Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

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.



  1. Wow, you truly are pathetic. You have gone from breaking down articles you don’t agree with to breaking down Email’s to columnists you don’t agree with. GET A LIFE LOSER.

    Editor’s Note: Just trying to save the future of the sport for the youth of today from malicious destroyers who do not possess an ounce of sportsmanship such as yourself.

    Comment by TroyM — April 29, 2010 @ 5:13 am | Reply

  2. Troy, you need to find Blue…. then get a clue.

    The real split took place in 1979. Then the plane crash killing USAC officals took place. However, despite the termoil, press people were not hired to publish damaging stories like CART did in 1996.

    Ignorance in regards to these facts is something to take into consideration when it comes to credibility. Those who spout ‘1995’ were obviously polluted by CART’s poison pens.

    What CART did was terrible with the negative press. They fought what they saw as opposition by destroying the Earth. Had they spent their resources towards promoting their own instead of killing the ‘other’ and entered cars into the 1996 Indy 500, they would have had their way or a resolve. Instead, they chose to boycott and kill by press, dumbest move of all.

    Get a clue, let it go and support IndyCar and consider “IRL” the past. I have.

    Comment by M. Miller — April 29, 2010 @ 12:31 pm | Reply

    • You might try getting your facts straight. The USAC plane crash happened in 1978. It doesn’t surprise me that you bootlickers hold onto the claim that the real split took place in 1979. It is just further proof that IMS and TG’s actions in the mid 90’s were to “take back what they felt was theirs” You want to cry that CART scorched the earth, but TG’s minions did plenty of earth scorching. From the instant the IRL was born, it was basically the “anti CART” It was going to be better, more like Nascar, blah, blah, blah.

      Editor’s Note: IRL earth scorching since 1996 included two things. 1. 25/8, in reaction to cart’s irrational threats. 2. An innocent comment about a hammer that got twisted into a panty knotting frenzy among the cart faithful. Other than than, Indy Car, unlike cart, took the high ground and plowed forward. You bitter, malcontented fools living in the past century could learn a valuable lesson from the relative class of Indy Car.

      Comment by TroyM — April 30, 2010 @ 4:17 am | Reply

  3. I haven’t posted in a while due to life, but this article moved me for some reason. I think it is because I too was devoted to CART, and was too young to have seen any IndyCar racing before 1979. I’m a little bit older than Mr. Melendez, but I fully understand where he is coming from and how he views what happened in the mid 90’s. I understand that some of you did get to see the greats live and in person, and before the original split, but you have to take into account that age and experience greatly factor into opinion. I would be on the IRL bashing bandwagon myself if it wasn’t for the fact that I kept an open mind, and enjoyed both during the “split”. And, like a lot of fans, I wish it would not have gone down the way it did. Simple fact is ego played a lot into what happened on both sides. Who was the worst? I’d say CART, and I was more a fan of CART. Given this, I am a student of history, and try to soak up as much as I can about the past of this sport. Dan Gurney’s white paper made excellent points about were the sport should go, it was ego that distorted it. As defender states, CART chose to boycott; again proving my point about who was worse. What we need to do now is embrace where we are and move forward. Yes mistakes were made, and certain groups got really big heads, but what we have right now is a product that is growing faster than anyone expected this year, and I am optimistic for the future. I hope that oldschoolers like Defender (and Defender, I know you do embrace the present and future) and newschoolers such as Mr. Melendez and myself can find middle ground at some point. We all have to move forward.

    Comment by IndyFanMarquis — April 29, 2010 @ 6:23 pm | Reply

  4. Just a question for Speedgeek, Mr. Miller, or even IRL Defender–what happened to all those big engines they used in Indycars in the late 90’s? Did they consider them too expensive, too heavy, or what? I like the Honda powerplant they have now, but it seemed like they used those huge stock blocks as a cost-cutting measure. Care to educate me on this one?

    Comment by DOUG — April 29, 2010 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

    • I’ll bite. Do you mean the 4.0 liter “stock block” V8s of the ’97 to about ’00 or ’01 (can’t really remember when they downsized)? They cut displacement of the engines to 3.5 liters and then again later to 3.0 liters in an effort to bring speeds down. The size jumped back up to 3.5 liters a few years ago when they switched to full-mixture ethanol because they felt they needed the extra 500cc of displacement to balance the torque characteristics of the engine with the energy capacity of the fuel (I’m being vague there because I never bothered to get into the chemistry or thermodynamics of the whole “upsizing” thing; my nerd-dom goes only so far).

      OK, to the original question, the 4.0 liter Olds and Nissan engines were indeed supposed to be cheaper than the engines CART was using at the time, and I believe they were by a large factor. Also, they were supposed to be owned and tuned by the teams, whereas the CART engines were not allowed to be opened up by the teams, upon penalty of death or whatever from the manufacturers (so that somebody couldn’t open up an engine and sell the internal secrets to another manufacturer, like Pat Patrick did with the Ilmor engine when he gave their info to Alfa Romeo). When the IRL changed to the 3.5 (and this is all from memory, so please excuse me if any of this isn’t quite right), they opened up the formula to full-on racing engines. This allowed in Toyota and Honda, who had no stock block V8 that they could base an IRL engine on. That leaves us with the engine formula that we have today.

      Hope that helped. The more you know…. [da da da dahhhhhh]

      Comment by The Speedgeek — April 30, 2010 @ 1:32 pm | Reply

  5. Agree with most of this post. It’s time to let go of the hate. Enjoy what we have.

    I for one am thrilled that Randy the Bull is in charge. There is hope.

    Comment by Demond Sanders — April 29, 2010 @ 10:42 pm | Reply

  6. I’ll share a quote I heard recently and posted on my Facebook profile:

    Is abandoning all possible hope
    of having a better past.

    Comment by ZenMan — April 30, 2010 @ 1:25 am | Reply

  7. Oh, and I wanted to echo what most of the others have posted here. I was a CART fan from ’91 through to its end, though I was certainly more of an IRL fan in ’06 and ’07 (have you seen the list of guys who drove in ChampCar that last season? Oh, not good times…). I was a bit dismayed at the split, and wished that it would end (no matter which side had to cave) the whole time it went on. On the other hand, I did enjoy all the racing I got to watch between the two series the whole time. I had my problems with the IRL and Tony George, but I also had my problems with the egos involved on the CART side as well. All along, though, I knew that the only way for the sport to survive would be for the two sides to get back together. Now that that’s happened, I’m just wishing that people would quit focusing on the past (as glorious or as awful as you might think it was) and focus on where we need to go. No amount of apologizing by Randy Bernard and no amount of possibly made up e-mails to Robin Miller will help there.

    Here’s my suggestion: everybody needs to go to a race. Maybe two, maybe more, whatever you can manage. Watch all the races on TV (sponsors do still look at TV ratings). Write to Randy Bernard. Join Downforce, so that you can fill out their fan e-mail surveys (which the League looks at). Stop complaining about things that happened a long time ago. It’s time for everybody to pull in one direction.

    Comment by The Speedgeek — April 30, 2010 @ 1:39 pm | Reply

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