Foyt and Andretti should be ashamedUPDATE A related SPEED.com article.
05/24/11 I checked the classified ads this morning. Turns out, there are Indianapolis 500 rides for sale.
Now that Andretti Autosport has bought out the A.J. Foyt car that was qualified by Bruno Junqueira, using the checkbook to install sponsor-friendly Andretti driver Ryan Hunter-Reay back into the race, this is no longer about the fastest, but the richest.
This is shameful, especially shameful given the fact it involves two of the greatest names -- Andretti and Foyt -- in the 102-year history of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It also sets a very dangerous precedent.
"This was 110% a business/commercial team(s) decision,'' Hunter-Reay tweeted Monday.
Does this mean A.J.'s pace-car ride is also available for the right price? I'm thinking that Mr. Junqueira should be behind the wheel instead. Maybe bring back Donald Trump.
Michael Andretti, the man who engineered this swap, should be embarrassed.
Foyt, who took the cash and told his driver to take a hike, should be embarrassed.
Randy Bernard, the IndyCar Series CEO, should be embarrassed.
Hunter-Reay? Maybe not embarrassed, but sheepish at the very least.
This has turned into the Greatest Spectacle In Swapping.
An incredible weekend of qualifying and bumping has been reduced to a farce. All that drama? Well, it turns out, if you weren't good enough or quick enough over the weekend, you could have made the race just by cutting a check.
Why did we spend a half-second wondering if Danica Patrick might not make the race? Guaranteed, if the rain had short-circuited her bump day run, Andretti would have gotten her into somebody else's car -- probably the Foyt/Junqueira car.
The reason I love qualifying weekend -- and this was the best one of my decade here in Indy -- is that so many people put so much on the line to make this race. Small-team owners max out credit cards and stretch budgets to have a chance. Drivers put their safety, even their lives, on the line, flying around in trimmed-out cars, straddling the edge of good sense. As Marco Andretti said after his late run, "I was either going to put it in the fence or put it in the show.''
I understand that money talks and sponsors matter, especially in this sport. But we're talking about a spot on the most prized grid in motor sports. In the 100 years, so many owners, crewmen and drivers have dedicated their lives for this opportunity, and now we learn that it's just another item open to bid. More at: Indy Star
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