IBJNews

Sweeping new rules await Indy 500, insiders predict

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

An overhaul of the Indianapolis 500 and Indy Racing League, possibly as soon as 2012, could take the legendary race back to its roots as a bellwether of automotive innovation.

The biggest change afoot is the creation of one set of engine and chassis rules for Indianapolis and another for the rest of the series. The rules for the Indianapolis 500 would be much looser, encouraging the kind of technological innovation that made the race famous. Other races in the series would have stricter rules about engine/chassis combinations in an attempt to control costs for teams.

The chorus of IRL voices calling for the changes is growing louder, and those who follow the sport think new IRL CEO Randy Bernard is the man to spark the revolution. The 43-year-old former head of the Professional Bull Riders circuit took the helm of the racing series March 1.

Some changes have already occurred. This year, IRL and Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials have compressed the schedule for the Indianapolis 500 to two weeks, shortened qualifications to a single weekend, and instituted a made-for-television, nine-car shootout for the pole qualifying position.

indianapolis 500 Many automotive innovations, including steering wheel controls, have roots in racing. (Associated Press photo)

But some within the series don’t think the changes are enough to restore the fan following that the race enjoyed before the IRL was created in a 1996 split with now-defunct Champ Car.

“Indianapolis needs more than a small change to the formula,” said Mike Hull, managing director of Target Chip Ganassi Racing. “We need to open up the rules. Open it up to big speed.”

That sort of tack could take the Indianapolis 500 back to its roots, when almost anything was allowed and there was a great entrepreneurial spirit surrounding the race, said Tim Frost, president of Chicago-based Frost Motorsports, a motorsports business consultancy.

Bernard told IBJ recently that those discussions are in the formative stages, and said a final call will require the approval of IMS CEO Jeff Belskus.

Bernard shakes tree

One thing is certain. A serious critique of the Indianapolis 500 and Indy Racing League already has begun, driven largely by the fact that Bernard and Belskus are both new in their positions.

Bernard, series sources said, strongly supports the idea of allowing a wide array of engine and chassis formulas at the Indianapolis 500.

bernard Bernard

Since he took office March 1, Bernard has shown he’s not afraid to shake things up.

He’s already proposed offering $20 million to any driver who can win the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, which are held on the same day.

Bernard is proposing moving the start time of the Indianapolis 500 back two hours to 11 a.m. to allow drivers interested in the prize enough time to fly to Charlotte, N.C., where the NASCAR race is held that evening.

The Indianapolis 500, which now starts just after 1 p.m., for years began at 11 a.m. But race promoters and their television broadcast partners sought a later start time in 2005 to attract more West Coast TV viewers.

While the biggest changes aren’t anticipated until 2012, Bernard said he anticipates some announcements about the IRL’s future, possibly as soon as the end of this month.

“[Bernard] has to ratchet up the marketing hype for this series, and May—when lots of people are focused on the Indianapolis 500—is the perfect time to do it,” Frost said.

Bernard has formed an advisory committee composed of a league representative, team owner, engine expert, promoter and racing engineer to recommend 2012 engine and chassis formulas.

He said the committee is looking at a broad range of strategies to increase the visibility of the series and the 500. The committee is set to unveil its first set of recommendations late next month. Among the changes being discussed is ditching the IRL name in favor of IndyCar Series. But the new equipment rules would be the biggest change.

“Wherever you can create story lines, there’s opportunity,” Bernard said. “Look at the ’40s and ’50s with the turbine engine. Those were great story lines, and we have to create those kinds of story lines.”

Bernard’s 15-year run with the PBR proves his marketing moxie, Frost said.

Bernard is a California native who hadn’t attended an IRL race until this year. But he also had little rodeo/bull riding experience when he became founding CEO of PBR at age 28, helping it become a nationally televised attraction on Fox, NBC and Versus.

He started with a handful of bull riders who agreed to pony up $1,000 each and turned it into a multimillion-dollar sport, which saw television-ratings increases of 30 percent last year and 23 percent this year, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Research.

