Random Thoughts On Milwaukee

What if the IZOD IndyCar Series put on a great show and there was nobody there to watch it? Would it still be great? The answer is: Yes! Saying there was no one at The Milwaukee Mile may be a bit of an exaggeration, but from the grandstand shots that I saw – the place looked to be more than half-empty. That’s a shame, because those that stayed away missed an outstanding show that was eventually won by Dario Franchitti.

There are many theories floating around as to why the crowds were slim. Some say it was because the website for ordering tickets was cumbersome and confusing. Others claim that the ticket prices were way too high. The promoters came up with a two-for-one deal when it became obvious that ticket sales were sluggish, but it probably came too late and reeked a little of desperation.

A few years ago, the problem was very little racing over the weekend. That was certainly not the case this past weekend. There were two USAC races, a USF2000 race, a Star Mazda race and a Firestone Indy Lights race; all capped off with the IZOD IndyCar Series race on Sunday afternoon. Whatever the case, I was disappointed when I saw the stands yesterday.

Those that came saw one heckuva race on Sunday. At first, it looked like it might be a snoozer. Dario Franchitti dominated from the pole and led for the first half of the race. His car was dialed in at the beginning of each stint, but would start going away. He checked out at the start, leaving Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan to battle for second. Then, Helio started catching up to him. Ana Beatriz caused a caution on Lap 65, when she brushed the wall. After the yellow-flag pit stops, Franchitti left everyone behind again. As before, his car started going away about halfway through the second stint. This time, Tony Kanaan passed him on Lap 116 and he started pulling away.

Franchitti was saved by another yellow when J.R. Hildebrand struck the Turn Four wall in an eerily similar fashion to his shunt at Indianapolis. Again, Franchitti pulled away on the re-start. As before, Franchitti’s car kept backing up to the field and Kanaan took the lead on Lap 154. Ten laps later, Kanaan’s teammate EJ Viso spun into the Turn Four wall. When Kanaan entered the pits, he was leading. He came out trailing Helio and Dario respectively. But this time, there was no re-start magic for Dario. Kanaan passed him and set his sights on Helio, who was nursing a low tire.

This was shaping up to be a battle between two great friends and/or bitter rivals. Both Kanaan and Castroneves needed a win in the worst way and this looked like it was going to be a classic. It was not to be. As the two combatants were exiting turn four to complete Lap 195, Kanaan inexplicably lost the back-end of the car. He would later admit it was driver error – he was simply pushing too hard to try and catch Helio, who would take advantage of the caution to change his left-rear tire.

So who did this leave to take the victory? Dario Franchitti. But he truly earned this one. He drove the wheels off the car, yet was seemingly under attack all day. Surprisingly, Will Power closed out a highly disappointing weekend and finished fourth, after starting seventeenth. That means that there is a tie atop the points battle. Both Power and Franchitti have exactly 271 points and three wins apiece for the season. My guess is that if there had to be a tie-breaker at this point (which there doesn’t), Power would get the nod with four poles for the season, compared to Franchitti’s one.

Several drivers had good runs yesterday, besides the aforementioned Will Power. Graham Rahal was most impressive finishing second after starting twelfth. James Hinchcliffe came in sixth after starting sixteenth and Danica Patrick finished fifth after qualifying fifteenth. A nod should also go to Oriol Servia, who put a disappointing run at Texas behind him and came in third after starting tenth.

TV Coverage: After a rocky start with their pre-race show, I actually thought ABC/ESPN did a good job. Marty Reid fumbled through video highlights of AJ Foyt’s career at the historic mile track during the pre-race, but after that – they did a good job overall.

One major flub, however, came on the first round of pit stops. Takuma Sato hit a tire that caused all sorts of chaos on pit road and the result was a major re-shuffle of some positions. Instead of sorting this out, viewers were left to wonder where the tire came from and who it affected as ABC cut away for a long string of commercials. That should have demanded that they stay with the action a little longer. Instead, it sent the message that the sponsors are way more important than the viewers.

I was pleased to hear the normally staid Scott Goodyear give some unusually candid and pointed comments. He aimed his comments at Panther Racing and John Barnes, whom Goodyear once drove for. Goodyear confirmed what I had long suspected: that John Barnes is a demanding owner who is not that easy to get along with. Goodyear also pointed out that other than the Indianapolis 500, Panther has been pretty much off the pace all season long. Surely John Barnes isn’t thinking of jettisoning a rookie after a handful of races. That would solidify what Goodyear was inferring about Barnes. Whatever his motivation, I was glad to hear Goodyear go out on a limb and give a strong opinion on a subject that a lot of us don’t already know.

