Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

February 19, 2014

The IndyCar Split That Won’t Die (For Some)

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 9:07 pm

cart fansThe comment section of my previous blog entry quickly became polluted by squawking cart-centric flat earthers still stuck in the previous decade. Despite what I thought was a realistic forward-looking future schedule that included new venues in new markets, consistency with existing offerings and rationale for all, a handful of ‘sky is falling’ nutjobs offered no alternatives or meaningful counterpoint. That is not what I had anticipated.

cart yelping

Yelping Comment Dropper 1

Instead we got the same tired and dated howls of Tony George as the root cause of all the problems in open wheel, 25/8, aggressive attempts to position the sport as a sponsor-less, ratings-less, attendance-less waste of time. If that is the case why is the same handful of impaired individuals devoting so much time to preaching their gospel of doom-filled nonsense?  What purpose does it serve? If they were not hypocrites would they not have found another way to enjoy themselves at some point over the eighteen years we are from their quaint little D-Day?

I appreciate fellow racing fans whose sphere of consciousness pre-dates 1979, whether from direct experience or intelligent study of the history of the sport. Sadly, many actual fans are leery of walking into such a minefield, whether it is my blog or any number of other blogs or forums designed with such chatter in mind.

cart yelping 2

Yelping Comment Dropper 2

Here is a suggestion for the obsessed: We have clearly understood for nearly eighteen years that you believe the sport is dead, dying or whatever, and that you hold Tony George primarily responsible. Instead of recycling your repetitive banter over and over why not take a different approach? A refreshing change might be to offer suggestions for righting the ‘sunken’ (LOL) ship.

It’s easy to be pessimistic. The current crop of mostly foreign road racers and their like-minded competition director seem hell bent on continuing to Euro-ize the series into a predominately non-oval adventure complete with an increasing number of standing starts and the like. History shows that approach fails 100% of the time in this country. That is my big worry. Back to basics is what is needed.

Think you have the courage to contribute something that looks forward and not backward? Forward is the only thing any of us can really affect now.

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16 Comments »

  1. Several common sense strategies for righting the sinking ship include:

    1. Run the season from the first week in May until Labor Day, period;
    2. With very few exceptions, race every weekend;
    3. Consolidate the television coverage to ABC / ESPN. The current television deal has been a disaster;
    4. If you’re going to spec race, at least make the cars look fantastic. The DW12 is ugly, ugly, ugly;
    5. If you want a successful series, you must invest in and actively cultivate a feeder series that develops new talent. The current version is a failure;
    6. Have a 50/50 mix of road courses and ovals;
    7. Recognize that your fees make it essentially impossible for promoters to break even. They must be reduced;
    8. Create a value for the paying customer with action on the track and in the infield / areas around the track. Far too much inactivity now;
    9. Embrace technology. Make streaming of practice easy and free;
    10. The IMS has failed to keep pace with modern sports stadiums for several decades (the disrepair has not been over just the last few years, as some particularly dishonest “fans” have laughingly alleged;
    11. Keep the HG family away from all management of the series. They have contributed significantly to its obvious and unquestioned decline, and their involvement should cease.

    Doubt seriously that you’ll react with anything other than your typically childish response, but these strategies would at least give the sport a chance.
    Editor’s Note: Very nice job! Just a few disagreements along the way however. First, your season is way too short unless they run EVERY weekend, as you mentioned in your second point. Because IndyCar has never raced EVERY weekend I doubt they start now. Although I agree….it would be great and sustain interest better. Also, be careful what you wish for in terms of television. IndyCar has been screwed more by ESPN/ABC than a whore near a shipyard. NBC Sports Network, on the other hand, continues growing. It is owned by Comcast, which is preparing to devour its second largest cable partner. Plus, they are becoming a motorsports destination after Speed had its plug pulled. Also, the cars may seem ugly, ugly, ugly to your kind, but they are certainly racy, racy, racy. To me ugly is personified by the current crop of grotesque Formula One insults. 5 and 6? Completely agree. Also with the feeder series, someone needs to have a talk with Mr. Anderson about the importance of ovals. He is on record as favoring their elimination. I do not believe simply reducing sanction fees in and of itself is viable. Creatively re-worked? Sure. IndyCar has to become profitable. 8 and 9? Spot on. 10? Snarky and childish. IMS fell behind other stadiums in terms of amenities a long time ago, but not in charm. Charm, however, only matters to mature people not jaded by an ADD-like existence on the planet. The physical plant started going straight to hell the moment they replaced Tony George with Belskus. And IMS seems just white trash enough not to care, which is obvious by continuing deterioration. Finally, the HG family is no longer involved in day-to-day management. Oh sure their are some Georges and Krisiloffs in some junior positions, but no one up top. If you mean they should no longer control the board they now don’t do that either. If you mean they should just sell the track I would be curious as to might be a good owner. Hopefully no one associated with the old cart…unlike Hulman Georges they actually did kill themselves. Twice.

