The one thing about which Randy Bernard harped for months after becoming CEO of Indy Car was that the sport was never going to advance as long as any sort of civil war existed. Thanks for sharing, Mr. Obvious With A Cowboy Hat. I do not know of one person who does not agree in theory. What he and many others fail to grasp is that they cannot simply decree an end to all hostility then automatically expect mutual hugs and affection. The scorched earth remains scarred and scabs keep getting picked open, mostly by those with ties to cart’s past.
At what point do real racing fans who have supported Indy Car regardless of its dysfunctional politics since the first race they ever saw in any year realize their generous, sportsmanlike, conciliatory accommodation afforded those with a distinct preference to the twice defunct cart series has turned into becoming catchers of smarmy arrogance and boorish behavior which a large number of these individuals still continue to foist?
These niche fans never stopped fighting a war of bitter scorched earth they themselves caused, and if actual racing fans remain as complacent as they have throughout the entire period of Bernard happy talk thus far they will be bulldozed under a barrage of selfish ideology by those working hard every day to turn the clock back to 1995 in every possible way. This war is not being prolonged or even fought by Indy Car fans, but they had best realize that war continues anyway, that there are no winners and that the cart contingent must get on the same page as everyone else if there is ever to be an end.
I can sense the knees of Disciple critics far and wide jerking spasmodically, trying to turn the spotlight around and getting brusquely defensive about every word. Mostly, these people would like any opposition to their cause silenced as they impose their will. I believe they have gotten inside Randy Bernard’s head. Why? Here are some reasons:
Go look up Randy Bernard’s page on Facebook. Fans of the twice defunct series actively campaign every single day to return to 1995 and/or try to convert Indy Car to Americanized Euro racing, as evidenced by the following repeatedly expressed sentiments:
-An announcement that standing starts will be considered for road courses. That alone upends 100 years of history. Indy Car invented rolling starts. Attempting to emulate Formula 1 while selling a piece of your soul is neither healthy nor wise. ‘They worked in champcar’ is no reason why they should be included in Indy Car. Visiting a Formula 1 race is fine, but Bernard should not throw away 100 years of history to become a Euro copycat.
-‘Fire Brian Barnhart’ (and every other indirect link to Tony George).
-‘Throw local yellows instead of using ‘safety’ cars.’
-‘The new car sucks.’ ‘Go back to Lolas, Reynards and Swifts.’
-‘Return Laguna Seca, Road America and Cleveland onto the schedule ASAP.’
– Bernard himself saying Indy Car, owners and drivers are all ‘working together.’ That is potentially very dangerous. Drivers would bitch if they were hung with new rope. Owners are interested only in owners and as a group cannot be trusted. I want to know what happened to the ‘fans are most important’ sentiment. That tenet has seemingly vanished. Commiseration with remnants of a group that actively attempted to destroy the entire sport because their egos got hurt is dangerous for everyone. This after being assaulted for a year by Robin Miller.
The leading, officially sanctioned Indy Car fan forum is also complicit in allowing such insidious regression to fester. It is not so much that the proprietor of that site displays such selective intolerance in conjunction with often megalomaniacal tendencies, or even his thinly disguised multiple personality disorder. It is not even that often passionate discussion gets moderated like a kindergarten class. Claiming to push an agenda of peace is noble to be sure; trying to enforce one is both overreaching and impossible. Lambs are being led to slaughter while being forced to sing Kumbaya as if both sides are throwing flowers. They are not. ANY meaningful meaty dissension is rarely tolerated. Yet snarky, counterproductive sentiments like the following appear every single day:
-‘Get rid of two wide restarts.’ ‘The cowboy screwed up.’ ‘Do it like ALMS (another road racing series on the verge of collapse) does it.’
-‘ I still think standing starts are a great way to equalize the starts on road and street courses, I really enjoyed them when ChampCar introduced them and it made for a safer first turn, the sound of 20+ cars revving at the beginning was awesome.’ ‘RB asked drivers at the drivers meeting if they wanted standing starts and it was a unanimous yes.’
-‘ this is painful. The cars look terribly underpowered.’
-More ‘get rid of Brian Barnhart’ (and everything ever associated with Tony George) threads than can be imagined.
-‘ Good Old Days = 1911-1995’
-‘All I want is AOW back.’
Indy Car may have visited Motegi for the final time, but left a stench. The road course got snuck in even though people who were there, including Dario Franchitti, state there was not enough wrong with the oval to justify the switch.
Indy Car fans have compromised for sixteen years. Since the remnants of cart were ‘unified,’ road courses have gone from nearly zero to well over half the schedule. Turbocharged engines return next season. One of the most significant demands involves getting rid of air boxes, primarily because cart never utilized them.
Indy Car fans have bent over whenever asked; cart enthusiasts still stinging from seeing their favorite series kill itself, twice, are subtle about their agenda but remain engaged in jihad to turn the clock back. They remain utterly convinced that a reconstitution of 1995 will cure all real or perceived problems and will bring with it millions more fans and ratings exactly like they were twenty years ago. They might as well promise sex with 72 virgins because in reality that is just as likely. They are willing to compromise provided everything is returned to exactly the way it was in 1995.
The courtesy extended by Indy-centric fans to those who boycotted is not mutual. Whenever Indy Car fans suggest a desire for more ovals and/or values aligned more closely with USA-based Indy Car they are often vilified as stuck in the past, impediments, haters or worse.
Tactics being used could well kill the sport. The problem, in actual reality, aside from the way in which the world has evolved, was that the legends of the sport, all of them, retired at more or less the exact same time. That time corresponded with NASCAR’s rise to prominence. The legends will never be back, and the next thing for which fans must prepare is the legends dying off. Owners who still want control have no clue about building new legends (notable exceptions lately include John Barnes), preferring instead to take checks from Euro-centric road racers primarily qualified by wallet instead of right foot.
The series has been going through the motions with regard to ovals for the past few years, but has been enthusiastically supportive of non-ovals. 35,000 people at an oval is considered a reason to dump it from the schedule. 35,000 at a non-oval means support is overwhelming and guarantees longevity. That is disingenuous, as is Bernard’s pledge to keep venues in a 50/50 balance.
Randy Bernard’s biggest problem at the moment mirrors that of every other leader of Indy Car. Recent actions threaten to alienate the last remaining group of fans not already shut out. Patient Indy Car fans who have supported the sport since before cart was white papered into existence may not have the strength to fight the battle any more. If the sport is allowed to regress instead of evolve the people who are allowing it to happen deserve what they will get.