Disciple of INDYCAR Weblog

January 26, 2015

Gordon Kirby Has a New Competitor In The Racing Nutjob Department

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 10:42 pm

TabloidNorris McDonald is a writer for a Canadian Newspaper, the Star, that has experienced a precipitous decline in readership over the past seven years. This McDonald character decided to use the Rolex 24-hour event at Daytona to take yet another gratuitous potshot at IndyCar for no apparent reason.

Will there ever come a time when malcontents who have created a utopia for themselves based on twenty-plus years in the past simply grow up? And if someone is supposed to be a professional writer and not a hack why would the basis of bitching be something as stupid as ‘…A friend send me an email Sunday afternoon that contained this information: “I recently read that at least one major IndyCar sponsor isn’t with the series this year and two are on their last year and won’t renew because of the short season. If that isn’t a wake-up call, then what the hell is Miles waiting for?”

NorrisHelpful hints for reporting with integrity:

-Who is the sponsor that is not with the series, and where are the comments from both IndyCar and the departing sponsor?

-Who are the two in their last year, and where are the comments from both IndyCar and last-year sponsors about a short season being the reason for their departure?

-Where are the on the record comments about your ‘points’ from Mark Miles?

You know what is easy Norris? Rumor mongering. You know what takes actual work, integrity and professionalism Norris? Going on the record with sponsors, IndyCar and series leadership. If you believe Mark Miles leads a group that does not care about the series would it not make sense to ask him why not?

When passing judgment about ‘abysmal’ ratings do you ever look around outside your little cocoon? The ratings IndyCar gets are, in fact, pretty average for sports programming on cable and OTA channels. IndyCar’s ratings are higher than the majority of programming on such sports cable channels. You work in print. You, Norris, more than anyone, should know all about previous customers leaving in droves.

In the United States we refer to the late summer holiday as ‘Labor Day.’ And it has been only one season that IndyCar has ended its season then. I do not know of one fan who likes it, but whether minds change remains to be seen.

Meantime why not do some actual reporting? Credibility might rise.

January 4, 2015

Taking Action To Gentrify Indianapolis Before It Becomes Full Blown Detroit

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 4:55 pm

Ghetto AnchorPity Indianapolis. It used to be the center of automobile manufacturing before Detroit (and its easier access to shipping) came along.  Indianapolis also led the way in creating a multi-lane highway belt around the city. Interstate 465 took most of the 1960s to take shape. Now most major cities have such loops either all or partially around each of them.

What is inside the Indianapolis loop has become vastly different than what is outside over time. This difference became readily apparent again over the weekend at Castleton Square Mall on the north side of the city. Once upon a time there existed four really nice malls in the heyday of malls roughly on four sides of Indianapolis. The Ghettowest side featured Lafayette Square. East side residents shopped at Washington Square. More affluent northsiders frequented Castleton Square. Southside shoppers have always had Greenwood Park Mall. Only that one is fairly distant from the concrete loop and shows signs of continuing growth. Of the three others Lafayette Square has become the aesthetic equivalent of a soiled crack den complete with inhabitants. Washington Square has nearly been thugged, robbed and gangsta’d right out of business and is not far behind in the aesthetics department. Castleton Square, although barely outside, has officially joined the race to become the next Lafayette Square.

ThugsThe primary reasons for decline are obvious but constitute subject matter no one is allowed to address because the PC Police will take almost a full nanosecond to brand whoever does a racist. That is a shame because working toward permanent solutions requires often brutal honesty. The phenomenon of white flight exists in most cities but is especially pronounced around Indianapolis. The north side keeps expanding toward Kokomo and Anderson as communities like Fishers, Carmel, Noblesville and Westfield become safe but snarled havens for middle (and higher) class. The same sort of expansion is seen on the west side in and beyond Avon as well as many areas on the south side. Meantime much of the interior; i.e., within the loop, has become a stopped up toilet bowl filled with swirling, disease-causing, smelly brown turds infecting most of what lies around it. One drive down 38th Street between each side of 465 offers appropriate visuals. The pestilence caused by such decay is rapidly turning Indianapolis into what Detroit deteriorated to.  The primary difference between Detroit and Indianapolis, however, is that progressive business leaders up north (Quicken Loans, Roger Penske, etc.) have created an atmosphere that encourages the taking back of the city and redeveloping it from the inside out. Suddenly Detroit is again on the rise. Young people are moving toward the center in high numbers.