    Comment by Bob Chinn — February 20, 2014 @ 2:27 am | Reply

    • 1. With few exceptions, race every weekend from May 1 to Labor Day. Better to race in a condensed calendar with frequent events than over an extended period with haphazardly scheduled races (which hasn’t worked, as the declining attendance and television ratings make clear);
      Editor’s Note: It’s not the condensation as much as the length overall; personally IndyCar should never take more than a weekend off (except in May), and because IndyCar has never attempted weekly events consistently it may not be workable. On the other hand it seems to work for NASCAR.
      2. As much as people think ABC has let down Indycar, Indycar has at least equally let down ABC with an even and largely up appealing product. The failure is far, far from one sided;
      Editor’s Note: Actually it is fairly one sided. ESPN/ABC (and IMS) is great at blowing smoke up our arses about what a great partnership this is, but ESPN has spent the modern era bending over for NASCAR, largely ignoring any sort of promotion, relegating IndyCar to the hidden sections of their web pages and mostly phoning in the most lackluster presentation of the product ever. It has been grotesque. That said, IndyCar still does not realize what a treasure trove of material they sit on and generally won’t let it go. And we all know about the lack of promotional acumen IMS has always had.
      3. Not only is the car not attractive, it’s not even an open wheel machine. The bumpers and tailgate are hideous and look like an amusement park creation. As I said, if you’re going to spec race, have cool, appealing cars;
      Editor’s Note: Like what, F-1? LOL. Give me a visual. You are still bitching about looks. When I talk to casual fans not jaded by the past they think the cars look cool, and the raciness of it can’t be denied. In a perfect world we would have several chassis offerings, and aero kits may provide some relief. But I would not get your hopes up for either over the next few years.
      4. Professional sports stadiums are sparkling, modern, convenient, fan friendly. None of those terms apply to IMS anymore. Wrigley Field has charm but, like IMS, decades of neglect and a failure to continually modernize have rendered the facility a dinosaur. The Ricketts are getting ready to do something about it to the tune of $400 million. Every day, the IMS falls further behind;
      Editor’s Note: As previously indicated, the most precipitous decline in the condition of the physical plant occurred the day Tony George was replaced by Jeff Belskus. While Tony George ran the place he followed the primary tenet of his grandfather in always making the place better the next year. That’s how the F-1 level facility came about along with the Pagoda. He also kept walkways and parking lots in good shape. What worries me is that instead of modernizing seating (wider, rows further apart, etc.) the very first thing they did was repave a road course that is less than 15 years old. The exterior surroundings of the museum are utterly appalling, and even the museum itself has fallen behind others (Barber) in terms of quality. Hopefully they spend the rest of the money wisely. They have started out not so smart IMHO.
      5. Whether they sell or simply stay away, they need to stay out of both running the track and the series. Their stewardship has been a failure;
      Editor’s Note: Depends on your definition of ‘failure.’ As an attendee in parts of seven decades every May I still encounter hundreds of thousands of people, have a fabulous time over multiple days, and eventually watch the most compelling racing possible. The show has been reliably put on for all of the 49 times I have attended. Not once has it ever just been called off. I have always known what to expect and have always come prepared. My big fear is allowing control of the track to slip to someone else. The though of ISC or SMI taking control is terrifying. If we were to let those who ran cart take over their track record is actually failure. Twice. The philosophies they are forcing onto the sport are also proven failures’ i.e., completely out of business–shut down, anytime it has been attempted. So I am cautious in what I wish for.
      6. As for Cart, I never once mentioned that series. Perhaps you should try orienting yourself to the current and future of the series rather than continually living in the past. You’ll understand the sport better and perhaps gain a greater degree of credibility. Hope this helps you.
      Editor’s Note: It’s funny when your kind falls back onto that particular victim crutch. None of you ever have to. It is easy enough to rely on your agenda riddled MOs, which are always the same. No one hopes for looking forward (and not backward) more than I do. Those with the ability to actually comprehend what they read know that. What is really pointless is Hulman George hatred, 25/8, fixation on your perceived visceral quality of Dallaras and an inability to consider any meaningful decade of the sport before mostly the late 1980s. The handful of you have constructed a fantasy utopia for yourselves that no future evolution of IndyCar will ever live up to. Intelligent adults see right through your bluster. Your last couple of comment offerings have been mostly what we’re looking for. Why not keep that up and leave out the self crucifixions.

