New Track Record

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Archive for the month “October, 2012”

The Young and the Clueless

I have in my possession the transcript of an actual phone call placed by an agent to a Hollywood television producer.  I only have the agent’s voice, so you have to imagine the producers responses on the other end.  Here it is.

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“Hey, Max! How’s it going?  This is Sid.  You keeping it in the short grass there at Bel-Air?  Really?  What’s your handicap now?  You sandbagger.  You’re a thief.  Hey, I have a property for you that you cannot pass up.  It’s a winner.  You can say goodbye to the Kardashians.  This will blow them out of the water.  Reality TV is over, just like the soaps are over.  I have the next big thing right here.  Are you ready?  It’s a reality soap.

“No, it’s nothing like Real Housewives.  No, it’s better than The Bachelor.  Well, there’s a peripheral connection to Dancing With the Stars.

“OK,  imagine a large family owned company.  I know, it sounds like Jabot Cosmetics on The Young and the Restless.  The company was built on a kitchen necessity and the founder bought a sport’s franchise/facility.  What’s that, Max?  No, that’s just the back story.  It gets good years later.  Well, there’s a shooting and rumors years ago, but that angle can be played later.

“It’s got everything, Max!   Just like a soap opera, there’s family intrigue, greed, stupidity, lies…did I mention stupidity?  And the best part is it’s all free.  We don’t have to hire actors.  That’s the reality part of it.”

“Here’s how it goes:  The scion of a wealthy corporate family that owns a major sports franchise becomes the CEO while marginalizing his three sisters.  I know, it sound like Jack Abbott, but remember, this is true.  Mom is still the Chairman of the Board and lets Sonny run the franchise the way he wants.  He builds a new facility and brings in another tenant, but he gets snookered by a much smarter guy that owns that league.  He also brings in another league, and they screw him, too.  Yeah, I know, he sounds like all the sucker money men we have in L.A.  A fool and his money.  But it gets better.  He is so upset that nobody respects him that he starts his own league, figuring that he can’t, you know, screw himself.  But the only people who like and respect him are his own family and the cronies and flunkies he pays to like him.  Right, kind of like Entourage without the sex and drugs.  Anyway, he keeps shooting himself in the foot.  He runs the league like a hobby and manages to spend a ton of money and piss off all kinds of people, but what does he care?  He has money on tap from his original franchise.  Then he finally screws the pooch.  He spends so much money on the league that his sisters, who are all on the board of directors, stage an insurrection.  They vote him out of power.  Actually, they tell him he can either run the league, a money loser, or the franchise, a cash cow.   He pouts and quits.  The sisters and mom then hire a rodeo cowboy to come in and wrangle the league, and they bring the corporate bean counter over from the original business to run the sports franchise.

“No, that’s not all.  Sonny wants the franchise and the league back, and with the aid of a sister and his mom, manages to get his cronies on the board.  But the family fights back and adds even more people to the board.  Then he starts plotting the demise of the cowboy so he can be back in charge again.  He somehow convinces his rich buddies to finance his proposed purchase of the league he used to own and could have had for free, but it all goes public and everybody is mad at everybody and pointing fingers.  We add the social media element of Twitter and bingo, everybody’s involved.  We can play this story out on TV and Twitter.  It’s never been done like that before.  TV is the soap opera and Twitter is the reality.

“What do you think, Max?  Series?  Feature film?  Mini-series?  Think HBO might be interested.  It’s kind of like a modern Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire, don’t you think?  This is gold, Max, gold!

“What do you mean it seems too far-fetched?  This is Hollywood.  Nothing has to make sense.  If people believed Nightrider, they’ll believe anything.

“Not interested, huh?  I’m telling you, Max, the reality soap Indy is the next Survivor.  Get on board now or you’ll hate yourself later.  I mean, you passed on the racing snail, didn’t you.  It’s going to be a monster, too.” 

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That’s all I managed to get.  If my sources turn up anything else, you’ll be the first to know.

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The end is near…or not

Are the Mayans here yet?  Will December bring tumult, chaos, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse or just another Y2K?  Will our alien overlords stop back in to see how we have managed to screw up the world, or will the end of the year pass as every other year has passed in recorded history with nothing much changing?  IndyCar fans really don’t need the Mayan calendar to tell them the world is ending.  They will know the answer if Tony George and his minions regain control of IndyCar.

