Q: Does it bother you when the NASCAR drivers do burnouts on the yard of bricks? They all talk about how much they respect the history and they are honored to be there, but then they desecrate the track the first chance they get.
Pat, Brownsburg, IN
RM: Not really, but I’m told it sure pissed off Doug Boles and the IMS folks.
Q: It’s the day after Brickyard. I spent some time yesterday and this morning reading all the usual complaints about the event(s). Surprisingly, none from you so far today. Well after reading the comments on RACER.com and responding to one “Indy 500-only” person, I figured I would go right to the top.
This commenter went on a diatribe about NASCAR and it only being a south/southeast niche sport nowadays and has no place at Indy due to him holding it in “high regards.” Don’t get me wrong, he made a lot of great points. Viewership being down, business model being unsustainable and that moving back to its roots on shorter high-banked tracks would provide a better TV product. All great and probably true comments. (Funny thing is many people said the same thing about IndyCar in the last 25 years).
He went on to say how it was embarrassing that IMS holds 250,0000 people and how it was lowering its standards to host a race where 50,000 people showed. He failed to point out the attendance for the Indy GP that IndyCar runs at the Speedway. The rub to me is why people feel like Indy is too good to host anything but the Indy 500. Notice I said the Indy 500. People with this attitude seem to me like they could care less about IndyCar and only the Indy 500. Not to mention the lack of disrespect to any other racing series. Why are you people like this? It’s views like this that helped nearly kill IndyCar on more than one occasion. I am a fan of IndyCar and NASCAR (and many other series). They both run on some really great and dare I say historical tracks. Nobody gets butthurt that Daytona has a road course that hosts a fantastic 24-hour event. They don’t get offended that the stands aren’t packed. No one would be offended if IndyCars were racing at Darlington in the future.
People at the Speedway have jobs because there are other events held there. Your city gets an economic boost from these events. So why do you bitch about it? Tell those people that benefit from these events that IMS and the Indy 500 are too important and so you are doing away with everything else.
There are some important things that no-one ever points out. NASCAR is responsible for many, many, many more jobs than IMS is. How many drivers actually get paid in IndyCar? How many drivers make a living just because of IMS? Maybe 25? There are three times that many NASCAR drivers spread among their top three national series. How many people are employed as writers, radio or TV broadcasters? What, three to five times as many? How many crew people are employed by the two different series? I bet two teams (Hendrick and JGR) in NASCAR employ more people than all IndyCar teams put together. I bet they don’t lay every crew member off the day after the last race of the year, either.
There are so many other areas I haven’t even touched that benefit greatly around the country from this “niche, regional” sport. To that point, IndyCar benefits from NASCAR. Why do you think they wanted NBC so badly? You don’t think the benefit of the lead-in from NASCAR races was discussed? How many drivers in the last 25 years have said, “I am giving up NASCAR to go run the Indy 500? How many have said I am giving up the Indy 500 to go run NASCAR? The country (not south/southeast) is littered with numerous tracks where IndyCar has failed, sometimes more than once, and the tracks said “no thank you” to another. I guess it’s possible that someone said that to NASCAR, but for the life of me I can’t place it. As a matter of fact I know of three within three hours of me that would give anything to have them back again.
With IndyCar’s recent uptick and NASCARs issues, it’s time to change the attitude and narrative. You don’t have to support or even like NASCAR, but all the “Indy 500 only” crowd needs to respect it, and dare I sa,y even appreciate what they do. Thanks for all the passion you have for Indy,
David, North Carolina
RM: I imagine a lot of the anti-NASCAR at IMS sentiment comes from the fact stock cars ruled the Speedway from 1996 to 2003, and the Indy 500 was second fiddle. I know it made me crazy and jealous and mad. Now that it’s flipped, and Indy is again king and NASCAR is a ghost town at IMS, there is more of a ‘why are they still here?’ feeling. But aside from all the money ($15 million) that IMS reaps from television, the race itself is still valued by the NASCAR drivers and teams. I like watching Cup on road courses and places like Darlington and Bristol, and Kyle Larson, Chris Bell, Kyle Petty, Keselowski and Harvick always hold my attention. But all the gimmicks turn open-wheel fans off, and that’s what I hear every week. Plus the fact IndyCar racing is so much better right now but that doesn’t count. NASCAR is still the big dog on TV and at the box office, no matter how far it’s fallen in 10 years, and that means a lot when it’s time to find sponsors. The sad fact is that IndyCar is still a secret in this country and if you ask the common man about racing the invariable answer is NASCAR. I hear what you’re saying in terms of liking lots of different things and as much as I’ve railed on NASCAR in the past 20 years, I’m a hypocrite because I watch it whenever I can and I like Kyle Petty, Little E. Jeff Burton and Dale Jarrett in the NBC booth.
Q: I wasn’t following F1 when Ronnie Peterson had his accident, but from all I read it was a racing accident and not anything intentional. Why, three years after the accident, did the Italian courts try to prosecute Riccardo Patrese and Gianni Restelli for manslaughter? Thank you for all the info I’ve learned from you.
RM: Italian law is very different when it comes to motorsports, and Colin Chapman and Lotus had to sneak out of the country after Jochen Rindt’s death at Monza. Peterson died of a blood clot but they went after a couple of drivers after the fact, so I’m always amazed F1 continued to race in Italy.