      Comment by Bob Chinn — February 21, 2014 @ 2:50 am | Reply

      • Predictably, you’ve failed to provide any sort of substantive response to my very detailed response to your questions, which leads me and many, many others to question your true motives. Once again, since this seems particularly difficult for you:
        Editor’s Note: Predictably, you have demonstrated an almost retarded lack of reading comprehension.

        1. Indycar can race every weekend, they simply don’t want to. You need to comprehend what that really says to the ever declining fan base;
        Editor’s Note: I do not disagree with your point. But it is not as simple as waving a magic wand and making it so.

        2. Indycar has offered ABC an uneven and poorly promoted product. It isn’t and never has been ABC’s job to market the series, in spite of your incorrect belief to the contrary. Blaming ABC for the series’ failures is the ultimate abdication of responsibility;
        Editor’s Note: Again….back to the concept of reading comprehension. I have acknowledged the complete lack of anything even remotely resembling marketing from IndyCar. Repeatedly. That said, a broadcast partner that is professional and mean what they say will promote the product they are paying for relentlessly. A big part of what made NASCAR so big was the attention paid to it by ESPN from it’s earliest years on the air. This is verified in several books about ESPN. They promoted the crap out of it early on, and when they lost it they still devoted an inordinate amount of air time to it, and when they got it back IndyCar became non-existent comparatively. I even proved a bias against IndyCar on their website a few years ago. Now that NASCAR is going away from them again will IndyCar finally get acceptable treatment? Probably not considering the volume of stick and ball. My notion of fairness is negotiating specific types and amounts of promotion into contracts. IndyCar has not done enough of that. If ESPN/ABD is a paying partner it is not only their job to provide a portion of the marketing but their obligation. It is in their best interest to do so. In other words, no one has said IndyCar should not market; indeed, they have consistently fallen short. But it is a team effort that must be embraced and enforced.

        3. Few, if any fans, care for the car, which isn’t even a true open wheel machine. Compared to the F1 machines (you continually bring this up as a deflection given your inability to offer valid counterpoints), it looks like a station wagon. It is simply hideous;
        Editor’s Note: The only evidence I have ever see of this comes from the subjective, usually twisted typing fingers of a handful of darkly obsessed anti-IndyCar ‘fans’ I have seen no studies, surveys, polls, or anything similar among any group of casual fans. Ever. If you have, feel free to provide the evidence. If not, continuing criticism of the appearance of the Dallara remains what it is: The lunatic rambling of a handful of obsessed ‘fans’ who never, ever seem to be able to show or describe what they think is a better option. That, like most of their other observations, is hypocritical and childish.

