The Super Bowl is over and that means one thing: Racing season is now officially upon us.
It should be an interesting close to the week for the Verizon IndyCar Series teams testing at Phoenix Raceway. Think of it as open wheel's "pitchers and catchers report" week. Testing will be critical for everyone, as the new schedule changes will have qualifying and the race on the same day when the series returns to race on the 1-mile oval in late April. That leaves very little margin for error in what will make for an exciting show. I'm psyched for it, and I'll still find time for a few side trips and show-and-tell of the Valley of the Sun.
Speaking of the Super Bowl, a few observations:
“Brady effect” leads to Falcons’ demise: I didn't see it as much as a "Falcons choke" as I did the Patriots being, well, the Patriots. They're the most poised and disciplined team in football, and they psyche teams into errors. Atlanta is catching a lot of heat for not going to the ground and milking clock, but I call that the "Brady effect." When you know the greatest postseason quarterback in NFL history is on the other sideline, you tend to stray from common-sense strategy and push for more. The Atlanta Falcons weren't the first team to fall victim to it; they likely won't be the last.
What’s in a name? I flunked most college math courses I took and I've never sat in a marketing class, but I am still convinced I could advise some advertising strategists when it comes to the coveted Super Bowl ad slots. First, say your company name! Repeat it! And, for crying out loud, quit using your competitor's name in your spots. In my opinion the two "best" commercials? The mountain man opening a Busch beer and LeBron James pitching Sprite. Why? Easy. You remembered the brand being advertised. Mission accomplished.
NFL gorilla is on a diet: As for the numbers side of things, the NFL may no longer be the 800-pound gorilla, but it's still around 790. That said, the number of ads that addressed VERY current hot-button issues got me thinking. How many advertisers bought a spot at the last minute, motivated by the chance to make a statement? Yes, they bought the space and, yes, they may have done so months ago, but the availability just weeks before the Super Bowl was there. That's a trend in the wrong direction for the league.
Bono-fide reason to reminisce: When I was a freshman in high school, U2's “Joshua Tree” tour came through my hometown and I didn't get to go. I love the band and have always made a vow to see them again, so long as they played nothing released after the mid-‘90s. Guess what? They are relaunching the “Joshua Tree” tour and I'm headed to Louisville, Kentucky, to see it June 16. If I could just find an '83 Mitsubishi Tredia to make the drive, I'd be in adolescent-years nostalgic heaven. But “I still haven't found what I'm looking for.”
A Rose by any other name, again: Speaking of concerts, I saw Guns N’ Roses in four cities last summer, including the INDYCAR weekend in Toronto. They're my favorite band of all time and I thought they were outstanding. They announced their tour dates for this summer and I'm all over it. Anyone want to meet up to make Buffalo “Paradise City?”
Rooting rights available in NHL East: I need an NHL Eastern Conference team to follow. I am a pseudo Calgary Flames fan in the West (I announced my fan free agency via mailings in 2002 and the Flames GM personally took it upon himself to recruit me; true story). I want an Eastern team as well. Suggestions?
(Veteran broadcaster Jake Query is a member of the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network team and will offer his musings Tuesdays on IndyCar.com.)