In Indianapolis there are pockets of meaningful inner city redevelopment in portions of downtown, Fountain Square, sections of Mass Avenue and others. Unfortunately the ongoing decline of other previously great neighborhoods such as Broad Ripple, Irvington, etc., makes the process sort of like whack-a-mole.  The Speedway Redevelopment Commission has made tremendous strides in keeping Speedway and parts of the west side from falling completely into ghetto oblivion but that job is massive and is just getting started. Redevelopment of organic gentrification simply must catch on.

Even Fuckin Hooters LeftI am not a politician. In that arena my large mouth would get me drummed out of a race in minutes by those prone to fake outrage and pointing/shouting from atop soap boxes. In the unlikely event I might get elected my solution would be to essentially ignore the plight of or the people in blighted areas.  Meaningful social action is a noble pursuit that would take far more time than any of us have on earth. Therefore my plan would dramatically incentivize meaningful development inward and assess penalties on continuing development outward. The more blighted the area the bigger the incentive. Meaningful development could take care of social components naturally and organically over time with far less hand wringing.  The entire area surrounding the blighted Lafayette Square is just such a place. The only thing politicians and community leaders have done is to pronounce the run down, rotted shell of its former self an ‘international cultural center for dining and entertainment.’ That is essentially a happy talk euphemism for an area squatted in by poor immigrants unable or unwilling to advance either themselves or the area in which they find themselves after the majority of previous residents fled. Using terms such as ‘international’ or ‘cultural’ is borderline insulting to anyone with a functional brain. Having personally visited most continents on earth my idea of international cultural diversity differs wildly from the sights I see at, say, 38th and Georgetown.

Magic KingdomWhy does this matter? It is mostly selfish. The historic and legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway existed long before most of the west side of Indianapolis. What now surrounds the track was born and in many cases as deteriorated over the years. The track and the area deserves much better than what it has. Without that track Indianapolis may well have equaled Bismark, North Dakota in stature. In order to permanently clean up the squalor that has infested areas mentioned in this piece we may need to get Draconian in some ways. There is a new roundabout at what was 16th and Georgetown, but that intersection no longer exists because Georgetown Road is now a dead end there. The lack of through traffic now is spooky in its silence. What really matters is what happens to it now and how soon we can expect it. I remain in favor of expanding meaningful redevelopment far beyond the immediate vicinity of the track. It is the contention of many that what they see on the way in keeps them from returning. Redevelopment matters and must be ramped up.

January 2, 2015

Ed Hinton Retirement From The Racing Beat: So Long…

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 3:40 pm

Ed HintonEd Hinton retired as the ball/race car dropped at midnight on the 1st. He was one of the old guard racing reporters who plied his trade for nearly fifty years, most recently at ESPN. When he began writing about the sport of auto racing he claims not to have known much about it. His orientation, like most, seemed to be stick and ball and general interest. As diehards know it is easy to get hooked on a great sport. Hinton made his mark primarily in NASCAR as he and others rode the popularity of the France family wave to its crest.

Hardcore IndyCar fans typically think of Ed Hinton as part of the reason open wheel has diminished popularity. That is a relatively easy assertion to purport, particularly when citing Hinton passages that describe ‘resuscitating’ the Indy 500 or how the big race is on ‘life support.’ It is my belief Hinton actually understands that the Indy 500 transcends idiotic politics that pollute the sport but he got paid to write opinion pieces to which people would pay attention.

Like when three spectators got killed at Charlotte during an IndyCar race. Hinton, who did not attend that Charlotte race, wrote a piece afterward discussing future safety considerations from his location in Ontario, California. His Sports Illustrated editors added an inflammatory headline and the infamous bloody sheet photograph. That got his credentials pulled from Indy, which resulted in an avalanche of negative reporting and credential cancellations from his press brethren. Eventually Tony George and IMS caved but not before shooting off another appendage to make whatever point they were attempting.

Reading Ed Hinton telling a story in print is much like having a Forrest Gump experience. Name any major event or star, particularly in NASCAR, and Ed seemingly either had something to do with it or was there every step of the way chronicling it. Was it writing style or simply name/event dropping? I do not know Hinton personally but that never prevented occasional praise or criticism of his work or intent whether I was right or wrong. As a matter of fact I really slammed him over what I felt was a Brickyard hatchet piece in late July, 2009. The important thing was that he got read, and that is the ultimate basic goal of any writer.

