going to go into the whole Jeff Gordon-breaking-Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s-career-wins-record-fans-go-crazy debacle, except to say that I agree with tallglassofmilk in that if the Talladega fans can’t behave themselves ‘Dega should lose it’s second race. They should hand it over to Infineon, us Northern California NASCAR fans know not to throw things when we’re mad. We’d just make shirts that say things like “Anybody But Gordon” and call it day.
I’m still annoyed/upset about Casey Mears’ crash in the middle of the race. I thought he was going to make it this time and finally win one but alas it was not meant to be. He was so pissed when he jumped out of his car, seeing that emotion reminds you how much this means to these guys. It’s not just another day at the office. They go out there every race with the intention to win.
It was so very cool to see no-name drivers race upfront this weekend. Guys like Sterling Marlin, Kenny Wallace, David Ragan, Regan Smith, and David Stremme all led laps at Talladega. Congrats to them, I want to see more of that. Words cannot express how sick I am of seeing Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon winning these races.
The rest of my Sunday was filled with more racing coverage. After the NASCAR Nexel Cup race I caught the end of the IndyCar race in Kansas. Dan Wheldon was the winner and apparently there was some pit road debacle involving teammates Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan. Tony took a page from the Tony Stewart PR handbook and left the race track without commenting on the events of pit road (Danica hit his car on her way out of the pits which ultimately caused Tony to fall 8 laps down, finishing 15th for the day).
Now everyone’s attention will turn to the Indianapolis 500, the race is on May 27th but the media hype is already beginning. Oh yay, a whole month of talking about the same things over and over and over again.
In other news…
Ashley Force went up against John Force for the first time in her burgeoning Funny Car career. She beat her dad in the first round at Atlanta Dragway.
The marquee match of the day was in round one when Ashley Force beat her famous father, John, by a 4.779 to 5.783 margin in the first father-daughter Pro-level race in NHRA history.
“Today I’m a proud father,” John said. “I’ve dreamed of this day for a long time, and it makes me emotional to think it finally came true. She’s a great young driver and she’s probably gonna whip me a bunch, but I’m okay with it because she’s my baby.”
Ashley went on to win her second round match-up but lost in the semifinals to Mike Ashley. All in all still a great day for women in the NHRA, it won’t be long until she’s a Funny Car winner.
Jeff Gordon is saluted by Dale Earnhardt Jr. after winning the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Fans throw beer cans onto the track as Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Dupont Chevrolet, takes the Sunoco checkered flag to win the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 29, 2007 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, poses for a photo with his wife, model Ingrid Vandebosch, in victory lane after after Gordon won the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 29, 2007 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Since it’s Friday I went over to YouTube to try and find something fun and interesting.
I found a show called Indy Insider hosted by a kid named Arni. In this clip he’s at the Honda Welcome Party during the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersberg in St. Petersberg, Florida. He talks to Tony Kanaan (who comandeers Arni’s microphone) and Michael and Marco Andretti (who is apparently shy when it comes to talking to the ladies). [Indy Insider - Honda Party-part 2]
I’ve been wanting to write this entry since Sunday but my grand plans about doing it once I left the track slowly eroded as I was stuck in traffic for 2 hours. That’s the only incredibly irritating thing about going to a race at Infineon, the drive home! It never fails. There’s literally only one lane out in each direction. I forgot to grab a cold drink and a snack before I got in my car so I was parched and starving; trying to sing along with my CDs in the hopes that it would help me to forget my hunger. It didn’t.
Anyway, I’m back at work and there’s so much that I haven’t talked about yet. So let’s get to it.
First off, this past weekend there were about a million times it seemed that I had to stop, look around and say to myself, “Look at where you are, remember this.” The first such moment was with Gene Simmons. Yes, he’s kinda weird but it was pretty surreal to have him just sitting in front of me, blabbering on about how great IndyCar racing is.
The second moment was when Tony Kanaan walked past me after the race. He went into the winners circle to congratulate Marco Andretti and then pushed past me and others to get to the garage area. He came up my chest. He’s short.
The third and final memorable moment of the day was after the race when Marco and Michael Andretti (Marco’s dad) were in the media center answering questions. This was Marco’s first IndyCar win, ever and he’s only 19 (although to me he looks like he’s twelve). He’s the youngest winner of a major open-wheel event to date. So this race, this win, was a huge deal and I was there to witness it. I’ll never forget it.
I’m a NASCAR fan and I’ll watch IRL stuff for a little bit if it’s on, or if it’s the Indy 500. Going to this race really didn’t change that for me. During the national anthem there wasn’t a fly-over! What kind of race is it without a fly-over? The crew members were hot I must admit, especially one particular guy on Dan Wheldon’s team. Hello!
But I digress.
I did get to see Ashley Judd, Dario Franchitti’s wife, and she looked great. I have a great photo of the back of her head, in case you’re interested. I also saw Danica Patrick a lot. There really isn’t anything that great to tell about her.
Infineon wasn’t as packed as it was for the NASCAR race in June, but there were still a ton of race fans on hand for the event. Overall I though, I thought the race was fun, cool and very memorable.