So. Not. Indy.

Posted by Iannucci | 10/24/2006 | 4 comments »
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Just so I could read follow along with any Pressdog recap, I tried once again to watch an entire Champ Car race this weekend. Here’s my brief summary of the events at Lexmark Indy 300 (yes, that’s the name) at Surfers Paradise, Australia:

Before the start they showed a drive through of the entire circuit, which appeared to be 2.7 miles of concrete-walled alley. Like a freaking tunnel. 95%of the track was able to handle one-wide. I mean, not only were they deterring passing, they were insuring it wouldn’t occur. The only part they cars could go two-wide was in the final turn before the start.

And even that didn’t happen. They cars started to bunch up in pairs to start, but only the first four rows did this as the rest of the cars were still halfway around the course. Brilliant. So they decide it better to start single-file (a.k.a. Parade Style) again and off they went. I waited nearly ten laps to see ANYONE pass.

Eventually someone pulled a fuel hose and started a fire in the pits. Someone else wrecked in a chicane. Some stalled on the course. Paul Tracy took out the leader. And I turned it off halfway through. I think some young French guy with long hair won.

Anyhow, there was more “news that is not news” from Austrailia as Kevin Kalkhoven said there is STILL no imminent merger, although he still talks with Tony George. This is like reporting the sun is STILL rising in the East, although the East and West are talking. The merger isn’t happening, and that’s a good thing.

In the course of reading a story about the “not news” and the race recap, I read this gushing profile of the dreadfully dull race from Autoweek.

Rapprochement with the IRL might happen or not; meantime, if you ask how a Champ Car World Series going it alone can possibly come up with its own signature event to counter the Indianapolis 500, you have to visit Surfers Paradise and see the prototype for yourself. Words can’t do justice to the spectacle the Aussies put on.

“Indy,” their one-word name for the four-day extravaganza, is not only five kinds of race cars roaring through concrete canyons, but exhibitions of drifting, and dragster burnouts, and motorcycle stunts as well. “The sexy, choreographed moves of the Donut King Dance Team” turns out to be girls on a flatbed truck circulating the track. Downtown is a Rio-style Carnaval plus a Miss Indy competition—and one for Mr. Indy, too. Just off the adjacent beach are races for surf rescue boats. Overhead, though not much, military helicopters frequently lap the circuit and once a day, an F-111 swing-wing jet fighter spears between the balconies at ear-splitting speed and then rears up to execute a “Dump ’n Burn,” a glorious profligacy of flaming fuel, Australia’s answer to a Space Shuttle launch. Here in Oz you get all this and a general wealth of sun, sea and smiles, plus beer and bared boobs. No, it’s not like being back home in Indiana.
Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun! Why did they bother to throw a boring Champ Car race into that party?

Seriously, this is what Champ Car does to prolong its existence: lots of flash, pizzazz, and festivity to compensate for an otherwise boring racing product. I know folks like me like to belabor the point that the IRL needs to market itself better because at it’s core it has a wonderfully entertaining racing product, but the truth is there is nowhere near this kind of festivity for races outside of Indianapolis.

I’m still totally against a merger, but I wouldn’t be against the acquisition of the CCWS marketing department. Champ Car races have no passing, no recognizable drivers, and no “I Am Mindy” song, and yet they still (allegedly) pull 100,000 fans a race. It’s like premiering a bad movie every week – if you can hype the snot out of it then you can make your money back.


  1. pressdog // October 24, 2006 8:32 AM  

    Jeff is just covering for his Champ Car Fever! CCWS probably does attract 100,000 but most come for the other stuff that goes along with it. The racing is just part of the overall deal. They like to think it's the main event, but .... Ausies do know how to party.

  2. Anonymous // October 24, 2006 10:10 AM  

    Absolutely the worst racing on the planet.....

  3. Anonymous // October 24, 2006 11:43 AM  

    Is that dong from Autoweek actually implying that somehow Surfer's Paradise could counter the Indy 500?

    Dude. Fire up another one, why don't ya...

  4. Anonymous // October 25, 2006 1:17 PM  

    Champ Car is going in it own direction, which I say is fine, let it go. 2/3 of their races are street festivals where racing is almost secondary to the party.