Another frequent criticism by many was the way in which ‘the split’ got recycled over and over in just about any IndyCar piece. Granted Hinton was never as egregious as, say, Gordon Kirby….but Ed always managed to stay employed by reputable sports news organizations. Even though Hinton has a long tenure in race track press rooms the majority of his IndyCar coverage occurred during the coup d’état occupation of the sport by team owners following the death of Tony Hulman and the devastating plane crash that claimed key USAC officials.  Many writers who earned their livelihoods in some cases directly from the rogue organization naturally anointed the period of 1979 through 1995 as the gold standard by which anything else must be measured for all future generations. That seems laughable to those of us who hung off the fences during all of the 1960s and 1970s. What no one seems to understand in 2015 is that the entire world has fundamentally changed and holding up ANY period of the past as anything more than nostalgic whimsy seems foolish.

Great writers who were long in the tooth way back then but retiring or dying off as cart pushed its way to the front of the line did not say much at the time. Hinton was certainly around for years prior to the occupation, but his first 500 did not occur until 1975.  Good young writers today; e.g., Hinton’s ESPN peer John Oreovicz, have a tendency, often in subtle ways, to continue fostering the ‘everything about cart was great/everything about anything Hulman-George/IRL is an object of ridicule’ sentiment. In many cases that is how they were mentored and/or derived a paycheck at one point or another Suck itfrom a cart entity. There is a tendency for old timers to take whatever is written by anyone in the sport today with grains of salt.

What all of us could really use today is a fresh-off-the-turnip-truck young Ed Hinton to burst onto the scene with wide eyes, eagerness and an ability to think for himself, then a talent to eloquently write what he experiences in honest, straightforward ways. When Ed Hinton did that he was a breath of fresh air. All we need now is for someone to do it again.

Thanks for ALL the recorded memories Mr. Hinton and enjoy an umbrella drink on a sandy beach at some point.

December 28, 2014

Happy Upcoming New Year Racing Fans!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 10:53 pm

So LongHere we are in the slowest part of the year and there is not much on which to catch up. Another favorite racing blogger is hanging it up. Pressdog has published its last well written piece. A lot of these bloggers have some real talent and go out of their way to provide quality content along with interviews and carefully researched topics. That is appreciated. They take it much more seriously that I do. This blog, as I am the first to admit, is usually a goofy collection of often strong opinions about the state of the sport. It is done for fun, is not meant to provide a living, and is sort of a hobby that allows escape from real life. As a result, I write when I can and feel no pressure. I also genuinely appreciate the more serious efforts of others despite most of them trying to earn a living in the real world.

CriminalsIn actual IndyCar related news it was revealed that Bryan Herta Autosport was stiffed of most of the sponsorship commitment of Integrity Assets Group (Integrity, yeah right) who distributes the product that adorned the body work of the 98, Energee. This is another case ending in a court room. Note to current and prospective IndyCar owners: Steer clear of non-mainstream energy drink products. Most seem to define fly-by-night and you will end up either on the wrong end of either a pyramid or a Ponzi scheme, you will end up in a futile money chase and will end up stiffed. I hate that it happened to Herta but I would bet he has learned a thing or two. Sponsors who commit then stiff should be sent to jail. In the broadcast business we would accept advertising from sleazeballs, but only on a cash-in-advance basis AFTER the check had been cashed.

AuthorSomeone credible is finally attempting a book about the ‘split.’ Sigur Whitaker is a descendant of James Allison, about whom her first book was penned. Then she wrote one about Tony Hulman. Both are pretty good. She is now tackling the ‘IndyCar Wars.’ Good luck. The most interesting part will be observation of objectivity. Even today some folks are still fighting that particular pointless battle.

Sing ItThe management of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway made a major decision this past week in which they failed in any way to blunder any part of it or completely screw it up. As a matter of fact they hit one right out of the park. For that hearty congratulations are deserved all around. The first replacement for Jim Nabors for ‘Back Home Again in Indiana’ is IU-bred and acclaimed acapella singing group Straight No Chaser. It is the most logical evolution possible. Naturally there are plenty of people who just do not get it who are posting up really stupid commentary slamming the choice. The most stupid usually involves playing recordings of Nabors in future years. Uh, no. Let’s charge ahead. Way to go IMS.

