No. 803,
July 1, 2015

Follow Autoextremist






Editors' Note: If you have a comment, please include your name or initials (AND YOUR HOMETOWN TOO, PLEASE). We do not print email addresses. If you want to read previous issues, click on "Next Entry" on the bottom of each section. Thank you.


Killing IndyCar.

My wife, on watching the MAVTV 500 IndyCar race: “It looks like they're doing everything they can do to kill IndyCar.”

Can't we find Mark Miles a cushy CMO position with a Korean manufacturer? At least then, he'd get a pink slip after 18 months.

The Hulmans had better find a way — quickly — to make IndyCar relevant to the current automotive landscape, or they'll be bulldozing the Speedway for a new shopping mall. The owners and manufacturers need to step up as well.

The Window is closing…

Decatur, Georgia

Island of Broken Sergio Toys.

“So that's the new Alfalfa Gweela”, as the Missouri locals would call the new Alfa sedan. It looks kinda snazzy, but the big wheels are trying too hard to made a statement. The big question is exactly who will sell it? How many Fiat “studios” will still be around in 2016? Or will it be sent off to the Maserati dealers, also known as the Island of Broken Sergio Toys?

The crack about my Missouri home boys is only in half jest. Who in Missouri would buy one, outside of a few tenured professors of cultural studies, and the odd physician. (And why would they? It doesn't have a crew cab and a six foot bed.)

I consider myself an expert in matters of automotive weirdness. My experience in irrationality and wretchedness is vast. I admit to purchasing – with good money – one of the early 1979 Ford Mustang 4 cylinder turbos. But rather than letting that pass, I traded it in – on purpose, mind you – for a 1980 Renault R5 LeCar. It gets worse – I purchased 1979 R5 for my wife. (No she didn't leave me either.) The list goes on, unfortunately.

As an expert on the lame and the halt of the automotive world, the Alfalfa will wither like a bunch of bananas on the deck of a grounded tramp steamer.

Jim Jones
Crabwell, Corners, Missouri


MotoGP rules!

Once again, Moto GP provided the best race of the weekend. And that on a weekend when the Cup guys were at Sonoma, which was a pretty good race itself.

Nice to see Rossi is still relevant.

Cyrus S.
Houston, Texas

Sorry State of Racing.

Where's the good? There remains some wonderful Sports Car racing, at least. F1, Indycar, as you note is a giant heap of nowhere's-ville. Two weeks ago or so I watched the product known as Rallycross here in the US. Another crap product – the racing wasn't racing, it was just wrecking. Miserable. The drivers aren't. They're just apes with only a right foot. The worst aspects of NASCAR.

Show me Australian Touring car racing. Show me Bathurst. Show me BTTC. Show me WTTC. Show me bona fide Rallying. We've got great tracks here in the US, let's utilize them more & better. Heck, Formula Ford and Formula Barber beats most of what is on offer here as mainstream racing. (Again, we do have some fine Sports Car racing.)

Complain about the French, but Le Mans beats most anything. Sorry to see what were once the benchmarks self-destructing. It's hard to foresee this getting any better. It's painful to watch. I'm not much for nostalgia, but Historic Racing seems attractive, although so much of that is a parade of restored money with too much to lose to actually race. I have to search to find good racing to watch. Most of the time it's downloading from YouTube to see something of interest.

This is the peak time of The Rant. All else is gaslight....

Thanks for noticing.

Lance Evingson
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Editor-In-Chief's Note: I actually think that Rallycross has a real shot, but with a complete revamp of the format, the venues, the length of the heats, the marketing - basically everything. Is it going to happen? Not unless someone with actual vision writes a check for the whole thing and sets about fixing it. Major league sports car racing is our first love around here, but having the whole shebang in Jim France's hands is not a cause for optimism, which is depressing and a real shame. -PMD


IndyCar's travails.

IndyCar is in deep trouble, and it's absolutely true that Mark Miles is in way over his head. When you have not only the fans, but the car owners, sponsors, drivers and crew members all upset with everything from the schedule to the rules, etc., you have a big problem. But, I disagree with your proposal that the car owners should take over again, or, as we could say, have the “inmates running the asylum.” I think you forget that part of the problem that led to the split of the '90s was that the CART car owners became more interested in taking the “company” public rather than concerning themselves about running the sport. That mentality infected the entire paddock, and helped lead to the bankruptcy of CART, so be careful what you wish for. I don't think open wheel racing could survive another owner led group in charge this time.

