What Has Improved For 2010?
If you sift through the bilge water that is all of the offseason happenings in the Izod IndyCar Series, there are actually many improvements that have been overshadowed by things like the loss of Vision Racing and the hoopla surrounding the 2012 chassis. First of all, have you been to the new IndyCar website? It has been completely redesigned. Normally, I’m not a fan when a website is redesigned. I get comfortable with various sites and know exactly where everything is. Then, for no apparent reason, they change everything up just for the sake of change. More times than not — it is not an improvement.
That’s not the case with the new IndyCar website. The previous website was crowded and cumbersome; and God help you if you migrated to it and you happened to be on an older, slow computer. This site is clean and it loads quickly. Whoever is responsible for this upgrade should be commended.
Jumping around a bit, it’s worth noting the increased presence that Izod has created since they were officially announced as the Series sponsor last fall. I saw Mike Kelly, the Senior VP of corporate marketing on Wind Tunnel the other night. He was very impressive and seemed to have a genuine passion for the sport. Although he was unsure of where he saw the series at the end of their six-year commitment, he certainly seemed to have a vision of where he thought it could go.
This is a far cry from any of the other attempts at a corporate sponsor for American open-wheel racing. Internet search-engine Northern Light and Pep Boys were laughable in their short stints as the corporate sponsor for the IRL. PPG did a decent job in their years as the title sponsor for the PPG Indy Car World Series, but that went away in the mid-nineties. FedEx may have been the biggest disappointment in the role as a series sponsor. Other than a new logo, they did little more than write a big check for the years they were the title sponsor for CART.
From sitting here in Nashville, everything I have seen from Izod in the past few months has been first-class. From the over-the-top announcement ceremony to well-placed ads, they seem to have their heads and wallets in the right place. I could not believe it when I saw Izod IndyCar ads during the NFL playoffs.
At first glance, after a week on the job, Randy Bernard seems to have gotten high marks as the leagues new CEO. He seems to understand the importance of having Graham Rahal in a car, and all indications are he is already utilizing his connections to do what he can to make that happen. As of right now, nothing has been announced, but something could be forthcoming at any moment. Well, scratch that…it’s just been announced that Graham Rahal will drive at St. Petersburg and Barber for Sarah Fisher Racing. I’m sure more details are to follow and I don’t really know if Randy Bernard had anything to do with this or not.
There are still a lot of serious questions to be answered. The Izod IndyCar Series is heading into one of its most critical seasons in its brief fifteen year history. So much time in the last few months has been centered on the gloom and doom of every piece of bad news that has come out – and rightfully so. To ignore the bad would be to pretend it didn’t exist, which would ultimately be disastrous.
But this is the opening week of the new season. Conference basketball tournaments are this week, Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament is just a few hours after the IndyCar race, there is no NASCAR race this weekend and baseball is just around the corner. Other than October when you have football, the World Series and the IndyCar championship, there is no better time of the year in sports.
So for this one week, let’s forget about DeltaWing, Tony George’s woes, Danica’s NASCAR dalliance and DirecTV. There are still a lot of things about the Izod IndyCar Series that keep us coming back year after year. So sit back this weekend (assuming you get Versus) and appreciate the fact that we can watch open-wheel racing this weekend. Plus, the Month of May is just fifty more days away from today.
On a side note – with the season starting back, I will TRY to have a weekend post on race weekends in addition to my usual Monday, Wednesday and Friday postings. — GP