Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

April 30, 2010

The Dawn of May: Time for Indy Car and IMS Obsession

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:27 am

You can always tell May is right around the corner because pundits who should know better begin a cycle of yelping unparalleled in any other sport. This week has featured a load of it, and I am certain all of the usual suspects will come slithering out of their holes. Oreovicz, Kirby, Hinton, Miller, etc., will likely all take their turns as the 500 draws near.

Today was Bob Kravitz’ turn. It does not matter the ‘split’ ended a few years back. It does not matter that Tony George is now a man of mostly unconnected leisure. Indy Car could take Anthony Schoettle’s idiotic advice and apologize for offending thin skinned cart enthusiasts until they were blue in the face and we would still be subjected to sleazeball, unprofessional, mostly clueless whining. Why? Because it is May and the current trend in media is to tear institutions down.

Kravitz had a good idea. The angle of the outsider coming in to reach new heights is tantalizing. I merely have to ask why the following gratuitous bits of sheer delinquency are necessary:

‘…staid-and-failing IZOD Indy Car Series…’

Is Kravitz out of his damned mind? Has he even investigated what’s going on with IZOD and their investment in the series? Kravitz does a disservice to the Star and its readers with such nonsense.

‘The ultimate insider, Tony George, all but destroyed the sport.’

First, Tony George is not even around. Second, George did not almost destroy the sport. If there was balance in the media someone would have made a case for how Tony George saved the sport, which would actually be incredibly easy. Tony George started and nurtured a series from nothing for fourteen years while those who get a free pass killed the object of affection for those howling the loudest twice. It would also be impossible not to notice yearly improvements at IMS and the addition of several world class events on Tony’s watch. It is a lot easier to just be stupid and lazy and make Tony George a target. Irresponsible, but easy.

‘Whatever you think of his race politics, the bottom line is when he took over, open-wheel racing was vibrant. When he got the boot, open-wheel racing was a niche sport on a niche cable network.

If Kravitz and others took off their cart colored glasses and discovered objectivity, the story would be a lot different. These fools never, ever consider the natural evolution of the sport and the world around it. cart’s rhetoric, boycott and arrogance did far more damage to the sport than Tony George starting the IRL. When will that side of the story get told? When will they apologize to lifelong fans like me?

‘…”Nine more years on the contract,” Bernard said, sounding less than thrilled.’

Uh, Kravitz…are aware that Randy has a great history with Versus that predates his current position, and that Versus is owned by Comcast, which is preparing to take operating control of NBC and its family of networks from GE? As a good reporter, would you not have asked him about that? Of course not. There are still axes to grind. Less than thrilled my ass.

‘Once Bernard is able to get the series the exposure it needs despite the Versus mistake’

Are you kidding me? A long term deal that pays millions a year with unsurpassed quality and a tangible opportunity to leverage the brand across an enviable platform of channels and that’s a mistake? Are you out of your mind Kravitz?

‘He comes in with fresh eyes, unsullied by the destructive politics of the past. The insiders nearly killed the sport. Now it’s time to see what an outsider can do.’

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if everyone, especially pundits with access to column space, took a fresh point of view? That will probably have to wait until June. There is, after all, the tearing down of the very institution that made the sport possible for everyone in May.

I long for a May when folks concentrate on the stories of May. Not immature grudges based on events so foolishly outrageous that people serious about being offended shriek like little girls for fifteen years. These people never got it and probably never will. Good luck Randy.

As a real fan, I am boarding a plane today for what I hope is a great race at Kansas.

April 29, 2010

Educating Young People About Indy Car is a Real Challenge

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:44 am

Earlier in the week I took issue with an Indiana Business Journal blog by Anthony Schoettle whose premise was that current Indy Car management should apologize to folks negatively affected by what he calls ‘the split’ as a way to ‘get the sport back.’ I still believe that is one of the dumbest dead horse whippings I have ever read. Schoettle needs an education.

Even more egregious is the continuing unprofessional crap regularly shoveled by former cart employees Robin Miller, Gordon Kirby and John Oreovicz.