        4. None of the IMS improvements that you cited were for the fans. That tells you everything you need to know concerning the focus of the HG family on this issue. And the decline has been ongoing for several decades, not several years. Any honest observer will tell you that;
        Editor’s Note: In their defense, the facility is 105 years old. That said, I enjoy every moment I am inside, and am working in positive ways directly with people in charge to make my feelings known about improving the aesthetics of the place. No one likes white trash neighbors, and under Belskus, the concept of white trash has exploded. As someone who is at the track several times every year, I can point to the day Tony George was replaced as the day consistent improvement simply ceased. It does not get any more honest than that. Claiming it has been going on for decades displays an unparalleled ignorance about the place characteristic of ‘fans’ pretty distant from ‘getting’ IMS. Sad.

        5. The HG family’s stewardship has seen a steady decline in fans, television ratings events, overall interest and prestige of the series, it’s prime event, and it’s historic facility. Those points are inarguable facts not open to reasonable dispute. Why you consider those positives is beyond rational explanations.
        Editor’s Note: Being grounded in reality offers practical viewpoint. That family has owned the track since late in 1945. At the time they acquired it it was about to be leveled. It’s prime event continues to draw hundreds of thousands of fans each May. Over the last couple of decades the facility has hosted the best of Formula 1, NASCAR, Moto GP and others, and I see that as a good thing. Ratings declines are not limited to IMS. Your species seems to believe that phenomenon is unique to IndyCar. That is a laughable assumption. Any lack of overall interest is also subjective at best. Your kind seems to pay a lot of attention to it, albeit in the most juvenile possible way. The other thing you have not explored is what type of ownership and/or management structure would be better. It is really easy to continue to parrot subjective hysteria over and over, but in your expert opinion, who should own the joint? Who is the entity capable of making it the utopia you believe it once was? Can you answer that for me? For once?

        So, once again, I’ve offered detailed ideas, thoughts and objectives for the series, the IMS and the 500.
        Editor’s Note: Actually, the majority of your commentary is repetitive, subjective bitching with far too little in the way of forward thinking, practical ideas.

        Rather than continuing to howl at the moon and support the practices and procedures that have led to the sport’s decline, perhaps you should consider orienting yourself to the present day realities of the sport. That is, if your objective is for the sport to regain it’s health. One wonders whether you truly care about that, given your penchant for childish and immature insulting of those who disagree with you.
        Editor’s Note: Hell, I’d be happy if the only thing you typed was not how bad you believe the sport/IMS/IndyCar is, but how, exactly, it begins to meet the utopian fantasy you have concocted, and more importantly how, exactly, it gets there. Who pays, who markets, what kinds of cars, etc. We understand you say you don’t like what it is now, and yet here you are in thread after thread. You need to change your approach.

        Comment by Bob Chinn — February 21, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

  2. The basics?
    1. New cars, this one sucks
    2. Professional Mangement
    3. TV Contract on a mjaor network
    4. Title Sponsor that can truly be a partner
    5. Identity makeover
    6. Top Notch American (mostly) drivers
    7. Consistent schedule in most major U.S. markets
    8. A restored IMS
    9. Return to the “Month of May” without the road race, stupid gimmicks, bands and fake bumping.
    10. Multiple manufacturers in chassis, engine, tire, and electronics sectors of the sport

    How’d I do, Dickhead? :)
    Editor’s Note: Well, other than lots of slurred misspelling not bad. I get that your kind thinks the car sucks…but none of you have ever said what might be better. I agree on the management. They do have a television contract on a major OTA network, and also on a growing cable network with increasing motor sports involvement. The only thing needed is for the partners to get behind IndyCar and actually promote, build and fondle its precious arse, as ESPN did for decades with NASCAR. Title sponsor? Stand by. The rest of your list was actually literate and made sense. See how easy that was?

    Comment by Youowemeabeerasshole — February 20, 2014 @ 5:01 am | Reply

    • Any of these concepts, or actually leaving the teams the CHOICE of which one to buy (kind of like when you had Coyote, Wildcat, Eagle, Swift, Reynard. Lola, etc at various points in history would have been better choices. And the prime benefit? VARIETY. CHOICE. And with Swift and Panoz (a modified DP01) at least they would have been designed and built here, not just minor assembly work in a taxpayer funded Dallara assembly building.

      http://www.racecar-engineering.com/articles/features/the-indycars-that-never-were/

      The Lola was designed to also be used in the lights series, with minor changes. Think of the opportunities that would have presented; a lights team could have a real possibility of moving up to the big series, without a huge investment in all new equipment. The Lola was also designed with multiple engine suppliers in mind.

