Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

July 30, 2009

How to Screw 60,000 Fans in One Fell Swoop

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:16 am

The Indy Car Series has officially alienated the very last remaining constituency it had. Races come and races go and it has always been like that (except in stable series such as NASCAR) but Indy Car just took strike three where this race fan is concerned. I am the kind of race fan who spends thousands of dollars every year sampling almost every track on which the Indy Car Series has run.

Screw 2My home track was PPIR. I attended every race the Indy Cars ever ran at that great one-miler. ISC stepped in with Denver track aspirations and shut it down. We are no closer to a track in Denver than the day paying customers got screwed in southern Colorado. That was strike one.

Strike two? Michigan, the site of some great open wheel wars over the years. Why? That depends on which side of the peeing contest gets you wet. Neither side has ever given a realistic answer, but as is always the case, fans remain screwed.

Screw 1Now there are no more jet fighters in gymnasiums. Richmond has been cast aside for no apparent reason. The IRL, of course, displays all kinds of happy face as they ‘move forward’ to Brazil and other far flung locales. Strike three. Screwed again.

There are a lot of people who enjoyed their own set of races that are now vaporized.  They are screwed as well.

Screw 3We have long lamented the lack of anything even remotely resembling competent marketing and promotion in the league over the years, and head scratching decisions such as allowing ESPN/ABC to carry Centennial Era Indianapolis 500s continues to baffle me. Over the past ten years ESPN/ABC has raped and subsequently devalued the franchise more completely than any other external entity.

Screw 5Fans of the defunct cart series should be gleeful, because current leadership views the early 1990’s as many of you do; i.e., some sort of fondly remembered utopian pinnacle. Now that Tony George has been cast aside, it is almost as if today’s Indy Car is starting from scratch after now having systematically purged every single group of fans one group at a time. 

Those of you who have been screeching like two year olds ever since the cart boycott of Indy began can now start watching again. We now have tire gimmicks, throttle gimmicks and most of the teams and drivers with familiar old cart connections. Turbos are on the way and the long-in-the-tooth Dallara is no doubt headed for scrap heaps. One by one, ovals are vanishing and street festivals are on the rise. Racing in Brazil lies ahead. Wonder whether Honda will tell the IRL to stick it in Toronto next year? Is Forsythe coming back now? When will drivers start getting dizzy at Texas and leave fans screwed at the gate? Hawaii anyone? How about some Asian island? Might as well repeat all history and hope for different results, right?

Every once in a while the IRL does something cool, and the most cool is a new planned trip to Barber outside Birmingham. That is a fantastic showplace with a really great museum.

screw 7Despite being screwed fairly regularly, please do not misunderstand me. I do not share the infantile chicken little (or chicken s#@&, as the case may warrant) mentality of most lurkers. I do not believe Indy Car is in any real danger of failure. Its current leadership is busy harvesting large checks from sources far and wide (like Brazil). The bigger the check the more they will bend over. Guaranteed. That’s just business, even when tens of thousands of fans get screwed every so often. Obviously, that remains an acceptable cost/risk.

My concern is not IRL failure, it is fans getting screwed repeatedly as Indy Car chases after the next check. Why do they make it so difficult to simply be a paying customer? In recent years Texas (the ‘second home of the IRL’….wonder how long that will last), Chicago, Kentucky and Kansas have become regular stops for my group of peers, but the Richmond strike three is very late in the game. The legendary Milwaukee Mile appears to be headed for landfill like Nazareth. When will all ovals except Indy vanish? And if ovals are going to vanish why pursue idiotic street courses when quality venues like Road America sit there without Indy Cars? More importantly why are supposedly smart people now running Indy Car completely unwilling and unable to figure out how to make quality oval venues work? NASCAR does not seem to have a problem doing that.

The coup d’état is nearly complete. A rich oval heritage that Indy Car enjoyed has nearly concluded. The last group of fans not yet screwed should now lower their dungarees and assume the position. You might want to see if Dario has any leftover samples of last week’s sponsor.

Screw 4This racing fan is not yet prepared for the type of angst-riddled Internet self crucifixion that has made disenfranchised cart enthusiasts look foolish for fifteen years. I speak with my feet and wallet. Usually when schedules are announced for the next season my party plots what events we will attend almost immediately. As of now, Indy and Barber will probably be it, and I am certain we will have a great time at both. I still wish I could see Indy Cars at Richmond or Pikes Peak or Michigan or any one of the many ovals that vanish unexplained with nary a shrug.