CopycatFinally, and speaking of blithering idiots living in the early 1990s, that particular group of cart fans has been reported by others to be in an absolute tizzy about a comment in a recent blog. The comment in question linked a WordPress page called ‘youthfulcartenthusiast’ that evidently linked all fatal or serious cart crashes through the ‘split’ years. It also evidently features other unoriginal ‘D’ buzzwords like ‘twice.’ Predictably, the blithering idiots in their simplistic mode of thought have assumed yours truly is responsible for that page. Anyone who might believe that is probably clinically insane or at the very least willfully retarded. Look, just because someone on the internet who is incapable of original thought and decides to mimic someone else to get a rise out of others is not a reason to have any angst. Stalkers are creepy. Ignore them.

If we do not communicate before Thursday have a great and prosperous 2015 and let’s watch the IndyCar drop at midnight!

December 22, 2014

A Holiday Gift From The Indianapolis Motor Speedway!

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 10:50 pm

Sing ItThe management of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, often chided for repeatedly choosing the worst possible alternative when choices exist, hit one out of the park on Monday with an early Christmas present for its fans. The homegrown recording artists Straight No Chaser will take Jim Nabor’s place for ‘Back Home Again in Indiana’ for the 2015 500.

So Long BuddyThis is an absolutely GREAT choice. Their rendition should jibe perfectly with the revered pre-race pageantry. What a wonderful choice that will appeal to multiple demographics. It fits right in with tradition and seems the most seamless possible choice as a post-Nabors bridge. Way to go!

As always, however, I have suggestions on behalf of those of us who actually attend every year. The single biggest problem with the 90 minutes before the big race is the way the structure is governed by ESPN on ABC. It Hiccupshould be the other way around. In prior decades the pre-race ceremonies had a certain rhythm and flow that was continuous. What may be made to fit between breaks on ABC has become choppy and disjointed for those of us in the stands. Bring that back, hand the schedule to ABC and tell them to figure out content versus breaks. A good place for a break, for example, is during Aunt Flo’s warbling of GBA, the pitch of which seems usually determined by how many drinkie-poos she has consumed up in the suite.

Next suggestion from the attendees: Find a ‘voice of God’ announcer (Note: Calabro ain’t that) and include the famous ‘homage’ speech. Bring back the marching bands and baton twirlers. Get A-list celebrities who want to be there.

But I digress. What a great choice in Straight No Chaser. Happy Holidays and we will see you in May!

December 3, 2014

The IndyCar Off Season is Too Long

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 2:14 pm

Sights set on IndyCarIdle thoughts: The IndyCar off season is far too lengthy. The primary tidbits of things resembling news include a dramatic increase in the number of Euro-centric formula drivers who have publicly proclaimed their sights are set on IndyCar. That is all well and good but this is a game of musical chairs with only a few chairs and a lot more bodies angling for them. The state of the sport today dictates that whoever brings the best package can buy a chair, but even then there remain drivers with talent who say they want to compete but stand as much of a chance as I do.

The good news is that demand is there at least from the formula driving community. IndyCar has made their niche far more friendly to those types by continuously increasing the percentage of non-ovals and doing everything they can to kill off the few that remain. Miserably underwhelming weekend presentations and a stunning lack of meaningful promotion at great venues such as Pocono and Ontario are proof.

If IndyCar is smart (and few have ever accused the organization of that) they will make an effort to attract not just drivers but new teams and sponsors in which to place the drivers. It seems like a golden opportunity considering the way Formula 1 has priced some teams out of existence and no discernable path exists for junior formula series participants to advance. It certainly would be nice if IndyCar would actually emphasize the diversity about which it boasts.

Dan Anderson, oval averse as he is, actually continues to grow the Lights and other ladder series and that is commendable. IndyCar, however, could use an influx of professional teams.

KirbyAbout the only other amusing tidbit this week is another rehash on the web of the dark days of the sport written from the standpoint of a bitter, failed former cart employee for no apparent reason. Most of us legacy IndyCar fans who have stuck with the sport keep rooting for such hacks to die off (metaphorically speaking) before we do and that succeeding generations of racing fans alienated by mostly the sheer lack of coherent marketing over the years.

November 14, 2014

Stay Tuned For The Greatest Spectacle in Racing….

