Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Robby Gordon, Round Two

Earlier, I posted an irate defense of Robby Gordon in relation to his remarks about potential competitive advantages enjoyed by Miss Danica Patrick, an IRL rookie contender and eventual fourth-place finisher in the 2005 Indianapolis 500. In the article, I linked to several posts by other publications, noting a) uniform negativity on the part of the posts and b) a "considerable level of ignorance when it comes to motorsports" on the part of "many" posters and commenters. My remarks seem to have hit a nerve on the part of one of the named parties. Marc, of Full Throttle, stopped by and posted the following comment, reproduced in full: I note you linked my site as uniformly negative (Full Throttle), I'll take slight issue with that. Was I negative in how Gordon stated what he did? Yes, but not just because of this incident. He has a long history of making ill advised comments. So much so his sponsors have required contract language that protects them from Gordons occasional rantings. I did generaly agree with the substance of what he said. I don't agree the advantage given is much to worry about. Example: You cite a fuel mileage advantage. Well where was it. Patrick ran low on fuel, turned down the boost and it cost her 2 positions in the final standings. Advantage given by a 0.8 differential in qual speeds? That difference amounts to about 60 feet from the pole position and the outside of the fourth row, hardly significant. And then there is this little shot given by you: "A lot of bloggers rallied to Ms. Patrick's defense, usually focusing upon ad hominem insults towards Mr. Gordon. Additionally, it seems that many posters and commenters display a considerable level of ignorance when it comes to motorsports" Followed up by this: "The estimated number of turns involved in the Indianapolis 500 has been revised; the track is 2.5 miles long and the race is 500 miles; 200 laps are necessary. 200x4=800. I had previously estimated off the cuff that it was 500 laps in length, which would lead to the earlier 2,000. The error is regretted." Regrettable? No it just shows how disengaged you are from Indy and the IRL in general. That would be called pot-kettle-black. And now, the response: First off, I'd like to thank Marc for stopping by and commenting. Since I don't have any ad revenues, traffic and interaction is the payoff for this publication. Yee haw. Secondly, I stand by my decision to count Marc's article as "negative". The clear text of the article is, to put it mildly, not complimentary of Mr. Gordon. A few choice selections: -Because [Robby Gordon's] as dumb as a box of Vanilla Waffers! -I guess it hasn’t entered into this mental midgets mind that there is a minimum weight for Indy Cars. (The factual error regarding IRL weight policy was corrected and noted in a subsequent update.) -But Gordon is still stuuuupid! (This was included in the update noting the real IRL weight policy.) Somehow, I for whatever reason do not see Marc's 'general agreement' with what Mr. Gordon said. Perhaps it's buried somewhere in the box of vanilla wafers, like a Cracker Jack toy surprise. As for Ms. Patrick's theoretical fuel economy advantage versus her actual performance (nearly running out of fuel, as things would have it) all I can say is that perhaps she didn't drive the thing intelligently. And yet she finished fourth. I would suggest that superior equipment and her unique competitive advantage would allow her a greater margin of error than would be available to the average driver, but that's a subject for the mathematicians, which I'm not. With regards to the value of sixty feet, I suggest that Marc (and anyone else) ask Bobby Labonte if he'd like to have had an additional six feet at the 2005 Coca-Cola 600. You might not think that sixty feet matters in a race of several hundred miles, but it does: Sixty feet can be the difference between being unavoidably caught up in a wreck or slipping through unscathed. In motorsports, it's the little things that matter. Marc also takes exception to my remarks regarding the ignorance of posters and commenters, noting with what I assume is glee the fact that I had made a mistake on the number of laps (and thus the number of turns) in the Indianapolis 500. My reply? "Come off it." In the flood of "Danica's hot; Robbie's fat!" posts and comments, I detected very few responses that addressed the substance of Mr. Gordon's remarks. It took considerable amounts of digging to find the Penske numbers quoted anywhere. I found, on the other hand, a lot of people throwing insults at Mr. Gordon. I fail to see the equivalence between minor factual confusion and insults devoid of any grounding in motorsports. Asking "What does the '500' in 'Indianapolis 500' refer to, the number of miles it covers or the number of laps?" doesn't seem to be such a major problem, as opposed to people who line up to heap abuse on Robby Gordon, but would have a hard time distinguishing a Nextel Cup stock car from a Formula 1 machine. It's also worth noting that as far as factual (but corrected and openly admitted) errors go, Marc thought that fuel was counted in the IRL's weight calculation. I don't consider his error to be significant either; it takes a certain level of knowledge of the sport to even get to the point where you worry about such errors. Furthermore, it's a good thing that he corrected the article, and openly said so, to boot. However, I think it worth noting by way of response to his criticism. I wonder if his error shows his 'disengagement' with Indianapolis and the Indy Racing League in general. UPDATE: I found this post over at Catallarchy which goes in a slightly different direction, but make of it what you will. Thanks to the Cold Spring Shops for the pointer.

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