Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

August 1, 2008

Arrogance and Foundation Chipping

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:07 pm

Hello, it’s Defender…the unofficial conscience of Indy Racing 😉 . When the Indy Racing Series ran its very first event on the Walt Disney World track in 1996, my very first, mostly disinterested, reaction was ‘Buzz who?’ From that moment on, however, I was hooked. I enjoyed what was being done. It was genuinely cool seeing non-mainstream guys get a chance they would not have otherwise. We saw teams and racers put on consistently great shows not previously seen before (or lately, since) in Indy Cars.



All of this occurred prior to the migration of cart teams to the Indy Racing Series. That migration is now complete with the final passing of champcar and a recent announcement by Gerald Forsythe that he would join. Hell has officially frozen over.


One of these days we should spend some time discussing early IRL teams. There is much nostalgia about those folks and the passion they showed simply because they loved the sport. That is for another day. Today we must discuss the difference between a cart track and an Indy Racing track, and why losing any Indy Racing track for any reason erodes the very foundation of Indy Racing.


Sadly, those making scheduling decisions apparently no longer take intangibles into consideration. What is the difference between an ‘Indy Racing’ track and a ‘cart track?’ Basically, a cart track is any venue used by either cart or champcar that has been added by the Indy Racing Series. An Indy Racing track is a venue that was never used by cart or champcar. The Indy Racing tracks, alphabetically, include:


ü Chicagoland

ü Iowa

ü Kansas

ü Kentucky

ü Nashville

ü Pikes Peak

ü Richmond

ü Texas

ü Walt Disney World

ü Watkins Glen (to a lesser extent because they closed the doors after a cart race in 1981 due to financial ruin before reopening under an ISC partnership; basically the statute of limitations expired)


Those tracks were/are the very foundation of the league. Three of them are now gone. Purging the tracks for legitimate business reasons is part of the reality of the sport. The psychological damage is not so apparent. Two of the three can almost be excused. The WDW track is owned by the Disney folks, who do not want anything at all to detract from theme park attendance. That means the only time for an Indy Car race is during the slowest possible month, something completely outside a normal racing season. Pikes Peak was bought and shut by ISC, who ensured upon reselling it that no new owner could hold a major event, and after they removed a good portion of the grandstands. That could conceivably fall under the ‘out of our control’ category, but still means folks in Colorado got screwed out of a signature IRL venue in a gorgeous part of the country.


The one that is potentially the most damaging is the recent loss of Nashville. It did not have to happen. The community was behind it. Firestone was behind it. The press was behind it. Management promised to get more behind it. Given the sheer amount of hostile vitriol heaved toward Indy Racing by a mostly negative press contingent over the years suspicious of Tony George and angry about the way he started the series, rarely occurring great press is something money cannot buy. Shunning Nashville for what can best be described as only marginally legitimate reasons is extremely dangerous. Fans are alienated, as are a great venue, the press, and possibly an important manufacturing partner. The way the IRL went about it seems smarmy in a cart-like manner as well, even after the track indicated they would go along with sanctioning fee increases and more heavily promote future events.



Replacement of Indy Car tracks with cart venues is the most slippery possible slope the folks in charge will end up sliding down. The loss of Nashville has more potential long term negative consequences than losing Michigan. The absolute worse part about it is the arrogance, whether intended or not, by those attempting to justify the decision. That is the most brazen form with which ‘cart II’ manifests itself. Sheer arrogance. If enough of the IRL foundation stones are removed, the house built on top of them will eventually collapse.


I remain all for diversity and I believe an oval-centric schedule that contains two street courses and five or six natural terrain road courses is a great idea. I also believe the tracks that built Indy Racing should remain a part of the Indy Racing. It can easily be made to work. There remains a stench around the dropping of Nashville that reflects very badly on Indy Racing and embarrasses me as a fan who understands the importance and relevance of that venue in the big picture.


In a week I hope to feel better. Indy Racing on a great oval tends to do that, and the entire family is headed for Kentucky. We hope they do not figure out a way to screw that up, too.



1 Comment »

  1. If the on the track product sucks, and at Nashville it did–being there in person didn’t help–then why not ditch it?

    Comment by The American Mutt — August 11, 2008 @ 5:05 pm | Reply

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