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Indianapolis 500 (1 Viewer)

Seth Paxton

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Fast Forward to 2002...Penske, Ganassi, Toyota, and (soon) Honda dominate IRL, bringing big money back into IRL and raising the bar to astronomical heights for what it costs to compete.
Penske, Ganassi, Toyota, Honda...these are what George was told people wanted. He tried to go one direction and the sport is driving it right back to where it was.

Whatever people think George is up to I don't see what it gains George. He could easily have sat back and enjoyed the NASCAR money of the 400, and if he then wanted to kill CART he could just end the 500 rather than spend a bunch of money starting another league.


The bottom line is that CART already bullied USAC out, but nobody minded that. CART wasn't born of angels itself you know. USAC, CART, George, IRL...these are all powerful groups with their own ideas about what they want the sport to be. It's money, sure, but I think it's short sighted or cynical to think that's the main factor driving these battles. This is about power and personal vision, about getting your way and George does not have a monopoly on that and never did. CART would have loved to be able to come into Indy and tell the Hulman family what's what themselves.


The bottom line that we should all be able to agree upon - OW needs some healing, it does seem to be happening with CART running at the 500 again, CART and IRL don't necessarily even have to compete since they are different sports in many ways, and that it's a good thing to get all these top drivers together to run 230 against each other once a year.
 

Seth Paxton

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I seem to remember an Unser Sr. losing to Foyt (or visa versa) over a protest.
Bobby Unser lost to Andretti in a protest, which was then overturned a month or 2 later and Andretti had his 2nd win taken back away from him.

Goodyear protested his passing under yellow penalty which let Villineuve win, but he was told that he was not allowed to protest such a ruling.

Both are pre-split, as are many yellow finishes and rain shortened finishes. Yesterday was an unusual finish, but "not good"...didn't feel that way live. More like gripping with a twist of bizarre to put a permanent stamp on this one for history.
 

Michael St. Clair

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I love all this talk about how no way Tracy could have passed Helio on the outside. Helio blocked down low, Tracy drafted up and swing around on the outside and overtook.
The exact same move we saw made against Brack in the final lap at Rockingham last year. Who made the move? One of Roger's drivers by the name of Gil De Ferran. We have seen this move many times in the last few years.
I have no problem believing that Helio did not have to let up for Tracy to overtake him. No problem at all.
Just the way the IRL is wording this is spin doctoring. All this spinning of the word 'conclusive'. One could just as easily say that there is no conclusive evidence that Castroneves had kept the lead by the time the yellow lights come on, and that therefore Tracy is obviously the winner.
57% of the voters in a poll at ESPN.com have Paul Tracy chosen as the legitimate winner of the 2002 Indy 500.
He tried to go one direction and the sport is driving it right back to where it was.
A 5.3 overnight TV rating (even less than last year) for 2002 and a measly 15,000 butts in seats at non-Brickyard open-wheel oval races is not headed back to where it was. Not in the slightest.
 

Seth Paxton

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I just wanted to address one other thing I saw listed...Tracy as "dominant". Not where I was sitting, no more than Cheever was or Richie Hearn (who also climbed the field quite well).
3 cars showed serious muscle - Bruno (till he stalled it), Kanaan, Scheckter. And of those Scheckter was by far imposing his will on the field more than anyone (fastest lap and fastest lead lap). 2nd tier guys were de Ferran and Giaffone.
Tracy was smart and patient and put himself where he needed to be to win. But it was no "CART rules, IRL suckers get out of the way" race.
Regarding Team Green their most dominant driver for most of the race was Andretti who looked to be dialed in for a shot at the win. Behind Scheckter it was Giaffone, de Ferran, and Andretti that seemed to be the most dialed in. Cheever was not far off that pace too. Hornish seemed to have a decent ride had he not clipped the wall (which also is what got Cheever) earlier in the race and put himself so many laps down.
Tracy and Helio were in it at the end the way any mid-field qualifer gets to the front. By playing it smart, running clean, and avoiding those pit mistakes.
Let me recap a key moment to point out what I mean - at lap 170 Scheckter was 10 seconds ahead of Tracy. On lap 172 Giaffone passed Tracy and had a 10 car lead by the time Scheckter wrecked. In fact Giaffone had cut the lead to 7 seconds.
Then at the end it was Giaffone who was about to easily pass Helio which would have left Tracy in a tough spot to catch him. Then the block came. It's part of racing, I agree, but without Franchitti Tracy would not have almost won Indy, Giaffone would have (he would have been in front before the crash by a few laps).
 

