Friday, May 4, 2007

What’s wrong with “RACIN”

Watching my favourite Motorsports “talk show,” Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain a few week’s ago, I was left pondering if “Juan” ‘O his callers from California was reading Robin Miller’s script?

The caller claimed the problem with Champ Car is that there’s NO consistency, while comparing the Long Beach Champ Car race to Talladega Nights, err Nextel Cup at Talladega, Alabama…

Now I’m not exactly sure that any responsible track owner/operator would wish to be currently compared with Talladega. After the “Deep Fried Yea-Hoo’s” got carried away with throwing cans and bottles onto the race track! (Can you imagine Bernie Ecclestone letting such a thing happen?)

Yet, as this was prior to the recent RASSCAR flare-ups over “Pretty Boy Floyd’s” passing of ‘Ol Ironhead’s career victories tally, the caller pointed out the obvious.

“I mean there’s NO fan involvement in Champ Car. NOBODY’S wearing any team merchandise. I mean not only do the Nextel Cup fans wear Dale Earnhart T-Shirrs, but they’ve also got matching No. 8 red “BUTT-WIPER” team jackets…” (Ok so I added the Beer reference, but I think you get the point?)

I find the “guilty fans” behavior totally DISPICABLE at RASSCAR’s last two events… Perhaps I just haven’t been to enough “real racin.” But I’ve NEVER been to a facility that ALLOWS you to bring your OWN ALCHOLIC BEVERAGES!!!

And while I’ll agree with the fact that the entire race attending public shouldn’t be penalized for these Drunken “Buffoon’s” behavior, there’s absolutely NO room for such a display of STUPIDITY!!!

(Perhaps we’re too civilized in the Pacific Northwest? Since I got really carried away at last year’s Portland Champ Car race and Booed the Hamburglar during the driver parade! But ALL OF THE VENDOR beverages at the track come either in “Plastic or Paper”)

Yet this led me to “Wunder” if the caller’s logic added up or not? As I’ll agree that Champ Car has had an identity crisis since the current owners bought the sinking ship. Each season has seen a massive influx of new drivers as teams are forced to scramble for drivers who can provide a suitcase or two of dinero to go along with their seat fitting.

As Robin Miller notes, there’s NO Stability in Champ Car, making Fan loyalty an effort of perseverance. And it seems quite obvious that “The Split” has been hugely detrimental to the stock of Open Wheel racing. While I certainly hope that Champ Car will survive, I just don’t see how either side can fully recover without merging race series…

And I have nothing against temporary street circuits, as long as they’re done correctly and have some entertaining scenery to go along with them. As one of my favourite events was the Vancouver, BC Molson Indy race. Yet the city felt the need to displace this great event in favour of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

But I’m NOT in favour of Champ Car going 100% towards “Concrete Canyon” (Street circuits) vs. permanent road courses, as Champ Car sees this as a quick fix towards solving attendance problems. Although I realize that a profit does need to be made, but if you “Build a great product, then Fans should come…”

And as David Phillips has recently “penned,” there’s much to be said for low key, medium attendance permanent road course facilities, as these tend to be sought out by the true enthusiasts! Of course part of the appeal of CART was its diversity of race venues.

So, while the Open Wheel community fights to find its true identity, perhaps RASSCAR’s rowdy Tag-Team behavior will actually wound the 800lb Gorilla? Then again isn’t Nextel Cup supposed to be a “Squeaky Clean” Family Affair. Perhaps, just perhaps some of the “Shine” will rub off of RASSCAR and Open Wheel racing will make a slight resurgence…