Monday, August 01, 2011

Is Indy's Magic Dying?

Good morning. Happy August.

I usually don't use this blog as a link dump service, but I found this column quite interesting, and I wanted to share it and get some thoughts.

Sunday was the annual Brickyard 400 Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis. It's the 18th year they've run this race, and it's become quite a tradition for NASCAR drivers, many of whom grew up loving the Indy racetrack, especially the Memorial Day spectacle that is the Indianapolis 500.

In these 18 years, however, NASCAR has actually lost some footing in Indy. Last year's crowd was estimated at around 140,000, a great crowd for virtually any event you can think of, but not real good at a track that seats 250,000 and was routinely filling all the seats for NASCAR.

This year's turnout was even worse, closer to 100,000. Again, it's a good crowd if we're not talking about a car race at the Brickyard. But it's terrible at the Brickyard. senior writer Ed Hinton wrote a column after Sunday's race -- shockingly won by Paul Menard -- in which he took to task NASCAR's mere presence at the legendary track.

After taking shots at NASCAR for helping cause the IndyCar split that practically ruined the Indy 500, and at whoever sold the naming rights for next year's Brickyard race to Crown Royal, and at whoever decided it would be a good idea to stage a Nationwide race the day before next year's Brickyard race, Hinton threw in this bomb at the end.

The NASCAR community keeps swearing its everlasting love and awe of Indy.

Well, then, why have they degraded it, even stabbed it in the back?

If they worship Indy so much, then why did they stick a new Cup race just down the road at Kentucky Speedway, just a few weeks ago, to suck the discretionary dollars out of race fans along the Ohio River? This, to go with draining off fans via Kansas Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway, tracks built in the region since the Brickyard 400 began in 1994.

What say you? Has NASCAR stained the Brickyard? Have they -- practically -- sabotaged their own major event?

ESPN's first Sprint Cup broadcast of the season is the Brickyard 400. It's treated as a major event by everyone. But the fans apparently don't agree, as they've started to stay away in droves. No matter the reasons for this, it's NASCAR's duty to figure out why it's happening, and do something about it.

Hinton invokes the name of Humpy Wheeler, a great but retired track and racing promoter. It's someone like Wheeler who can resurrect the Indy race, but apparently that person doesn't work for NASCAR or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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