Foothill Ranch, Claifornia

Editor-In-Chief's Note: I haven't forgotten one damn thing about the history of Indy car racing in this country
, and the split - lest you forget - was caused by the supreme arrogance and hubris of one Tony George, who had the temerity to think that he had a better idea, which turned out to be a complete and utter disaster. George sent the sport of major league open-wheel racing in this country into a desperate tailspin just in time for America - thanks to the dysfunctional mainstream media - to become infatuated with "NASCAR Nation." This just in: There are no White Knight corporate CEOs out there in this country with a hard-on for open-wheel racing and the wherewithal to write the kind of check it would take to save the sport. This time around it will be up to the team owners - the people with the real money on the line - who will have to pull the sport up by its bootstraps. Can they do it? I don't know. But I do know this: anyone associated with the Hulman family and/or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway should be kept far, far away from even the thought of running the sport of Indy car racing, because they have demonstrated convincingly and repeatedly that they don't have the first clue about to how to do it. -PMD


IndyCar is doomed.

IndyCar is like any other business that is in trouble. IndyCar is caught in an endless political power struggle about who's direction the organization will follow. And lots of blamestorming about whose fault this mess is. There is no unified vision of the future. Until the people in charge (owners, IMS, race promoters and teams) are honest with themselves about what the state of the sport is they cannot save it. The biggest mistake they made was firing Randy Bernard. IndyCar WILL fail. And maybe that's whats best because this mess is pathetic.

Rochester, New York


The Emperor's New Clothes.

Regarding your item about the new Audi A4: do you have a picture? The photo you posted has got to be the current model. Or possibly the one before that. Or maybe the one before that. But certainly even Audi wouldn't attempt to pass off what is shown in your picture as an all new car. Would they?

PS: I posted this elsewhere earlier regarding the all new Golf. But according to VW standards, you can consider it an all new comment.

San Francisco, California



IndyCar is in trouble, NASCAR has troubles. What do they have in common (other than horrific management)? They are both spec series, there is nothing interesting about the cars at all. P.R. flacks may want to get you to swear allegiance to an Andretti or Dale Jr., but a lot of us first started to watch for the same reason we wanted Matchbox or Hot Wheels – for the cars. Put something on the track that means something to the fans, not something that is "affordable" to multi-milllionaire owners because it is cost-effective.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


Specifications? We don't need no stinkin' specifications!

As the rule books of all racing series became thicker and convoluted, the number of fans declined. I was a motorsports junkie from childhood into my twenties. I attended the Indy 500, F1 and sports car races many times. Yet I haven't watched a race in person in decades. Somewhere along the way this idea of parity crept in. It's like the powers that be watched the old IROC too many times and concluded that was racing; they turned every form of major league motorsport into spec racing. It's no different and just as boring as watching a spec Miata race. (No offense SM racers, but I'd rather race an SM race than watch it.) That Indycar race in Fontana wasn't racing, it was musical chairs at 200mph; engineering and driving skill had nothing to do with it. In auto racing, the auto ought to be the star on equal billing with the driver. If you build a faster tougher car than the other guy, and hire a better driver than the other guy you deserve to win. Loosen up the rules so that every car doesn't look the same. So what if one or two teams dominate a season. This isn't AYSO were everyone gets a trophy.

Snta Ana, California

Back in the daze.

Dr. Bud's little tale of Peter taking that ramp at 115 was a hoot!

That's my hometown these days, and I know the ramp well. I can't fathom attempting that, but these are certainly not the good old days. Too many folks on cellphones now. You'd run one over trying that. Also, having a MI State Police post here in this town gives me a big pause, too.

But it did make me grin, though!

Brighton, Michigan

IndyCar and... Acura rules!

3500 spectators at Fontana? That's flat out EMPTY.
The first and only time we went there was in the inaugural year when CART first ran there. Not only did someone crash an NSX into the Turn One wall in front of us but the racing was spectacular and FAST, even as it was a shortened race. The place was packed, so packed indeed that we decided to stick to Long Beach.

