Dario Didn't Make it But Juan Did
Congratulations to former Indy 500 and Formula 1 winner Juan Pablo Montoya for making the NASCAR ‘chase’ to the championship by virtue of being in the top 12 (8th) in points. Now that the twelve finalists are known it is a brand new game from now until the end of the season. This is another example of how smart NASCAR marketing is able to milk all the eyeballs they can get at the end of a long season now that the NFL season is underway baseball playoffs are imminent.
It has only taken Juan a few years to get the hang of the big heavy ‘stock’ cars that now have wings, and his driving makes this a first in that rarified air for Chip Ganassi if I am not mistaken.
The other open wheel folks who have moved into Cup are still trying to climb up the learning curve (well, other than Tony Stewart, who is number one and can drive anything competitively). Casey Mears is 20th, A.J. Allmendinger is two spots ahead in 25th of Sam Hornish Jr. Robby Gordon and John Andretti are in the top 40, Max Papis and Patrick Carpentier are top 50, and P.J. Jones and J.J. Yeley did not make the top 50. Evidently J.J. should have had dinner with John Barnes a few years back.
If I were Danica Patrick, I would certainly think carefully about taking her act to that stage. Those fans are not likely to be as receptive to her ‘talent’ as open wheel folks.
As we await the annual Japanese mercy hump at Motegi and the season ender at Homestead in a month, we will have multiple opportunities as open wheel enthusiasts to root for successful graduates. Go Tony and Juan!
Yesterday’s blog that poked fun at panic stricken malcontents who continually predict doom for Indy Car year after year instead of actually enjoying a sport they claim to enjoy hit a couple of nerves with many who are obviously intellectually and emotionally challenged, but I remain content to point out such pointless screeching whenever it surfaces if for nothing else than to get a few chuckles.
One of the wails de jour among those so hysterical is the decision by DirecTV to drop Versus because Comcast wants to charge them ESPN-level rates. Which makes Comcast appear insane. That particular game of chicken does not prevent fans from being screwed.
The mistake most people make is the insistence that Indy Car be on a national over the air network. That may make sense for the next two or three years, but probably not for the long term. That ten year deal Indy Car signed with Versus will make sense in a short while provided Comcast pulls their corporate head out of their arse. Robin Miller made a suggestion in his latest bitchfest on Speed’s web site that perhaps the Indy Car folks ought to exercise any potential out clause in the event the foolishness between Versus and DirecTV continues. He loses credibility when suggesting they put together a champcar-style time buy on a network.
A time buy would be unnecessary. I propose that a case could be made against ESPN/ABC for neglect of the franchise. ESPN/ABC definitely does not deserve the right to broadcast the cream of the Centennial Era given their unprofessional treatment of the franchise over the past ten years. Now that Tony is deposed, perhaps the head bean counter can selectively do away with the type of loyal sentimentality that allowed ESPN/ABC to continue to squat even as they tried to kill the brand. I say propose the entire package to NBC for three years at ABC rates. Versus gets to keep all non-race programming and re-airs all races in prime time. NBC has a proven history of revitalizing neglected properties who were lucky enough to leave the Disney sports television fold.
In three years network television will be far less relevant than it is today, and by that time Comcast will have either spun off Versus to someone else or merged with some other entity. Losing millions of households now, however, given the actions of Comcast and DirecTV is not acceptable and business is business despite the excellent work Versus has done.
It is time to grow the brand, and it will not take much effort. Things are tough all over and it could be worse. Indy Car does not have as much to lose as other bigger entities. There was another merger in the ‘stock’ car world today between Petty and Yates. The NFL is worried they may have a record number of local TV blackouts this year because ticket sales are way down. So are corporate sales and suites. That is probably all Tony George’s fault though. ;-)
In his latest deviation from the inane stick and ball punditry that made him locally semi-famous in a rapidly dying medium (two if you count bad local radio) Bob ‘Gladys’ Kravitz joins his chicken little peers in their latest pronouncement of death for the Indy Car Series, this time citing a rumored defection by Danica Patrick to the tin topped ‘stock’ cars of NASCAR. The headline is ominous: “IRL can’t survive a Danica defection.”
Do these people ever learn from their ill-begotten history of predictions that never came true? How long have the ‘it’s not like it used to be in 1995’ crowd been obsessing about IRL failure only to see it back the next season? If the Indy Car Series is such an unnoticeable blip on the radar screen of sports why on earth would columnists consistently devote so much space writing about it?
