A Plea For Help

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On Friday, I wrote about the latest and final blow to Tony George’s involvement with American open-wheel racing after Tony George announced that Vision Racing was suspending operations due to lack of sponsorship. One thing that I failed to touch on is the fact that regardless of what I think Tony George has done to this sport – this takes away one full-time car from the Izod IndyCar Series grid. More importantly, there are sixteen full-time employees of Vision Racing that are now unemployed.

I don’t pretend to be an insider and know any of these people. I know just what I read and see on the internet – just like the rest of us. But what I do read and see is that these are good, talented and hard-working people. Whether you like Tony George or despise him, he and his immediate family poured their heart and soul into Vision Racing. It can be said that it was Tony George’s allegiance to his fledgling team that ultimately cost him his position at IMS and with the IRL. His mother and sisters essentially gave him the ultimatum of either stepping away from Vision Racing or his CEO positions at the Speedway and the league. They were tired of propping up all of his activities.

Having started and owned a small business for three and a half years that ultimately failed, I know what it is like to put everything you have financially (and then some) and emotionally into a venture that you believe in. You become blinded by logic and reason, thinking that you can will the thing to work. Fortunately, I finally realized when it was time to pull the plug on my own business, before things got too deep.

In the long run, Tony George made the emotional choice to stick with Vision Racing. The fact that he gave up the Speedway and the IRL makes it sad that it ultimately went down the tubes – for now. I say for now, because Vision Racing has not given up the fight.

If you’ve ever seen a friend going through distress, such as a death in the family, you’ve probably heard someone make the shallow offer of “Let me know if there’s anything I can do”. Perhaps you’ve said it yourself. Being the self-centered soul that I am, I know I have – all the while hoping that I would never hear from them. I always respected people that didn’t wait for a request, nor make that shallow offer. They just took it upon themselves to go ahead and do something without being asked. My girlfriend is that type.

Well, now we’re all being asked to help. Pat Caporali, the Media and Public Relations Director for Vision Racing has embarked on a revolutionary new campaign, utilizing Twitter and Facebook. She is reaching out to fans and asking their help to write letters of reference to the various sponsor partners that have been on the Vision cars as well as potential sponsors. You don’t have to do anything other than type out a brief e-mail and send it to Vision Racing. They will gather these and present them to the potential sponsors. Feel free to say whatever comes to mind to show your support for Vision Racing.

I have sent mine in, with the understanding that it to be given to Menard’s, who was on Ed Carpenter’s sidepod for the last two seasons. I did not blast Menard’s; rather I explained how a Midwest company that has had a strong presence in open-wheel racing should be proud to represent a homegrown midwestern team like Vision.

Most of you who read other blogs have already seen this, since they unveiled their plan on Saturday night. Hopefully, you’ve already taken the five minutes to write an e-mail, letter or fax to them. If not, please do so.

Even if you can’t stand the sight of Tony George for what you feel he did to this sport, there is more to this than that. This is about trying to turn around the perception that the Izod IndyCar Series is in trouble. Yes, it may very well be…but turning around that perception is the first step in getting this thing back on its feet. It does not look good for the IRL to any potential sponsors for this sport that the founder of the league cannot land a sponsor. For those of you that claim to love open-wheel racing and hope that Vision Racing and the IRL ultimately fail, well that’s pretty shortsighted because there is no “plan B” behind the IRL. This is what we’ve got and we need to somehow make it work.

Plus, as I mentioned earlier – this is about more than seeing Tony George get what you think he deserves. There are many good people whose families are dependent on their incomes that are about to be out on the street. Most movement among teams takes place in the fall, just after the season ends. Most team personnel are already in place by February as the start of the season is just six weeks from yesterday, so many of these people will not be getting jobs in racing at this point.

The people at Vision Racing aren’t asking for money. They are asking for a very small slice of your time to write a letter showing your support. I think we can give them that. The link to their request and all of the addresses are in their article is here. I thank you in advance for your support.

George Phillips

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19 Responses to “A Plea For Help”

  1. Good call George, good call.

  2. bickelmom Says:

    Couldn’t agree more, George. These folks deserve our support. Please consider writing a letter for them, folks!

  3. I agree that it’s a shame to see a team fold. But where was this sentiment for the unemployed people when Marty Roth’s team folded last year? When Rahal-Letterman suspended operations? When Cheever went dark?

    I’ll write a letter or an email and do my part, but I’m bothered by the arguments that I’m doing this NOT for Tony George, yet the reason this is being done this time is Because it’s Tony George.

    • I think one of the main reasons this cry is going up for Vision, and didn’t for those other teams, is because Vision has worked so hard to make the fans a part of their organization. They really have gone above and beyond what other teams had done in the past to make the connection and so, when this announcement came that they were shuttering, the fans wanted to do something to help. Personally, I would have written such a letter for Marty Roth’s team if I had been asked or thought of it on my own. But Vision’s request is just another example of how they are getting all of us involved in a way other teams haven’t before.

      • Yep, what you said, Bicklemom (who I’ve been meaning to ask for months if you’re related in any way to Rich Bickle). When you make an insinuation in a Twitter post that you and your wife are expecting a baby and get a prompt (like, within 2 minutes) congratulatory reply from @VisionRacing, then a team that didn’t really make much of an impression on the racetrack suddenly becomes a little dearer to your heart. At least that’s what happened to me. Try getting something like that from @TCGR or @TeamPenske, if those accounts even exist.

