I am as guilty as anyone of griping about certain aspects of the Indy 500, but was genuinely happy Tony Kanaan won the race. It was big for the fans, big for the team and big for a sponsor that is not really considered blue chip. The amazing number of passes for the lead made for edge of your seat excitement as cars got very wide into corners. Anyone who feels pulling those off at those speeds into narrow corners seems jaded and out of touch with reality.
There are already ‘fans’ who decry the racing as somehow artificial with much of the same derision they reserve for pack racing. Many of these critics are arrogant road racing enthusiasts who take sort of an Islamic approach to the propagation of their style of racing; i.e., their opinions about what racing should be are the only ones that really matter and everyone else should be eternally damned. Interesting that the Indy 500 saw 68 lead changes and Monaco saw ZERO.
Another popular yet vapid complaint among the nose up in the air idiots: The cars are ugly. To which I laugh after watching both Monaco and Charlotte. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, and if the beholder is stupidly predisposed toward that type of hollow criticism there is not much a real racing fan can do. Except laugh.
Yet another oft-repeated taunt among the darkly obsessed is that attendance for the 500 was off. One fact they do not like people like me pointing out is that the 500 outdrew both the 600 and Monaco combined. Plus you could probably throw in all the NBA playoff games and all MLB games too. In this day and age hardly any sports or entertainment venue even comes close to selling out.
Because there were, literally, hundreds of thousands of fans lined up to walk through Indy’s gates, it was going to take a while to get people through them, particularly since society today feeds on mostly irrational fear that some nutjob is going to blow something up. Here are a few helpful hints for the folks making decisions who jerked their knees and inconvenienced tens of thousands of casual fans who are not just as likely to not buy a ticket as to return:
-Make a lot more openings in the fences for entry and exit. Condensing the number of entrances makes zero sense for a crowd that size.
-Don’t screen the inside of coolers at the entry gates. Stop people with oversized coolers and use profiling at the track entry points, then pull out the suspicious looking ones for screening. It is easy enough to know what to look for.
-Check coolers at each entry to each grandstand. Spreading this fear-based illusion of security out over exponentially more areas would reduce wait times for everyone. I know this will cause Jeff Belskus and the bean counters to have strokes, but money should be no object when it comes to being hospitable to the paying customers. Why put 100% of paying customers needlessly through sheer hell on the off chance some microscopically insignificant percentage of attendees may bring a homemade bomb in a cooler?
The perception among those standing around waiting to get in Sunday was mostly anger, frustration and confusion. Why? There seemed to be little organization, and whatever plans seemed like a good idea to the brass did not consider half the crowd or more would not arrive until after 9. IMS cannot afford angry, frustrated or confused fans. They no longer have that luxury. On a positive note, I can probably look forward to another meaningful seating upgrade now that despite the massive, mostly unnecessary inconvenience caused for ticket buyers the price is rising significantly. Perhaps more legroom too.