How the mighty have fallen…

Whether by choice or force, it appears that Tony George is no longer calling the shots. (One of course questions whether he’s really been calling any shots of late anyway… personally I don’t think he has)

Sure the easy thing to do right now would be to cheer or taunt or sling mud and insults, but to what end? What would be the point? Does it change the past? No…

I got tired of the whole “our side-their side” thing long ago, and was relieved in a way upon unification that I no longer had to choose and explain and validate. It was exhausting.

One has to think that Tony George, the man, unburdened by the titles President & CEO, is also feeling a sense of relief tonight.

Much the same way those of us that work in racing sometimes long for the days when we we’re ‘just fans’, when we went to the track ignorant of the insider gossip & news, and just enjoyed the racing, unaware of the ugly underbelly of the industry, it will be interesting to see Tony ease into the fulltime roll of just team owner.

There is a picture one of our photographers took of Tony in Texas (which I used in our story tonight) I remember when I saw it being mezmerized by it. It was Tony George, almost unrecognizable. Relaxed, sitting on the ground, headphones on. Gone was the buttoned down shirt and dress pants, in it’s place a t-shirt, jeans and a casualness. He looked unfettered and relaxed. Like a great weight had been lifted from him.

I get that there are many, in particular those who refused to accept, let alone embrace last years unification, who are still wearing giant chips on their shoulders. They are celebrating tonight. Dancing, shouting, jubilant at what they foresee as the final nail in the coffin, the death of the IRL.
Good for them. I hope they find some satisfaction in their revelry.

I, for one, don’t find any joy in this.
Instead I worry for the sport I love.

Was I happy with unification? no. It broke my heart to lose Champ Car. But the thought of losing American open wheel all together breaks my heart even more. So I was, and still am, willing to put the past behind and look to the future, to finding some common ground between IndyCar and Champ Car, taking the best of what they both had to offer and moving forward.

If IndyCar fades away, there is no magic bullet. No phoenix will rise from the ashes this time. For a while, if we’re lucky, the junior formulas (if they survive) will feed the European series. Hell, even that’s a clusterfuck.

This is not the time for divisive behavior. This is the time we need to rally. To fix this. To move forward. Lest we risk losing it all forever.

44 responses to “How the mighty have fallen…

  1. That was just absolutely perfectly stated, my dear. Perfectly stated.

  2. Wow. That was excellent.

  3. You should be worried.

    It’s been de rigeur for CART aficionados to wale away on TG, but the fact is TG was a member of CART. How many (former) CART people are left running the show now? He was also the deep-pockets benefactor who bailed out ChampCar owners/teams after the long-running, sorry-ass war of attrition had run it’s course.

    No more deep pockets. Not in this economy.

    The way this was handled by the Hulman family was really bad business. Just the rumor was damaging, and undermined efforts to attract series sponsors, etc. The reality is far, far worse. It’s hard to build business relationships when nobody knows who’s in charge.

    It appears the family has been freaked into action by the current economy. It’s hard to ignore having your wealth reduced by 50% or whatever the impact has been. Maybe worse. But, those are macro-economic forces, and aren’t related to the stewardship of IMS/IRL. You can’t stand up to the sea, and you can’t stand against the economic forces in play these days. You can only weather the storm.

    What’s happened today creates the impression that Indy Car is not weathering the storm. It was a bad move that apparently was driven by TG’s sisters alarm at seeing their personal wealth disappear. Not that I can’t sympathize with that, but sometimes it’s better to look good than to feel good—especially when feeling good really isn’t an option.

    The IRL ain’t looking to good today, and if that doesn’t worry you, you’re not a fan.

    • agree with all of the above.

      *am chuckling that I have not one, but TWO BooBoo’s who comment here*

    • I agree that this does not make the IRL look bad, but this is not just the economy and might be completely unrelated. The IRL never turned a profit. and I am sure Tony George told the board things would get better after he won the split – they just had to throw enough money at it.

