Ground(ed) Effects

Indycar and general autosport opinion


I sense the mystique and allure of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (and progeny racing form) is all but gone – victim of the erosion of time.

I associate the Speedway’s allure and mystique with its relative greatness; a greatness which, at its best provided generations with a powerful symbol of optimism and confidence, at its worst reminded us of our own mortality, but always seemed to give an accurate sense of place and time. I think it valuable to maintain this asset and believe it is possible to retrieve and reintroduce it to the many people who’ve yet to fully experience it which brings me to the genesis of this post – answering the question of ‘how to best communicate the experience of the Speedway’. In my thinking, the answer to the question could serve to be a catalyst for gaining followers and fans for the Speedway and thereby, the Indycar Series.

This whole thought process began while watching a video interview on YouTube of one of my favorite skiers, Glen Plake, talking about the original ski documentaries communicating the experience of skiing to those who’ve never been, revealing to me a similarity in how the visceral experience of the Speedway and Indycars can be. I’ve always had a difficult time putting in words what the experience is like other that to always end by saying, “you just have to be there in person”.  My thought became focused on how an extremely well-done documentary film on the Speedway and the early racing forms which inhabited it would serve well the current Speedway and also to a lesser degree, Indycar racing (anyone have Ken Burns’ phone number and how has he not already done one on the Speedway?).

The feeling I have can maybe (perhaps too dramatically) be best described as reminiscent of the Terrence Mann speech from Field of Dreams. A summary history of my experiences related to the Speedway (which exist in the origins of this blog), and of the vast Speedway lineage serve to support this feeling, but not explain it. I’ve enjoyed every single trip I’ve ever made to the Speedway and arriving at its open gates reminds me of those previous trips. Open gates… racing’s Valhalla is open to the public from 8-5 most every day of the year, so it seems nearly inexplicable that the place isn’t teeming with all sorts of racing pilgrims.

Giving the public who have never been, a genuine and visceral experience of being there could make them want to experience in person and possibly again and again.

Or perhaps, one can argue the relatively decreased mystique and allure of Indycars and the Speedway is just another accurate reflection of the times – one with little regard for the appreciation of history and experience versus one with more regard for the ‘I, me, my, now’ world of finger-snap solutions and immediate gratification.

I’m afraid the latter is more true and that trend seems to often continue at the expense of many great things which already exist.

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