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 5:34 pm

GentlemenOne of the most idiotic tenets of the anti-anything-even-remotely-related-to-Hulman crowd is the woefully misguided notion that the Indianapolis 500 be de-emphasized in favor of making the entire series stronger.

Often these people position the entire series in ‘dire straits’ as a result. One nutso contributor at one of the IndyCar-centric online forums opines that there is ‘…too much focus on the Indy 500. The Indy 500 is NOT everything. If the series wants to be healthy again, it needs to go back to the ONE model that worked: The Indy 500 being the most important race of the year, but NOT more important than the series championship or the series as a whole. That model will regain the prestige of BOTH Indy and the series.’

These types of anti-Hulmanites make so many assumptions based not just on prejudice but on a mostly self-perceived utopia they have created for themselves and believe existed prior to 1996. Uh, yes, the Indy 500 IS everything in IndyCar and everything else is secondary. Despite the protestations of those who feel the Indianapolis 500 is somehow tarnished in terms of prestige the event remains as legendary as ever. Usually those who chide any perceived lack of prestige at the 500 suffer from the special brand of arrogance that actually did destroy the model they hold up as ideal.

In other words it is the Indianapolis 500 that has always given legitimacy to whatever official or unofficial sanctioning organization claimed it as their centerpiece. Without it they failed.

This is not to say the rest of the series schedule is not important. In fact IndyCar MUST do a better job presenting and Hardened Nipspositioning the other events to enhance the viability of the entire series. Bragging about how diverse it is only gets them so far. When presentation is ignored; e.g., at just about any oval other than Indy, there is not much hope for maximizing popularity outside Indy.

The point of this piece: Winter is nearly here. The polar vortex has already gripped most of the country. When winter arrives most race fans know they just need to get through it before springtime May activity begins at the big track. This is about the time actual fans begin getting really impatient.

November 11, 2014

New Faces in the Fancy Offices at IMS

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 5:01 pm

MafiosoMark Miles is said to be nearly finished with his overhaul of all things Hulman. Just last week the ‘retirement’ of Jeff Belskus was announced, and just as quickly he was replaced by Cindy Lucchese, who is part of the ‘Miles Mafia.’ Given the level of outright hysteria on the Internet about IndyCar and the certainty, according to most, that it is doomed to die is it not ironic that IMS has hired an executive whose last job was CEO of a casket company?

Now that all of these new executives are in place and the ‘aw shucks’ old guard is elsewhere perhaps it is time for the new leadership to ponder the following basic, common sense observations from many IndyCar fans:

-IndyCar now has marketing professionals on board with impeccable credentials. When will the work they are doing not be such a secret?

-If the IndyCar car leadership feels that filling up seats at race tracks is something that is important why would a 4:00pm start time on a Sunday afternoon ever be considered a good idea?

Good crowd-If ovals are part of the heritage of IndyCar why try so hard to kill them? When will an Indy-in-May assortment of fan-attracting diversions get added to other big ovals at Pocono, Fontana and Texas? IndyCars and vintage hobbyists simply do not cut it.

-If bridges have been burned with ISC and SMI why not get creative with geographically complementary ovals just begging for the kind of racing IndyCar can offer? There are plenty of choices.

-What is wrong with marketing meaningful ‘triple crowns’ with a $3 million dollar prize? There could be a ‘big oval’ triple crown featuring Indy, Pocono and Fontana, and a ‘diversity challenge’ triple crown featuring Texas, Long Beach and a natural terrain road course. What are the odds they would have to part with the 3 mil?

-When will IndyCar demand the same sort of treatment from their television partners afforded to NASCAR and F1? If they consider what they have acceptable they are mentally challenged.

-Aero kits are a step in the right direction but how long will the general homogenization of the entire sport be allowed to continue? Spec racing is consistently in the top three of complaints casual fans express.

The one thing Miles has in common with the previous regime is being tight lipped, except for flowery press releases that contain all sorts of business-speak. Race fans do not care about that. They care about a compelling product on the track, and wider accessibility to it.

Is it too much or too soon to begin demanding meaningful results?

November 7, 2014

How IndyCar and its Participants Manage to Shoot Appendages Off With Alarming Regularity

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 12:58 am

The only real prerequisite for being an IndyCar fan is that any person so inclined must lean toward extreme masochism. Take the 2015 schedule, for example. It remains highly compressed (ending before Labor Day) and contains fewer events than the previous season, including one that leaves the hemisphere.