Belskus protects tradition

Belskus, the former IMS chief financial officer who took over for Tony George as head of the Speedway last July, has been with IMS 23 years, and doesn’t take major change to the Indianapolis 500 lightly.

“The Indianapolis 500 is clearly the crown jewel event of the Indy Racing League, so we want to respect its heritage and tradition,” Belskus said.

Despite compressing the month of May as a cost-savings move, Belskus stressed that the Indianapolis 500 is still a successful and profitable venture for the Speedway.

But he didn’t discount the possibility of big changes in the next few years.

“If there’s a compelling reason to make a change, we’ll make a change,” he said.

belskus Belskus

Belskus confirmed that the idea of opening up the engine and chassis formulas and allowing more innovation at Indianapolis has been bandied about, but added the idea “would need more in-depth discussion” before it is adopted.

Addressing safety issues and the expense to teams is essential, he said, adding that the changes would also require input from series partners such as chassis maker Dallara and engine maker Honda.

Dallara’s deal with the IRL is year-to-year and Honda’s deal runs through 2011, making 2012 an ideal year to launch new regulations.

Catering to car buyers

The Indianapolis 500 has a history of fostering innovation, including the first rearview mirror in 1911, disc brakes in 1948, and the fuel-injection engine in 1949. Ganassi’s Hull would like to see the race again become a showcase for automobile manufacturers.

“Changes need to be made in IndyCar to make it relevant with what people in the automotive industry are talking about today—green technology; smaller, more efficient engines; fuel use and performance; and lighter cars and engines,” Hull said.

indianapolis 500“Everybody is so caught up in what the car will look like,” he said. “Instead, we should be creating an avenue for car manufacturers to get back in this series with the technology they can provide. We have to have a fresh approach. We can no longer think in a shoe box.”

Dennis Reinbold, a local car dealer who co-owns an IRL team, said aligning more closely with the mainstream automotive industry “makes a lot of sense.”

“Becoming relevant to the car industry is how the Speedway began,” Reinbold said. “Getting in line with that could open up some serious doors.”

Reinbold said the IRL must get in tune with mainstream auto consumers, too.

“We have an eight-horsepower pig engine and a race-specific chassis,” Reinbold said. “We have to start talking the same language as the auto industry. They used to say 500 miles on the track is worth 50,000 miles on the highway. I think there’s still merit in that.”

But team owners think opening up regulations governing car types at Indianapolis could ratchet up the price per car by as much as $1 million.

Formula One has had some success in attracting a worldwide audience by letting teams spend big bucks on innovation. But with the cost to operate a team eclipsing $70 million annually, F1 is trying to limit those costs to assure it has an adequate car count.

When George broke away from Champ Car and formed the IRL in 1996, one of his major objectives was making the series’ on-track racing more competitive by setting tight engine and chassis formulas and capping costs. George reasoned that, by making open-wheel racing more price-friendly for teams, he would open it to more American racers.

With only a handful of full-time American drivers in the IRL this year, George’s critics said that tactic hasn’t worked.

The IRL has succeeded in capping expenses, with a typical budget ranging from $4 million to $10 million per car annually. But some fans say the 8-year-old car formula the series is using has become outdated and boring.

“Many people who follow auto racing want innovation,” Frost said. “They come to the track to get a peek at tomorrow’s technology.”

New technology is welcome provided the series can guarantee that teams remain competitive, Reinbold said. Teams that aren’t competitive can’t keep sponsors, he said. “So many of these sponsors become involved in the sport to gain exposure at Indianapolis.”

Reinbold said his team lost its primary sponsor, Purex, when its Chevrolet engine couldn’t compete with Toyota and Honda in 2003.

“It’s an impossible thing to explain to sponsors,” Reinbold said.

Even the series’ wealthiest teams have concerns.

