Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

February 26, 2008

The Insidious Nature of Some People

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:59 pm

The two most egregiously misused inaccurate words about open wheel racing are ‘reunification’ and ‘civil war.’  What happened in 1996 was not ‘civil war.’ It was a boycott of the Indianapolis 500 by some of the most arrogant, hard headed rich guys on the planet.  They believed their brand of racing could topple the very place and event that gave them all of their legitimacy.  While pursuing that pointless, counterproductive strategy they killed themselves in a keystone-cops-like litany of colossally stupid moves, the most entertaining of which was the lap one pileup of the ‘cars and stars’ who decided they would hold their own 500 mile race on the same day as the Indianapolis 500.  

That event typified the joke they became.  The meager proceeds of the asset sale that followed the bankruptcy of cart went to Kevin Kalkhoven.  His minions blindly tried to foist a notion that champcar was not only the logical successor to cart, but of the entire history of Indy-style racing.  That, my friends, is patently offensive.  How can there be ‘RE-unification’ with two deceased entities that committed suicide in spectacularly Darwinian ways?  Kalkhoven’s champcar did not even exist until the IRL was already well established.  His group perfected the art of talking out of both sides of their mouths. 

One constant through the entire boycott and self immolation periods of cart and champcar has been a nearly continuous attack, primarily in the popular press, on Tony George.  It is at his feet they enjoy placing all the blame.  Nowhere is this bias more evident than the subjective piece that was Wind Tunnel on Speed TV on February 24.   The first clue should be the starring role of Robin Miller and the list of guests featured on the broadcast, including one of the least appreciative winners ever, Jacques Villeneuve, and Mario Andretti, whose outspoken cart-centric stance since 1996 is indicative of the whining that makes their entire family special.  “It’s got to be what cart used to be.”  Mario, cart went BANKRUPT.  Twice.  What we should not ever do is repeat mistakes. Yet another cart-centric notion that remains offensive is the way in which they tend to lump Indy Racing into the same hapless situations in which they find themselves.  Never mind the Indy Racing Series has operated successfully for twelve years with slow but steady growth.  The cart group killed themselves twice, leaving a legacy of dropped venues, stiffed partners and lots and lots of litigation.   

On the broadcast we learned, again, how Miller’s skewed view of the sport affects his objectivity and what poor representatives of the sport people like him really are.  “I hate the fact the Indy 500 was screwed up twelve years ago.” Those of us who attended every single 500 from 1996 to the present understand that it is still pretty far away from being ‘screwed up.’  “I hate the fact the Alex Zanardi and Greg Moore didn’t get to run the Indy 500.”  Robin, whose fault was that? “I love the fact that it’s back together.” BACK together?  Every cart owner that really mattered voluntarily joined the IRL by 2002.  “Is there a chance for turbos?” Why is turning back the clock the way to go?  Why not embrace evolution and innovation?   “WE’ve been beating each other up.”  No WE haven’t.  cart and its supporters have spent twelve years slamming all things Indy in some of the most vulgar ways imaginable.   

Why can they not simply be thankful for the charity that pulled them out of their hole?  My advice for Tony is to watch your back 24/7.   To Jacques Villeneuve Miller made a point to say that he won “…what many of us thought was the last real Indy 500 in 1995.”  This is the type of arrogance that I had hoped would vanish inside the bright light of perceived unity.  “Let’s make this look and sound like an Indy Car.”  Yeah, I know…just like 1995.  Robin and others need to orient themselves inside the current century and stop pretending Indy Racing went on hiatus for a dozen years.   