IndyCar needs to get its head out of its... Bring back POWER, get rid of those Kabuki like wings.

Acura meter? You're always tough on them. Mechanically they have mostly always been fine, it's been their outside design that has been hit or sledgehammer. I'm driving an RSX Tech that does quite well, we even took it to Anza Borrego and went on many dirt roads. It did fine. At least it has a toned down Power Plenum.

Irvine, California


Full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing.

Alfa Romeo's Giulia had it's day in the sun. They made a nice presentation and showed that there is another view of the luxury segment beyond the German point of view (too bad Jaguar is making a similar case, but I digress). But to mortgage the whole franchise for a single player is completely insane. And with this being an introduction of a car that was developed by a skunk works which likely had little communication with the manufacturing team could lead to a complete disaster.

What Sergio should do, but likely won't is what sports teams do at the end of a season with a player that they know they cannot afford to keep – give them playing time and sell them to the highest bidder. There are companies out there with more money and manufacturing capability that can make the company the success that Sergio envisions. But it's likely that they would not be producing in Italy which Sergio mandates and that would make a sale a no-go. And they would leave Sergio with a gap in his empire and that too will not stand in his world view.

It's going to be painful to watch all of this play out over the next few years. Chrysler and Jeep will have products long overdue for a refresh and the beautiful new Alfas will return to the US market with the same old problems and nothing will be gained.

Holly Springs, North Carolina

F1 sucks too.

Did you see what VW's Martin Winterkorn just said about joining F1? They're not doing it at the moment, “as the excitement is lacking.” Meanwhile Jean Todt is upset that Bernie ‘eez speaking een poobleec bad sings about zee sport.’ Yeesh.

Eastchester, New York

The products deserve better.

Chevys “Find New Roads” I believe would be salvageable if the visuals were more enticing. Maybe “Find Your Road” would be better, appealing to the individual and his preferences. Nothing comes close to Chevy's “Like A Rock” ads of the past. Those were entertainment with a message! Ford needs to step up their product promotion too, nothing jumps off the screen at me when I watch the tube. Too bad, their products deserve better.

Chris Cuzynski
Alta Loma, California


What Indycar race?

If it weren't for the selection of automotive websites I peruse on a daily basis, I wouldn't have had a clue that there was a race at Fontana this past weekend. And, yes, I'm speaking of it in past tense because I had no knowledge of it ahead of time. Certainly not from any kind of local promotions here in southern CA, where, you know, the race actually took place.

I'm obviously not a super dedicated follower of IndyCar, but damn man, that is some awful promotion if a socal resident and car nut doesn't even know you're putting on an event.

Trabuco Canyon, California


Great editorial on IndyCar. I don't want to be a “grassy knoll” conspiracy theorist, but maybe Mark Miles' agenda is to kill IndyCar off. His decisions are so colossally bad that one has to wonder. The upside though is IndyCar would make a MBA case study for grad students on how not to run a business!

Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania


1500# Lawn Dart.

Fortunately for Ryan Briscoe, his Dallara emulated a lawn dart and cartwheeled to safety. His “flight profile” was similar to that of Greg Moore's in that if he hadn't spiked, the car would have pancaked upside down. As soft as the ground was shown to be the roll bar would have sunken into the ground. Lucky, lucky, lucky. On reference to the spectator count – back in the day – any respectable promoter would have called the event a “Rain Out” even if it meant faking a power failure or ??? No race = no purse to be paid and the track still kept the concession and parking money. We saw a race that was miraculous in its safety and will certainly give the track a leg up on next year's event promotion.

Fred McKenna
St. Louis, Missouri


Miles and IndyCar.

I'm sure your columns next week will address Hulman Company's Mark Miles lash out regarding the press, team, and driver comments during and after the Fontana race. Heck, to some degree, this race might have caused IndyCar to appear on some peoples' radar. On the other hand, maybe Miles could send all the teams logo'd shirts to wear, you know, with Hulman , Boston Consulting, Clabber Girl, et cetera, on the sleeves. On the back they could read: “The Beatings Will Continue Until The Morale Improves”. I think that at one time or another everyone has worked for a boss who has no idea WTF they're talking about but someone told them (a consultant?) what to say or do.

Webster Groves, Missouri