Now that the month of May is nearly upon us the zombie-like, cart-crapper contingent is in full blown sport destruction mode as they always are around this time every year. It is a real shame they just refuse to grow up. Oh well. Every large family has a drunken black sheep uncle or two, a harlot female that sleeps with anyone, a few mixed race bastards and one or two with an extra chromosome. It is our job to love them for who they are because they are all family.
Occasionally, however, it is refreshing when some of the more elderly curmudgeons simply begin to die off. Pruning dead branches off the family tree is never bad. One such dementia victim is former big time writer and now cranky internet pundit Gordon Kirby. He has been actively engaged in a month-long wet dream fantasy about Formula 1’s favorite midget Bernie Eccelstone buying the Long Beach Grand Prix and returning it to F-1. When he first reported this mostly fantasized rumor the current owners, former cart stalwarts Kalkhoven and Forsythe, laughed it off while denying it’s for sale, said something about not for sale unless someone talks ‘stupid money’ and went on about their business. Even the guy in charge of the event, Jim Michaelian, actually got pissed off about the rumor.
Kirby, however, revels in that kind of dung disturbing. Never mind that Indy Car ratings for original airings outdraw F-1 original airings and all replays too. Never mind that the expense of bringing Long Beach up to the minimum standards of F-1 today causes head scratching. Depending on the straw man he wants to build up to knock over Long Beach is either the second most important event on the IndyCar calendar or is tepid without attendance or ratings.
As an attendee this year the crowd looked good and was definitely enthusiastic so perhaps blithering idiots who still refuse to budge from 1995 should stop standing in the way of natural evolution.
Since May is nearly upon us and the thoughts of everyone who is an actual fan turns to Indy, one bit of great news is that ESPN on ABC is replacing the nearly fossilized Brent Musberger with Lindsay Czarniak. Nothing against Brent, but if the sport is trying to attract millennials ‘you are looking live’ uttered by a 70-year-old man is not going to cut it, regardless of the great things he has accomplished in the past. Czarniak is easy on the eyes, not a puker like some other female racing anchors, and is definitely a fresh face. I personally became enamored of her in the mid-2000s when she worked for channel 4 in Washington. She was solid in the sports desk, listened, and asked really good questions in interviews. She has some racing experience too. She did a lot of freelance and TNT stuff for NASCAR. What does matter is that Marty Reid still anchors and Scott Goodyear, more effective than Ambien at curing insomnia, still provides color (even if only in a few shades of gray). At least Eddie Cheever will be alongside for ALL the races on ABC this season. He brings an intelligence that is sorely needed.
Here’s hoping the jet stream cooperates this year and that all eight track activity days are rain-free. See you there.
I like most of the ideas Mark Miles has proposed to move the IndyCar Series forward. He seems to have the confidence of most in the paddock for now (no one ever has that forever…repeated mutiny through the years is proof) and he is taking a systematic approach to incremental growth.
One idea that is really troublesome, however, is a notion a season ending road race at Indy would be worthwhile and profitable. Miles was jawing about that out in Long Beach. The problem with that idea is that it would dilute the 500. Racing fans of central Indiana already have three big events from which to choose, and many can only afford one.
Better idea: Cultivate and build a legacy season closer. There is no reason why it can’t be the third leg of a real triple crown in a place like Fontana.
The only real effect of having an IndyCar twisty event at the end of the season: Relatively crappy attendance for both IndyCar events. Clearly this is clear indication Miles does not yet ‘get’ Indy.
Hopefully this bad idea gets relegated to the circular file. If they want a fall race on the road course get Formula One back. The state of Indiana offered to pay Bernie’s vig last time. Even that is a better idea.
Conor Daly, the young aspiring racer who has been competing the past few years in Euro-formula series with aspirations toward Formula 1, will be in the Indianapolis 500 this May. Daly struck a deal with Foyt Racing to become Takuma Sato’s teammate at Indy. Young Conor knows what Indy means. Most Mays of his 21 years have been spent at 16th and Georgetown.
Whether he is a fit with the Foyt crew is an open question. Personnel upgrades and engineering enhancements have resulted in better days for the team. What was once thought of as a last stop before the conclusion of Indy Car careers has suddenly become a destination of sorts. Takuma Sato has been doing well, and a young American with talent fits a lot of bills.
Given the way in which competition is micromanaged by the series and partners and a foregone conclusion that the entire field of 33 will be carefully choreographed, we need all the compelling stories we can find. Conor Daly fits the criteria. It is refreshing to find someone as enthusiastic about the opportunity.
Now all we need are about a dozen more of him.