It has taken a day to absorb what I saw on television after a relatively chilled and wet weekend north of the border. Primary goal: Remain objective. It is difficult. Initial thought: IndyCar stepped all over its own genitals on national television for hours, akin aesthetically to the debacle the dying remnants of cart foisted on racing fans back in ’01 in Texas. That is a bit harsh, which is why I waited.
Even two days later it all seems amateur in most ways. After several false starts and lots of hem-hawing between IndyCar, teams and drivers the first day was scrapped late. The television audience spent the day dealing with indecision, a fluid rule book, fluid start times and an impression of the participants as prima donnas who say they can race in rain but won’t. And it was not even rain, really. Mostly just mist.
My wife, who is not a race fan and does not know any of the personalities, happened to catch Derrick Walker on camera at one point and asked who ‘the doddering old man’ is. A visiting family friend told her he is the hand-picked IndyCar executive whose primary job is to kiss the backsides of every driver and team owner in IndyCar. From that standpoint he seems to be doing a great job.
Reality is, of course, much more complicated. Street circuits are basically the same crappy roads on which the public drives most of the year with jersey barriers set up. Marshall Pruett of Racer magazine tweeted a photo of the temporary fencing in turn one that was not attached to the barrier. Yeah, that is probably not potentially dangerous at all.
In other words the twisted abominations known as street circuits are city streets or parking lots that contain the same bumps, dips, pavement changes, manholes, etc., that everyone else encounters. Rain on a street course is not like rain on a natural terrain, purpose built circuit. Even the pace car spun. Their solution? Bag Saturday and run two shortened races on Sunday.
Winners were interesting. Sebastien Bourdais finally won in this iteration of IndyCar, and Mike Conway continued making Ed Carpenter look like as good an owner as he is an oval driver. In between however we had ‘shunts’ all over the place. At times it resembled Keystone Kops in race cars. Fortunately it is all now over and two actual racing tracks are next up.
If what people were subjected to on the air was not bad enough there were other subtle problems. The supposedly smart people at IndyCar should be dealing with this forcefully but are evidently oblivious. During the entire Saturday broadcast of IndyCar almost every segment included promotion for either Formula 1 or NASCAR-in-the-future, and occasionally promotion of IndyCar the next day. During the F-1 broadcast that preceded IndyCar I do not believe any IndyCar promotion occurred. If it did it was elusive. Certainly not every or every other segment. Why?
IndyCar cannot really afford to drop any television turds any more, but they did this weekend.