Michael Andretti, Carlos Munoz, Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe

IndyCar’s off-track stories to come over the next few weeks


It might be – scratch that, is easier – to ask the questions yet to be determined in the IZOD IndyCar Series season, and silly season, over the next few weeks before the Shell Grand Prix of Houston doubleheader October 5-6.

It’s been a year for the series that has featured an excellent on-track product for the most part, save for a couple caution-infested wreck fests. Still, there’s a number of things on-and-off track to sort out here between now and Houston. We’ll just rattle them off; the on-track ones are in this linked post and the off-track below:


  • How many for Andretti? Michael Andretti’s team is on the verge of doing its best LeBron James imitation because it could be “Not 3, not 4, not 5” and maybe as many as 6 cars in 2014. It’s likely going to be four again, or perhaps five cars from the stable. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti will return, and here are the question marks. James Hinchcliffe and sponsor GoDaddy are free agents. E.J. Viso is only on a one-year contract. Carlos Munoz has been rumored to step up. And several media outlets are saying the team is courting Juan Pablo Montoya from NASCAR. Six into four doesn’t go; this will be interesting to watch.
  • Hinch and TK as dominos. On the Hinchcliffe front, he is in a rare position to choose from several viable options. A shot at Chip Ganassi’s fourth car, if it returns, is possible as is a return at Andretti. Kanaan, meanwhile, has said he needs to find funding to stay for 2014, which doesn’t seem right considering he’s the Indianapolis 500 champion. He’s likely teasing a move to NASCAR as leverage.
  • Schedule angst. It’s everyone’s favorite time of year, when schedule projection is all the rage. The first report of the year regarding the 2014 calendar came from Robin Miller, with the likely addition of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (in which configuration remains to be seen) planned and the schedule condensed to end by Labor Day. Baltimore seems the only race likely to move, assuming it stays. Stay tuned.
  • Commercial (president) movement. New Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles has moved many of the pieces in place on his leadership staff side this year, notably with the addition of Derrick Walker as INDYCAR’s President of Competition and Operations. Now, he needs to find someone who can advance INDYCAR’s commercial cause and oversee the marketing side. Easier said than done, of course, as one potential candidate, ex-San Diego Padres President Tom Garfinkel, has taken on the same role but with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

NHRA: New book a celebration of life, love and drag racing

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The overpowering smell from nitromethane that powers Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars in the National Hot Rod Association oftentimes brings fans to tears after getting a whiff of the stuff.

Now there’s a new inspirational book that will also bring tears to the eyes of die-hard drag racing fans.

Veteran crew chief Jim Oberhofer has released “Top Fuel For Life, Life Lessons From A Crew Chief,” a touching homage to both his late wife and persevering and overcoming adversity in the highly competitive world of NHRA drag racing.

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Oberhofer wears a number of hats as vice president of one of the sport’s most veteran and successful teams, Kalitta Motorsports, including serving as crew chief for Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta’s dragster.

Oberhofer relates a number of stories about overcoming adversity in the book, but none more touching than how he watched his beloved wife “Tammy O” lose a long and painful battle to stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.

While Oberhofer has spent his life using wrenches and tools working on 10,000-horsepower engines, his new book shows that he is also a very gifted writer.

Known in the sport as “Jim O,” Oberhofer describes the fight his wife went through in gritty and descriptive prose, but with a foundation built upon what the love of his life meant to him – and continues to mean to him more than two years since she passed away.

“When you take a long hard look at your life, I guarantee you that being a winner has little to do with crossing the finish line,” Oberhofer said. “After many mistakes and a whole lot of heartache, I learned that happiness comes from a deeper, simpler place. That’s the big win.”

“Top Fuel For Life” is available on Amazon for $19.95.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Report: Ecclestone believes F1 could be sold by year’s end

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Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone on Tuesday said the racing series is up for sale and has as many as three potential buyers.

Ecclestone told The Associated Press that a deal could still be struck by year’s end.

“I think so, maybe this year,” Ecclestone said. “There are three people mentioned to buy. So it’s a case of whether CVC or Mr. Mackenzie wants to sell.”

Ecclestone was referring to F1’s largest and controlling shareholder, CVC Capital Partners co-chairman Donald Mackenzie.

But even if F1 is sold, the 84-year-old Eccelstone doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

“The people that I’ve spoken to … have asked me if I would stay,” Ecclestone told AP.

Follow @JerryBonkowski