The Dignity and Disillusion of Bump Day.

Jubilation and Heartache. Relief and Despair. Pride and Anger.
These were just some of the emotions present over the weekend.

But a funny thing happened as, after 10 hrs to contemplate it while driving, I finally relaxed and sat down in front of my computer to put my thoughts down on experiencing my first Indy 500 qualifying weekend live and in person.

I was exhilarated. I was exhausted. I was giddy. Then I was crushed.

I found out it was all for show. A giant, fraudulent, puppet show.
And I’m still not sure if I was a member of the audience or one of the puppets whose strings were being mercilessly yanked about by the cash grabbing puppet-masters, as I was there covering the “drama” of it all, thereby perpetuating their hoax.

I went from only hours earlier, standing literally inches from heartbroken drivers as they exited their car, myself choking back the tears as the magnitude of the “loss” was palpable, to sitting mouth agape hours later, not believing what I was reading.

Apparently, if you deem your team, driver, sponsor more valuable than someone else’s, you can actually just cut a cheque and buy your way into the show. Thereby nullifying the entire weekend.

What was the point of it? Why did I just drive 2042 km over the course of 2.5 days, spending over $200 on gas alone, surviving on approximately 9hrs of sleep total, and 1 actual meal to be there.

I feel like I’ve been punked.

I don’t care if it’s been “done before”. Just because a precedent has been set, doesn’t make it right.

I don’t care if the sponsors/driver are “full-time”. If part-time and one-off drivers are so disposable, they shouldn’t be allowed to, or rather, at this point, they really should have no desire to, try to participate and make the Majestic 33.

What of their sponsors? Their supporters? Their hopes, dreams, goals. Are full-time sponsors guaranteed a commitment while part-time sponsors warned that they may be treated like someone’s booty call when all is said and done?

I am disgusted by the process and I am disappointed by the flippant quotes of those who benefited.
Yes, there is a lot of “don’t hate the player, hate the game” being spouted. Fair enough. But I do find it ironic that one of the most vocal of the anti-ride-buyer brigade becomes part of the ultimate and most glaringly obvious ride buy.

AJ Foyt got not one, but two drivers into the show. (and in good positions!) On a budget of little more than blood, sweat & tears. He should have been steadfast and proud and angry at the suggestion that his team/drivers were any less worthy of taking the green flag on Sunday. He should have told Michael that if his (RHR’s) sponsors were that important to him, then slap the stickers on Junky’s car, and throw him (AJ) some crewmen, and HIS team and HIS driver would honour the sponsors by driving their asses off and getting them (AA & sponsors) some airplay. That would have been a feel GOOD story. That would have drawn support and POSITIVE press. I would have sought out a case of SunDrop and couriered something DHL just because I would have been proud to support a sponsor and two teams that understood the value and the history of the race and the day.

Instead those sponsors are now added to the pile of others I will not support because they are associated with someone or something that actually brings, in my opinion, shame to the sport and further chips away at the fleeting glory of this antiquated race and gentlemen racer rule book. Times have changed. The sport has changed. The rules need to change. Period.

Were I not already so financially strapped and locked in, I would be seriously reconsidering my trip back to Indy this weekend as I feel the event is now a wee bit tarnished at the moment and it will need an awfully big sham-wow to buff it back to a brilliant shine. Sad as it truly is a historic year.
Guess I’ll just focus on the positives (3 Canucks in the show, one on pole!!) and focus on meeting friends and enjoying some time away, and leave all the pomp and circumstance, ugly politics to someone else to cover.

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11 responses to “The Dignity and Disillusion of Bump Day.

  1. preach it, meesh! I always thought Michael Andretti was too arrogant for his own good and this proves it a thousand times over. He likes to talk about what a good benevolent person he is for fighting hard to get RHR in the race a few hours after firing one of the most successful team chiefs in history for something that is clearly Michael’s fault. He enters five cars for the race every year, spearheaded by two of the most self-important drivers in the series, then expects them to all be in the top 10 or something ’cause, damnit, he’s Michael Andretti!

