The Changing Of The Wing & Wheel
Most people that are regular readers of this site know that I welcome change about like I welcome a visit to the proctologist. Not only do I not welcome change, I abhor it. I pretty much live by the mantra “Change is bad”. This has nothing to do with my advanced age, mind you. I avoided change in my high school and college years. To me, there’s nothing quite as comforting as a good rut. Whenever I hear someone say they took a different route to work “just for a change”; I question their sanity.
Shortly after my divorce fifteen years ago, I found myself dumping would-be girlfriends who seemed intent on getting me out of my routines that I liked so much and getting me to be more spontaneous. Nothing sent me running like hearing the words “…that’s the FIRST thing we’re going to change about you”. It made me wonder what the second, third and fourth things were. I quickly found out that if I wanted to end a relationship, there was no quicker way to do it than to respond with “Spontaneity is WAY overrated”. Not only did it work, I also considered it to be very true.
Change is also very overrated. Sometimes change is warranted and I embrace it. My iPhone is far superior to the antiquated Nokia that I carried for years. High-Definition television is the greatest TV advancement since color – and yes, I grew up in the days of black & white; so I know what a big deal color was when it became the norm. But there are far more examples I can site when something was changed for no apparent reason – just change for the sake of change.
Such is the case with the newly revised logo for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I’ll be honest; I never saw a press release to announce it. It was brought to my attention by my co-worker “John Mc”. But when he told me about it, I noticed the changes right off.
This is not the first revision of the famous “wing & wheel”; it has evolved through the last century. The wing & wheel logo has been with the Speedway since it opened in 1909. The rationale behind the design was to promote the original intent of an automotive and aviation facility. There is some dispute as to who originally designed it. Years ago, someone claimed that they had designed and used the logo and that the Speedway plagiarized it. Obviously, whatever the outcome of such a claim, the Speedway has used it extensively since the beginning.
One of the retro-themed logos during the centennial era used a version similar to the original. Since the early days, it has morphed into what was used for many years prior to 2009, when the Centennial Logo was incorporated into everything about the Speedway. I was never that crazy about that one, but I knew it would go away after three years. I looked forward to when the traditional wing & wheel would return to prominence.
But now I see that the wing & wheel that has been around for years has been altered. Many will look at the “new” one and see no change at all. But we who despise change can certainly see the difference. First of all, the entire logo faces the wrong way. For a hundred years, all incarnations of the wing & wheel faced slightly to the viewer’s left. The new one faces the right. The wheel or tire has been made wider and more flat. My friend John Mc pointed out that tires are much wider now. Actually, the tires of today are not as wide as those in the late sixties. Finally, the script now goes straight across instead of curved.
I realize the changes are subtle, and hardly noticeable to most. So my question is – why change it at all? Someone either said "we need to bring this stale logo into the next century", or else they made just enough changes to make all T-shirts, Polos, sweatshirts, coffee cups and any other piece of IMS merchandise obsolete – thereby making it a must to buy new things with the newer updated logo. Why else do football teams change their jerseys every few years and come up with new alternate jerseys? Never overlook the cash grab.
A few years ago, the NFL updated their “shield” logo. I’m not sure many people ran out to buy items with a shield that had only eight stars compared with the previous one with thirty-two, but it sure played havoc getting that new logo on every football, referee shirt, end zone and another place you might find the familiar trademark. Again, most never noticed the change – except those of us who loathe change.
As I get older, there are fewer and fewer things that were just like when I was growing up. A half-gallon of ice-cream is now 1.5 quarts. Light bulbs now look like corkscrews and put out bad light. Tattoos are no longer the exclusive domain of carnival workers. Even the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has undergone major changes in the last forty-five years or so – albeit most of them for the best. Now they’ve tampered with the sacred wing & wheel, for whatever reason. Being the old and grumpy curmudgeon that I am, I hope this is the last alteration it undergoes in my lifetime.