Seth Paxton

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A 5.3 overnight TV rating (even less than last year) for 2002 and a measly 15,000 butts in seats at non-Brickyard open-wheel oval races is not headed back to where it was. Not in the slightest.
Yes, but the poor showing for the 500 was DESPITE bringing back those CART teams that people wanted.

What are you proving here, that even if George keeps turning the IRL into CART 2 that the ratings will keep going down? What's the point of saying that? OW is in trouble, period. CART is hurting, IRL is hurting, OW is hurting.

It's not like F1 is blowing away the ratings/attendance in America either.

It's a Springer/WWF/Real World/NASCAR world now. Personally I find it annoying, but there is little that the IRL or CART can do about it and it was already in motion BEFORE THE SPLIT.

My point was that the changes George has been making, the deals that have been done, all follow what people were saying was missing from Indy and why the ratings were down. "Ratings are down, we need those CART drivers" - so they get them. Does it help? No.

Toyota, Honda will be on board and will the ratings shoot up. No. But that is an attempt to do what people say WILL make the ratings go back up.

There is only one thing that might do it and that is to make a car go around the track at 250 mph. Now think about CART at Texas where they backed out of the race because of "dangerous speeds". Indy has a limit to safety too. You can't put a OW around there at 300 mph for example.

BUT fans would come back for that, the thrill of seeing a race in which a driver was certain to die, and maybe some fans too.

Why else do we think Pole Day was always so big..."It's a new track record" that's why. Take that away and people don't care. They want to see insane speed and wrecks. In fact all the rubbing and wrecking gives NASCAR all its American appeal.

They don't want clean, competitive OW racing, period.

However, I do think this Tracy/Helio thing and Helio as a champion can help a little. At least Indy is getting discussed and Helio is the kind of driver casual fans can get into.
 

Seth Paxton

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I tried to shrink these enough to load okay, but I'm sure it will be a little slow. Hopefully it won't be too bad and you will still get something out of these pix.
The balloons go up as Neighbors wraps up "Back Home Again"
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Our seats look right down on row 2 off the starting grid. Drivers aren't in the cars yet.
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I shrunk this a bit too much to see the detail, but the podium tells about the crazy ending. It is auto updated by the in-car telemetry so it saw Tracy crossing the line ahead of Helio and reported it that way. Officials then went back to correct it to reflect the offically ruled finish. At this point we have lap 201 with Tracy on top, Helio in 2nd and no one listed at 3rd or 5th. Cheever is listed as 4th. Everyone in the stands was confused at this point. The announcement and video screens cleared it up a few seconds later.
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Here are 4 of the top drivers in the pits. Bruno still has the lead, but in a few seconds he will be 20th as he is about to stall it. Behind him are Giaffone, Kanaan, and Boesel.
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Here is Gordon's pits just after they finally stopped spraying the fuel tank down. Look at all the foam. They all got brooms and swept it up till the vaccuum truck came through. Talk about a shop vac, I need one of those. That sucker had it all gone in 2 passes.
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Here is some good pit action. Buhl coming out with Andretti, Lazier already on the outside lane. This was a near collision as neither Buhl nor Michael wanted to give way. 3 cars, 2 lanes. Good stuff.
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The amount of people after a race is incredible. Here is Georgetown looking south to 16th street way off in the distance. Looks just the same to the north toward 30th St.
The walk to our car was about 30 minutes and a couple of miles, but when we got there we pulled right out and hit the highway. We were home in 10 minutes. Meanwhile there were thousands of cars still sitting in the north 40 stuck in the non-moving line. There is something to be said for hoofing it. :)
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Michael St. Clair