“If you open up all the rules, the difference between the haves and have-nots would be so great,” said Team Penske President Tim Cindric. “Whether that would be interesting or not, only time would tell.”•

ADVERTISEMENT

  • completely right
    Tony George tried to fix what was not broken, please go back to 1995 when open wheel was supreme!
  • Empty Seats...
    I lived in Indy from 93 to 09 and remember going to the track for the first time when it was at its peak. Very exciting seeing the "spectacle" of it all. I no longer live in state and did not even realize the race was taking place today until I was flipping through the channels. I saw zero marketing and am looking at lots of empty seats. I was at my gym earlier, which has multiple tv screens showing espn and the like. Guess what? No Indy 500 on at the gym. Nobody seems to care enough to even talk about it. The apathy being displayed is probably the worst thing that could happen to the once proud tradition. It seems as if the race has gone from being an international event to a regional back page story.

    I was fortunate enough to see what it once was. Unfortunate to see it dismantled almost immediately after I became interested. Such is life... People will keep tweaking things to death in an attempt to make it better, only to lose sight of the big picture, muddled in the small, insignificant details of the matter. Sad really; everybody loses... Everybody

    I came across this forum by typing, "Indy 500 empty seats," into google.
  • One Manufacturer Engine Spec Straight Up Sucks
    The main thing that makes the IRL B-O-R-I-N-G is the fact that the engines are all made by one manufacturer. What is the fun in that? What is competitive about that? I understand that it makes it more of a "driver's race" but it also makes it about as much fun to watch as watching paint dry! Bring back multiple engine manufacturers, multiple chassis' makes, and tire options. Then, more people will tune in. It is that simple. If I want to watch a spec series, I'll watch Spec Miata, thank you.
  • To William:
    WELL SAID!!! You nailed it!
    • "500 Future"
      To put it bluntly; the current state of competition at the Indianapolis 500 is not even close to the mechanical diversity, intense fan interest and world-wide one day excitement that was the "500" in the decade of the 1960's! During those years there were many race engine manufacturers,more than several chasis builders, Lola, McLaren, AAR Eagle, Cayote, Wildcat, Watson, Epperly, and Kurtis and even more. Powered by 1000-HP turbo-charged Ford and Offenhauser motors that thrilled the grandstands at Indianapolis. A race fan had to purchase the next year's tickets within a few days after the race to get a seat. Now you can walk up to the ticket office on the morning of the race and have a good selection left! The one-chassis/one-race engine formula is killing off the fan interest. The only thing that separates the teams is the paint jobs! Take NASCAR; they have extreme fan identity and fan loyalty way beyond crazy for their fav Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota or Dodge teams. And; NASCAR'S drivers as a group, are more exposed to the national media and endorsement business than IRL drivers. A fact is that 20 years ago at the 500 we had faster average race times, and 15 years ago qualifications records that stand at 236-mph! As a retired civil engineer I calculated forces that the track at Indianapolis could handle with the right chassis and power...would you believe up to 260-mph! For that I would start attending the race again; I did for 20 years, and got frustrated with the current formula. It isn't in the spirit of American enterprise to limit competition diversity on the track. The small teams will achieve financial support to compete, all they have to do is just ask companies like Ford, Audi, Mercedes-benz, Porche and even Ferrari. These are companies that have great wealth, and don't need federal government hand-outs. It's called "hustle" and "moxie" and we need more creative and energetic initiative concerning the Indy 500, like that! I love this race. And have since I was about 4 or 5 years old, and today I am a strong 60's! Will the thrill like the 500 in the 60's ever return?
    • I question the honesty of Chiefs pic. The 2010 photo if taken on a qual day had to be bump day, and from what I have heard and see photo wise was not during the peak of the day. The reverse of that is the pic showing vintage Indy at best was taken on pole day, and I am 99% sure that is has to be race day. The clue is that the stands are packed shoulder to shoulder. That has never happened in my memory on even a pole day in the best of years. Considering on the best pole days attendance was around 110,000 or so, that is about 1/3 full. so why would the stands be packed, even the lower ones, if the speedway had 100,000 people in it?

