Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

July 16, 2010

Let Us Hope Many Indy Car Owners and Some Entrenched Fans Don’t Go Down the ‘Stupid’ Path Again

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 11:03 am

One thing I have chosen not to do yet is check the popular press for reaction to Indy Car’s announcement of their new car strategy in 2012. Only a few items have been sampled, including the racing show Kevin Lee and Curt Cavin do on the old WIBC 1070 frequency. I figure they are as balanced a source as any, and they discuss most sides of the argument. It appears many out here in fan land refuse to evolve and believe it is a horrible decision. That is probably an easy excuse for people stuck in previous years to jerk their knees and shriek. That has been a common form of immaturity for over fifteen years now.

One of the few persons who captured the spirit of this announcement correctly is Eddie Gossage, who essentially said it’s time for people who call themselves racing fans to shut the hell up and start working together to move the sport forward. I agree.

About the only disturbing aspect of the big announcement was the lack of attendance by the majority of owners. Does their ‘boycott’ of the event signal unhappiness? I also heard Ben Bowlby was upset and issued a snippy press release that alluded to their intent to continue the Delta Wing project, although that apparently does not involve being bolted to a Dallara tub.  So what’s the plan? Another boycott induced split? After twice killing themselves? Hopefully malcontents don’t combine abject stupidity with uppity angst again. That strategy did not work out so well in the past. Twice.

It is easy to understand simplistic dismissal of the new strategy by some. But the strategy mirrors how many cars are built today anyway. And isn’t this remarkably close to the NASCAR strategy? Aren’t their cars template frames with template bodies and template parts? The only things that really separate a Ford from a Chevy from a Dodge are decals and motors, essentially. Why isn’t anyone screaming about innovation there?

Davey Hamilton has been around a long time, and he reminded folks that Indy Car has had up to three chassis manufacturers in the past, including G-Force, Riley & Scott and Dallara. Why is there not more than one? Because the other two left. Dallara was the chassis that won the most races. With less than 30 cars most weeks, how are two chassis manufacturers supposed to make it unless the field is divided half and half? That won’t happen. The only thing that is certain with that strategy is higher cost. That is why Indy Car has only Honda as well. No one else is willing to spend what it takes to beat them. The new strategy accommodates meaningful innovation without excessive cost. The parameters outlined on Wednesday offer tremendous potential. New motor specs may also encourage new participation at lower cost. Time will tell.

The new car strategy is only part of the equation. I wish 16th & Georgetown had the stones to finally end their toxic relationship with ESPN. IMS has spent forty years fellating ABC and now ESPN (they even flew the entire 500 field to Bristol for a day this year), and for the first thirty or so years, the favor got returned. Now, however, ESPN continues actively attempting to kill the Indy Car brand. This is evident in many subtle and not so subtle ways. ABC’s coverage of recent Indy Car events that are not the 500 are utterly abominable and virtually unwatchable. At ESPN’s self-congratulating ‘ESPY’ awards, they introduced Danica Patrick as ‘NASCAR’s own.’ Enough. It is time to shoot that ‘partnership’ in the head and move on. They do not deserve the 2011 100th anniversary 500 nor do they deserve the 100th running of race in a few years. We need a major network that respects its partner.

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17 Comments »

  1. 18th and Georgetown???? I don’t think there is such an intersection in Speedway.

    Editor’s Note: Wow. Good catch. Perhaps your reading comprehension skills are more advanced than previously thought. I have corrected that typo. Thanks!

    Comment by TroyM — July 16, 2010 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

  2. I am with you, Defender, the time has come to politely advise ABC/ESPN that the IRL no longer requires its services…when ESPN was a basic cable start-up back in the early ’80’s, both Indy Car and F1 helped fill out the network’s then limited programming and brought open wheel to millions of homes…but as the network grew and acquired deals with the big stick and ball leagues, and then its deal to televise NASCAR, open wheel racing became a red headed stepchild. If the Comcast/NBC acquisition is finalized by Justice, then we can hope that Comcast will shuffle some of the IRL events over to broadcast TV and open up the viewership…of course, one must ask how the IRL and IMS will fare without the $$$ that the ABC Indy 500 broadcast fees brings in every year…I would imagine that other than ticket sales for the 500 and the Brickyard, the money generated by the ABC contract for the 500 has kept this series afloat for years.

    Comment by Neil Rubin — July 16, 2010 @ 1:54 pm | Reply

  3. WOW, ESPN took a a shot and it may backfire. Saying ‘NASCAR’s own’ forces an issue with Randy Benard and Danica herself.

    Unlike a passive Tony George, this will most likley motivate Randy even more, if that’s possible.

    Danica finds herself under more pressue. She does nothing for IndyCar ratings anymore and she struggles in NASCAR. With Dale Jr, NASCAR can’t afford another propped up star. But it looks like that’s what they’ll get. These superficial tendencies of NASCAR could be what has cause many to tire of the sport.

