Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

April 20, 2011

Indy Racing Is Here To Stay. Is It Not Time For Its Obsessed Critics To Become Actual Racing Fans?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 6:18 pm

Over the past few days (years, for that matter) I have noticed with amusement the brusque defensiveness of racing fans (if you can call them that) whose preference lies toward the twisty-turny side of the sport. This small group of people usually begin howling whenever two things happen:

-The Indy Car Series is the primary topic.

-Whenever anything critical (whether real or merely perceived) is ever said about cart or Formula One.

Why do such people even bother? Are they that insecure about their own preferences? What is wrong with simply enjoying what it is you like? Formula One is a wonderful branch of the sport. Although it is not my favorite it remains ONE of my favorites and I never miss an event on television or in person if I can make it. It is a refreshingly different alternative and worthy of watching. It is my belief many fans whose primary preference is Indy Car feel the same way as I do. Live and let live. I very rarely hear or read from Indy Car fans the type of goofy, obsessive, malicious lunacy toward Formula One that gets hurled at Indy Car by many Formula One or cart fans.

In the past I have pointed out that same variety of extreme mentally challenged behavior by a small cadre of mostly illiterate NASCAR-centric residents of southern regions who are equally insecure and tend to screech even more incoherently for no apparent reason whenever any real or perceived NASCAR sleight is encountered.

Usually any such argument ends up going circular to the same meritless destination every single time. This phenomenon was articulated by our good blog friend Neil (a lawyer), who offered the following recently: “…however, we will never find common ground on the Tony George issue and his actions and conduct following his decision to create the IRL…I will always blame TG and his failed vision for splitting the American Open Wheel community and allowing NASCAR to become the most popular and lucrative form of motorsport in the US”

See what I mean? I believe that once a few more years go by and some of the more vociferous cart enthusiasts obtain some more maturity, Tony George will be respected for his accomplishments. The quaint but decidedly tasteless and ignorant stereotype his critics concocted then deluded themselves into swallowing will become irrelevant primarily because such critics may eventually figure out how to operate their brains.  When Tony George created the IRL he did not split the sport. cart’s arrogant ‘leadership’ huffed away like the spoiled rich kids they were and subsequently proceeded to scorch the landscape of the sport for the next decade or so, foolishly blaming Tony George every step of the way, until shamelessly slithering back after they had wiped themselves out of existence. Twice.  THAT is what split the sport.

“…you can continue to support his efforts and applaud his formation of the league which contained very valid arguments in favor of more ovals, more participation by American drivers, teams and manufacturers and a sharper focus on the Indy 500 as the crown jewel of the series…in counterpoint, I will continue to denounce his foolish decisions to sell out IMS to the Brickyard 400, his nonsense in bringing a hammer to work everyday, his complaining about IMS breathing money (doesn’t every business?) and his vindictive and pointless shut out of cart teams to the ‘500’ during the early years of the IRL”

Whacko stereotyping is but one of their consistent and non-endearing characteristics. I fail to understand how renting IMS to NASCAR (for a lot of money) for their consistently most attended race is bad. It gives actual racing fans more chances to enjoy the grandeur that is IMS. I never fail to get a huge laugh from the knee-jerk hypersensitivity about Tony George’s ‘hammer’ comment. Are you people genuinely that insecure about a sound bite? IMS is not breathing so much money these days. The current leadership is composed of risk-averse bean counters.  This becomes apparent when trying to enter the Flag Room, walking through tall grass on the grounds, trying to flush many toilets, or searching for meaningful self promotion. Finally, cart was not shut out of the 500. cart CHOSE to boycott, then stupidly referred to it as a ‘lockout.’ Talk about vindictive. That was their collective ego at work, and those are the facts. The handful of militant cart-centric holdouts can nail themselves to crosses all day long over this issue but it won’t ever change facts. You might as well join the rest of the planet in 2011.

“ …one thing that you can’t deny is the fact that but for Penske’s and Ganassi’s deep pocket sponsors pushing both teams to return to the 500 early in the last decade, cart’s top tier teams never would have migrated to the IRL along with Honda and Toyota…we continue to focus on the glory years of the 1990’s because we will never again see a reigning F1 champ come over to race in American Open Wheel, we will never again see the national media pay attention to Indy Car events, and we will never again match the general interest of NASCAR.”

