Fisher's ill-timed comments loom over IndyCar victory

October 3, 2011
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It was a great story for the IndyCar Series at Kentucky Speedway on Sunday.

After 113 tries, lovable Ed Carpenter finally won an open-wheel race, by edging series powerhouse Dario Franchitti.

Better yet, Carpenter won while driving a car owned by another fan favorite, Sarah Fisher.

Then Fisher stepped to the microphone in winner’s circle, and for some inexplicable reason began talking about the departure of the team’s primary sponsor, Dollar General.

Fisher has been a great ambassador for the sport, but someone needs to tell her that victory circle is the place to thank sponsors and extol their virtues, not talk about their abandoning the team.

Fisher said she hoped the win might change the minds of Dollar General executives, who recently told her their company would not be her primary sponsor after the 2011 season. I’m sure they’ll be considering those options as they’re climbing out from under the bus.

Not even in a moment of glory can all be glorious for the IndyCar Series.

Sunday’s race was a great spectacle for motorsports fans, with Carpenter and Franchitti battling side-by-side for the last 14 laps, all the while chased by a closing field behind.

Unfortunately, there weren’t many fans at the track to witness it. Attendance at yesterday’s race was about 30,000. That’s probably a generous estimate. And unless a sponsor with a $250,000 check comes forward, the Kentucky race will be off the schedule next year.

Kentucky isn’t the only troubled spot on next year’s calendar. For various business reasons, ovals in Loudon, N.H.; Milwaukee and Motegi, Japan, also will be nixed.

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard is having difficulty finding oval courses these days. By most accounts there will be five, maybe six, oval races on a 16- or 17-race 2012 schedule.

Bernard eventually hopes to expand the schedule to 22 races, and no doubt hopes to add some intriguing ovals to the calendar. But it has proven to be a serious challenge for Bernard to find sponsors for those races.

Some of the new races Bernard is pursuing, including one in China and one in Brazil, also seem to be in some danger for 2012. A street race/oval doubleheader in Las Vegas in on ice until a sponsor or someone with $9 million can be found to pay for it.

The new chassis and engine packages for 2012 are cause for hope that IndyCar can jump-start itself and grow its fan base. But it’s never that easy for the series.

So a day after one of the most exciting races of this IndyCar season, series officials must be left wondering why few sponsors want to pay to be a part of these oval odysseys.

And at a time when open-wheel race fans should be celebrating the dawn of a new era, IndyCar officials have to be wondering where teams will find the money for the new equipment that will propel them into the future—and what that future will look like.

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  • Dollar General wins after they announce they're out?
    David slews Goliath? What a coincidence.

    Las Vegas is a freebie due to Randy Bernard's supposed new revenue sourcing ideas: free tickets, no sanction fee needed, just sponsors paying for everything.

    Is it any wonder no one wants to see or pay for 185 laps of boredom for 14 laps of side-by-side boredom?

    The "NASCAR"ish IRL cars of today have killed AOW oval racing in America. When is this organization (IMS/Speedway) going to come to grips with the REAL PROBLEM: the series SUCKS and unless they change how they do business (and admit their fail), this thing is very near death.

    That right there is the problem, the IMS/Speedway needs to get out of the business of ruining AOW sport.
  • A New Family will Save the Day
    you may have heard of them. they are from the south. they will save open wheel racing from the evil owners so that we will never have to worry about open wheel racing being popular again. because it is all about indy and if it is about something more than indy then it has to be killed like TOney killed it
  • Anthony Schoettle
    Anthony Schoettle, this guy is a joke. Never writes about anything except trashing people. He is a joke. What a waste of time.
  • 30K No Way
    Anthony, I was there yesterday. Quite honestly, there is no way the crowd was anywhere near 30,000 people. You are correct in saying that is being generous. Very generous. I eye-balled it yesterday from my seats near T1 and if I had to make an accurate guesstimate, I would say the crowd was close to 15,000. Maybe 18,000 tops. And I am being generous. The facility is massive now and because of the small crowd, the entire atmosphere of this event was lukewarm.

