As the end of summer looms on the horizon, I have been listening to the band that has defined summer for me through the years. That’s right, nothing says “summer” like America’s Band, The Beach Boys. And wouldn’t you know it, it seems like their songs have something to say to IndyCar. So get out that scratchy copy of Pet Sounds and drop the needle. IndyCar’s Endless Summer is here, courtesy of your host with the most, New Track Record.
“Fun, Fun, Fun” Really, did you think our trip through the summer could start anywhere except America’s playground for the rich, Nantucket? In the song, our teenage girl is driving her daddy’s T-Bird when she should be doing something else. Poor, privileged Jay Penske was standing on the sidewalk in one of America’s richest enclaves when he was accosted by a simple bartender for urinating in the street. The horror. All of IndyCar hopes he can recover from this tawdry display of the rabble trying to take a picture of the rich and famous answering the call of nature. In today’s political climate, the rich should be pissing on the middle class with impunity. Accountability is for the poor. Of course, what makes this story delicious is that Jay Penske owns the gossip website hollywoodlife.com, which specializes in covering the sordid affairs of the rich and famous. Funny, I could find nothing about him on the website. It seems rival gossip site TMZ has no such qualms. Go here to see their article.
“All Summer Long” The boys sing about how wonderful summer is with all the items that define the season. One line sings about wearing “T-shirts, cut-offs, and a pair of thongs” all summer long. Wait a minute. I think a definition may have changed over the years. These are thongs you wear on your feet. In any case, it must have been nice to have the things you love all summer long. As we go dark in IndyCar for 20 days or so, the die-hard IndyCar fans wait restlessly while the casual fan finds something else to do. I understand that China was scheduled in there, but who was going to watch that race, anyway. The fact is that IndyCar is over before summer ends. We need to race all summer long.
“Wouldn’t It Be Nice” Ah, this one takes me back to a time when what you wanted – in this song’s case, sex – was something for which you were willing to wait, although not necessarily happily. In IndyCar, many folks just aren’t willing to wait. Owners want a change in IndyCar management. Tony George wants control back. Promoters want a better deal. The paddock wants cheaper parts. Fans want more ovals, unless they want more road courses. Sponsors want better ratings. China wants a beer festival. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone was willing to wait and work through the issues together. The fragmentation of all the constituencies of IndyCar is part of the dysfunction of this particular racing family. In the song, you know the kids are going to “get together” at some time. I’m not so sure about IndyCar.
“Good Vibrations” All is not gloom and doom, though. There are good vibrations all through IndyCar. In fact, IndyCar is “giving me excitations.” The car count is staying up and the racing is great! Cars are passing each other on every track (except Detroit). The series championship is still undecided. Did I mention the racing is great? The problem seems to be that nobody knows about it. The monolith of NASCAR dominates the news with its TV partners, especially ESPN. Still, the product on the track is the best in America, or maybe the world, right now. Hopefully, these good vibrations will continue and not be an indication of a wheel getting ready to fall off.
“Be True To Your School” The concept of loyalty to your school is the theme of this song. And I agree with it. At the risk of being called a cheerleader (and I don’t even own pom-poms), I think fans should support the series, the sponsors, the events, and the networks. They also can, and should, be critical of what they don’t like. But they should also defend the series, at least in general terms. I would rather have my critics inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in. Right now, IndyCar can use more people in the tent. And I’m not sure where I want Jay Penske; I just know he’s going to be pissing somewhere.
“God Only Knows” Sometimes we don’t take the time to show our appreciation for those things that are meaningful to us. This song says “God only knows what I’d do without you.” It’s good to be self-aware. A little self-awareness might be good for all of IndyCar, fans included. The Indianapolis 500 will always be there, but no such guarantee exists for IndyCar (remember USAC and CART). If the series fails – and it can – then there might not be a white knight with deep pockets to pick up the pieces. It might just be a NASCAR knight with an indeterminate color of armor. If people think IndyCar is a niche sport now, wait until the series is taken over by an organization that views it as competition for its primary business. It happens in the real world all the time. Not trying to be all Mayan-end-of-the-world here, but this threat may exist. God only knows.
“Don’t Worry Baby” The Pollyanna choir keeps telling me how good everything is. And the racing is good. The propaganda of the series and its minions say that TV ratings don’t matter. They do. Just ask any sponsor. The bottom-liners at every business want to calculate the ROI (return on investment). Right now, IndyCar is iffy. When your series is handing out Leader’s Circle money to Jay Penske based on his promise of advertising impressions, then we better be singing “Worry Baby.” Everyone knows he’s only going to piss it away.
“I Get Around” Whatever else you can say about Randy Bernard, he works. He is on the road courting promoters, engine builders, sponsors, and the media. IndyCar is lucky to have him. It was recently announced that Randy Bernard may be getting ready to ink NOLA Motorsports Park in Louisiana. Check out the link to see this very interesting layout. At a time when tracks are trying to negotiate sweetheart deals, if they want to deal at all, then it’s absolutely imperative that IndyCar goes racing where someone wants it to race. So where y’at, NOLA Motorsports Park. I hear it’s nice south of I-10 in the spring.
My recommendation? Roll down the car windows, cruise your local root beer stand, crank up The Beach Boy’s Endless Summer, and pretend that you’re still that too-cool-for-school kid you were – or wanted to be – when you were in high school. That summer in our mind never needs to end.