The Defender contingent hopes everyone had a great Thanksgiving if you are living in the United States of America. If not, here is hope you had a good week and great weekend. Yours truly found out how out of shape I am on various slopes out west. It was all fun and there are no broken bones. What is never fun is encountering residual cart sleaze as IndyCar continues its forward momentum.
Most people who derive a living from writing about motorsports have matured to the point where stupid, pointless agendas foisted during their quaint ‘I-hate-Tony-who-is-the-root-of-all-problems’ periods are things of the past . . . just like cart, which more often than not employed such writers. Even Robin Miller seems downright giddy more often than not. His nose, however, is occasionally lodged so far up the rear end of Randy Bernard that he probably sneezes fecal fragments. That is OK. He is far more docile and less destructive these days. One of the few remaining soldiers on a deserted island still fighting a long concluded war is Gordon Kirby, a bitter old fossil whose best contribution to the sport and its fans these days would be playing shuffleboard outside a double wide in an active adult community somewhere in Florida.
One writer who remains difficult to figure out is John Oreovicz, a Hoosier who writes for ESPN, the IZOD IndyCar Series ‘partner’ (word used in the loosest possible sense). Usually he does a great job focusing on a topic and telling compelling stories. Once in a while he regresses to hater-level immaturity as he did this past January with incredibly stupid statements like: “Tony George will go down in history as the man who effectively destroyed Indy-car racing.”
Oreovicz says he has been watching for 35 years. That might partially explain his occasional cart-centricity. Whenever anyone singles out Tony George as the root of any perceived malaise in IndyCar, I chuckle and wonder how people who position themselves as experts do not really understand history.
Indy Car in general was in a league of its own for eight decades until the ascendancy of NASCAR in the late 80s and early 90s. When cart began deemphasizing Indy and willfully shutting out the Jeff Gordons of the sport in earnest they intensified their inadvertent destruction of open wheel racing that began in 1979 as NASCAR took full advantage. That is a fact that far too easily eludes those not fortunate enough to have a great deal of experience prior to 1979. That is also how Tony George gets simplistically heaped with blame.
Oreovicz wrote a column on the ESPN web site shortly before Thanksgiving that contains a lot of balanced facts, including many obvious points:
-IndyCar is a major sport poised for growth in the future with lots of positive developments this year.
-Randy Bernard has done a great job despite his lack of experience.
-Tony George deserves praise for spearheading SAFER development.
My problem is his inclusion of offensive and gratuitous cart-centric stupidity under the guise of things for which to be thankful. Is it not time to understand that we are getting ready for 2011, and that cart/champcar has not been relevant for years? Why, for example, use the malicious hater term ‘crapwagon’ in ANY context? Getting ‘through’ 2011 should be easy based solely on the 100th anniversary of the 500.
“A stagnant sport is truly being revived under Bernard’s leadership, and morale within the paddock is better than it has been since the mid-’90s.” Hmmm. Curious. The mid-‘90s. Right before the cart boycott, correct? Whose morale are we talking about? The boycotters? It is sentences like those that skew the balance.
Predictably, a sleazeball, gratuitous Tony George slam gets included: “I’m thankful that the women of the Hulman-George family found the courage to remove Tony George from his position of power within Indy car racing and in the family’s other business interests. Aside from squandering hundreds of millions of dollars of the family fortune, TG’s actions did severe damage to Indy Car racing, and to a lesser extent, to the reputation of the Indianapolis 500. Tony’s sister, Josie, in particular, deserves thanks for recognizing Bernard’s leadership potential and for convincing him to step away from his comfort zone running the Pro Bull Riders tour.”
Would this not have been more professional had Oreovicz simply thanked Josie for promoting the hire of Bernard? Why is it necessary to rehash dated, mostly meritless hater talking points?
-‘Tony George got fired.’ No sh!t, Sherlock. We got that the first few hundred times that was trumpeted by the guild.
-‘Tony squandered hundreds of millions of dollars of the family fortune.’ By the way, when will ANY of these so-called experienced writers give me an accounting of revenue versus expenses since 1996? None EVER have, yet all parrot some variation of the hundreds of millions claim.
-‘Tony damaged Indy Car racing.’ Many smart people believe Tony SAVED Indy Car racing. This opinion is reinforced when reviewing actual history. When left to their own devices, the supposedly superior cart and champcar killed themselves in relatively short order. Given their operational philosophies failure was inevitable. Tony did not damage Indy Car racing. He is one of a very few that fully understands and respects the role IMS plays. My only regret as a fan is that he did not have business acumen that matched his understanding of the heart and soul of the sport. To blame him for any real or perceived problem, however, remains ignorant and disingenuous.
-‘I’d like to publicly express my thanks to the Speedway and the IndyCar Series for shedding the culture of arrogance that marked the Tony George era. By working with (instead of against) the media… ‘ The only people who have seemed arrogant since 1996 are racing writers, cart owners who boycotted and cart-centric zealots without any meaningful understanding of the history of the sport. If the brass at IMS seems arrogant, perhaps such arrogance is directed only at those who routinely crapped on the bricks whenever invited to the big track. Those whose respect and behavior is commensurate with maturity and professionalism do not experience any such arrogance. Most of those who foolishly believe there is an arrogance problem probably ought to utilize a large mirror for adequate self reflection.
Some pundits have made commendable leaps toward consummate professionalism. Others are just not quite there yet.