Good day for Newman/Haas: It was good to see both Newman/Haas drivers get back on track after a poor showing at Texas. In fact, James Hinchcliffe turned in his best oval performance of his young IndyCar career when he finished sixth on Sunday. His overall best was a fourth place performance at Long Beach. Oriol Servia reclaimed third place in the points by finishing third on Sunday. It’s good to see that the promise this team showed in the early spring was not a fluke. Hopefully they can continue their momentum through the summer and convert this resurgence into a victory before the season is over.

Mixed results for the Ganassi Satellite team: While Graham Rahal was driving to an impressive second-place finish; Charlie Kimball was struggling again for answers. The true rookie finished fourteenth, but was actually ahead of only three cars still running at the end. For the third event in a row, he was in a position where he hindered the leaders late in the race by running much slower in the turns. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or if he has a knack for being in the way. Whatever the case, we all voiced our displeasure when it was Milka Duno causing the problems. Should the series start using the same scrutiny for Kimball? Other than a tenth place finish at Barber, it has not been a good start to the young rookie’s career, given the level of the equipment he is running.

What has happened to SFR? After an impressive run in qualifying for Indianapolis and a decent run in the race, Ed Carpenter and Sarah Fisher Racing have gone disturbingly quiet in the last two events. Counting the two events at Texas, Ed has finished eighteenth, sixteenth and fifteenth in the last three races. I suppose a fifteenth place finish at Milwaukee can be considered a success, given their tough weekend where they struggled for speed in every session. Still, Ed finished ahead of only one car that was running – the struggling car of rookie Ana Biatriz.

Unlike HVM or Foyt, this team hasn’t lost a car to damage. They showed so much promise in their first outing of the season at Indianapolis, but have seemed to go backwards since. If anyone knows what the problem is, please let me know. It is one of the more perplexing situations of the last two weekends.

All in all: I thought this was a great race. It is what short oval racing is all about. As Dario Franchitti found out; being great at one point in the race doesn’t guarantee success at other parts. As Tony Kanaan found out, a track like The Milwaukee Mile can humble you quickly. It’s a shame that TK felt the need to push so hard in his pursuit of Helio. Had he known about Helio’s tire going down, he could have just let that situation run its course. I think Kanaan had the car to beat Franchitti, but as Rick Mears used to say: “To finish first, you must first finish”. Tony Kanaan made an uncharacteristic mistake and did not finish.

This was an entertaining race. Unlike the twins at Texas, this race had a flow to it and had some intriguing storylines. But the attendance was poor. Marty Reid made a good point after the race when he said that “…it’s hard enough to start up a new race, but it’s three times harder when you are trying to resurrect a race”. I hope there was enough interest to give promoters and the series enough hope to give The Milwaukee Mile another chance in 2012. It is a venue that needs a permanent place on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule.

George Phillips


45 Responses to “Random Thoughts On Milwaukee”

  1. good race. (does track need resurfaced?) dario got lucky. kanaan made it interesting until he made it too interesting. viva servia–the pride of Spain! daniker survived. viva hinch–the pride of not Spain! power is just good–but I’m glad he didn’t win so I didn’t have to witness him do the Snoopy jump of joy again. ABC = not too bad. R. Bernard must be wondering where all the people were who told him he HAD to go back to Milwaukee. the thing to do is schedule EVERY race the week after the 500, I guess. I continue to be concerned about Simona! and wonder if she’s over the OVALS???

  2. Between the Indy 500 and Milwaukee ABC aired enough comercials that we should be able to go comercial FREE the rest of the season. I for one will not watch another race covered by ABC the rest of the season, instead I will exercise MY “push to pass” option and DVR them and fast forward through every single comercial. I guess I better start exercising my thumb now so I can make it through another race covered by ABC.

    • Bent Wickerbill Says:

      I could not agree more regarding the commercials and the times they select to cut away… For a long time now I have recorded the races for just that reason. I watch the start of the race, then let the recorder get about an hour ahead while I do something constructive around the house. Then I re-join the race where I left off on the dvr and fast forward through all the baloney… I realize that commercial television cannot exist without ads, but ABC or Versus for that matter are doing their advertisers no favor by packing each race so chock a block full of ads and poor production quality. As far as I am concerned we would almost be better off simply listening to the IMS crew calling the race online ….