Then there are individuals who claim to be fans who do not actually possess the first clue about what being a fan should be. One such individual is Manuel R. Melendez of Rochester, New York. I don’t mean that in a mean way. One of Miller’s last remaining soap boxes is Speed TV’s web site, where he contributes occasional commentary and answers pointless e-mails sent by cart-centric imbeciles who refuse to grow up. Frankly, given Miller’s experience, I am surprised he can still be so gullible. Here is how Melendez’ script-perfect wheelbarrow full of dung began:

“I first started watching Indy car back in 1995”

That should always be your very first clue a self crucifixion is about to occur.

“(1st race I watched was Surfers Paradise). What drew me into the sport was the cars (drools), the speeds, the sound of those turbos, and the crashes (I was only 9 at the time).”

So we have a 9 year-old kid watching cool cars with turbos and enjoying crashes. Pretty typical for a 9-year old.

“As each race went by leading up to Indianapolis, new heroes emerged (Tracy, Andretti, Gordon, Fittipaldi, and Unser Jr.). Then the month of May came and seeing the cars go on track at Indy and I was blown away by the speeds (230s), the track itself, and the cars looked a little different (first time seeing speedway wings).”

Other than turbos and a next generation of drivers, how is the Indianapolis 500 any different now than then? The top drivers today are equal to the top drivers of 1995. The equipment is far more reliable and just as fast. The races are closer too. But we can’t let facts stand in the way of someone’s stupid agenda, can we?

“When race day came, I remember the race being promoted in the local newspaper like it was a Super Bowl. Anyway, the race came on and seeing the introduction by Paul Page, I knew this race was gonna be something special.”

I really am not trying to single this kid out; his youth gives him a pass. I feel sorry for anyone not old enough to have experienced Indy Car prior to 1979 or earlier. I liked Paul Page as well, but this sounds similar in sentiment to some other unevolved who think the Delta Force theme ought to be returned as the opening of the 500. Look, that worked fine in the late 1980s, but we’re into a whole new century two decades removed.

The opening sequences for the past six or seven or so are riveting and Emmy-worthy and are the absolute high point of the ABC coverage. But I digress. To the kid’s point, anyone who actually ‘gets’ the Indianapolis 500 knows that every single one of them is going to be special. Those who believe it was less special when cart boycotted do not really understand it and do not really have much credibility. I am also certain this kid has never set foot anywhere near 16th and Georgetown.

“Then the bad news came that two of my heroes didn’t make the race and that made me a little sad, but that day more heroes of my emerged (Pruett, Rahal, Luyendyk, Sullivan, Brayton, Ribeiro, De Ferran and Villeneuve) and an idiot (Goodyear and later in the season, Matsushita).”

None are active Indy Car drivers any more. The current crop are just as worthy of fan support.

“So after that great season of racing, I was exited about 1996 until till the first race of the year when the IRL had their first race at Walt Disney and my first reaction was WTF is this?! Where did all my heroes go? I thought I was watching AA baseball or something!”

My reaction was ‘who the heck is Buzz Calkins?’ I was all set to dismiss this experiment as a B-team kind of thing until cart let its arrogance and ego screw up the entire sport. When cart refused to accept the new complementary, non-competing series and announced the US 500 I vowed to do everything in my power to see them eliminated from existence. That day I became a diehard Indy Car fan.

“The only driver that kept me from changing the channel was Tony Stewart because he was my driver when I watched the Thursday night races. That race left me confused for a really long time up until the Indy cars raced at Rio (missed the Homestead race thanks to the irl). Then I realized that something ain’t right and this big fear of things getting worse came in to my mind.”

Why? At that point you had both cart and Indy Car, and both were on national television. As a fan who enjoyed watching racing, this should have been a bonus.

“Then May came and when I only saw IRL drivers and not CART drivers, I felt like I was cheated and that took the excitement of May out of me.”

Guess who I would have called? cart management. I would have told them to take their heads out of their asses and start acting professionally. They boycotted the most famous auto race in the world. How stupid could a group of people possibly get?

“So here is my thoughts on how to bring the fans back to the race tracks and gain TV ratings. 1. Bring innovation back to the speedway.”