    If Danica does get out her contract, that will be a buyout and the money can be used to put a strong young gun in the seat.

    Comment by M. Miller — July 16, 2010 @ 2:55 pm | Reply

  4. 1) No plan to grandfather existing cars

    2) Smells like Dallara had this in the bag before the ICONIC panel was formed

    3) No committed manufacturers outside of Dallara and Honda

    I hope that Bowlby gets one of his cars on the track in the next year to prove its superiority… That will seriously get people talking.

    Comment by Robert Brown — July 16, 2010 @ 3:16 pm | Reply

    • Sounds to me like hey listened to the fans and didn’t want to have one car out there. Now there’s a better chance than ever. IndyCar will design the ‘safety cell’.

      If just one other manufacturer makes an areo kit, it will be a plus. And you know Penske will make one. It was a good choice.

      I don’t think the team owners will cause a stir but they might want ajustments, which is to be expected. The ICONIC board make up spans the whole polictical spectrum.

      Comment by M. Miller — July 16, 2010 @ 3:35 pm | Reply

      • With all criticism aside, this was probably the safest route for Indycar. I would have been perfectly content just to see different engine options. I love the look of the current Dallara and it wouldn’t bother me if it never changed. I simply thought the DeltaWing, with its design and amazing cost-effective strategy, might have been the radical change that we needed to get more people interested in the series.

        The current Dallara chassis is fine and Honda has proven itself as a producer of ridiculously reliable engines. Given the previous two points, team owners should try to lobby the league to grandfather the current cars. Penske himself thinks it should be done.

        Comment by Robert Brown — July 18, 2010 @ 4:26 pm

  5. 1) Well, not sure how much of a “shot” ESPN took at the ESPY’s with the Danica thing. Seemed more tongue in cheek to me. But, whateverver slight you think you feel, go for it.

    Editor’s Note: That’s part of ESPN’s bigger problem. Danica Patrick is not a full time NASCAR driver (yet). She IS a fill time IZOD Indy Car Series Driver. The correct introduction would have been: ‘IZOD Indy Car Series’ Own Danica Patrick.’ Don’t just casually dismiss this ‘slight.’ It was egregious and insulting. I am tired of seeing the Indy Car product treated like a bastard red-headed stepchild by you people. Your (ESPN overall) arrogance is astounding.

    2) There’s this thing called a contract among the TV partners that means ABC will broadcast the next two Indy 500s as well as four other races for each of the next two seasons. Those contracts tend not to get broken, for obvious financial reasons. Will another major network want the Indy 500 and four additional IndyCar Series races a year beginning in 2013? Maybe — and a sterling 2012 debut for the new car will be too late to help, because the negotiations will likely be over before a car hits the track that season — but the series is no better off if the Indy 500 gets a major network display and the other four races end up on cable. And with Versus’ deal running through at least 2017, there isn’t much wiggle room there either I would imagine. None of this is Insider information, mind you. But I think I’m pretty knowledgeable on the subject.

    K. Lee Davis
    Motorsports editor, ESPN.com

    p.s. Don’t forget to chat today with John Oreovicz from Toronto. I imagine the new car will be the No. 1 topic of conversation. Here’s a link, if the Defender will indulge me that much: http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/chat/_/id/33473

    Editor’s Note: Even Jack Arute noticed the crappy quality of ESPN on ABC for the last race. There is no comparison in the relative quality of Versus and ESPN on ABC. It is my hope that Justice approves Comcast’s takeover of NBC. That will open doors. I am aware of contracts. If I was Randy Bernard and I was stuck with the kind of awful ‘partnership’ ESPN phones in I’d have had lawyers involved from day one. I openly advocate 500s on NBC. They would respect the history and tradition of the sport a bit more than those in Bristol. They also take properties neglected on ABC and reinvigorate them. ESPN on ABC needs to start putting its money where it’s mouth is and get serious. What I have watched for the past ten years is a joke perpetrated by arrogant people who don’t get it. Although I really like both of them as people, neither Marty Reid nor Scott Goodyear belongs in their chairs. And what’s the idea of planting a fossil like Brent Musberger at the 500? I also have nothing against him but could we have a host that is relevant? IMS and the Indy Car Series has bent over in incredible ways for ESPN/ABC, and the degree to which they have been shat upon in return is disgusting. Take an objective look for once. ESPN needs to get past its own substantial ego.

    Thanks for the plug and no problem. Oreo should love this given his history as a former cart employee and road racing enthusiast.