  1. I live here in Richmond. I have been at that track for nearly every single Indycar lap ever run there. Just like I flew to Phoenix in 2005, I have attended the final race at these two tracks. Giving Phoenix to Cup Racing is simply beyond outrage. Then the cheery smile, like everything is perfect. They are happy with the product??WTF They are happy with the direction the companies are headed?? Like a bullet train pointed to the ground. Now with Capone running Milwaukee, we won’t see that again as well.

    Comment by Unzer Dog — July 30, 2009 @ 2:50 am | Reply

  2. I’m a huge IRL fan when they race on ovals. I’m not much of a road/street fan. I would love to see these tracks on the schedule. Michigan, Vegas, California, Atlanta, Lowes. If they want a road course race why don’t they ract at IMS on the infield course? I’m one of the fans who feels like he’s getting screwed by the IRL. They have went to a channel that I cannot get. And they have put a lot of road/street racing in the schedule. I don’t watch much IRL these days because I cant get the channel and I don’t care for the street forum racing. How long before I stop watching all together? It depends on the brains incharge.

    Comment by Joe — July 30, 2009 @ 3:00 am | Reply

  3. Welcome to the life of an F1 fan – no you know how we feel…

    Comment by Leigh O'Gorman — July 30, 2009 @ 11:51 am | Reply

  4. Well, Terry Angstadt says this is ISC’s fault. Unfortunately, we know ISC holds the league in low enough regard to not even dignify Angstadt’s comment with a war of words. I would really like to hear RIR’s side of things, but I doubt we ever will.

    Comment by H. B. Donnelly — July 30, 2009 @ 2:16 pm | Reply

  5. If there was money to be made by both sides, the deal would happen with all of those tracks. Since the days of Tony taking the IMS checkbook to the track appear over, more ovals are likely to disappear.
    Editor’s note: Judgng by your consistent brilliance, I am frankly surprised Terry Angstadt still has a job.

    Comment by TroyM — July 30, 2009 @ 2:43 pm | Reply

  6. What if Richmond didn’t want the IRL unless it would come there for free? Who’s fault is it then? The IRL can’t just show up at any of the tracks mentioned — Michigan, Vegas, California, Phoenix, etc. etc. — and declare “we’re going to race here.” If both parties aren’t willing to make a deal, no race. I suspect the tracks are not really pursuing IndyCar right now. It’s just business.
    Editor’s note: You are correct. But the bottom line remains fans get screwed by the thousands.

    Comment by pressdog — July 30, 2009 @ 2:49 pm | Reply

  7. You know it’s funny. This latest blog entry of of yours started out with a lot of promise and some great points……

    However as usual it quickly disolved into another paranoia driven CART fan rant.

    I completely agree that the fans are getting screwed in places like Michigan and Richmond.

    The IRL seems more concerned with chasing sanction dollars than they do with the actual on-track product. Michigan is absolutely necessary for the schedule in large part to entertain the television fans.

    If most of the races are boring I don’t know how the IRL expects the series to grow (or even survive). Let’s be honest here this has become a boring series and I don’t see any reason for a new or casual fan to become more interested.

    The IRL doesn’t seem to understand that races like Sonoma, Motegi, and Homestead cause people to change the chanel whereas races like Michigan, Cleveland, and Phoenix usually produce excitement and must-see-tv.

    Back to your paranoia over CART fans and all things CART or at least that you think are CART.

    Push-To-Pass and Option Tires were Champ Car gimmicks………they had nothing to do with CART. I know it’s hard for you to seperate the two, but CART and Champ Car are not the same. Champ Car was vaguely spawned from the ashes of what was left of CART but they are not even close to being one in the same. CART never had to resort to those kind of gimmicks.
    Editor’s note: Good for cart.

    Comment by Serg — July 30, 2009 @ 4:04 pm | Reply

    • “Good for CART” is the best response you can come up with? When faced with facts I guess it’s better to just ignore them huh?

      Look CART did a lot of things to run themselves into the ground, but Tony George and the split started digging the grave for them.