Put yourself in Danica’s shoes. If you were her, why would you not want to be able to expand your brand? Just a few shakes of that skinny arse and some jiggling of what sparse yet proportionately attractive mammary glands she possesses could work wonders for the ‘aw shucks’ crowd at those events. If Tony Stewart is taking an ownership/coaching interest, you could not align yourself any better. She would make millions more than she already has.
Enough about Indy Car’s death if she does leave in a few years. Why not write about any of the other great stories in the league? I know…that would take effort. Does anyone besides me, for example, understand how utterly great the bootstrap story of Sarah Fisher has been the past few years? If the Indy Car management finally gets smart about marketing (and they have shown improvement) there are many storylines that will continue to make the series interesting. Besides, Danica is going to stay for at least another season or two, and unless she is lying her number one oft-stated goal is to adorn the Borg-Warner. So unknot your frilly lace panties, naysayers.
It is always about evolution, and it never stops except for those who plant their heads into the ground.
We all know the current Dallara/Honda/Firestone Indy Car has gotten very long in the tooth. While no really official announcements about evolution or specs have occurred, it is fascinating to wonder where the future will lead. A fond memory for me involves Indy in the early 1960s. The rear engine revolution was fascinating. There was an outcry from the traditionalists and many attempted to hang on as long as possible. Jim Hurtubise continued trying into the 70s and became part of the rich lore of the place for a variety of things. Still, evolution occurred and continued unabated.
Other series have also begun evolving. NASCAR added wings and aero gimmicks to their ‘car of tomorrow.’ Folks like Ed Hinton, however, continue to lament the ‘antiques’ they drive; comparing throttle linkages in Cup cars to old fashioned toilet assemblies. Formula 1 advances with giant steps every year even with restrictions designed to cut costs, but lately their cars have become aesthetically unpleasant to a lot of folks.
So how will Indy Cars evolve? How SHOULD they evolve? My personal opinion is that the ‘engine belongs in the front’ crowd should become increasingly less vocal as that particular herd is thinned by the consequences of advanced age. We have already discussed a myriad of ways they could be powered, but what will they look like?
It should be interesting to find out.
The funny talking southern contingent is creaming their dungarees anew over the latest Danica-to-NASCAR rumoring. The odd thing about this particular racing season is that the silly season has not had one off week. The two most commonly chicken-littled hysteria involves whatever the death knell de jour is for Indy Car, and the other involves Danica’s destination for ’10.
She has been doing her due diligence; lots of quality time has been spent with Tony Stewart as well as visits with Joe Gibbs, Richard Childress, Jack Roush and Michael Waltrip.
The gossipy old woman more commonly referred to as Ed Hinton states on ESPN’s web site that she will ‘all but certainly’ be in NASCAR in 2010, but will run the full Indy Car season. The plan is basically selected ARCA and Nationwide to bring herself along slowly.
Here is what we know for sure:
-Danica is no Tony Stewart.
-Danica is also not Sam Hornish, Dario Franchitti, Juan Montoya, Scott Speed or any of the other unsuccessful Indy Car to NASCAR aspirants.
She will be able to leverage ‘the brand’ into big bucks, but can best probably only hope for mid-packing. Hypocrites who have called her a gimmick will now embrace her, then take every opportunity to try and stupidly position NASCAR drivers as the best in the world whenever she gets her svelte arse handed to her.
When will Ed or someone who actually acts like a reporter ask Danica about her lifelong dream of winning Indy? Will she just shrug it off like Tony Stewart did? Someone should tell her the Brickyard 400 is no Indy 500, and neither is Daytona.
With two to go in Indy Car, silly season is in full swing.
After stinking up a few oval joints with really bad, non-existent racing (except in the pits), the IRL fixed their product. The last two oval races have been works of art. They have scared the living bejeesus out of fans, drivers, league officials and viewers. That is exactly how it should be. Real racing means living right out there on the very edge, Hemingway style.
There is a problem, however. Those running the show seem to secretly wear panties. They are very nervous about the probability of something bad happening. As a fan I am less concerned because Tony George and the Indy Car folks have blazed a trail toward huge safety advances for the past couple of decades. The most serious injuries lately have occurred on the twisty circuits. Not that something bad cannot happen; racing is inherently dangerous and always carries high risk.
Indy Car seems bound and determined to screw it up. Fast parades on streets is not racing.
Pete Pistone this week wrote on CBS Sports’ web site that ovals are the way for the Indy Car Series to thrive. He also included some out of the box ideas such as teaming up with NASCAR on some weekends, but his primary theme was that Indy Car needs more ovals, not fewer.
