T here’s a lot of attention on IndyCar right now, some of it for the right reasons – the competition, the stars and the storylines – and some it for the same old problems that seem to plague the series.
Last week was a perfect mix of the good and bad for IndyCar, which sailed out of a successful Indianapolis 500 hoping to capitalize on a nice television rating and strong buzz around the series. Then the excitement was snuffed out two days after the race by roughly 140 characters on Twitter.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard tweeted last Tuesday that a team owner was trying to get him fired, proving that some things never change for a series that’s constantly held back by internal bickering and personal agendas. So just like that, the talk shifted from Dario Franchitti’s third Indy 500 victory to the poisonous politics of open-wheel racing.
Even worse, when the opportunity arrived for the attention to shift back to the track, things literally fell apart.
Curious fans who tuned in Sunday to see IndyCar return to Detroit for the first time since 2008 were subjected instead to a 2-hour delay because portions of the Belle Isle street course began to crumble.
The surface came apart in chunks, and the severity wasn’t realized until James Hinchcliffe drove over a pot hole that sent his car sailing into a tire barrier.
The sold-out crowd headed for the gates as crews furiously worked to fill the gaps in the track with expoxy. When the race finally resumed, it was shortened 30 laps to create a 15-lap shootout to the finish.
It might have made the best out of a bad situation, but reaction to the move was decidedly mixed.
The delay in Detroit was certainly not the follow IndyCar needed after Indianapolis. But sometimes things happen despite all the best efforts to put on a first-class show, and all anyone can do is try to roll with it.
Sadly, some people won’t see it that way. They’ll throw their hands up in disgust and use the shoddy track conditions as yet another example of IndyCar screwing up everything it touches. Some might even point to Bernard, who seems to take the blame for every issue that ails IndyCar.
There’s no overnight fix for IndyCar, and it’s terribly unfair to think Bernard should have turned it all around in his 27 months on the job.
Yes, he’s made mistakes, and because he’s a promoter at heart and lacks any racing background, team owners have legitimate gripes about some of Bernard’s decisions. But, more important, he’s brought an energy back into IndyCar.
People are paying attention again, just maybe not in the numbers that the sport needs.