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Seth,
You might want to turn those pics into links. I have DSL and it doesn't bother me (except the huge space to scroll through), but not everybody has broadband.
Personally I find it annoying, but there is little that the IRL or CART can do about it and it was already in motion BEFORE THE SPLIT.
Oh, it was wavering before the split, but it PLUNGED afterwards.
And there are things that can be done. It is called unification. One such unification could be:
1) CART and IRL form a new common banner to promote under, but they still keep their names. Closest analogy = 'Major League Baseball'.
2) Both sides work together on marketing.
3) CART ceases sanctioning oval races in the 3 NAFTA nations. European ovals definitely stay.
4) A common base chassis (tub) and engine spec (and list of approved suppliers) for both series. The aero packages differ, and CART road and street races run with a higher rev limit (a different sub-spec of the engine spec).
5) They work together on scheduling. There will be many weekends, where they both still race, but the schedule will make a LOT more sense than it does now. Currently, Kentucky (IRL) and Mid-Ohio (CART) are on the same day!
This makes it easy for teams to run races in the other series, keeps costs down for everybody, and stops confusing the consumer. And it acknowledges that there are TONS of fans, plus drivers, who have little to NO interest in all-oval formula racing.
 

Peter Kim

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Just fantastic pics, Seth. Looks like you had some envious seats.

It's not like F1 is blowing away the ratings/attendance in America either.
F1 is the world's second largest spectator sport, behind World Cup soccer. At least F1 has a high visibility, single-venue event in America - USGP. Soccer has nothing (MLS is nonexistent in the American mindset and the advertisers).

Nevertheless, both soccer and F1 have thrived without the US on their calendar. The international community almost have a total disdain towards the US - they're all NASCAR lovin', tailgating rednecks. You cannot throw a pearl before the swine.

F1 will do fine without the US. It's just that Bernie wants to add even more quid to his burgeoning coffers.
 

Peter Kim

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Yeah, but being female is what is getting her in the big leagues. When others lives are at risk, that is WRONG.
Affirmative action cannot be implemented in racing, not for the sake of racing or any minority group. Skill is paramount and should be the singular criteria for inclusion.
 

Michael St. Clair

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Actually, the USGP does have very good attendance, more than most other races in the country, but I don't see it holding up over time. In fact, there have already been reports that advance ticket sales are well down from last year.

I bought my USGP tickets ($85 seats) for $15 on Georgetown an hour before the race last year.
 

Peter Kim

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Another good read:
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Falls in sync with the Springer/WWF analogies. In essence...we already have NASCAR and WWF, where controversy reigns as entertainment. The 500 is supposed to be regal and above reproach. If not, make it so.
Edit: Link should work now, if not, click on Michael's in following post.
 