The schedule next season is insulting to fans who have supported the Indy Car Series since 1996. Our message is loud and clear: You must schedule more ovals than road courses every season. Those of us who enjoy that style need to continue to convey the message loud and clear.
Have a great and safe holiday weekend!
I like Terry Angstadt. He is open and willing to talk to about anyone. He remains enthusiastic about all things IRL. I have begun to wonder lately, however, why his words have begun to resemble, say, Joe Heitzler. Does he really need to add ‘full of sh!t’ to his repertoire? We have been hearing just about since the beginning of his tenure that a title sponsor is whisker close.
He discussed key league developments publicly the other day, and I am concerned about a few things.
First, he says television numbers are right where they need to be. How will that hold up with 18 million fewer households now that DirecTV has pulled the plug?
I understand that two Cup-date tracks do not bode well for Indy Car, and the last time they were in Loudon only a few showed up. That was mainly due to the Bahre family promotional efforts, which consisted of unlocking the front gate on race day and waving at folks driving in. Bruton Smith owns it now, and he WANTS the IRL there. Terry says they won’t consider it at present. “I really do feel that a good part of the conversation is when there are two Cup dates at a venue without a long racing season we struggle.” Like at Texas?
“ SMI doesn’t agree with that and we completely respect their opinion on that but we are not going to agree on every business issue between the two companies. That is a tough market to go into with that challenge. “I don’t let the comments they made impact our relationship, though.” So let me get this straight. We have an oval that was designed for Indy Cars that actually WANTS the series to race there, is willing to promote like never before, and Indy Car is saying NO? That is just wrong.
I cannot believe Indy car has pissed away Richmond, Michigan, Phoenix and others and is turning away New Hampshire, but is willing to race in an alley in Brazil.
I hope Terry and the current cronies come to their senses sooner rather than later.
If you are a DirecTV subscriber and you enjoy watching the Indy Cars on Versus (a ten-year deal), then you are screwed. Neither DirecTV nor Comcast seems interested in putting customers first, and their peeing match over subscriber fees has caused Versus to be removed from the DirecTV platform.
That is 18 million fewer households Versus can claim. DirecTV may simply be playing a numbers game. The overall ratings for the channel remain low and have not increased appreciably; DirecTV claims that reason alone fails to justify rate increases, much less current rates. They say Versus ranks 61st among 74 English ad-supported cable channels.
I wonder how much Versus being owned by Comcast has to do with it? The whole sordid affair seems sleazy. Once again, innocent paying customers are caught in the crossfire and all we get from either side is arrogant posturing.
Here are your choices:
- Write letters to DirecTV, Comcast and Indy Car and raise holy hell, only do it professionally and with a spell checker, and do not curse or use fake words such as ‘earnt.’ Be firm. Demand action. Ask for answers.
- If you are a DirecTV subscriber, consider cancelling and switching to Dish or a cable provider that offers Versus. They now offer Versus on a basic tier. If you are also a hockey fan that is a bigger reason to switch.
If I were the IRL I would be requesting meetings with Versus to demand action. I understand both sides of the argument, but the contempt both sides openly display for their consumers is unacceptable.
Send the bastards a message.
Here is a suggestion for race tracks including IMS. Do you want to sell more tickets? Do not force people into buying any more than they actually need. In other words, I enjoy being kissed if I am going to get $#*%ed.
The US MotoGP is a great example. Three day event tickets are sold and that is fine. What about the people who could only attend Sunday? They either had to buy a three day ticket or take their chances with scalpers. I am told scalpers, incredulously, were not budging even after the racing began. Lack of flexibility is why only about 75,000 people showed up. Folks did not even get treated like that when F-1 was in town.
There are some NASCAR-centric tracks that force their fans to buy season tickets in order to attend their races of choice. That is equally stupid. Allow people to buy tickets for events they want to and are able to attend. The NASCAR idiots will claim that props the IRL up, but as we all know those who make such claims are not blessed with a great deal of synaptic activity. That may well explain their fondness for NASCAR. I am willing to take a chance on ala carte pricing.
People get screwed enough with taxes and surcharges and manipulated pricing all the time. It is not possible to buy a ticket to anything these days without one or more idiotic ‘surcharges’ the drive the cost up well over face. One of the core traditions at IMS is a reputation for offering the best value in any major sport. They do it for Indy Car and NASCAR. Why not MotoGP? Food for thought.