Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

October 4, 2013

Trying Hard To Accept The New Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway But The Brain Urges Caution…

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 4:12 pm

Looking at You MarkMy most sincere apologies in advance, but a topic is about to be broached that is difficult to simply accept as we are being asked to do. I am on record as applauding the efforts of Mark Miles and Doug Boles to think outside the box. The problem is not that (although they are very far away from the box). It is a collective lack of common sense on a rampant scale, failure to ever acknowledge the obvious, and all combined with a level of corporate hubris whose arrogance matches cart at the height of their glory.  It makes my skin crawl.

I also question the wisdom of unloading millions of dollars of Hulman bucks in exchange for a bound ream of well written paper from BCG when the same millions could have been spent more wisely re-transforming IMS into the showplace it needs to be instead of bean counting it all the way back to 1945. The museum parking lot probably could have been paved.  Maybe a few restroom plumbing issues resolved. But no. Hire a company whose expertise is guidance for companies that specialize in biopharmaceuticals, energy, finance, health care, insurance, medical, heavy metals, public sector, technology and a host of other areas unrelated to motor racing. Oh well. What’s a few million among cronies? Note to self: Set the DVR for the upcoming season of ‘House of Lies’ on Showtime.

It is not difficult to assume a company like that might have recommended leveraging the facility for additional uses, and a road race at the end of the season obviously made sense to them. Leave it to leadership to stand such a recommendation on its head. IMS indicates the month of May outside Carb Day and Race Day falls below expectation in terms of attendance. Miles, Boles and crew are positioning the road race as a way to ‘kick start’ the month of May and attract more fans to attend qualifying and race days. They are also fond of pointing out that Carl Fisher envisioned a road course inside the oval (never mind the oval Fisher envisioned was 3 miles around and the road course resembled a shoe string flopped inside it). They conveniently forget to also point out the reason the one big race ended up at 500 miles around Memorial Day is because Fisher concluded there were far too many other events watering each other down throughout the summer.

While it is easy to applaud a notion of thinking differently it is equally easy to slap your forehead in utter disbelief as common sense and even minimal ability to reason based on factual information gets dismissed so casually. Expression of the root causes of the issues IMS is trying to solve in any simpler terms is difficult:

-34 cars for 33 spots in the race, which has forced almost comical concocted gimmickry into qualifying rules that have watered down what used to be the most nail biting time of the month for competitors and fans. The concept of ‘bump day’ has become a bad joke.

-All the cars are exactly the same except for paint/decal jobs and numbers (and two spec motors that no one can see or touch anyway), and the first reaction of many casual fans is that they are ugly.

-No speed records are being approached.

May PhilosophyNow armed with sense, does anyone still seriously believe this non-oval adventure at IMS is as good idea as Miles and Boles position it? It is the same 34 micromanaged spec cars, only 100 mph slower. How is that going to help anything again? The fact that it will be on local television live on the same national network that has abused and ignored IndyCar for at least a dozen years is also puzzling. National television is good, but would be better with a partner that understands it, cares about it and does a professional job of coverage dissemination across its entire platform.

Road racers have nearly reassumed control of all decisions related to IndyCar, and their group consensus is to again trot out a strategy that has failed twice in the current generation:  A series that is at least 70% non-oval. Leading the charge is Derrick Walker, Dan Anderson and others. Walker thinks balance is 33% oval, 33% road course and 33% street courses. In other words, 70% non-oval. Anderson has openly advocated purging ovals for all rungs of the IndyCar ladder. That will be a great way to cultivate an entire farm team of Mike Conways unwilling to race on ovals.

The overall direction Miles and Boles have deluded themselves into believing is the perfect course is a proven failure every single time it has been tried. Mr. Miles and Mr. Boles: Want long term strategy? Here are the keys to future success:

  1. Put your money where your mouths are with regard to diverse schedule balance. 70% non-oval is not balance. Reinvent and reinvigorate the oval presentation IndyCar ancestors invented and ensure 50% or more of the schedule contains them, including at least one prior to the 500. Continuing excuses of why they do not work and how they get dropped are disingenuous at best.
  2. In May, encourage participation by more than 50 entrants for 33 spots. Allow them to compete in something other than a Dallara if they choose. Encourage motor branding, but do away with the philosophy of just bolting a crated motor into a car.
  3. Allow higher speeds to be reached.
  4. A handful of street races in major cities is fine, but the Ponzi-scheme-like financial hocus pocus that gets engineered begins alienating victim cities almost from the start. That is why the majority of these abominations never see year five.
  5. Invest in the presentation of races. Showing up with a few trailers, allowing Michael Young to scream into a mic, thinking track management will promote it like it’s NASCAR while IndyCar simply stands around and thinks to themselves about how lucky the track is to have them there is not self-sustaining.

