IndyCar – Versus Acknowledges History

We have complained a bit here at Open Paddock about the way the TV broadcast ignores the historic records of past greats like AJ, Mario, and even Paul Tracy when they wax poetic about the winningest driver in IndyCar history being Dixon or Hornish before him. Both Versus and ABC have been equal opportunity offenders on that count.

I thought at the beginning of the season when the IRL published their first combined historic record book, that we had seen the end of this. The combined book includes all records from AAA, USAC, CART, CCWS and IRL sanctions. We posted an article about it, and made the historic record book available for download from our site with the hope that they would stop this ludicrous disavowal of the past greats of open wheel racing in favor of the IRL’s rather limited and inglorious 14 year history.

For most of the season, the TV and radio guys have continued to ignore the past, in favor of screaming incessantly (I’m looking at you Mike King) about Scott Dixon eclipsing Sam in the overall win category. When challenged about it, they always fall back on the tired disclaimer “under IndyCar sanction”.

Maybe that is coming to an end though. Near the end of the Motegi broadcast, the TV booth pointed out the fact that Scott Dixon’s 5th win this season tied him for 16th in overall American open wheel wins with Emerson Fittipaldi and Tony Bettenhausen at 22 wins. Maybe we can now put this annoying vestige of the IRL era behind us and start comparing the greats of today with the greats who have gone before them on the national championship trail.

The only other active (non-retired) drivers ahead of Scott on this list are Sebastian Bourdais and Paul Tracy who are interestingly tied for 7th on the all time win list with 31 checkers per, and it is no stretch of the imagination to see Scott continue to stretch his overall win total up into the Unser bracket (Bobby 34 wins, Little Al 34 wins, Al 39 wins) but it may be asking too much to pull past the Andretti’s. Only time will tell, but Scott is showing no signs of slowing down.

In my opinion, it is a slight against Scott Dixon to not compare him with the legends of the sport. He could continue to put up 4 or 5 wins a season for the next several years. He needs to be put in his proper context. He is a talented driver in a different era.

Further, this is a sport based on deep tradition, which is heavily exploited every May. I have no complaint about that! I find it ironic though that the IRL has chosen to distance themselves from this part of the rich tradition and deep history that permeates every aspect of this sport. Maybe now that Dixon is past Hornish on the list, we will no longer have to hear the laughable “all time IndyCar win leader” title.

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2 Thoughts to “IndyCar – Versus Acknowledges History

  1. mike, thanks for continuing to harp on this. It’s ridiculous that they insult a legend like A.J. Foyt — a team owner no less — by continually saying that “Scott Dixon is the all-time IndyCar wins leader.”

    I too was pleasantly surprised to hear Bob Jenkins note Dixon tying Fittipaldi and Bettenhausen, but Vs. still kept running that graphic about Penske having the most team wins with 35 — it’s true that Penske has the most wins, it’s just way more than 35.

  2. Thanks for the comment phaldis!

    I will continue to harp on this one for a long time. That combined record book is a treasure and an asset to the IRL. I don’t know why they dont use it for their own benefit. We see these little featurettes about the history of the 500 during every race broadcast and we see these firestone commercials with all the black and white images. Clearly there is great benefit in associating yourself with the deep history of the national championship.

    If you haven’t downloaded the record book, I highly recommend it. I spent over an hour just going through it and looking at all the cool things in it. Too bad Springfield, DuQuoin and the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb are off the schedule. 🙂

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