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Objective Look at IRL Road Racing

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  • Objective Look at IRL Road Racing

    I'm attempting to clear my mind and be objective about this entire issue... weighing the pros and cons as I see them. This is what I've come up with so far. I am working off the assumtion that CART folds in the next year or two and the IRL decends like carpetbaggers to profit from the shattered ruins...

    I'm not trying to tee anyone off here. This is the best I can do at giving both sides a fair shot.

    PROS:

    1. Broader fan base.

    It is likely that the addition of road racing to the IRL will attract fans that prefer road races to ovals, or those who view an oval/road mixture as the best demonstration of a racer's ability. Road racing would offer an opportunity for fans to come out of their self-imposed excile and enjoy Indy Racing once again.

    2. Additional markets.

    California, Wisconsin, Georgia, Mexico, Canada, Ohio... running road races offers greater opportunity for the IRL to showcase its product in front of potential fans.

    3. More competitors.

    Road racing should attract a few CART teams and others who excel at the right turning discipline.

    4. Increase in sponsorship.

    One would think that, by broadening the fan base and opening additional markets (particularly internationaly) that it may be easier to attract sponsors to the team and the series.

    5. End of the Great Schism.

    Finally, people could stop worrying about the "war", the "split", the "lockout", the "boycott", the "stock prices"... one entity racing for one common purpose. Build a memorial for the casualties and drive on into the future.

    6. More races.

    What could be better than that? The IRL could achieve a 20 - 22 race schedule. More races equal more exposure and a better chance of competing with NASCAR.

    7. More foreign drivers.

    Depending on which side of the issue one stands, this can be a good deal. Many enjoy seeing former F1 drivers and good drivers that couldn't work their way through F1 politics in the series. They greatly enhance the international flavor of Indycar.

    8. Finally, a clear definition of the "Vision".

    Tony George can say, "Look it... uh... ummm... I know many people thought this was... uh... uh... you know... the IRL was about... er... American drivers... er... cost control and... uh... some other stuff.... but it was really about me and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway running the show. Uh... what CART was doing on the track was... uh... er... ummm... really great... we just... uh... thought we should be in charge of it... er... to protect the interests at... uh... 16th and Georgetown.... ok? Sorry about the uh... confusion... we always intended to add.. ummm road racing if it made business sense to... uh... the league. Thats what its all about... uh.. you know? er... the money... so... er... ummm forget about that "all American, all Oval crap"... that didn't mean anything.

    CONS:

    1. Alienation of fans.

    Some of the IRL's most hardcore fans believe in the series because of its all oval format. Many of these fans will give up on Indycar as it becomes more and more like the series it battled with for several years. As the worm turns, it will do so in many a race fans stomach. The addition of road racing fans may or may not be enough to make up for the loss of these oval zealots.

    2. Old "Road to Indy" closed.

    Many hoped, to varying degrees, that the traditional "Road to Indy"... the road that led to Indycar from America's short oval tracks... would be re-opened to the likes of Yeley, Hines, Drake and Steele. While the most talented of these drivers, such as Tony Stewart, might be able to make the transition to the IRL, perhaps through IPS, their chances will be reduced significantly by a series that also requires its drivers to have proven road racing ability. For many, these drivers won't be missed. For others, they have been woefully missed for years already.

    3. Increased foreign pressence.

    It is likely that the addition of road racing will only increase the percentage of foriegn drivers in the series. This is not an altogether bad thing. However, for right or wrong, many fans in the US are alienated by a foreign dominated series. The IRL will find it even more difficult to compete with NASCAR, whose overwhemling strength is its American personalities.

    4. Rising costs.

    The cost of fielding a team will increase significatnly with the additional races and the parts need to make an Indycar "road racable". If the new markets do not come with new sponsorship interest, the already low car counts could get even smaller. Even if car counts increase, we can probalby say goodbye to Hemelgarn, PDM, and other teams who are on the margin financially.

    5. Less ovals.

    Poorly attended ovals will be dumped for successful road racing venues. It is possible that, within a few years time, 40% or more of the schedule could consist of road races. Most IRL fans, at this point in history, would be disappointed to see that.

    6. Loss of unique identity.

    As an openwheel oval-only Indycar series, the IRL has an identity all of its own. While still in the shadow of NASCAR and F1, it can at least boast that it is the top of the line in its own particular discipline. Add road racing and you have a hybrid of mediocrity, always to be perceived as the lesser oval and lesser road racing series.