      Oddly enough, the concept that got the most “buzz” was the Delta Wing, and (in my opinion) it is the one LEAST suited to Indycar. It will find something of a home in road racing, but I don’t think it was a great idea for Indycar. But at least it was innovative.

      What we got was, at least, a car that appears to be “racy”, but with looks only a mother could love. And, judging from the comments of many of the team owners, not the cost saving piece that was touted.

      Comment by Oldfan — February 25, 2014 @ 2:24 pm | Reply

  3. Seems like their are a lot of people on this blog who profess to hate Indcar yet spend countless hours posting mindless drivel on an Indycar blog.

    Doesn’t make sense.

    I hate soccer, but I sure as heck won’t be reading any soccer blogs in the near future.

    Comment by spreadoption — February 20, 2014 @ 5:01 am | Reply

  4. (Off topic commentary moved to thread ‘IndyCar Idiot Repository’ dated December 19).

    Comment by Racingdentist — February 21, 2014 @ 4:17 am | Reply

  5. Until attendance increases at oval venues (and I mean over half full) which would be optimistic given the current climate, I cringe every time I hear someone bitching and complaining like little babies about oval venues disappearing from the schedule.
    Editor’s Note: Attendance at places like Texas, Iowa and others is fine. Chicagoland and Kentucky were also fine until dates kept being shifted. Richmond was always good, and PPIR always drew over 35K until NASCAR pulled the plug there. Indy continues to draw hundreds of thousands every May like clockwork. All this despite the intentional neglect of that type of venue by those currently managing the sport. IndyCar basically phones in their oval presentation and seem to feel that if they simply pull the trucks up people will show up. There is a serious lack of ancillary attractions and supporting events, and re-invigoration of the oval product is on the back burner. That’s what happens when you have a series run by those who aspire more toward Formula 1 than traditional American racing.

    I don’t have any pre- 1979 experience since I was only 10 then running around at SCCA tracks but I can tell you one thing- I have been to a lot of IndyCar races over the years and spent a lot of time and effort and money getting to them. I hear all these requests like (1-11 and 1-10 above) but a lot of this is not going to happen until: 1. The economy improves (which is not going to happen for another 3 years) and 2. people start supporting IndyCar. Its that simple. So….quit your freaking whining and all your requests for what needs to be done to improve the series and how you want more updated venues, and new cars, mostly American drivers, a restored IMS and all that puffy, not living in reality B.S. and get your friends and go to a race. At this point we would be lucky if 1 of those requests were fulfilled.
    Editor’s Note: The economy is much better today than a few years ago. Racing fans need a reason to attend races, In the current era of multiple entertainment options and new technological ways to enjoy them, phoning in the presentation no longer works. Meaningful promotion is necessary from not only IndyCar, but venues, sponsors and media partners. That is not happening to a necessary degree. Even the staunchest (or most vulgar) critics acknowledge some great racing, but that is just not enough.

    Comment by Dan — February 21, 2014 @ 12:48 pm | Reply

    • D, I have to take exception with one small point you made in reply to Dan. It wasn’t Nascar that pulled the plug on PPIR. It was IndyCar. Remember that PPIR had signed contracts with AMA and USAC ( along with GoodGuys car show ) for the upcoming season. They were in negotiations with Nascar when IndyCar announced they weren’t coming back, which put the kabosh on everything. The guys that owned “the Red Cars” decided they would rather race on the streets of Denver in front of 18,000 people rather than PPIR in front of 35-38,000 people. Along with with Richmond this was the opening shot from the anti-oval crowd.
      Editor’s Note: Right you are. NASCAR (or more correctly ISC) has made sure nothing major happens there ever since. A real shame.

