After Iowa, it’s official: Sage Karam is IndyCar’s talented, bold, new, needed “black hat”


For those who have followed Sage Karam’s career as he’s come up and developed in the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, his talent is obvious.

So is his aggression.

And the two elements collided in full Saturday night in what was Karam’s best race to date in his rookie season of the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Karam, who started 10th, moved up early in the race and was bordering on another top-five finish to go along with his fifth-place finish at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

But in the waning stages of the race, Karam muscled past Carlos Munoz and held off the advances of Ed Carpenter, while Carpenter ran high and Karam ran low.

The 20-year-old made it to his first career podium in third, but he didn’t earn many friends along the way.

“I mean Sage, you know I kept both of us from crashing and taking us from at least a top four until that, and IndyCar just lets him do whatever he wants,” Carpenter told Trackside Online’s Steve Wittich, via a story.

“He’s Sage Karam, he’s had his ass kissed from the day he was born, and he does whatever he wants… no respect.”

A longform Sports Illustrated article on Karam would counter that last quote, but, heat of the moment and you get why Carpenter said what he did.

Carpenter’s CFH Racing teammate, Luca Filippi, isn’t exactly a firebrand. But the genial, polite and generally cool Italian more or less echoed Carpenter’s words in a single tweet:

A further quote from another talented American, current IndyCar second-place driver Graham Rahal, also indicates the concern others have about Karam.

“Sage has got a reputation for being that sort of driver and when you get up to the big leagues you need to be a little bit smarter,” Rahal told Wittich. “I think Ed hit the wall three or four times, I mean literally.  I lifted both times on two different straight aways because I thought they were both in the fence. Honestly, just careless driving, absolutely careless driving.  And until he gets penalized by the series they aren’t going to care.”

Karam’s brash, perhaps youthful exuberance came through in his immediate post-race interview to NBCSN’s Katie Hargitt.

“He’s just angry at my driving. He says I squeezed him a few times, but it’s the same way he drove me,” Karam said. “It’s hard racing, I’m going for wins and that’s how we’re driving.

“It’s close racing, it’s Indy car racing. This ain’t go-karts or anything anymore. We’re going to race each other hard and we’re professionals and we know each other’s limits. Tough luck for him, I don’t know.”

By way of what he did Saturday night and also what he has done throughout the course of this season, Karam has done enough to earn a title that isn’t IndyCar rookie-of-the-year (he’s 39 points back of Gabby Chaves), but one that might serve him better long-term:

“IndyCar’s needed new black hat.”

When you come in with something to prove, and talent to burn, you occasionally ruffle some feathers. Karam has done that and then some this year.

Witness the fact Karam has garnered six in-race penalties in a year when post-race penalties have become all the rage.

He’s received two pit speed, two avoidable contact, one blocking and one improper pit entry penalties.

And then factor in the other drama with other drivers at various points this year – for example, the usually mild-mannered Ryan Briscoe said on the radio at Fontana that “Sage Karam is going to (expletive) kill someone” – and suddenly we have our villain dressed in an all-black firesuit.

This is not a bad thing.

The kid’s style is to attack, to push even harder than seems possible at times, and to give it his all, every lap.

When he doesn’t get the result he desires, he gets frustrated. I remember talking to him after Detroit race two this year – a race where he was positioned for a front row start, if not pole, provided qualifying hadn’t been canceled.

He’d gone through a roller-coaster day where he missed that start, rolled off from 20th, received both his avoidable contact penalties, and yet he was irate at fellow youngster Conor Daly, as he’d felt Daly had blocked him.

It spoke to me of a driver determined to perform, damn the torpedoes, and frustrated with whatever or whoever else got in his way.

IndyCar has talked up its #IndyRivals campaign this year without so much as an actual rivalry – or an actual villain – with which to sell.

But Karam provides all that in a wrestler’s package and then some.

He’s a good-looking, brash, talented, fierce American who has race-winning and championship potential within two to three years, who was good enough to draw the interest of no less an owner than Chip Ganassi, who rarely if ever gambles on rookies.

He still has room to grow even though he has matured some over the last two to three years from where he was in his early MRTI days.