Well, son…they are trying. But all IMS/Indy Car seems to get is grief because folks believe a next generation car looks too much like a penis. The ones who complain the loudest are usually disenfranchised idiots who want to turn back the clock to 1986 right down to the turbos.

“2. Raise and double layer the catch fences for faster speeds (I want to see the cars break the 250mph barrier already! We’re years behind on speed).”

230 to 240 is probably the top end. Catch fences won’t prevent death or fan injury. I’d rather see close racing in the 220 to 230 range…but it would be nice to see a threat to the IRL track records held by hero driver Arie Luyendyk.

“3. Move the race back to Monday to increase competition.”

Indy has a several decade head start. I say they should run the race whenever they want. Sunday seems perfect and earlier in the day would be even more ideal. If I were Charlotte I would run the 600 on Saturday night.

“4. Bring the apron back to increase overtaking.”

There already is overtaking. Just not four wheels below the yellow line overtaking, which I always thought was cheating anyway.

“5. Bring the triple crown back (Michigan and a new oval track with a right kink).”

Texas would certainly have to be included, and I would throw in Watkins Glen, too.

“6. Kill the IRL and start fresh. The IRL is the MAIN reason why the fans turned away. I am not exited to see another year of a car that sounds like a flushing toilet. However, I’m still gonna watch because someday hopefully (once all the idiots that are holding this sport back are gone) its gonna be like 95 again, but better.”

The reason the marketing initiatives of Randy Bernard (and others) is so crucial is because this barely literate former 9-year old is now 24 or so and in the demo they want. Whoever polluted this kid’s mind with all this anti-IRL crap did enough of a disservice to the sport. 9 or 24…it doesn’t matter. He has no discernable clue about the sport other than the scorched earth hate he got force fed from malcontents. Why would anyone like anything to be like ‘95 again? That is stupid. The average fan has never had an idea about the differences between cart and IRL. Yet this pointless crap inevitably finds its way into print, and it’s usually enablers like Miller that facilitate it. What a shame.

I hope this kid gets a chance to watch a race in person some day. Even the crappy temporary circuit events have been watchable this season. I also hope he watches the Kansas race on Saturday.

April 28, 2010

Added Incentives for IZOD Indy Car Teams and Racers

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 10:52 am

The IZOD Indy Car Series has formulated a way to crown a road course and an oval champion, which may be a stellar move. For those worried about NASCAR-style gimmickry this is not a ‘chase.’ It is also not a ‘triple’ or ‘quadruple crown’ but it does move into a direction of making additional events more meaningful. Plus, there will be some financial incentive.

Indycar.com, the li’l website that could, provided an interesting snapshot of how this multiple title program would have worked out in prior years:

Year. . .oval points. . .road and street points:
’09   Scott Dixon – 406   Dario Franchitti – 270
’08   Scott Dixon – 482   Helio Castroneves – 233
’07   Dario Franchitti – 463   Scott Dixon – 217
’06   Dan Wheldon – 415   Scott Dixon – 125
’05   Dan Wheldon – 536   Tony Kanaan – 133

One of the biggest reassurances many derive is the notion that ovals are important enough to have a title for. That is very refreshing. Perhaps the brass is serious about keeping a balance. Thank God there is no street course championship.

The Kansas race is SATURDAY, not Sunday. Why? Because it’s on ABC, where Indy Car is a neglected, bastard stepchild. Saturday is where ESPN on ABC wants it. It is good from traveling standpoint because I can get in and out of Kansas City without eating into the work week, but bad from a television audience standpoint. It is my hope that Barnhart hasn’t pre-stifled the closeness of racing out of the package. What they ended last year with was very special, and here’s hoping that stayed. It is definitely needed at Kansas.

April 27, 2010

Indy Car Pundits: It Is Time To Start Being Honest With Yourselves and Your Readers

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

Anthony Schoettle is a blogger with column space in the Indiana Business Journal, an otherwise highly respected publication. Why this guy regularly chooses to take such a consistently low, dishonest road where Indy Car is concerned is certainly beyond my comprehension. His latest contribution on the 26th offers nothing more than recycled, agenda-riddled dead horse whipping. Why? What exactly is the point? We understood these weak yelps the first few thousand times they were offered.

