Life’s Too Short

“When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun, keep me in your heart for a while. There’s a train leaving nightly called, ‘when all is said and done’, keep me in your heart for a while.”

Warren Zevon

I was feeling a growing urge to post yesterday, while progressing through my day job, perhaps to counter some of the virulent takes about the Music City GP and remind people that it’s beyond time to remember that it is our duty to keep some semblance of fairmindedness with regard to most anything, and especially for a brand new event of our favorite sport, even as inauspicious as its debut may have seemed on the track. I’ll get back to that in a minute.

As my work day wound down, I scanned Twitter in anticipation of thinking of final thoughts for this post, and my countenance dropped.

The news of yesterday’s passing of longtime voice of the 500 (and so much more), Bob Jenkins was certainly unwelcome news, but in the moments following my reading of the news, it hit me harder than I might have anticipated.

Bob Jenkins, as has, and will be noted often in the coming days, was so well-regarded by so many associated with Indycar and the 500. His voice and visage were significant and instantly recognizable elements for racing fans in the U.S. who traversed the 1980s, ’90s, and beyond. More personally, what hit me was the realization that his passing also represents a significant connection to memories of my appreciation for this sport and of the hallowed grounds of Indy.

I can’t help but feel some dread in thinking about the growing frequency and volume of the people we’re losing who represent what many call the ‘Golden Age of Racing’ (I roughly place that as early-1960s to late-1980s), not only for Indycar, but for all the major racing series during that time. “Growing old sucks”, as my father used to say, “but it beats the alternative”. Alas.

There are many things to be said by people who knew him personally, and we’ll be reading them over the next several days. I never met the man, but his voice and face will forever remain some of the most key visceral memories of a time in my life and in a sport that I cherish. It means so much to me that he, as a fan first and later media-everpresent of the sport, got to witness the fourth 4-time winner at Indy this year. There are precious few races that are as significant as the one we just completed and it is fitting that he was able to appreciate that from the pagoda before he left us.

To me, it was always evident in his broadcasting style that he had to work to curtail the fanboy giddiness he must have had at being able to cover the sport he loved, such was his appreciation for Indycar and racing. It was perhaps the most endearing feature of his delivery as those of us here can certainly appreciate the depths of his enthusiasm and enjoyment.

In thinking about the race this past weekend and in thinking about Bob’s life around Indycar, I can’t imagine him saying much ill of the Music City Grand Prix and that’s not a ‘fanboy’ thing so much as it is a good thing.

Events come and go and certainly the on-track action may have been far from satisfying to some. Certainly it wasn’t easy for those in the stands who endured an extra 60 minutes of ‘not-racing’ in the midsummer Tennessee heat to maintain their initial enthusiasm, yet I felt the race overall was interesting, intriguing, and not short of drama, whether intentional or not.

(c) 2021, Chris Owens/Indycar

To the new fans and Nashvillians who attended their first race last Sunday – you could be forgiven for not entirely knowing what to make of an Indycar race. You definitely saw the better and lesser of what Indycar is. Certainly changes will be made to help reduce the on-track mayhem, but from a fan of 4 decades of this sport, it seems precious little else needs fixing, so I say your enthusiasm was and will be well-placed for this event.

The Music City Grand Prix looks to be a winner in many ways and I hope it becomes a mainstay on the schedule for many years. The city’s enthusiasm and response to this event has scarcely been equaled. I look forward to being able to join you all next year and celebrate in a city I’ve grown to know and love.

And that brings me to my final thought: As an ever-aging, and longer-time fan of Indycar, I want to express my ongoing concern of the fair-mindedness of (most everyone these days, but also) people who frequent social media. I’m proposing (as much for myself as anyone who read this) a few strategies to amplify enjoyment and reduce the ‘Legions of the Miserable’ by combatting the drive that seems to be solely to reduce other’s enjoyment of something.

  • Let’s aim to reduce the ‘hawt-taeks’ and virulent punditry that is all too prevalent these days. I know I have to work at it, and I consider myself pretty even-handed in thought. Holding off on posting may seem antithetical to the very use of social media, however, that ‘cooling-off’ time allows for one to consider positives and negatives more even-handedly (plus one gets the benefit of avoiding looking like a total spaz in thought and action).
  • Likewise, let’s aim to practice finding more things we like than things we don’t. So many of us have a very specific presence just for Indycar, why clutter up the space with negativity or corn-flake-pissing.
  • Be aware that you are in a public space. My father used to say that “your personal rights end at the tip of your nose” and I agree with that sentiment. Believe what you want, but realize that anything beyond your nose is shared space, and is not ‘yours’ (a practice scarcely seen in social media). Nothing like a worldwide airborne pandemic to underscore that point in so many ways.

Yesterday, another fan of Indycar, with whom a social media beef in this era could easily result as he is a fan of Liverpool FC, and I, betrothed to Everton, might on that basis alone scarcely treat each other with dignity. However, against all popular trends, we easily agree that to be polarized to the point of 100% all-or-nothingness is not only futile, but destructive and unnecessary.

