Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

March 26, 2010

The 2010 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Driver Choice

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

There is nothing really wrong with IMS’ selection of Robin Roberts as the pace car driver for the 2010 Indianapolis 500. It is a very safe choice. She is a former SportsCenter anchor, current Good Morning America host, cancer survivor and all around good gal.

But is it too safe a choice? If they are going for glitz why not let a great big star do it? Some smokin’ hot, controversial chickie-poo like Angelina Jolie or someone else on the A-list.

Helio was on GMA this morning with an IZOD show car and the pace car on Times Square. The segment was OK but Robin probably ought to perfect the pronunciation of Helio’s name before climbing aboard. Why IMS continues to patronize ABC after ESPN/ABC has tried to kill the brand sporadically for ten years is beyond me. But hey, publicity is publicity and they probably got it on the cheap.

If ABC holds up their end of the spirit of the deal, they will host GMA from the Brickyard the week before the race and follow Robin’s practice and driving lessons. Should we hold our breath?

Hey, by the way…good luck to drivers, teams and participants who will be making the trip to St. Pete this weekend.



  1. I really wonder if the pace car driver is selected by ABC TV. Perhaps it is in their TV deal for the IRL 500? They should really try and keep it to racing people.

    Comment by TroyM — March 26, 2010 @ 5:21 am | Reply

  2. Agreed. This duty should always go to someone who has at the least, relevancy to the event or the sport. The prestige is lost when actors and wives of musicians are chosen.

    Comment by Real Fan — March 26, 2010 @ 11:16 am | Reply

  3. I disagree. Good Morning America is one of the top rated shows in the country. It’s not as much about the pace car driver as it is the exposure that will be gained from this lady talking about the Indy 500 every day for who knows how long. You can’t beat that!! Do you think we would get as much exposure on GMA with Johnny Rutherford? NO WAY!

    This is a Brilliant choice. You’ve just added many hours of marketing on a top-rated show simply by this selection. Someone at the IMS, for a change, is using their head.

    Comment by Mike Miller — March 26, 2010 @ 12:22 pm | Reply

  4. I think it is a very good choice. The series needs to reach out the mainstream and get some people thoroughly established in the media to communicate some excitement from first hand experience. I think you need someone popular or a real “hero”.
    People already involved in racing will only really please current fans, so that may be great for us but provides no potential for growth.
    I hope Robin enjoys her experience with the speedway (and wont be quiet about it!)

    Comment by tim nothhelfer — March 26, 2010 @ 12:52 pm | Reply

  5. The only problem with ABC is it’s ABC. They’ve done very little for Indy Car racing where coverage is concerned. I agree about the exposure factor though. At least it will get talked about. It would be nice to talk about it through an entire season as opposed to pretending once again it doesn’t exist beginning June 1, 2010.

    Comment by Real Fan — March 26, 2010 @ 2:53 pm | Reply

  6. It’s too bad Lynn St. James isn’t better known. With her driving experience, and the amount of exposure she brought to Indy Car racing while she was a driver, she’d make the best choice of all to drive the pace car.

    Comment by DOUG ALBORN — March 26, 2010 @ 3:33 pm | Reply

  7. You’re right, Doug. She’s on a very long list of qualified and more deserving candidates for the job IMO.

    Comment by Real Fan — March 26, 2010 @ 5:28 pm | Reply

  8. I agree that the pace car driver should be a Indianapolis 500 connected person, how ever we all know that there is not much Indianapolis 500 connection connected with the race anymore, the format and history of this great race is soon to be in memory only.

    Today’s format, one chassis, one engine, one tire. two or three American drivers, none of the drivers have ever raced on dirt or the high banks of Salem, Winchester, etc. and now the track is only open for two weeks during May. IMO, this does make it very difficult to increase the fan base.

    Comment by Rosco — March 26, 2010 @ 10:13 pm | Reply

  9. Who really gives a sh!t if anyone has ever driven on dirt or at Salem? That’s the way it USED to be because it was the only way up the ladder. A person has to have experience in rear engined cars today. I’m still trying to figure out how the skill of throwing a front engined car sideways around a dirt track equates to the physics of a rear engined car.

    Comment by Robert Miller — March 27, 2010 @ 4:29 am | Reply

  10. Racing on dirt. I think it teaches something called “Car Control” which last I heard is something a race car driver needs. But maybe you’re right, in today’s new and improved IRL, experience in go-carts, formula-V ( and check writing ) are more important that car control.

    Comment by Chris Lukens — March 28, 2010 @ 5:52 pm | Reply

  11. Try throwing an Indy car sideways into a turn and see what happens. Thus the point. Front engine: weight in front. Rear engine: weight in back. It’s two different skills and disciplines.

    Comment by Robert Miller — March 29, 2010 @ 9:17 am | Reply

    • Even more than that, it’s a grip thing. IndyCars make tons (almost literally) of downforce. Sprint cars and midgets do not. Sprints and midgets are driven largely with the throttle, and spend a lot of time sideways. IndyCars are impossible to drive like that for more than a fraction of a second. Car control is one thing, but when driving a car quickly comes down to correct line, being smooth and tidy, and knowing how to set up a car with springs, dampers AND wing settings, knowledge gained from running on dirt is going to get trumped by knowledge gained by running laps at The Glen, Laguna, Mid-Ohio or even Silverstone or Curitiba every time.

      Comment by The Speedgeek — March 29, 2010 @ 1:30 pm | Reply

  12. Does a “STAR”(like R. Roberts) drive the pace car ALL during the race when situations call for it to be out on the track, or JUST the parade lap and start ? Soo many good experienced drivers and it’s silly to give this job to someone who could cause alot of dificulties if a problem ensued. Hard to wave, look cute AND drive …
    Johnny Rutherford, we hope, is behind the wheel DURING the race today.

    Comment by simone standefleur — May 30, 2010 @ 6:28 pm | Reply

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