Indycar-2013: A New Hope

January is a pretty amazing month for this racing fan. The first Saturday in January is always the Monster Supercross Series season opener in Anaheim. It’s also the weekend of the Roar Before the 24; Grand-Am’s testing weekend for the Rolex 24. The Dakar Rally is in full swing. Next weekend is NASCAR’s Preseason Thunder in Daytona. All across the world, kids are in their family garages prepping karts for summer racing, guys are hunched over old Toyota Corollas for their local Pony Stock series, and somewhere in the midwest, a sprint car driver is putting the finishing touches on a new roll cage. The smell of Ethanol is in the air and the sound of peeling rubber is just around the corner.

In most parts of North America, it’s too cold for Indycars to be on track. Firestone requires temperatures of at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit before rubber can meet the road. Indycar drivers are all over motorsports right now though. Ryan Hunter-Reay recently participated in the Race of Champions. Mazda Road to Indy drivers Gustavo Yacaman and Jorge Goncalves topped the charts in Michael Shank’s #6 entry in this year’s Rolex 24. Right behind them were Simon Pagenaud and Bruno Junqueira in the Team Sahlen ride. We’re only a few short months  away from Open Test and the season kickoff at Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Yes folks. Things are looking up despite the many tales of doom and gloom.

Sometimes I don’t understand Indycar fans. They seem to hate the very thing they love. It’s almost like many Indycar fans are happiest when things are in turmoil. Despite coming off one of the best racing seasons in years, outstanding performance by the new car, and the much sought after American born champion, people still prefer to look on the dark side of things. No, things aren’t perfect. Things are never perfect. The difference is Indycar fans are more tuned into the business side of the sport than most sports fans.

I think much of that is due to the fact that we seem to have a personal relationship with the Hulman-George family. Going to an Indycar race feels more like a family reunion than a sporting event. For those few weeks every year, we’re with our brothers and sisters while dear old Uncle Tony provides the entertainment(Well, now it’s Aunt Mary, but you know what I mean.) Indycar isn’t just something we watch, but rather part of who we are. That’s why we get so wrapped up in things. We feel a personal investment in what happens because we really do feel a part of what’s going on.

That’s what makes Indycar so awesome. It’s a personal thing.

It’s this personal relationship we have with the sport that makes me think maybe we need to lay off a bit. After such a tumultuous 2012 off the track, we need to make 2013 a year of positivity.  The truth is all sports have away-from-the-sport battles like ours does. The truth of the matter is life goes on. The truth is our nitpicking does nothing to change anything.

I believe in reporting news as it happens, be it good or bad. It seems to me though that many people who write about Indycar go out of their way to emphasize the bad. I’ll never understand why.  Sometimes I wonder if I weren’t a fan of Indycar and I looked at some of the fan comments, why would I ever become a fan? There seems to be plenty of vitriolic hate being spewed by those involved in all parties.

To understand the subgroupings of Indycar fans, this is how it seems to work.
1. Those who wish the engines were still in the front and the cars raced on dirt.
2. Those who haven’t gotten over the split, both from the IRL and ChampCar angles
3. Those who just like to find the bad in everything
4. Those who actually enjoy the sport.

People in the first category are few and far between, but you know them when you see them. People in the second category are pretty stealthy, but expose themselves when it’s time to get digs in. People in the third category are the most vocal. People in the fourth category are typically the quietest. Why do we spend so much time talking about what’s wrong? Quite simply, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

I’d like to challenge all of you to be positive this season. Forget about the behind the scenes hurpdurp and enjoy the quality product. Don’t stress over things you have no control over. Remember why you became a fan of Indycar in the first place. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because of who the CEO was, or who was running Hulman & Co. Let’s all go back to Uncle Tony’s House in May for the big family reunion. Let’s love our sport and support those who support our love.

Even though it’s a rainy, gloomy day here just west of Barber Motorsports Park, I can smell the mixture of sea water and Ethanol in the air. I can hear the sound of Firestone rubber speeding down Dan Wheldon Way. I can feel the shining optimism each team has at the start of a new season.

All we have to do is choose to be happy.

One comment

  • F1 went through some battles like this with Jean-Marie Balestre and Max Mosely, and again to a far lesser degree when Mosely was forced out for Jean Todt. Spending, revenue sharing, safety, performance were all hotly debated and fans got very vocal.

    Thing is, F1 has its hardcores and a huge offsetting weight of casuals. IndyCar has lost all its casual fans, and the hardcores Have to be into the minutiae; it is our nature.

    I applaud the call for positivity, but even by your own chart, positivists are outnumbered three to one ;) Nonetheless, i will go to St. Pete and watch with glee, even thought it is a street course, and even though the DW12 is a spec car and kind of funny looking.

    2012 was one of the best I have seen at St. Pete. Great way to start a season. Here’s to an even better 2013.