GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Blog by Race Chaser Online Open Wheel Correspondent Joel Sebastianelli — Chris Jones/IndyCar photo —
It’s that time of year again.
Cold weather cripples the country, traffic jams clog the roads anywhere near outlet malls, the in-laws are in town, and there’s absolutely no racing to serve as a light at the end of the tunnel. Not this week, not next week, and not until at least another month.
Ahhhh the joys of the holiday season!
But in all seriousness, this time of year is affectionately called “the season of giving” for a reason. I’m fairly low maintenance, so as long as I have open wheel racing, I have all I could ever need. In lieu of presents for to keep for myself this year, here’s what’s on my list of gifts I’d like everyone in the IndyCar community to receive!
- For IndyCar nation, I’d like the Verizon IndyCar Series to bring the heat in the winter time! If the season must end by Labor Day, then something needs to fill the interminable dead period in the cold winter months. IndyCar has a lot going for it in 2015 and shouldn’t try to replicate CART’s attempt at replicating F1, but a few international races in warm climates could bring in an added stream of revenue, provide extra exposure, and keep all race fans occupied until the North American campaign begins in late March.
- For Conor Daly, I’d like for the 23-year-old to have a regular ride in 2015, not just a one-and-done Indianapolis 500 gig like in 2013. Someone with his charisma and natural talent shouldn’t spend the season on the sidelines. In an era when sponsorship is as hard as ever to come by, he is an easily marketable future star. He already excels on road and street courses, but all he needs is just a consistent opportunity in the United States. CFH Racing…are you listening?
- For Josef Newgarden, can we get him his first IndyCar victory already? He turns 24 on December 22 and I can’t think of a better present than this. More success for Newgarden means more exposure, and more exposure for young American drivers is exactly what this series needs! He already has three years under his belt and hopefully has what it takes to earn a win with the revamped CFH Racing team this year.
- While we’re at it, I know of a three-time Indianapolis 500 champion who could use another type of win on his resume. I know that championships must be earned, not given, but nobody deserves an IndyCar title more than Helio Castroneves.
- I’d like to bottle up Castroneves’ energy and passion and stuff each stocking with it. If everyone could get as high off life during victories and stay smiling during setbacks like Helio, the world would be a better place.
- For fans of the Indianapolis 500, I’d like for aero kits to deliver the excitement, speed, and innovation that we have craved through the years. With new equipment comes a new look and also new speeds. What could be more exciting than seeing the existing record of 237.498 mph finally toppled after 18 years and returning (in part) to an age of manufacturer individuality?
- I’d like MAVTV to get unlimited holiday wishes. Now that SPEED Channel has vanished, race fans need more motorsports on television, especially of the variety highlighted before SPEED’s NASCAR agenda took over. Even before SPEED, ESPN Speedworld and programming like Thursday Night Thunder provided a great showcase for up and coming open wheel talent. MAVTV’s “Speed Sport Magazine” show does an awesome job of showcasing racing in a similar fashion, but they’re limited by budget constraints. With unlimited resources, imagine all that MAVTV could do for USAC, regional midget and modified series, and others in the open wheel racing world…
- Speaking of young talent, I wish for the new Indy Lights chassis, the Dallara IL-15, to look as good on the racetrack as in does in photographs. After a slow season or two, Indy Lights has really picked up the pace and continues to expand both on the entry list and in the talent column. Drivers like Zach Veach (if he stays another year), Matthew Brabham, and newcomer RC Enerson (just to name a few) could be the future of IndyCar and deserve the best of everything they can get.
- And speaking of another young talent, I wish for Kyle Larson to get his wish granted by Chip Ganassi to run “The Double” at IMS and Charlotte this May. Kurt Busch shined brightly all month in 2014 with Andretti Autosport against all expectations, and early indicators show that Larson can drive the wheels off of any car on any surface — not just a stock car. As devout open wheel fans, sometimes we hold our noses in the air when NASCAR gets brought up, but we should always welcome the opportunity to expand our racing heroes’ horizons. A great driver is a great driver regardless of what series he or she races for.
- Since we’ve established a running theme here, I’ll ask for one more gift to young talent with a quick shameless plug. If you haven’t already, please get out and vote for the next host of “Mazda Road to Indy TV!” You can vote once a day here through 12/26, and even if you don’t vote for me, I can certainly say we’ve all worked hard to get to this point.
- Lastly, and most importantly, I wish for a safe 2015 for all fans and competitors, as well as continued well wishes for all affected by incidents in 2014.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Verizon IndyCar Series is predictably unpredictable and showcases the best racing in the world right now.
I hope that continues into 2015, and I hope you all have a happy holiday season!