  3. Bent Wickerbill Says:

    George, I wish I shared your enthusiasm and I hate to sound condesending but ….
    1. Terrible attandance, likely caused by there being 7 events at the MM this weekend.
    2. In my opinion a disjointed, dissapointing, crash filled, amatureish event.. More akin to one’s local demolition derby than an IRL event.
    3. The first time I have ever fallen to sleep duing a race.
    4. Franchitti extremely lucky yellows fell where they did and the few actual competitors that showed up for the race fell out with mechanical or safer barrier proximity difficulty. (however, I take nothing away from either DF or the TCGR crew, they always show up loaded for bear and DF is a fine race car driver)..
    5. At least half of the field phoned it in for this race and the only reason some who did finish, finished near the front was because of the high attrition rate.
    6. What began as a relatively exciting season, has since the very exciting 500, sunken to a two ring circus in Texas and a Milwaukee crashfest.

    I wish I could feel more positive about the season, but in two race weekends, this series has begun to flatline much as I feared it would last fall….

    • I’m confused as to why there being 7 races during the course of the weekend would cause the poor attendance. Explain, please?

      • Ben Twickerbill Says:

        There are a finite number of people and a finite number of people who enjoy motorsports. The people who enjoy motorsports have a finite amount of time and money…. Many people posed with the challenge of deciding which races to attend and when, may opt to attend one or two resonably priced, non IRL races on a Friday or Saturday, in lieu of attending one considerably more expensive IRL race on Sunday. No smoke and mirrors in my theory here (and it is but a theory), but it is but a simple exercise in choice over time, versus available resources.

      • So, basically the argument is that the USAC races were leeching fans away from Sunday? Because the other 3 support races (USF2000, Star Mazda, Lights) were all on Sunday, so they wouldn’t have stolen Sunday’s sales, but how many people went on Saturday because that’s when the USAC races were instead of going on Sunday? You might be right that that was a contributing factor, I just think that that’d be like 7th or 8th on the list of what led us to miles of bare aluminum yesterday.

  4. @JoHoWo Says:

    I think you make a great point about Kimball. His lack of pace has become beyond noticeable. It’s hard to root for someone in good equipment who has a knack for being in other people’s way all of the time. I thought the race at Milwaukee was fantastic, so disappointed in the crowd. The mile is such a special place, much like Indy, you can feel the history when you pass through the gates. I love the ovals as much as anyone else, its a shame that attendance is so bad at events like these (outside of Indy). Can you blame the series for adding more street courses?

    • Charlie brings a good sponsor.

      • Steve K Says:

        He’s a rookie. They all seem to be having problems this tear outside of Hinch.

        Polls as a tiebreaker. That’s a funny one.

      • billytheskink Says:

        That begs the question of what is the tiebreaker when both drivers are tied in points and wins? Would they do a 1996 IRL co-champion thing?

      • I believe it goes down the line in terms of better finishes. If tied in wins, then they look at the number of 2nd places, and so on.

  5. The Lapper Says:

    I liked what I saw but I think that the Mile is about to be a racing memory. I don’t think that the reason for the lack of a crowd is that is now two weeks after Indy. The short track alone should be of great interest as well as the racing it provides. However, Rahal, who put in another fine day at the track, commented that it was a one and a-half groove track and it looked it, too. What is with this? Nashville has the same problem and let’s see what Kentucky and Las Vegas has. Come on track managers, groove the tracks!!!!

  6. Poor Attendance, Poor Marketing. I live 45 minutes away from the track on the Illinois – Wisconsin Border, home area for NHL Racing. With no Chicagoland this year you’d think they would advertise in this area. Nope, not a thing. Didn’t know about the 2-1 tickets until after the race. Bad weekend also with the June Sprints at Road America. Most in the Chicago market didn’t even know they were in Milwaukee this weekend. Blame the promoters, as usual with Milwaukee…nothing changed.

  7. I live in Chicago, hell people here didn’t know they were in Joliet! I went up for the weekend. At one point they were prohibiting people to return to their cars, I don’t know why you’d prevent ‘pass-outs’ when you expect people to be there for 8 hours.

    Sato’s pit lane incident was inexcusable, it was right in front of me, you could see it coming for several pit stalls back, he clearly undercut dixon, the force he hit Briscoe’s RF tire could have killed someone had it not hit the inner pit wall and then ricocohetted across pit lane, it struck just a few feet from Briscoe’s LF tire changer and I where Mr Penske stood atop the wall. He also struck members of Dixon’s crew. You should have seen the daggers those crews shot at him when he returned to the pits thoughout the race.

