They Have Got To Be Joking!
For the past two weeks, I’ve referenced an absurdity that was sent in to Curt Cavin’s Q&A at The Indianapolis Star. I promise I don’t scour Curt’s blog for inspiration on subject matter, but this will make three weeks in a row. Last Thursday, one of Curt’s readers wrote in asking if IMS will ever bank the north and south turns, so that fans can watch side-by-side racing all around the track like in NASCAR.
Are you kidding me? Two weeks ago, someone asked for green-white-checker finishes for the IZOD IndyCar Series. Last week, someone asked for a best-in-class scenario for track records for this current nine year-old Dallara. Now, some clown wants high-banking at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I say clown, because I’m wondering if these people are actually being serious or just trying to get their names on the internet by asking an intentionally ridiculous question. To quote the ancient philosopher, Keyshawn Johnson; “C’mon man!”
For the record, Curt gave the reader a classic answer. He said there are very few things he is sure of in life, but one of them is that the track itself will remain unchanged. It’s been that way for 100 years, which is part of the uniqueness of it. I won’t even dignify that question with a response on why the track should remain unchanged. Curt did that sufficiently.
Instead, I want to know where these questions are coming from. Is Curt having a big off-season laugh on all of us as he pulls a daily blooper out of his over-loaded inbox? Has he always been getting e-mails from cranks and he’s decided to quietly sneak them in so that we can see what being Curt is really like? Or has 2011 surfaced as The Year of the Loon?
Maybe those fickle fans that became sudden NASCAR fans a few years ago have become disenchanted and are looking around for another sport to infiltrate. We should welcome any new fans we can get, but let’s grow our own brand of new fans that like our sport the way it is. We don’t need fans wanting to bring NASCAR-like rules or rip up the pavement and bricks at IMS simply because it isn’t like NASCAR.
We’ve always been told that the only stupid question is the one that isn’t asked. At first glance, I’d be tempted to say that doesn’t apply here. But on second thought, it does. I’ve sounded off before about the arrogance of hockey fans that scoff at any outsiders asking what they believe to be stupid questions. I grew up in the south in the sixties. I never saw a (non-Olympic) hockey game on TV until the mid-seventies, and never saw a game live until I finally went to a Nashville Predators game in 2002. I’m sorry, I never knew what “icing” was and I’m still not too sure what those blue lines mean.
When my son decided to play hockey in high school, I was one of the few parents who knew nothing of this sport. Most parents were northern transplants who sneered at my lack of knowledge of their sport and looked down their nose at anyone who might be interested in becoming a fan. They seemed to only want their inbred fans that grew up with the sport and welcomed no newcomers. That attitude might explain how their already obscure sport went from ESPN to Versus after they lost a season to a labor dispute. The hockey people I dealt with on my son’s team acted as if they wanted no new fans. I think they’ve gotten their wish.
Over the last several years, I’ve taken potential new IndyCar fans with me to Indianapolis. Last season, it was Susan’s son’s girlfriend that went for the first time. I wouldn’t say that she has become a die-hard fan, but she is planning on going back this coming May. I’ve always tried to patiently answer any question that a newcomer might ask, no matter how simple it may sound. To me, a question is a sign of curiosity and interest. Anything I can do to help foster that interest might help someone become a longtime fan of the sport. They, in turn, might bring other new fans, and so on.
So, I’ll go back to my original question – are these legitimate questions that Curt has decided to showcase, or are these questions from people just trying to see if they can get what they submitted published? If you’ve listened to The Talk of Gasoline Alley with Donald Davidson each May, you know Donald does not like to talk about the controversies surrounding the turbine of the late sixties. Unfortunately, it has become great fun for callers to sneak in a question about the turbine past the screeners to see if Donald will answer it on the air. He’ll always skim over it, but politely lets callers know he doesn’t like talking about it. And so it goes. People may have realized that the more ridiculous the question, the greater the likelihood that it will get published.
Whatever the case, it has created more than one case where I was so irritated that I felt compelled to comment further on the question. Come to think of it, by devoting an entire post for the third time in three weeks to their supposed absurdity, I guess the joke is on me.