ESPN on ABC, predictably, only cares about Indy and a couple of others that won’t require much effort. NBCSN is already over-promoting NASCAR. Based on actual current promotion, programming and effort being expended for F1, IndyCar has already been relegated to bastard stepchild status. If some brave reporter unafraid of potentially having credentials pulled were to ask an intelligent question at a press conference it might be worded in such a way that asks what specific steps they are taking to achieve parity with a ‘partner’ that consistently says one thing but does another. Another good question: Why is a cable television network being allowed to determine start times for races that are scheduled so inconveniently for casual fans you are almost guaranteed not to draw a meaningful crowd in person?

Continuing on that theme, the big ovals other than Indianapolis were the scenes of the most lackluster, empty race weekend presentation in the history of the sport. It was embarrassing, particularly at Fontana and Pocono. And once again, dates for such venues have been shifted again. How long can we expect IndyCar to last at NASCAR-owned Fontana now that the biggest supporter of the series at that track, Gillian Zucker, is leaving to run the Clippers organization? If Miles and crew believe the addition of a bunch of non-racing entertainment and more racing contributed to the increased success of the month of May at Indianapolis why would the same approach not work at Pocono or Fontana? So longThe observed differences are night and day. As a fan I do not want to lose Pocono, Fontana or Texas. We have already lost for too many ovals for dubious, half-assed reasons.

One thing that seems to occur a lot at headquarters is turnover. The latest out the door is a big one. Jeff Belskus. Some believe that is a good thing. Under his watch the Speedway physical plant has deteriorated far more rapidly than at any other time since WWII. Besides penny pinching any major decision that had to be made while he was in charge had to be made without running afoul of the France family, including supposedly foregoing high dollar sponsorship because Brian

Boston Consulting Group

Boston Consulting Group

might get upset. He is also said to be responsible for commissioning the Boston Consulting Group activity that has been increasingly chided by those actually knowledgeable about the sport of auto racing.

Just today on one of the IndyCar fan forums a participant asked a great question about Pocono: Why no Indy Lights there? Another contributor opined that it is because it is an oval and Mr. Anderson does not like those. Then, someone claiming to be Dan Anderson chimed in:  “Actually, not true. I like ovals a lot. Many teams in the Indy Lights series rely on drivers and the support they bring, and at this point in time, the reality is that there are too many new drivers unfamiliar with oval racing who opt out of the high speed oval events. Witness last year’s 8 car field at Pocono. In time, we hope to see that reality change, but ignoring it would hurt our teams, and we are in the midst of reviving this series, no need to challenge anyone more than necessary.”

No ovaltine pleaseIf that was THE Dan Anderson I would only say a couple of things. 1) The guy deserves props for adding cohesiveness to the rungs of the ladder, and 2) Actually making each rung grow. I do not have a problem with some of his reality based rationale, but I also remember quotes from a Gordon Kirby piece in the summer of 2013:  “We’re going to do less ovals,” he said. “I think that the model that requires Indy Lights to do five, six or seven oval races a year is just not workable. It defeats the population in the series because too many drivers from foreign countries don’t understand ovals or are scared of them. Oval racing is exciting but there’s a high cost in crash damage and everything else.  We definitely need to train drivers on ovals. My F2000 series does one oval race. My Pro Mazda series does two oval races and my Indy Lights series will do three oval races.”

At least he is honest. He is stuck with mostly self-funded race drivers who get there with money instead of just talent who only want to race on non-ovals because they are either scared of ovals or unwilling to learn how. Definitely not his fault. Is

Oh My God! It's an OVAL!

Oh My God! It’s an OVAL!

it any wonder there is so little attraction for casual American fans, especially given owners who just take the checks and churn through drivers (and their wallets) faster than McDonalds goes through fry cooks? Oh, and ‘…no need to challenge anyone more than necessary!?’ What!? If IndyCar fancies itself as having the most diverse drivers on the planet isn’t ‘challenging’ what it is all about? Besides for years we have heard cart enthusiasts chirping nearly continuously about how easy it is for a road racer to pick up ovals. What is the problem then?

If the foreign ride buyers are too ‘fraidy scared of big ovals can’t you at least use an infield road course for their part of the weekend? It’s not like interior space availability is a problem.

