IndyCar, please stop the gimmicks!

DSC_0190 Desperate times require desperate measures I guess but IndyCar’s propensity for gimmicks over improved product and listening to the REAL fans of Indy car racing is driving me even crazier than I normally am.

First came the Indianapolis Motor Speedway changing qualifying rules AGAIN by saying you have to qualify TWICE to win the pole for the Indianapolis 500. (Read the story here)

Now in its infinite wisdom, IndyCar has decided that  crowning a series champion isn’t enough, they need a champion for the road/street circuit portion of their season, one for ovals, and then an overall champion! (Here are the details on this insanity!)

New CEO Randy Bernard says he did this to create more “major” races outside the Indianapolis 500.  What, saying they go for a “championship” make them “major?” Sorry dude, get a clue!

What makes a race major are the participants not the gimmicks.

The Indianapolis 500 became what it was (my opinion to use past tense) because of the men and women that raced there.  There was a time when the best-of- the-best raced at Indianapolis. Fans went to 16th and Georgetown because the heroes of racing from the USAC ranks, Nascar, Formula One and even road racing came to Indianapolis.  There was also the mixture of exotic cars. (Read previous post)

Not that long ago people were drawn to the races to see the likes of Rick Mears, Al Unser Sr. and Jr., Mario and Michael Andretti, Bobby Rahal, Emerson Fittipaldi, Nigel Mansell, Gil deFerran and so many more.  Hideki Mutoh just doesn’t do it.

What IndyCar fans want is great racing, great stars, great cars and an understanding of WHY they are IndyCar fans!

How about LISTENING to the fans. Not the ones that come to a race and barely know a race is going on because they are busy partying and schmoozing but the real fans that sacrifice their hard earned money and time to attend an event because it’s a passion to them.

I truly believe that the best days of Indy car type racing is in its past.  However, that doesn’t mean that IndyCar racing can’t become respectable and relevant again.  It just takes leadership that gets its collective head out of its ass Gimmicks just won’t do it.

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Anyone seen Danica lately?

P2040032 We may have to put out an Amber Alert on Danica Patrick soon.  Somehow she has disappeared from the media horde that was following her every movement when she ran three Nascar Nationwide races at the beginning of the year.

Since that time, Danica has been involved in her “fulltime” job of racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series for Andretti Autosport.

In the four races she has run, all on street or road circuits which are suppose to be her strength, her best finish is 7th.  The other three, 16th,19th, and 15th.

It’s amazing how no one is reporting that but as soon as she comes back to Nascar after the Indianapolis 500 for a short stint, watch out!  The media will be acting as if she’s the next superstar of the sport even though her success on the track is very limited and has been for quite awhile..IF anyone would check.

Danica is a marketing phenomenon.  I think her description on the GoDaddy home page sums it up best– “Racing Star and Go Daddy Girl.”

You notice it didn’t say “race car driver” it says “racing star.”  There is a difference and right now Danica epitomizes that difference.

Oh, by the way, it’s been reported that Danica will be spotted this weekend at Kansas Speedway where the IZOD IndyCar series will be racing just in case you need your Danica fix.

I want MY Indianapolis 500 back!

I have watched since 1996 the demise of the Indianapolis 500 from the premiere racing event in the world to now being not even the top racing event on Memorial Day weekend in the United States! (Can you say the Coke Zero 600 at Charlotte?)

Once upon a time all the top drivers in the world from Formula 1, Nascar, or wherever they raced, came to Indianapolis.  Not anymore.

The Indianapolis 500 had bigger-than-life heroes of racing.  Now they have Milka Duno.

The Indianapolis 500 had innovation.  I remember the Lotus cars coming to Indianapolis, the McLaren, the March, the Lola, the Eagle, the Chaparral and many more.  The cars were stars along with the drivers that man-handled them around the 2.5 mile oval.  Now we have a spec car with a spec engine.

Because the Indianapolis 500 has lost its luster, the Speedway in trying to bring “excitement” back to qualifying changed from giving each car three tries to make ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” during the month of May to three tries EVERY DAY of qualifying.  That was 12 chances to make the Indianapolis 500! 

Now they’ve made a mockery of the run for the pole at Indianapolis.  You need to run 8 laps to win the pole because after you first qualify on pole day, you now have to return to the track in the final 90 minutes with the 8 other top qualifiers and do it again.  (Read details here) Why?  Because they want “excitement.”

I’ve had it.  Tradition means absolutely nothing to these people and that’s why real race fans are turning away.  Do they really think the “drive-by” viewers that might tune in will become race fans? 

Call me old-fashioned, call me a relic, but also call me someone that grew up going to Pole Day when I was barley out of diapers with my family.  I attended my first Indianapolis 500 in 1966 when I was 14.  I broadcast the Indianapolis 500 from 1980 to 1995.  I care about what the Indianapolis 500 is suppose to be.  Sadly, it will never be what it was ever again. Thankfully, I’ll always have my memories as do thousands of others who were fans but are turned off by all the gimmickry which has become the Indianapolis 500.