Please allow me to offer some commentary on this one. Usually this type of banter is reserved for more bitter malcontented ex-cart employees like John Oreovicz of Indy Car ‘partner’ ESPN or former important writer Gordon Kirby who generally crap out prodigious amounts of similarly pointless nonsense.

“After years of hearing complaints from both sides of the Indy Racing League-Champ Car debate, I’ve long thought someone needed to stand up to the fans, sponsors and everyone else henceforth to considered collateral damage in this heinous war and simply say, “I’m sorry.” “The split was wrong. What happened did serious damage to the sport and I’m sincerely sorry for all those whose lives were altered in a negative way.” Did you notice I said ‘serious damage.’ I don’t believe it’s irreparable. But it warrants an apology to those who were wounded.”

Writers who delude themselves into assumption of a flawed premise about ‘serious damage’ and its ‘cause’ and the related implication that it is the fault of Tony George do a disservice to those who read them. They ramble on about a ‘split.’ I am sick and tired of that particularly gratuitous re-write of history. cart boycotted the one event that gave them 95% of their legitimacy, and that colossal act of abject stupidity led directly to their demise. Twice. I know. 25/8. Tony George got backed into a corner and fought back. The facts remain clear. Indy Car is alive and well and cart is dead. Twice.

Most of the impaired who still demand some sort of apology share the same myopic, cart-centric ideology. Apology!? If I was Randy Bernard the only thing I would offer these people is advice: Grow up and orient yourselves in this century. If they refused to accept such advice I would simply suggest they find something else to enjoy and move on. No apology for anything is warranted. Those who feel ‘wounded’ got that way by nailing themselves to a cross. GET OVER IT. Stop whining.

“There’s a simple follow-up to that full mea culpa—one that will allow this series to go full speed ahead.“Now I hope you will join me in re-building this great sport.” The most logical person to make this statement is new IRL boss Randy Bernard. And he’s about half-way there.”

No, Anthony. He is ALREADY there. ‘Re-building’ is an inaccurate, cart-centric word. Bernard is bringing the marketing of the series into the modern era. Lack of competent, modern marketing and product positioning, the most unprofessional broadcast partner in the history of television, and a bygone ‘aw shucks’ way of doing business that worked fine in the 50s but not now is the main thing that caused the series to lag behind as the rest of the world evolved. Having cart-centric chicken littles screeching about falling skies for fifteen years certainly did not help. When will they apologize for all of the scorched earth?

“Over lunch last Wednesday he admitted the open-wheel split was a mistake. A big mistake. It’s the first time I’ve heard someone anywhere near the top of IndyCar say that. Bernard said high-up people on both sides of this thing have told him privately the split was wrong. “It’s like a bad divorce,” Bernard told me. “No one wants to talk about it.”

Many won’t, but I will. What the hell does anyone expect when a sanctioning body tries to kill the one event that gave them legitimacy? Calling a ‘boycott’ a ‘split’ is deranged. Those who use that word are mentally ill and should seek competent professional help.

“It’s time. It’s long, long past time. If nothing else, the fans (and former fans) need to hear it. And nowhere else would this apology ring louder than to those long-time fans living in the shadow of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Maybe it’s escaped some people’s attention, but sports—motorsports included—is more than a sport for some people. It’s a livelihood. I’m not talking about fat-cat team owners or hobbyists. I’m talking crew members, mechanics, machinists and others who dedicated their lives to their craft for decades. And lot’s of those people lost there jobs over this split.”

Lost ‘there’ jobs? Jesus H. Christ. Grammar check. 90% of the blame belongs with cart, who BOYCOTTED the Indianapolis 500 then actively tried to KILL it. What Tony George tried to do was supplement what already existed with something centered on ovals. cart apologists still fail to recognize their own arrogance from day one.

“I’m not saying that open-wheel racing wouldn’t have declined somewhat without the split, but there isn’t a rational person alive who would deny that the split widened the wound. Many, many people would like to see Tony George make this apology. I don’t think that will ever happen. And at this point, I’m not sure an apology from George is appropriate. This isn’t about crow eating. It’s about healing.”