Speed ran a montage that featured the typical vitriol of the cart crowd; e.g., Tony George positioned as a scoundrel by Dan Gurney, Paul Tracy inventing the term ‘crapwagon,’ etc.  Are these people we really want to embrace? The overall theme by the usual malcontents is as it always seems to be:  Turn back the clock to 1995 and all will be well.  These people need to realize the entire landscape has changed.  The way in which the world communicates with and entertains itself is completely different.  Hundreds of new television channels exist.  NASCAR has molded itself into the kind of the racing hill by a significant margin.  The road racing centricity of the cart folks is noble, but oval racing has its place. It always has.  NASCAR does very well with it and so do small tracks all over the country.  The IRL has developed several successful oval venues, including Texas, Chicagoland, Kansas, Richmond and that great new track in Iowa. 

If a ‘unified’ Indy Racing Series is to make its mark, it cannot and must sacrifice its legacy tracks while pandering to an apparent drive to turn the clock back fifteen years.  That is the WRONG approach.  That is not stopping many in the cart brigade from already whining about their perception of safety on high speed ovals and their feelings such venues must be eliminated.  What must be eliminated is any shaping of the direction of the sport by such malcontents.    There are glimpses Tony has a plan, including staying on the cutting edge in terms of equipment, safety, powerplants and fuels.  We need to move FORWARD and not backward. The IRL needs to reeducate ESPN and ABC.  Their idea of partnership is currently a low point in television sports broadcasting. In its heyday cart was great.  The past, however, is the past and we ALL must move ahead.  We must embrace evolution.  A good start would be for the cart crowd to lose the attitude and try humility and thanks for a change. 

February 25, 2008

Letters To The Editor

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:24 am

There have been a few good comments so far and a predictable number of badly spelled, grammatically incorrect meanderings from the cart youth that rapidly met the ‘delete’ key. A Mr. H Dolan writes:  You spend considerable time ranting about the CARTisans and their attitude about Mr. George. What is your opinion about those IRL fans from the beginning who feel that Mr. George abandoned the strongly implied ‘visions’ at the foundation of the IRL? For example, ovals being the road to Indy…simply not the case today. We have a redo of CART. A fact, not opinion. One need only to look at the makeup of the current IRL. How does the ‘Defender’ reconcile that?”Well, H Dolan, thank you for the great questions.  ‘IRL’ fans actually stands for INDY Racing fans.  Those of us who have attended the event over many consecutive decades without any interruption are uniquely aware of the phases of evolution that occur.  I remember fields full of Offies.  Or front-engined roadsters.  There was a time when March/Cosworths were all the rage.  I actually began to lose interest at the peak of the cart occupancy.  I never stopped going, however.  There are those who narrowly interpreted Tony George’s words to mean that all shade tree mechanics who employed dirt track heroes from any and all rural areas of middle America would be the next Indy 500 champions.  Of course that has not happened.  But a lot of other things have.  Sam Hornish parlayed a chance he would never have received into a top shelf ride in NASCAR.  From PDM to Panther to Penske.  Countless ‘middle Americans’ have also gotten chances in Indy racing.  Race drivers at the 500 have always come from all over the world, and that is a plus.  My personal favorite period allowed me to watch stars of the old NASCAR race against the best Indy racers and F-1 stars as well.  NASCAR is the destination for most of the small trackers these days…something NASCAR cultivated carefully.  That’s not to say many of these folks could not also make it in Indy cars; it would be nice if more of them would actually try it.  Calling today’s Indy Racing Series a redo of cart is, in my opinion, a relatively jaded interpretation.  The management configuration is different, and the end of champcar is nothing more than a gracious bailout by a benevolent leader.  It will be interesting to see how they are assimilated and whether the perception there is now one series will be helpful. 

What we have now is a predominately oval series (most of the champcar venues have been jettisoned) with a lot of Americans.  Hopefully the great racing will continue.  It’s already the fastest thing on ovals.  Hopefully you’ll keep watching.  I know I will. 

