Is there hope for IndyCar under its current model?
I know you are as passionate and "involved" a race fan and bleed passionately about this sport as some of those like me, who have grown up racing in a racing family and now have a son rising in this sport. Nothing in this family or for my son has been "forced". This was/is not MY dream for my son to be a racecar driver, it is his.
Believe me, if I take a close look at the state of this beloved sport in America, I may be stupid for being involved, but not dumb. It started innocently enough for my then four year old who wanted to try a Kart like the shifter Karts me and my dad bought to have some fun in something fast and racecar like, without the time commitment and big race car expense. This four year old took one lesson in a "baby kart" and was hooked.
So much for any of this being "inexpensive or not time consuming" as I have spent every penny I have for my son's dream. Add to that I became his truck driver, mechanic, driver coach, etc. and this took a ton of time away from the rest of the family and life. I would never trade any of the memories, blood, sweat, tears, laughter and bonding for anything ... However, a long time ago I put it simply to anyone who would listen, including my son, "if we didn't have a "real" chance to win and were not winning, this would have been over a long time ago for my son, as it is expensive with very little chance of success for anyone chasing the goal F1 and "world championships" as an American."
That having been said, Miles loves racing, he WINS against the best consistently and he is, like his friend young Alexander Rossi and his family (amongst others) not going to "quit" anytime soon. For my son, this is not a hobby or a passing fancy (no pun or humor intended, as this is serious) it is who he is and what he does. Alexander Rossi is a good student, great grades, articulate and smart. Miles just took his college entrance exam and his score is in the top 4% of this American nation.
Both of these kids are too smart to chase this albeit dead end sport right? Can't stop them now, college can wait, success for these smart young men will happen in their lives regardless, but this is about passion, the love of something, dreams and goals. Their entire lives and heart are invested and they know they can do something for themselves and America on a world stage ...
What is America doing for them. Alexander Rossi, like Scott Speed in our last feeble F1 attempt where America didn't support him is showing the rest of the world with his performance that he belongs in F1, has the talent and ability to win in F1, has to live in Europe as a teenager away from his family and friends, fighting against incredible odds with no support from his country to simply BE THE BEST AND HAVE A SHOT TO WIN ON THE WORLD STAGE.
If an America could win an F1 world championship, how BIG would that be for America and racing in America ... Without question it would be huge ... It should be a priority for our nation and corporate America. Didn't the US Postal Service back our American cycling team for American Greg LeMond and his mates ... syndicates for America's Cup sailing ... and so on. The "world" stage, what America used to care about as a priority. Now America seems to make more apologies than anything else.
I wanted to write you because like many others, the first thing I do every morning is check AR1.com for my "updates" and value all you do. On Saturday morning, the first two articles in the "rumors" column struck a chord ... a chord that has been "struck" for too long. Take a close look at the words above words for WHY me, my family and my son continue to race open wheel cars in America. Because he WINS and everybody loves a winner, right. Hard to stop doing something you are good at and have success at, it makes you feel good.
The common thread of all of these posts for so long is that America doesn't have a hand in winning Motorsports on a world stage and open wheel racing in America is not successful for many reasons. The Indy article sets it out plain and simple, they lose money and have been for a long time they have actually had in the past to pay teams to stay involved.
Outwardly and admittedly, they are not successful on any business level and like a sinking ship (or in the case of the IRL a ship that has already sunk more than once and would be GONE if not for another family that found it hard to "quit", the George family, that wouldn't) doesn't appear to have a real "plan" for success. IndyCar is scrambling ... they are not an attractive "business" in their present form and in case they didn't notice, no one seems to care too much at this point because while they were running themselves into the ground, the world passed by and those who may support something now have lost the historical passion.
Add to this that the Indy 500 was so wrecked for the past decade I could hardly watch something that when I was a child, I vibrated for the entire month of May with the rest of the WORLD. The 500 is no longer the greatest spectacle in motor racing, it is lost and clinging to something that it isn't. History and tradition are cool, but SPEED and DANGER are KING.
