The Blame Game

Posted by Iannucci | 1/08/2008 | 11 comments »
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By now regular readers (as well as unleaded ones) know that the official stance of the My Name Is IRL site is decidedly against the concept of The Merger. I get the impression this puts me in the minority, so if you yourself are of the mind that the IRL should combine it’s operations with a fiscally insolvent and otherwise incompatible product, and if you somehow foresee a resulting increase in value from merging with a series that has spent much of this decade pouring money into exemplifying the lack of demand for racing comprised of unknown foreign ride-buyers driving on road and street courses, then more power to you.

Understand thought that this would make you a Eunuch of Unification, although I still love you, regardless. We can hug it out.

Of course you would not be alone as the company of Eunuchs includes many beat writers who continue to lead the cry of unification, such as John Oreovicz of ESPN.com. With little or no news happening Oreo has fallen back on the old standard of lamenting that open-wheel is held hostage, listing the 11 “culprits” responsible for this interminable split. Now this may be shocking, but a former CART reporter like Oreo doesn’t exactly lay the blame equally at the feet of both CCWS and the IRL. Here’s his quantitative breakdown of those responsible for the separatism.

F1: 1 (#8)
CCWS: 2 (#4, #11)
N-Word: 2 (#5, #9)
IRL: 6 (#1, #2, #3, #6,# 7, #10)

OK, then. Evil IndyCar people. Six out of eleven. Got it.

Well, two can play at this game so how about I give Oreo the sincerest form of flattery by imitating his list with one of my own. While Oreo’s is slanted towards the poor-pitifully-oppressed-Champ-Car-series opinion, mine is of a different nature. Namely, that of the would-that-other-series-please-go-away-so-the-IRL-can-strengthen-it’s-own-product variety. So here are my 11 culprits for perpetuating a split that actually doesn’t bother me one bit.

11. John Oreovicz – So long as he continues to write articles of lamentation (what – you thought this was his first such article?) that Champ Car and the Indy Racing League should hold hands and sing “Kumbaya”, Oreo becomes the equivalent of the band leader on the deck of the Titanic. John, there are plenty of IRL rafts. Feel free to jump before the other ship completely sinks. Again.

10. Paul Tracy – If the PT Barnum show hadn’t manifested itself in conflicts with fellow Champ Car competitors both on and off the track, race fans would have no reason to avoid sleeping during the CCWS broadcasts. If Tracy were just a little less interesting there would in fact be no viewers for that other series other than our good buddy pressdog.

9. Marco Andretti – Oreo can hold Marco’s dad accountable in his list, but this merger nonsense is even less urgent when Andretti 3.0 not only nearly wins the Indy 500 in his first try, but later goes on to become the youngest winner of a top-tier open wheel event in the US at Infineon last year. (Please withhold your Bryan Herta jokes for the time being.) Now the IRL has a young American driver from a famous family who is becoming a formidable racer for a top team, while Champ Car has…

8. Graham Rahal – His father won the Indianapolis 500 and owns an IndyCar series team, so of course Graham races in the CCWS. He’s a fine young driver, but despite racing for the only Champ Car team with any money his debut season ended with zero wins and but 4 podium finishes in 14 races. Oddly enough RLR has but one car this year and is sending out press releases regarding Graham’s non-CCWS ventures. Hmm.

7. George W Bush – From what I’ve read he’s to blame for everything wrong in the world today, so you can’t have a list of blame of any kind without including him, right? Instead of invading Afghanistan and Iraq he could have stayed focused on more pressing domestic matters like the state of open-wheel racing. Come on – America first, George!

6. Paul Page – The man who in my childhood was The Voice of The 500 took a stand when the Indy Racing League formed – against the IRL. After a few years broadcasting CART races Page tried to jump ship, but his over-the-top shtick didn’t stick anymore. Now he’s calling dragsters and street luge. Seriously. Flipping through the channels the other day I was certain I heard him doing competitive eating contests as well.

5. Sebastien Bourdais – Being awesome has it’s advantages, but when you are so awesome as to win nearly every other race you pretty much maximize the boredom factor of your series. He leaves the CCWS with four straight championships but a lot less in winnings than his IRL counterparts like Scott Dixon or Tony Kanaan, although he should be comforted in knowing he was one of a handful of CCWS drivers who got paid at all.

4. Robin Miller – After years of pimping the remains of CART and slamming Tony George, Robin has now taken to slamming both series - while covering their races, of course. His passion is unquestionable, his appeal is undeniable, his reports are unverifiable, and he makes a Champ Car fan like Oreo look downright diplomatic.

3. Paul Newman – My mother always says “When you hate, the only person you hurt is yourself.” Newman would be Exhibit A. Love the salad dressing, like the movies, hate strongly dislike the fact that despite being such a huge racing fan he’s so filed with Tony George Derangement Syndrome he won’t ever come back to Indy. No one wants to see you die a bitter man, Paul.