        Anyway, I’m still no real Ed Carpenter fan, and I’ve got mixed feelings about helping a race team that should probably be responsible for finding its own money (as they all should be), but sending an e-mail is literally the least I can do to help out the League by attempting to help the car count and attempting to help out a team that feels so deeply for its fans.

      • bickelmom Says:

        Nope, Speedgeek, no relation. : )

      • Thank you. That’s the most convincing argument I’ve seen.

  4. I sent an email in support of the team. I sent it mainly because of what you said George about car counts and the overall health of the series.

    But I did it with some reservations because I believe that if TG–after all these years and all the connections he must have–if TG really wanted a race team, he could find the necessary sponsorship.

  5. Vic Lovisa Says:

    I too will write a letter because I hate to see teams leave the series and more importantly, I hate to see people lose their jobs/income. That being said, I understand why Menard’s would back out. No offense to Ed Carpenter, who I’m sure is a wonderful guy and all, but the Izod IndyCar Series is more than just 1.5 mile cookie cutters now. Slightly over half of this season’s races are non-oval. I fully understand the fine folks at Menard’s not being interested in watching their sponsored car run last or second to last in half of the races this year. I get why Ed has that seat, but perhaps a more complete race car driver would go a long way towards inticing a sponsor to jump on board. Just my humble opinion.

    • Ryan Johnson Says:

      I completely agree with you Vic. I have grown up with Ed Carpenter and watched him succeed on the 1.5 mile tracks, but I have cringed as of late as he struggles horribly on the road/street courses. Vision does need a more complete driver, but sometimes (like now) it’s hard to say goodbye to such a bright face in the series. My thoughs and prayers are with Ed and everyone directly hurt with the loss of Vision. Vision Racing was the personification of a team that put in long hours and a lot of dedication, while still keeping their fans in the loop. This whole “Let’s help Vision” thing isn’t bout TG, it’s bout helping the team that REALLY cared about it’s fans. They were there for us throughout the years, and now this is our opportunity to be there for them.

  6. John McLallen Says:

    At one time I believe that Tony George said that he wanted to eventually give Vision Racing to Ed. At the time, I thought Ed might do a credible job once he learns the ropes. Ed also seemed like a nice enough individual. Well, good luck to them all.

  7. George, I may write a few letters for Vision racing although I am totallly against children under 21 racing professionally, I was originally excited about Izod, their apparel line and RHR. It was a new and more athletic approach to a very dangerous sport (that was supposed to be modeled after Formula-one racing.)
    When I learned about the safety wall that TG innovated and all of the personal fortune that he has lost, I felt very sad for him but he still has his family. “Sorry for your loss” is a shallow expression but it is even more cursory when no expression is extended. (The Indy car racing thing will fall apart in this carnival environment BTW..but Apex-Brazil will still be in a full cha-cha-cha, as the rodeo travels around. )

  8. imjustsayingisall Says:

    My e-mail to Pat and Mike @Vision is sent….

  9. Drayton Sawyer Says:

    There is no way in hell I’m going to beg on behalf of a man who’s quarterly interest check could pay the note on my house ten times over. This is ridiculous, TG could fund this season without batting an eye, and look for a sponsor in the mean time, I’m not doing it!

  10. Andy Bernstein Says:

    I am perplexed that the idea of forming partnerships between owners who cannot fund their own teams has been ignored.

    This is the solution to reality faced by Nascar last year. Current team priciple with insufficient individual sponsorship committments should pool their existing resources and get back in business.

    If Coyne cannot fully fund the Boy Scout entry, that endorsement should be transferred as well.

    Andy Bernstein

  11. Steve_P83 Says:

    I understand some people do not like Tony George and would not care to see his team fail. However, there are many more people at Vision Racing beyond Tony George. Pat Caporali is an amazing woman whom I have met personally. Vision, with Pat, has done a lot for the fans of both the team and the IZOD Indycar series. Even if you’re not a fan of TG, think about the people who work at Vision Racing. Don’t let your personal feelings for one man get in the way of doing what is right and showing your support for the league. TG did some bad things to the series, but GET OVER IT!!!! Vision asked for your help, that is what makes this different than any other team that has shut down. It is not because of TG that people are helping. It is because that amazing lady doing the PR, Pat Caporali, had a great idea to try to help the team. An e-mail takes five minutes at the most. Show your support for the league and get over your personal issues and prejudices.

    • racing fan Says:

      Pat Caporali is such an amazing media relations/sponsor relations flunkie that she failed to secure adequate sponsorship of one race car… If she were better and the driver were a winner, the team could garner a sponsor. Survival of the fittest.

  12. Writing EM’s or having the USPS deliver mail to Vision’s former sponsor MENARD’S is a waste of time :idea: John Menard will most likely sponsor ROBBY GORDON & his entry @ the Indy 500 :idea: :idea:

    MENARDS has probably moved onto another driver or team he has had a long relationship with… this is Business 101 folks. Robby might have a better cost structure for MENARDS or JM feels Robby (& a rumored Andretti Autosport) will be more competitive @ the 500 then Ed (& Vision). The other sponsors were pretty small… William Rast was originally linked with Townsend Bell & he has announced he will be with Sam Schmidt @Indy

  13. […] events here, and he does so brilliantly. Of note is the fact that there’s a movement now afoot. SAVE VISION RACING! is the new battle cry, replacing … well, whatever the old battle cry […]

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