Friday, October 8, 2010
3. Indycar is a niche sport. We fans may not like the sound of that statement but it alas, is true and until the people who run it understand this, it will continue to flail about until exhaustion and ultimately drown. Indycar has always had a small (relative to the stick and ball sports) legion of devotees but the total size of the crowd (literally until TV coverage), was based on this legion plus whatever casual observers would be intrigued. Instead of trying to 'grow' the sport through sheer mass exposure and hoping some come along, I contend it needs to grow by providing a means to better experience the racing product and by giving the casual observer something to be interested in. The first must be done through better television production and viewing. The second comes from thoughts which can be summed up by Peter DeLorenzo (an example of which can be found here) on making Indycar a viable product of interest to casual viewer. By involving them more directly through Indycar returning to represent a true 'car of tomorrow' and incubate new technolgies on the racetrack, the general public would be clamoring to see Indycars again and thereby what may lie ahead for their next purchase in the showrooms.
4. Indycar has one of the best hardcore fan bases of any sport. You all know who you are. You'd know a '67 Lotus Turbine from a '70 Lotus Turbine in with a scant glance at the two. You know the venerable Offy had only 4 cylinders that produced the power of many contemporary V-8s. You know the importance of the '61 Cooper Climax and the '73 Eagle and the '79 Chaparral. You've seen Johncock hold off Mears, Helio climb the fence and Sandi Andretti's hat. Indycar is about an overwhelming combined experience of sights, sounds, smells, and what's felt which produces indelible marks on our brains. Dearest Keepers of Indycar, please don't forego understanding what this sport means to us. We are the few and proud devotees who just wish for a return to a product that actually means something to people. Racing used to = an experience and progress, not the inverse of that formula.
More thoughts to come...
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Following the conclusion of the IZOD Indycar Championship celebration, as viewed on Versus last night, I was left with several lingering thoughts, some positive, some negative, but all with the future of Indycar in mind:
1. Dario Franchitti has left no question on his status as Indycar legend. His two Indy 500 wins and three Indycar Championships are just the starting point. He has proven over the course of the last 7 years that he excels with astounding consistency on ovals and road/street courses. As cursory review of his career accomplishments will quite easily support this and his latest Championship title shows him the best current example of all-around driver. Certainly being on one a top-level (if not the best) team in the Indycar series throughout his career hasn't hurt, but his delivering the goods in the best equipment is what keeps him in the best seats in the business. He is deserving of every comparison to existing Indycar legends with names such as Meyer, Foyt, Unser, Andretti, Rahal, Mears.
2.The sparse crowds as seen (if seen) on the second-tier television broadcasts are horribly damaging to the image of the Indycar Series, and cannot continue beyond this season. The perception to a worldwide televison audience that 'nobody cares' instantly discounts and cements Indycar as a 'strange and curious' little niche sport at best. The great difficulty I see is that the action as seen in person is vastly better than the on TV product. Having seen both, the only thing on TV that has given me those eye-popping moments experienced in person is the action captured by the panning in-car cameras. On TV, one often misses the scale and speed of full action, sound, and smells of these wonderful machines and drivers, traded for intrusive graphics, lacking coverage of on-track stories, and questionable vignettes. Hopefully the venues and Indycar can begin work immediately on vastly improving attendance next year and TV will provide a more immersive and less distracted experience for it's viewers.
More thoughts to come...