Sympathy for the daredevil

Posted by Iannucci | 5/07/2009 | 11 comments »
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From the moment he announced his intention to compete in the IndyCar series Stanton Barrett has been labeled a punchline by virtue of the fact that (a) he's coming to IndyCar racing well past his 30th birthday and (b) the majority of his racing experience exists in something other than open-wheel cars. I think we can all agree it's rarely a good thing when you find striking similarities between yourself and Marty Roth or Milka Duno.

The fact that his day job often involves smashing up cars for movies only compounds the near certainty of being labeled a joke, but no amount of mockery has stopped Stuntman Stanton yet. Yes, he's struggled to keep pace in his rookie year, but he also has finished every race and stands 18th in the points ahead of guys like Mario Moraes and EJ Viso.

However, it looks like he soon may be stopped by a lack of sponsorship. It seems the which had preciously graced his sidepods has pulled their sponsorship and their sweet livery out of the IndyCar series, leaving the rookie without proper funding before the most important race of the year. I know - you're all shocked that sponsorship problems can still exist in racing.

Now, in prior years it wouldn't have been unheard of to see a guy like Tony George reach into his pockets to keep a team afloat. This kind of helping hand has been spoken under the breath for any number of reasons: sometimes it would be out of loyalty to the driver's family, sometimes to help a team make ti through a full seaons, sometimes maybe even to ensure a little extra competition on "Bump Day".

But these are different times, where the economy is craptacular and the field is otherwise filled with enough teams so as to make handouts to the struggling unnecessary. But oddly enough, the IRL has still decided to give Stanton a helping hand, albeit one that isn't holding a bankroll of cash.

They've given him free airtime on their Twitter account.

Now, I understand a lot of you might be getting annoyed at the sudden level of twitter awareness being discussed here and elsewhere, but the fact is millions of people are using it to communicate. Right now the IndyCarNation twitter account has over 2300 followers, which may not seem like a lot until you realize that's usually a pretty active base of people.

While it is likely that number includes a few clowns sitting in their mother's basement, there are also many people within racing who are following that particular account. So by allowing Stanton to give innumerable updates in 140 characters or less, what Mr George and the IRL have done is not just give Stanton the opportunity to broadcast to anyone who cares to listen, but also essentially allowed him to interview for a job over the span of several days in a manner of networking like never before.

Think about this: Stanton and Team 3G are still making calls to potential sponsors, but now he's got other people following him who might also know potential sponsors and be making calls, emails or "tweets" on his behalf. Add to that the fact that those potential sponsors can follow along and get a close look at how busy he's keeping, how much he and the team are working on the car, and how they're controlling costs, and you've got a lot more information than could ever be contained in a single phone call. Plus, you've got it for anyone who wants to know all at once.

It remains to be seen if all of this "twittering" results in sponsorship arrangements for the Team 3G entry, but if nothing else we may be seeing a glimpse into the future of how the IRL will assist struggling drivers who are looking for the dollars it takes to run at Indy. The amazing thing is that it doesn't cost the league a single cent.

(Photo: TrackSide Online)

11 comments

  1. ansen // May 07, 2009 2:06 PM  

    After keeping up w/ him the whole day on Twitter, I gotta admit - I'm rooting for him!!

  2. Denver Sports Couple // May 07, 2009 2:16 PM  

    Thank you for providing such a great example of a practical use for Twitter.

  3. pressdog // May 07, 2009 2:20 PM  

    I resent the "clowns in the basement" thing. I'm sitting in my own bought-and-paid-for basement, not my mom's, thank you very much.

  4. The SpeedGeek // May 07, 2009 2:42 PM  

    Damn, you, Pressdog. I thought I was going to be all hilarious swinging into these here comments to make the "my own basement" joke, and you've gone and taken away my fun. Insult added to the injury of my office blocking Twitter.com. I feel like a kid who's forced to watch the kids down the street who get to run through their sprinkler all day long, while all I'm allowed is a Dixie cup of water to pour over my head.

  5. AZZO45 // May 07, 2009 2:49 PM  

    My old office had banned ebay, numerous day trading sites, & for some reason Yahoo EM accounts...

    ...I'm sure twitter would have been their latest & greatest addition. Although the numerous people with Crackberries & i-Phones would get around that ban".

  6. Anonymous // May 07, 2009 4:29 PM  

    Love it! Most of the comments are defending twitter & generally ignoring Stanton, the SUBJECT!

    :)

  7. pressdog // May 07, 2009 6:27 PM  

    OK Anonymous, if that's your REAL name ... RE: Stanton. It's a tough break. It's a tough business. Always been part of the deal, probably always will be. Happened to my girl Sarah last year. "It's a hard-knock life" from Annie is running through my head. Tony says he's not bailing anyone out (except Ryan Hunter-Reay, but that's it), which is probably a good policy.

  8. SandWedge // May 07, 2009 7:21 PM  

    After seeing Will (Isitmayyet)'s pictures of Stanton's car, I'm doubly curious who the sponsor was that bailed; because I clearly see Interush on the engine cowling (who is the sponsor that gave them the awesome white/light blue paint scheme).

    Whatever the story, I'm definitely rooting for him and Beck to make the field.

  9. AZZO45 // May 07, 2009 9:50 PM  

    P-Dog... Mr. No-Name was just saying that Twitter had more comments aimed at it then Stanton!

    IMO, Sarah Fisher wasn't ignored last year... especially since she is a former IRL Most Popular Driver winner. Add the post race press with Tony Kanaan( feeling bad about his contact with her car). & her team's public admission that that accident might sideline them for her next race.

    I guess I don't follow the logic of your comments or am I missing the joke??? Sarah is also competitive on ovals. Stanton has been off-pace on RC's & the ovals. I just would never compare those two (too much respect for SF)

  10. Anonymous // May 08, 2009 7:21 AM  

    This is a sign of the times and the evolution of ride-landing at Indy. First it was a driver walking around the garage area with helmet in hand, then walking around with a briefcase full of cash, now it's a mobile phone. Can't say I like it all that much--I'd prefer the personal touch of hearing a knock on the garage door to begin a negotiation with a potential driver. Could you imagine A.J. being told he's got a twitter message from someone like Junqueira? Definately not "just one of them deals in racing," in my book.

  11. Dale Nixon // May 09, 2009 5:30 AM  

    As much as it pains me to say it, I think Stanton's going to be one of the guys watching the race from a suite IF the projected second-week cars all materialize.

    That isn't a knock on his talent as a driver, because I'm not certain he's had a fair shake in uninspiring equipment but the collective speed of the 3G car/team.