The Pagoda recognizes the magnificent splendor of Iowa. We always have. More specifically, we recognize the immense contributions the state has made to this country’s most precious natural resource:
Bad-ass-ism. Pure, pristine, fuel-grade bad-ass-ism.
Because their production of it is ridiculously obscene. Impossibly obscene, really. Which — for a state known mostly for corn and whimsical baseball fields — seems odd. But the numbers don’t lie. And the numbers are profound.
Don’t believe me? Fine. Off the top of my head, here’s three noted Iowans who do:
(1) John Wayne — who was born “John F–king Wayne, Jr.,” the son of a Winchester rifle;
(2) Buffalo Bill Cody — who famously turned pistol-whipping into a widely accepted artform; and,
(3) Bob Sanders — who wasn’t technically born in Iowa … but was re-assembled there during his formative years as a Hawkeye. (Re-assembled, of course, entirely out of charred gun turrets and fury and genetically engineered mountain goats.)
The point of all this?
Firstly, don’t f–k with Iowa. Obviously.
And secondly, an Iowa-based race, I suspect, rolls hard-core. Far differently than the others. For example, you want to bitch about somebody else blocking? Fine. Just buckle up for the hail of gun fire coming your way from the track sniper team. You want to throw down with another driver in pit lane? So be it. Charles Burns won’t stop you this time. Not in Iowa. Instead, he’ll present you with an array of medieval weapons for your choosing … but not before dipping your fists in pine tar and glass shards.
Or so I hope.
Let’s get to the action from the Iowa Corn 250. Five Pagodas for that which was decidedly awesome … one Pagoda for that which was uncomfortably pathetic and/or Jack-Arute-ish. My call. Good luck to all our participants.
Green flag — 5 Pagodas
The green flag is dropped. A blur of coked-up chaos thunders out of turn 1. A magnificent spectacle for sure … but hard to accurately describe. Mainly because I have no idea what I’m looking at. Are they all this intense? This nerve-wracking? Not sure. I should probably leave the descriptive imagery to the professional racing folk. Scott Goodyear — a little help please?
“Oh man, this looks like rush-hour on the freeway, doesn’t it!?”*
F–k yeah it does!! Why couldn’t I think of that?! Because frankly, it’s not rush-hour on the freeway unless you’re doing 180 mph and pulling close to 5 g’s.
(*Let the record show that this is a verbatim recounting of Goodyear’s first-lap assessment. Swear to God. Hence my belief that — just like narcoleptics and Golden Retrievers — he probably shouldn’t be calling live sporting events.)
Kanaan vs. Castroneves — 4 Pagodas
A wildly synchronized battle for the lead. Literally tire-to-tire. Mano y mano, in some kind of crazed Brazilian pissing contest. For like 20 straight ferocious laps. Insanely cool.
Scott Goodyear, take it away:
“Oh man, this looks like my six-year-old son and the neighborhood albino boy playing ‘Connect 4,’ doesn’t it?”*
(*This particular quote is possibly fabricated. Possibly.)
John Andretti’s car — 4 Pagodas
If you deconstructed the Silent Pagoda site — somehow altered the laws of physics to turn it into a tangible lump of carbon fiber — and then molded it into the shape of a racecar … it would look EXACTLY like that sorry piece of shit Andretti is driving right now. Complete with zero logos and the unbridled pity of all who gaze upon it.
And the fact that he’s ripping up the track is — well … it’s heartening, frankly. It’s encouraging. He’s “Pocket Hercules” at the Olympics right now. He’s Lichtenstein fighting off the 3rd Reich. He’s Oatmeal Cream Pies battling Twinkies and Ding-Dongs for market share.
Because according to Goodyear, “Andretti’s car is not as technologically advanced as a Penske machine.” Which — in terms of Biblically obvious statements — is akin to saying that “a Fisher Price hibachi grill is less technologically advanced than a B-2 Stealth Bomber.” Sweet Jesus.
** Engage “MUTE” button now ***
AJ Foyt IV getting robbed by his pit crew — negative-3 Pagodas
If it weren’t for the unfortunate fact that AJ’s pit crew is comprised mostly of paraplegics, he’d be running two spots AHEAD of first place.
(Which — if I remember my quantum physics training — puts him squarely in some kind of alternate dimension.)
He seems THAT good right now. The pit crew seems THAT inept. Of course, I may be all wrong on this. The MUTE button is still on and I’m being forced to figure this stuff out on my own. I feel like a fledgling owl getting shoved out of the nest for the first time. It’s either fly or parish.
Damn you, Scott Goodyear.
Marco takes lead from Kanaan on lap 137 — n/a
I’m not even troubled by this. Mainly because this is Iowa. And in Iowa, Kanaan is free to handle this setback as God intended: by launching live badgers into the cockpit of an opposing driver.
He’ll regain the lead. Just give it a minute.
Kanaan crashing with 38 laps to go — negative-3 Pagodas
I don’t want to talk about it. This is my first IndyCar experience where I’m legitimately, truly distraught. Hellllllllllloooooooo, bourbon.
EJ Viso bitch-ramming Helio from behind at 180 mph — 628 Pagodas
(Replaying the incident now. Over and over and over again. And with each successive viewing, the voice in my head grows stronger. It’s Sam Elliott’s voice I’m hearing, and he’s gracefully commentating the “How to Drive Like EJ Viso Instructional Video”:
“Slower car in front? Can’t get around? F–k it. Ram the front end of your car up the bastard’s tail pipe. They’ll move. And crack yourself a beer, cowboy. You’re racing the EJ Viso way now.”)
I’m sorry, but that was fun. It really was. Exactly 628 times more badass than bitching into your radio about someone “blocking” you. In fact, it’s pretty much how Suge Knight would have handled that particular situation.
Wheldon wins — 5 Pagodas
The good news? He donated his winnings to the Iowa Red Cross. That’s top-shelf stuff right there. As top-shelf as it gets. The bad news? He’s somehow wearing Freddie Mercury’s face. Wait … what? Did I miss something here? What the f–k happened to Wheldon? When did this happen? I’m wildly confused right now.
(Whatever. I’m fine with it, actually. You give 100% of your winnings to charity, and you’re instantly in the Pagoda Pantheon. I don’t care if you ruthlessly hunt panda bears for sport in your down time. Doesn’t matter. You’re in. Thems the rules. Good for you, Dan. Good show.)
Arute kisses Wheldon in Victory Circle — 1 uncomfortable Pagoda
I imagined an Iowa race culminating in cannon blasts and flaming arrows and the like. You know, badass stuff. Instead, it ends with a senile elderly gent tenderly smooching a Welshman. Uncomfortable? Certainly. Unacceptable? Hardly.
Because badass or not, most of Iowa probably wanted to kiss Wheldon too.