One of the more humorous aspects of waiting for the start of the IndyCar season is exploiting the decades-long class warfare in open wheel for humor. You know, the undercurrent of suspicion that has long pitted Euro-centric road enthusiasts against traditional American-style oval racing fans. It is fun both to examine and subsequently poke fun at either it or the irony that results. A blurb that caught the eye of a few this week involves a drawing board stage club racing track near Denver International Airport. It is one of those facilities that aspire to attract mostly genital-girth-deprived, compensating Porsche (or any other fancy nameplate brand) owners who secretly believe they are the next coming of Senna no matter how much it costs. Hey, it beats the heck out of golf, right?
Elements of the story that make it intriguing for this American legacy fan:
-They touted VIPs at the announcement of the venture as Tony George and Al Unser, Jr.
-They gave royal treatment to the designer of the track, Hermann Tilke.
-Its great location beyond DIA and next to a private airport was flaunted.
That’s right…it’s the all new (well, eventually anyway) Altezza Drive Resort. The only way this probably works long term, assuming they get it built (itself a pretty big assumption), might be to build also build a penis enlargement clinic on the premises and give away free Viagra for rich, white, older, male participants.
Predictably, the Internet community o’ race fans is abuzz in one way or another. Some believe it will be the second coming of Barber and a great place to hold a new IndyCar race. Some of the more pompous, arrogant formula nose-in-the-air meddlers spend a lot of time dismissing the entire design as a cookie cutter hobby track simply because Hermann Tilke is involved.
I am really surprised, however, that I have seen few if any dismissals based on either Tony George or Al Jr. Don’t get me wrong…I like Tony George, believe he had the right idea (albeit poorly executed) in the mid-1990s, and understands better than about anyone what Indy is all about. Some of the more childish, ignorant OCD victims who obsessively Tourette their way into dialog otherwise exchanged among actual evolved human beings have even mockingly positioned Tony George as a ‘savior’ (or ‘saviour’ if they are from Mexico North or across a pond). I like Al, Jr. too and sincerely hope he has turned the corner on sobriety. The odds are against it, however.
Realistically, then, how successful can this venture be if it features Tony George, Al, Jr. and Hermann Tilke right out of the gate? Also, why no skepticism considering the lack of actual dirt being turned? After all NASCAR tried to build a cookie cutter in that same area and was met with resistance by everyone from the FAA to NIMBYs.
The real shame for Indy or NASCAR racing fans in Colorado (and there are quite a few of them) is the inability to use an existing GREAT track. As Mike Klis of the Denver Post pointed out in 2008, ‘ISC is the ugliest acronym on the Colorado sports scene.’ He is referencing ISC’s infamous flip of Pikes Peak International Raceway in which they specified no racing event can be held there that will draw over 5,000 spectators. In other words they intended for it to be reduced to a club racer track even after they no longer owned it.
IndyCar always reliably drew 30,000 to 35,000 spectators and even raced there two times in a year early on. The only things the track needs are SAFER barriers and a few temporary stands. Given the increase in population around Colorado Springs (and even Pueblo, not to mention south of Denver) and the general economy in Colorado there is no reason to doubt potential success of either IndyCar or NASCAR-related events, particularly since NASCAR cannot get their Denver area track off the ground. But as Klis points out ISC has never been willing to address their flip clause publicly, in the process ripping fans off.
Perhaps the smart effort would be finding a way to re-open one of the finest 1+ mile oval tracks ever built to actual quality competition. Knowing the NASCAR history with wanton and willful destruction of quality racetracks common sense will likely not prevail.