The fact that Tony George consistently gets the blame for the stupidity and hostility of others remains humorous. No one has ever been able to explain to me someone positioned as stupid and/or as petty and hostile as Tony George can be smart enough to engineer the collapse of something positioned to be as great as cart. When do those of us who have followed Indy Car since the 1950s get our apology from the coup d’etat of 1979 that hatched that ethics-bereft group in the first place?

“Right now, there’s still too much bad blood, and not enough good will to regenerate this sport to where it needs to be. Running to foreign markets with a new chassis and re-made product won’t do it. The people of the great Midwest are the ones that made this sport great and they, most of all, need that apology.”

Anthony, look around. Those running to foreign markets with a new chassis and re-made product are the same Einsteins who crafted cart. Their rush to remake today’s Indy Car in the past image they crave is well underway. My biggest hope is that Randy Bernard eventually sees through that and forges an actual NEW, original direction for the sport.

“I know, this is ancient history. The IRL-Champ Car split happened in 1996 and the two sides reconciled more than two years ago. The war is over. Champ Car is dead. Is it?”

Evidently not. If it was pundits like Schoettle, Oreovicz, Kirby, Miller, etc., might embrace the concepts of originality and professionalism.

“It’s time for Bernard to utter those magical words on behalf of everyone in open-wheel. He knows the split was wrong. So do most people who still have power in this sport. But Bernard—perhaps more than most—knows something else. If IndyCar is going to survive going forward, he needs the past. And everyone in it.”

If Bernard apologizes to make a handful of zealous cart apologists feel better, he needs to be fired. Thankfully I do not believe he is that stupid. Pandering to a self-serving fringe group is not a wise direction. Taking a fresh approach with new, energetic business partners is the right way, and it seems to be working. It is my fervent hope that the few remaining cart clingers get with the program and stop trying to screw it up for everyone else.

April 26, 2010

Why Can’t All Local Sports Entities Be Like The Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:42 am

The city of Indianapolis is a weird sports town. Sometimes folks believe it will turn out badly year after year, as it did with the Colts for many years until Jim Irsay turned out NOT to be just like his father. The Indiana Pacers enjoyed championships when they were an ABA team, but that was decades ago. Reggie Miller became a legend in their NBA high water mark years, but did not win any championships. Now the team is being run by a personality even duller than Tony George.

Larry Bird was one of the best players of all time, but his operation of the Pacers is bound to have an outcome worse than that of Tony George primarily because a Bird-led Pacers organization may either fold or fly the coop. That would be a real shame because there are those of us who have followed them since the players sported afros, tight shorts and used a red, white and blue ball. As the Pacers continue a mostly pointless slide into lottery mediocrity occupied by the worst teams in the league, the team is asking the city of Indianapolis to bail them out. They have a nice new arena, but want someone else to pay its mortgage.

Why can’t teams follow the lead of the sports anchor of the city…the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? That entity has never asked Indianapolis for anything. That is not to say that situation couldn’t change. There is a bean counter and an increasingly greedy cabal of family members in charge now. At least they are not ISC. For now, however, not only do they pay taxes, the economic impact they bring is incalculable. The Super Bowl in Indy will be a big deal. IMS brings that type of economic impact multiple times a year.

The moral of the story is that IMS does it the right way. The Pacers really ought to follow that example. Now that there is no chance of playoff games for them for the foreseeable future, the half-a-month-of-May won’t be interrupted by a local NBA team. Personally I wish they would discover that winning games might actually solve their problem. In order to do that, however, they are going to have to purge most of the remainder of team, send Larry back to French Lick then clean house before filling it back up with people who know what the hell they are doing.

April 23, 2010

Some Faces Are Great To See Back in The Indianapolis 500 May Festivities

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:05 am

Anthony is back. The grandson of AJ Foyt will drive the 41 team car at Indy again this year. Last year you might remember he got a top 20 in that sled. It is great to have him back. He got married fairly recently to Jim Irsay’s daughter, and no one is sure whether that has calmed him down.

