My Thoughts On Only Fifteen Races

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I cannot remember when I have felt as removed from the IndyCar loop as I have for the past week. After living in a relatively spacious home for the past ten years (and living single for the past sixteen), my son and daughter have both moved out and I have re-married. So did my new bride move into said spacious home? No. Instead, I have moved into her house – which is actually the home of her elderly mother that she has been taking care of for the past few years.

Not only is this house somewhat smaller than mine, but her mother has lived there for the past thirty-three years and has hoarded about a hundred years worth of junk in that time. For example – although there is only one coffee pot in use, there are actually four different coffee makers stashed in various parts of the kitchen counter. Now, one would think that I could have simply taken the other three to Goodwill as I was giving away many of my own personal belongings in the past few weeks. But no – they must all stay. Anything that was there before my unwanted intrusion must stay, so you can imagine how crowded my life has suddenly become.

As I (halfway) jokingly gripe about this situation, the real victim in all of this is Susan – my new bride. She feels an obligation to stay with her mother to try and keep her at home as long as possible and prolong her inevitable move to a nursing home – yet she is trying to do right by me and is doing her best to make me feel welcome and comfortable in our new home. She is caught in the middle between her mother who still wants an independent life she can no longer have; while trying to ease my transition into a situation where her mother has made me feel about as welcome as poop in the pool. As usual, I tend to find humor and make light of a serious situation that in my eyes – can be somewhat comical. It’s not an easy task, but Susan’s managing to pull it off and I appreciate and understand the difficulty she faces.

Anyway…the point of all of this is that I have not had time to write any posts nor keep up with much going on in the world of the IZOD IndyCar Series in the past week. I’m finally out of my old house and living amongst boxes along with frequent trips to the storage unit. My main computer is still not up and running, but I have finally gotten to my little netbook that I use at races – so we’ll use it for a few days until I can dig out my real computer.

One bit of news that I did see in my week between two homes was that INDYCAR had announced that they were not going to replace the China race on the 2012 schedule. By now this is very old news, but I have a couple of opinions on this that I wanted to sound off about. I have mixed emotions on this. I agree that it is better to not try and pull off a half-hearted effort at the last minute. That would do more harm to an already damaged credibility due to the China race falling apart. To try and race at Phoenix or Michigan, two places that are both on the radar of most IndyCar fans, and then have a dismal showing – could do irreparable damage to the chances of ever returning to those venues on a permanent basis.

Even doing a one-off effort at a place like Nashville Superspeedway would have looked bad if no one showed up for a race thrown together on extremely short notice.

But the situation at Road America was different. This is a venue that all IndyCar fans have been clamoring for, for years. There was already an ALMS race scheduled for the Saturday on the same weekend as the abandoned China race. The infrastructure was in place and from what I understand – ALMS was very anxious to have the IZOD IndyCar Series share the billing that weekend. Tickets were already being sold and this would mean a big increase in ticket sales. It seemed like a logical fit.

So what happened?

Reading the press release, all the right words were said about not rushing an event and building for the future. But never overlook the money trail. Rumor has it that INDYCAR was seeking a fairly healthy sanctioning fee from Road America. The track, meanwhile, was supposedly looking to pay nothing or very little to have the IndyCars race at their picturesque four-mile facility near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. If these scenarios are true, it looks as if that both sides were dug in and a compromise could not be reached. I can understand both sides. Road America didn’t want to cough up any additional unbudgeted funds so close to their race weekend, but INDYCAR is trying to recoup at least a fraction of the promised millions that were lost when China fell off the schedule.

Ultimately, the fans lost on this one – especially those of us who had hoped to watch it on television. Everything I read and heard was that this could have been pulled off very easily and the fans were really looking forward to it. I know I was excited about the possibility of watching the race, but I had no intentions of going. Maybe that was another problem. I hope to attend a race at Road America someday – maybe even next year if it’s on the schedule. But there’s no way on earth I can go this year. For most fans that plan their vacations, six weeks is fairly short notice if there is much travel involved.

I’m hoping that the fans were the only ones that lost out. It has been widely publicized that many of INDYCAR’s contracts are contingent upon a sixteen race season – including title sponsor IZOD. Executive VP Mike Kelly said that IZOD supports this move to stay at fifteen races for the 2012 season. I hope it’s not so they can exercise an out-clause in the contract. We already know that IZOD has had a diminished role recently because new leadership within the company is not as enthusiastic about the IndyCar sponsorship. Here’s hoping that there is not an ulterior motive behind IZOD’s “support” of this announcement.