Seth Paxton

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I bought my USGP tickets ($85 seats) for $15 on Georgetown an hour before the race last year.
Yeah, I just mentioned this in the Monoco thread.
People come to the USGP, but it's nothing like the 500 and tickets are practically being thrown away before the race.
My point wasn't that F1 needed the USGP, but that OW in America is coughing blood, period. Not just the former CART (now split), but F1 too. Americans don't care about OW anymore.
Let's be honest, the biggest draw pre-split was still the 500. There was one thing that CART people were wrong about, and that was that DRIVERS made the 500. The truth is that the 500 made DRIVERS. Kevin Cogan...Danny Sullivan. Nuff said.
Pre-split had the 500 stopped running for some reason then CART would have been in trouble even then. As I said before, the big draw used to be the SPEED, and the risks associated with it. Why else could pole day draw 140,000 easily like it used to?
But both CART and IRL recognize the need to keep the speeds at a realistically safe level, so I don't think we will see 250 mph at Indy anytime soon. And without the words "It's a new track record" the average Joe doesn't care.
Although as I say that I think about the NASCAR appeal, which I just don't understand actually. I've been to plenty of NASCAR events but I just lost interest.
If we forget any CART/IRL crap and think of the race yesterday in a traditional manner and it has all or more than any of the more popular 500s. First of all more cars staying on the lead lap. 3 with a shot to win with less than 3 laps to go. Heartbreak for front runners. And a big fat controversy. In 1981 people would have loved it and talked about it for months (like they did). Now the average person just doesn't care.
Michael, I agree heavily that a bonding of the 2 leagues needs to occur in which resources are pooled so that product confusion is eliminated. But more than that, MONEY is going to need to be spent on marketing. Probably going deep into the red at first before making money on the investment.
Maybe Helio vs Tracy on celebrity boxing. :D
 

Seth Paxton

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I read Horton every day...he's not exactly the racing official around here. He's new to the paper. And Bob Kravitz came here from Denver just over a year or so ago. I would consider him a football guy mostly. Horton is good with some things, but Preistly knows 20 times as much about racing, so if you don't care for him...

Neither could lick the boots of Robin Miller for racing knowledge and contacts, so I take their coverage as an average fan at best. They were not raised working the Speedway beat.

BTW, Robin was obviously fired from the Star which is a big reason why he is going so much more work with ESPN now. The reason was left unknown, but I think some of it had to do with him being a specialist on racing but the Star wanted him to cover all sports. I once saw him SLEEPING in the 2nd row at a Pacers playoff game, he never hid his lack of interest and knowledge outside of racing. But within racing he has a good feel for what is going on and the contacts to verify his stories.
 

Michael St. Clair

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Seth,
You'll never convince me that the 500 as we know it, which rocketed to true world stardom in the last 4 decades, is bigger than the drivers in the way that you say. Today? Sure, after everything went to hell. But you want to talk history, you say Cogan, Sullivan, well, I say Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Mario Andretti, even AJ Foyt (just kidding, of course AJ), and great guys who never won like Jack Brabham. These guys were the monsters, the GODS of racing, and the world knew it. The conquered F1 world championships, Le Mans, Sebring, Daytona (Nascar), Daytona 24 hours, and more. They took the Indy 500 from being a world-famous race to being THE race, because the world knew who they were and loved them and they came to do battle at Indy. Sure, the 500 was already huge, but they made the 500 even bigger than it was before, and this momentum carried fairly well until Tony George was born on third base, decided he could run back to second and claim he hit a double.
The Indy 500 was not so big it could not be compromised and diluted, and that is exactly what has happened the last few years! Instead of blaming Nascar on taking away from open-wheel, blame the screwups of open-wheel for making Nascar what it is today!
Open-wheel racing is where it is today because Bill France convinced Tony George that if he split open-wheel racing he could get all the marbles. France sort of neglected to mention that this would destroy open-wheel racing as we knew it, and he's been laughing all the way to the bank.
And CART mismanagement has done nothing but help this to happen, and I'm the first to admit it.
From a recent ESPN chat:
Q: Here's an ESPN poll question: Who is the most despised person in racing today -- France, Bernie, T. George, or the Ferrari managers responsible for the Austria debacle? My money's on TG.
Robin Miller: That would be my bet, unless you live in Indy or Speedway.
:)
 

CharlesD

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Open-wheel racing is where it is today because Bill France convinced Tony George that if he split open-wheel racing he could get all the marbles. France sort of neglected to mention that this would destroy open-wheel racing as we knew it, and he's been laughing all the way to the bank.
This is absolutely true IMO. Tony George has pissed away 10s of millions of his Grandparent's money to end up in control of OW racing in the US, but no-one cares about it any more.

