Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

February 22, 2012

Why Does IndyCar Rarely Learn Anything From Mistakes Of The Past?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:48 pm

As the 2012 IndyCar season draws near, a lot of things are looking up. Randy Bernard and crew did a fine job outlining all that is good during the state of the series address a week or so ago. Under the surface, however, the same sort of counterproductive class warfare that divided the sport most recently in 1996 is again rearing its ugly head at levels unseen since the early 1990s.

Given the Sarah Fisher engine saga and the lack of any sort of discernible series action to rectify what is an egregious situation it is not difficult to wonder openly whether Randy Bernard really works for the George family. Recent events suggest he serves at the whim of a small group of legacy owners just like Chris Pook, Joe Heitzler and a litany of failed puppets who came and went from 1996 to their bailout. We cannot say he has not been repeatedly warned. Even Robin Miller, who derived income from said owners for years, has referred to them as ‘a bag of snakes.’

Virtually everyone previously associated with any part of the IRL has been dispatched, replaced usually by people with strong cart/champcar ties. Even popular Internet fan forums such as Trackforum have been overrun by disenfranchised apologists of that twice-failed discipline.

Now, even the most legendary non-Indy venue nurtured under former IRL auspices remains under attack. A drivers’ ‘committee’ represented by Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Justin Wilson is rattling sabers about what they perceive as dangerous fencing around Texas Motor Speedway and threatening vague ‘action’ if not repaired. I believe Eddie Gossage indicated shortly after the Vegas accident the poles at Texas are on the grandstand side of the mesh and has, in a nice way, indicated the drivers can shove their suggestions up their asses. I agree with Eddie.

Here are some suggestions for the concerned drivers and their knee-jerk sycophant ‘fans’:

-Occasional ‘pack racing’ is not a bad thing. How supposedly professional drivers behave in them can be.

-I am sick and tired of having ‘pack racing’ decried as ‘too dangerous,’ particularly when the allegations are made by road racers.

-Racing at Texas in close quarters was never a problem before ‘unification.’ It was lauded as the most exciting racing anywhere. The only thing that has really changed is the addition of champcar drivers and their often erratic driving tendencies.

-If this group of older drivers believe it is ‘too dangerous’ perhaps they should retire, or drive sports cars on twisty circuits. There are plenty of willing replacements ready to actually race professionally.

The kind of shenanigans being pulled in IndyCar today are exactly what led to the creation of the IRL by Tony George, and if we are not careful the same sort of trouble will follow. It is beyond my ability to comprehend how after all that the sport has been through supposedly smart people can seem so willing to make the same mistakes over and over.

Want to be popular? The prescription is simple.

-The Indianapolis 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the center of the entire sport.

-Diversity is good. A series top heavy with non-ovals is not.

-Allow access to any team willing to fund a realistic effort. The politics behind Sarah Fisher sitting there with everything but an engine is not acceptable, and IndyCar allowing the situation to fester is unconscionable.

In the sport of IndyCar, abject stupidity by many actually in charge has never known boundaries.

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22 Comments »

  1. After the melee at Vegas and the tragic results, a result that could have been even worse, I understand why Bernard feels he has no choice but to listen to the driver’s advisory committee. Some ovals are better than others for Indycar, and–as good a venue and partner that Gossage and Texas has been–the track may be inappropriate for open-wheel cars. Perhaps Indycar was just lucky that there weren’t more horrible wrecks at Texas (and Chicagoland) before this.

    Indycar’s are not like Nascar bumpercars. While Nascar has created a tank-like vehicle designed to survive horrible accidents, open-wheel (and open-cockpit) cars are more dangerous and much more vulnerable.

    I’m not saying toss out Texas immediately or that I’m happy that Chicagoland is gone, I’m just saying I understand the reasoning. It’s 2012, not 1954, and the public’s attitude on violence and death in racing is not what it used to be. I think if Bernard errs this time, it will be on the side of caution.

    Comment by redcar — February 22, 2012 @ 3:11 pm | Reply

  2. It would seem, from this poster, that this blog has illuminated some significant problemos within the indycar family that cloud the sunny disposition of what was the “State of Indycar”.

    Disciple, you frighten me. It appears NOTHING will satisfy you lately. Have you tried laxatives? Perhaps you should walk away now before they cancel the China race and you will have shoulder the embarassment for that.
    Editor’s Note: Why not try again when you have something…anything…intelligent to contribute. This effort falls woefully short.