George Phillips

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11 Responses to “My Thoughts On Only Fifteen Races”

  1. Steve K Says:

    Some things are better kept a secret. It seems many tracks are bitter about what Andretti paid to get a race at Millwaukee. How do you tell another track you did that because that race is more important than theirs?

    Anyone see Wind Tunnel last night? Larry Mac said rumors in the garage are that Andretti is going to NASCAR and will have a 2 car Cup team with Dodge. One of the drivers will supposedly be an IndyCar driver. Could this be Marco? He worded the part about the drivers very delicately.

    • Ha!

      Sending Marco over there would mean instead of being at best, the 10th best driver on a 26 car grid, he’d be the 10th worst driver on a 43 car grid. Can you hear the whining from him already.

      As for the schedule, RB needs to watch himself, this didn’t happen overnight. And this crap, including constantly manipulating in new rules, is getting old.

    • “One of the drivers will supposedly be an IndyCar driver.”

      Past or current, because I would love to see Milka Duno try her hand in the Sprint Cup. ;)

    • billytheskink Says:

      Putting an IndyCar driver into a NASCAR Cup ride that is not top-35 protected is an incredibly stupid thing to do.

      Maybe Andretti and Dodge are supposed to be buying someone’s points. That moves it down to just fairly stupid.

  2. Bent Wickerbill Says:

    There are an awful lot of issues that need tending to here, almost too many to even list… The thing is, even with what to me appears to be poor judgement on managements part with regard to track choice and lack of due dilligence by race control, there has still been the bright glimmer of real racing on several occasions this year.
    Unfortunately it is going to take a much greater level of managerial consistancy if this series is going to survive… There is an old Steven Wright routine that goes something like this: (I paraphrase)
    “You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you lean way back in a chair and you nearly topple over backwards”? Well, thats the feeling I get when I think about the 2013 and beyond Indy Car Series.

  3. I was bummed when Road America fell through. I was ready to buy tickets and drive down for the weekend, since it’s only 5 hours away, and I have in laws that live 15 minutes from the track.

    I think the bigger issue right now is the remaining schedule. The Iowa race was June 23rd. It was the tail end of 5 straight weeks of some pretty damn good racing (let’s pretend Belle Isle didn’t happen). I know that a condensed schedule like that is tough on the teams, so I understand the need to slip in some off weeks. However, we now have 6 races remaining spread over 2 & 1/2 months. Even as a hardcore fan, it’s going to be hard for me to stay connected and follow the series. This is not going to help ratings, or attendance.

    • Ron Ford Says:

      Hi Tom. If George will allow I would like to respond to something you wrote on that Iowa guy’s site about a scenario of Bill France buying the series. At first I dismissed it out of hand and I don’t think it will happen, but you made some very thought provoking arguments for that. IndyCar as the “microbrew series”. Mmmm…..

  4. Ron Ford Says:

    Count me among those who think that replacing the China race with Road America in August would have worked out well for all the reasons listed above. The Road Americal promoter said that if he could have gotten the same deal that Michael Andretti got for Milwaukee it would have been a slam dunk.

    That raises the question is it possible for Milwaukee or any other oval track being considered for 2013 to be viable at IndyCar’s current price point? Is it possible for IndyCar to rein in costs without cheapening the racing product which is currently very good.

  5. I think that INDYCAR should have rented the Nashville Superspeedway and put on a race, but that is just me.

  6. I expect IZOD to exit the (sinking?) ship at the first dock they see.

    The racing (and cars) has been really good this year. The politics, economics, ratings and dumb luck have not.

    The down weeks (without a race) add to the feeling of instability with this racing series.

  7. Carburetor Says:

    I try to keep positive about this series, expecially with all that open-wheel racing has gone through the past 15 years. However, I share many of the concerns others have expressed here. Though I am a Bernard supporter and believe he has generally done a good job, things do not look good for the future of IndyCar from my viewpoint. I expected some turmoil with the competition in the engine manufacturers; and some grumbling about the new car, but I didn’t expect the fractured effort to add/sustain races and stay financially viable. IZOD has all but disappeared; it seems a severe struggle to get oval tracks interested; and the sport does not seem to sufficiently grab enough younger generation fans to augment the aging (I am one…) fan base.

    I can envision this series being relegated to ALMS series status or even an open-wheel sideshow to NASCAR Nationwide. Sometimes I wonder if the only time I’ll get to see this series in the future is on the 11:00pm Thursday night replay filler time slot on the SPEED Channel….

    At the end of the day, what matters most is the Indy 500–where there will never be issues drawing interest from either fans or racers. In my opinion, it will be a bit more like the 24-Hours of Le Mans–teams putting forth extra effort for the one-off event of the year; but as for robust interest in the/a series, not so much. :(

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