    Now I don’t feel guilty for not donating to Japan relief, or for reading Oilpressureblog’s blatent Japan bashing.

  8. Ron Ford Says:

    I am going to comment on the attendence or lack thereof as someone who lives near Milwaukee, who was at the race, and who has been going to races at the Milwaukee Mile since 1948.

    I do not know how much the weather was mentioned on the TV broadcast, but I can tell you that the weather had a major negative effect on attendence. During mid-morning it rained very hard for a good 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Everyone in the stands left for cover and we wondered if there would even be a race. Traditionally, Milwaukee has always had a lot of so-called “walk-up” trade. Because of the weather in the morning, I am sure that many of those folks decided to stay at home and watch the race on TV.

    While there was reasonably good local media publicity about the race the week before the race, aside from Indy500 publicity, there is almost NO publicity about other IndyCar races during the rest of the schedule. Usually there is only a very brief Associated Press release. Also, there is virtually no media publicity generated for the race in the state and in Illinois outside of the Milwaukee area.

    As someone mentioned, it is very hard to rebuild a crowd for an event, once it is off the entertainment calender for even just a year. Some of my friends who normally would be at the race did not go because they had other Father’s Day plans.

    I find it hard to believe that anyone found this race boring. During the last third of the race, the racing between Kanaan, Castroneves, and Franchitti was outstanding. The Milwaukee Mile track, like Indy, is very unforgiving. (Ask Tony Kanaan, who drove an excellent race, but made one small mistake) So, while Dario may have made it look easy at times, as he commented after the race, he was on the ragged edge every lap of the race.

    Simona was not her usual bubbly self before the race. She looked and sounded very glum. In addition to the problems with an ill-handling car, she raced in pain from her fractured rib and other effects from her crash in practice, in addition to the condition of her hands. Hopefully, she and her team can endure and soldier on for the remainder of the season.

    I remain optimistic for the Mile and I feel sure that the attendence issues can be solved, keeping in mind that attendence issues are generic to almost all the IndyCar tracks these days.

    • I understand the attendence at Michigan was pretty bad yesterday also.

    • Ron, you hit on some very good stuff there. While there are a lot of elements at play for the poor attendance (poor promotion, expensive-ish tickets, and on and on), the weather sure didn’t help the walk-up gate. People think that this is an excuse, but I assure everybody it is not. Last year at Iowa (ironically, also on Father’s Day) it *poured* for hours before the event (in fact, it was coming down in buckets when I left home in Omaha that morning), and the forecast was for an 80% chance of rain during the hours that action was supposed to be happening at the track. Mind you, we got nary a drop during the lead up to the race, nor during the window that the race took place, but neither the weathermen nor the skies themselves (which were dark and nasty looking) indicated that we’d get anything like a full race distance in. Mind you, this is only one of several ingredients as to what went wrong with attendance at Milwaukee, but it’s something that a lot of people have been dismiss outright as completely irrelevent. It’s not.

      • Ron Ford Says:

        Thanks for your comments geekster. I hope to make the Iowa race next year. I would go this year, but I am heading to Indy to drive one of those retired Dallaras for a few laps. Hopefully, I can beat George’s time.:)

    • We can make excuses all we want, but you are right about the weather. I had planned on going to the Milwaukee Mile since the announced it’d be returning to the schedule, but it poured all morning where I live and I decided not to spend the gas money to drive 3 + hours when I didn’t know if there would be a race or not. It’s not watch INDYCAR wants to hear, but it’s the truth. Here’s hoping it’s good for Iowa next weekend 😉

  9. Savage Henry Says:

    It was an interesting race with passing throughout the field. I was sure TK had the race won. It is a shame that he crashed out. I was also disappointed that the stands looked so sparse.

    I’m still wondering why Dario didn’t get a penalty. I thought it was a hard, fast rule that if you hit something in the pits you got a penalty, period. Apparently not if you race for Ganassi. I just hope that isn’t the IHJ giving them a “make-up call” after all of the Ganassi bitching and moaning about their draw in race #2 at Texas. I’ll be even more suspicious if Helio gets a blocking penalty next week after Dario’s crying about that. If these guys figure out that they can influence the application of rules based on public bellyaching then we’re in for a lot more of it.

