Can’t sleep? No problem! Watch Nascar at Indy!

The 15th Brickyard 400 was run Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and just like almost all of the 14 preceding races, Nascar put race fans to sleep.

Sure there was some faux excitement as Jimmy Johnson held off Mark Martin at the end, but that was about it.

Lap after lap it was the usual follow-the-leader at the famed Brickyard and it has basically been that way since the first race back in 1994.

The long term problem is that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway isn’t made for stock car racing.  You have 9 degree banked turns connected by two long straight-aways and the short straight-aways (short chutes) between the turns at each end of the track.  It’s next to impossible to get a run on the outside in these heavy cars so it becomes a drag race to enter turn 1 or turn 3.

The COT has made the problem even worse.  Every race track they run has basically the same problem, drivers can’t pass and whoever gets into the lead, they’re gone from the rest of the field.

What’s the answer?  Well, unless the Indianapolis Motor Speedway wants to change it’s historic layout and rebuild it like Las Vegas and Homestead have done, there isn’t one, other than Nascar not race at Indianapolis and that isn’t going to happen!

The Brickyard 400 is what made Nascar into what it is today. Read that carefully.  The Brickyard 400 is what made Nascar into what it is today.

Before Nascar raced at IMS they were considered a “southern” sport.  Yes they did race at places like Michigan and Pocono but those were just “excursions” into the Midwest.  The Brickyard 400 gave Nascar legitimacy as a real national sport thanks to being accepted at the most revered track in the world.

No matter how boring the racing becomes at Indy (hard to think it could get any worse!) Nascar is not going to stop racing there..and IMS is not going to stop inviting them as they need the money. (That’s a different problem!)

The one good thing about the Brickyard each year, you’re guaranteed a nice 2 hour nap between the first 20 laps and the last 20 laps and you won’t miss a thing!


Is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IRL up for sale?

With the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard this weekend a big question that begs to be answered is beginning to circulate with continuing changes in management of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IRL.  Are the two entities up for sale?

If you haven’t been following the “As the Speedway Turns” events, here’s the Reader’s Digest version.

Tony George is out as President of both Hulman & Company, which owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedwayand the Indy Racing League which he started in 1995.  In are two business persons who have been in the Hulman & Company organization, W. Curtis Brighton and Jeffrey Beiskus.

Now comes the announcement that IMS President and Chief Operating Officer Joie Chitwood is leaving after the Allstate 400 to become the VP of Business Development for ISC. ISC is the International Speedway Corporation which owns racetracks such as Daytona, Michigan, California, Chicago, Watkins Glen and so on.  The France family, which runs Nascar are the major stockholders.

Put all of that together and one has to wonder if the Hulman family is thinking of selling the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or the IRL or possibly both.

I could see a scenario where the Hulman family “leases” the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to ISC allowing them to run all operations.  The Hulmans would get rid of day-to-day responsibilities and have a steady income.  It would give ISC another marquee facility to go with Daytona.

ISC could then not only put Nascar at IMS, but bring in the Grand Am series, which Nascar owns, to run the road course.

As far as the IRL, Nascar could buy up the assets of that organization which is in desperate need of sponsors and fans.

Some wishful rumors circulating have team owner and businessman Roger Penske possibly buying the IRL.  I don’t see that happening as Roger was somewhat down that road in the CART days and he’s busy enough with his acquisition of Saturn.

With all of that said, I have no clue what is going to happen, but I do know the Hulman family got here because of greed and stupidity. 

They were living the high life back in 1995 before wayward child Tony George decided to start the IRL.  . Ego I believe got in the way along with whispers from Nascar Land that Tony George needed to be emperor of open wheel racing just like the France family was with stock car racing.

Instead of banking the millions the Brickyard 400 generated and the millions a packed house each May for the Indianapolis 500 brought in, Tony George embarked on his foolish and costly Indy Racing League debacle where some say he’s wasted hundreds of millions of dollars in 19 years.

So what is ahead?  I wish I knew, because I do care about the heritage of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and what it once stood for. I also wish I could say that ISC taking over the track would be a bad thing, but having watched the family of Tony Hulman who was responsible for bringing the Indianapolis Motor Speedway back to prominence destroy what shouldn’t be able to be destroyed, it might be the best thing that can happen.

