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…