Yes, he could afford to take fewer shirtless selfies. And yes, he could calm down on track a bit.

But as a “Paul Tracy-in-training” badass who people can either love or love to hate, Karam is perfect. And desperately needed.

Vicki Golden and 805 Beer tell a unique story from an Inverted Perspective


Vicki Golden has earned a career worthy of a thousand stories and 805 Beer tells at least one of them, as “Inverted Perspective” premiered March 30 on the company’s website and YouTube channel.

Golden did more to break the glass ceiling in SuperMotocross than she ever thought possible. She knows this because riders have never felt the need to explain any of her accomplishments with the disclaimer, “for a girl”. 

At this point in Golden’s career, she’s been the first woman to finish top 10 in AMA Arenacross Lites, the first woman to qualify in the Fast 40 in Monster Energy AMA Supercross and the first woman to compete in freestyle Moto X competition, earning a bronze medal by doing so.

Her love for moto came from childhood while she watched her dad and brother ride. By seven she was on her bike and making waves throughout Southern California. 

Golden, 30, is still madly in love with the sport and has no plans on moving away but her career is already one to talk about. 805 Beer’s film series wanted to do exactly that.

“I’m taken aback by it all,” Golden told NBC Sports about the documentary. “It’s just crazy to see your story, it’s one thing to live your life and battle everything that comes about but it’s another to just sit there and talk about it.”

805 approached Golden about the feature by asking, “Do you even realize that what you do, and your story is special?”

Golden took the question as a blank canvas to map out the highs and lows of her career and life. 

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The title “Inverted Perspective” came from a brainstorming session with Dominick Russo and it highlights Golden’s outlook on the sport of SuperMotocross and her life in general. 

“My whole life, my whole career was thinking differently and looking at things that shouldn’t be done and aren’t there, while being able to make a place for myself, where no one thought there should be a place,” Golden said.  “It’s inspiring someone to think in different ways. It sums up my life.”

Vicki Golden is not “fast for a girl”; she’s just fast. – 805 Beer

While Golden is no stranger to the spotlight, this was the first time she’s been fully involved with the storytelling and creation of a feature about herself. 

“It’s not like a full new experience,” Golden said. “Obviously, you get your standard questions about your upbringing and accomplishments, but I’ve never really put into perspective things that happened in my past with my dad and putting that to light. Also, certain other things that maybe got overlooked in previous interviews or films. I wanted to touch on these and Dom wanted to create a story. It’s just cool to see it come to light, it’s a nearly impossible thing to tell somebody’s life story in 40 minutes.”

Golden’s father was left paralyzed after an ATV accident, robbing him the opportunity to ride again. This happened a few months before the father-daughter duo was set to compete in the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Nationals when Vicki was 12. While she might have been unable to grasp the severity at the time, it’s something she carries with her. Golden continues to ride in his honor.

Years later, an accident in 2018 nearly sidelined the then 25-year-old Vicki when a freestyle accident almost resulted in the amputation of her lower leg. 

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Golden 805 Beer
Vicki Golden has ridden a variety of disciplines in SuperMotocross, which gives her a unique perspective. – 805 Beer

“Inverted Perspective” highlights her father’s diligence in helping Vicki continue with her career and the kindness and strength he carried while fighting his own battle. 

“My dad was the entire reason that I started riding in the first place,” Golden said. “So, to honor his memory and to honor what we went through and how hard he pushed to keep our dream alive and keep everything going – in that sense then, it was really special to be able to honor him and talk about him.”

The 40-minute feature was filmed entirely in black and white, a stark contrast from the oversaturated world of motocross where the brighter the suit the easier it is for fans to find their rider and follow him in the race. By filming in monochrome Russo and Golden had the chance to focus on the race and track from a different perspective. 

“It was cool to be able to film it differently,” Golden said. “It created a challenge in the sense of what was going to be more visually impactful for the film.

“I couldn’t be here without the companies that back me but at the same time, it’s not like the logos or colors disappeared, it’s just different lights shed on different spots. It’s just a cool way to do it and to take color away and still be impactful. When you think of black and white, you think of old school, the OG way of doing things.”