The Road Ahead
by, 04-03-2012 at 07:49 PM (526 Views)
After "Ratingsgate" blew up, I e-mailed someone on the longer-term issues facing the sport. In modified form, here it is:
To the bigger question of what to do about it, first, one specification: 1995 (or whatever else one designates as the "glory days") is gone, never to come back. If one's criteria for success is 1995, well, they ought to go away now. A 12-yr. split, along w/ the ascendancy of NASCAR (now permanently entrenched), assures this. Sad, but true.
Now, how to improve it? First of all: Copying NASCAR, ala IRL '97-'02, will not work. The real NASCAR is a better product than an imitation would be. Second, I AM worried about too many street circuits. Now, getting PIR, Road America and, who knows, Pocono would greatly mitigate this. I'd like Wat. Glen too. Just have enough "real"/purpose-built circuits on there.
The ladder is promising at the lower levels, but as of now, FILS sucks. If the likes of Veachs make their way to to it, that will help, but they really need new, more interesting cars ASAP. Also, a better business model.
Going forward, chances MUST be taken. NOT one-off "let's make a splash" chances. B/c one-offs will not build this thing. No, I'm talking longer-term stuff. Going back to PIR, RA, Pocono, MIS, etc. would qualify, as does Fontana this yr. Initially, you're risking attendance debacles, but aside from IMS, they are part of the OW heartbeat and heritage, and can lead to a balanced schedule (vital, IMHO).
Like it or not, we DO need more compettitive Americans (and Canadians!) in the series. What I've always rejected is the notion that they can only come from the oval/USAC ladder. For one, USAC skills just don't translate well to IndyCar today. Two, if they're talented, who cares what ladder they used?
Finally, this sport must relentlessly promote the idea (going forward, I hope) that this is the ultimate challenge: roads, streets, short ovals and superspeedways. I'll admit, this smacks of '95 nostalgia, but it is, IMHO, the biggest and best bullet, aside from the 500 (BTW: Make Fontana and, should it happen, Pocono 500-milers!), that we have left. It distinguishes us from NASCAR & F1, which is vital IMHO. I like both of those series, but the notion that, should IndyCar die for good, the professional US motorsports scene would, essentially, be down to only NASCAR makes me nauseous.
All of this takes time, guts and hard work. Panicking that "ZOMG, things aren't like '95 yet!" like some are is dumb. Fretting over any setback, as if this will only improve in a straight line, is annoying too. Oh, and split fans really need to go away. Fighting about stuff that went down 16 yrs. ago only hurts today.
Maybe, in the end, it will die no matter what. God, I hope not, but there is a path to better days. Now, it must be followed.