I will 100% agree that to be all-or-nothing on anything and everything related to opinion, is a guarantee of being 100% miserable, wrong, and disliked 100% of the time.

I never expect to be agreed with, nor agree with anyone all of the time. Trying to seek that approval is an utter waste of time. So too is creating polarization (often used to drive traffic on social media).

Treat each other with respect. Be a fan. Support what you like.

Critical thought is always important, but the very nature of it requires an even-handed, open-minded, and equitable nature and approach. Analyze fairly, vote with your energy and your wallet, and forget the rest. Enjoy what you like to the fullest, realizing nothing ever has been nor will be perfect. Be like Bob Jenkins and cling gleefully to what brings you joy.

Of course we’re saddened that the train to the another realm has taken Bob Jenkins. What we haven’t lost is all he meant to IMS, Indycar, and racing in general, so let’s go back out there (everywhere) with a better appreciation of his endearing example and make a daily habit of bringing out the positives in others and the things we love.

I know each 500 raceday, in my seat at IMS in May, I take a moment to recall those who aren’t with us anymore, and now I’ll have one more to think about.

Keep things in your heart that matter most and say farewell to things that don’t.

When all is said and done, life’s too damned short to be any other way.

Godspeed

Just a few days ago, on a recent music-related trip to Nashville, Tennessee, I was also able to devote some impromptu time for what I will loquaciously describe as a ‘Friday PM Indycar Fan and Blogging Commiseration Summit’. 

In the maelstrom of the final hours before the 2013 Indy 500, I had several regretfully much-too-brief interactions during the pre-race tweet-up and picture this past May.  When I officially knew we were coming to ‘Nashvegas’ for a few days, I knew I needed to look up our good Indycar friend, George. George Phillips (of Oilpressure Blog fame and @oilpressureblog on Twitter) and his lovely wife Susan (aka @chiapet58) and I gathered together only to share some time getting to know each other. I doubt they’d mind if I revealed that the evening was full of good conversation and laughs on a great many subjects, Indycar included. 

Of all the things I’ve experienced over the last several years in the world of Indycar as experienced over the internet, my most positive experiences come from the direct social interaction with people whom I’ve only previously known via a digital environment. This includes fans, drivers, and racing industry people alike. This Friday PM was no exception.

After our ‘tweetup-of-3’ and after much discussion on the messages we put out in the universe via our blogs and twitter, I was left with the overriding feeling that, of all the problems Indycar has to overcome just to survive, the fans are not one of them. 

I also felt, as the same themes keep appearing in my writing and truly I have nothing new to say, and, as I’ve been threatening for several posts now, this is a good time to set the blog aside for a while. 

In summation, as I have written many a tome on the subject of Indycar, my primary goal (and the reason for the naming of Grounded Effects) was to produce thought-provoking and engaging commentaries for the fans of Indycar. I still feel many of the thoughts here have value in the near- and long-term for Indycar fans so please feel free to visit the “Museum” of the Grounded Effects blog… don’t cost nothin’.

For your ease of future reference, below is a compendium with green listings among the most read, and the orange listings among the most read and personal favorites of mine, the links for which are found under the ‘Museum’ heading on the upper-right column of this blog. 

If you wish, please also follow down to the bottom for my final thoughts. 


2009
Sep.   
I’m going to blog about Indycar.
How I got started following Indycar, part 1.
Oct.
How I got started following Indycar, part 2.
Favorite Indycars, part 1 – ’79 Chaparral.
          Nov.
Indycar thoughts for the future.
Favorite Indycars, part 2 – ‘65 Lotus.
          Dec.
An Indy 500 trip for $365 (aka The Dollar a day plan).
Fave Indycars, part 3 – ’70 PJ Colt.
Please don’t change/mess up the start of the Indy 500.
2010
          Jan.
Tony G is out – Open letter to Hulman IMS ownership.
          Feb.
The Hallowed Grounds in winter.
Carb Day concert band suggestions.
100 days to Indy – Indy trip planning.
          Mar.
Fortune favors the bold – new car/engine ideas.
Season opener – Sao Paulo race review.
Faux Carb Day concert band announcement.
          Apr.
Disparity in racing is OK.
Simple Indycar math.
Celebrating some good news and more Indycar math.
          May
May = Indy for me.
500 Qualy predictions.
Last minute Indy trip stuff/prediction recap.
          July
D-day ICONIC preview.
          Sep.
Reviving the fading mystique of Indy ramble.
          Oct.
End of Season thoughts, part 1 – Dario is a legend, small crowds and TV.
End of Season thoughts, part 2 – Indycar is a niche sport, but devoted fanbase.
          Nov.
Post-season withdrawals, Pagoda shuttered, Chevy’s back, TK out of ride.
Thanksgiving and more Indycar math.
2011
          Jan.
Blog review.
Blog visual refresher.
Whither Sam Hornish.
Essence of NASCAR vs Indycar racing/competition.
          Feb.
American auto companies thoughts.
          Mar.
Indycar misses formula for future.
Whom should Randy Bernard trust?
Favorite Indycars, part 4 – ’85 March Cosworth ‘spin and win’.
          Apr.
Indycar parody lyrics – Jay Penske – Lawyers, Guns, and Money.
          May
Greatest 33 thoughts.
500 Qualy predictions.
Qualy predictions recap, race preview and prediction.
          Jun.
Race and predictions review.
Explaining Indycar to non-fans.
          Aug.
Predictions for the future of Indycar – Pain.
Fave Engines of Indy, part 1 – ’60s Ford V8 (sounds).
          Sep.
Why NASCAR drives won’t race the Indycar World Challenge.
Funky Cars of Indy, part 1 – Yunick’s ’64 Hurst Floor-shifter Spcl.
          Oct.
Indycar’s missing character – the car.
Post-Las Vegas/questioning my Indycar.
Dealing w post-Vegas grief.
          Nov.
Indycar Slang.
          Dec.

