A fantastic and wildly unpredictable race on Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana Cali-forn-aye-ay, and subsequent social and traditional media storm in the following 48 hours was as exemplary a modern Indycar event that you’ll ever see.
Oh, wait. I already have. Back in 2012, here. Another one of quality by our long lost comrade in Indycar arms, Pressdog, can be read here. Read those in your free time later. For now, just understand that we’ve covered much of this ground before, and reference the continually, relatively small TV ratings outside the Indy 500 as a backdrop to this post.
Today’s Indycar Word of the Day is: Esoteric
esoteric adjective es·o·ter·ic \ˌe-sə-ˈter-ik, -ˈte-rik\
1 a : designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone (a body of esoteric legal doctrine — B. N. Cardozo)
b : requiring or exhibiting knowledge that is restricted to a small group (esoteric terminology); broadly, difficult to understand (esoteric subjects)
2 a : limited to a small circle (in esoteric pursuits)
b : private, confidential (an esoteric purpose)
3 : of special, rare, or unusual interest (esoteric building materials)
For this writer, attempting to express ideas through words are typically a source fun and ‘esoteric’ is among the most enjoyable for me to throw out in conversation or print. Regardless, I find this word especially useful to frame what I saw as a very good race at Long Beach last weekend.
You may think you’re doing the sport a great service, but you’re not. It is pure folly and unfairly shackles the sport to something it cannot possibly be. It reminds me of a younger sibling who becomes a freshman in high school, only to continually suffer the unfair comparisons by possibly more glorious elder siblings’ friends and teachers. To have these comparisons and judgements awaiting you, before you have a chance to develop your own identity, would be highly infuriating. Perhaps you were just such a sibling and can identify with this feeling, but I digress…
|(c) Jeff Gritchen – OC Register|
“Bizarre title, that” I can hear you say… bear with me. Yesterday I ran across this quote attributed to writer J.K. Rowling:
I read: “Words are, in my not so humble opinion, the most inexhaustible source of magic; capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.“
I heard: There are many directions that words can take. It’s how you choose to go about using them that makes all the difference.
Those words caused me to think about some of my previous writings and I recall one which has bothered me for some time, especially with the myopia of hindsight. It is a post from mid-2011 which has a prediction-based pro and con of the sport from 2012 through 2013.
It is with sincere regret that I look back at the negative tone of that post and how it ultimately was released. It was consistent with my stream of consciousness style of writing and, with the end tone hanging in the balance as I wrote, it skewed into a backhanded and ham-fisted negative critique. I wrote out of discomfort with many (then) current unknowns and a genuine fear for the decline of a beloved sport which I truly only wish for better days ahead.
Many people much smarter than me have worked very hard to right the ship of Indycar. For my over-reaction and straying from the ‘grounded’ viewpoint that my blog is supposed to have, I am quite sorry. I do aim to be fair and well-thought with my views, however, I sometimes succumb to my own emotional leanings. An emotional diatribe is not what I intended this blog to be.
Having said that, and in light of the fact that with all the effectiveness of the new car, manufacturers, teams, and NBCSN’s great TV coverage, Indycar has just put on a great show at Barber Motorsports Park, (which may very well be the best Indycar twisty racing in the last 6 years or more) and virtually nobody outside of our little Indycar cloister saw it. This bothers me to no end.
Ultimately, what I firmly believe is this – Indycar CAN regain an audience comparable to its previous glory, but that will only comes with risk. Risk is relevant to the amount wagered versus the amount of potential gain. There are more changes necessary for Indycar if its goal is to return near its previous peaks.
Which ever direction Indycar goes, I wish it nothing but the best and will continue to support it because I like it and have followed it for over 30 years. I also would love for it to be here 30 years from now.
As the cloud of excitement and ethanol and rubber and sunburn fades into memory, I can say without question that the 2011 Indy 500 was among the best 10% of races. The last 35 laps were nothing short of classic sporting drama and, as Steph at More Front Wing so eloquently stated, without the information fed by a scanner or TV coverage, one never knew where all the players stood with regard to fuel, speed, and handling which made the closing laps all the more exciting to watch from the stands and every few laps of the closing 15 presented a new leader.
I’ve been going to the Indianapolis 500 for many, many years now and almost nothing about Indy and it’s changes have caused me any angst.
Nothing except for one seemingly small but ignominious detail, which I humbly submit for reversion back to its previous form, for your review…
There are precious few truly outstanding and hallowed moments in all of sports and the 30 minutes preceding the drop of the green flag of the Indy 500 is one of them. Much like the reverence given the Masters grounds, or the call to post of the Kentucky Derby, those final moments leading to the command to start engines is truly stuff of American legend and should be treated as such. The herky-jerk schedule of today does a disservice to one of the greatest traditions in all of sports and is only, I presume, due to the television’s coverage demands for last-minute commerical inserts before the green flag. This, to me, is simply appalling.
It is in the spirit of the highest traditions that I submit to revert back to the days (as recently as the late 90s) when the television coverage did not dictate the flow of those traditional proceedings: The National Anthem, America the Beautiful (lets shelve the God Bless America for now, please), the Invocation, the playing of Taps, the Flyover, Back Home Again in Indiana (long live Jim Nabors), Balloon Release, and “Start Your Engines” (merely typing this recalls goosebump-producing moments of Indys past).
There always was an order for these events which created a palpable crescendo of anticipation, nerves, and excitement that culminates in the sensory overload of 33 cars screaming by on that first lap. It’s almost as if summer itself waits reverently for this moment before signaling the official end of spring.
I propose that any schedule be continuous as in years past and that should live TV coverage desire to catch all the aforementioned grand moments, that it be commercial-free from The National Anthem through at least the first 5 laps or so.
TV, you must rethink your desire to dictate for it is not you that made this tradition, you are merely one of its witnesses. You do not command the proceedings and I submit the Masters TV coverage as the example the Indy 500 should follow – even if for only 30 minutes.
Also, please remove the unnecessary pit road exit booth. I sit on Pit Road each raceday and the mad rush to remove the staging, lights, booms, and talent after the command and prior to the green flag is both ridiculous and unnecessary.
Dear TV, when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway asks you to do the aformentioned, humble yourself ever so slightly and show proper reverence for this great American tradition and its grounds by complying. Your fans and your public (and thereby your advertisers) will thank you.