Q. What should IRL and Champ Car executives have noticed while watching NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics?
A. Almost all of the network’s promotion focused on U.S. athletes. Some announcers even wore USA-logo clothing. The depressed Olympic ratings prove again that, post-Sept. 11, Americans want to watch Americans win and when they don’t we look elsewhere. Our countrymen/women watch shows that not only are entertaining— American Idol, 24, Lost, Dancing With the Stars, House, Survivor—but which also feature personalities with whom the public has an emotional connection. Just how many current open-wheel drivers fit that bill? I.N. Sider/Valvoline Racing
[Editor's Note: Unfortunately for Champ Car AJ Allmendinger may be the only American in the series this year. We heard last week Champ Car may only run 16 cars this year, which means Ryan Hunter-Reay's chances of landing a ride are that much less. Hunter-Reay is the only active American to win a Champ Car race (two) and there are no others ready to move up. Over in the IRL, the only American getting any media attention is Danica Patrick, so they are slightly better off, but not much. Yes, this open wheel war has driven open wheel racing right into the ground. If it does not end soon, turn off the lights. Related article.]