The racing events of this past weekend left many of us with mixed emotions. It would be nice if IndyCar was not the last series out of the gate.
The 12 Hours of Sebring was OK in a slightly less than boring way. At least it was racing. It would have been more entertaining in person. NASCAR tried to play Bristol in front of a sparse crowd, but mother nature applied the brakes before the real rubbin’ and racin’ began. It is my continuing belief Fox should subtitle all broadcasts that feature DW and Larry Mac. That way we could get English interpretations of phrases such as ‘Jimmee sled up the heel’ or ‘torlet paper.’
Thank goodness for DVRs. As one who appreciates the value of sleep on a long weekend I was more than happy to record the overnight programming devoted to Formula 1 then watch it while nursing breakfast. I know the usual suspects like to chime in about how ugly they believe IndyCars are but most of the F-1 grid contains designs only a mother or an anteater could love. Under the body work the guts have evolved into a Rube Goldberg-like series of interconnected acronym-laden ‘units’ that break down a lot. The cars also sound different. For those who appreciate variety the podium ended up with fresh faces and favorites fell by the wayside early. During my thumb clicks of the fast forward button when commercials were playing I did not happen to notice any promotion of the upcoming IndyCar season by the peacock partner.
Perhaps that will change now that Verizon is officially on board with the series. $12 million or so every year in cash, marketing and technology should make a meaningful dent in the vacuum that has passed for IndyCar marketing in recent years.
The flip side of emotions race fans feel when cars take the track is abrupt sadness when we lose a family member. At some point during the Sunday racing activity 72-year-old Gary Bettenhausen suddenly dropped dead. Gary B was a throwback to IndyCar days when drivers raced whatever they could get their hands on whenever they could in whatever series happened to be racing. He was a short track hero and champion when that was normal for IndyCar drivers. He won a lot and came close to chugging milk at Indy more than once. He raced IndyCars before, during and after cart. He did things on his terms, never gave up and competed with all he had every single time. Despite his family’s lack of 500 wins they are as much a part of the fabric of the place as even the Unser family, and arguably as colorful. The history books remain enriched with Bettenhausens included. Gary was a soldier and a hero. RIP.