Feature: February Fab 5

Tomas Scheckter- driver perspective

Tomas Scheckter- driver perspective

Topic 1:With teams moving from Honda to Chevy and vice versa, which engine manufacturer has the upper hand and why?

Tomas: I’m not sure, it’s always a lottery moving manufacturers. When I was at Ganassi with Toyota, the Toyota’s were good. The end of that year I went to Panther and they had Chevy’s. Everyone said it was going to be the wrong move but the first race at Miami, I was on the pole on what was considered a more horsepower track.

TonyD: Not sure who has the upper hand. We know Honda normally has the fuel mileage down pat. Too early in testing and stuff to say who has the upper hand.

Lauren: I’m going to guess they will be pretty equal to begin the season. Chevy out performed on the ovals in 2013, but Honda seemed to have the durability on Road/Streets, so it’s probably pretty obvious where each manufacturer is looking to improve. It’s going to be fun to see who’s accomplished what in the off-season.

Rick: I am not sure either has an upper hand at this point. If I had to pick one, I would pick Chevrolet, but mostly for no good rational reason. It is way too early for anyone to claim the high ground

Nancy: I think Honda has it figured out, but took a big hit when the red cars weren’t winning at the beginning of last year. Because of that I believe some teams are weary of using them this year.

Nancy Gass- Avid Fan Perspective

Nancy Gass- Avid Fan Perspective


Topic 2: IndyCar has been a leader in motorsports with women drivers landing rides. Simona is the most recent woman to leave IndyCar for F1 which leaves zero females on the grid and only one in the MRTI. Is this cause for concern?

Tomas: )I have zero concern…..Indy is about getting the best 33 drivers from around the world. I don’t care if those 33 are gay, lesbian, women, men, or transgender as long as they are the best. I hope the fans have the same view.

TonyD: A little bit. I know a lot of girls and younger fans looked up to Simona because she was great with fans and a great interview. Female racing talents are so rare that it may take a few more years to bring another female up.

Lauren: From my personal viewpoint, this is not a concern any more than it should be that more minority groups are not well-represented. Ultimately what matters is the caliber of drivers on the track, and no doubt we want the best out there – regardless of race or gender. Sadly, the only reason this may be a detriment, is if IndyCar fails to keep growing the demographics that probably began as casual fans were initially attracted to the “novelty” of a female driver.

Rick: It should be a cause for concern whenever any talented, qualified driver moves to another series regardless of gender. There would be a very real cause for concern if the reason a capable driver was denied the opportunity based on gender, race, religion, whatever. But then I may be living in some utopian Candyland.

Nancy: I don’t think so, being a woman it bothers me that so many people put so much on women. When I started in IT in the late 70’s many times I was the only one in class and had to prove myself, now I am one of the guys and am not given anything special because I am a woman. Pippa Mann has been trying to land a ride but you have to bring money. With that said unfortunately the seats go to the highest bidder. Fans want to see racing and I really don’t think they care who is driving if they are a quality driver.

Tony Donohue- sport radio perspective

Tony Donohue- sport radio perspective

Topic 3: When it was revealed that RLL was awarded the National Guard sponsorship for $12 million and Panther/Barnes had it for $17 million, what were your thoughts? Keep in mind the last time Panther won in IndyCar was with Tomas Scheckter back in 2005.


Tomas: I have no thoughts on this except it was a pity that Panther could not have won more especially with “Ganassi” and “Penske” type money. I do remember Tomas Scheckter was a hell of driver though ;)

TonyD: Rahal hasn’t won since 2008 with Ryan Hunter Reay if I remember right. I have heard that John Barnes is a snaky business man from multiple outlets. It is nice to see the National Guard sponsorship land with an American Driver. I know there were a few other teams in the running outside of Rahal and Panther.

Lauren: When I see numbers like that, I simply wish there were more entities willing to invest this kind of money into IndyCar. Good for RLL and good for Panther (while they had) the support of the Guard. I wish the sport as a whole could figure out how to attract more support of this caliber.

Rick: This move was interesting on several levels: The apparent lack of understanding of the proposal by Panther when they have been servicing the sponsor for some time; The degree of importance placed on the quality of the people fulfilling the activation; John Barnes vs David Letterman; Graham Rahal vs who really knows; and finally, fans seem to want there to be some sort of loyalty to the tradition of the National Guard being at Panther. As a taxpayer, it looks like the GAO made the right choice.