Is IndyCar paralleling the unrest in the rest of the world?  Many IndyCar fans equate the rise of one T. George from the dung heap of auto racing to possibly leading the series to the rise of the Antichrist foretold by Revelation and that Joe Nostradamus guy.  I think he is one of those call-in gambling touts.  Anyway, the teeth have been gnashing on Twitter and the message boards decrying the possibility.  Unless, of course, the fans happen to be of the oval persuasion, in which case they see George as the road to salvation…or at least the road back to Nazareth and Michigan International Speedway.  The fact that nobody is stepping up to risk promoting these events is lost on them.  Ovals are a blind faith thing to these proselytizers.  Holy war, indeed.

Be that as it may, it might be worth cogitating on how the Antichrist – I mean T. George – might come back into power.  I would like to believe the faithful who say that IndyCar is not for sale because the IMS Board of Directors said so.  The people on this board are above reproach, eh?  Saints, most likely.  Unless you are one to believe in mankind’s baser instincts.  The instincts that say everything has a price; that nothing is sacred.  Read the comments of Jeff Belskus, president and CEO of Hulman and Company, closely.  He said IndyCar is not for sale.  He said they plan to keep it because it gives them control over the series that feeds into the Indianapolis 500.  He said they did not solicit offers for the series.  At no time did he say that IMS would never sell the series.  Good business practices almost always allow for a door to be kept slightly ajar.  Word is that IndyCar lost $7 million last year.  That’s reason enough to sell, no matter what anyone says.  And if reports by the Sports Business Journal, leaked no doubt by the T. George minions, are true, then George has quite an elite set of backers.  According to published reports, Tony George’s apostles include Chip Ganassi, Roger Penske, Michael Andretti, Kevin Kalhoven, and Zak Brown, the CEO of Just Marketing, International.  The money-changers in the temple worked so well before, how can we imagine it would not work this time?  I think this time might be different.

The saint-in-sheep’s-clothing in this case may be Zak Brown.  He is a true marketing mover and shaker in F1.  Check out JMI website here for some insight.  Zak Brown does not need IndyCar, but IndyCar may need him.  In an Indianapolis Star interview, Brown was not coy about his interest in being involved in a future leadership position in F1.  He’s interested.  Not only is he a motorsports marketer, he is also a former racer.   He knows the business.  One of the owners major complaints with Randy Bernard has been that he doesn’t know racing.  Zak Brown does.  But why would Zak Brown want to be involved in IndyCar?  I think he’s sitting in the catbird seat here.  My guess is that Zak Brown would be the CEO of IndyCar with an ownership stake in the company.  IndyCar’s success would be the bona fides for his future aspirations in F1.  If he could make IndyCar a going concern, he could write his ticket in another series.  The board of directors, presumably chaired by Tony George, would be forced to give him everything he needs to be successful, including an ironclad contract.  The owners get someone who understands racing and their concerns, both competitively and financially.  The drivers get a former racer who understands their issues.  And the fans get a business run by a marketing professional who understands the sport and feels compelled to deliver the goods.  It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

It probably is.  An old saying is a leopard can’t change its spots.  And that is the eventuality here.  The owners on the board would pressure Brown to give them a competitive advantage.  Tony George would find himself marginalized and very unhappy.  And Zak Brown would have a golden parachute that would allow him to float away from the internecine warfare that always engulfs this sport when it’s on the cusp of success.  And that’s the gospel according to New Track Record.

Enter Yosemite Sam

My youth was measured out in Saturday morning TV shows.  It was a time before cable television and 24-hour channels that show nothing but food, sports, fashion, gardening, and cartoons.  Delayed gratification was the norm not the exception.  Things happened when they happened, and there was a good chance you had no idea of the time-table for any event.  If you wanted to see your favorite cartoon, you had to wait until Saturday morning.  And that’s not all bad.  It meant you had other things to do until that time.  And wait I did for the greatest cartoons of all time: the Warner Brothers productions of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies directed by Chuck Jones and Friz Freleng of the the 1950’s and 60’s.  After Randy Bernard presented the new schedule on Speed with the ensuing spewage of opinions in response, after Pete Pistone at MRN suggested that IndyCar do everyone a favor and die, and after the Sports Business Journal dredged the old rumor of a takeover bid, I just had to get my mind right by watching some old cartoons.  I was sure Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, Daffy Duck, and Foghorn Leghorn could take my mind off the never-ending drama of IndyCar.  I was wrong.  As I watched, the cartoon characters morphed into the players in the incessant internecine battle that is IndyCar.  So here they are folks, your Looney Tunes IndyCar comparisons.  And has the name Looney Tunes ever been more apropos than it is here?  To put you in the mood, here’s the song and dance introduction to the Bugs Bunny Show.  You’re welcome.

