Saturday, February 12, 2005
For me, the biggest thrill in racing was just hanging out at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There simply was little better when I was a kid. Particularly that one day every May my folks would let me ditch school and spend the day at the track. Where else could a punk 14-year-old have that much fun, and AJ Foyt would take the time to say "Hey!"
It's not like that anymore, which is sad. Broken Masterpieces posted this yesterday -- which is far sadder. And sadder still is that he cites this from Robin Miller to back up his case.
Robin Miller is a wannabe jerk that couldn't hack it behind the wheel. Instead, he made a name for himself by being a professional contrarian around Indianapolis, and then when ESPN and SpeedTV went big time they picked him up because there was no one else available.
C.A.R.T. is who took all the fun out of going to the track. Even before CART was formed, when it was just a whisper in the wind, the guys that eventually did it were turning what had been a very open hospitable place into some sort of armed camp. Dying were the days when an adolescent like myself could skip his weekly shave, borrow his dad's press pass and sneak into the garage and just have the thrill of watching an Unser or a Foyt turn a wrench. Garage doors were closed and the drivers were too good to mix with the kids.
And then along came NASCAR. Competition and fan focused, the predominance of NASCAR was a foregone conclusion long before open wheeled racing blew up. CART was headed squarely in the direction of F1 -- elitist and inaccessable. F1 has been BORING that last few years because of the Ferrari dominance, everybody knows it -- to the point that F1 is changing the rules. CART had gotten there to. It had gotten to the point that everytime I heard that a Penske car had won - again, I wanted to throw up.
Tony George did the only thing he could do, he tried to turn open wheel racing back in the direction of NASCAR, because that is what was working. If he hadn't, instead of two poorly attended leagues there would be nothing because NASCAR would have blown them away and CART would have likely merged with F1. I'd hate to lose open wheel oval racing altogether.
You know what -- I really don't like NASCAR. It hurts me to watch the Brickyard 400 -- you need a calendar to time those guys around the track, not a stopwatch.
Tony George is not a spoiled grandchild frittering away what grandaddy built -- He's a guy desperately trying to save open wheel racing in America. You want to help -- stop whining and buy a ticket.