    • Dario better not bitch about the five points from his Texas draw any more. I consider him square after hitting Will’s tire. I am surprised there is not more talk about this since it really at least appears to be more inconsistency with the penalties. Go Newman Haas.

    • I heard that Barnhart said that the front right tire guy was to clear out for oncoming vehicles if not busy. And apparently the tire was set out for a vehicle that wasn’t close to pitting.

      • Simona Fan Says:

        According to this guy (http://www.16thandgeorgetown.com/2011/06/why-dario-wasnt-penalizd.html), the next car pitted 5.39 seconds later. In fact you saw Power come in in the replay. I remember people getting drive-throughs for running over an airline. Surely hitting a tire with a crew member standing on it is a penalty.

      • If he’s not “busy”? Yeah, he didn’t look too busy there! I mean hell, he had OVER FIVE SECONDS after Franchitti went by before Power’s car arrived. CLEARLY he should have been on his smoke break as Dario pulled in. Then he would have had at least three seconds to finish his smoke and toss it away before he became “busy” over the next two seconds, which is of course plenty of time to pick up the tire from the wall area, carry it over and place it in position, and climb on top of it to wave Power in. [/sarcasm]

      • “busy” was my informal term for whatever the real rule is. problem is–once again–the rule is subjective and therefore subject to human error. who knows how much time before the Verizon car came in is allowable except the people who judge these things.

  10. I’ve taken to watching the ABC races with the TV on mute, and listening to the IMS Radio Broadcast & watching the Incycar.com timing & scoring. The radio crew is pretty good of staying on top of things like the Sato pit incident while ABC is cutting away for commercials. Mike King may be a little over the top at times, but it’s better than Marty Reid and Scott Goodyear sleepwalking thru the telecast.

    Can anyone explain why Dario wasn’t assessed a drive through penalty for hitting a tire in the Penske pit? I’ve seen similar infractions penalized in the past.

  11. RE: Dario’s non-penalty (which I was incensed about during the race yesterday): here’s a fairly thorough explanation of what’s at play there:


    Now, I’m still not so sure that I buy that Dario shouldn’t have gotten a penalty, but at least this is somewhere to start with the rationale at play. With Will arriving in less than 6 seconds after Dario pulled into his box, I think Power’s RF changer was within his rights to have the wheel set out on pit lane, but I can see how this is very much a judgement call.

    • billytheskink Says:

      A good friend of mine was furious about this as well. I would have agreed with a penalty, but also agreed with the ABC crew noting it was a judgement call. The 16th and Georgetown post seems to confirm that thought.

      Between the non-penalty and the timing of the cautions, Dario was as charmed as he was fast this weekend.

  12. billytheskink Says:

    I absolutely agree with you, George. It wasn’t a perfect race, certainly a bit sloppy, but still very entertaining. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get to see the 3-way fight for the win between TK, Helio, and Dario but that’s why they call it racing (thanks AJ). Passing wasn’t easy, but was very possible, and I think that makes pretty good racing.
    I hope the series is willing to stick with Milwaukee, because with decent promotion and racing like that, the crowd ought to grow.

    Aside from Marty Reid’s verbal fumbling, I thought ABC’s coverage was fair. Commercial-heavy, sure, but no more so than much of television. Fewer “none of your business” moments than in races past. They did cut to (Dixon’s?) radio a half second too early, preventing Sato from stealing Hiro Matsushita’s nickname. Sato should have gotten more than a drive-through for that.

    I think Kimball’s equipment is a distant fourth in the Ganassi stable, but the guy is certainly not ready to be a competitive oval driver. Still, the only egregious instance of a backmarker getting in the way that I recall was Saavedra sticking to the racing line and keeping the leaders behind him for 5-6 laps during the first stint.

  13. +1 On the weather. I live 30 miles north of the track and left at 11 am in rain to get there. The weather reports indicated a window in the weather was coming, but that it would close up just in time for the start of the race. Obviously, that didn’t happen.

    The crowd was sparse, but not so bad I would have been able to sit where I wanted to. There seemed to be a lot of families, and they were very knowledgeable. (Thanks to the guy next to me with the scanner.)) SStill, I wish it was better, and it should have been. Aside from radio ads, promotion was non existent and the promotors gave the impression of slight disorganization.

