Could Brazil race imperil IndyCar drivers?

November 9, 2010
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The IndyCar Series may have another problem with one of its 2011 race venues.

How big is the problem? Depends on who you ask.

Formula One driver Jensen Button reported that he and his McLaren guests narrowly avoided being carjacked while in Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Grand Prix Nov. 6.

Button said the incident shows how dangerous Sao Paulo can be for the race drivers who venture there. Luckily, Button said he had a police-trained driver and a bullet proof Mercedes-Benz B-class car. In a separate report, several engineers for the Sauber team also were robbed the same weekend. Button was lucky, as he got away without giving anything up. The engineers reported being robbed of all their possessions.

The IndyCar Series is set to be in Sao Paulo for a race May 1. The series was in Brazil last year incident free. Still, Button is cautioning the drivers because locals know that most of them have money and other prized items.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said perceived riches are not why Button was targeted. He told Racer Magazine that he’s gone to Sao Paulo for more than 40 years, even jogging on the beach wearing expensive watches and other jewelry and never had a problem.

Ecclestone’s advice for Brazilian-bound racers: Toughen up—and qualify high. What did you expect from the man known in racing circles worldwide as the Iron Dwarf?

“They look for victims, they look for anyone who looks like a soft touch and not too bright,” Ecclestone told Racer. “People who look a bit soft and simple, they will always have a go at. I think for the race weekend they probably watch TV and see who’s not qualified in the top 10 and think, ‘Well, they must be a bit stupid, otherwise they would qualify in the top 10.’”

Ecclestone then asked his interviewer where Button’s McLaren team had qualified.
Button qualified 11th.

“There you are, you see? I rest my case.”

  • He said that about his own drivers? Ecclestone is an idiot and I really hope F1 finds a way of dumping him.

    In other news, Chevy looks like it is going to return to the IRL. I guess the haters are going to hate that one. So lets begin the countdown clock to the haters saying this is another sign of the impending doom of the IRL. How Chevy is a bad company/bad engine supplier and how no one has ever heard of this company.

    Let the hate begin.
  • Do some research
    Anthony, did you even THINK about talking to anyone who went to the Brazil race in 2010, to find out what the participants were told and the measures taken so something like this wouldn't happen?

    Or even Charles Burns of the IndyCar Series on the planning he put into the trip and what he told everyone who went?

    It's embarrassing that you're allowed to write stuff like this and call it "blogging". Most bloggers at least try.

    The IndyCar race at Brazil had a Holiday Inn as a part of the race compound. So participants never had to leave the area (and were told not to) so they were not in such situations.
  • what about everyone else?
    Thanks for the comment Lance. I did know about the Holiday Inn, and should have mentioned it. That proves my point about the general safety of the area. So, the drivers may be safe. But what about everyone else? That's something to hold a race in a place where you have to barricade everyone in a compound. Do you recommend U.S. fans and sponsors--who may not have access to the Holiday Inn and/or other amenities in the compound--head on down to take in the race. Despite my lack of effort, I'm taking this time to thank you for reading.
  • Let's talk about everyone else
    What about everyone else? Most Holiday Inn's hold more than 24 people, though perhaps the IBJ doesn't reimburse for modern hotels that accommodate lots of people.

    A Google search would have told you the Holiday Inn in question could have had around 1200 guests (454 rooms with 2 beds, 311 rooms with single beds) for the IndyCar weekend.

    1200 guests for 24 drivers, the team owners and crews, the IndyCar officials, and everyone else who was a part of the event.

    Since that number of folks was insufficient for whatever reason, a second hotel was used, with the guests there under similar restrictions as far as going out.

    Given the amount of travel drivers and car owners take over the course of a season (or their careers), I am going to guess there's (unfortunately) a much higher chance of them being harmed in a car or plane crash than being harmed in Brazil.

    But I know that won't help you meet your quota, since it appears you've got to bang one of these blog-things out every weekday regardless.

