IndyCar Is Over Already?

RIP RacerThis racing fan and like-minded peers are not nearly ready for the IndyCar season to end. We remain willing to watch and attend but we are unable to do so. We remain saddened by the freak accident that claimed the life of one of the truly great people in the sport. The good news according to many of our spouses is that we do not get to spend as much money and are available for chores around the house for the foreseeable future.

Many fervent racing fans are merely casual fans of the stick and ball variety of sports whose seasons are spinning up. The fact that football season is on the doorstep is exciting to many, but to many others it is yawn inducing and merely a harbinger of cold weather ahead.

IndyCar brass tries hard to concoct memorable IndyCar seasons and everyone who has ever attempted to put one together cites the nearly impossible degree of difficulty that is involved in architecting the next one. My group is of an age that takes advantage of attendance opportunities whenever possible. Tickets are not difficult to acquire and travel/lodging deals abound. Yet whether intentional or not folks like us are being reduced to Indy-only attendees. Events we attend(ed) every year are being removed with alarming frequency.

Endangered SpeciesThe list of races we USED to attend every year continues growing rapidly. Their replacement venues do not have the same luster. What do we miss? Michigan. Kentucky. Chicagoland. Richmond. Pike Peak. Gateway. Fontana. What do venues have in common? Ovals of all sizes and quirks. Betting money says we will say goodbye as well to either Milwaukee or Pocono, or both. It is not as though we do not attend others. Barber, for example, is a wonderful facility and we have always had enjoyable weekends there. We even flew to New Orleans for the one and done misadventure in the wet at NOLA this year. Jeans creaming over the revival of Road America has enthusiasts of the twisties worked up into a foamed mouth frenzy, and they also want Burke Lakefront back in Cleveland. Non-ovals, however, simply do not provide the visceral, consistent thrills that quality ovals do.

Long Beach has earned its legend and the party is nice but the racing is nearly always forgettable. St. Pete in the early Spring is an appealing getaway, but touristy Florida activity and checking out hard bodies in bikinis is as important as seeing what is generously positioned as professional racing on a turn or two of a temporary course.

A bone that has been thrown is Phoenix. The problem is no deal actually exists at this moment. Even if one is struck that track still has two Cup dates and open wheel attendance plummeted during a period when the sport was arguably more popular. I love the city of Boston but cannot imagine traveling there to attend a street event on Labor Day weekend. Travel to Loudon could be arranged in a heartbeat though.

My party attended Michigan, Kentucky, Chicagoland, Richmond, PPIR, Gateway, Fontana, Pocono and Milwaukee nearly EVERY year. We still would if they were available. We even made the trip to Vegas. If you figure a weekend away cost between $400 (if we drove) and $800 (if we flew) minimum, and there were 4 to 6 of us, the economic impact of just us ended up between $28,800 and $43,200 every year, with a percentage enriching IndyCar and the tracks.

Miles AheadAs long as IndyCar is unwilling to apply either the full May-in-Indy experience or the full street course vibe/hype to great ovals, attendance at them will continue to suffer. The predictable ‘ovals are just not popular’ excuse will remain nothing more than an intended but woefully misguided self-fulfilling prophecy. Intense oval racing tends to separate men from boys, and IndyCar does not have nearly enough men. The entity that invented oval racing presentation abdicated to the southern folks long ago and do not seem interested in reclaiming it. The wasted potential of great oval racing, triple crown glory, high speed and thrills is lost on both the suits and the road racers who have long co-opted the series with F1-like fantasies dancing in their heads. It is beyond maddening.

No doubt we will enjoy the 100th running and beyond in May but being relegated to one and done as a fan is entirely unfulfilling.

2 replies to “IndyCar Is Over Already?

  1. Is Indy Car Over Already? Defender, do you mean the season or the entire concept of running America’s highest level of open wheel race cars? For all the good racing and interesting stories that we followed this season, from the exciting Indy 500 to a points battle going down to the wire with an American in the mix for the title to relatively better TV numbers for the last third of the season, the tragic death of J Will, the abysmal attendance at most events especially the ovals other than Indy, the plague of inexperienced ride buyers getting in the way of title contenders, the aero kit fiasco that neither gave us cars that ‘looked different’ from each other nor a new speed record at Indy but added to the teams’ expense and confusion, I am having serious doubts that Indy Car survives, in its present form, beyond next May’s 10th Running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing…Mr. Miles has continually shown that he lacks either the interest or the ability to run a top level professional sports league and the constant bickering among the team owners indicates that Indy Car may finally be on its last legs…I wish that the facts were different and that the series appeared poised to build on the good points of this year but the continual mistakes and lack of leadership demonstrated by this series leaves us with the inescapably reality that this may truly be the end of the game…..I attended the Belgian GP last month and over 100K showed up for what most consider a ‘parade’ in F1 and Homestead Miami Speedway reports brisk sales for the NASCAR finale so I ask just what can Indy Car do to reverse its undeniable decline vis-a-vis its competitors?

  2. Read on the Racer website that viewership was up 123% for the Sonoma race (or it could have been any last race of the season) over last year. Wonder if they would have all tuned in if it hadn’t been for the death of Justin Wilson? Sad it has to be that way.

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