Unfortunately the battle for control of the sport between IMS/American oval racers and Formula wannabes rages on, as it has in earnest since the 1970s. Caught in the middle, as usual, are fans. Far too many have had enough and are no longer around. This is a problem that will likely never be solved. In the meantime as we bend over we should probably learn to enjoy it some more.

October 30, 2014

The 2015 IndyCar Schedule is Released…Verdict?

Filed under: The Disciple Blogs — Disciple of INDYCAR @ 6:38 pm

New Foyt Full TimeThe 2015 IndyCar schedule was released today and for the most part it remains underwhelming. Most of us understand the difficulty of piecing together that puzzle and appreciate the hard work that goes into it. Still, it remains troubling and here is why:

-There are only 17 events, and that is a stretch because it includes two races in one weekend in downtown Detroit and the two events in Indianapolis.

-The schedule is 65% non-oval. Perhaps the people in charge still feel that shoving something that has repeatedly failed down the throats of potential fans they are mostly unsuccessfully trying to attract will somehow have a different outcome.

-It still ends before Labor Day. Hindsight screams about how ludicrous a notion that is.

-The primary TV partner is doing IndyCar no favors. Oh sure, IndyCar will blow smoke up everyones’ arses about how six events are on ABC, but the reality is they are only in three physical places: St. Pete during spring break, Indy in May (cherry-picked again), and Detroit the week after. Everything else is NBCSN and nothing elevated to NBC (as F1 has done). ESPN/ABC’s lack of commitment is obvious. Why IMS/IndyCar won’t push for a change to the terms that allows the brand on NBC is beyond me. That kind of exposure would be good for all parties.

NOPotentially good:

-Spacing seems about right.

-The sole foreign money grab event is in the fringe. What happened with Dubai?

-New Orleans in April works for us.

-Neither Pocono nor Fontana is scheduled on a holiday weekend.

How IndyCar can improve its fortunes, even with such a limited schedule:

-Get off your corporate, pompous arses and do something meaningful for a change with the presentation and promotion of events, especially the few remaining ovals. Give people a full weekend of reasons to show up. A small number of IndyCars and Michael Young screaming into a microphone no longer works, as evidenced by the increasingly paltry attendance.

-Run the entire ladder as well as outside series at EVERY event, even if you have to use another part of a facility (like a road course configuration at Pocono for some of the rungs).

-Invest in and promote the hell out of two triple crowns: One for the big ovals that includes Indy, Pocono and Fontana, and one that emphasizes diversity: Long Beach (street), Texas (oval) and Barber or MO (road). Offer 3 million to any triple crown winner. Chances are you’ll hang on to the money.

Looking toward the future:

-There are so many great unused ovals it is ridiculous. No one expects much as long as IndyCar sticks to the dated notion that having the series just show up is worth a couple of million. That has not been a good approach for many years. Should IndyCar suddenly develop creativity and alternative approaches to revenue generation that is not ‘traditional’ perhaps we will see forward progress. Two striking examples of unused ovals are Kentucky and Chicagoland. I do not buy the Mark Miles notion that such tracks are too geographically close. That is, bluntly, a load of horse shIt. What I believe he is really saying is that IndyCar does not have the means or ability to self-promote in a manner sufficient to generate revenue. Therefore it is easier simply not to pursue such opportunities. Trying to be an IndyCar fan remains frustrating at almost masochistic levels.

Kentucky is ideally located geographically between the population centers of Louisville and Cincinnati. Add to that the contingent that would drive south from Indiana and surrounding states and you have a winner. Of course re-building a winner requires promotion in the key target markets and reasons for people to attend.

Dollars funnel.Chicagoland is within the third largest media market in the country. A no-brainer.

-I would still pick up Rockingham at the asset sale then incentivize potential involvement in IndyCar by existing nearby NASCAR teams, and I wouldn’t care what the France or Smith families thought.

-Open a well-attended Barber-like experience at the Memphis Motorsports Park. No worries about Frances or Smiths there. Ditto for Gateway, both geographically underserved by everyone.

Those are all great starts for getting the schedule up over 20 events, particularly not when bending over for everyone before Labor Day.

The Disciple party has now booked New Orleans, Indy, Fontana, Pocono and one of the Midwest ovals…plus a few more tentatives. I am really hoping the presentation, particularly at oval venues, improves from the embarrassing lack of effort us die-hards were forced to endure in 2014.

Hey….they beat November for release. That’s progress.

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