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Ride Buying: A Historical Perspective

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  • Ride Buying: A Historical Perspective

    Give that the issue of ride buying is such a hot topic these days, I am re-posting an exerpt for those who missed it the first time (last summer).

    It comes from the 1977 Indy 500 Yearbook (softbound) and may be found on pages 25-26. Jack C. Fox is the author. I offer it without comment:

    Still walking the garage area in seach of a ride was Bob Harky who is famed for taking a car at the last minute and putting it into the race. The smooth driver from North Carolina has never been given the opportunity to start the month with a ride but has made six races with little practice or familiarity with his car. Unless you are a superstar, the current practice is for an unassigned driver to line up a sponsor and present this as a package to the owner. Simply stated...no sponsorship (or other) money, NO RIDE!

    Veteran Lloyd Ruby, observing the situation recalled a less commercial era when "the car owner used to pay the driver to drive the car."
    The Ayn Rand of Indycar

    No one had to badge the Offy.

    Crapping all over threads since 2000.

  • #2
    I met Bob Harkey last year.

    Great guy.

    A renegade.

    [ January 17, 2002: Message edited by: Truth Detector ]
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    • #3
      Ray Crawford
      "Living well is the best revenge"

      George Herbert

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      • #4
        Bob Veith
        Born Again Race Fan seen at
        www.openwheelracers3.com

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        • #5
          As mentioned before, Joel Thorne...the point is, the IRL, according to the gospel of AJ Foyt, and disciples, including me, was going to correct this sin...it hasn't happened and he is on the inside of the Temple...

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          • #6
            Originally posted by hdolan:
            As mentioned before, Joel Thorne...the point is, the IRL, according to the gospel of AJ Foyt, and disciples, including me, was going to correct this sin...
            I don't want to say "I told ya so", but during the Speednet days circa 1996-97, CARTisans such as myself tried to explain why ride buying exists, how long it has existed, and why it would exist in the IRL. All of this fell on deaf ears. Now I read the same arguments, rationalizations, and explainations, almost to the word, on this forum only this time they are written by IRL fans (who live in the same reality we CARTisans did when we had the debate with IRL fans) to other IRL fans.

            Ride buying dates back decades, and if nothing else, I hope I've debunked the myth that it started with CART. The evidence is irrefutable in that regard.
            The Ayn Rand of Indycar

            No one had to badge the Offy.

            Crapping all over threads since 2000.

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            • #7
              Here is my favorite Bob Harkey story:

              1973 Bob qualified a back up car of Mel Kenyon for the Lindsey Hopkins team.

              Race morning they allow the race teams to run their engines in the garage area for a short time. A minute or so into warming up Bob's engine it basically exploded, and the crew knew instantly it was terminal.

              BUT even back then to start 33rd paid a lot of money, and Rolla Vollstedt had the first alternate position, and was snooping around.

              The team acted like nothing was wrong and pushed the car onto the starting grid. When the command came to start the engines, the team went thru the motions of trying to start, but of course it would not.

              They pushed the car off the grid, and low and behold we had the Salt Walther first lap incident, which halted the race. Rains came and the race was postponed, allowing the team time to do some repairs. He took the green flag two days later on the restart and managed 12 laps before the engine seized, coming home 29th and $15,000 richer.

              I believe Bob also flew fighter planes in the Korean War.

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              • #8
                Not all of us believed that it began with CART.It goes back to the AAA days and not just with Joel Thorne.The real myth is the one that says it's new.You could fill a hall of fame with ride buyers in nearly every big time series in the world.

                It is not the ride buying itself that bothers me so much.It's the acceptance by owners of drivers who don't belong at the top level,simply on the basis of their ability to bring money.That sort of thing hurts any series.
                Proud to be a complainer.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by DaveL:
                  <STRONG>

                  Now I read the same arguments, rationalizations, and explainations, almost to the word, on this forum only this time they are written by IRL fans (who live in the same reality we CARTisans did when we had the debate with IRL fans) to other IRL fans.