My next birthday will be number 60. For 50 or so of those years a series that executed basic strategies outlined above kept my attention and lots of other folks as well. Applaud Miles and Boles for trying to get the lost generation of millennials re-attached to the sport, but re-executing failed strategies again and hoping for different results? They will need more than luck, and deft skill appears to be missing.



  1. Safety alone would preclude non-Dallara entrants in 500. And I do think if all ovals had the support of Iowa that there would be more ovals. Although there has been a lot of twisty talk lately, I do tend to think that ovals will reappears when and if they are cost-effective. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, just follow the money (or lack of it.)

    Comment by redcar — October 4, 2013 @ 5:09 pm | Reply

    • I would disagree. Past cars and current non IRL era cars can be made to today’s safety standards. One must question the motive as to why it won’t be considered Secondly, owners complain about cost containment but true innovation does not come from spending NASA budgets. It comes from small teams that innovate simply because they have fewer funds to work with, so their need to utilize their funds to the maximum results in equipment that is competitive at a considerable financial discount. I believe that the words…”necessity is the mother of invention” applies! Drivers who lack the courage to drive them simply need to acquire a set of testicles. In this day and age….hardly likely simply because political correctness has turn them into geldings!!

      Comment by oldwrench — October 5, 2013 @ 1:30 am | Reply

  2. You and I agree about more things than we disagree. I guess that comes with age (I turned 60 a couple of weeks ago.) Maybe because of the futility involved, (that old cliché, “You can’t fight city hall,” comes to mind,) I’m ready to allow the young lions (Miles, Boles, and company) some latitude. Initially, I was appalled at the idea of kicking off the month of May with a race on the IMS road course. First the configuration of the course as it was at the time was nothing that excited me very much. We’ve seen what they have come up with, and at the very least, it’s a huge improvement. The ticket pricing is geared to attract locals who might not spend the $100-150 for tickets to the 500, which is a good thing because I doubt you’d have too many folks from out of town turn around and spend a grand or better two weeks apart on entertainment. I know I can’t. There are some other things in the wind, however, that make me less pessimistic, if not optimistic.

    Unless the group in charge is lying to us, there will be a title sponsor for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. This will afford the Hulman and Co. board the opportunity to try this out without too much risk. It also means they can live with a crowd of 35K or more and not lose their hats and asses. And I have to figure that the novelty of the event alone will draw close to 50K, especially with the reasonable ticket price. Worst case scenario, if this fails miserably in May, they can always move this event to the end of the season, where it probably should have been scheduled to begin with.

    Another positive, at least in my eyes, is the end of Marty Reid doing the IndyCar telecasts on ABC. Look, I don’t know Marty from your aunt Sally, but he comes across quite often as though there is someplace he’d rather be. (I suspect that someplace was on the NASCAR “A team.”) Maybe I’m looking at things through rose colored glasses, but this move tells me that Disney means to be a player for IndyCar once NASCAR and everything else has moved to NBC. While I’m not sure that’s the best way to go, I’d sure as Hell rather have IndyCar on a broadcast network as opposed to CNBC or MSNBC, which with NBC’s commitment to the English Premier League might be the destination for IndyCar once all the changes have shaken out.

    To be sure, I’m distressed about this group’s concept of “balance.” Looks to me like they feel that “balance” is as many road and street courses as they can get, surrounding the “Triple Crown” of ovals, plus Texas (until someone pisses Eddie Gossage off for the last time,) Milwaukee (maybe) and Iowa (at least until NASCAR says, “No more.”) Look, being a resident of South Carolina, I’d love to see IndyCar at Darlington or Rockingham. I’d shell out the cash to go to either one of those tracks. Both tracks were lost (Rockingham) or nearly lost (Darlington, cut from two races to one on Mother’s Day Weekend,) in NASCAR’s shuffle to try and get more national in their venues.

    I’ve pretty much given up on the idea that we’re going to see any REAL innovation in the cars anytime soon. As much as I would like to see IndyCar say, “Bring on your Delta Wing, your Swift, or whatever,” the series is on a better financial foothold, it’s not going to happen. Those changes require more sponsor dollars and IndyCar is struggling to keep what sponsors they have. And, this is NOT just a problem for the “lesser” teams. (Ask Michael Andretti how he’s going to replace GoDaddy, and you get the idea.) Hell, if the owners have their way, we won’t even see aero kits to distinguish the Chevy from the Honda anytime soon. This problem goes all the way back to the CART era, when owners were free to spend like drunken sailors because it was OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY! When it starts to come out of their pockets, even pockets as deep as Roger Penske’s, the wherewithal becomes much more finite.