    Randy Bernard considering 22 races is laughable. Absolutley laughable. There is no way in this country or any other he may wish to take the series, there is enough interest and capital to sustain anywhere near such a thing.

    In reality, and in all seriousness, I cannot see how this sport can sustain much more than the Indianapolis 500 and perhaps four to five other events in the USA tops.

    No other economic model can sustain anymore.
  • Kentucky Race
    It's no wonder that Kentucky's race has declining attendance. They keep moving the race and don't promote it very well.

    The Kentucky race was always a good time when it was in early August. We had a group of 40 friends and their families attending the race. Now only a few couples attend. It was easy for Indy families to make that drive. Since they started moving it, they compete with the NFL and schools.

    Indycar obviously felt that losing attendance at Kentucky was acceptable, because they had to know that this would happen. If they didn't, well..........they're doomed.
  • Support Sarah
    Was also at the race yesterday. Thoroughly enjoyed the oval because you can see the entire race - hope KY Speedway race continues. With several incidents in pit lane, Ana's spin out in turn 4, and yes, the final 14 laps, it was a great race from start to finish.

    So excited for SFR. Ed and the team deserve the win. He's come in 2nd at KY back-to-back years. Third time is a charm. And as for Sarah's comments, she's just passionate for the sport and the personalities on her team, and desperately wants to continue their recent run of good news. They're good people and we need to support one of our local teams and local gals.

    With two cars in the race next week and a win this past weekend...go SFR.
  • Various business reasons???
    "Kentucky isn’t the only troubled spot on next year’s calendar. For various business reasons, ovals in Loudon, N.H.; Milwaukee and Motegi, Japan, also will be nixed."

    Isn't it really only for 1 reason? Nobody can turn a profit promoting a .1rl race...

    And I'm sure $ general is thrilled that a "car" they sponsored won a race nobody saw, at the track, or on tv.
  • to Chief:
    As someone who seems to have thoughtful comments, the last several I've read of yours are purely negative with no constructive criticisms. Why does it suck? What could make it better? And maybe explain the NASCAR-ish IRL cars... I'm not sure I'm seeing this.
  • to JD
    I think what Chief is referencing in regards to NASCAR-ish cars, is the fact that there isn't really any innovation anymore at the Speedway or in the sport. It used to be owners brought something different to the track every year and everyone couldn't wait to see what next innovation was coming to the track. Actually, there was a day that if something worked at the track and was successful, you would find that technology end up in the cars we drive on the streets. You don't have that now. Everyone has the same chassis for the most part, there are only a couple of engine manufacturers, and it is no longer about what innovation is being brought to the track. I remember getting pit passes, but it wasn't great because everyone was so secretive of the new "technology" that they brought that year and keeping the garage door closed on the car. Ahhhh....the good old days.
  • To JD
    Throughout the years JD, I (and many others) have offered ZILLIONS of ideas, recommendations, free tips, ANYTHING to help right the sport. Constructive criticism dissolves into pure frustration because of the lack of progress.

    Pseudo-racing, like what you witnessed at Kentucky, is phoney spec-car restrictor plate racing in an open wheel uniform. Once the first faux close finishes occurred, the IRL became 'you seen one, you've seen them all' type racing with regular 0.0000023 sec wining margins.

    They killed the golden goose. There are no more golden eggs. They sold AOW down the road for cheap side-by-side thrills to get attention. The public saw it for what it is and is voting with their pocketbooks.

    How can anyone NOT feel that the IRL killed AOW, and has destroyed a once proud fanbase with the garbage they portray as racing? I've witnessed great series, teams, drivers and cars over the past 50 years...and with all honesty the IRL will never be listed anywhere but on the bottom of the list.

