In anticipation of Randy Bernard’s State of IndyCar address coming up, it’s time for New Track Record to offer its views on the current state of the racing series. I might add that I am totally unqualified to have any views on the subject, which in recent years would mark me as an expert.
Re: the cars
Contrary to recent reports, the wheels have not been falling off of the new DW12’s. Unless you mean that figuratively. Really, what were the expectations for a car designed with computer simulations and models. Were we really surprised that it was slow on ovals? The media, both new and old, was just waiting to celebrate the problems. What else is there to do in the off-season? I guess we have been conditioned to expect, and accept, the worst. That’s the price of being an IndyCar fan. I know that form follows function, but damn, that is not a pretty car. As a long time owner of boxers, I am used to pretending that something ugly is cute, but I just can’t act like this car is a movie star. I would like to thank the F1 constructors, though, for designing something uglier. Grazie, Ferrari.
Re: the engines
What happens to a series that has only one engine manufacturer for a dozen years? It opens up the series to new manufacturers as long as the old builder can help write the rules. Don’t get me wrong, the new engines and competition between the builders are GREAT. We needed it. But the very real possibility that teams wanting to join the series could be left out in the cold leaves me cold. Some have discussed capping the number of cars, but closing the door to new teams now will not give them incentive to come knocking again when, not if, teams drop out later. The builders are holding all the cards, and they want a new buy in for the newcomers to get in the game. They want to charge new teams a premium to buy the same motors as their monied peers. The PR flaks for IndyCar and the builders are putting in some LONG hours to spin this pile of shinola.
Re: the Leaders Circle
Here’s an idea: right before the State of IndyCar presentation, let’s release the winners of the Great Money Goat Rope. Did anyone else have a vision of a bag of money tied to a goat while a bunch of greenhorns with ropes tried to wrangle it? No? I’m the only one with that picture in my head? Well, that’s my gift to you then. Once again, let’s see if IndyCar can clearly call some of its teams winners and some LOSERS. If the losing owners can be believed (and they can’t) then they did not know the criteria for choosing the winners after the presentation of their business models. Wouldn’t you think that for a $60,000 ante, you might ask some questions about the rules? If I plop $60,000 on a table in Vegas, it’s damn sure I’m going to know how to play the game. Maybe the teams could ask for a rubric? What the fans need here is a little transparency. Let us in on the process. We do want to keep teams in the series, right?
Re: the rule book
Kudos to Beaux Barfield for tackling the rule book in a systematic fashion and taking the time to EXPLAIN why he was doing what he was doing. The proof will be in application of the rules, though. As long a he puts the screws down consistently, he can put them down all he wants. These rules and their applications will be part of the entertainment of the year. I am looking forward to the Penske, Ganassi, and Andretti hand-wringing pronouncements of innocence and bewilderment when they are assessed penalties. The more things change…
Xenophobia is defined as “an unreasonable fear of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange,” and it’s rearing its ugly head in IndyCar land with Rubens Barrichello and China. The less worldly of IndyCar fans continue to bemoan the fact that the series does not have enough American drivers, enough ovals, and enough publicity. Let me ask a question. WHAT IN THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? Barrichello has almost 1.5 million followers on Twitter. IndyCar needs fans, and it doesn’t matter where they live. We exist in the world, not just North America. IndyCar needs to make, not hemorrhage, money. Brazil is full of racing fans. Let’s make them IndyCar fans. And China, with all of its human rights issues, unfair business practices, and, you know, the repressive communist regime thing, is still a money factory with 1.3 BILLION possible fans. Come on, people, do the math here. The American education system hasn’t failed that miserably, has it?
Are these the only issues facing IndyCar this year? Please. The hunt for ovals to host races, the continual search for both team and series sponsors, and getting a tighter rein on those damn bloggers are also problems to be solved. But all is not doom and gloom. The best thing about the State of IndyCar is really simple. It’s IndyCar.