      Once CART already had one foot in the grave (thanks to Tony) CART made sure it put the other foot in and finished the job itself.

      The abomination that was Champ Car was doomed to fail from the start.

      Editor’s note: That was all I could come up with because despite discussion of whatever cart followers believed it was, it did, in fact, kill itself all by itself, primarily because it chose to boycott Indy. If they possessed one collective functioning brain cell the smart move would have been to squish the fledgling IRL like a mosquito by flooding the first three races with superior drivers and equipment. They were too damned dumb to figure that out, and the chain of events that followed made them the object of ridicule regardless of their past accomplishments. To me, that is water long under the bridge. It is 2009 for Christ’s sake. Today’s IRL is a lot like the cart of old, so why can’t its angst-riddled, obsessed, loudmouthed supporters get with the program and begin working to make the sport even better?

      Comment by Serg — July 30, 2009 @ 11:56 pm | Reply

  8. With all eyes on the IMS and IRL, not too many people have been talking about how tough things are with ISC and NASCAR. But things can’t be that great and I feel it has stressed the ISC IRL relationship.

    Richmond drops the Indy Car race over two bad races when all of the others have been stellar and managed to build up a fan base?? What is up with that?? It’s not like CUP hasn’t put on stinkers at certain venues and for more than two years in a row.

    So what’s the deal? In my opinion, ISC took an opportunity to pounce on the Indy Car Series. They don’t want those 60,000 watching the IRL on that track because they know the leauge will work on the aero package, get it right, and return to good racing. It was catching on in that corner of NASCAR land and they had a chance to nip it in the bud and they did.

    The stress of this economic time and the decline of NASCAR has erased the acceptance of another major US based racing series in the mind of ISC, even if it brings 60,000 paying customers to it’s own track.

    Comment by Mike Miller — July 30, 2009 @ 5:02 pm | Reply

  9. i belive the fans did in michgan,phoenix by not going to those races.i live
    in ky, an went to both for years.the last couple i felt like i was there alone!

    Comment by JAMES T SUEL — July 30, 2009 @ 6:19 pm | Reply

    • Personally I think you’re full of crap. I went to the Michigan races. Each year there were more and more people there. Was it a sell out? No. But the attendance was up each year.

      Comment by Joe — August 1, 2009 @ 2:13 am | Reply

  10. Look, ISC isn’t IndyCar’s friend. Never has been really. They’re out for NASCAR checks. Full stop. What I think is rather amusing is how many folks pitched a bitch about the ICS running only ovals or just a couple of road/street.

    In fact some folks still think they’re still only running ovals. Pretty amazing.

    So now, now that we’re getting to a schedule that has a bit more variety in it folks are still complaining but now that there aren’t enough ovals!?! LOL Man. Gotta love race fans, they’re never satisfied.

    Michigan’s a good one to keep if they can keep a date. And that’s part of the issue that many folks forget. There are contracts there are things outside their control. There’s the Mile for example. We’ll be hosed out of that one too and guess what, it has nothing to do with IndyCar and everything to do with the promoter.

    And hey, you know what I don’t change the channel for Homestead. Why? Because my butt’s in the seat, that’s why. It’s close to me and I enjoy the day. Same as I’d bet folks did for Richmond. We all can find tracks we don’t find all that interesting, and then we have those we attend every year and enjoy it because we’re there.

    We’ve cut back our racing this year for obvious reasons. When we used to do the Rolex 24, St Pete, Homestead, Indy, Texas and Chicago – now we’ve cut Texas, Chicago and added Sebring 12 Hrs. So you see four of those are in Florida and easy to get to for us. I think we’ll add Barber next year, looks like a great venue. Indy & the Rolex are already bought & paid for 2010.

    And while I’m here I’d say @8 Mike, you’re dead on with that IMHO.

    Comment by Kevin Mort — July 30, 2009 @ 9:51 pm | Reply

  11. yet you toldme just a couple days ago the IRL was both Aive AND Well…..
    Editor’s note: It is.

    Comment by Ken — July 31, 2009 @ 2:20 am | Reply

  12. we had the same problem in nascar.i didn’t mind opening tracks in the north or in the west but why close tracks where it all started.sometimes people forget who and what made them.

    Comment by jerry trail — May 6, 2011 @ 1:00 am | Reply

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