    I though the racing was fantastic, even if the lead didn’t change hands very often. My impression was that the track is a difficult one to drive that is unforgiving of driver error or poor setup. Which is good-it separates the men from the boys.
    I didn’t see any video of the race, so I’m still kind of wondering exactly what went on with the pit road issues. I do have a photo of Franchitti coming into his pit with Power’s RF tire changer standing on his tire-not moving it out of the way like it sounds like they were instructed to do. Pit road penalties seem to be inconsistently enforced-didn’t Power himself avoid a penalty at Indy when he lost his LR wheel?

  14. Ron Ford Says:

    Perhaps one of you who watched the race on TV will answer this for me. I was parked against the infield fence between turns one and two. During one of the restarts (after some additional yellow flag time to sweep the track), three cars came out of the pits and tried to blend in at the very same time that the entire field was entering turn two. There was an immediate accident, but we could not see who caused that or how it happened. We found it odd that after all those yellow laps three cars would be trying to join the field that late. What happened there and who was involved? Was that the accident that took out Alex Lloyd and SS?

    • Great questions, and I was hoping that one of the “in person” folks here might be able to explain. This was never really addressed by the ABC guys, other than Scott Goodyear (I think) referring to those backmarkers coming out of the pits as “just having received the wave-around”. OK, but that doesn’t explain why they’re exiting the pits. Maybe they’d ducked in to get a splash right at the end of the yellow? Maybe the wave around required them to come down pitlane for some arcane reason? I’m not convinced that those guys coming out of the pits (and I think this happened more than once; there were three guys doing it on the restart you’re referring to, but I clearly remember it happening at least one other time as well) caused any of the restart accidents, but it’s still pretty uncool to have three backmarkers suddenly materialize right in front of the leaders at the exit of Turn 2 on a restart. Anybody who could share some insight here would gain some mega bonus points (redeemable for a hearty handshake at some IICS event in the future!) in my book.

      • I noticed that as well. It seemed that the timing of the wave-arounds was off. Can’t quite figure out why, though (I’ll pay attention to that when I watch it). Live, the wave-arounds seemed to happen awfully late, and even if they didn’t get a last-second splash, the leaders seemed to be on top of the waved around cars awfully fast. It’s a short track, obviously, but I’ve been to a lot of races there and have never noticed that before.

      • If I recall the incident in question, those cars (which included, I think, Hildebrand, Conway, and Kimball) had taken the wave-around, then made their pit stops at the last possible moment, putting them back out on track amongst the leaders. That is, if I remember correctly.

      • wasn’t the compromise on the “Lucky Dog” something about allowing cars to stay out and then they could pit right before going back to yellow in an attempt to get a lap back? seems like I remember something like that as being touted as an advantage on the twisties…

    • Attended Indy and Milwaukee. Was not at Texas, but there was only one yellow all night.

      Unless someone has a good reason why, they need to happen just one lap earlier. They wait until they were approaching the final lap before green.

      At Indy the waved around cars would be racing (single-file) down the front stretch while the green was waving in the north chute. I don’t recall seeing anyone pit, but I saw plenty of people faked out in the stands because they heard them coming at full song and thought the wave around cars were the restart.

      At Milwaukee, they’d race to the pits for some reason and do their service and come out right in the middle of the top five racing at the restart.

      Blood Sugar did this at least 3 times, each time I believe he still lost the lap back, so the strategy wasn’t working.

      On a road course it probably doesn’t matter because of the average speed under yellow and the distance. But someone tell us why this can’t happen at 2 laps to go on an oval?

      I’ll be watching in Iowa too and I’d imagine at 7/8’s of a mile it will be even worse.


  15. Interesting article in Milwaukee Journal about attendence. They quote R. Bernard as saying there’s a 50/50 chance of returning next year. He said that Izod wants Chicagoland and there may not be room for both. In the always-dangerous “comments” sections the reasons ranged from “it sucks because it ain’t CART” to “poor marketing” to “chance of rain” to “racing at Road America.” But it seemed like most people who actually went to the race really enjoyed it.

  16. It’s my home track, too, and I was thrilled to see Indycar return. I took off work Friday, kissed my wife goodbye with promises of roses and future housecleaning, and pretty much spent three straight days at the track. I agree with many of Ron Ford’s initial comments, and many of the other comments, which I’m now way behind on because it took me so long to type this.

    Regarding the crowd, yes, the weather absolutely killed the walkup traffic. I don’t know how many more people would have shown up — maybe 3,000, maybe 15,000, who knows — but however many it would have been, the morning rain and threats of rain throughout the day kept them away. The spending of one’s discretionary income these days requires some thought, and the possibility of the whole thing getting washed out no doubt did not help.