Looking to 2012 – Carb Day band ideas.

2012
          Jan.
Goofy graphical thoughts.
Missing Dick Simon.
          Feb.
Fans demand better Indycar coverage online.
Laughing at the new F1 cars – Platypus fever.
Zip-Line fever/Ideas for the 500.
Fave engines of Indy, part 2 – The Offy (sounds).
          Mar.
Pre-season cautionary thoughts.
Indycar Parody lyrics – Pippa Mann – Pippa Nation.
Equinox – new season.
St. Pete expectations/self-mantra: post-Wheldon.
          Apr.
Writing contrition.
The Greatest 33 and Indycar nerdery cont’d.
          May
Indycon Level 4 and my origins redux.
Jay Penske redux and diatribe on Indycar’s direction.
My rambling Indy 500 trip memories, 2004, part 1 – a new beginning.
My rambling Indy 500 trip memories, 2004, part 2 – cont’d.
My rambling Indy 500 trip memories, 2004, part 3 – final.
Indy 500 qualy predictions.
          Jun.
Milwaukee Indyfest trip and an energy revelation.
          Jul.
Drama as an asset to Indycar, not a distraction.
Humorous end-of-race alternatives to Green-White-Checkers.
          Sep.
Indycar needs some Gangnam Style.
Now THAT’S a season (review).
          Oct.
Days of Reflection (Wheldon and life).
Escapism in the off-season.
          Dec.
Left adrift as an Indycar fan – no more apologism.
2013
          Feb.
Post-Superbowl, waiting for Indycar.
Indycar and my iPod shuffle (a noir narrative).
          Mar.
Crystal Ballin’ – 2013, beyond… die spec racing.
          Apr.
Nostalgia as a false pain-relief remedy.
          May
One last plea for Indycar change.
          Jul.
Pocono – an on-site review for IndycarUK.
          Aug.
Should there be an end of the Hulman reign over Indycar?
          Sep.   
Final Rites – Grounded Effects Blog Recap.
Epilogue
I have been a fan of varying degrees of Indycar for nearly four decades and have come to the following conclusions with regard to the sport:
1. The Indy 500 is still truly a worldwide showcase event.
2. Building a viable series around the Indy 500 has proven to be folly. Aside from the 500, it has been and essentially still is a niche (300,000 followers/20,000 in person) sport and will remain so until a philosophical shift of what Indycar is supposed to be occurs, if ever.
3. For the sport of Indycar (or any autosport) to thrive and grow in the next 20 years, it MUST allow for an open, flexible, and agile set of rules and platform in which real innovation, creativeness, forward-thinking, and ingenuity are welcomed as the norm. Something akin to a ‘formula libre’ Indycar can thrive. 
4. I believe no other option exists for Indycar but to change radically. If not, it will continue the slow degradation and devaluation death march we’ve seen for nearly 20 years. Change is well overdue. 
5. I give Indycar in its current state through the 2016 season. It must either have a plan for radical change in place or it will be done. The current ‘timeline’ recently set by Walker and Miles is not a plan which will cause Indycar to survive beyond 2016.
6. We fans are never the problem, RATHER, we’re the solution, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Until Indycar figures out what fans truly want and supplies what we demand, there is no long-term viability of the sport.

It is truly as simple as basic economics:
– The fans are consumers. We have the power of our money to support the things we demand. 
– Discretionary spending will continue to be reduced as the economy continues to polarize and eliminate the middle-class.
– The ONLY reason any professional sport (product) exists, ultimately, is to fill a demand by the fans (consumer). 
– Supply of product in and of itself does not create demand.
– Consumers will respond positively when you supply something they demand.
– The supplier who truly listens, who cares, and aims to provide the best possible product to meet or exceed the consumer expectations will be the one who ultimately survives.
– For auto-racing to be a viable sport, supply MUST ONLY follow demand.
– For Indycar to merely have the potential to survive, it must provide a product in much greater demand (at least 3 times the current demand in both TV and on-location markets), all other things being equal.
– You fans are the consumers. You have the power to demand, but it’s up to suppliers to fill that demand. 
– I believe without question that demand will be filled. 

By whom is the Billion-Dollar answer.
“Whosoever desires constant success,
must change his conduct with the times.”
-Niccolo Machiavelli


Best wishes and Godspeed to you all!