Month: December 2018

Rant: IndyCar’s 600km Race in Texas is NOT 600km.

Every June, the IndyCar series pays a visit to Texas Motor Speedway. It’s been an annual event dating back to the track’s opening in 1997. From 2007 through 2010, and then 2012 and 2013, the race was advertised with the number “550” as the distance. 550 kilometers. For 2014, it was extended another 50 kilometers, to round out at a nice, even 600.

Except those numbers are completely meaningless. Here’s why.

Texas Motor Speedway is not 1.5 miles long. All of those numbers are based on that assumption, which IndyCar internally refutes. All of their timing and scoring is based on a measured distance of 1.44 miles. That works out to 2.317 kilometers. Time for a bit of light math.

The race, during the “550km” era, ran for 228 laps. 228 laps times 2.317 kilometers equals… 528.276km. That’s not even close to 550. To get close, we need another nine laps, leaving us at 549.129km in total, and 237 total laps.

But wait, the discrepancy actually gets worse. The difference between the old race distance and what was advertised was 21.724km. Now that the race is 248 laps long, it’s a total distance of 574.616km. That’s more than 25 kilometers shy of what’s advertised, a whopping 11 laps.

If the race were 259 laps, that would reach 600.103km of race distance, and that’s goddamn close to exactly what’s painted in massive numerals along the front stretch. But it’s not, it’s 11 laps off.

If one were to be sufficiently annoyed, and go back through every single race that IndyCar has run in Texas, adding up the total distance run versus the listed distance, they’d find some very irritating numbers.

At least, that’s what I did, and that’s definitely what I found.

Even excluding the shortened fall race in 2003, wherein Kenny Bräck had his accident, we find that 14,115.16km of racing has been run by IndyCar at Texas Motor Speedway, but they’ve advertised it as 14,695.23km. That’s 580 missing kilometers, for a total of 250 race laps not run.

Yes, this is just a ranty missive about something mostly inconsequential, but I want my extra laps, please.

Or at the very least, adjust the race distance to match what’s advertised.




New on SocTakes: Patrons, enjoy 12 Days of Giftmas from Dec. 14-25

12 Days of Giftmas
The 12 Days of Giftmas are here. Image credit: John Lenard/Soc Takes

You might notice things quieting down at our website over the next couple weeks. Don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere; our content is.

The 12 Days of Giftmas are here.

To celebrate the holidays with our patrons, we’ll be publishing just about all our content — at least one post per day — exclusively for our Patreon supporters from Dec. 14-25. It’s our token of gratitude for your continued support.

You may see a few posts pop up at the dot com as well, but most of the magic will be happening over at through Christmas Day.

Not a patron and experiencing a bout of FOMO? You can gain access to our 12 Days of Christmas by making a monthly pledge for any amount of your choosing at our Patreon page. The generosity of our Patreon supporters enables us to maintain a paid staff and continue expanding our coverage of the beautiful game in America and beyond.

Thank you, patrons! Enjoy the 12 Days of Giftmas…

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New on SocTakes: North Texas SC launches in USL League One

North Texas SC

Image credit: North Texas SC

DALLAS — On Thursday, FC Dallas officially launched its new USL League One team, named North Texas SC. It is the final USL League One team to be announced for the 2019 season, bringing the league up to 10 teams for its debut. FC Dallas season ticket members will have access to every NTSC game. NTSC will play at Toyota Stadium, home of FC Dallas, for 2019, with the possibility of playing elsewhere in the future. More on that later.

Also announced was general manager Matt Denny, formerly the director of group ticket sales for FC Dallas. Though Denny has spent nearly a decade in the sales side of the front office, he actually has a thorough soccer background, including a UEFA B license and experience running the Lyons Township Soccer Club near Chicago.

The team also made its first player signing, 15-year-old forward Ricardo Pepi. Pepi just turned 15 a few months ago, yet at age 14 he was already a regular with the FC Dallas U-17 Academy team. This season, he scored a ludicrous 19 goals in just eight appearances and received three call-ups to the U-17 national team. This kid has been on the prospects radar in the Dallas soccer scene for years now and it’s incredibly reassuring to see the organization signing him as a professional. He’s now the 26th FC Dallas Academy kid to turn pro, and he’s on a four-year contract. All very, very good things.

The club is now in the process of signing its first head coach, and so far it seems like Luchi Gonzales is the front-runner. It makes perfect sense. He’s been academy director since late 2015, he’s been coaching within the academy since 2012 and his teams have been nothing short of dominant. With the expectation of NTSC’s roster comprising almost entirely ex-Academy talent, it’s absolutely the right move. Expect this to be confirmed in the next few weeks.

Part of the idea and mission behind North Texas SC is to represent more than just Dallas (or Frisco). While the club will play in the first team’s stadium for 2019, they are planning to play additional games around the DFW Metroplex. Downtown Dallas and Fort Worth have both been mentioned as potential sites for games, as a way to literally bring the team to the people and promote the entire FC Dallas organization on a much wider scale. Both of these are welcome developments to a fan base all too familiar with a lack of marketing and market awareness. So far, nothing specific has been announced, but the new ballpark under construction in Dallas’ Reverchon Park for an upcoming independent baseball team seems plausible.