    Comment by Goran Liddy — February 22, 2012 @ 3:58 pm | Reply

  3. The problem that no one wants to talk about, though it did come up in the investigation of the Las Vegas race (and was never mentioned again) is that a large part of these drivers have very little oval racing experience. There should be no surprise that they cannot handle a track like Las Vegas, double wide restarts or rolling starts. The problem is not the racing, not the tracks, not the cars. Its the drivers. There has to be minimum experience requrements out there or more accidents will happen. If we continue to recruit F1 wannabees and F1 rejects, the ovals are going to continue to disappear. Oval attendance was not much different from many of the street parades. It was just a convenient excuse for those wanting the league to be F1 Lite. European/Brazilian/Japanese drivers = road races. Its not that hard to see what is going on. Management is trying to craft the sport around the pool of drivers they want to hire from (or sell rides to).

    I think this league is in a mess. The engine fiasco is a joke. Constant rule changing is a farce. The best drivers today are in Nascar and that is a crying shame. This is really the same battle that was starting to kill Indycar in the 1990’s. If Tony George had just waited 5 more years, his IRL would likely have replaced CART instead of competing against it.

    Comment by Bob F. — February 22, 2012 @ 7:13 pm | Reply

    • Try to find one Nascar driver who would be willing to drive an Indycar around an oval. You won’t.

      Comment by redcar — February 22, 2012 @ 8:43 pm | Reply

      • Bobby Allison
        Tim Richmond
        Jeff Gordon
        Robby Gordon
        John Andretti
        Tony Stewart
        J.J.Yeley
        Kevin Swindell
        Kyle Larson
        I could go on, but every one of these, that are still active
        were run out of Indycar by the current crop of owners.

        Comment by Chris Lukens — February 22, 2012 @ 11:31 pm

      • Point taken, and I’ll definately concede J.Andretti. But I sorta meant now, not in the past.

        Comment by redcar — February 23, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

  4. Sad that every article is written here with the idea that you all know more than the people who actually do it. Everybody has an opinion and to constantly down grade and belittle the sport you love is sickening. Cart /champ car and IRL are gone, can’t we move on and stop the bloodshed. Just once would someone out there say something good, we have new cars and engines and a direction that could be better than ever but no all people want to talk about is crap all the time. I have been to all forms of racing and I have never seen so much no it all sh!t in my life.
    Editor’s Note: Thanks, but instead of preaching, perhaps you could give me an intelligent answer as to why Sarah Fisher does not have an engine deal despite having funding, equipment, a win, a driver (Lights champ), and willingness to pay more than anyone else. While you’re at it perhaps you could tell me why the great race at Texas is under attack. How about why the graph of non-ovals versus ovals continues a precipitous jump toward non-ovals? Anyone can give advice. I’m looking for answers.

    Comment by steve — February 22, 2012 @ 9:00 pm | Reply

    • I have to agree with steve. It seems that the vast majority of articles on here are negative, and it’s a shame. If you love the sport then sit back and enjoy the racing, but you take it far too seriously and what’s the fun if all you do is worry? How can you enjoy the sport if everything you have to say is negative and you’re always worried about something bad going on? Just relax and enjoy.
      Editor’s Note: Last year I attended about 75% of the events and enjoyed every minute. Most of my commentary is not directed at the sport but at many of the people involved who seem determined to suck what life it has out. That is where most of my criticism is leveled.

      Comment by Jon — February 23, 2012 @ 5:43 am | Reply

  5. Her past experience as a part time team last several years could explain it and the fact her sponsorship just came a few months back. The point as why the tracks have gone more to street and road courses have a lot to do with ISC owning the tracks and were not willing to pay the sanctioning fees. Not all the direction is IndyCars fault they are at the mercy of the tracks owners. The track owners have been responsible for promotion and all the ISC tracks refuse to promote or have any interest in promoting IndyCar at their tracks. I do enjoy this sight but the comments from some fans appear to be un informed. I do not have all the answers but I believe Sarahs team will get engines and the issues of tracks will change, I love open wheel and I cannot adapt to the idea it going to fail. .

    Comment by steve — February 22, 2012 @ 10:13 pm | Reply

    • That’s insane. The Indycars had up to 10 years of good racing at NASCAR tracks but could NEVER develop a fanbase to support it AFTER NASCAR ended the season tix packs, of which the Indycars relied upon.

      You can promote all you want, if folks don’t want your product, promoters don’t continue to throw money away. Typical of place fans who blame the series’ problems on everything but the series itself.
      Editor’s Note: The direction they’re headed will draw fewer flies.