The IRL Needs Paul Tracy!

Paul Tracy The highlight of Sunday’s Indy Car race in Toronto wasn’t the win by Dario Franchitti but an accident on-track between Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and Toronto area native Paul Tracy.

In typical PT style, Paul saw an opening to get around Castroneves, went for it, and the two collided ending the day for both cars. Every replay showed this was just one of those “racing incidents” where no one was really at blame. However, that wasn’t how the partisan Toronto fans saw it.

As Castroneves was being interviewed by ABC TV, thunderous boos could be heard from the thousands in attendance, and the booing kept going through out the entire interview.  Helio obviously heard them and even admitted he knew he was Enemy #1 at that moment possibly in the entire Ontario province just not Toronto.

That one move and that one moment shows that the IRL needs Paul Tracy.  Just like Kyle Busch has gotten fans burning up message boards in Nascar, Paul Tracy can do the same for the IRL.

Let’s be honest.  The IRL has a very small fan base.  The general public barely knows anyone in the series outside of Danica Patrick and Helio Castroneves.  Race fans though know Paul Tracy.

PT is a lightning rod.  You wait and see what he’s going to do on the race track.  Will he make a brash move and make it work, or will he wind-up on the hook along with another combatant or two that he’s tangled with?

Tracy also isn’t one to mince words.  Paul says whatever is on his mind, politically correct or “series” correct never enters his mindset.  He’s a breath of fresh air. (Check out PT’s website Official Home of the Chrome Horn!)

image PT is a smart marketer’s dream in promoting a race but no one in the IRL seems to want to give him a ride other than KV Racing and Jimmy Vasser.  They know what PT can do and that he helps bring media attention to their team and possibly sponsors along with it.

Hopefully the IRL powers-that-be figure out that Paul Tracy not only deserves to be racing in their series, but that their series desperately needs him to help rebuild a fan base it has lost.  Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening, but one can always dream.

Is Danica destined to be in Nascar in 2010?

DanicaPatrickHeadshot-7086 Will she or won’t she?  That is the burning question surrounding IndyCar driver Danica Patrick and whether she will jump to Nascar next season.

Patrick, who knows she’s a hot marketing commodity, is playing it very coy and why not!  She has everything to gain either way she goes, at least in making money.

Stay in IndyCar either with her current Andretti-Green Racing team or another and grab even more commercial endorsements and establish herself as the big star of the series.

Go to Nascar, and immediately be the focus of the media and fans alike possibly even eclipsing the coverage of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.  (Oh, and Nascar has more fans and actual people that watch their races on TV!)

So what do I think will happen? I’ve got to believe Danica knows she has only so big a window to cash in on her celebrity. (I refuse to use driving talents because that has yet to be proven to my satisfaction.) She can be set for life by jumping to Nascar and raking in gazillions in commercial endorsements, merchandise, and more.

Yes if Danica stayed in the IRL she would have a better than average chance of becoming the first woman to win the Indianapolis 500 just because of the quality of competition, but that isn’t guaranteed.  Mario Andretti could be the greatest all around driver ever and he won Indy only once in his stellar career.

Go to Nascar, and even if she fails (which I believe she will) Danica comes out with enough money to do whatever she wants the remainder of her life, even move into team ownership.

DanicaPatrickFull-3156 While at Daytona over the 4th, I talked with several of my friends in the garage area and the buzz was that Danica would come to Nascar next year and be in the #1 car for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. To me, that makes a ton of sense.

Chip Ganassi knows how much sponsorship Danica would bring to the table and let’s be honest, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing needs all the influx of money it can get right now to stay in business.

Will this happen?  I’d say it’s 60-40 that Danica will be racing in Sprint Cup next season, but here’s the problem.  She wouldn’t be allowed to race in the Daytona 500.

Why?  Because Nascar has to approve a driver.  Even Indy 500 and F-1 race winner Juan Pablo Montoya had to run in ARCA and some Nationwide races to be approved.  Would Danica swallow her “Cup only” mantra and do what is needed to be in Nascar’s biggest race of the year and do a few of those events before season’s end? Only time will tell.

One thing is certain, either way that Danica Patrick goes, she’ll come out a winner financially.  The real question though is will she come out a winner on the race track and isn’t that what racing is really all about?