    One other thing that I haven’t seen mentioned much (if at all) was the fact that Road America had the June Sprints on the same weekend. Not the same type of racing, of course, but scheduling two major events catering to roughly the same fan base in roughly the same market on the same weekend seems unwise. There are only so many major racing events in each market every year, and I’m sure each race drew some fans away from the other. Obviously a promotor can’t just pick and choose the exact weekend they want, but it’s unfortunate.

    Given that the promotors were a new organization, I thought they did a fantastic job in a number of regards, with a few mistakes ranging from minor to glaring. I was highly skeptical that such a full and tightly-scheduled weekend of events could go off without any major hitches, but it appears that it did just that (rain bumping the Star Mazda and USF2000 races to after the Indycar race, each of which had maybe 4 people in the stands, notwithstanding). Between 6 races over three days plus, practices, qualifying, driver appearances, all the outside activities, the quarter midget track, etc., everything pretty much stuck to the schedule and went off on time.

    Where I think they failed a bit was in the marketing. Milwaukee was saturated with print and Web ads (didn’t see/hear much broadcast, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen), but as several commenters have already mentioned, it sounds like they neglected Chicago and several other nearby markets as well. I work part time in Madison just over an hour away, a town with a decent racing scene (three small tracks in the vicinity, including Angell Park in Sun Prairie just outside of Madison, which regularly features midgets) and I didn’t see any advertising there at all. There is also Green Bay, Rockford, the Fox Cities, etc. all within an easy drive. A major event such as this has regional appeal, and it sounds like they could have done a better job getting the word out over a larger area.

    There was also some logistical disorganization and questionable decisions — things like not allowing pass-outs on Saturday, at least until so many people complained that they relented. A friend of mine drove up with some people from about an hour away with a cooler full of beer and food, planning to spend the morning at the track, go to the car for lunch, then come back in. They were told they couldn’t leave once they were in, so they sat and tailgated from 9 a.m. until they decided to go in at 2:00, only to learn that the pass-out policy was changed.

    But for me overall, it was a great weekend and I thought they did a very nice job. I was there all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and stayed through most of the USF2000 race on Sunday evening before I decided I better go reintroduce myself to my wife before I passed out from exhaustion. The races themselves were generally excellent, particularly the Silver Crown show and the Indycar main event, although one or two of the Road to Indy races were snoozers. The crowd seemed bigger in person than it looked on TV. It was just great to have racing back at the Mile again. I really hope it wasn’t a one-and-done thing, and that the promotors learn from the minor mistakes and make it even better next year.

  17. Jack,
    Good to hear you had a good time. I would have loved to done your schedule-but I think I kinda took up most of my “gone on a nice weekend” goodwill with Indy. Plus, I doubt the visiting mother-in-law would have been very keen on a Midget/Silver Crown double header.

    Agreed that the crowd looked bigger in person, but I’ve gotten too used to downplaying what my eyes see… I founII did find the crowd very knowledgeable…

  18. JHall14 Says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed my Father’s Day Weekend in Milwaukee. Enjoyed the local casino, and when you leave with more money than you came in with, that is great. Loved the USAC Midgets and Silver Crown cars. Bobby East sure put on a show in the Silver Crown race. I would hope someone from INDYCAR noticed that drive. Best of year in my opinion.

    It did not take long for myself to remember what I had seen some 25 years ago. The great racing and busy circuit of the MM. I was disappointed in the crowd, however the 15,000 of us who showed up, were really treated to a great show. Great Brats!! Great Racing !! If the Hampton just did not have all those Little League Baseball players staying there, all would have been grand.

    No finer way to enjoy the weekend, along with 1 of my sons, my wonderful wife, and INDYCAR racing. I certainly hope Milwaukee is brought back in 2012. If so, I guarantee you I will be back.

    • Chris Lukens Says:

      Don’t hold your breath waiting for Bobby East to get an Indycar seat. Most owners think “Silver Crown” is some kind of Canadian whisky.

  19. JHall14 Says:

    That kid led first 20 + laps. Was penalized for supposedly jumping the start of the race. He then gives an official the “salute”. He was moved to the rear of the pack, then talent kicked in, and he mowed em down.
    As far as most IndyCar owners, they only see green, not talent. That is why we are where we are today in INDYCAR.

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