      Comment by Goran Liddy — February 22, 2012 @ 11:22 pm | Reply

      • Good point, I must admit. Tony George did not help with the product. What is the answer then? Like I said earlier the past is just that and are you a fan now? If you are try showing it instead of bashing all the time. As we debate Sarahs team is getting the engine she deserves. Please don’t think that we as fans can’t make a difference I think we can. IndyCar needs ovals that are harder to drive not high banked tracks flat out. Just saying.
        Editor’s Note: Have you ever driven in traffic at 200+ on a high banked oval? Neither have I. But I have attended many and have talked to drivers who participate. Most of them have a different take about the talent it takes. They have a place on the Indy Car schedule and should not be excluded because one group of fans simply dismiss them as ‘stab and steer.’

        Comment by steve — February 23, 2012 @ 2:43 am

      • Steve, do you see the irony in your plea, or in Disciple’s heading of this blog topic? Indycar NEVER learns from past mistakes, NEVER. I love oval racing, but I can’t stand inept leadership, or in this case lack-thereof.

        Race at Texas? After what we all know NOW and knew before? Yesterday someone asked Robin Miller why don’t we race at Daytona? Miller’s reply was its too insanely dangerous. But, we’ll put 34 cars in questionable chassis on 1.5 miler at sustained 225mph and the series was surprised by the results?

        So, explain to me, after all we know, that a Texas race should still go forward in 2012? Isn’t that insane? And you have to question why a bash is needed? Have we all lost out senses? Do we purposely not want to learn from mistakes of the past…just like Indycar? For me, sensibilty overrides desire for whays right. Am I wrong here?
        Editor’s Note: These desperate cries for an end to Texas are tantamount to a declaration of war for me, and by God it is a war I will fight to win. IndyCar has raced successfully at Texas for fifteen years on the same track with basically the same equipment, which is now safer. So spare me the stupidity about Texas, shut up and let’s go racing. If you can’t deal with it go watch F1 or ALMS. I’m tired of the anti-1.5-mile oval nonsense.

        Comment by Goran Liddy — February 23, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

  6. Dear Defender:

    You gotta love how Danica trashed Open Wheel yesterday during her interview on Pardon the Interruption….when asked about the difference from Indy Car to NASCAR, she said that the drivers in NASCAR have been great at offering her advise while she had to seek out advise from other drivers in Indy Car…then Mike and Tony asked about the potential for contact in NASCAR and the little princess said that she looked forward to the contact and said that NASCAR gave her the opportunity to hold her own where Indy Car could not because it was ‘too dangerous’….I am looking forward to some start and park nobody to driver her off the track and Daytona and then we’ll see how welcome NASCAR makes her feel when she starts to complain….as for Sarah Fisher and her second class team, good riddance already!! I am sick and tired of hearing about Sarah Fisher and how she went from back- marker driver to part time owner….except for the fluke win that Ed Carpenter had last season in Kentucky, her team’s performance was abysmal for years!!!….I love the Texas race and have attended in year’s past (but I will be in Milwaukee this year- races are too close together for my budget) but the horrific injuries that Kenny Brack sustained during his last run at Texas evidences just how dangerous this track can become at speed….the pack racing at close quarters gives us thrilling action but the propensity for cars rolling over each other and launching into the fence remains a constant threat at this high banked oval….pray for a clean and safe race and bring back more flat ovals like Loudon and Phoenix.
    Editor’s Note: Chip Ganassi was also mediocre race car driver who never won anything either. His ownership skills turned out OK, though.

    Comment by Neil Rubin — February 22, 2012 @ 11:03 pm | Reply

  7. The reason is due to Tony George being a very very slow learner and quite thick aswell. He has no honour and needs to be dumped.
    Editor’s Note: Welcome to 2009. News must travel slowly in your corner of the world.

    Comment by Naca — February 23, 2012 @ 12:22 am | Reply

  8. Funny how after the most exciting racing the IRL/IndyCar had to offer, I’m speaking of TMS, everybody is suddenly spooked because of what happened at LVMS, simply because it’s the same kind of track. It’s like somebody not wanting to fly American Airlines at all because there was a crash somewhere with one of its planes. Come on people, accidents happen in auto racing–I didn’t see anybody not wanting to race at Indianapolis because of the last fatal accident there. Let’s can the paranoia!