                  </STRONG>Absolutely true.<STRONG>

                  Ride buying dates back decades, and if nothing else, I hope I've debunked the myth that it started with CART. The evidence is irrefutable in that regard.</STRONG>
                  Not sure that myth was ever "bunked," Dave, but (and I'm just speaking from personal perspective here) its prevalence in CART, and the resulting wholesale change in driver makeup in CART, was the primary reason I lost interest in Indy cars in the late '80s.

                  But, Dave makes the same point Howard did in that the same fans (and owners such as Foyt) that had such a problem with it in CART are perfectly OK with it in the IRL. At least I'm consistent. I think it sucks either way.
                  "It was actually fun, because you're back fully driving again in these trucks. Ninety percent of the tracks we go to in the IRL, you're flat-out. I was having to lift off the corners some here." - Buddy Rice

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by slinger:
                    It is not the ride buying itself that bothers me so much.It's the acceptance by owners of drivers who don't belong at the top level,simply on the basis of their ability to bring money.That sort of thing hurts any series.
                    Given the choice either or, I'm sure that an owner who dreams of winning races would much rather put a driver in a car that can do just that, and provide the driver with the resources necessary through sponsorship dollars to achieve that goal. But that is not reality for many owner. Reality is unanswered phone messages, business cards passed out that are tossed in the waste basket, presenations that go in one ear and out the other, and mailings that were a waste of postage. Finding a sponsor is not a matter of waking up in the morning and looking in the yellow pages under "S". If you are a car owner, and you've expereinced the reality I just stated, you are not going to turn away a driver who brings a sponsor with him. The money he brings will pay your crew and the monthly payments on the mortgage or loan for your shop.

                    Racing is a money pit and there are economic realities that act upon the sport. I learned a long time ago what these economic realities are, and I learned that these realities go back decades. I once believed that the realities were different in the 60s and 70s. Then I read that Roger McCluskey was the driver Firestone "gave" Clint Brawner in 1970 (from Brawner's book). This was no different than Toyota giving Walker Takagi (who is a lot better than most people here give him credit for).

                    The difference between then and now is that we are in a different age of information. The economic realities are the same, but because we have so much information available to us, often in real time, we are infinitely more cognizant of what takes place off the track in terms of who has a ride and way. Back in the 60s and 70s, I'm sure 99% of the fans saw a driver in a car and never thought twice about whether or not the driver brought the sponsor with him. Now we seem obsessed with it because so much information is available.
                    The Ayn Rand of Indycar

                    No one had to badge the Offy.

                    Crapping all over threads since 2000.

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for the exerpt, DaveL. Ride-buying is certainly nothing new, and I'm sure we're going to have it for quite some time.

                      Racemind: Kim Kardashian Indy Watch : Twitter.com/racemind
                      "If NASCAR didn't want us to sleep through the race then why did they give us a COT?"

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                      • #12
                        "Ride buying dates back decades, and if nothing else, I hope I've debunked the myth that it started with CART. The evidence is irrefutable in that regard. "

                        I've never said that it started with CART...however, the revolving door lineups in CART was a direct result of ridebuying...

                        And of course you want to say I told you so

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by DaveL:
                          <STRONG>

                          I don't want to say "I told ya so", but during the Speednet days circa 1996-97, CARTisans such as myself tried to explain why ride buying exists, how long it has existed, and why it would exist in the IRL. All of this fell on deaf ears. Now I read the same arguments, rationalizations, and explainations, almost to the word, on this forum only this time they are written by IRL fans (who live in the same reality we CARTisans did when we had the debate with IRL fans) to other IRL fans.

                          Ride buying dates back decades, and if nothing else, I hope I've debunked the myth that it started with CART. The evidence is irrefutable in that regard.</STRONG>
                          This is true. It's kind of like Liberals getting older and becoming more conservative.
                          Man to Man is so unjust... there's no Man you can Trust.

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                          • #14
                            DaveL
                            Are you any closer to the point of heading south down I-65 and watching another Indy 500?
                            Rick
                            God speed!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Rick Jones:
                              DaveL
                              Are you any closer to the point of heading south down I-65 and watching another Indy 500?
                              Rick
                              Nope. I'm no closer now than I was in 1996.
                              The Ayn Rand of Indycar

                              No one had to badge the Offy.

                              Crapping all over threads since 2000.

                              Comment

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