    So tell me: Where do we go from here? If you had the cash to do it, where would you start? The series has essentially bankrolled Dallara, so the thought of inviting someone else to participate seems unlikely. I just don’t see much of a way out. We had 68 lead changes at Indy, an extremely popular winner, and still couldn’t draw FLIES on TV the next race out. As I see it, only some serious “outside the box” thinking is going to help. That being said, this new group of people isn’t used to failure. I guess we’ll see…
    Editor’s Note: You know who I haven’t ever seen? This generation’s A.J. Watson. He wasn’t around for the last one either. That is what is needed. They are out there and I would rather see them than a labcoat with a laptop.

    Comment by SkipinSC — October 4, 2013 @ 5:56 pm | Reply

  3. Good and thoughtful commentary by SkipinSC. I’m sixty-six, and you and I (and Disciple) have seen a lot of changes in open-wheel racing. Question to both of you–what do you think would have happened if there had been no split, and where would IndyCar be today?
    Editor’s Note: cart would have continued down a road that would have killed it, probably by the early 2000s, and IMS would have had to step in to save it. That may have been better received by those fans, but not by much. The sport would be roughly where it is now.

    Comment by DOUG — October 5, 2013 @ 2:09 pm | Reply

    • Other people’s money only lasts as long as the economy stays solid. NASCAR became a National rather than a regional sport taking some of the sponsor dollars with them. The only thing that might have been different would have been they would never have tried to build a series without IMS. That was foolish from the git-go. While Buddy Lazier was winning Indy, they were crashing and allowing backup cars in at the inaugural and ill-fated US 500. Kind of made everyone wonder who really ARE these idiots, anyway?

      Comment by SkipinSC — October 5, 2013 @ 5:37 pm | Reply

  4. Well, glad to see you place fans are over 60. Not too much longer and you guys will die and be gone, and we can go back to having a proper series.
    Editor’s Note: You won’t even be considered human until you learn respect for actual human beings. Clearly you are not that far removed from being able to walk upright and breathe through multiple orifices. Shame.

    Comment by Dipstickle — October 7, 2013 @ 6:53 pm | Reply

    • Define what a “proper series” is? If your referring to the current rendition of “crapwagon”. Keep it, its yours. I like what we had before the rich kids screwed it up.

      Comment by oldwrench — October 9, 2013 @ 12:43 am | Reply

  5. Your previous blog entry called this event “unforgivable.” What changed your mind?
    Editor’s Note: Mind has not really changed, but what is on my mind is not really what matters in the big picture.

    Comment by Dan Gurney — October 8, 2013 @ 2:21 am | Reply

  6. (snip) Barely literate, off topic crapper-oriented nonsense from one of the six sub-humans still into that special brand of delinquency.(/snip)

    Comment by dipstickle — October 8, 2013 @ 4:45 am | Reply

  7. (snip) Barely literate, off topic crapper-oriented nonsense from one of the six sub-humans still into that special brand of delinquency.(/snip)

    Comment by Paff-sicle — October 8, 2013 @ 4:50 am | Reply

  8. You are getting closer to the reality of the situation Defender. This thing is in the worst shape ever. But you guys keep enabling them by buying tickets and watching this nonsense. Perhaps you are defending this on one side of your brain (the dumb side), but on the other seeing the truth – the IRL is toasted and not ever going to be what you want it to be. Seriously D – just let go. You know you want to!
    Editor’s Note: I’ve been watching since 1959. Actual fans are not bandwagon jumpers. Also, as an adult, I choose to try and guide evolution through actions. I have found that is far more effective than the monkeys throwing feces approach typically espoused by your small group of sub-humans.

    Comment by youowemeabeerasshole — October 9, 2013 @ 12:44 am | Reply

    • Well that response didnt address my question.
      Editor’s Note: You did not ask a question. You merely crapped yet out another unintelligent bit of illiteracy about the end of the world.

      But we are allo happy you have been watching since 1959. Its pretty much turned to shit hasnt it. Just walk away D, just walk away.
      Editor’s Note: As previously stated in so many words, I love the sport more than I dislike its past. As an adult I understand there are correct ways to affect change, then there is the monkey-throwing-their-own-feces approach that is preferred by you and a handful of your un-evolved companions. I continue to prefer the non-hypocritical, literate adult approach.

      Comment by Youowemeabeerasshole — October 9, 2013 @ 11:46 am | Reply

  9. One of the kids didn’t like being called subhuman. Must have hit a nerve over at basement dwelling frozen fish stick eating central. I thought the crapwagon folks were delusional……..man oh man. I guess that place is what you get when CW bans a bunch and they need a place to lash out at everyone and everything.

    Comment by Rockin' On Your Dime — October 9, 2013 @ 3:27 pm | Reply

    • How many logins do you have? Axe Sato where he’d rather be this weekend, visiting Dario or balls out at the Japanese Grand Prix?
      Editor’s Note: Are you on a bender again or did you forget to take your ADD medication? What do any of your words have to do with the topic of the blog? Focus, kid. Focus.

      Comment by youowemeabeerasshole — October 10, 2013 @ 3:00 am | Reply

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