    • Blame where is belongs
      I've been to the 500 since 1982 (jeez) and I put the blame solely on Tony George. The pics Chief posted here are accurate and sad to see. I recall how George wanted to make the Speedway more 'family friendly' and began by removing the Snake Pit. It was then I knew the 500 had 'jumped the shark'. His vision of having a circuit (IRL) running only ovals was his challenge to dismantle CART. It was upsetting that he used the 500 as the sole backbone of his endeavor. CART's gone and the street courses are back. I like what I read as to the future under Bernard. It was always the Indianapolis 500 as the cutting edge of automotive technology. Goodbye Tony George, I hope you enjoy yourself screwing up something else.
    • You do not even make it tough to prove you wrong. Sara Fisher Racing. Shoe string budget, that she and her husband financed on credit cards a few years ago. She worked her way up the hard way to a couple of solid sponsors. Far from Buckets of cash. For that matter walk along Gasoline Alley and you will see several small budget teams are in the race and have a shot to be more than competitive.

      so what cart fans and ratings are you talking about? The tv buying ratings when it was nothing more than an infomercial? The IRL still gets paid for its content, and has many more hours of programing than cart ever has. Nothing was more entertaining than watching cart try to finish races before the top of the hour when their time was up and CBS went on to another infomercial.


      Tell us again how many ovals and Americans were running cart at the end? How easy was it for a low budget team to afford to run the series? dude, you are starting to believe your own rants and that is dangerous.
    • Just like the IRL
      Bring bucketloads of money to get a ride? That's the IRL, 2010.

      What a waste of a series the IRL is, just to be created and not be successful...you know, with less Americans now, and worse racing now, and rapidly decreasing ovals and such.

      Again Indyman you refuse to admit the IRL is in essence CART in 2010, just without the racing,fans, ratings or attendance. Good lord, just admit it already...you tap dance better than Helio.
    • Chief,

      Old news. Bmore was announced a while back, I think we had this convo on it. As far as using Fed money, do you know what they are using it for, or what Fed money it is?

      And in case you missed it, Bruton Smith is on the record as saying that he expects Ovals at New Hampshire and Vegas to be on the 2011 schedule with the end of the year awards banquet to be held at the Palms. That would make sense and good additions. So if they add Bmore and the two ovals, then it stays on track to keeping an even balance as they grow the series.
    • cart killed itself, you said so yourself. So the IRL had nothing to do with its demise. As you pointed out, cart was doing well when it had 14 Americans and a fair number of ovals. When it died it maybe had one American driver and I am not sure there were any ovals. Again, you prove my point. cart was heading down the path to its own destruction. Otherwise how did a series with only one famous track going for it survive when cart which had the cars and stars, sponsors, owners and most of the successful tracks?

      I am fascinated by your theory that Jeff Gordon brought about the IRL. If by that you mean the fact that cart ignored him like it did most young American talent, then you are right. In carts "heyday", if you did not bring buckets of cash, you did not drive, nor did you have a chance to afford to field a team.
    • cart killed itself, you said so yourself. So the IRL had nothing to do with its demise. As you pointed out, cart was doing well when it had 14 Americans and a fair number of ovals. When it died it maybe had one American driver and I am not sure there were any ovals. Again, you prove my point. cart was heading down the path to its own destruction. Otherwise how did a series with only one famous track going for it survive when cart which had the cars and stars, sponsors, owners and most of the successful tracks?

      I am fascinated by your theory that Jeff Gordon brought about the IRL. If by that you mean the fact that cart ignored him like it did most young American talent, then you are right. In carts "heyday", if you did not bring buckets of cash, you did not drive, nor did you have a chance to afford to field a team.
    • Federal Funding of IRL street races
      IRL is adding another street race for 2011< Baltimore has just allocated $7.75 Million dollars of state and federal funding for this project.