February 23, 2008

Mergification

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 7:45 pm

The ‘split’ is over.  I’ve always preferred to call it by the more accurate term ‘boycott.’  That is what it actually was until around 2002 when the last cart team that actually mattered joined Indy Racing anyway.  The reaction in the press and by many of the teams is predictable.  Everyone is glad champcar is toast (like cart before it), but I knew they would be positioned, again, as victims.  It is what they have done best over the years.  Self crucifixion before self immolation. 

champcar has also positioned itself through its brief existence as the equal to the Indy Car Series, even going so far as to claim much of actual Indy car history before 1979 despite no tangible connection to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or Indy Racing.  Sebastien Bourdais did not actually break any of Ted Horne’s records as they like to claim.  That type of comparison, although typical, is laughably disingenuous. 

It really is all about Indy.  It always has been and always will be.  Worship of the alternative by a small but vocal group of road racing supporters that took root even before Dan Gurney’s white paper in the 1970s was ignominiously crushed, twice, over the past dozen years.  Tony George did not really have to do anything except keep making the Indianapolis 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway better, and actually distanced himself from cart/champcar as he built the Indy Racing Series.  cart and champcar killed themselves largely due to their own collective stupidity, then blamed Tony George as the root of their perceived evil. 

The mostly gratuitous perception that champcar is some kind of Indy equal is the only reason any sane person should be grateful Tony George bailed champcar out because the perception now, mostly as fed by the motor sports press, is that the one-sided ‘civil war’ is over.  I deeply resent the malicious behavior of many champcar supporters who strongly dislike Tony George.  I am working on getting myself past that resentment because the sport is worth it.  Conversely I hope the champcar contingent is able to get past their delinquency for the good of the sport.  Time will tell. 

It is all about Indy.  The future looks very bright.  One of IMS’ ongoing projects is the redevelopment of the town of Speedway in the vicinity of the track.  The plans are spectacular.  Tony is remarkable in that he doesn’t beg government for handouts to build himself better facilities.  It won’t be long until the 100th running.   I am willing to bet the center of motor racing in this country will be showcased in unimaginable ways by then. 

February 15, 2008

A Celebration of Indy Racing

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 10:51 am

Blogging.  The last refuge for the banned.  LOL.  Hi, I am the guy who has been known for fourteen years as the ‘Defender of the IRL.’  There is never hesitancy when sharing an opinion, particularly when the topic involves open wheel racing.  My orientation positions the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the spiritual and philosophical center of the sport of motor racing, has been for nearly a century, and will continue to be long after the earthly stays of all race fans conclude.  There has never been a better time to be a fan of Indy Car racing than right now.   

‘Defender’ came about mostly by accident.  A handful of youthful, militant fans of the now-defunct cart series made it their mission to destroy the sport after they took exception to the oft-misinterpreted ‘split’ that began before the 1995 racing season.  The sheer decibel level of the ignorance, hostility, poor sportsmanship and vulgar juvenile delinquency by mostly disenfranchised cart enthusiasts prompted many of us to take a stand. 
 
Sometimes doing that is difficult.  The Indy Car Series has not lived up to its immense potential and its leader, Tony George, has always made himself, mostly unwittingly, a very easy target. The delinquents have resorted to sleaze on a level rarely seen in sports.  Their focus, however, remains on the Indy Racing Series, the people in it and the people who enjoy it. 
 
More about that in future meanderings.  Right now it is time, if you desire, to read these words and not have to worry about any censorship by self appointed, self important moderators running forums that adhere to some ever changing ‘standard.’  Moderation of any forum is a daunting task and I do not begrudge anyone who takes on such a formidable babysitting task.  I would not want to do it.  That is not a worry here.  You can offer commentary in reply as you wish.  If I don’t like it, I’ll delete it.  I’ll pay attention to ideas, contrary viewpoints expressed with even the slightest degree of intelligence, and suggestions.  I will also write whatever I feel like discussing, usually in colorful terms and often with elements of dark humor.  Don’t like it?  Don’t read it.  If you have gotten this far, however, you will likely enjoy it. 
 
Peace. 
 

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