Saturday, July 25, 2009

Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a problem

I noticed NASCAR was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week. Between the BS about how prestigious the venue is they mentioned something about how during the 2008 NASCAR race at IMS the tires tore all to hell. Tire problems? At Indy? That sounds familiar.

In 2005 Formula 1 staged their United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it turned into the biggest charade in motorsports history as paying fans witnessed what as essentally a parade as all the cars using Michelin tires pulled out of the race after tire wear issues in earlier sessions.

Both times the blame was deflected. In 2005 Formula 1 and Michelin were blamed for the incident, in fact, it basically destroyed the relationship and left Bridgestone as the sole tire supplier in Formula 1 as Michelin pulled out. In 2008 NASCAR and Goodyear were blamed, Goodyear brought a bad tire and NASCAR let them do it people said. Different tires, different cars. But lets look again, what do these two incidents have in common?

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The track itself is the problem. Not F1, not Bernie's hair, not NASCAR, not Brian France's jaw, but the track. The holy, the infallible, the precious yard of bricks. The track caused both incidents, and if it wasn't Indianapolis Motor Speedway, people would've blamed the track for the incidents just like they blame Talladega when someone flies into the air at Talladega. The difference is that Talladega was built in the late 60's by a guy many people like to think of as a redneck, and the races were attended by people many like to think of as rednecks (and trust me, there are a good few rednecks) so it's impossible to attach "presitigious" to Talladega Superspeedway like you can Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but Talladega Superspeedway has one glaring thing in common with The holy, the infallible, the precious yard of bricks.

Talladega Superspeedway sucks.

It's too big, it's literally the size of an airport because it used to be it's own airport. You can't see all of it from the stands, a trait it shares with Indianapolis. It's gimmicky, just like Indy. No, there's nothing simple and elegant about building a golf course and a freaking castle in the middle of a track, it looks gaudy. You want to see how a simple, elegant, very American race track looks? Look here, where the USGP belongs.

I know, I know: The history! Just because a sports venue has history doesn't make it impervious to criticism. I'll say this right now: Hampden Park is an awful little turd of a stadium. It has a track that isn't big enough for track events, it's dirty, and the fans are a million miles from the field. Hampden has more history in it's sport than Indy does.

I know what you'll say: "Indy is better than Charlotte" and you'd be wrong. Charlotte's track isn't perfect, but it's better than Indy. Yes, Charlotte is gimmicky as hell, but you can see the entire tracks. Yea, tracks, Charlotte has three configurations within it's main oval, and you can see the entirety of all three from the stands.

It's time we admit the truth here, the track is doing more harm than good for motorsports in America.

NASCAR needs to leave it. Move Atlanta's date back to the fall, move California's fall date to Indy's weekend, and bring back Darlington's second date for Labor Day. Darlington is a better track.

F1 needs a USGP, but it doesn't need Indy. It needs to alternate coasts each year: Odd years - Watkins Glen, even years - Laguna Sega.

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