Yosemite Sam – Old Yosemite Sam is always after Bugs Bunny and just can’t seem to get out of his own way.  His plans always backfire on him.  Yosemite Sam is IndyCar.  He makes a lot of noise but always ends up shooting himself in the foot.  That’s IndyCar right now.  Sam just knows he’s the smartest, best-looking, and most desirable person on the planet, but no one else will believe him.  Bugs eludes him, just like the ratings and respect elude IndyCar.  Just like IndyCar with the “fastest and most versatile drivers in the world,” nobody seems to pay attention when Sam says he’s “the roughinest, toughinest, rootinest, tootinest, bobtailed wildcat north, south, east or west of the Pecos!”  The big difference here is Sam is just bragging.  IndyCar can back it up.

Foghorn Leghorn – Good old Foghorn with his homespun insults and country philosophy always makes me smile.  As the big daddy rooster in the barnyard, he sets the rules and enforces them.  He punishes the Barnyard Dawg with impunity and offers guidance to Henery Hawk and Miss Prissy’s son Egghead, Jr, not always with the intended consequences.  The connection is obvious.  Foghorn Leghorn is Beaux Barfield laying down the law to the Indy paddock.  Some of you may remember his Twitter  profile before he changed it reading “If it has wheels I’ll ride it, drive it, fix it, or f— it up.”  Now THAT’S barnyard.  Foghorn is always complaining that people don’t listen to him or do what he says.  That’s just like Beaux talking at a drivers’ meeting.  Don’t believe me?  Just watch this clip and imagine Beaux telling it like it is about his drivers.

Bugs Bunny – Bugs is the coolest character there is; he’s unflappable.  Who’s the coolest character in IndyCar?  That would be James Hinchcliff.    Nothing bothers him.  He is media savvy and willing to cut up in public.  All he needs is a carrot in a cigarette case and to open every interview with “What’s up, doc?”  Just like Bugs, Hinch is one smooth customer.

Porky Pig – Chip Ganassi.  Need I explain it?

Daffy Duck – Daffy is full of hare-brained schemes.  He sees a situation and immediately makes it worse.  He tries and tries to be relevant, but just can’t quite pull it off.  Daffy is Robin Miller.  With that said, Robin Miller is one of the very few journalists who covers IndyCar full-time.  But just like Daffy, you never quite know what you are going to get.  Recently, Robin opined about the cult of negativity surrounding IndyCar.  Here’s a very quick, never-before-seen video of RM taking the negative people surrounding IndyCar to task.  Daffy Duck, indeed.

The Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote – Poor Wile E. Coyote.  He never eats.  His gaunt figure literally haunts these cartoons.  No matter what Acme anvils, Triple Strength Fortified Leg Muscle Vitamins, or Tornado Seeds he throws at the Road Runner, he just can’t win.  But give old Wile E. credit.  He keeps trying.  Isn’t it obvious?  Wile E. Coyote is Tony George.  He wants to put an end to Randy Bernard, but just can’t quite get it done.  The Acme Rocket Roller Skates just zoom him right off the cliff.  And Randy Bernard is just as obviously the Road Runner.  Every trick in Tony George’s book just can’t quite do him in.  He’s dodged all the boulders and earthquake pills – in the form of rumors, secret meetings, and innuendo – that Wile E. Tony can throw at him.  As long as he as he has feet under him, Road Runner Randy will just twinkle his toes, stick out his tongue, and say “Beep beep.”  The only difference is we know how the cartoon turns out every time.  I just hope our Indy Road Runner always survives the schemes of his cartoonish nemesis.

I’m sure I’m missing a few connections. I always do.  Please feel to point them out to me.  Until next time, I leave you with this.

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