IndyCar and SMI “dis” the Indianapolis 500

Many IndyCar fans and even long-time journalists are applauding the recent announcement by IndyCar and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (SMI) of a 5 million dollar bonus to any non IndyCar regular that would win the season-ending race at that track.  I say it’s a smear against the Indianapolis 500.

If the Indianapolis 500 is your marquis event of the season, why then does a piddly season ending race pay almost twice as much to win as does the Indianapolis 500? (Dario Franchitti took home 2.75 million this past May for winning “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”)

The reason is simple.  Bruton Smith, the man behind SMI and LVMS along with IndyCar want to try and bring interest to a race that won’t come close to selling out without something big. (Don’t look for a sellout even with this.)

If there is to be a bonus for a non-regular, why not Indianapolis?  Maybe they could get some of the great names of racing who at one time made it to Indianapolis to race once a year return? And is a bonus for an outsider really fair to those that work hard every week?

I know it’s a very long shot for a non-regular to win at LVMS but to me it makes no sense to pay someone more for winning that race than the Indianapolis 500.  Oh and throw this in.  The season champion that runs all of the IndyCar events only gets a 1 million dollar paycheck.

IndyCar has gotten so desperate to survive with its declining fan base and driver recognition that they are more than willing to do gimmick after gimmick with SMI.

I refuse to drink the Kool-aid and sadly this just confirms my belief that the Indianapolis 500 has now become just another race in the IndyCar season.

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The Daytona 500 once again “The Great American Story.”

I’m a sucker for a great story. To me, great stories are what make racing so interesting to me.  This year’s Daytona 500 had three of them.

Sam Cranston-Nascar llustratedThe first great story was that of Brian Keselowski. I’ve known Brian for several years and talk to him whenever I can at the race track.  I know how hard he works to stay in the sport he loves and how he struggles each and every week just to show up.

During the second Gatorade Duel at Daytona, Brian’s younger brother Brad, who is now a star Nascar driver for Roger Penske, pushed Brian into a qualifying spot for the Daytona 500.

Suddenly, the plain white car with the #92 on it and a crew of the driver, father and a friend were in the Daytona 500.

Roger Penske stepped up offering an engine. Ray Evernham, whose two year old chassis Keselowski was driving, offered to buy tires. During the first pit stop in the Daytona 500, the fueler from the A.J. Allmendinger Best Buy team did his normal job for Keselowski.  This indeed was the vaunted Nascar family at work!

63606742Then, in the Daytona 500, rookie Trevor Bayne in just his second ever Nascar Sprint Cup race, held off a hard charging Carl Edwards and won the race. This put the once dominant car owners the Wood Brothers back into victory lane after several years of struggles and even not qualifying for the Daytona 500.

Every fan in attendance at Daytona was up cheering the victory, no matter there driver allegiance. Even the media, who aren’t suppose to cheer, did because this was a great American story and showed perseverance by good people does pay off.

I got to sit down with Trevor Bayne, Eddie and Len Wood and crew chief Donnie Wingo the morning after the Daytona 500. They were all walking on air as well they should be for quite a long time.

I’ve talked to Brian Keselowski since he raced in the Daytona 500 and being involved in the “Big One” that ended his day early.  He’s back working on his car and trying to find that one extra dollar that can keep him on the track.  He’s still smiling and upbeat as he always has been even when his struggles seemed almost impossible to overcome.

The 53rd Daytona 500 may be remembered for it’s exciting finish but I’ll remember it more for the people and their story.