clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2012 should be the latest, not the earliest date for new car

New, 5 comments

I guess Roger Penske doesn't want to upset the apple cart.

Considering that he has a heaping load of Washington Delicious Reds at his disposal, I don't suppose you could blame him.

The IZOD IndyCar Series, if Roger Penske had anything to do with it, would probably maintain the status quo for the next, oh, half decade before adopting a new chassis spec. They say that "The Captain," as he is called, always has a chair when the music stops, but apparently in this case he doesn't even want to start the tunes up for a while.

But with all due respect, Mr. Penske, the longer you go without music, the less likely it is that people will stick around hoping to dance.

It feels like we've been waiting for a new IndyCar for... well, forever. Every year we are told that something fantastic is just around the corner, that plans are in the works to bring about a more exciting, more sensible formula to our favorite racing category.

But every year we are disappointed by another delay. To paraphrase the movie Days of Thunder, with every delay and excuse the IndyCar series resembles a monkey seducing a football rather than a top-tier motorsports series.

Let me put it more bluntly, guys. You're starting to look incompetent. You talk about it being too expensive to build a new car and that you don't have enough time to do the proper research and development. But the longer you voice that refrain the more it looks like you simply can't manage your money or time correctly.

You point to the demise of the Champ Car series on the heels of the Panoz DP-01's introduction. "Look what happened when their teams had to buy whole new cars all at once!" you cry. What you fail to realize is that the new car didn't kill Champ Car - Split politics, the Europeanization of the circuit by Chris Pook and the absence of the Indy 500 did. If anything, Champ Car waited too long to revolutionize their product, and by the time the DP-01 hit the track the writing was already on the wall for the series.

The thing is, there hasn't been a true sense of innovation around IndyCar racing for almost two decades. Thanks to the Split, the prevailing sentiment has been, "Let's hold onto what we have." At first the enemy was another series, and now the enemy apparently is the economy. There always seems to be something that you feel you need to protect IndyCar against, something that you fear will hurt your series if you risk exposing yourself to change.

Well, I'll tell you something from my experience, and that is that death by stagnation is every bit as final and every bit as certain as death suffered by change. The difference is that the latter death is at least more honorable because it involves risk and initiative and balls, whereas the former concerns fear, uncertainty and a lack of will. If the IndyCar series is destined to die, then I want it to go out fighting, not whimpering in a corner.

In case you haven't noticed, fellas, the recent increase in buzz around the IndyCar series isn't because you guys have put on better-than-expected races in Brazil and Florida. It's not because Danica Patrick is still in the series. It's not because Ashley Judd is giving Oscar acceptance speeches to Jamie Little on the pit lane. It's because there's a whiff of something new and exciting on the horizon that will finally bring back some innovation and change to a form of racing that, for all intents and purposes, is stuck in 1995 like a mosquito in amber.

I have news for you - you may be satisfied with the status quo for another few years, but your fans aren't. And it's been pretty well proven by now that those outside the fan ranks aren't really interested in the quality of your product except for one weekend in May. So it's time to act. Past time, in fact.

Do your due diligence to safety and make it as affordable as possible, but you have to start running, not walking, and those who can keep up will do so. The time for delays and hedging your bets is over. Don't let IndyCar wither and die on the vine because you don't have the stones to make a difference.