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.