Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

November 29, 2010

How About We Give Thanks for IZOD Indy Car’s FUTURE? Let Go of The Past. Evolve. This Includes YOU, Oreo.

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:22 am

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.

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4 Comments »

  1. mmmm..sh*t sammich taste good!! why oreo not like sh*t sammich?

    Editor’s Note: Predictably, a typical youthful, Canadian cart fan is first in line to hypocritically wallow in the very ‘sh*t’ he/she believes it sees. One of the things that makes the sport difficult to follow are socially retarded idiots who stand in the way of evolution and make asses of themselves. One might think that after this long they could grow up at least minimally.

    Comment by jb — November 29, 2010 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  2. “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.”

    Amen and Amen. If the Tony George haters were only honest with themselves…. When Penske and company tried to de-emphasize the 500, they declared war on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was obvious to us fans at the start. Cart made the split inevitable. I too wish Tony had been a better businessman and could have made his vision work. It was the right vision.

    Still keeping my fingers crossed that Randy Bernard and company can get the job done (and done as right as possible).

    Comment by Bob F. — November 29, 2010 @ 5:03 pm | Reply

  3. Welcome back, Defender; hope you had a good ski trip.
    You know me by now; we’re usually in almost complete agreement. I do agree that TG didn’t single-handedly “destroy” Indy car racing. But I would like to hear your take on what did or didn’t happen. The IRL was formed to create a more “American” environment. That didn’t happen, at least for long. It was formed to lower the costs of racing. That didn’t happen, at least for long. It was hoped that its formation would put more “fans in the stands”. That REALLY didn’t happen, in fact, the IRL lost more tracks than kept. In short, it failed to accomplish any of its goals, again, at least for very long. In fact, it had to go back to the way it was pre-1996 to salvage anything. Maybe you can clear up something I might have missed. (Glad you didn’t break any bones–skiing is something I steer clear of!)

    Editor’s Note: Actually, more Americans did race for a long while. 1996 through 2001 was that evolutionary cycle. Costs were also lowered for a long while right up until Toyota and Honda entered the series. More fans were drawn as well as the IRL grew. Texas routinely packed in close to 100K. When ISC tracks were viable promotional partners they also drew well. cart attendance figures were usually always fiction. cart lost over twice as many tracks over its life than the IRL has. Usually IRL goals were whatever its fans interpreted them to be…mostly straw man situations concocted by disenfranchised cart ‘fans.’ One this the sport has always done is evolve. No one should ever attempt to make a case for one philosophy then expect it to stick forever. It never has and likely never will. Indy Car is a sport of ebbs and flows. I enjoy the evolution and have never stuck a flag in any one period. That would be dumb IMHO.

    Comment by DOUG — November 29, 2010 @ 5:36 pm | Reply

  4. The fact is indycar does not enjoy the national prominence that it once did. This is evident by much lower ratings and sponsership dollars.

    Editor’s Note: Lower ratings that what? Everything is down from ’96. There are hundreds of new channels and content delivery technologies than there were even ten years ago. You need to compare apples to apples. Also, sponsOrship dollars increased to $84 million in 2010. Things are moving forward.

    That’s not say the 500 isn’t important, but it does not have the mainstream relevance it used too.

    Despite what many beleive, Tony George is not soley responsible for the decline of indycar. There is enough blame to be spread around to a lot of parties. The owners for boycotting come to mind. However, to say that Tony has no responsibility is misleading. He came up with the 25/8 rule which did tremendous damage even though it was short lived. He split the fan base by forming his own league. Of course cart shot themselves in the foot at every opportunity. Like I said, there is enough blame to go around.

    Let’s even set aside the split. When TG ran the show; the series was poorly marketed and poorly run. It had the destinct feel of a rudderless ship, leadership starts at the top.

    Editor’s Note: And yet IndyCar survives and now has title sponsOrship and increased manufacturer involvement. cart failed. Twice. it actually WAS a rudderless ship.

    I am the farthest thing possible from being a cart apologist. I want nothing more then to see the sport return to the prominance it used to enjoy. However, let’s not forget that TG had a part in getting to this point. Also, which smart people believe he saved indycars? Other the yourself of course. .

    Editor’s Note: Mostly those of us with broader viewpoints and experience who have followed the sport since well before cart even existed.

    Comment by Matt — November 29, 2010 @ 7:21 pm | Reply


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