IndyCar is a business that spends too much time and energy comparing itself to NASCAR, worrying about competing for ad and other dollars with NASCAR, running on tracks owned by NASCAR, etc. It has to stop, I just want it to go away and for someone involved in open wheel racing in America to step up and get real. Stupid reality shows with far less danger, where people will scramble in the mud and get hit in the face for a few dollars have primetime NETWORK TV and huge ad dollars.
NASCAR is what it is and for what it is works and is a major sport because it is the best racing in the world for what they do, with the best talent, the best cars and deservedly loyal fans and corporate supporters. I love open wheel, I love NASCAR, I too "buy" NASCAR products to support "racing" at the highest level, whatever it is.
Believe me, NASCAR doesn't care that much about IndyCar or F1, because they are a successful "business" and they focus on that. There are plenty of people in America and worldwide that love racing and there is certainly room for more "successful" racing series that actually have a "draw."
IndyCar is on a fast slide off the TV screen and "commercial viability" map and this is still a country and world where success is measured by how many people "care" enough to "watch."
There is nothing to draw people to IndyCar, the cars are not sexy, they go slower now than years ago, they are not technological marvels of engineering, aerodynamics and the best of the best like F1, where companies involved can strut their stuff and brag about being involved and there is nothing American in this series to really brag about, except blatant sexism.
IndyCar, the old pre CART IndyCar used to get that with the umbrella, beer and tire girls. God love the talented and deserving women in motor racing, I too am a Danica and Simona fan, because they too invested their lives and are good racers, but this sport is not built on having to play that angle as the only "draw." How come again the others at the top don't "need" this gimmicky stuff to succeed ... And there is really NO money in it.
Everyone knows what Jeff Gordon probably makes per year driving in NASCAR and in IndyCar, drivers have to pay to drive? NASCAR has a big year end televised party where they dole out MILLIONS to their top 12 drivers and guys who have not won a race in decades make serious money.
F1 money is HUGE as well. Everyone knows this money is generated because these "businesses" are successful and people care to support it and the products and services associated with it. The prize money in IndyCar pretty much means no matter how successful any driver may be, they will probably need to get a job elsewhere when they are done ... or go to another racing series.
There is no IndyCar constructor championship or competition from a technology standpoint, because there is one chassis, one engine and no real competition. Spec cars are good for those cost saving "feeder/ladder" series to advance the driving talent along the way. To determine who will be the best of those competing to make it to the top, but once you get to the top, the Spec gloves come off and it's time to see who is the absolute best in the cars everyone wants to drive. PERIOD.
Everyone watches the throttle traces on the telecasts. 100% throttle racing is not racing, on ovals it becomes a game of chicken and simply is dangerous. Now, Texas a few years ago where they were going so fast guys could pass out, well, that may have been close to something people would "watch", because there is the element of "SPEED and DANGER" you need in racing. The drivers accept that this is a part of what they do, or it is the wrong place for them.
At 5 years of age these kids race karts at real speed, inches from each other with NO seat belts and no real protection, so don't worry about the driver, this is what they love, to go FASTER.
IndyCar is for the most part blatantly unsupported by fans and the corporate world, another perceived ride buyer club with a couple long time owners basically running the "show." These owners can play in an unsuccessful sandbox for as long as they want, because they do not have to do this for money, in reality it is their "hobby.
"It is a serious hobby and these guys love racing, it is their life's passion as well, but they do not need it to succeed. Oh, by the way, they also have NASCAR teams, Grand Am and or ALMS teams too, so don't be too hard on them, they love racing and don't take sides, they just race to WIN.
IndyCar's problems are not the fault of the drivers or the owners, they should be commended for supporting IndyCar. Without a couple of these owners, the series would be gone. Recall that where only two such guys are left in IndyCar, there used to be many more ...
Enough ...for the rest about WHY F1 wants to be in America and why it will succeed here, you need to look at the article about where they are getting the money to race in Austin, to build the track, etc ... Because F1 is globally successful and has over 500 million REAL TV viewers annually. They make HUGE profits every year and are growing that business every day. This is a business and to compete, you first must be involved, then win.
