finding the way back
by, 01-25-2011 at 06:57 AM (2135 Views)
Finding the way back,,,,,
Recently I joined the social phenomenon “ face book.” Soon a multitude of friends from the last 40 years contacted me. I was amazed at the memories, the kind thoughts, the joys, loves, and pains recalled. Most (now in their 60s) had at least one health problem. Some endured divorce and deaths of loved ones; but many experienced the joys of parenting and travel and some had success brighten many of their days.
These people were endless chapters—all showing the relativities to be found in life. From coast to coast, for both men and women, the present economic situation burdened them with frustrations, losses, and both their physical and mental assets declined. But In each and every one of them, of us, I saw there is always the desire to comeback from any fall they experienced. In them, I saw that rising up from confusion and striving for peace is a constant, not an evasive dream.
In the sport of IndyCar, recovering from its sad state of affairs is no different. Political disputes and hard divisions between partisan racing fans in the open wheel racing arena knocked all of us off our feet. Thusly a decline took over that brought racing to the edge, but now we are seeing a recovery along with efforts to mend the broken hearts of many in a sport that was seemingly innocent but became harshly guilty of divisiveness over arguments about how to continue open wheel racing’s growth.
As in all things human, where there is a “blame game” for what resullted, blaming triumphs over reason. The result of the divisiveness and accompaning blaming was, is, and always will be a scar; for both sides had legitimate stands.
The victim of this was the Indianapolis 500.
For years the 500 was a beauty beyond description by mere words. It was a constant example of the true American spirit. It was a picture perfect drama where the little man becomes a hero, a winner. It was the test bed for inventions that made the automobile better. It was filled with competition, a living art form where dreams were allowed to come true.
From listening to my father tell of the place from his first race in 1935 and my own visits and memories from 1958 forward, Indy became my Christmas, birthdays, and one-day-visit-to-heaven every year I attended. As the race grew in viewership and popularity, as people and drivers from all over the world came to Indianapolis each spring, they produced a situation that was for many both new and unwelcome.
After World War II, a cast of mechanics and drivers who strove to make themselves into racing stars operated within a rigid method of advancement up the open wheel ladder that was set in stone stronger than the carbon fiber of today that has saved many lives. Any one who wanted to join this group and climb all the way must first with strict compliance walk a narrow tightrope and then genuflect to enter the Vatican of auto sport, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and its 500 mile race.
Drivers from incredible series in California, Texas, and the northeast needed the undergraduate degree from Winchester, Dayton, Salem, New Bremen and later Eldora to get the better rides. They ALL complied. They all became USAC members. Participation outside the ranks of USAC was forbidden. USAC “WAS!!” the road to Indy. This worked well for the American race, the American drivers, and the American dream.
It produced a history of extraordinary dramas. Each year from the late 1940s, the race, the track, and the legends became more than they had been. This caught the attention of the world in a new and grander way. The world decided to show up in Maytime Indiana, and it did.
To be there for the beginning of the rear engine revolution was to witness a page of history. But for many this “new” car and the cast of stars that were to come provoked anger. The seeding of this anger never ceased.
Then with the creation of CART by owners tired of USAC’s management, all things changed. It was better for some but for others, people who spent the last two decades dedicated to the IndyCar of those years, it was the expiration of an era. Only a few made the translation into the language of CART.
The race became larger through live TV. The sponsorships increased. The race became a viable addition to the dreams of Formular One’s European drivers. The positions within Indy car were now coveted like never before. A new generation realized that in a sport of growing expense a driver could buy his way behind the wheel if he could find sponsorship dollars. This horse was out of the barn would never be returned. Up and down pit lane, this absence from the barn angered the establishment. By the late 1980s, Indy arrived at a turning point where, if properly handled, it would either continue as that perfect dream or, if not properly handled, become a nightmare. It wasn’t. It did.
It was obvious a civil war would come, and it did.
Can any thing history has to show us justify returning to a method rejected in the past? History is a living progression, each page grows the story. Going back to recreate any page will always explode dissent.
Even before l996, I saw the change from Winchester to road racing as the path open racing must follow. And so the side I took was in support of the evolution of The INDY 500. Indy had always adaptated to the changes created by competition; to mess with that, to reject evolution through competition was sure disaster. It was messed with. A league was started to make “the road to Indy what it had been, to turn back from what what it had become.
That was my perspective. With time, I realized all of us who battled in the war of words in support of our preference were corrected—correct from the perspective our side took. But while we waged our war of words, the sport of open wheel racing took the punch. Yes, even while there was correctness in each of our perspectives, the importance of Indy as measured by the TV audience, attendance during May, and international interest and participation declined. Somehow it was true that even with everyone being right, the race and sport suffered.
Now, just as old friends show up from Facebook connections, we Indy fans need to reconnect as IndyCar reconstructs itself. We all want the return of the joys of the past, the memories of better Race Days, the glories we witnessed. We all want the scars forgotten
As one of Champ Cars strongest supporters I embrace where IndyCar has now arrived.
I will never believe making the division of thought within open wheel racing into a public dispute by splitting into two racing bodies a good thing. I will never think total surrender by the devotees of Champ Car was acceptable. Those folks helped raise open wheel racing to its highest plateau. And they still can.
So I ask all fans, regardless of their side in the seperation, to reboot. Its time for all of us to do our part. Its time to realize 2012 will bring many solutions to the horrible dilemma in which open wheel racing finds itself. The past, whichever version of the past we wanted, is never coming back. But through our support, IndyCar can experience a new re-growth of the innovations and competition that made Indy and the other venues so thrilling, CAN become what we remember it was, not what it has become.
I plan to regain the passions lost, and hope for the romance to return after a divorce that saddened us all. They can make 33 different cars with 33 different motors; but without all of us together, nothing will change. I hope you join this ChampCar fan and for the good of all unite in the support of IndyCar,,,,,,,,paper