    7. Street races.

    Most do not enjoy street racing or concrete canyon parking lot parades. Get this straight... street racing IS road racing. They are highly marketable and successful creatures that brings the product into the fans backyard. If the IRL goes road racing, you can count on Long Beach, Cleveland, and perhaps a Canadian street race or two ultimately being on the schedule.

    8. Finally, a clear definition of the "Vision".

    (same as above)
    Dave Steele Rocks!!!

  • #2
    OK, how'd I do... and be nice!
    Dave Steele Rocks!!!

    Comment


    • #3
      Cons outweigh the pros, IMO.
      "Freedom, just around the corner from you,
      With truth so far off what good would it do?"

      Bob Dylan- "Jokerman"

      Comment


      • #4
        You done good. Same arguments as when CART took Indy on the road, and probably will have similar results.

        The IRL vision is going to he11 in a hand cart, and it is taking Indy with it.

        Comment


        • #5
          My mind is already made up. I love the IRL.
          "Is that my *** that I smell burning?" ... Helmet Stogie from "Death spasms of the Mabuchi"

          Comment


          • #6
            Hardly objective.

            The one thing it will do is turn the IRL in "the" ow racing of America. No more confusion for anybody.

            Just that alone will bring much of the luster back not only to indy, but hopefully to all the races.

            Comment


            • #7
              From a CART fan's perspective I believe that your pro points 1, 2 and 5 are going to be hard to achieve. All for the same reason. I don't think the addition of road races will be enough for open wheel fans that aren't already supporting the IRL to do so then. The split will still be there, It was there pre-IRL. And it will be there post-CART (if CART does cease to exist). Markets where the IRL replaced CART have performed poorly for the IRL. Again it goes back to the fans. I just don't see the addition of road races enough to pull additional fans to the IRL. Even if CART ceases to operate. The IRL has to win over the fans, regardless of what kind of track it runs on. But, it has the very real possibility of alienating long term core fans by adding road races.
              Kevin Kalkhoven on Champ Car: "The amount of money we're spending is very little overall and I can afford to run this thing forever."

              Comment


              • #8
                You done good Dave. Never seen ya more objective.

                The scenario you've outlined above (in the pros) would be one that could attract a fan base that has lived with Cart for the last 18 years in Toronto. And anyone who would cease being a fan of the IRL because Toronto or Long Beach or Surfers replaced St. Louis or Nazereth would be cutting off their nose to spite their face.

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                • #9
                  More cons than pros. In all fairness, many of the foreign drivers and domestic drivers would be replaced in the IRL with the majority of CART drivers. Not all the foreign drivers prefer 40% rc's and sc's for the IRL. I can think of more than two in the IRL. I use to think that the majority of foreign drivers preferred rc's and sc's, but after hearing what some of them thought in the past, I really think that it's half and half. If the IRL thinks they will have more than 35,000 people at planned road course venues, they better do some more research. For street courses, Long Beach, Mexico, Toronto, and Montreal are the exception. Penske would be right to some extent.

                  I would very much be interested to see what the costs would be in putting on an oval race versus a road course race for the IRL. In addition, I would very much like to see the amount of sponsors that would poor money into course track venues. What kind of financial return would the IRL acquire in putting on a road course track with--say 15,000 people in attendance? I hear this from casual to avid race fans, " I don't like course and street races, because you only see the race action when they come around." Also, "Why travel to a course track and blow $100 when you can watch it on television for free." Naturally, if I was a driver, I certainly would appreciate course tracks. I love IMSA/ALMS racing at oval tracks, because you can see most of the race action if you sit high enough. Now, if the IRL was to schedule a course venue at--say Daytona and Fontana, then that might be worthy investment to a fan that complains about not seeing most of the race action in person. Just my two cents...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wynnspeed
                    Hardly objective.
                    It is for me!
                    Dave Steele Rocks!!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I think you bent over backward to be fair, Dave. I think road racing would be a disaster for the IRL. Oldtimer has it right.
                      Proud to be a complainer.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Actually, slinger, I think Dave bent over too far backwards and all the blood rushed out of his head.

                        C'mon, Dave, you're usually a pretty straight shooter, but this is just a thinly veiled attempt at repeating your NO-RIGHT-TURNS mantra. I'm a little disappointed. But, it seems to be generating some good discussion, so it's cool.

