Indy 500 needs to look to the past

There’s a blog entry* at the IBJ today talking about how pandering to NASCAR hurts the IndyCar brand.  Say what?

IndyCar hurts the IndyCar brand, simply by existing.

Back in the old days (and I am old enough to remember them), one could drive anything in the Indy 500 that 1) met the basic definition of an Indy-type open-wheel racing car and 2) could qualify.

Tony George, in his infinite idiocy, sold out the birthright of a laboratory of the automobile for a mess of Honda pottage.

There is absolutely no reason why an Indy racing car should be limited to a choice of two engines and one chassis (or whatever the hell it is; I haven’t given a damn about Indy racing since the other Tony (Hulman) died).  The “laboratory” nature of the IMS and the 500 was what gave us the Novi and the turbine cars.  (Neither ever won; those experiments failed.  But the point was that they tried.)  The cars didn’t all look alike because the different engineering teams had differing ideas about what worked best.  It was a challenge of engineering as well as a challenge of men.

Now it’s just a challenge of men (and a few women who would never have been able to drive the old roadsters), and goddamnit, it’s BORING.

There was a mystique about the Brickyard when I was a kid. It was open for one month a year, and only one race was run on its hallowed oval.  Today, it seems like you could get a gaggle of amateur bicyclists up for a race out there and the IMS would sanction it.

It didn’t used to be all about money.  It certainly was about money, one one level, but there were other levels, too; man vs. machine, man vs. man, machine vs. machine, shoot, even what kind of automotive advances can we make by taking these machines out and beating the hell out of them at 150MPH? 

Today it seems to be “how much money can we soak these fools for to watch a bunch of identical cars go around in circles?”  And that goes for NASCAR, too — under those pretty fiberglass shells, there’s fundamentally nothing different about those supposedly “stock” cars.

Old Indy hands are spinning in their graves.  Many of us who still remember when Indy was really exciting don’t even bother with it anymore.  And then people who know nothing try to convince us that the only thing that’s wrong with IndyCar is that they’re pandering to NASCAR…give me a fucking break.

You want to fix IndyCar?  If it qualifies, let it run.


* I don’t know if you have to be a subscriber to read the blog or not.

1 comment

  1. https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlr-r7T5BMewsWl64593VFsXWZMtZdZKbA

    Yes. I have nothing to add.

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