He has had an interesting history in the Indy Cars, making his start as the youngest driver ever (then) in the 500 back in ’03. He finished dead last in ’04 and not much better in ’05, when he was taken out in that Junquiera-caused mishap.

He tried NASCAR for a while and did not fare that well. He did not make the ’06 race but at the end of that season he subbed for Dario in an AGR car at Chicagoland and did pretty well. In ’07 and ’08 he raced at Vision and last year ran for granddad.

One of the more entertaining aspects of watching IV race is the way he likes high exits on ovals. It is also entertaining to listen to grandpa interact with him on the radio. It sure would be nice to see IV in the series full time, but his road racing skills are not the best. He did marry into even more money though, and a Colts-sponsored car might be a hoot.

Having a Foyt behind the wheel to go along with the current young Andretti would be special. Are there any talented Unsers out there?

It should be a great half-a-month of May in Indy.

April 22, 2010

Bumping a Certainty (and Garage Space a Premium) for the Indianapolis 500 This Year

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:27 am

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway released a participation list that contains 40 legitimate entries in almost 80 cars. The most refreshing aspect of this positive news is the lack of cackling by idiots worried about making 33 this year. That does not stop them, however, from lamenting foolishly about how ‘it’s not what as great as it used to be.’ Most of the time those who spout that particular whine don’t even go anyway.

There are quite a few quality additions, including Tomas Scheckter back in with Dryer & Reinbold. Paul Tracy is also back, and his recent Internet activity is as entertaining as his driving. One of his recent bits of angst involves fretting about how Milka Duno has a ride but he doesn’t. The answer is simple. She has bigger boobs than Paul does and the President of Venezuela is paying for her ride.

Paul indicates he sits at home and watches his wife parade about the house in frilly lace panties. There is nothing wrong with that, but perhaps since the current economic situation in Indy Car necessitates begging for sponsor dollars by drivers he could get as good at that as he is being unruly. Paul has a couple of things going against him. One, he has no sponsorship following him around.  Two, he is old. His prime is passed. Still, he remains entertaining to watch. Good for him.

A good young American prospect currently on the sidelines is Graham Rahal. He turned down a two year deal from Dale Coyne to wait for an encore with Newman Haas Lanigan. The problem with that scenario is that it gets more complicated by the day. We already know Paul Newman is dead. Carl Haas is slowing down. Word on the street is that Lanigan is out. That type of disarray is not an ideal situation. Rahal may ultimately be screwed in that deal.

Rahal’s father and David Letterman are back. I find it odd those two are unable to secure quality sponsorship. Perhaps David’s carnal activity with the young ladies scares off the potential sponsors. Bobby is said by many to have that sort of reputation as well. Older fellows’ cavorting with younger women makes a perfect case for one of the popular erectile dysfunction medications. Big pharma likes pushing Viagra, Cialis and Levitra and they spend handsomely for it. Would that not be perfect? They could even root around for the related snake oils like Extenze. I think it’s perfect and makes sense given their alleged propensities.

Given the continuing collapse of NASCAR sponsorship deals and television ratings now is a perfect time to tout the relative bang for the buck in Indy Car.

April 21, 2010

Fresh Batch of Questions for IZOD Indy Car and IMS

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 1:35 am

The next time I talk to IZOD Indy Car/IMS folks, a few questions will probably get asked:

-If Versus is such a great partner fully committed to the growth of the series, why don’t the Lights have a place on the broadcast schedule? It is not as if Versus is loaded with ESPN-style stick n’ ball, and hockey season is about over. If the ladder is to be meaningful, the ladder MUST be on television.

-Please tell me ABC/ESPN won’t get rewarded again for the mostly abysmal job they have done for the past ten years.

-When will online video of live events be something other than a frustrating joke?

Why aren’t the Lights on the schedule for Kansas? Do they not need oval practice before Indy? I know a lot of cars got wrecked last year there. It was cold and windy that day. 50-mph gust windy. Ovals are disappearing faster for Lights than for Indy Cars. This is a dangerous precedent.