America used to do this ... America will only really care about a sport if America is involved and has a shot to WIN. F1 is a proven "business" of sport and America is simply another country that already supports it. We support it because it is simply what racing is all about, the sexiest, sleekest, fastest, technological marvels where the drivers are the best on the planet and are rightfully paid HUGE money to race on the global stage.
Red Bull, you know, the F1 "newbie" that used the American public and it's American to F1 program a few years ago to expand the sales of their hugely successful brand and to invest those big global dollars in rapidly rising to the top of F1 and is now the team to watch because it WINS, proves that it can be done.
Americans supported Red Bull because they offered a program to help Americans get to F1 and instantly the best drivers were all trying to get on that program and Americans supported Red Bull in blowing up sales in the US HUGE ...
As far as their American to F1 "program" to PR their drink and sales ...well, Scott Speed was too good, too fast and got there too quickly and it was done ...Partly because the program should have been American to F1 with support to actually compete for a World Championship."
It doesn't take a genius to realize that somewhere in corporate America, now that we know F1 will be here in America for 10 years with at least one event per year, that perhaps if an American corporation wants to blow up their sales to be the largest in the world, maybe they should "consider" creating their own American F1 program on some level. Hey, since most states and the government are broke too, maybe they should consider taking a look at F1 as an investment ...Oops, we already know they have and are invested in F1 behind the scenes, so where is the support for our "boys."
Look, I don't mean to offend anyone in racing, because I too love it more than most anything else in life. It defines my family and every youngster knows about ONE thing ...speed. Every person with a car is asked, "how fast does it go."
If IndyCar announced that next year at the 500, the cars will be going faster than ever before in history and a new track record will be set, that the motor package will be open to competition, tires too ...technology enhancements announced and the winner will get 5, no 10 million dollars.
That would be a HUGE start toward attracting support and I can guarantee you, network TV would WANT that package, advertisers would pay to attach themselves to the package and that would be a HUGE move toward "commercial viability" for IndyCar and what they have to offer the racing world, which at this time is close to ZERO and even the younger drivers are not pointing in that direction. Hey, bravo for the new chassis that is supposedly "safer" and "cheaper" for teams to buy ...then they tell the world the price of the car! Less than most road "Supercars"?
Is this good marketing, does anyone really know what an F1 car costs the teams ..or NASCAR Cup cars? All we know is they don't care about cheap, yes they are too expensive, but this is RACING and to WIN, you need to keep spending until you figure out what it takes to win, then spend more to keep winning.
This is called technology, experimentation, pushing the envelope, development, racing on Sunday to sell on Monday, right? IndyCars are already stone slow, heavy, outdated and pointless for competition as the pinnacle of American motorsports, not even close on the world stage.
F1 cars are simply the "edge" and we all know that with each second that passes between F1 races, the teams that got beat are pushing, spending, creating and the brilliant engineering minds are giving us what we want to see at the next event ...a FIGHT to be the absolute best and to WIN at all costs. F1 cars take flight and are safer than IndyCars!
Look at Weber's recent (flight) wreck ...Enough said about coddling race drivers, because these race cars are already much safer than our road cars and let's hope for the most part that the guys and girls driving these race cars are more skilled than the guys next to us on the Freeway!
My son was a racer for 12 years before he got his Driverâ€™s License, he will be fine .. maybe not, his choice, his love, his passion and I worry more about him driving to school in the morning than I do when he is in his race car.
As for cost, the only reason IndyCar has to make things "cheaper" for teams is because they all lose money and it's another statement to the world about how unsuccessful the "business" model is and isn't that a statement to the corporate world to jump in.
"Hey, look, let's support IndyCar because we can lose less money that we are losing now or spend less than in other forms of racing, although spending in these series brings actual, measurable revenue?" Why don't we simply compare the price of an IndyCar with an F1 car and NASCAR Cup car, what it takes to operate a two car team in each series, what the top drivers are paid to race these cars and ask, "why are the ones so much more expensive successful whereas the "cheap" one is dying" ... Good question and the answer is right there in the question, But it has nothing to do with the talented driver pool in America and the world, I assure you.
Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Go to our forums to discuss this article