Please allow me to use this space to thank the folks who have comprised Panther Racing over the years for sixteen years of great entertainment. Although John Barnes has been the face of the organization for many years this really is not about him. It is also about those who have worked behind the scenes and those who have gotten behind the wheel. The list of those people remains impressive.
Panther achieved many highs and suffered through as many lows during their run. That team made Sam Hornish a star. He won eleven times in their employ. Scott Goodyear made them legitimate early and even fan favorite Tomas Scheckter saw victory lane. Most fans, whether they admit it or not, pulled for Panther every year to win Indy, the one race the organization coveted more than any other. They came as close as you can four times in a row. When J.R. Hildebrand smacked the wall on the last turn of the last lap the pain that team was felt across the entire fan base, and yet the entire team handled the situation with grace and dignity.
Meanwhile the lunatic fringe of IndyCar remains busy taking cheap shots at John Barnes without any meaningful awareness of the big picture. The notion that smaller teams can compete is quaint and every so often it happens. Panther used to a lot. These days an occasional Coyne or Foyt win is cause for celebration. When Ed Carpenter wins it is a victory for the little guy. When one of these teams exits the paddock and no new team replaces them no celebration is warranted. Only sadness about the circumstances.
Thanks again to everyone who has ever been associated with Panther Racing. You provided immense thrills and made most real fans proud to support the series.