    And as far as reading, you're welcome but I'm afraid I've already dropped you from my blog reader.
  • Sao Paulo Security
    Thanks for this insight into what needs to happen to have a successful race.
    The Article from Racer magazine did a great job of showing the lack of management and care applied to F1 by Bernie. He was on the starting grid and was very aware of where Button qualified. The fact that he attributes it to "not being bright" is another cop-out in his abilities of organizing and protecting his investments, the teams.
  • Hey, Iman's back!
    Didn't want to post in the Edmonton article, eh Iman??? The denier couldn't handle the heat in that kitchen, eh??? :lol:

    "Ecclestone is an idiot and I really hope F1 finds a way of dumping him."

    Why??? I thought you didn't care about F1? He may be a bufuddled old man, but he's built the most successful OWR series in history. Say what you want about him, but he constantly builds F1 up. All the Hulmanistas in Indiana ever did, was say their 1 race was all that mattered, and destroyed the sport.

    SPEED caught Bernie on the grid and asked about the Button deal, and he said that everything was fine. Someone was probably just trying to sell him a hat. :lol:

    Brazil may be a dangerous place, but seeing as most of the .1RL's sponsorship comes from there, I think they know the situation.
    As far a fans go, I don't think anyone has to worry about fans traveling to see the League. Nobody goes to the races here in N America. Do you really think anyone is traveling from here to Brazil to watch them???

    Believe the Chevy deal when I see it. Means nothing now, but the Race is definitely off in Edmonton.

  • Lighten up, Mr. Official
    Hey Lance, lighten up. You made your points in your first post - we get it, Anthony kindly replied and you go ahead and repost a bunch of lodging statistics with another backhanded comment. No reason to post again on a blog you no longer read.
  • Say so long
    Everyone, Lance has left the building!
  • A tact from the haters I had not expected, ignore the Chevy news and bring up past posts.

    I was on vacation during most of that. When I came back there was many dozens of replies mostly saying the same things. But if you care about my opinion that much, it seems rather simple.

    A deal was made to run the race. Edmonton came back and wanted the promoter to use a different course which would increase the cost by $2 or $3 million. Promoter balked at footing the cost for repaving an abandoned runway, and unfortunately the race is off. Sounds to me that the promoter may have the makings of a lawsuit unless there was a clause that allowed the City/airport to start throwing in demands after the deal was signed. Again, seems pretty open and shut.

    As far as F1, I do not care for the racing, just amazed that Ecclestone made those kind of comments about one of his drivers. Imagine Belaskus calling out Franchitti or France calling out Busch like that. Amazing the man arrogance and greed. More reason to not like the series.

  • Holiday Inn
    The Holiday Inn ...How classy...LOL
    Feel so much better about the Olympics.

    J-I-Indy Cars really are lame and not quite up to F1...But I did stay at A Holiday Inn Express last night.

  • What Chevy NEWS?
    Oh great prognosticator, what CHECY news are you referring to? The stock offering or the selling to reduce our government taxpayers burden to *allegedly* support auto racing?
  • Ask and you shall receive. Unlike you I backup my statements with links.

    From Indy Star|newswell|text|Sports|s

    From Autoweek

    From SpeedTV

    Hate on super chief.
  • Here is an idea... about NOT having a race in Brazil in the first place? Oh, I know. APEX Brasil. Helio. TK. Vitor. Who else is from down there? Here is a better idea. Move the whole thing, the entire series down there to that rancid country and call it clever. Shutter the Indy 500 after this May's coming non-sell out and 3.0 rating, call that one good too, and say it was a great hundred years.

    Fork, please. .
  • I can just see Burl, fingers in ears, eyes shut, singing la la la la I don't know anything about Chevy coming to the IRL, la la la the IRL is still failing la la la....
  • And?
    So, the US Government owned GM is rumored to be interesting in an IRL program? Isn't that what helped put them off the motorsports roadmap in the first place?

    And, second, GM is majority owned by the US Government, which is funded by taxpayers? Is that correct?