      Comment by Chris Lukens — February 21, 2014 @ 7:23 pm | Reply

      • There were more than 18,000 people in Denver I can tell you that. I went to every one. ISC bought and killed PPIR with the sole intention of ensuring no open wheel competition in that market. Essentially they were saying “you are all going to be NASCAR fans” and then they even bailed on putting forth a product on a track that they bought and destroyed.
        Editor’s Note: I also went to all the Denver events (even the pair in the early 90s on the downtown streets instead of the Pepsi Center). In terms of ‘crowd’ it was good for the first year and dwindled after. In fact, that event failed twice. Shame..that’s a big geographic hole. ISC was/is intent on building an oval near Denver, but as they have found there are too many NIMBYs and regulatory hurdles to clear. Meantime, PPIR sits there sans a lot of stands with hobby event racing. IndyCAr always drew a respectable crowd there and the market is in better shape now. That would be a great place for both IndyCar and NASCAR.

        Comment by - — February 23, 2014 @ 1:14 am

      • I used to have a link, now long broken, to a Denver City Council meeting, at which there was a discussion about paying Rocky Mountain Barricade for erecting the Denver GP grandstands for that final year. The number 18,000 seats was used. So, yes, there may have been another 1000 people milling around in the paddock, the out in the parking lots or in the beer gardens, but not that many more.

        It was IndyCar that killed PPIR. Don’t forget, PPIR was still owned by Lehman Bros when IndyCar pulled the plug on them. You remember Lehman Bros, the financial wiz kids that were put out of business but should have been put in jail. ISC bought the track later, after the other sanctioning bodies had also pulled out. As far as the 10,000 spectator limit, I don’t know if this is merely a condition of sale or a more restrictive Deed Restriction.

        D, I don’t mean to turn this blog into a rant about PPIR. I just hate to see people misrepresent or misconstrue what happened there. The simple fact is that PPIR was not the failure that the anti-oval crowd tries to portray. The Denver GP failed ( you’re right D, twice ) despite the tax dollars poured into it by the city of Denver. PPIR put on successful races and never once asked for a single penny from the city of Colorado Springs.

        Yes, PPIR is a marvelous race track. I went to the USAC races there last summer and was surprised at how good the track surface was.

        Comment by Chris Lukens — February 24, 2014 @ 1:57 am

  6. (Off topic diatribe moved to ‘The IndyCar Idiot Repository’ comment section dated 12/19/14)

    Comment by Bob Chinn — February 22, 2014 @ 12:45 am | Reply

  7. (Off topic commentary relocated to ‘IndyCar Idiot Repository’ dated December 19).

    Comment by Bob Chinn — February 22, 2014 @ 5:38 pm | Reply

  8. (Off topic remarks moved to ‘Indy Car Idiot Repository’ dated 12/19/14)

    Comment by Bob Chinn — February 23, 2014 @ 4:15 am | Reply

  9. (Off topic commentary moved to ‘IndyCar Idiot Repository’ dated 12/19/14)

    Comment by Bob Chinn — February 23, 2014 @ 5:32 pm | Reply

  10. Indy attendance is declining. That’s a fact.
    Editor’s Note: Please pay attention. No one argues that point. But then again intelligent people understand this is reflective of a trend among the majority of sports and entertainment options today. Is it your opinion that IndyCar is unique and alone in this trend? Further, is it a bad thing that the series continues drawing over a million fans per year and hundreds of thousands in May? If so you are delusional to the point of needed professional care.

    Television ratings are declining. Again, that’s a fact.
    Editor’s Note: Please pay attention. No one argues that point. But then again intelligent people understand this is reflective of a trend among the majority of sports and entertainment options today. Is it your opinion that IndyCar is unique and alone in this trend? Further, is the fact that IndyCar continues attracting sponsorship and continue existing as a business a bad thing, or is it merely offensive to your delicate sensibilities? Again, if so, seek professional care.

    Indycar is an afterthought on NBCSN.
    Editor’s Note: An afterthought, however, in good company. Perhaps Miles and company will begin reminding that partner what a partnership entails. But I would not hold my breath.

    (Remainder of off-topic, juvenile, vulgar diatribe relocated to ‘The IndyCar Idiot Repository’ dated 12/19/14).

    Comment by Bob Chinn — February 24, 2014 @ 12:46 pm | Reply


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