Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

May 31, 2011

Carrying Indy 500 Momentum Beyond the Brickyard

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 5:04 pm

The Indianapolis 500 often yields several quirky stories. This year was one for the ages. Dan Wheldon led for .25 miles…1400 feet, yet won the race for the second time in his career. He is very gracious in his victory, and the charm of having the 98 car owned by Sam Schmidt and operated by Bryan Herta Motorsport is also a great story.

Because he is still technically a one-off, the promotion of future races is somewhat compromised. Eddie Gossage, for example, always uses the presence of the Indy winner to drum up business for his Indy Car race in June. Now that he has the first slot past the 500 locked up again and the twin 275s on tap, as of right now Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon has no deal for Texas or any other Indy Car event. That may change and racing fans hope that it will. There have also been rumors that Herta and Wheldon are to be the test team for the New 2012 Dallara.

Time will tell how Indy Car deals with the hand they have been dealt; i.e., a one-off winner. Perhaps A.J. could sell the 41 seat again. Maybe Justin Timberlake will pony up some additional William Rast dollars. Wheldon’s success has seemed to be dependent on the chemistry he has with teams. It did not work out so well with

What Eddie Is S#!+ing Today

Ganassi or Panther the second time. The addition of Bryan Herta as an owner would certainly enhance the grid. That team deserves more than just Indy.

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5 Comments »

  1. Maybe it’s just me, but I think Herta Autosport may now have $2.65 million lying around. Maybe some of that can go towards Texas…

    One-offs winning the Indy 500 have happened before (Montoya, Castroneves), and will happen again. Admittedly, those one-off wins were due to the politics of the split, but I don’t want rehashing that to be the focus.

    My question is this. Why, three seasons after the split ended, when die-hard IICS supporters are crowing about increased series sponsorships, spikes in target demographics, renewed interest in the series, is a former 500 champion, former series champion, and five time top-5 in the series without full season sponsorship? Why is it so difficult for established, successful drivers to find paying rides? Until the series can move away from the spectre of ride-buyers (some less talented than others) and the public image of ‘bring a check, get a ride’, this will hurt the credibility of the series. Note I said THE SERIES, not the 500. The 500 doesn’t have a credibility problem, ‘ride-buyers’ have always existed there (we call them one-offs); the small, under-funded team, showing up with a car and a dream has always been celebrated at the Brickyard.

    Indy isn’t the problem. It never was. True race fans will always care about the Indy 500, no matter who is running in it. To finally succeed, the series needs to get people to care about the other races on the schedule. CART’s problem was they thought that if they could get people to care about the other 15, they’d forget about the ONE. IICS problem is that they think people caring about the ONE will get them to forget about the other 15.

    The fact that you can make a statement ‘This team deserves more than just Indy’ illustrates a problem with the series that won’t be gone until you can’t make that statement any more. Proven drivers need rides. Proven drivers have fan bases. Proven drivers put butts in seats, put eyeballs on television sets, and hits on websites. Maybe it will take the Series getting actively and directly involved in creating relationships between sponsors and teams to rectify the solution, I don’t know. I’m not that smart. But I do know this: More Dan Wheldon = Good. Good for the fans, good for the promoters, good for the series, good for the sport.

    Comment by Steven Kornya — June 1, 2011 @ 12:48 pm | Reply

  2. Check your spelling Steve. My guess is you meant to type the following.”True place fans will always care about the Indy 500, no matter who is running in it.” Real race fans can make out the distinction.

    Comment by J.B. — June 1, 2011 @ 7:24 pm | Reply

  3. It seems to me it would be a bit embarrassing and awkward if the winner of Indycar’s biggest event didn’t even have a ride for the rest of the season, while a lot of less worthy drivers do. It glaringly proves that money is the real factor, rather than talent.

    Comment by DOUG — June 1, 2011 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

    • Well, that’s what’s happening: this morning’s edition of Autosport has an interview with Bryan Herta where he states that they’re focusing on putting a full season’s programme together for 2012. There’s no plan to contend any of the upcoming races in 2011, apart from the (remote) possibility of letting Dan go after the $5 million prize in Las Vegas.

      And of course money’s the real factor. Always has been and always will be, regardless of which series you’re in or which country or continent you’re racing on.

      Comment by Andrew — June 2, 2011 @ 11:09 am | Reply

  4. Hey, J.B. what kind of statement did you make regarding real race fans? I am a real race fan and I care about the Indy 500…however, I also care about the rest of the season and I am afraid that Indy Car will lose whatever momentum this year’s 500 provided to the series due to Indy Car’s poor promotion, TV package and lack of overall focus on drawing new fans to open wheel racing. While the series has gotten a million miles out of the Danica story, there is no traction on focusing attention on other good stories like Simona, Rahal, Kaanan, even JR Hildebrandt who deserves some credit for his almost win.

    Comment by Neil Rubin — June 3, 2011 @ 5:19 pm | Reply


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