It is all cyclical. I also enjoyed cart in the mid-1990s, but the way in which the world communicates with and entertains itself has completely changed in fundamental ways. The world is COMPLETELY different now than it was then. Over the course of my following Indy Car since 1959, I have seen periods I thought were BETTER that the ‘utopian’ years to which cart enthusiasts pine. Can you imagine 500s that included short trackers, current NASCAR stars and current Formula One stars? That all happened a few decades ago and was wonderful. The sport of auto racing has become one of specialized disciplines with little crossover. The IRL or Tony George did not cause that. Neither did cart’s arrogance. Natural evolution did. Longing for 1995 as if it is a possibility is well beyond stupid. It is just never going to happen. We are in a whole new century. Allow personal evolution to occur. Thank Tony George for saving the sport from itself.

While evolving, take an objective look at actual reality:

-Formula One continues to be exorbitantly expensive for no apparent reason. They keep changing rules, and the vacuous, white headed midget who runs that show may sell the whole kit and caboodle to Rupert Murdoch. Formula One is as much a nutjob circus as it ever was. As a fan I would definitely like to see them return to IMS (a venue they spent eight years being completely disrespectful about) even if the Austin facility actually gets built in time. I enjoyed all of their visits to IMS before the price tag got ridiculous.

-NASCAR can no longer come close to selling out any of their venues and ratings are flat. It is not the 800 pound gorilla it used to be. Again, these things tend to be cyclical.

-Indy Car is poised to continue an impressive resurgence that began a couple of years ago. Dynamic leadership has made bold moves, and all key metrics are on the rise, including attendance, ratings and sponsorship spend. The Versus deal was well ahead of its time and as they evolve into the NBC Sports brand and pick up as many or more households as ESPN, Indy Car will be exposed and promoted to an audience unclouded by the hysterical teeth grinding of the past.

“That said, I really wish you would stop bashing us who supported cart/champ car and instead focus on the positive aspects of the series moving forward and concentrating on ways to improve the racing and the health of the series…do you not agree?”

Wholeheartedly. ‘Bashing’ is largely an imaginary phenomenon made possible by the vivid imaginations of those whose twisted obsession has convinced them their series did no wrong and was victimized by a man otherwise positioned to be some sort of cocaine-ingesting idiot. In other words, that type of squawking is hollow. I already enjoy all forms of motorsport and only waste time on such pointless, counterproductive posturing when one of you trots out your dated insecure obsessions. 2011 is a wonderful place to be, and Indy Car is stronger than it is has been in years. Let’s all enjoy it together.



  1. Frankly, I’m not sure why either side (Defender/Disciple’s or Neil’s) bothers saying their chunk of rhetoric from the 15 year old (or 3 year old, if you prefer to think of the useless part of this debate going back to Unification) war of words. Here’s the part of this post that I liked:

    “Indy Car is poised to continue an impressive resurgence that began a couple of years ago. Dynamic leadership has made bold moves, and all key metrics are on the rise, including attendance, ratings and sponsorship spend. The Versus deal was well ahead of its time and as they evolve into the NBC Sports brand and pick up as many or more households as ESPN, Indy Car will be exposed and promoted to an audience unclouded by the hysterical teeth grinding of the past.”

    That’s all that matters. Tony George? Irrelevent (I think; I guess we’ll see if he gets back on the IMS board, though, before this issue is totally put to rest, and even then he’s liable to not change anything). “Hammers and nails”? Ancient history. “Stars and cars”? A million years ago, as far as I’m concerned. A “vision” for the future of open wheel that didn’t work out? Whatever. All water long since under the bridge.

    It’s 2011. Talking about stuff that happened years ago is like debating who won certain skirmishes in the American Civil War: sort of interesting for a while, but accomplishes exactly nothing. The past can not be changed, as much as many of us might wish that it could. I prefer to live in the here and how, which isn’t a bad place to be at all.

    Comment by The Speedgeek — April 20, 2011 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

  2. This is almost the only place around I can find someone complaining about those CART/Champ Car fans who used to rail against Tony George and the IRL. Note “used to.” Why bother to complain about them? You’ve done more to keep alive the otherwise-dead debate of CART vs. IRL than anyone else I can think of.

    Comment by A fan — April 20, 2011 @ 7:26 pm | Reply

  3. I think we all need to shut up and stop posting about it. Bitching at each other over it will only make it worse.

    Comment by Spencer — April 20, 2011 @ 8:15 pm | Reply

  4. How ’bout those incredibly “impressive” ratings for both Barber and Long Beach on versus? I predict Sao Paulo will be another “record breaker”. Key metrics baby!