      What I think happened after the Indy 500 in May was that the board realized things were not improving and they took action. Tony could keep the IRL but not control the budget – so he had to break even, something he knew he could not do without losing teams/drivers/events.

      Whoever will be the new CEO (it just makes no sense to not appoint someone when there is a leadership crisis like this) has a huge challenge in front of him.

  4. Well said, Meesh.

    I can only hope that Indy car racing doesn’t go the way Can-Am. I’m glad that they finally came out what was already a badly kept secret and just hope that I’m not watching the sport I love flail in its final days.

  5. Pingback: IndyCar Series News and Views - BashUp

  6. If they can take time out of their busy days, I’m sure that Mr. Eccelstone and Mr. France are laughing their butts off.

    Now we’ll see if there is anything left to salvage. Unlike a lot of Champcar loyalists I don’t blame KK for pulling the plug when he did. He was the good businessman the series needed, and got too late, and he did the rational thing when he saw the writing on the wall. We’ll now see how much romance that Penske and Ganassi have in their hearts; I see it as being pretty much up to them whether some semblence of top-level OW racing survives in the Western Hemisphere.

    • I too never threw the blame at KK. (of course I was privy to other info as well which swayed my support of him further)

      I think that if Penske were to step up (like he did with Saturn) that sense of “doom” would be lessened.

  7. Very thoughtful article. I hope the league officials (Barnhart, Chitwood…Lauren Bolander…whoever is left) will be speaking about the future of the series this weekend at the Glen.

    It all sounds very unorganized and that can’t be good for a racing organization.

    • it will definitely be interesting this weekend to get a sense of what the “players” are thinking and feeling now that the cat is officially out of the bag.

  8. WE ARE DOOMED!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Wow, not good at all. Planet IRL has a great article that says that the biggest affect in the short term will be shceduale, as in, more international and more street courses, for the sanctioning fee. So, probably no Road Amercia or Cleveland. Open wheel racing seems in real trouble, and I hope Penske feels like running a racing series for a few years.

    • weird… I swear I replied to this earlier.

      The schedule has already been mostly set or speculated upon, prior to this announcement, so that’s a bit of a stretch.

      Road America hasn’t been on the radar. (although if they kick Milwaukee to the curb, that opens up that region again, and would allow for a break of the oval monotony of this section of the season) They’ve also already taken Cleveland off the table with all of their oval/road course double-header bullshit. (it AIN’T broke! stop trying to fix what is already an awesome race!) Brazil is already pretty much a given, and China is on the table. Don’t have to be karnac to make those predictions, and it has nothing to do with the leadership of the series.

      Open Wheel racing doesn’t seem to be it trouble, it IS in trouble. Big trouble. Has been for a while.

      I agree on the Penske nod.

      • Sorry for asking an old question.
        I think what planet irl ( and me) meant wa sthe shceduale for 2011, 2012, ect, as in a f1 style sanctioning fee obsession for the series, because the checks aren’t comming from TG.

        • never apologize for an opinion or a question. (unless you’re being a jackass, but in that case, I’ll call you on it long before then…LOL)

          I was under the impression that the oval tracks also pay sanctioning fees no? (thus the problem with the Mile right now)

          I also believe (and may be wrong) that the larger sanctioning fees for the international races are large to cover the travel costs. It’s not just some redonkulous number and thus a “cash cow” to do an international race.

          I think where the financial gains will be made are in the additional sponsorship dollars from companies wanting a piece of the action in international markets.

  10. Good post. It would be very easy for the former fans of CART and Champ Car to crow about this from a great height but it wouldn’t be very becoming of us.
    Here was I thinking with the takeover done and dusted things were gradually improving – not as quickly as any of us would like, but getting there.
    Okay so the TV numbers are down – but we knew that would happen when this deal was announced and that it is a long-term thing.
    Okay so the racing isn’t as good this year – that’s because of some tech changes though, surely?
    In general IndyCar still makes the mistake of trying to replicate NASCAR. It will never do that and I hope the new helmsmen recognise that.
    As much as I disliked TG over the years I do think he’ll be a good team owner and I wish him well in that.