    Comment by DOUG — February 23, 2012 @ 7:43 pm | Reply

  9. I like Texas and they should race there but changing the cars is the right direction. Vegas I am not so sure without more testing.Over the years the series has had many close calls and many bad wrecks and proceeding with caution will be good.

    Comment by steve — February 24, 2012 @ 1:42 am | Reply

  10. I have read all the opinions and I must say it’s been good to see other points of view, nothing personal to anyone here and we all want the greatness it once had!

    Comment by steve — February 24, 2012 @ 1:45 am | Reply

  11. If they race at Texas, I won’t be watching. There was plenty of carnage there before reunification.

    I’d love to see who you think is ready to step into these cars, if the veterans decide it’s too dangerous.
    Editor’s Note: I will enthusiastically be there in person again. If anyone decides not to run professional and enthusiastic actual racer replacements can be easily be found.

    Comment by SaveUsJerebko — February 24, 2012 @ 5:55 am | Reply

    • Names??? You always work in hypotheticals, because you have no facts to back up your opinions.

      I cannot imagine a bigger disaster than putting a bunch of replacement drivers in the cars at Texas.
      Editor’s Note: It certainly worked well from 1997 through 2005 or so.

      Comment by SaveUsJerebko — February 24, 2012 @ 4:42 pm | Reply

      • So, no names???
        Editor’s Note: Uh, Pardon me…for what names are you trolling?

        Comment by SaveUsJerebko — February 24, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

  12. You claim there are 26 capable and willing drivers waiting in the wings if the drivers boycott. I’m just looking for one name. If you could back it up with some attribution that would be even better.
    Editor’s Note: Any driver without a deal. For starters. I do not believe the current crop will be stupid enough for a boycott. But I could be wrong.

    Comment by SaveUsJerebko — February 25, 2012 @ 7:30 pm | Reply

  13. Disciple: I don’t know your backstory, I just found your blog a few minutes ago but in those few minutes I’ve been pretty damned disappointed with your views on the state of Indycar and its direction. I can’t help but think you must be too young to remember what Indycar was like in its heyday. It was literally the pinnacle of American Motorsport. It was technically and aesthetically superior in every way to nascar and it even rivaled F1 for viewership and prestige. This was evidenced by the reigning F1 champion Nigel Mansell (1992) leaving europe to try his luck in Indycar (winning the title in his first year as it turns out). At that time the Indycar world series ran a fascinating mix of Short ovals, Super-speedways, Road and street courses. Some of the very best talent to ever grace motorsport were part of Indycar in that time frame: Al Unser Jr., Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Rahal, Jacques Villeneuve, Paul Tracy, Michael and Mario Andretti, Etc. It was nearly flawless… except to one Tony George (his soul to the devil) who just had to stick his nose in where it wasn’t wanted or needed. Oh, Indycar development was too expensive, there wasn’t enough american talent, ovals were what people REALLY wanted to see, and dammit he owned the crown jewel (Indianapolis) and he was going to have his way by god. Well. Misery accomplished Tony, You singlehandedly ruined a fantastic sport and relegated it to the backpage of the sports section. It’s roughly as though you took Formula One and dropped it to the same level as the Craftsman Truck Series. Way to go buddy! And you Disciple. You’re happy about this? You shat on reunification because it diminished your precious Oval Exclusive IRL series? Wow is all I can say to that. Few people gave a crap about the IRL while Champ Car was still pulling in respectable numbers for their road races (Long Beach, Detroit, Denver, among others) but the long term heated and vicious disagreement between CART purists and Tony Georgian sycophants had already done the damage. American open wheel racing was already mortally wounded. Rather than look for some way, any way to claw our way back to where we were before Tony (the ego) screwed us you bitch about whether there’s too many ovals vs. non-ovals (ahem, real tracks)? Depressing.

    Editor’s Note: Jesus H. Christ. My first time into the gates for an Indy Car event was 1959. I have attended 48 Indy 500s. I have also attended multiple races from NASCAR, F-1, off-road, sports cars….you name it. I’m a fan. I enjoyed the time cart occupied the speedway as much as the next all. But the ‘pinnacle?’ Come on. You should have seen the sport during the 50s and 60s. As mainstream as it got. There were even times pre-cart when Indy racers would mix it up with grand prix drivers and NASCAR stars in the same races. That, to me, is the high point.

    So you can continue to stereotype and bitch, or you can join me in attending as many Indy Car events as I can every year. My money gets put where my mouth is.

    Comment by Robert — June 25, 2012 @ 5:33 am | Reply


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