The IndyCar Series recycling project included an announcement this week that Paul Page, the former ‘Voice of the 500’ who took over after the legendary Sid Collins expired in early May of 1977, is back after a 27-year absence.
From a fan of my age standpoint the re-hire of Page is great. He always did an outstanding job and effectively applied what he learned over the years from Sid Collins. The only potential problem is his age, currently 68, and how that might draw younger demographics. On the other hand how many millennials listen to the radio? Most are more likely to stream content, but they need pictures. So no matter how inspiring an audio picture Page will paint (and he is extremely good at that) it may only matter to those who listened to the radio before the Internet and before the 500 was broadcast live. Most wish Mike King all the best; he sat in the chair for fourteen years.
Another active recycle project involves the return of Juan Montoya after he washed out of NASCAR. His 5+ year absence does not seem to bother Team Penske who found a seat for him. It will be interesting to see how he does after all these years, and his pedigree is pretty much without parallel. Many cannot help wondering when the big teams will take a chance on a youngster with years of upside potential.
One of the chronic problems that have plagued the sport for years involves drivers who pay for their seats from owners willing to whore them out for such support. When Eric Bachelart was around his Conquest Racing outfit should have had a car rental sponsorship on sidepods. Dale Coyne has picked up that torch today, and now Sam Schmidt is doing it. It is easy to understand. The economics are difficult and the sponsor selling efforts are difficult given the ratings. But are these guys not perpetuating the malaise by continuing such habits? How difficult is it for potential new fans to get hooked when what happens to about half the field involves musical chairs for cash?
IndyCar recycling has also become enamored with former NASCAR-involved business folks. There are Vice Presidents of this and that popping up all over the organization chart. The NASCAR angle is probably smart. These people have contacts and know what it takes. But when? For well over a year we have heard lots and lots of ‘it’s going to be huge’ talk but we still have a spec car, two motors, one tire provider, a reduced schedule with hardly any ovals and continued pushing off of any meaningful innovation such as aero kits.
I wish them luck. I do not want to see the sport flail any more. Actions speak louder than words.