The USL League One season is gradually being revealed, but quite a bit is already confirmed. The 2019 season will include 10 teams, all officially announced now, with NTSC as one of three MLS team-owned clubs. The season will begin the weekend of March 29-31, will comprise 28 games for each team and will end the weekend of Oct. 4-6. Playoffs will include the top four teams from the table (no conferences) and will start the weekend of Oct. 11-13, with the final held between Oct. 17-21.

In MLS news, FC Dallas is expected to announce its new coach sometime next week. While current assistant Marco Ferruzzi and USA U-20 coach Tab Ramos have been rumored, there’s also been news of “coaches with Champions League experience” in discussions for the job. I’d currently give 40 percent odds that it’s Ferruzzi, 20 percent on Ramos, 10 percent on Gonzales getting the first team gig instead, 20 percent on somebody completely unexpected, 5 percent on someone fired in MLS in the past few seasons and 5 percent on a flaming meteor.

Follow John on Twitter: @JohnMLTX.

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New on SocTakes: Off the Bench: 1st game

1st gameBack in October, I wrote a brief post on signing up for a rec league to play organized soccer for the first time in my life. I actually registered back in late September and wrote that piece a few weeks later. Due to the torrential rain that plagued North Texas from August onward, summer season games kept getting postponed and rescheduled, and I only received my game schedule a week into November, with a planned start date of Nov. 18.

Well, that ended up not happening due to delays getting the team of free agents assembled, and the game was postponed to later in the season. Even after an extra week, we just barely met the league roster requirements and by our first game had one goalkeeper and three women, with another six male field players. It’s a starting seven with subs for the guys, and that’s it.

We set up a group chat ahead of our first game on Saturday, Nov. 24 with some brief introductions, uniform decisions (i.e., “wear a black shirt but also bring a white one and we’ll decide on gameday”) and a request to meet 15 minutes before the game. I showed up there to meet my teammates for the first time, the Co-Ed Free Agents.

I don’t know for certain, but I’m likely the youngest on the team by a year or so. I’m also the least experienced, but that’s a given. I made an effort to not reveal just how completely inexperienced I was knowing that it would become obvious by the end of the day.

Our opponent was the Fort Worth Police Department’s co-ed team, known as the Panthers. They lost their first game 6-2, giving us a not-terrible chance. By kickoff, only two of the three women on our roster had arrived, so we made a deal with the other team and the referee to play only five field players with both women on the field.

The whistle blew, and my first game began.

That is, with me on the bench. I wasn’t starting, and I was honestly pretty happy about that. For the first 10 minutes of the 25-minute first half, I sat by and watched my hastily assembled team score our opening goal of the season to take a nice early lead. Our goalkeeper, Hugo, put in some fantastic work to keep us in it, as it turned out that the Fort Worth cops weren’t half bad at soccer. After that first 10, one of my teammates signaled for a substitute and my first shift began.

I slotted in at right wing, the one position I played in a few pickup games back when I lived in Arkansas. First time on the field in cleats, what a feeling. For the first part of my shift, I focused on chasing down any errant balls, putting my not-terrible sprinting ability to use and dropping back to defend as necessary. I didn’t take many passes but that honestly didn’t matter, and I was more than happy to run myself ragged. I lasted a little over five minutes, which wasn’t bad for the most physical exertion I’d felt since my last Pump it Up session.  My “best” moment that shift was going full sprint the entire length of the field to chase down a ball close to the opponent’s goal. About two yards from the goal line, I lost my footing and fell face forward.

I subbed out with the score still 1-0. It didn’t last. The Panthers scored once not long after I exited, leaving things tied 1-1 at halftime. My throat was painfully dry thanks to my excessive mouth-breathing and I spent the rest of the half chugging down water.

We lined up for the second half with all three of the women on our team now present, playing six field players for the first time. I was starting, taking my spot at right wing once again. Early in the second half, I had one moment out wide right where I had a chance to cross into the box to an open forward. I mishit the pass (rookie mistake, I know) and one of their defenders easily intercepted. Oh, well. I lasted slightly longer on the field this time, and was much more comfortable dropping back to defend to give us three at the back against a counter. However, I did have one seriously bad stretch wherein I was marking another winger pushing forward, sprinted toward the corner to defend against a counter and left a forward completely wide open at the near post. Suddenly, we were down by one.

At that point, I was definitely feeling not fantastic and subbed out. While I was on the bench, my team scored to even things up at 2-2. After a few minutes of back-and-forth play, one of my teammates was ready to come off and I hopped off the bench with roughly 15 minutes left in the second half for my third shift. For this final shift, we were dealing with sustained pressure thanks to their team having much fresher legs and I found myself generally playing right back. I managed to marginally improve my defensive thinking, but I really only had about seven minutes left in me. With a little less than 10 minutes left, I subbed off for the final time.

The Panthers scored to take a 3-2 lead late in the game, and despite our best attacking efforts we couldn’t find another equalizer and the result held. Honestly, though, we played better than expected for a last-minute, hastily assembled roster that first met roughly an hour earlier.

As for me, I learned that I’m not nearly as in shape as I thought, but my knees and ankles managed to hold up for the most part. I packed up my gear and headed back home with one week until next game.

Follow John on Twitter: @JohnMLTX.

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