Milwaukee Rewind

First, lets get the bad out of the way…

Well, for the first time I had the “privilege” of watching the ABC broadcast of one of our races this season.
Good God.
I mean really.
What the fuck?!
It was Abysmal!

So much missed action! How do I know? I had the radio broadcast streaming at the same time. It was comical in it’s contrast. What they were describing compared to what ABC was actually showing. I mean, COMICAL.
Now I know why all of the races I attended this year (coincidentally ABC broadcasts) have been received so poorly by those not in attendance. They are doing the absolute bare minimum in their presentation. There is no “essence”. No heart. I don’t believe for a moment that they care one iota about the event they are broadcasting.
On top of that, listening to Goodyear and Reid is akin to taking a sedative

Speaking of sedatives, the 3 blokes on the skysports broadcast were like an SNL Masterpiece Theatre sketch. Seriously… I got the giggles at one point they were so quiet and dour in their analysis… LOL!

Add to that the jumping channels mid-race to ESPNnews (wtf is that anyway? never even heard of it) and the Canadian broadcast partner tape delaying the race until 5pm (so I literally had no other recourse than to find a pirated stream on line so I could watch and report on the race) and well, I felt like I was being punked.

IndyCar’s top priority while getting their house in order, after supplying the bulk of the teams and drivers (and a good portion of the fanbase) with a year’s supply Pampers er.. Huggies (lets show sponsor loyalty), needs to be securing a deal with a broadcast partner that is actually going to be helpful to the growth of the sport rather than a hindrance. They’ve made a change in Canada for next year. It remains to be seen how that will work out, but I know I’ve personally had several conversations with Randy Bernard on the topic over the last couple of years, so I know for a fact he was aware of how shitty our coverage has been, and he made good on his promise to do something about it. Now it’s up to Sportsnet to make it happen. Because I’ve gotta tell ya, it’s pretty disheartening to be at an event and experience how GREAT it is, only to get online later and hear everyone shitting on it. I refrained from doing the same thing myself while watching today, because what I was hearing from friends who were there was once again in sharp contrast to what was being broadcast.

Now to the good… KUDOS to Michael Andretti and Andretti Sports Marketing for busting their asses over the last couple of months to pull this race out of the ashes. After experiencing the “rebirth” of Detroit in person, I can only imagine the energy on the ground in Milwaukee this weekend.

Were the crowds earth shattering? No. Did the weather deter walk up? Probably. I’m not making excuses, but if this race is traditionally a walk up crowd, then a large rain storm an hour before the green flag would affect the gate. There must have been a good enough “fan footprint” though for the organizers to announce prior to the race even running today that 2013 is a go. I’ve not always been a big supporter of Michael Andretti, but he knows what he’s doing when it comes to rebuilding events. I saw it first hand when he and his team came in to rescue Toronto from oblivion. Sometimes an event, like a person, just needs someone to say “we believe in you”. I sincerely hope that Baltimore is the beneficiary of the same good will and resurgence.

I do know this, if the event wasn’t a “success” by some standards, it certainly wasn’t for lack of effort on the part of Andretti Sports Marketing. My inbox has been flooded since they took it over, with news and information about the event. Heck, shortly after the event wrapped, I got a “thank you” from their team. Covering everyone from sponsors, to media, to fans who stuck it out through the rain delay. I thought that was a lovely touch. Actually, I’ll post it below for you all to read too:

On behalf of Michael Andretti and the entire team at Andretti Sports Marketing and Andretti Autosport, we would like to express thanks to the great fans that didn’t let a 90-minute rain delay deter their desire to watch an IZOD IndyCar Series race today at the Milwaukee Mile. That spirit and passion is what has fueled the legacy of this historic track, and we’re thrilled to add our own small page in its history book.

Thanks to our superb list of sponsors that, on a very very brief timeline, stepped-in to support IndyFest. The backing of these sponsors – locally in Milwaukee as well as our national and international sponsors – makes it possible for us to offer reasonably priced tickets and an infield full of fun activities and events.

The “we couldn’t do it without them” crew of volunteers deserve thanks and recognition, as do the media members whose coverage tells the world about a great city and great track.

We’ll see you next June for the second Milwaukee IndyFest! We can’t wait to be back.
The staff of Andretti Sports Marketing.

Now, on to the racing.

From what I could see (and mostly hear) it was quite the race. I’m sure I’m not going too far out on a limb to think that we probably saw about a quarter of the actual passes that took place. The fact that with 5 laps to go, Oriol Servia, who had barely been mentioned, was somehow up to 4th from the back of the field tells me that.

