Brain Dump: Toronto 2018

Post Disclaimer: This is not so much a brain dump as it is an epiphany and an apology. But it’s still about the Toronto Indycar race. Sort of. And yeah, I missed the Iowa race recap because I still haven’t seen it. Which is beyond inexcusable since my favorite driver won the thing. Anyhow. . .

As tens of you may recall, nearly a decade ago I was asked to write for the warm and tender underbelly of the web site known as “The Silent Pagoda.” Although it covered the racing series diligently, the content was often a cross between Jalopnik and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It was glorious, and the insults were free and plentiful.

Don’t worry, like the timestamp on this post I’ll get to the Toronto race eventually.

During my tenure with “The Silent Pagoda” the site’s insanely talented host (and I do mean “insanely talented” in the very literal sense) continuously challenged the writing staff to create posts that were unique and memorable, with really no other rules other than the subject probably should deal with Indycar. And really that was more of a suggestion. And I don’t know how many posts I made for the site, but there was one in particular that I wrote that I wish I never had written.

Way back when I would try to write about the personalities of Indycar drivers to make them seem more interesting, and at Silent Pagoda I was free to create all sorts of nonsensical pseudo-biographical material to emphasize the characteristics of various people in the Indycar series. In doing this I was almost always frustrated with Scott Dixon, who almost never seemed emotionally affected by anything and seemed to have so little personality with which I could work. He won a lot of races and gave a lot of dull interviews. So I wrote a post about him that years later I still regret.

It was called “The Least Interesting Man in the World.” Mea culpa, and I hope you never read it.

The premise of the post was a spin on the ubiquitous Dos Equis commercials, containing simple statements like “His favorite color is lukewarm” or “Vanilla aspires to be like him” or some such nonsense. I don’t remember exactly, and mercifully the internet appears to have forgotten as well.

Once published I realized that was intended to be something of a clever post ended up with a tone of mean-spiritedness, even though no one ever explicitly complained to me that it was. But since then I’ve been keenly aware not to shame any Indycar personality just for a joke. I mean, keyboards can be weapons, intentionally or otherwise.

(“We’re gonna black flag you if you don’t start talking about racing soon.” – The Spotter)

So while watching the Toronto race which was *muffles mouth with hand* days ago, I recalled that awful post, which was awful because years later I can think of lots of things that really are interesting about Scott Dixon. For starters, like how after umpteen years of mostly spec Indycar racing he’s still running circles around nearly every driver.

Case in point: comparing Josef Newgarden with Dixon last Sunday. Newgarden was in control of the race until he pointed his car in a bit of marbles on a restart, and then quickly made hard contact with the barrier. His car suffered, and his race never recovered.

Contrast that with Dixon, who did almost the same thing while he was in the lead, but with two very distinct differences. First, he managed to not make as hard of contact with the barrier, which is impressive enough. But then, just to show everyone how ridiculously talented he is, Dixon went and kept increasing his lead after the contact. As if he somehow improved his car by touching the wall.

Dixon is now just eight wins behind Mario Andretti for 2nd all-time on the Indycar wins list, which means if he races into his age-40 season in 2021 then he’s probably going to surpass Mario. I’ve been witness to a lot of Indycar drivers, and although Foyt and Andretti will always be on another level for the length and variety of their careers in auto racing, I can’t say I wouldn’t take Dixon if I needed to win one Indycar race. It probably depends on the location, but he has been that good for that long on that many circuits in a series that went from all oval to nearly all non-oval.

Which is all to say, I was a total idiot for ever saying he was not interesting.

Honorable Mentions this week include:

Simon Pagenaud, who after his 2nd place finish looks like he might finally be figuring this new car out.

The Eh Team, for finishing 3rd and 4th on the home course. Because Canada.

Charlie Kimball, for not hitting anyone and somehow getting a 5th place finish in a Carlin entry.

Zach Veach, for being the highest-finishing Andretti Autosport entry.

Conor Daly, for finding work for at least one weekend.

Final Lap: You know how there was that billboard of LeBron James in Cleveland that said “We are all witnesses”? Maybe they should put one of those up in Indianapolis for Scott Dixon as he chases down Mario. Or would that be too much?

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