      I object to my tax dollars being used to fund this abortion of an AOW series.
    • No Paul TwitterForum
      What is great about this race is there in no Paul Tracy in it. He can go back to where be belongs...forum posting with the nomex lickers over at Whackforum.
    • Changes brought to the IICS
      I agree with the fact that we have to do something to bring back life to the series 100% What I don't agree on is the changes made to the format this year for the Indy 500. I understand we have to cut cost where we can but taking time away from the track has greatly diminished crowds from the track this year and the ability for the teams to be prepared to make this 500 mile race. Never has weather played this much of a role in attendance before and that is where the blame was thrown this year. When it was nice and sunny out we had 1 day where the fans came out to play (and it was nothing in comparison to the crowds of yesterday) but come Sunday you couldn't get them to return. Its 10 dollars to get in those gates... 10 dollars. It wasn't the cost of going that kept them, "let me guess it was too hot for them?"

      Yes bring innovation back to the series, but keep in mind, this is an Open-Wheel series and we need to keep it this way. Bringing in a car that changes the series so much that the beginner series have to change their approach to is NOT cost effective and will not bring more attention to the races. (DeltaWing) To put it simply... If that car made it, what do we do for the beginners growing to IndyCar. Put smaller engines on the cars and say here you go. If you think this will spark new "Innovation and Interest" in the series... let me tell you this. I for one don't wanna see the same car in 4 series to watch.

      1st of all bring back the "Month of May" You've heard it from DRIVERS, TEAMS, and the FANS so...What else do you need?

      2ndly Yes let the teams be more innovative. Could you imagine even with the current car, what you could do with that to make it perform better. More engines (Stick it! to Honda with their 1.5 million dollar "Lease" see how they like them apples), allow for team modifications (that's why they employ the engineers right). Simply look at the changes made last season when we made change to the oval wings to have more grip. Let us be free...

      Finally, we must listen to the greats of yesterday to make decisions on where to go from here. We built this series on nothing and we are just about back to it. Time to rebuild... Let the fans help... Remember the fans are where we come from.

    • Markie Mark Gimmick
      He's gonna be zooming around at rear of the field on the first lap...what a gimmick.

      That's how pathetic the race has become. The Markie Mark cam...probably to take attention off of the poor 3 wide starts in effect since the IRL was founded. Another NEW tardition for IRL. Old Man Hulman is spinning in his grave....

      Good lord, is there any dignity left for this great old race?
    • Divorced from Reality
      The last time CART had anything to do with the 500 was 1995 and it had 14 Americans in it. I know you steer away from direct comparisons but in 2010 the IRL only has 9 American in the 500. And you want to spin that into a positive?

      If the IRL was a destination rather than a stop Dave Darling, Tyce Carlson, Cory Witherall, Steve Kinser, Jimmy Kite, Greg Ray, Davey Hamilton, Jope Gosek, Cowboy "Brad" Murphy, Lou Ciconi, David Steele, Tony Stewart, Buzz Caulkins, Buddy Lazier, or any of the other American Dirt Track contingent TONY GEORGE made the IRL and the 500 for would ALL BE HOUSEHOLD NAMES BY NOW. They had their chance....what happened? Indy didn't mean so much after all, did it?

      So, when you lament old Jeffy didn't get a fair shake, well, that's BS...he opened the door and paved the way for the IRL. So, in effect, Jeff Gordon is responsible for modern day AOW. And, because the IRL is the only game in town only the Speedway is responsible for what happen within it's "Indy Racing Leegue".

      INDY did just fine before the IRL was created....attendance-wise and on-track racing. The rules were what they were then and it allowed STOCK BLOCK ENGINES, the 209ci Pushrod, the 2.65L turbo, the Offy turbo, the turbine, the rear engined cars, the cosworth. Indy coulda still existed this way today...IF the IRL had never come along and cut AOW racings throat.

      But, you're happy with the ruins so I guess that makes it CART's fault or something. I feel bad for all the Indy hiros of the past....because of Tony George's IRL, Tony Stewart has said he's done with the 500...not a destination. The only stars created from Indy's loin's these past 15 years are a guy who won a Dancing with the Stars competition and some semi-nude model who's worth more than AJ or Rick and has only won a fuel economy race because the dancer ran out of gas a few laps before the finish.

      PATHETIC. And, I have picture of the pathetic crowds at Indy this past Pole/Bump weekend.

