Thursday, February 18, 2010

Stepping Out for a Bit

Hey, readers (that's all fourteen of you),
I'm not usually somebody who's given to gloom and doom, especially when it comes to motorsports. The sport has been through tough times: the World Wars, the 1955 Le Mans disaster and its fallout, the 1970s fuel embargo, the 1996-2008 open wheel split, economic recessions, both past and present, but people always come back to racing. It's in peoples' blood. It's a part of peoples' identities. For a lot of people (myself included), giving up racing is similar to giving up breathing. It's something that can be attempted, but something inside you makes you start again.

Let me be clear here. I am not giving up on racing. I'm still going to watch a slew of races this year, and I'm going to be more than happy to discuss racing with people, here, on other blogs and even in person, very soon. This isn't my attempt to say goodbye to the sport.

What this is, though, is a brief embargo on my following the minutiae of the sport. Over the last two weeks, four different manufacturers have unveiled their suggestion for the next generation of IndyCar, slated to begin racing in 2012. As a car nerd, I have loved looking at the different concepts, and I've enjoyed (to an extent) hearing peoples' opinions on the cars as people have debated which might be the best path forward. It's still very, very early in the process of deciding what the new car is going to be, though, and there are many missing details for all of the designs. I can't wait for those details to come out (engine format, aesthetic revisions, wind tunnel models and numbers, etc.), but I am happy to be patient. Rome was not built in a day, and nine different IndyCar concepts will not be transformed from foam models and CAD sketches to running cars in a day, either.

However, all of the "debate" surrounding the new cars has completely sucked the fun out of following IndyCar racing (and most other racing, where there is precious little in the way of good news lately) for me. I've enjoyed doing some doodling on scratch paper, trying to figure out how the Delta Wing chassis works. I've enjoyed attempting to answer peoples' questions on this same topic, though my attempts are simply guesses, because even as a trained engineer, I have not been sitting next to Ben Bowlby as he fiddles with his design programs. I've enjoyed dreaming up "improvements" to the cars' appearances, specifications and concepts. I've enjoyed daydreaming about what IndyCar could become in the future, and a posible return to prominence in the American (and worldwide) sporting scene.

I have not, however, enjoyed having my comments answered with "That car looks like it should be called the Delta Wang!" I have also not enjoyed reading comment after comment, blog post after blog post and e-mail after e-mail to Robin Miller that fall in the two camps of "If they pick such-and-such car, I'll never watch another race!" or "The IRL are a bunch of idiots if they don't pick the car by so-and-so!" I have had enough of the pithy, one-line comments making fun of a car, or a person, or an entire sanctioning body. Nobody is listening to each other. Everything is a quip- or rant-contest.

I hear you. "It's the internet, dude! That's how people interact out here! Lighten up!" Look, I get that. I've been writing here sporadically for almost four years now, and regularly reading other folks' blogs for almost as long. It's just...sometimes you get a gut full of something and you lose your taste for it. I know people who worked at Pizza Hut, for instance, and say that after they'd been there for six months, they couldn't stand to eat pizza for a really, really long time. That's about where I am with internet discussion about IndyCar racing. It's not fun anymore, and I can't stand how depressed it all makes me feel about the sport I love.

I'll cut the melodrama right here. I'll be back. Remember, I can't quit racing same as I can't quit breathing. Just don't expect much in the way of posts here for a while (yeah, yeah, you didn't expect any, anyway) and don't expect much in the way of my comments elsewhere for a while. I just need to cleanse the palate for a week or three. Not that things are going to be any better by then, but I'm going to be ready for some actual racing by the time the transporters are unloading in Sao Paulo (and Melbourne, for F1 that same weekend), as opposed to faceless internet bickering, which is the only thing going on right now.

OK. Take care, everybody. Back soon.


Allen Wedge said...

You know what! I'm boycotting this blog until you post again!

Iannucci said...

+1 on what Wedge said. :)

Schrementi said...

I'm with ya, it can be exhausting and as I put in a similar entry last night ( ) none of us are qualified enough to talk intelligently about the minutia.

All I can say is that the spirit of what is going on is for positive reasons (finally). Hopefully the finale of that makes the sport that we all love better.

Rick said...

Thank you, Speedgeek. I'm really, really tired of hearing all the haters tear into the Delta Wing design and announce that they'll never, ever, ever attend a race, watch one on tv, or ride in a car ever again.
I suspect those who care enough to comment also care too much to really turn away-especially not over mechanical details. I don't know all the technical ins and outs of the DeltaWing, either, but I have a pretty good feeling that the guy who designed the car knew what it had to do and made sure that it was capable of doing those things. It's really, really tiring reading only negativity. I had to quit reading Robin Miller's mailbag for a while for just that reason.
Good luck on the withdrawal. It's happened to me a couple of times. The first time was fixed by a couple of college buddies (wonder who they were...) that happened to live in the same dorm. The second was brought on by financial difficulty, home life, a baby, and a move with more consequences than I expected. I even missed 5 500s! As you're aware, that all turned around and I'm as enthusiastic as ever. For god's sake, I watched seven stock car races over the past week...

Anonymous said...

This will always happen when a 'big' announcement is made. All the forums and large sites will attract people claiming they'll never watch again, or blindly arguing in one direction without considering the merits of all the options. Its just noise and it is best to filter it out and talk to the people who are willing to engage, even if they disagree.

A problem here seems to be that people aren't willing to give something a chance. They see something they don't like, see the tempting white box with the flashing cursor, and they must respond immediately. I think we've all been there at times.

I wasn't giving the Delta Wing a chance (particularly on Twitter) until a day or two later when they eventually explained it was a concept and not the final car, and then detailed the concept. I think because we're used to a spec car now, people expected the Chicago model to be the actual car going into production - it isn't.

Anyway if you're fed up with IndyCar there's plenty of other racing to talk about, so I hope you'll stick around for that.

Steven said...

I know how you feel... this is a frustrating time to be a race fan. So much negativity and cynicism out there.

As for the Delta Wing, I think it's a very smart idea and deserves a chance. It is the only option that would not give us another spec series.

Thank you for a great blog and I look forward to your return.

Ryan said...

Make that +2 on what Wedge said. ;)

In all seriousness, I'm sorry to hear that you will be stepping away from the blog for awhile. Your writing will be missed.

I'm sure I'm not alone in saying, "We look forward to your return".

オテモヤン said...


Roy Hobbson said...

The offer still stands to write a weekly column for the Pagoda. The BEST part? It can be 100% void of race-y stuff, of course. Freedom is never having to write about slight wing adjustments & the like.

"We negotiating?" you ask in your best Keanu Reeves voice.

"Always," I respond - as the mural behind me comes to life & beckons you toward the Underworld.

/Devil's Advocate'd

Sebastian said...

(As I am using this to leave a message, probably best to delete it)

I noticed James had left a message on TMR thinking he had missed the deadline so I left a message on his site that he had not. Thus I am also doing the same for everyone else that has not posted an entry that the TMR deadline is early Friday morning.

Ben Levy said...

I hear you SpeedGeek.I've read but never posted a comment. But I feel your pain.Take a breath. Awaiting your next post.