What Women Want – More Ovals
By Susan Scruggs
Note from George – Susan Scruggs did a lot of the setup work to get this site going when I started it and has done most of the photography. She claims to be a casual fan in this article, but I consider her to be pretty knowledgeable about the goings-on in the IZOD IndyCar Series. She asked to offer her perspective on the ever-popular road-course vs oval debate. Since I don’t usually need much of an excuse to take a break now and then, I gladly agreed. – GP
When I found out that the Indy Cars were going back to ovals to finish the season, I asked George if I could write today’s blog because I have something to say. I’m not near the Indy Car fan that George or most of his readers are; but from what he says, I am a casual fan and I’m what Indy Car is going after. I have kids, a respectable job and some say-so how I spend my money.
I have to say; I don’t like the road courses. George prefers ovals but at least he seems to have some appreciation for road courses, and what it takes to do it. He maintains that there are subtleties to road courses that the casual fan doesn’t understand. Well, I’ve heard him say the same thing about baseball. He loves baseball and I hate it. He’s always talking about baseball being a thinking man’s game. Well, being a woman, I find baseball boring.
George’s three sports are racing, football, and baseball. I like racing and football, but I substitute hockey for baseball. George hates hockey. My son played hockey for 4 years in high school and I learned to love it. Hockey has nonstop action. I love taking my son to see the Nashville Predators play, but I don’t think George has been in two years.
I compare hockey and baseball with ovals and road courses. One tends to be nonstop action while another one may have some subtleties that only longtime fans can appreciate. If I never watch another baseball game, it’ll suit me fine. I enjoy baseball for sitting in the stands, drinking a beer and people watching; but to go as an exciting event is wasted on me. I feel the same about road courses.
I went to Barber and Indianapolis this year with George, my son and his girlfriend. Both were fun, but Barber was different than Indy or the IRL race at Nashville. We sat in a field in a lawn chair for most of the day and watched cars go by. I had no clue what was going on or who was winning. George said he did, but I’m not so sure he really did. The words “I don’t know” aren’t really part of his normal vocabulary.
George and I have been to Indy every year since 2004. I still don’t know near as much as George claims to know about Indy, but I’ve figured out a lot about it over the years. The traditions at Indy can be overwhelming and it is very exciting. I thought the Nashville race was exciting but George complained about the track. I get it about Indy and I certainly got it about the oval at Nashville. But I didn’t get it about Barber.
Honestly, I have quit watching road courses because I find them so boring. I’ll make a point to watch an oval race, but I’d rather go shopping or run errands than watch cars run in single-file around a downtown, an airport or a narrow track in the middle of nowhere. But as a fan who doesn’t know all the ins and outs of racing, but knows action when I see it; I love the ovals. I’ll never forget the Kentucky race last year. Just about everyone (including George) was pulling for Ed Carpenter, but I was pulling for Briscoe. I was standing in front of the TV for the last laps. When it was over I was dancing around the room, but I was exhausted after watching it.
I think that if the sport really wants to grow, they need more ovals like Kentucky, Chicago and Texas. Those are races I watch. Even as a casual fan who can probably only name half the drivers, I remember those races and make a point to watch them each year.
I work in an office where the majority of my co-workers are women in their late twenties and early thirties. Few understand what I go to every May. They laugh when they think I’m going to something like Talladega where no one has teeth. They don’t have a clue how big Indy is. They’ve never even watched a minute of it on television, even after I try and explain what it’s all about. They don’t even give it a thought. If Indy Car can come up with more edge-of-your-seat moments like Kentucky last year and fewer boring events like that race a couple of weeks ago, they should be able to hook some of these young people as fans.
If women are going to bother to sit and watch a sport, they don’t want every technical aspect explained to them like they are children. We don’t care about pit strategy and fuel mileage. We want to see some nail-biting action. We get that on the ovals. We understand the danger and the speed. It sounds ghoulish, but I’ve heard George say many times that that has been the core appeal to racing. That applies to women too.