    Thank God the best team owner in the field this year so far is someone we can get behind who faces real adversity every time he wakes up in the morning…it’s just a shame our ESPN/TSN overlords won’t bother telling his story because, omg danica.

    • Sam Schmidt and Sarah Fisher appear to be just the quality of people we fans must all get behind for the good of the future of the sport. TCGR/Penske/AA have created a business model so capitalistic, they’re turning off fans who appreciate the sport of racing… ESPN in it’s current form will never adequately serve any hardcore audience. Until they learn how to properly do it, it WILL eventually come back to bite them. Oh yeah HB, who is this Danica you speak about? (heh)

  2. You nailed it, Meesh, especially regarding AJ. Michael, from a business standpoint, had to try to cut a deal…but AJ did not have to listen.

    If the rule book could be changed to screw up the qualifying format such that it now requires–at a minimum!!!–over half the initial field of 33 to requalify for their spots after posting times that get them in the field, the rule book can be changed to ensure that Bump Day is not a sham.

    I understand that RB came into this game without any real knowledge and a mandate to fix problems that he could not yet comprehend. What bothers me is that while much of what he’s done is great, other changes appear to be implemented without having thought through all of the ramifications first to be sure that the end result is fair and integrity is maintained.

  3. The irony for me was that in the scant moments immediately following the Venomous Prince’s exculpation of Captain SunDrop, I was even MORE a supporter of DHL and SunDrop and RHR, realizing what torturous week they were about to embark upon.

    Not 24 hours later though, I as a fan and previous consumer of both sponsors and fan of AA, had elected to remove any support for the sham-tastic arrogance they displayed. The Foyts are culpable as well since it takes 2 to tango. I cannot ever look at those two teams in the same light again. AA will be even more shambolic next year and while I can appreciate Foyt’s self-funding for so many years for the good of the race and certain drivers, this goes a long way to erasing the feel-goodness of that. RHR is neutral in my eyes and sad the Bruno had a price that was so easily paid. This whole thing reminded me of the movie ‘Scent of a Woman’. To bad Pacino wasn’t here to walk in and totally explode the Andretti Farce.

    They can use all the PR BS they want, but the remaining 837 (or so) diehard fans (with a Roger Daltrey scream echoing in my head) won’t get fooled again. Our only interest lies in seeing the acts play out as they may without undue influence. I eagerly await the day the old Speedway evens it up, as it always seems to. I can only hope it’s sooner than later.

  4. Ultimately, Meesh, I don’t understand why there couldn’t simply be a sticker swap. That is what is happening with the Fuzzy’s sponsorship. I guess andretti sold a sponsorship featuring “Indy 500 driver Ryan Hunter Reay”

    Historically, everytime Foyt rolled out a car for George Snider in years gone by, everyone knew it was for sale the next day. Some years he had takers and some years that car became a start n park. Foyt saw the size of the list entry list this year and decided to play the same game this year. And he hit the Jackpot. Good for him I guess. How Trump-ish. Great selection to drive the pace car. Can someone get Zanardi on the phone?

    IndyCar could have closed the loophole then as it could now, but if it closes that loophole, here’s the sponsors dilemma. If you could choose to put your $$ in a ‘risky’ investment like IndyCar and the 500 or you could buy a spot on one of the nascar teams with a provisional guarantee to be in every race, why would any sponsor ever choose the IndyCar route?

    As much as this sucks, how does it compare to DrPepper pulling their complete package from andretti next year? No Sundrop, no Venom, no 7Up (assct for conway) and no Dr Pepper (planned for Conway later this year). If that happens I doubt andretti fields a team at all other than a car for Marco on the family dime. How does the series benefit from that?

    What needs to change aren’t the rules, but rather the business model the league operates on, but that isn’t simple. If I find some time, I’ll post about it at my site.