    How can you be so blind as to not see it?
  • No new car?
    Adding to the misery...what is this about the new car not happening in 2012? There was talk about that amongst fans at the Kentucky race. Where is that rumor coming from? Looks to me like they are bust testing the car in preparation for next season. I've read nothing to indicate the car won't happen. But the skinny in the stands was no new car until 2013. Wow. Ten years of the same chassis? I hope it is not true. The series needs to have a new car out there pronto.

    The new car is exoctic-looking and just overall cool. Maybe it can make a difference.
  • irl soon future 12joke 10 ovals
    new car=duck=platpus
  • What is the TV rating for Kentucky?
    I will guess between .19 and .25.

    15,000 to 18,000 in attendance.

    Not good.
  • irl balance schedule
    vibe is good in indycar that why they have ugly new car
  • Calm down...
    Indycar isn't going bust. The road and street circuits make money. The TV contract with VS. was a dumb move in retrospect. That was a TG idea. The series needs to be on network TV.
    And give Sara Fisher a break already. Some people will find any reason to nit pick and your comment about her was just that. If your job were on the line I'm sure it would dominate your thoughts too.
  • Network TV
    It's easy to say that IndyCar should be on network TV but take a look at reality, first. The baseball playoffs aren't on network TV. MLB! Does IndyCar command more viewers than MLB?! So why do people continue to say this - it's really no longer a viable option for IndyCar, MLB, NHL, and many other sports such as olympic sports at non-olympic events. And the NFL is king and dictates what seems like 90% of the programming on ESPN.

    Anthony's critique is justified. A PR rep likely would have reminded Sarah to focus on the positives. However, that would be hard for anyone faced with this short-term good news, long-term bad news scenario.

    Congrats to Ed, Sarah and that entire team!
  • o-w
    dirt driver win a indycar race irl done something right for a change cheers
  • Key metrics
    .1 with 188,000 viewers for the greatest win in the history of OW racing by the self made, paid all his dues, no help from step dad Special Ed.
  • .1 and Done.
    It doesn't look good. Not good at all. Oh no, no. It doesn't look good.

    No more than 15,000 in attendance at Kentucky and now news of a .1 TV rating. A .1 rating with a championship on the line on a sunny, Fall Sunday in the heartland. No, no, no, no, no. It doesn't look good.

    That means that with the live audience and the TV audience at home, no more than 250,000 people in the great big, old USA, land of more than 300 million people, were entertained by the IndyCar Series this past weekend.

    What looms at Las Vegas we ask? Surely with the championship on the line and the whole thing being billed as the IndyCar World Championships, complete with an "outsider" gunning from the back for a share of $5 million, there will be little doubt in my mind the series will double up on everything!

    I expect they'll get 30,000 and a .20. Yes indeed. Why, 35,000 and a .30 would probably save Randall from quitting.

    But the truth is, our thinking is wishful. Wishful indeed.

    Reality will soon set in, no more than a month from now, this series is nearly extinct and in fact, may perish next year.

    Rumor is the new car is a no-go. And even if it does make it to the starting line, rumor has it the car wills will number no more than 20. Oh my.

    It may finally be the end of the IndyCar Series and the Indy 500. The Greatest Spectacle in Racing can only now survive on USAC taking over that one race and announcing a run-watcha-brung.

    1992 Lola's, DP-Champ Car thingy's, old G-Force, an '87 March, 10-year old Dallara's, maybe even souped up Indy Lights.

    The time is nearing...Mr. Penske and Mr. Ganassi have brought it so. I hope the USAC forces both to compete in '92 Lola's.

    HaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHaaaaaaaaaaaaaahAAH!!! BooooyaaahhhhHAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!
  • So it was no problem...
    So, to conclude; Sarah's comments didn't really hurt anything, no one saw it there or on TV.

    Do you think Dollar General knew that too?
  • F1 from Japan
    I've gotta imagine that F1's GP of Japan will pull better ratings than that, and the Japan race will be broadcast @ 1:30 am - 3:30 am Central. But then again, F1's GP of China spanked the .1rl's bastardization of the LBGP, and China was on at 2:30 AM.
    Tony (and the rest of the H/G clan that gave him carte blanche) sure fixed AOWR good, didn't they...

