|If this rumor is true, it may explain why Roger Griffiths left Honda HPD suddenly and unexpectedly|
I just had to laugh. This was news? Really? I've been writing about the sheer, unbridled greed train that has defined F1 for going on fifteen years now in this space. The only outrage deserved at this juncture should be outrage that anybody is actually still outraged about it.
This just in: F1 is a monumental insult to the noble spirit and engaging quest that the pinnacle of racing once was and is supposed to be. F1 long ago devolved into an out-and-out greed-fest orchestrated by a mad little man by the name of Bernie Ecclestone, who would monetize air if he could figure out how to do it. For something that fancies itself as the be-all and end-all of the sport of motor racing, F1 is a dismally regimented and ruthlessly orchestrated ritual with all the fervor and passion of a tax filing.
Countries and local governments are held up at gunpoint for the "privilege" of allowing the fabled F1 circus to arrive at their doorsteps, with three-year contracts approaching $50 million per and with anywhere from $100-$400 million stacked on top of it to ensure that "proper" venues are created so that the circus can suck every last available dollar from the premises in supremely antiseptic comfort. Needless to say, the noble quest that F1 once represented is long gone, and any illusions and delusions to the contrary are just that.
Moving on. A reader breathlessly took me to task for not writing some sort of preview ushering in the upcoming racing season, as it was some glaring deficiency on my part. And what would you like me to say, pray tell? That IndyCar looks promising and that NASCAR has its act together? Please. Let's review, shall we?
As much as my heart is into the idea of major league open-wheel racing in this country, the reality leaves much to be desired. It's a sad state of affairs when glorified spec car racing now passes for what's goin' on for racing enthusiasts in this country who still give a damn. And after Honda takes its leave from the series at the end of 2014 to open its coffers to F1, then what? We'll be left with not only a spec car racing series, but a spec car racing series with a single engine manufacturer. What part of that seems like a legitimate scenario to "grow" the sport?
So will IndyCar get better? Maybe. Verizon certainly hopes so. But we've seen sponsors come and go before in this sport with the same boastful intentions and the same promises of "fixing" what needs to be fixed. But there's no amount of sponsorship money that can fix the cancer that lies within the sport of Indy car racing. The current formula is locked into 2018, with an extension sure to be announced a couple of years from now. That's not going to work, folks. The fundamentals have to be addressed. And most important, the diversity of thought has to be brought back so that innovation can replace the group think that dominates the sport as we know it today. And until that happens we'll just be watching the continued downward spiral, marked by a few good races here and there to be sure, but generally going nowhere.
I stand by my prediction: Sooner, rather than later, the Indianapolis 500 will become an invitational race with a haphazard series surrounding it. A series in shambles thrashing to survive outside of the aura of the "500", while decreasing in importance by the hour.
And the United SportsCar Championship? I've said all that needs to be said in recent columns (to read previous columns, scroll down to "Next 1 Entries" below – WG). Suffice to say, Jim France wanted ultimate control over sports car racing in this market, and Don Panoz finally acquiesced to his wishes. The result? Flat-out chaos. Two major races at Daytona and Sebring, and two flagrant scoring errors. And the sinking feeling overwhelming all road racing enthusiasts in this country is that, when all is said and done, they got royally screwed.
Will an angel come along and start a new professional road racing series to end the continued futility demonstrated by Jim France's baby? Don't hold your breath.
And NASCAR? Well, until proven otherwise NASCAR was created and still operates to this day as the France family business. They can insist all they want that their "sport" deserves to be mentioned in the same reverential tones as applied to the NFL, but the reality is that it's the family ATM machine, plain and simple. They will tweak it just enough to keep the TV networks interested and the fans who still want to show up placated, but beyond that, who's kidding whom? They ultimately just don't care. They don't care what the manufacturers think, they don't care about what the TV shills think. And ultimately they don't give a rat's ass about what their diminishing fan base thinks.
It's about the money, honey, and don't you ever forget it.
And that's why the money men can run roughshod over the sport with impunity, and that's why the completely nonsensical annoyances continue to drive the sport. The sooner that everyone – that means you, the racing enthusiasts out there – realize that modern day racing is about money and control, the lower everyone's blood pressure will be.
Yes, big-time driving stars abound to this day, but it's helpful to remember another very important truth about racing. And that is that drivers – at least the good ones – will race through a shit storm for Twinkies. It's that simple. It's what they do and it's what they desire more than life itself, politics and the ugly, inherent realities of the sport be damned.
And until that changes, racing will be exactly what it is. Peter DeLorenzo/Autoextremist