Someone on AtlasF1 posted a list of 8 NASCAR races from the past year that got higher ratings than this (or last) year's Indy 500. The Indy 500 is not nearly as big as people in Central Indiana think it is.

As far as F1 goes, it may or not become successful in the US, but it doesn't need any interest here to survive and remain the top level of motor racing.
 

Jeff Adkins

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The Indy 500 is not nearly as big as people in Central Indiana think it is.
That's the absolute truth. I grew up in Indianapolis and most of my family is still there. When I first left Indy for Tampa in 94, I remember people in Tampa actually talking about the race as a big event that even non-racing fans would watch for the fun of it.
Fast forward to 1999, you started to hear very little about it and the sports talk radio hosts (both in Tampa and the national syndicated hosts) talked about how disinteresting the race has become since the split. Now, I'm in LA and I'd be surprised if it got a 1.5 rating here. We have 3 sports talk stations and I didn't hear the 500 mentioned once until the controversey.
Meanwhile, whenever I go back to Indy I get the impression that the people there have yet to realize that the rest of the country just doesn't give a shit anymore. They think interest has dropped somewhat, but I don't think they realize that outside of their own little world, no one cares. Tony George has ruined it...period. I think its a lost cause. The great race has become a great joke. It's still big news in Indy (I was there 3 weeks ago) but nowhere else.
I liked the US Grand Prix an awful lot and was in town for it 2 years ago. Unfortunately, instead of talking about the race, all the Indianapolis talk radio hosts could talk about was how rude Europeans are (and what NASCAR fans are wonderful?) and how the local news anchors weren't allowed free reign of the place. The USGP was a fun race and seemed much more professional and classy to me.
Jeff
 

CharlesD

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The ratings were pretty bad this year, down 17% from last year. From MotorsportsTV.com: (http://www.motorsportstv.com/05312002.htm) The article goes on to say that Monaco got a 2 which is huge for F1 and bigger than most/all CART and IRL races but was no doubt helped by a lead in from the i500.
The final rating is a disappointing 4.8 and 15 share, falling big from the overnight rating of 5.3. This means that the race did especially poor with the 35% of the population in smaller markets not measured in the overnight ratings.
Last year's race turned in a 5.8, meaning this year's ratings fell a whopping 17% from last year's historically weak showing.
This gives NASCAR a huge TV win, with the Coca-Cola 600 achieving a 5.1 final rating, 6 percent better than the supposed "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." The only sports events for the week with better ratings than NASCAR were the Friday and Sunday NBA playoff games between the Lakers and Kings.
We'll say it again - the open wheel powers need to come together to save open wheel racing. This dreadful rating, by historical standards, shows that very few people but the racing diehards care about the Indy 500 any more.
 

Peter Kim

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But, surprise, surprise Gomer, the IRL is now saying a yellow caution period begins when race control calls it on the radio. In other words, act like the old United States Auto Club (former Indy 500 sanctioning body) and ignore the rulebook whenever it doesn't work in your favor.
= FARCE
I'm actually glad that George doesn't realize the circus he's running and the subsequent demolition of his and the 500's legacy. It makes for great, comic theater - one where all of the audience (outside the IRL/George sycophants in Indianapolis) recognizes the hypocrisy and stage of the Indy quasi-WWE play. At least the WWE doesn't proclaim to be a bastion of truth and time-honoured tradition.
Gee, I wonder how all of the George puppets spin the constant cellar dwelling ratings and attendance of virtually all IRL races to the sponsors? Probably don't even see the empty seats given their practice of selective myopia.
I just love how 4 out of the top 5 current earners are foreigners and 3 out of the top 5 standings are foreigners. Not to mention how Honda and Toyota will entirely dominate and squeeze out the domestic makers next year. Plus the race in Japan.
Yeah George,...since your split from CART almost 7 years ago, your vision of an all-American, low-cost open wheel series is finally coming true. :rolleyes:Congrats to you, you xenophobic Mama's boy for your contribution to open-wheel racing.
 

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