2. Judge Frank J. Otte – In 2004 the good judge decided that despite having the higher bid for the remains of CART, Tony George’s offer for purchase would be disallowed in favor of the lesser one from OWRS partners. George was reportedly offering $13.5M for the rights to selected races, while OWRS – comprised of three team owners – ended up paying $3.2M for the entire series. And at that price for a debt-ridden, cash-bleeding, race-cancelling mess of a series, it’s been a total bargain. For Tony George.

1. Danica Patrick – Had the raven-haired beauty not had those, uh, interesting pictures taken, and had she not held it together enough to get herself in the lead of the Indianapolis 500 with but a handful of laps to go, and had she not consequently appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated...well, there might have been a sound fiscal argument for merger, right? What’s done is done, and her popularity has made the need for unification rather irrelevant. Rather like these kinds of silly lists.

11 comments

  1. John Edward // January 08, 2008 9:13 AM  

    yes! yes! yes! an excellent post. i was jumping up and down squealing as i read it (well, figuratively).

    Jeff, I had a long comment written in response to this post, but I firmly believe that this post stands on its own.


    Sidebar: I blame Bush for everything. I mean really! A trillion dollars for national [offense] defense, yet not one dollar for decent toilet paper in the men's rooms at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport? C'mon Dubya...

  2. Justin // January 08, 2008 9:50 AM  

    NO NO NO! I want Champ Car eliminated from the face of the earth. I want all of the CART kool aid drinkers to be forced to watch a never ending loop of their crappy races. While us Indycar fans enjoy a quality product.Unification is not the answer these idiots (Champ Car types) chose a ship and I can't wait to watch them go down with it!!

  3. Johnny // January 08, 2008 10:59 AM  

    I'd like to pass a motion to see if we can get this one nominated for best MNIRL post EVER. This is podcast worthy for sure. And for the record, the Robin dig was funny, even though I love him.

    And on the matter at hand, Oreo's thing with Bernie is downright bizarre.

    Sourced from the linked article:

    "If anything positive came out of Indy's F1 experiment, it was that George now recognizes the appeal that road racing holds for U.S. open-wheel fans"

    Um, F1 leaving Indy had NOTHING to do with attendance, even if Bernie did completely screw Tony on the 2005 tire debacle, attendance remained stout.

    F1 left Indy because Bernie's sanctioning fee's were ridiculous and TG was the one track owner on Earth with the stones to call Bernie's bluff and not pay. Now everybody in F1, including their massive mega blue chip podium sponsors are pissed at Bernie for not making a deal, not at TG for not paying extortion.

    And as far as road courses go, Infineon and Mid Ohio looked OK. And the road course at IMS? Tell me what an albatross it is this September when 150,000 screaming bike fans are there for Moto GP, which Tony brought to Indy for 10% of the F1 sanctioning fee.

    The rest of the article just projects his bitterness in teams leaving CART for the IRL. I mean, how dare they consider they and their teams' financial well beings and sponsor wishes? The bastards. Don't they know being broke in CART is more noble than success in the IRL? /sarcasm What a complete tool.

  4. Sand Wedge // January 08, 2008 11:26 AM  

    don't need unification/merger for the series itself, just need the remaining team's/cars and for there to be only 1 series simply so ESPN Speed and everyone can stop harping about a supposed ongoing split/battle .

  5. mmack // January 08, 2008 12:38 PM  

    Jeff,

    Excellent post. While Oreo and everybody else wants reunification, nobody sits down and asks the hard questions, such as

    1) Whose chassis do we use? The DP-01 was optimized for street and road course racing and uses a turbocharged engine. The Dallara and IRL Panoz were designed for road and speedway use and use normally aspirated engines. If presto, both series merged now and intend to run as one for 2009, a portion of teams are going to have to buy new cars. If it's the teams from the OWRS side, count on adding two, maybe three teams, tops (N\H\L, PKV, and maybe Dale Coyne. Coyne always seems to be able to stretch a dime into a dollar). If the IRL capitulates to OWRS, not every current team is going to be able to come up with the cash to add new DP-01's either. Let's say for 2010 or 2011, the recombined series will have a new formula, and until then teams can use their existing cars. How do we design an equivalency formula between the two series? Even if every OWRS team came over to a new series, they'd still need to put out cash to modify the DP-01 to run on speedways. Some of those teams are run on shoestrings as it is, so where do they get the cash for upgrades?

    2) What races do we keep, and what races do we drop? After Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Long Beach, the list gets hazy. Let's be generous and add in Road America. Then what? There are contracts that need to be reviewed and there are going to be some very unhappy track owners. Some of those jilted track owners may be angry enoough to grab some lawyers and sue. Don't think so? Ask the N-word series how the Kentucky Speedway feels. (Even though the suit was dismissed, they will be filing an appeal)

    All a "reunification" will do is add a few teams (five or less) to either side of the ledger.

