The Indianapolis 500 is still the biggest, most spine-tingling deal of all sporting events. So, why the downturn in worldwide excitement? There are a number of reasons:
1. The event has turned into a spec race, although this year’s Greatest Spectacle in Racing was probably what Tony George had in mind when he formed Indy Racing League and the split from CART occurred—lots of good wheel-to-wheel racing with few crack-ups.
2. There are not enough competing chassis and engine builders: I remember when Indy was all about innovation and engineering ideas being put to the test, and a corps of native and international drivers jumped at the opportunity to drive. Now we sweat fielding 33 cars.
3. There is a need for more speed, but not so much that it would compromise safety or our ability to see the cars on the track.
4. There is not enough national and worldwide pre-race publicity: Can you say, “It pays to advertise?”
5. Traffic and crowd control need to be improved: This year’s increased security was not enhanced by any effort to direct automobile and pedestrian traffic to and through their proper areas and gates.
6. Sharpen the timing and execution of the pre-race festivities and rituals. Some rehearsal wouldn’t hurt the execution of the traditional songs, events and the military fly-over.
7. If we can subsidize the Pacers and the Colts, why not the event everyone on earth associates with Indianapolis?
I doubt the 500 is going to die on the vine, but it is time to renew the energy it once had to assure its glory in the future.
Tad MacCartie, associate broker,
The Donaldson Group, F.C. Tucker Co. Inc.