-How solid is the league’s relationship with ISC? I would hate to lose Chicagoland or Watkins Glen, and Michigan and Richmond really need to get back onto the schedule.

-Several houses on Georgetown Road have simply vanished into thin air over the past year. What is going on, and what happens to Georgetown Road?

So many questions…

April 20, 2010

Is IZOD Indy Car Deliberately Trying to Kill Oval Racing for Indy Cars and Their Fans?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:26 am

It seems that way with increasing frequency. The main type of hype we hear from the powers that be usually involve the next potentially great street event; e.g., Baltimore. Every one of them is positioned to be the ‘next Long Beach.’ Usually they turn out to be the next Denver/San Jose/Hawaiian Super Prix. Ovals are usually dismissed (mostly by cowards) as venues that can’t draw well or tear up too much equipment.

A safe prediction is that 2010 will be the last year Indy Car runs at Kansas, another wide 1.5 mile oval capable of providing spectacular side by side racing…an otherwise perfect opportunity to reinforce the positioning that IZOD Indy Car features the fastest drivers in the world. When they run a race on Saturday but essentially close the track to the public for practice and qualifying on Friday, confidence is not instilled that the relatively popular west of the Mississippi venue is here for the long haul.

The single most idiotic, fan-unfriendly, hostile thing a venue can do is close access to any part of an event to fans. There are a large number of people who are flying from various parts of the country to Kansas City on the last Thursday of the month expecting a FULL weekend of Indy Car action. What they will get is admission on race day, and if you happen to be in the neighborhood they will admit you on Friday with a Saturday race ticket. That has not really been publicized. The ticket office indicated as late as yesterday the track was closed to the public on Friday. It took a call to track management to clear that up. In any event, trying to attract new fans to the Indy Cars seems like a lost cause to both the track and the league, and that is tragic.

I may be off base, but since this is an ISC track with a history of treating its customers badly combined with an evolving Indy Car brass de-emphasis of ovals, this particular screwing of paying customers will probably slide right by with nothing more than some flowery, diverting press release that insults the intelligence of racing fans. I sincerely hope this track does not give way to yet another street abomination. I propose a new bylaw for Randy Bernard: Whenever an oval is dropped for whatever reason (Richmond, Pikes Peak, Nashville and Michigan come to mind as some of the more lame excuses) it must be replaced with another oval. There are plenty available and with the newfound marketing acumen now in play, promoting new ones should be a lot easier.

It is my belief the series should re-institute a high value series of events. Have a corporate sponsor put up, say, 10 million for a ‘quad crown.’  The Indianapolis 500 would be the centerpiece, and ideally you would have a 1.5 trademark oval (Texas is the logical choice), Long Beach representing street circuits, and perhaps one natural terrain road course. Alternatively, you could leverage what has been a mutually beneficial relationship with SMI and have a season finale at the Las Vegas oval, then have one helluva season ending party somewhere on the strip right afterward.

Randy Bernard has discussed a similar notion, and that is a step in the right direction.

April 19, 2010

IZOD Indy Car: And Now On to the OVALS!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 4:41 pm

Congratulations to a few:

-Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won the Long Beach street event in the way a driver should.

-Andretti Autosport, for winning one that was nearly a year and a half from the last time they did that.

-The folks in Long Beach who put on a fine show.

-Fans who showed up in droves.

-Any sponsor bright enough to step up and ensure RHR is funded for the entire season at AA. The fact that he remains a part time driver is pretty ridiculous.

We are now headed into a stretch of the schedule that REALLY appeals to fans like me. Ovals. Kansas has new leadership for this year’s Indy Car event, and I hope no one finds a way to screw up this event. Kansas usually has a good turnout and now fans do not have to have season tickets.

One thing ovals have going against them is when 45,000 people show up in a big stadium, the other 50,000 or so empty seats causes shortsighted people to freak. When 45,000 show up for a street event (where there are no permanent seats) it is far easier to lie about attendance. The Defender crew hopes the weather in KC is better this year than last…when it was cold, windy and moist.

Kansas should be a good lead-in to the half-a-month of May for Indy, where the common wish is for good weather on the one qualifying weekend.

My pulse is quickening.

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