    Comment by K. Lee Davis — July 16, 2010 @ 3:45 pm | Reply

    • Sorry Mr. Davis but you can’t spin the ESPY’s. That was no tounge and cheek reference and you know it. You are insulting the intelligence of everybody who you say that to. Nobody is denying that Nascar is popular but to make a statement like that really isn’t treating other sports very fair or balanced. She didn’t clarify either and I am sure this was a rehearsed event so overall it is sad display on both ESPN and Danica’s behalf.

      Comment by Brad — July 16, 2010 @ 8:16 pm | Reply

  6. Excellent observations. It appears no matter what indycar does it isn’t good enough for some people. Why don’t we see where there this new direction in chasis takes us before declare all is lost. But then again, being a relative new fan to the sport, it seems to me that rational thought escapes a lot of the so called fans out there.

    Comment by Matt — July 16, 2010 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

  7. I hate to inject politics into this but as far as the NBC – Comcast acquisition goes, there is an 800 pound gorilla that people should not ignore. NBC and its cable clone MSNBC are quite simply in the tank for the current administration. If you don’t think so, just watch Keith Oberman any night of the week. If Comcast takes over, there will be huge changes. I doubt that Eric Holder will allow this to happen.
    D, if this reply is too political, feel free to delete it.

    Editor’s Note: All forms of mainstream media have become biased in one way or the other. That does not really bother me except to laugh at them and lament the overall loss of professionalism. I believe that slide began when they allowed Rupert in. But that is neither here nor there. I’m only concerned about the coverage of Indy Car. NBC and it’s family of cable properties combined with Comcast would do a far better job than the neglect Indy Car has at present.

    Comment by Chris Lukens — July 16, 2010 @ 7:31 pm | Reply

  8. Mr. Davis, you can spin all you want, but the bottom line is, Indycar fans know ABC/ESPN ‘coverage’ sucks. Definite brand killing. We’re not stupid. ESPN can’t go away soon enough.

    Comment by Race Fan — July 16, 2010 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

  9. There’s one way to get better TV coverage and that’s put people in front of the television. ABC/ESPN treats Indycar like it’s Lacrosse or BMX Biking or Beach Volleyball because the ratings are about the same as those niche sports. I also think that Bernard is trying mightily to increase interest and sponsorships in/with the IRL so eventually the ratings will start to rise and the series will have some chips to bet with. That will take time, but so far so good to me.

    Comment by redd — July 16, 2010 @ 11:49 pm | Reply

  10. Technically, a split only failed once. CART was a monstrous success and IICS staff are trying to build the series back in CART’s shadow. The only “split” that failed was the original IRL concept.

    Comment by KingBucksFan69 — July 17, 2010 @ 1:55 pm | Reply

  11. Manufacturers, teams, and former NASCAR fans are all screaming about the lack of innovation, technology, manufacturer-differentiation, and lack of “stock” left in stock car racing.

    As for the IndyCar, I think your motives are good, but your arguments, and with all due respect understanding of the situation is off base. ICONIC chose the Dallara “safety cell” (and suspension and rear section, and wing supports) because money is most certainly an object for teams. Unless you had a means of attracting multiple large scale manufacturers who, by economies of scale could reasonably reduce the price of the equipment they produce you would be stuck with expensive chassis. For IndyCar, in its current state with very little media, sponsor, and manufacturer interest, you need to throw team owners a bone. Give them something that they can run cheaper, allow sponsors in at the same or lesser rates, and they get a better ROI – faster cars with ideally some interest to the fans lost in the split.

    I too have my reservations about whether or not this will be a success, and I certainly wanted to see Lola, Swift, Dallara, BAT, and some form fo DeltaWing all on the track together in 2012, in hindsight that was an unreasonable expectation. IndyCar is in serious trouble, and until money starts coming in like it did in the CART days it is unreasonable to expect the diversity and magic to just pop back in to a deflated sport. Think of the 2012 chassis as a stepping stone. Like the 80’s era of Marches and Lolas with Ford Cossie motors, hopefully manly, moderately inovative race cars that make the drivers seem like fearless gladiators once more will draw in the commercial and manufacturer interest once more.

    Comment by FormerNASCARfan — July 17, 2010 @ 2:05 pm | Reply

  12. Please excuse the typos. It’s early and I was watching practice. Haha.

    Comment by FormerNASCARfan — July 17, 2010 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

  13. the indy 500 is in no position to demand better coverage from ESPN, the indy 500 is not what it was.

    just be lucky its on TV

    Editor’s Note: I’m guessing you haven’t been at all, or at least since 1995…and that you are probably one of those entrenched cart idiots who refuse to grow up. So sad.

    Comment by a fan — July 17, 2010 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

  14. Here’s a little something Mr. Davis should share with his employer, if they haven’t already seen it.

    http://www.trackforum.com/forums/showthread.php?139806-The-ESPN-hate….appears-to-be-growing-outside-of-IndyCar-nation

    Comment by Race Fan — July 18, 2010 @ 1:36 pm | Reply


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