Mid-year report The war is over. The open wheel Split is no more. Now the fans will return and pack the stands. The TV ratings will skyrocket. Sponsors will be banging down the IndyCar Series team’s doors.
Well? What is the problem?
TV numbers and attendance for the most part remain flat. The Indy 500 did show improvements, but that is more likely due to the weather compared to last year.
The cars remain unattractive and sound horrendous. The flat-out oval racing fails to inspire. The dubious victory of Danica Patrick along with the incessant marketing of this average racer has turned off many fans.
Consecutive races at Richmond and Watkins Glen were comedies of error in which drivers looked inept and yellow flag caution periods seem to drag on more than necessary.
The expected return of Champ Car fans to the merged series has not materialized, as most of them do not consider it so much a merger but a sellout by the owners.
The IndyCar Series is not planning on having new cars or engines until 2010 at the earliest, when the current Dallara design will be 10 years old. That is ancient in racing terms.
The same people who were so jubilant early this year and optimistic that Open Wheel racing would return to its heyday this year now spout the "patience" line. It will take time, they say. Well it has been 12 years of the IRL’s IndyCar Series. They have no more excuses left.
[Editor's Note: This writer is pretty much spot on, though we feel the uptick in attendance and TV ratings is about what we expected, and hence we feel D- is too low. We call it a C. It might have been higher; however, Champ Car fans, for the most part, are rejecting the merger. 1) they hate the hideous cars and 2) they feel the merger was really a sellout and very little that was good about Champ Car is being used by the IRL.
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