A Plea For Help
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.