  5. Yeah, the whole Monday fiasco really destroyed all the amazing tales of the weekend. From Simona’s amazing talent and courage to go back out and put a lesser back-up in the show with burnt hands.

    Buddy Rice’s amazing return to IMS to make the fast 9. Sarah Fisher Racing and Ed Carpenter shocking many early on Saturday. To Dario’s arguably biggest embarrassment in years. Tagz twice tacking the pole. Plus the Imperial Empire (aka Penske) not making the fast 9, just to name a few examples from one day.

    I drove a nice distance myself to be there. (At 45 MPG HWY, I luckily only used 30 gallons to and from for this debacle.) Monday while near Ashland, Ohio my buddy sent me a text about the pending “word” on Foyt/Andretti.

    I was only shocked in that it was more important to get RHR in then Mike Conway (AA lone winner in 2011). Everyone is talking about boycotting RHR’s sponsors. I have to laugh at this, I mean how easy is Sun Drop soda to even find? I can only find it at a supermarket 30 minutes away. As for DHL, well I was raised in a Union home, and UPS are Teamsters, DHL are “a bunch of scabs!” as my late father would say.

    This whole matter is only a distraction from the real story, Andretti’s drivers stink on ovals. Their best driver at IMS was Johnny; who had not been in an IICS livery in over 12 months, and yet with what was most likely the “worst” car of the bunch, John was the only AA driver to get in on day one.

    BTW, I too got a hardy laugh at Jimmy Vasser complaining about a driver buying their way in a race. Isn’t that how we got stuck with Mario Moraes & E.J. Viso?

  6. I don’t think it negates the quality of what was seen in qualifying over the weekend. What it does negate is the reality of RHR’s status within the race as a deserving contender/participant…and DHL/Sun-Drop should be re-evaluating the quality of the AA partnership in providing a positive experience for its partners. Come race-day, should the snobby and whiny little snot that is RHR end up winning the show in Bruno’s car, ALL money should go not to AA, but to Bruno after legitimate costs/expenses for fielding the car for the month are given back to the Foyt team.

    Randy Bernard and whoever else may be involved in the rules-writing should have their collective antennae up and on very high alert this weekend when RHR gets intro’d at the Speedway. They’ll hear with their own ears exactly how everyone feels about this BS. Then hopefully they’ll take appropriate action.

    I get even more pissed off the more I think about it and vent here…so, try to enjoy the race, Meesh. Tag, Cookie, Ed C., SIMONA…all good stories. Be safe and sane down there…and if you get a chance, persuade someone to take you to dinner in the Broadripple area (NE Indy). There’s some serious high-quality cooking going on up there.

  7. Mike,
    The 41 is as unlikely to win the race with RHR as it was with Bruno. It is not like they bought Dario’s seat.

    • Yeah, Spike, I’m aware that it’s highly unlikely…but it’s possible. Win, 5th, 10th, or 33rd…whatever place the car finishes, my view is the same. The costs to Foyt of running the car for the month get covered (the suspected 1/4 million [see Robin Miller’s mailbag] to swing the deal should have covered the costs in the sellout). All the rest of any prize money from the purse should go to Bruno. And the rules should be changed on May 31st so this can’t happen anymore.

  8. I agree completely with Meesh. It’s ridiculous for them to buy their way into the race. Until there’s a rule change there is ZERO danger EVER for Danica or Marco. their dad/sponsor will buy them into the race. It makes a mockery of the Bump Day Drama. turns out… all you had to do is buy another car.

  9. While unfortunate, it didn’t destroy the day or ruin the upcoming race for me. It was just another in a historical line of behind the scenes deal-making–an owner is free to replace a driver at any time, that’s the way it’s always been done. But I do agree that a change should be made and the driver and car should make the grid. I’ve always criticized Nascar for having rules to make sure the stars always make the race, so to fair, Indycar deserves the criticism in this case.

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