This load of revisionist bollocks was on ESPN.com. I sat down and wrote how
I would respond if a) ESPN allowed you to respond, b) I didn't
have professional reasons for biting my tongue publicly or c) I didn't have
an increasing desire to agree with Luyendyk's view in this article that I
wish both sides well for the betterment of the sport. Still, this kind of
bollocks does little to heal the wounds.
Below are excerpts from the
article that I feel are disinformation and do a great
disservice to the sport. The
statements which I take exception with are in bold followed by
my response in italic.
Tom from Michigan
Link to full article
500 is bigger than ever
But in a sense, that type of attitude belittles the drivers in the Indy Racing League, which have competed in the Indy 500 every year
since 1996, when CART teams essentially decided to boycott the world's biggest race over the creation of a rival
series. You can say boycott if you mean that they refused to join the IRL from the start, because that first year, the Speedway instituted the famous 25-8 rule, whereby it reserved 25 spots solely for those teams who participated in the IRL's first two races.
The teams and drivers of the IRL are happy to have the extra attention and competition that these teams have brought to this year's race. However, they would like a little credit for staging some pretty competitive Indy 500s over the last five years.
"To say that the Indianapolis 500 is back only because teams from CART are here, that wouldn't be a fair quote because this race has always been competitive, even when they were not here," two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk said.
"To say that, you are selling Eddie Cheever short, Scott Goodyear and Al Unser Jr. A lot of guys have been successful whether it was CART or the IRL. You have to look at the true picture."
First of all, Al Jr. just went back to the 500 last year. Second, yes, Luyendyk might still have won, but he may have had more than just his teammate to contend with over the last quarter of the race if the CART teams had been there. Of course, we will never know, but given the competitiveness of CART and its teams at that time, it is astounding to say that there wouldn't have been a few CART teams pressing for a win. Oh, and by the way, Eddie Cheever never won anything until he got to the IRL. He came within two laps of a win with AJ Foyt at Nazareth in 1994 but was up front only because they gambled on fuel and ended up losing as a result.
The following year, neither Unser nor Emerson Fittipaldi were fast enough to make the 33-car starting field, saddling Penske with one of his lowest moments in racing. When the IRL went into operation in 1996, CART teams stayed unified in their objection to the new series and Penske remained loyal to CART.
But it's obvious that CART teams have suffered by not competing in the Indianapolis 500.
"What I ask myself is, what took them so long to come back?
Because of the 25-8 rule. Why did they wait that long?" Luyendyk asked. "This race hasn't changed over the years as far as prestige and appeal. I think they finally realized they need to be back. Some teams have gone to great expense to come back, like Chip Ganassi last year and Penske this year.
"There always has to be one team that shows the way and Chip Ganassi did it in a certain way last year, although ahead of him, Galles was a CART team that ran here and (Derrick) Walker was a CART team that ran here and A.J. Foyt and Dick Simon were CART teams that came over here. There have always been CART teams and drivers represented in this race since then.
Ganassi and Penske being here has caught the attention of the press, but that's because some of the press doesn't pay that much attention any way."
Well, AJ, Galles, Simon or Walker did not have much success in CART. I can't remember the last time AJ's team won a race. Galles hadn't won since Al, Jr. went to Penske and Danny Sullivan went to PacWest. Simon's record of futility matches that of Eddie Cheever and Derrick Walker has had little success in either series.
Eliseo Salazar of Chile competed in Formula One before joining CART in 1995. He finished fourth in his first Indy 500 that year and started on the outside of the front row the next year when the race was part of the IRL. He has been a front-row threat for qualifications every year he has been at Indy and started and finished third in last year's race.
"Last year, we got beat by Juan Montoya, who is one of the best drivers in the world," Salazar said. "I really take offense when I read Michael Andretti's quote that he saw last year's race on TV and said he would have kept Juan honest. That's the biggest bull I've heard in my life. Why didn't he do that to Montoya in CART? I'm afraid he did. Perhaps Eliseo was not watching the Michigan 500 last year but Michael was right there, banging wheels with Montoya as they crossed the finish line within a couple thousandths of a second. And Michael won a couple of races last year, indicating that he kept Montoya honest. Montoya himself has said that he was amazed at how competitive Andretti was. Then there is Salazar's record. In his first race at Miami in 1995, he slammed Andretti into the wall as he was being lapped. And at Indy in 1996, he first put Luyendyk out of the race by running into him just after they had exited the pits. And on a restart with 10 laps or so left, he literally ran Davy Jones into the inside retaining wall in an ultimately successful attempt to keep Jones behind him. Of course, in the process, Buddy Lazier was able to get around both of them and go on for the win.
And then of course this year Salazar managed to get beat by a
girl in Miami (Sarah Fisher).
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