      2010:
      http://i48.tinypic.com/2wlvrs6.jpg

      Before the IRL:
      http://www.deepthrottle.com/images/indy_turn1.jpg

      Enjoy!
    • Chief,

      So you want it wide open with run what you brung? While on the surface it is a good idea, I think the reality will be a different story. With F1 looking to reign in costs to keep car counts above 20, what would car counts be at Indy with few or no rules?

      If that is really what is wanted, then create a new race, outside of the 500. Make it a designers cup. Put a big purse out there and tell them to go at it. You may only have 5 teams, but you will have some unique innovation. Set standards that they can only use 20 gallons of fuel or whatever. But whatever it looks like, it would not be the 500.

      Are you honestly trying to say that the IRL invented foreign ride buying? Really? Come back to reality. cart invented it. Ask Jeff Gordon what the first thing out of owners mouths were when he was walking Gasoline Alley. 9 Americans is 9 better than cart had at the end. Want to count ovals as well?

      Chief, you need to face reality and spend less time trying to be cute attacking the IRL.

    • no party anymore???
      I have to disagree with Trey, there certainly is an infield party. I have been going to it for the last 8 years with a rather large group of friends.
      $20 and all the beer, food, and drinking games we could ask for is a huge draw, not to mention the fantastic racing we have bad the past few years.

      I may not be as old as some here. I never saw some of the greatest, but I am seeing one of the greatest as well as some of the best ever.
      It seem so many here are looking so far back that they miss what is going on right in front of them.
      To me these are the glory days ill be tell people about 40 years from now.
      one day i'll be the one saying "you don't know what you missed"
    • Great Race, though
      The "500" will be a great race this year, though, because of a couple of absences. I am pleased Paul Tracy and Max Papis will not be in the event. It makes me very happy. Papis didn't even try and he is a nobody anyhow. Tracy, I give credit for trying. But he is a has-been lowlifer.
    • Is it TRUE?
      Only 9 Americans in the IRL 500 in 2010? Sheesh, even CART in 1995 presented 14 drivers for the 500. That right there is FAILURE, IRL style. But it's good because the Speedway and Indyman sez so. Oh, and CART is dead and had nothing to do with the IRL.
      • Uhh Huh
        The underfunded? To quote Judge Smails, "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too".

        The current IRL and Indy is a socialistic paradise of speedway subsidies for year round participation...also sharing of the purse across the field, spec cars with spec engines, all dreamed up and put into place by the Hulmanistas, of which Indyman so rightously defends.

        Seems right though that Indyman would support change because it's what the Speedway tells 'em to do. More expansion by condensation, more international by ride buyer. That's just the new Indy tarditions.
      • Dahooey,

        They are not talking about cosworth engines or any engine formula. They are, at the root of this, talking about bringing in all comers. As long as you meet certain safety criteria, run what you brung as the old racing quote goes. So if you have a solar car that does not have to pit, you may win due to the time savings. Or if you have a fuel cell car or whatever. That is what Indy was in the begining. There were no rules. That is how Harroun one the first race. He did away with the riding mechanic (180 lbs or more) and used the first rear view mirror. Same with the turbines, diesels, rear engine cars etc.... very few if any stock rules.

        While that sounds really cool, what do you do for underfunded teams who cannot afford cutting edge? People complain that the same couple of teams win in any race series, this will make sure that happens forever. Plus about the only way you could do unlimited rules at Indy is to make it a standalone race as it was in the early days, or create a race series allowing unlimited cars. Most teams, companies and individuals could not justify spending millions for just one race.

      • Another grasp at straws
        Can't blame them for trying. But you watch and see. It won't make a bit of difference. The "500" is through as a major sporting event.
      • I'm tired of the "Old Timers"
        Why has attendance increased at the Indy 500 over the last 5 years? Why was Pole Day one of the largest I've experienced?

        There are a lot of you that talk about the good old days. But I'm 30 years old and never knew those days (I've been to every 500 since 1988). The most boring races were the ones were Penske nearly had the whole field lapped. The last few 500s have been much more exciting with closer racing and more passing than ever!