  11. Whats so sad is that I discovered Open Wheel racing in mid 07, and it looks like i discoverd how great it is, only to lose it a couple years latter. I watched Nascar for years, and then started to get sick of their bs, and moved to watching open wheel more . Never saw a champ car race except long beach 08, because I never could find it’s television time. I never really saw the split, so my opinions are based of what i feel is being done now. Meesh, did you watch racing pre split?

  12. The finish of the ’91 Indy 500 comes to mind…or ’92…or ’89. The phenomenal races at Phoenix…or Toronto…or CLEVELAND!! Geez, I’m waxing nostalgic here…

  13. since is was born in 92, definetly don’t rember those races, unless I had a past life

  14. Here, buddy, try this link:

    If you notice the car at the two-minute mark of the video (I believe that’s Michael Andretti) coming through the last turn at Laguna Seca and how it lays down the tracks…I don’t think the current phase of IRL car can do that if it wanted to.

    All the big-guns were racing in this series. There are other videos like this available on you tube, perhaps with better lighting. But this one is pretty good. Enjoy.

  15. One more and I’ll quit buggin’ with this.

    Some of this is from before the ’96 split, some of it’s from after. Hell, there’s even a few pictures/clips of cars I worked on in this one!

    You should start with the speakers on for this one as a car rockets up the hill toward the corkscrew at Laguna.

    Okay, I’ll stop now. This is Meesh’s site.

    • Just amazing how those car’s were before. This sounds strange, but I remeber a long time ago, probably 1998ish, seeing an open wheel race on tv. This was before I started watching nascar in 2001, and i was like six, but it was at what i think was a concrete short oval. I think it was Nazareth, but I don’t know, it could be either IRL or Cart, any ideas what track it was, also, it was summer.

      • Hard tellin’. Early summer (June) could be Milwaukee. Not sure exactly when CART dumped Nazareth, but I know they raced there in October back in the days when I was working on ’em…I think they moved it up to earlier in the year a few years later, but don’t recall it being summer. There were lots of other ovals that came and went, but when you say “short”, “concrete”, and “summer”, I’m inclined to think Milwaukee…though it wasn’t really concrete, it was just very old pavement that looked pretty bleached out. If it was an IRL race, I couldn’t tell you ’cause that series wasn’t on my radar in the late 90’s…even Indy had lost most of it’s appeal to me during that time.

        • Hard for me to tell, because i have never seen a race at millwakee beacuse my abc station had a telethon on the last two years. But, it makes sense

      • It might be Dover. The IRL went there twice and the first race there was akin to last year’s Richmond race.

  16. Hey, keep em coming if you got em! I don’t mind at all!

  17. your not bothering me, its great to see the cars and stuff before the splint

  18. It was some really outstanding racing with a star-studded cast of drivers. I don’t know if we’ll ever see anything like that again, but I’m still hopeful…(if they’ll adopt my 2010 rules package! πŸ˜‰ )

  19. Hey ,if you want to see some champ car / cart, the free multiplayer racing managment game, has Champcar 2.0(1995), IRL 2008, and Champcar generic series, ( late 1990’s) ( I think). But, i takes a while to become qualified to play those, and do not start a game if you won’t have access to a comptuter for a more than three days, I took a five day vacation, and got kicked out of my game.

  20. Here’s what I don’t get. 1) The sisters enable TG to fight the civil war for a decade. 2) TG finally buries CC, taking a massive toll on the sport as a whole. 3) Sisters fire TG and want someone else to run the sport: they want to have the profitable race but not the money hemorrhaging IRL. Someone, like say CC? WTF were they thinking? Where were they a decade ago? I feel like I’ve got to be missing something here.

    To dance on TGs grave now is just as dumb and shallow sighted as the decisions by “the board”.

    • Not that I’ll stop doing this but it’s almost not worth trying to figure out what these people are thinking. You’ll just spiral into an abyss of WTFness.

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