The restarts were double file, and clean, with the entire field making it through and around the track completely each time. And only one of the incidents could really be attributed to brain fade. (Taku taking out Jakes late in the race) Again, it came down to the driver making the right choices and adapting their driving style to achieve success. I liked that it was an unexpected podium. I liked that 2 of the spots were taken by Andretti drivers. Bodes well for the success of the event and gives extra bragging rights to use when wooing sponsors for next year.

Now I would be remiss if I were to completely glaze over that whole pesky penalty fubar that happened. Personally, I’m satisfied with the explanation given by Beaux. I’ve sat in race control for a session. It’s fucking insane. A wall of monitors, data coming at you from all sides, radio communications constantly being relayed, and when the shit hits the fan, controlled chaos ensues. Add to that a technical glitch, rendering the thing you rely on to make the final decision virtually useless, and well, it’s a pretty thankless job. But Beaux has been doing an incredible job all season at it, something which apparently meant NOTHING to the piranhas on twitter this afternoon. It amazed me how quickly people turned on Beaux after the penalty was issued. Even citing last weekends call on Will Power as a mistake. Yes, the block party that Will himself admitted to being in the wrong for, owned up to and immediately apologized for after the race, was somehow deemed a bad call today. Really people? You would think considering his track record, he would have earned a “benefit of the doubt” hold on the play until after the race when he could (and did) explain.

And the ABC broadcast was only pouring gasoline on the situation everytime they replayed a clip and questioned it. Seriously people! Let’s add a “Race Control Media Liaison” to the “IndyCar get your house in order” list. With all the fucking commercial breaks during the race, one of those breaks could be used to get a breakdown of things being investigated, penalties being issued, etc… directly from Race Control. And correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the NBC team do exactly that? I seem to recall Jan or Kevin breaking into conversations during the race with clarifications.

Anyway, I’m sure the long dead horse carcass will be dragged around for the next few days until something else pokes at the hornet’s nest,  but my stick is firmly in it’s holster on this one. Does it suck for Dixon. Yes indeed. No doubt about that. But it’s done and can’t be undone. All we can do is move forward and put fixes in place so that never happens again. Kudos by the way to Scott for being the epitome of class and graciousness post race. If I wasn’t rooting so damn hard for James, I would be rooting equally hard for Scott. I think he is and would be a worthy champion.

In hindsight, I want to say I enjoyed today’s race, but the extra effort I have to put in just to watch/listen to it is starting to become tiresome. And I’m a diehard. Imagine all of the casual fans that are dropping off by the dozens with every minute, hour, day, race, they spend searching for coverage?

Anyway, I hope everyone that went today had a great time. I’m looking forward to your honest assessment from the ground on what worked, what didn’t and where to go from here…

2 responses to “Milwaukee Rewind

  1. The way the last TV deal was negotiated left me wondering if the IMS didn’t force Indycar into taking the ABC offer. For good and bad IMS focuses so much on tradition, that it seemed like they stayed with ABC just for that reason. (The ABC announcers are generic and boring.) From what I understand, they didn’t even listen to an offer from NBC. (Much like the pace car choice, which used to be a big deal. For years now it’s always a Chevy–because of “tradition” I guess. My thought is they could make it a big deal again marketing-wise if they’d open the pace car “competition” up to any and all manufacturers.) Lastly, I hope Bernard comes thru with a better broadcast up north. Canada is a huge and important market for Indycar.

  2. Oh my you are absolutely right about the Sky Sports studio section – dire, absolutely dire. I give them credit for going back to a studio for some analysis when the US goes to ad breaks (UK stations aren’t allowed to take as many as those in the US), but honestly, give us someone with a personality! Show more interviews and replays! Hell even send your own pit reporter, the way SPEED has a guy in the pits at F1 races even though most of them are in Charlotte. Even when T.Scheck was on the Indy 500 coverage he was flat and boring which as you know is unlike him! I sensed he was brought down to their level.

    I don’t know how accurate this is by I saw word that the UK coverage got 3000 viewers on Saturday. 3000. For comparison, other races can be 10x higher. I think we’ll have to hold off calls to have a race at Rockingham until the TV viewership is larger than the grandstand capacity. In mitigation a lot of die-hards were busy with Le Mans and a lot of ‘casuals’ were busy with Euro 2012 footie (not the World Cup! :) ).

    I think there are people at ESPN who do care, most of the pit reporters and probably some others on the ground. The rest though.. please point the cameras at the racing.

    I’m not the biggest fan of Michael Andretti, never have been, but I give him tons of credit for what he and his team are doing at the moment. Proper event promotion for what is it now, four races? Five? Junior teams in most of the ladder categories if not all of them. IndyCar could use a few more of him, hell all of racing could.

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