Beating The Dead Horse Some More
No matter what you do, it’s always good to take a break. You know that the break did you some good when you’re glad to get back to what you were doing. I took a week-long break from here and re-charged my batteries. Today is my first day back. After reading this, some may say I need to take another break. I’ll promise you, I’m not as down as I may come across. It’s just that I’ve decided to tackle a subject that is bothering me – and that’s the fact that the IndyCar Series is far away from my thoughts.
Ever since the 2013 schedule was released last fall, the gaping hole in September caught everyone’s eye. Some of us, my self included, thought that surely another race that had yet to be announced would be added. Not once did I think that the powers-that-be would allow a five-week gap to remain. But Randy Bernard was fired shortly thereafter, and there were suddenly more important matters to attend to. Thus, the gaping hole remained.
Throughout the season, I sort of tried to ignore it even though I knew it was there. Then, when the Baltimore race was over with so much controversy looming – we were all left wanting some type of conclusion at the next race. Although we’re still waiting, it now seems like a distant memory.
Since that Baltimore race, the NFL has started playing. The football season will be one-quarter over before the next race. My biggest fear about this gap; “out of sight, out of mind” has come true – for me anyway.
Although I used to be a big baseball fan, I haven’t paid the sport much mind since they lost the World Series in 1994. However, I still follow the pennant races at this time of year. My Tennessee Vols haven’t given me much to cheer about lately, but I still follow them religiously. Then there are the Titans. Here in Nashville, they are king – even though they are one of the more obscure teams to the rest of the country. Susan and I went this past Sunday and had a blast, watching the Titans win a last-minute comeback against the Chargers. Another minor distraction is that the Nashville Predators of the NHL are cranking up their pre-season already. I don’t pay much attention to them, but I still want them to do well.
What I’m getting at is that this is probably the worst time of year for the IndyCar season to go on a mini-hiatus. I consider myself to be a hard-core IndyCar fan, but I have to keep reminding myself that the season hasn’t already ended. By this time last year, it had – and for good reason. Perhaps I would be more interested in the last of the IndyCar season if the Titans were having a season like last year (they only won six games). This season, they are already 2-1 and are looking at some fairly winnable games over the next few weeks. It’s probably a bit premature, but people around here are already whispering the p-word (playoffs). That has my focus now – not Helio’s quest for his first championship.
I am amazed that I am in the vast minority among IndyCar fans by wanting the season to end around Labor Day. I think all of the distractions on the sports calendar, plus family distractions with school in full-swing, makes it hard to follow and keep up with what is right now a niche sport. As a die-hard, it’s tough to admit – but I have to be realistic. In its current state, IndyCar does not have the muscle to go up against the NFL, college football, Major League Baseball, the NHL or the NBA. Those that say IndyCar shouldn’t worry about other sports are kidding themselves.
Of course, to follow the argument that IndyCar needs to wrap up its season by Labor Day – logic would have it that the season would start much sooner to avoid such a long offseason. Unfortunately, based on what we’ve heard, it doesn’t sound as if next season will start any earlier than it did this season, it’ll just end seven weeks earlier. Surely next year is just a one-year transition season while the minds-at-work figure something out to shift the season up to a February start or early March at the very least. Surely that’s the case…isn’t it?
But back to this gap – aside from the Montoya signing, there hasn’t been much to keep IndyCar in the news. For better or worse, NASCAR managed to keep their brand relevant in football season with their “chase” fiasco. At least people were talking about it, although not in the best light.
But if we thought IndyCar was under the radar before, it’s nothing like right now in this dormant period. Actually, it’s worse than I expected. Quite honestly, I’ve found myself in pure football mode for the past three weeks. I’ve listened to Trackside each week and stayed caught up with my reading, but my interest has waned. I think I’d be more interested if this were already the offseason because the silly season would be in full swing. Instead, we’re left with this momentum killing lull.
Fortunately, last Friday, I found myself in the unique position of actually going to a bar and doing some bench-racing. One of my fellow IndyCar bloggers, Davd Zehr of Grounded Effects came in town and we made arrangements to meet Friday afternoon for a couple of adult beverages.
Of course, we devoted a lot of time talking about racing, but even two die-hard IndyCar fans spent a good portion of the time talking pro and college football. It’s such a rarity for me to get to talk about IndyCar racing with someone face-to-face in Nashville, but neither of us seemed that anxious to spend out whole time talking about it. We both follow this sport passionately and have been to more Indianapolis 500’s than we could count. Like myself David is a trivia buff on the history of IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500. If you don’t follow David on Twitter (@groundedeffects), you should. Periodically, he’ll throw out some trivia questions on Twitter that would give Donald Davidson a run for his money.
On my way home, it struck me how little time we spent discussing the sport we follow so diligently – and I wondered why. Is it the time of year and so much else is going on in the sporting world? Is it the five-week gap between races? Are we both so disgusted by the lack of forward movement we are seeing on so many issues out of this new regime? Is it all of the above? I’m not sure.
What I do know is that we’ve gone through three weekends without an IndyCar race and still have one more to go. I’m hoping that as the first of the two Houston races approaches next week that I’ll start to get a little more excited; but right now my excitement level is about as high as the TV ratings – meaning practically non-existent.
Some will read this and say; “Wow, George must be going through some tough times right now. He really sounds down”. No, it’s quite the opposite. My marriage is just as fulfilling as I had hoped, I’m happy in my job and my kids are doing very well. Things are actually going my way. Maybe that’s why I’ve temporarily lost interest because things are going so well for me away from racing that I no longer need it. Nah…that’s not it. By next week, I’ll probably start getting back into race mode. Then next March, I’ll be dying for the start of the new IndyCar season just like I always do.
No, it’s the huge gap we’re enduring right now. It’s just hard to maintain focus on a sport that takes such a long break. We’ve all beaten this horse to death, but I certainly hope IndyCar never does this again. They do learn from their mistakes and never allow history to repeat itself, do they? Well, do they?