What To Be Thankful For
At the risk of sounding like a member of The Sunshine Squad as we head into Thanksgiving, I did want to take a moment to consider the things that we IndyCar fans have to be thankful for. The IndyCar Series is not a perfect series – far from it. But things could be worse – a lot worse. Here are a few things to remember as we head into this weekend.
First and foremost, there were no fatal or debilitating injuries this season. Dario Franchitti suffered a frightening and career-ending crash at Houston in October. But he is still with us and he will recover completely from his physical injuries. As we are finding out, concussions can have lingering effects for years. But by giving up racing and following the advice of his doctors, we can hopefully assume that Franchitti will recover from his multiple concussions as well.
There is also new blood at the top. Granted, I still believe that ousting Randy Bernard was a huge mistake – but the series has far better leadership than it did at this time four years ago. The jury is still out on Mark Miles and his executive team. Some of their ideas are good, some – not so much. But two months ago, we were complaining that they were seemingly doing nothing. That no longer seems to be the case – especially if Miles has landed a title sponsor as he hinted a couple of weeks ago.
Another good sign is that the top teams are expanding. Next year, Chip Ganassi will expand from three to four cars. Team Penske will grow from two full-time entries to three, with the addition of former Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Montoya. In addition, Michael Andretti is already confirmed for four cars and has made rumblings about a possible fifth.
At the back of the grid, there have been rumors about a couple of new teams – including an entry from the Lazier family. More teams involved is a good thing, no matter how small they might be.
One of the areas receiving the most criticism in recent years has been the quality of the TV booth at ESPN. We won’t know until after the first of the year who will replace Marty Reid, but almost anyone will be an improvement. Whether they appease us old-timers with Paul Page or they get a younger voice, so long as they are passionate about open-wheel racing and act as if they are thrilled to have the job – they will be fine with me.
Like it or not, the Month of May will have a different look and feel to it for 2014. We don’t yet know what will happen with the qualifying format, but we do know that the month will kick off with a road course race inside the famed facility. Like most, I was opposed to that at first. Then, I started warming up to the idea. Now, I can’t wait to experience it and see what it is like.
These are just a few things we can look forward to for 2014 and be thankful for. But what am I most thankful for so far as the IndyCar Series goes? That the naysayers and The Legions of the Miserable in 2009, were wrong when they said that in five years, there will be no series left to follow. I’m thankful that next year, I will still have races to attend and follow.
Please note: Susan and I will be traveling for Thanksgiving to visit my mother. She is 89 years-old, but is still going strong and will prepare most of the Thanksgiving dinner. Truth be told – she is probably more healthy (physically and mentally) than myself. I am very thankful to still have the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with her. That being the case, there will be no post here on Fri Nov 29 or Mon Dec 2. I will return here on Wed Dec 2.
We wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!
George & Susan Phillips