Nancy: I feel bad for Panther, I always saw John Barnes sitting with the National Guard at the two seater and he was always doing something with the Guard. Maybe Panther was greedy in their proposal or maybe RLL isn’t going to provide as much. When it comes to racing there is no loyalty when it comes to sponsorships/teams. If I were a sponsor I would weigh a lot of factors like costs or Return on Investment. The National Guard wants to be a winner and that plays into their decision too.

Lauren Kanaan- PR/Media Perspective

Lauren Kanaan- PR/Media Perspective

Topic 4:Verizon extended their sponsorship with Team Penske solidifying their relationship in IndyCar. Does IndyCar get a title sponsor for the 2014 season and if so, who do you think?

Tomas: It’s good you have sponsors coming back to stay with teams. Fans have time to adapt and relate certain sponsors and teams with drivers together. The series sponsor needs to be a company that does as much good for the series as the series does for it.

TonyD:Interesting to see if Verizon has some sort of deal to be the title sponsor and be on Will and JPM’s cars. Remember a few years ago when IZOD was a sponsor of a car and the title sponsor, yet didn’t pay any money to Penske for the IZOD logo to be on his car. If not Verizon, maybe Firestone? Outside of that it’s hard to say if they get a sponsor.

Lauren:It seems a little late in the game to lock down a title sponsor for 2014 at this point, without having heard louder rumblings of who they may be courting for the job. But who knows, maybe there is something cooking and that would be a great thing whenever they can get it secured. At this point, I’m skeptical.

Rick:As much as I hope so, I doubt it. It needs to happen soon if they do.

Nancy:It seems like Mark Miles is the new Talking Terry, stating they are close to a title sponsor, and then nothing. This makes the series look unprofessional. They need to quit teasing the fans and shut up until they have something solid. I would hope Verizon comes on as a title sponsor but am not sure that will happen. I think it would be in IndyCars best interest to get with TCGR, Penske and Andretti Green to see how they get all these big sponsorships and maybe work with them to learn how to land sponsorship. Right now I don’t think they have a clue. The shortened season has probably hurt this process more than anything. I really think it is getting less and less likely. I hope I am wrong on this.

Rick M

Rick Maas- Team/Owner perspective

Topic 5:F1 seems to be the pinnacle for the world and NASCAR is the pinnacle for American drivers. Do you think drivers from around the world will want to come to IndyCar because it is the pinnacle of a driver’s racing career and if so, when do you see that happening?

Tomas: Indy is Indy! It does not need to be put in a category of being the pinnacle of “……”. Drivers are not lined up around the world to come to IndyCar because……. for 90% of the drivers the money is crap…… its bloody dangerous…… if you changed the money part I am sure it would attract more drivers. It isn’t going to attract drivers because they think how much fun they would have driving road courses and ovals. They are thinking if I make the choice to go to IndyCar, when I go side by side with someone, am I willing to take the risk and hit the wall or risk my life and be in a wheel chair. If i am going to take that risk, I better be financially rewarded to do so.

TonyD: You would hope so, but it seems that drivers who can’t make it to F1 or can’t compete in F1 come here. But at the end of the day, ask any driver, they all want to run the 500

Lauren:T I’m certain IndyCar is already a great aspiration to many young drivers in the world. Take recent statements by the young Colombians, Saavedra and Muñoz for example. They both have said that watching JPM win the Indy 500 when they were young inspired them to work for where they are today. Unfortunately, F1 and NASCAR simply do a better job appealing to the masses, including those who will never nor have any desire to actually drive a race car. With that kind of general popularity and visibility, of course they get the lion’s share of the attention. I think there is no way to claim that this automatically means that every American up-and-comer has their sights set solely on NASCAR. However, competition in IndyCar must stay high and continue to grow.

Rick: No I don’t. I do think competing in the Indianapolis 500 is a draw, but the rest of the season is at best ambivalent as a draw. Being the IndyCar Champion is not nearly as interesting as winning the 500.

Nancy: NASCAR knows how to “woo” the Sprint/midget open wheel drivers. That is why they get the American’s. Some drivers may want to race IndyCar because of the Indy 500. I think if IndyCar can stay competitive and can cause excitement that might get more drivers coming our way. The old-timers don’t like the foreigners and claim it hurts the series. I don’t think that’s the case, but know a lot of people feel that this should be an American Series. I like the Helio’s, Dixon’s and Briscoe’s of the series.

Tony Tellez

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