All I want for Christmas IndyCar, is for.......
Ok, I've had enough.
If you read AutoRacing1.com you know a recurring theme of late, has been our call to Hulman and Company, the parent corporation of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR to run the Izod IndyCar Series as a professional business, in a professional business manner or sell the series to someone who will.
Presuming Hulman intends to keep the series, one specific plea, of course, has been to remove NASCAR from the Indianapolis market, and the Holy Grail of IndyCar racing, by eliminating the Brickyard 400 weekend. The argument being that IMS and the city of Indianapolis should be IndyCar country, and all the promotion, media coverage, and prestige that comes with the hallowed Speedway should be channeled into INDYCAR, a Hulman property.
Simply put, if Hulman and Company, under the leadership of new CEO Mark Miles are serious about growing IndyCar, then allowing IndyCar's archenemy, NASCAR, to race at the sport's most sacred cathedral is well, completely ludicrous.
Now, a lot of you have been quick to dismiss this notion by pointing out the incredibly obvious. For example, you might say something illuminating such as I'm very opinionated when it comes to someone else's money. You also may have noted that the Brickyard 400 makes IMS money, as the Speedway receives part of NASCAR's TV deal, the gate, and the title sponsorship from Crown Royal. You may also point out that an IndyCar race on the Speedway road course, as I have suggested would not be nearly the financial windfall that even the poorly attended, dull as watching paint dry, Brickyard.
At face value, all of these things are true.
Further, many of you will be quick to dispute my assertion that NASCAR is, to quote myself, "IndyCar's archenemy." While I suppose that claim may seem an exaggeration, I'd offer this.
If you believe that NASCAR's Nationwide race at Mid-Ohio, two weeks after the IndyCar Series race just happens to be a coincidence, I've got some MPH stock I'd be happy to sell you. Remember, NASCAR needed a date to replace the Montreal Nationwide race, which so happened to come about after the NASCAR aligned promoter sabotaged the Champ Car event on Ile de Notre Dame. And I can offer countless other instances, both historical and contemporary, indicating NASCAR wants nothing more than to bury IndyCar. The twits that work at the corner of 16th and Georgetown just haven't realized it yet.
In general, your tactic is to disarm my claims with the simplistic assertions that it is not my money, or that I am somehow exaggerating. Therefore, I should just pipe down and focus on more upbeat matters like IndyCar drivers making goofy You Tube videos.
Sorry, that's not going to happen!
Here's the thing. From most anyone else, I could accept the "it's not your money, and we're focused on the bottom line," approach. But everyone seems to be forgetting something very important: IMS has spent the better part of two decades insisting they were the ones who knew how to best run IndyCar.
See, I sort of remember this decade and a half civil war thing, which ruined the sport and entire industry around it, all because IMS wanted to control Indy car racing.
Yes, to refresh your memory IMS wanted to be king of Indy car racing. IMS believed that CART, by any metric the most successful Indy car series in history, was steering the sport in a wayward direction. IMS insisted that CART's owner based governing structure created a conflict of interests. IMS insisted on putting all of us through that senseless decade and a half civil war, because IMS thought there was a better way. IMS, in the face of very compelling evidence to the contrary moved forward with arrogance, impunity and complete disregard for the sport and so many who made their living from it. IMS ultimately succeeded and now has what they wanted, control of Indy car racing. IMS, in the face of numerous rumors to the contrary, has repeatedly insisted the series will remain under their stewardship. IMS, after years of fiscal insanity destroying the sport of Indy car racing, now wants us to get on board with this tightening of the belt straps.
Yes, promotion of IndyCar is minuscule, near nonexistent. Television ratings remain on the decline. Ditto for corporate interest and media coverage. And I would argue the sport of Indy car racing was better off a half decade ago, when there were two series. Heck, there were more races, better cars, more markets, and greater overall interest.
Worse, it seems IMS well, doesn't really care. And while people point to Miles' success with the ATP and Indianapolis Super Bowl, early indications are he is just as out to lunch as the rest.
For example, last week Miles talked about putting lights in at the Speedway for the Brickyard 400. Yes, IMS wants to spend $20 million, or thereabouts, to upgrade their facility to help NASCAR. And hey, if they're looking to free up some cash, well then, they'll just cut some of that Leaders' Circle money for the Izod IndyCar Series, another rumor coming out of the 16th and Georgetown offices.
And IMS accused CART of having too many conflicts of interest?
Now, you probably think I'm being harsh, unreasonable. Ok, tell me how is Indy car racing any better now than before the merger in 2008? Point to something tangible, illustrating that IMS and Hulman are committed to growing the sport of IndyCar racing and the IndyCar brand. Point to something that indicates the company is committed to expanding its scope as a legitimate racing business. Are there rumors of IMS securing racetracks, or starting race promotions companies that I am unaware of? Did IMS try to work behind the scenes to help Conor Daly, an Indiana native with all the makings of a star, try to get an IndyCar ride? Or while they were busy waiting for the results of some internal review, did Daly secure plans to return to Europe in 2013?
Please, I urge you, point to something that illustrates IMS' chief concern with IndyCar is something more than just "not loosing too much money."
Of course, money is often cited as the reason this won't happen, or that won't happen. Fair enough, particularly in these economic times. But to tell me, my point is moot, simply because its not my money. Not fair, and borderline idiotic.
See, I took IMS at their word. After that stupid civil war, I was willing to look forward and take solace in the fact that well, the sport was for better or worse, united under as one, and would move forward as one. All hands on deck, if you will. That's at least, the drivel we were all fed. And in fairness, all I've been calling on IMS and the Hulman/George family to do is to run the Izod IndyCar Series as a professional business, in a professional business manner. While this measure or that measure can be debated, that general premise cannot.
After all, they insisted they were the ones who should be running the sport. They were the ones who pawned out the world's greatest motor race to gain leverage in their struggle for control. They remain the ones who have after these many years refused to acknowledge culpability, or even utter a simple, "we regret a few things, in hindsight, and we ask for your forgiveness."
Rather, they seemingly move forward without a plan; without an understanding of who their competition is; without an understanding of what made Indy car racing so popular that Bernie Ecclestone once began to fear its growth; without a care for anything outside the hallowed Speedway walls; without any desire to operate a professional racing business in a professional business manner.
Yet they continue to insist they are the ones best suited to operating the series.
So, call me crazy; call me bitter. I'll certainly concede some degree of the latter. But until you show me compelling evidence to the contrary, do not call me wrong.
All I want for Christmas IndyCar, is for you to be run like a professional business starting in 2013.
Brian Carroccio is an IndyCar columnist for AutoRacing1.com. His first memory of Indy car racing is Danny Sullivan’s 1985 “Spin and Win,” at Indianapolis.
Brian lives in Rockville, MD. He is a lifelong fan of the Washington Redskins and passionate supporter of Manchester United. You can follow Brian on Twitter @BrianC_AR1
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