This is not the first time I’ve referenced the Mayans and their connection to IndyCar. Earlier in 2012 I wrote “Are the Mayans to blame for turbo wars?” and “The end is near…or not,” both times taking advantage of a long dead civilization that cannot defend itself. The end of the Mayan calendar and the apocalypse following it was a trending topic that demanded attention as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for humor and/or a fearful ending to life on this planet. I chose to humorously compare both Turbogate and the possibility of the IndyCar Series being sold to the pop culture end-of-the-world interpretation of the Mayan calendar. Both of those worked because everything that happened to IndyCar this year seemed cataclysmic to the hard-core fans of the sport. Of course, no one else on the planet seemed to care much at all. So it seems I am going to take advantage of a vanished culture one more time and will try to wring a tenuous comparison to the Mayans before they fade from memory once again or until some New Age charlatan uses them to promote his the-end-is-near philosophy.
The few IndyCar fans left (at least until the movie Turbo creates a whole new generation of fans, making those of us who still care completely obsolete and no longer worth attention by the series) have been apoplectic about a number of decisions and actions in relation to the series. Allow me to note a few of them:
- The performance, looks, and cost of the DW12
- The lack of aero kits
- The perceived waffling of series management regarding the turbos for Honda and Chevy
- The Lotus saga
- The distribution of Leaders Circle money
- The penalty at Milwaukee
- The fence at Texas
- The public airing by Randy Bernard of owners’ attempts to get him fired
- The fact that owners were trying to get Randy Bernard fired
- The possibility of the IndyCar Series being sold to Tony George or his minions
- The TV contract
- The TV ratings
- The lack of media coverage
- The lack of activated series sponsors
- The demise of the China race
- The politics of the Hulman-George family
- The politics of the owners
- The lack of American drivers
- The relentless negativity of fans on social media
- The relentless positivity of fans on social media
- The number of races
- The number of ovals
- The number of street circuits
- The number of road courses
- The firing of Randy Bernard
- The way Randy Bernard was fired
- The management style of Jeff Belklus
- The future of the series
Feel free to add your own ox to be gored or your issue du jour. I am sure I missed a few. It is quite a litany, though. Nothing went right. The sky is falling. It is the end of the world. The Mayans were right. Or not. The interpreters of the Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world on December 21, 2012. Doomsday preppers prepped, New Age priests prayed and took advantage of the gullible, and the sun came up on December 22 and life continued. No comets streaked, no earthquakes shook, no tsunamis rolled, and no aliens landed. And it is the same for IndyCar.
The fact is that IndyCar had a banner year on the track. The races were competitive, and the championship went down to a riveting last race at Fontana. The series has problems, of that there can be no argument. The stakeholders have a lot of work to do to make the series more visible and viable. But as long as there are cars and drivers, there will be races. The Mayans were wrong about the end of the world, and the fans who continue to predict the demise of open wheel racing at its highest level in America are wrong, too. Regardless of ownership or management, there will always be races. Regardless of how many fans choose to take their money, interest, and devotion elsewhere, there will always be someone to watch the races.
With its many faults, IndyCar will always be a viable business because of the Indy 500. The money derived from that event has subsidized the series and will continue to do so until the management can address the multitude of problems, real and imagined, that face the series.
The Mayan apocalypse was a non-event, just like we knew it would be. It was a chance for the fringe element to have its day in the spotlight. It was a chance for those with a non-mainstream point-of-view to rise up and be heard. The 2012 IndyCar season was the equivalent to the Mayan calendar prediction of the end-of-the-world. There was just enough fact for the hard-core freaks with axes to grind to reach end-of-the-world conclusions. And just like the Mayans, they were wrong.
The end of IndyCar racing will most likely coincide with the comet or asteroid that fate has decreed to auger in at some future date. Until then, IndyCar can can simply quote that great American philosopher Mark Twain to its myriad of detractors by saying “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”