Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

June 1, 2010

2010 Indianapolis 500: A Report Card From One of its Most Loyal Fans

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:20 am

Time for the post-Indianapolis 500 report card from one of its biggest fans. This was my 46th race and I’m planning to go for as long as I breathe. It remains an awe inspiring event unparalleled anywhere in sports.

Since this is a report card, you will get good with bad. I do not have a dog in the fight other than being a guy who spends a lot of money every year going not only to the big race in Speedway but also to many other IZOD Indy Car events every year.

It is painfully obvious the new IMS bean counting philosophy has kicked in. For the first time in years nothing new or rehabbed was apparent. That is not so bad…the place is already a temple for millions of racing fans. Worrisome is the lack of attention to detail that has always been there. The infield grass was a lot higher and more unkept. Trash was not picked up in a prompt fashion. Messes were made and remained for days. Plumbing in some restrooms was faulty. In some cases it was just leaking pipes. In others it was the drain that leaked. Standing in the pee of others while letting your own join the mix is gross. It is nowhere near post-WWII in terms of condition, but will the weeds growing from cracks in the cement around the facility become weeds growing on the track? I sincerely hope not. The last time bean counters ran the joint the late Tony Hulman had to step in to rescue it from becoming a bigger Eagledale. Look what kind of shape that community is in today.

For every courteous, helpful, friendly yellow shirt my party encountered at least two hostile yellow-shirted thugs made visits less pleasurable. That is completely unacceptable. Stands ruled closed were not consistent from day to day, and far too much arbitrary enforcement of made up rules went over the line. The good ones are great. The bad apples discredit everyone else. The worst ones are not difficult to find and weed out. That needs to happen now. What is with the golf carts all over areas where people are walking? How about coming up with golf cart lanes?

Folks in the ticket and credential offices are consistently friendly and helpful. I have rarely had a bad experience with any of them. Concessions this year seemed much better in terms of both quality and value.

The more juvenile excuses for racing fans have spent considerable time and energy denigrating the Hulman-George family, especially Tony George. That has never made sense to adults. On one level it is easy to understand why members of that family are targets. They do not sparkle in front of cameras. Their ability to speak in public is not great. While not as cartoonish buffoon-like as, say, the fictional Clampett family, they are often portrayed in much more cruel ways. That is a real shame. That family has managed to string together thirteen decades of making that the best, most legendary race course in the world and yet are blamed for damaging mistakes others forced on the sport. I believe it is time to give them the respect they deserve for making it possible for the world to visit every May. I have hope for that family’s next generation.

It is their way to say nice things about partners, and IZOD is certainly one that is ideal. One that is not is ESPN. It is my sincere hope the Department of Justice allows the takeover of NBC by Comcast. Versus is obviously a godsend, but not having 25% of total households hurts. Leveraging of new NBC OTA and cable brands can only help Indy Car. ESPN gets worse every year as a ‘partner.’ The quality of their coverage and promotion of the series pales in comparison to Versus.

Ancillary coverage in other divisions such as the racing area of espn.com is an unprofessional abomination operated by clowns who just do not get it and grudge holding writers who refuse to budge from the past. They do not deserve to be involved any longer in this Centennial era. They have little respect for or understanding of it and they must go. I appreciate their 40+ years as well, but the people who made it great are either dead or somewhere else, and have been replaced by dim bulbs whose lack of talent and backbone hurts the sport.

The homogenization of the package must go, and I believe 2012 is too long to wait, although that is where we will likely get stuck. I thoroughly enjoyed the race, but when most everyone slowed down at the end running sub-200mph laps I do not feel I got my money’s worth. I want to see a RACE to the end. Short fuel almost cost a driver who had led laps earlier his life. The competition has become far too micromanaged.

What makes the race for me is seeing drivers who get themselves into, then out of situations that can turn out very badly. Access to their frequencies and to those of race control, the radio network and other track personnel allow those lucky enough to have up to date scanners and headphones to become a fly-on-the-wall part of the 220-mph soap opera that unfolds every year. My favorite this year occurred just after Ryan Briscoe smacked the wall. A caring Roger Penske asked Ryan ‘…are you OK?’ When Briscoe’s answer was affirmative, the back to business Roger Penske asked ‘…what happened?’ with the most chilling, icy tone imaginable. It is also fun to listen to selective enforcement of rules. That is probably not intentional because it is not possible to shepherd 33 cars racing at over 200-mph. Still, the WWE-referee-like component remains entertaining.

Thanks to all the drivers, teams and crews who descend in May to put on a great show. I will continue doing business with companies that sponsor my favorite sport. I renewed my tickets bright and early Monday.

We have HOW long to wait for May, 2011?



  1. Nobody with any sense wants to see a return of the Snakepit in turn 3 and all of that insanity. One of my happiest days was when the bikers disappeared from Indy in the early 90’s. Tony George did a great job of making it a family event. The Hulman-George family is nuts if they throw that away. He also did a great job on the facility itself, and that appears to be in jeopardy. I do think these moves are a bit extreme and indicate to me that the speedway might be on the market very soon, as they milk every last dollar from the speedway and try to spike its value.

    To me there are two issues, the IRL and the speedway. They are separate. Even as the family cuts back on support of the IRL, it’s very counterproductive to do the same with their speedway investment.

    As for the race, disappointed to see Derwood win again. Watching Ashley try to steal some of the lime light yet again was just as sickening the second time around. Chip Ganassi probably did as much as anyone to try to destroy the Indy 500 when he was part of Cart, and to hear his “pride” at winning Indy and Daytona in the same year made him a hypocrite at best.

    Comment by Bob F. — June 1, 2010 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

    • Bob, I believe it’s in the deed they can’t sell the speedway. In other words, it’s a mute point. It’s not being sold, otherwise I could argue they were selling the speedway if they started fixing it up even more. And even if they could sell it, who would buy it? ISC can’t afford and neither can SMI as they have their issues too. Futhermore, it’s not a sellers market and won’t be for some time. I think the IMS are just being tight wads in this economy.

      About the race: With all of the oil seaping out of the track due to the intense heat, I can’t believe there were not many more accidents. The conditions were not best for racing.

      Comment by M. Miller — June 1, 2010 @ 7:13 pm | Reply

  2. Well, one driver DID dominate, just not the one everyone thought would. My congrats are reserved for Tony Kanaan, who drove one of the most masterful races I’ve ever seen at Indy, also Dan Wheldon, Alex Lloyd, and Marco Andretti, who was right to complain about people passing him when the yellow came on, and it paid off. That Hunter-Reay-Conway wreak chillingly reminded me of 1958, when Pat O’Connor went up over a wheel of Jimmy Reece in much the same way, and was killed. Fortunately, this time the results were much better. I like your comment about “Derwood”, Bob F.–are you referring to the Garry Moore-Durward Kirby relationship?

    Comment by DOUG — June 1, 2010 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

  3. I think a lot of the details will get straightened out by next year. The miscues (and oversights) are all fixable and attributable to the massive sea change over the past year at 16th street.

    Comment by Demond Sanders — June 1, 2010 @ 11:00 pm | Reply

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