From Apathy To Indifference
It has now been a week since the IZOD IndyCar Series made their chassis announcement for 2012 and beyond. We’ve all had time to contemplate and decipher much of what we heard and didn’t hear. One week removed from the news, I’m neither upset nor excited. Instead, I find myself experiencing the worst emotion of all over this very important subject – indifference.
When the DeltaWing was first unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show in February, there was no question where fans stood in their opinion on the chassis. They either loved it or hated it. Regardless of what you thought about the car, it created a buzz. People were talking about it. Fans knew where they stood; they dug in and were passionate about their DeltaWing opinions.
Then to add to the buzz, Dallara and Swift released their first concepts of what they were proposing for the series. Generally, those that hated the DeltaWing were in favor of the Swift and/or Dallara. Most people loved the Swift. I thought the lighting system they had on the car was a little cheesy, but the overall design was favorable. Then Lola revealed their drawings, which really got the buzz going. Late to the party was BAT engineering. All five proposals offered something unique that the series had never seen. Fans chose their favorites and the great debate began.
The ICONIC committee was formed and even though they dropped no hints themselves, the rumor mill was buzzing that multiple chassis were going to be in the future of the IZOD IndyCar Series. Less than two weeks before the announcement, Curt Cavin wrote in The Indianapolis Star that he believed two chassis would be chosen – Dallara and Lola. That led most of us to believe that would be the case. Although it wasn’t the sexiest choice, it made sense. Dallara had been a reliable partner to the league since 1997 and Lola had a rich tradition in building open wheel cars.
Of course, we all know by now that Dallara was chosen as a single source builder of a common tub while the aero-kits can be made by anyone and have the potential to drastically alter a car’s looks as well as driving characteristics.
If you’ll notice, I’ve used the word “buzz” many times throughout this article. For the first half of this year, that’s what was building in the IZOD IndyCar Series – a buzz. For months, we all talked and speculated about which way the ICONIC committee might go. I was prepared to be thrilled, in the unlikely event that the ICONIC committee said “Come one, come all” and allowed everyone to the party. I braced myself to be outraged in case they chose the DeltaWing. And I expected to be happy, assuming that Curt Cavin’s scenario came true.
What I was not expecting was the curve ball that we got regarding a common tub. It’s not that I’m opposed to it – it may actually be the most practical solution, all things considered. What bothers me is the collective apathy that I have been witnessing in the past week – not only from myself, but the people I talk to and the comments from fans that I read on this site as well as others.
I have been pretty upbeat and bullish when it comes to the direction that the IZOD IndyCar Series has taken in the last several months. With the combined arrivals of IZOD and Randy Bernard, there has been much to celebrate – so please don’t think I’ve joined the dreaded “Legions of the Miserable“. What was so good about the past six months is that everyone had a strong opinion regarding which way the series should go, and they were more than willing to share it. This created the aforementioned buzz. Maybe it’s me, but I get this feeling that the buzz completely left the room with this announcement that very few can honestly say that they saw coming.
Perhaps the build-up and pageantry was too much for the actual announcement to live up to – no matter what it was. Maybe it was that after the announcement, most people had more questions than answers. Whatever the case, in the past week, there seems to be a noticeable deflation in the IndyCar blogosphere regarding the 2012 chassis – and that isn’t good.
One of the worst emotions out there is indifference. Whether you are talking about a marriage, your job, a friend, a hobby or a struggling open-wheel racing series – indifference is the kiss of death. Fans are split on Paul Tracy. Some love him, while some fans loathe him. But there is always a passionate buzz whenever Paul Tracy is on the entry list. It gives people something to talk about. Most are not that passionate when discussing Hideki Mutoh. He’s just there.
I am close friends with a couple that has been married for over twenty years. Their marriage is on life-support and they both know it, yet the husband swears to me that they have never had a fight. It has simply grown into a tiresome and benign existence. There is no passion. There is no hatred, but there is no love either. Instead, they just go through the motions; living day to day while each one waits for the other to make the move to put the marriage out of its misery. So far – neither has had the guts to do it, but they won’t make any attempt to save the marriage either. So they just sit and watch their miserable lives trudge on by.
The IZOD IndyCar Series cannot afford to have an indifferent or apathetic fan base. There is no marriage certificate holding its fans hostage. A divorce is as painless as changing the channel. I consider myself to be a hardcore fan, and I’m not going anywhere. But the lack of emotion that I feel one week removed from the “big” announcement concerns me. If I have developed an “I don’t care” attitude on what was billed as the most important decision in the history of the league, that can’t be a good thing. A lack of passion among the fan base can be fatal.
Have I misread the fan’s reaction? Are fans actually giddy over what is arguable the biggest announcement outside of unification? I’m a little perplexed over my indifference. Let me hear from you. Tell me if I am in the minority, or that there really is some growing apathy after this announcement. If I’m wrong, I’ll try to dig deeper to see what I’ve missed in the announcement. If I’m right, however – then Randy Bernard may have his toughest challenge yet, in his short tenure as CEO. He will have to go back and sell this to the most important people to the series – the established core fan base. That could be a tall order.