We Were Right
I'm feeling pretty good these days. Good and smug. Good and "I Told You So" smug. Good and "Fock You All" smug, while smiling. So are a lot of you, and justly so.
Several years ago, well before this site launched, many of us heard all the excuses for the creation and existence of the Indy Racing League: "Preserving the sanctity of oval-track racing" . . . "Giving deserving Americans their shot at Indy" . . . "Saving the Month of May from those who want to curtail it," and even "SAVING THE INDY 500 AND THE INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY" (!) And on, and on. There was, of course, nothing wrong with the sport of Indy Car racing -- and the Indianapolis 500 -- at the time. Quite the contrary, the sport had become lucrative since a group of people stepped in and saved it from a family of wealthy rubes and their hangers-on in 1978. If anything, the sport -- the series -- had become TOO successful for the comfort level of the Hulman-George family. I mean, what if the owners started squawking for a little more of the revenue that the '500' produced each year? All that TV and radio revenue? All that licensing revenue? All that sponsorship? All those suite rentals? All those tickets that sold out each and every year by July 1? Honestly, the family could've told the owners to get bent, maintained the status quo regarding the purse, and the owners would've come back each and every year. But there's a lot of paranoia within this family -- a common trait of many who consume too much alcohol and too many drugs -- so instead of using common sense, the family created the IRL. Oh well, at least they addressed that big revenue stream.
Since it's May -- and hours before Memorial Day weekend -- let's just keep this little ditty to the subject of the Indy 500, and the farce that passes for said race these days. And besides, "Saving Indy" was the supposed reason for all the garbage that has come from 16th and Georgetown these past several years anyway, right? So, we can discuss later the disaster that is the IRL season series.
I'll save you the lists, and the charts, because many of you know them by heart: the bar-graph chart of TV ratings from 1995 to the present. The list of entrants each year during the Evil CART Years (tm), the list of bumped cars during the Evil CART Years (tm), and the similar lists from more-recent times. The list of Americans who have raced at Indy each year, and the list of those who actually were/are competent in rear-engine, open-wheel cars. But the lists and charts are all there. So are the memories -- remember when ABC/ESPN covered qualifying from start to finish, all four days? Remember when qualifying MEANT something? Remember when the race MEANT something? You locals around the Circle City, remember when the skies were filled with corporate aircraft from Friday through Monday of race weekend?
I do. I was there, from 1983 through 1995, driving five hours from my home in Michigan. I was watching on TV -- same-day delayed -- before that, and listening to Sid Collins on radio as a kid even earlier. I remember when everything about Indy meant something. I remember having to stay in Anderson on those weekends at a mediocre place on Scatterfield Road for $150 a night, because everything closer to the track was a) much more expensive, and b) already sold out. I remember guys taking out second mortgages and maxing out credit cards to buy a year-old car, then putting it all on the line in an attempt to just make the show.
But I digress. It's all gone now, of course, so long, long gone.
And I'm very, very happy.
Now, please understand, my memories of Indy -- of May -- are great ones. So are the memories of "my" track up here at MIS, where I was a regular from 1982 through 2001. I've been hanging around here since January 22, 2004, and have never made a single post that could be remotely construed as "anti-oval" -- at least, back when a legitimate series was running on those ovals. But what we have today isn't "Indy." There was a short time frame when it still "looked" a bit like Indy, but was not. THAT era bothered me.
But not this era.
It doesn't look like "Indy" anymore. There can no longer be any confusion between what existed and what ultimately happened. Entire sections of seating were removed prior to this month. That's not Indy. Speaking of this month, I read where there was a grand total of eight days of scheduled on-track activity. That's not Indy. Again, there was no attempt to bump anyone from the field. That's not Indy. Up front, things were rigged to the point that a no-talent member of the ownership family was anointed with the title of "pole winner." That's not Indy. There are more cars lacking legitimate sponsorship than those that have such sponsorship. That's not Indy. People on other sites are posting that restroom facilities are malfunctioning, steel structures are not being re-painted (the result being large amounts of surface rust all over the place) and there is litter throughout the grounds. That's not Indy. An estimated 3,000 people showed up for this year's version of pole day. That's not Indy. The "Can't We All Just Get Along?" crowd is trying to get people excited about . . . JAMES HINCHCLIFFE??? Geezus. That's not Indy.
No, there's no mistaking it now. This thing hit the iceberg years ago, the life boats are all full, and everyone left has moved up to the far end of the Good Ship IMS for one last song from the band. And really, it all needs to die. It needed to long ago. I have my memories of the Real Thing, and that's enough. What remains is so tainted, so fabricated, so desperately on life support, it all needs to go. But even if it doesn't? Don't worry. No one will ever mistake this garbage for "Indy."
And a lot of us saw it coming way back then. We knew WHY it was happening, and we knew the end result.
And we called it. We focking nailed it.