                        1. Broader fan base.

                        It is likely that the addition of road racing to the IRL will attract fans that prefer road races to ovals, or those who view an oval/road mixture as the best demonstration of a racer's ability. Road racing would offer an opportunity for fans to come out of their self-imposed excile and enjoy Indy Racing once again.
                        Actually, judging from the way people like mnkywrch have stopped lobbing grenades, are contributing positively to the dialogue here on TF, and appear to watch & enjoy the IRL races, I think you're quite right on this one.

                        To all the CART fans who now secretly watch the IRL races as well, IT'S COOL, FOLKS!

                        You've learned the lesson that Doc Austin learned a few years ago: that great racing is great racing, and to he77 with politics!
                        "I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend." - Thomas Jefferson

                        RIP, Dan. You will always be one of my heroes.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by manson
                          It is for me!
                          asked for opinion's and then look whatcha do!

                          Good job. I do not see adding 2 road venues as an automatic leap to several though. I do think adding a slew of them is bad for the league; unless they go to a separate rr division.

                          Pros: 1,2 and 4 are right on. On 3, it seems that the hardheadedness of the teams who haven't already joined the league may prevent them from ever joining. This is the same egotistical bunch who started the whole battle with the Hulmans! 5, the "war" is over for level headed fans already. the boneheads like crappos, will always be sore. 6, yes. 7, not necessarily. Look at the foreign drivers we've got now. Why does anyone think that adding two road races will force Americans out? The Americans we've got in the series now are nearly all road racing specialists anyway! 8, Tony is looking out for the Speedway. He has got to do whatever it takes to keep the ball rolling. In fact I really don't think he anticipated that he'd have to fight CART this long or that he'd be in this position now. He should have been stealthy about taking on CART and started up a RE Formula legue that trained short trackers how to run one, first instead of creating the league. Anyway, back on your points.

                          Cons: 1, no, alienation of maybe the hardest core Oval fans but not necessarily Indy Racing fans. I have never been totally against road racing but just road racing dominated by foreign drivers whose names are hard to say. 2, using TS is rough, because look what he did. He became hugely popular and then left the series. The road to Indy has got to begin with Team Owners and businessmen going after the racers that fans want to see in cars. AMERICANS. It's no better now, how many Yanks have rides in the IRL from the short tracks? 3, if it does lead to more foreign drivers, I'm done watching. 4, and 5, the costs is something that the IRL blew. they really screwed up by making IPS so expensive to run and then by adopting new specs for this year. w/o availability how will folks line up to race them? This is the single biggest problem in the league today in my opinion. In order for us to get more young Americans interested, they need to be able to touch and feel an IndyCar or at minimum a smaller sized version to run with at the local bullrings.6, I agree that going to even2 road races forces us to lose that uniqeness. but look at NASCAR, they haven't worried one iota about their identity being on all ovals or rr's or whatever. they learned how to create the ladder. 7, street racing is different than road racing. I enjoy watching some road races, like RA, or Laguna. I don't like Long Beach but it's hugely popular and a successful street course. Canada races should never be added for any reason! Cleveland, pfffffffft! 8, the vision is still there but realistically how can their be long-term stability without profit?
                          http://brianswish.trackforum.com/brianswish_main.htm/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Objective Look at IRL Road Racing

                            Originally posted by manson
                            2. Old "Road to Indy" closed.

                            Many hoped, to varying degrees, that the traditional "Road to Indy"... the road that led to Indycar from America's short oval tracks... would be re-opened to the likes of Yeley, Hines, Drake and Steele. While the most talented of these drivers, such as Tony Stewart, might be able to make the transition to the IRL, perhaps through IPS, their chances will be reduced significantly by a series that also requires its drivers to have proven road racing ability. For many, these drivers won't be missed. For others, they have been woefully missed for years already.
                            Manson .... 2 road courses. 2 ..... show me anywhere where the IRL has stated any more.

                            Now, a question for you, Nascar has 2 road courses, the "Road to Nascar" is still in ovals. Why would the "Road" be closed for the IRL?
                            "You have not converted a man because you have silenced him."
                            -John Morley

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              There seems to be an illusion with some that the Irl can just show up in Mexico or Canada and be welcomed with open arms. I think they underestimate the racing knowledge of these fans.

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