    Comment by Truth — April 20, 2011 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

  5. “Truth” is clearly a huge hater and punk-ass bitch, but he’s right.

    The ratings suck…

    Comment by Demond Sanders — April 21, 2011 @ 12:01 am | Reply

  6. Improved ratings for St. Pete, poor the next two races. Going up the Master and Talladega didn’t help, but yeah, hopefully it picks back up at Sao Paulo. I think Versus is doing a good job with coverage for the most part; there’s just a lot of factors at play here.

    There’s a lot of great things going on with IndyCar right now. But we’d all like ratings not only up on ABC, but on Versus as well. Time will tell.

    Comment by Zachary — April 21, 2011 @ 12:43 pm | Reply

  7. I submit that there is still one HUGE problem with INDYCAR. And it has no connection with the former series known as CART. It is simply this: The only “star” of INDYCAR in terms of endorsements is Danica Patrick and she’s about to leave the stage to go race NASCAR. Aside from her, who has any commercial penetration, and therefore, appeal? Think hard, now. Mario Andretti has some commercials, but he’s long since retired. Marco has Gillette, which is interesting in that it’s hard to believe he actually uses a razor. The Brazilian drivers have Apex Brasil, but that commercial is one that most simply fast-forward through. Helio Castroneves did “Dancing with the Stars,” but (aside from the aforementioned Apex ad,) what else has he done?

    Where are Briscoe, Power, Dixon, Graham Rahal or Ryan Hunter-Reay? Dario Franchitti has a beautiful and famous wife, but unless you are a die hard fan, he could walk down most city streets and not get noticed. Sarah Fisher has done some print ads for Dollar General, but now even she’s retired.

    Now, take a look at NASCAR. Right off the top of my head, I can tell you that Jeff Gordon, Dale Jr., Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, and (for heaven’s sake) even Michael Waltrip have major endorsement deals. And the “Go Daddy girl” is waiting in the wings.

    While INDYCAR’s future may look significantly better than it did a few years ago, until this problem is solved and more INDYCAR drivers gain that national recoognition, ratings and attendance will lag.

    Comment by SkipinSC — April 23, 2011 @ 3:00 am | Reply

  8. Oops, my bad. I neglected the eminently forgettable “race to the party” ads that IZOD ran last year. Gone and already forgotten.

    Comment by SkipinSC — April 23, 2011 @ 3:36 am | Reply

  9. Dear SkipinSC:

    You really keyed in on a major issue that plagues Indy Car and that is name recognition for its stars…I have groups of friends who are F1 fans and NASCAR fans and neither has much interest in Indy Car racing and the lack of knowledge about the drivers, other than Danica and possibly Helio due to his tax issues and Dancing with the Stars, remains the biggest problem…while many are familiar with Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and even Fernando Alonso or Jeff Gordon, Dale Jr. and Smoke Tony Stewart, few know of Dario Franchitti, who has three titles and two Indy 500’s and nobody has ever heard of Scott Dixon, Will Power or Ryan Briscoe or Ryan Hunter-Reay…I think that Indy Car’s lack of free TV access and the scarcity of big name sponsors prevents the series from showcasing its stars…but if the sponsors are not willing to post the drivers’ faces on cereal boxes, auto supply store placards or jeans commercials, Indy Car will continue to suffer from an identity crisis and lag behind in the consciousness of the American fan-base.

    Comment by Neil Rubin — April 25, 2011 @ 9:24 pm | Reply

  10. I liked the Izod Race to the Party ads and, more importantly, my kids liked them.

    What about the Verizon ads with Power?

    Granted, these do not put IndyCar on a level with Nascar, but there’s momentum.

    Comment by indymoon — April 26, 2011 @ 4:41 pm | Reply

    • The ads themselves were not bad; my problem is that with all the resources of Philips VanHeusen (and I used to work for them back in the 90’s) the true shame is that they were over-used. It WAS an improvement over the previous year when there was ONE spot; last year, there were 4. IZOD, as an apparel manufacturer, has a great deal of appeal to the most targeted demographic out there — 18-35. SO why not more and different ads? And you’re right, I did neglect the Verizon ads.

      Comment by SkipinSC — April 26, 2011 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

  11. We have to start somewhere, 2 years ago there were no commercials on TV. a single Will Power ad, and an overplayed race to the party ad is twice as many ads as there were. Anything is better than nothing.

    Comment by Eric Hall — April 27, 2011 @ 8:10 pm | Reply

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