    Oreos story, to borrow Bill Shakespeare's line, "is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

  6. mmack // January 08, 2008 12:59 PM  

    Jeff,

    With your list, here's some things I'd like to add:

    Graham and Bobby Rahal. Bobby wants Graham in F-1. I'm thinking after "The American Scott Speed" debacle, having an American driver in F-1 is not one of Bernie's pressing issues. Hell, having F-1 IN the US isn't one of Bernie's pressing issues. Even if getting Graham a ride in F-1 was Job #1, wouldn't it help somewhat if he DROVE in EUROPE against other potential F-1 drivers? Y'know, like that Danica What'shername Bobby found "Over There". (As an aside, whatever happened to her? She seemed to have a promising future, but you never hear about her anymore. Does anyone know where that Danica lady got off to?)

    Robin Miller: I'd rewrite this as "His passion is unquestionable, his appeal is incomprehensible, his reports are unverifiable, and he makes a Champ Car fan like Oreo look downright diplomatic." Funny how Miller had his "Moment of Truth" about the other side when they said they no longer needed his commentary for their website. Same too with Gordon Kirby. I've given up on Miller. He's the perfect example of a curmudgeon who longs for a better, simpler, purer time that never existed.

    Paul Newman - IMO, All that bitterness comes from spending all that cash and never winning the Indy 500. Hey Paul, ever hear of a little something called "The Andretti Curse?"

    I agree with Johnny. Best. Post. Ever.

  7. pressdog // January 08, 2008 2:22 PM  

    Always nice to get a shout out in an IRL post. Appreciate it. I actually wouldn't merge with Champ Car if I were the IRL. I agree with Jeffy on that one -- not sure what the IRL gains from it. Given the goofy management over at CC, it's only a matter of time before the relatives gather and the plug gets pulled. Plus, it's not like Bourdais won every other race. He only won something like 45% of them. Pretty sure "Bourdais" is French for "Bitchslap."

  8. Zappatista // January 08, 2008 6:33 PM  

    Good post. The only thing that would be a positive is that the IRL could add Long Beach, Road America, Toronto, and possible Portland/Cleveland.

    This would add a viable west coast market with LB, and Portland.

    I know Road America is mighty (TOO) close to Milwaukee, but it is still an excellent course.

    Toronto is a good event and it would bring in the Canadian sponsors (CC has REALLY taken advantage of that huh?).

    I could take or leave Cleveland as it is Midwest, and we have all heard that this is where the IRL is represented, right? Just what I have heard...

    Obvioulsy the Chump Car people have not a clue on how to run a business. Everyone (Miller) makes a big deal out of how much $$ TG has spent, but I would have to believe that KK and GF have spent just as much, and they don't have IMS.

    It doesn't really matter, but I would like to have the tracks that I listed.

  9. Jerry B // January 10, 2008 5:08 AM  

    Finally, someone making a case against a merger.

    I has been long enough now that there is a whole generation of race fans that know little or nothing about racing "pre-split" and they don't care. They watch what interests them and could care less about the 'politics'. What is the point of a merger? You can't put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

    A merger will not suddenly make one series double it's car count or be more exciting. The 'new' series would just have less competition for fans in the sports market. The failure of one series would have the same effect.

    Everyone has ideas about how to make a 'merger' work. New cars, different venues, yatta yatta yatta. The fans just want to see a good show, have a nice time, and think they got something for their entertainment dollar. They don't care if the car has a turbo or has Aunt Tillie's grocery getter engine if is looks exciting and goes fast. If one series does that, it wins in the marketplace.

  10. Anonymous // January 21, 2008 11:39 AM  

    If it wasn't for Champ Car the IRL wouldn't look so good. The IRL is an organization that has changed it's vision more than the Clintons!! Why has the all oval series for American drivers turned into CART lite? Because CART had it right. Even with its problems CART was the greatest series on the planet. The IRL is a far cry from anything that resembles a serious racing organization. Tony's vision is an eye sore.

  11. Anonymous // January 21, 2008 5:40 PM  

    2. Judge Frank J. Otte – In 2004 the good judge decided that despite having the higher bid for the remains of CART, Tony George’s offer for purchase would be disallowed in favor of the lesser one from OWRS partners. George was reportedly offering $13.5M for the rights to selected races, while OWRS – comprised of three team owners – ended up paying $3.2M for the entire series. And at that price for a debt-ridden, cash-bleeding, race-cancelling mess of a series, it’s been a total bargain. For Tony George.

    It's not the judge's fault that Tony George and his lawyers didn't know the difference between a Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcy hearing.

    http://deepthrottle.com/Essays/I_never_thought.shtml