      • Bob Roberts
        i do not believe you truly mean that, i knew Mr. Tony Hulman an an employee and trust me he would not be proud of what it has become, first and foremost he was a family man that wanted the Indy 500 to be a family experience and a family tradition!! no way is he proud of what it has become , and i as a race fan and a former employee of Mr.Hulman can't believe it either when Tony George sold his track to the highest bidder everything changed . We can get it back but it won't be easy, Larry
      • Grandpa's proud
        Mr Hulman Is very proud of his grandson Tony. He restored control of Indycar racing to the speedway.
      • Indy fan
        I understand what you mean about change,from 1970 to 1984 I never missed a race.It was the high lite of my Spring and an even greater welcome to the summers of my youth.Over the years things have changed at Indy,maybe the new management at the track can help bring back a dying popularity to our greatest spectical in racing.I remember all the great drivers,and there were many that will live in my memory forever.Indy will always be with all true race fans,remember one thing new drivers are a chance for a new exciting pack of drivers we need to give them a chance to earn our support.
      • LOL
        Isn't this what Da Hooey has been saying for years? So I guess they are finally giving up on NASCAR style marketing, and making the cars the focal point. How about a Lola with a 2.65 L Cosworth turbo? sound familiar?


        $600,000,000.00 later and the braintrust at 16th & Georgetown finally starts listening to the smart folks.
      • Back Home Again (let's hope!!)
        I used to go to "The Track" every year. I remember when there were turbo-chargers, V8 and turbine engines, fans routing for Ford vs Chevy, Goodyear vs Firestone, Unser vs Andretti, Penske vs Ganassi, etc.etc. And I was first indoctrinated into the tradition from the "snakepit!" as Trey has mentioned. (General infield admission was something like $10.) Those were the days when the competition involved everything and everybody (sponsors, equipment, teams and fans.) Today, "The Indy 500" has become nothing more than a spec series race, and how interesting is that? I quit going to "The Track" when Tony George created the IRL. He was and still is an idiot. Unless Bernard can implement the necessary changes to restore Indy back to its proud tradition, Tony George will always be remembered as the idiot who ruined the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Tony Hulman must be turning over in his grave.
      • American innovation
        Yes bring back innovation, turbos and choice to Indy. Hopefully we get more Americans back in the race!
      • Indy Pride
        remember when Indy meant (500), family picnics, hot dogs, summer, listening to the 500 on the radio, offenhauser versus ford, chevy, buick and all the other great engines thru the years, it meant back home again in Indiana, balloons, greatest spectacle in sports, if you want that again you have to first get back the great American drivers, Rokovich, Rose, Shaw,Andretti, Foyt, Unser, Ruby just to name a few, if you put the meaning back into the "500" you will get get back what has been lost, you see Nascar struggling and i can tell toy why it's because they are losing the American identity and if they continue they will wind up asking " what happened" just like you are . I can predict that if you will listen to the die hard fans you will be glad you did, American pride return it and you will see. signed a Hoosier and a proud American, Larry
      • YES!!
        There are two things Indy needs to do to restore the 500 to its former glory:

        1) Allow for innovation. Otherwise, Indy is nothing more than a spec series. A spec series has it's advantages, but it will never make Indy a top tier racing event.

        2) Restore the snakepit. Young fans come for the party, then as they get older they move into seats. There is no infield party anymore, and the younger fans never come to start with. A ZZ Top concern isn't going to do it.
      • 500
        Let's 'git 'er done'! Here's holding out hope that Bernard can keep the moxie going and put the changes in place necessary to restore IndyCar to its roots!

        AWESOME......

      Post a comment to this story

      COMMENTS POLICY
      We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
       
      You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
       
      Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
       
      No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
       
      We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
       

      Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

      Sponsored by
      ADVERTISEMENT

      facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
       
      thisissue1-092914.jpg 092914

      Subscribe to IBJ
      ADVERTISEMENT