    I suspect GM (and our government) will be chastised quite heavily for such a move. In this economy in a sport with virtually NO ROI or business plan for the future. I for one oppose use of my tax dollars to support GM and this carelessly frivolous plan to join the IRL.
  • viva tax payer
    tax money pay for those street parade
  • like citibank
    Citibank took bailout $$$ yet still purchased naming rights to the ballpark in NYC.

    APPALLING if GM goes through with this.
  • And I assume you are also appalled that Chevy and Dodge spend a lot of money on NASCAR Racing? I assume it appalls you that Corvette runs ALMS races? I could go on, but we all see the hypocrisy in your statements. not until Chevy looks like it is going back to the IRL do you have an issue with GM or Chrysler spending money on racing.
  • False
    I find it ironic you failed to mention that it was the first incident in 14 years of F1 going there. I'm also yet to see where Button said "the incident shows how dangerous Sao Paulo can be for the race drivers who venture there."

    This is the only quote I've seen where Button says anything regarding the city of Sao Paolo...
    "It's an epic circuit and it holds a lot of good memories. But I'll be on my way home tonight."

    You seem to be going pretty far with your paraphrasing.

    The IndyCar race was safe last year, will be safe next year, and will continue to be safe for the remaining years of the contract.

  • False? Not.
    Great points all Brian. Now tell me why the IndyCar Series had a locked-down compound at Sao Paulo and why did IndyCar officials urge drivers and their teams not to venture out of the compound during the race weekend. I was there when that was said. So tell me now? I'm not saying it's not a good race for the series, but let's call a spade a spade here.
  • HD Net did a report on Brazil right after they got the Olympics. They showed after the sun goes down the streets get dangerous. There are some neighborhoods the Army will not go into because the gangs control them. The camera crew was even shot at for filming from several hundred feet outside the neighborhood.

    But then again, how many resort towns are locked down compounds? Cancun, Jamaica etc... all are popular areas to visit, but you do not leave the compound
  • usual again
    Is Chevy or Chrysler freshly entering a NASCAR series? NO.

    IS Chevy entering the IRL FRESHLY while under federal government bailout? APPALLING.
  • Removed from Blog Roll
    Respectfully, there are much better blog writers in Metro Indy that are writing about sports. In fact, it's a fairly competitive local blogosphere (sport commentary withstanding). Further, there isn't much research-based inquiry from those posting comments. I wish you the best while here.
  • Chief,

    So spending 100's of millions while taking taxpayer money is ok, but not spending a fraction of that? No Chief, they are laughing with you, not at you.

    King Andy,

    Then be gone. Enjoy other sports blogs. You won't be missed.
  • existing contracts versus NEW ones?
    So, you are fine with YOUR taxpayer dollars being spent on a boat anchor of a series like the IRL? A series that has no ROI no fans no future?

    A series that has NO engine formula devised yet, or a chassis that is nothing but a hologram projected on a wall?

    YOU want the money used for that? The IRL has been nothing but a giant PONZI scam....with the former CART owners taking the lions share of profits.

    If US Government gets out of auto business then GM can squander everything they can on the IRL. Until then no way. Indirectly funding this moronic.
  • Ponzi scheme? How do you figure?

    Definition of Ponzi: a pyramid investment swindle in which supposed profits are paid to early investors from money actually invested by later participants

    So who are the early investors who made money, and who are the later ones getting screwed? Sounds more like what cart did with its IPO.

    Speaking of IPO, GM is preparing to sell up to 1/3 of the governments share in an upcoming IPO with the rest being sold over the next couple of years to avoid saturating the market.

    That all said, I think the government should have let GM and chrysler go through bankruptcy and either emerge much leaner or go away to be replaced by stronger competitors. That is what a free market is.

    Come on, you can do better than that, can't you? Your hatred for a series that refuses to give you a personal apology is showing.
  • Chinese
    They are selling GM to the CHINESE. Rumors of a CHinese street race are building...Honda will vanish.
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, Chief has officially entered....the Twilight Zone.

    By the way, Anthony has been reporting on a race in China since '09.
  • IMScar drivers are safe
    It\'s not like they are famous, or popular or that anyone would know who they are

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