    • Defend this:
      Qualifying for Nascar's third tier Truck series draws bigger crowds and higher ratings than irl oval races held within driving distance from Gomeropolis.

    • Time to end it?
      I have been a fan of this sport since the late 1970's when I was a kid. I have watched, listened to, or attended every Indy 500 since 1980. I have attended several other races over the years, mostly the IRL's. Chicagoland was once of my favorite tracks. Texas is always good too.

      The more I look at the situation, the more I see a need to give up the ghost on the series and start all over again in a much smaller fashion akin to the days in the 1970's when Indy was king and there were a handful of other races to justify the sport we know as IndyCar racing. I even recall attending a Phoenix race in either the late 70's or around 1980 that only had maybe 25,000 people there. At that time, I thought that was about where the sport was at. Indy was the big race, the others did ok.

      CART tried to make a third-tier, niche sport with one monumental, mega event that transcended the sport, into something first-tier, complete with all the arrogance, pomposity, and hype often seen in the top stick and ball leagues.

      That doesn't work for this sport. Maybe it did for a decade of curiosity-factor, but that is it. It is not a cosmopolitan, international, slick, rock star, major league sport. It is a humble midwestern sport, a little blue collar, a little white collar, and certainly red, white, and blue, with a heartland, crossroads of America, jamboree event each May.

      IndyCar racing is not an F1-like sport. It is not a NASCAR-like sport. It is certainly not hip and cool. No.

      To that end, I think the sport should focus on the Indy 500 and perhaps five or six other events, road or oval, and call it good. Iowa seems to do well. Add it. Ditto Texas. Mod-Ohio is not great racing, but they draw a crowd on a hot summer Sunday. Fontana is good racing and they should run there even if it draws only 15,000, so long as someone can pick up the tab, which should be small. Maybe they can run Gateway again. Phoenix is a track they should run and by the time you add these up, give or take a couple, you are looking at a five, six race season, tops. Stop the major league, everything is rich and expensive posture.
      It doesn't work.

      Drop the new, ugly car. Go back to the drawing board and come up with a car that looks like a sleek Penske, March, Lola McLaren, Lightning, machine, or something akin to those, run the turbocharged engines they have come up with for next year, and get the old mom and pops back in the game like the IRL started to do.

      Sponsors can once again be bolwing alley's, synthetic oil outfits, regional beers, pizza chains, and unions. Remember Machinists? Genesee Beer. Those were the days. if an Indy Car can be made to 21st Century safety standards and cost $150,000 tops, engine and all, and a season can be run on less than $1 million, say half that, the sport has a chance to make it. But the faux-glory days of the 80's and early 90's are long over. That was the very thing that led to this demise now. It never was, truly, the sport of Indy Car racing.
    • Harpoon the Family
      You get the Hulman family to get out of the way and let someone else run the series, I guarantee you the sport will thrive again.

      The more we get cowboys and silver spoons and lackeys running this the farther this thing will auger in.

      The media gag is about to be lifted, and I will venture a prediction....it will bury this sport unless action is taken ASAP. 0.1 TV ratings and 15K in the stands REGARDLESS of 'key metrics' and 'sponsor spends' will equate to the end.

      Speaking of the end, did anyone see the embarrassing naked photos of Helio swinging in a tire, on the ESPN site? This is prime example of what the sport has become and why it NEVER will be taken seriously again as long as this gang is in charge.

      Pathetic.
    • One thing to consider
      Not that I am trying to insult anyone who follows IndyCars, as most of us do here, but there is a certain "geek" factor or "nerdiness" to the sport now for some reason. It is a factor, I believe. The forums contribute to this. Internet nerds. It doesn't help. And the driver's seem a tad nerdy, too. Geeky. Not all, but many.

      It is a psuedo-nerd sport now. That cannot help.
    • The Big Bang Theory
      is a popular TV show. The IRL not so much
    • Nothing can save it
      I have been around automobile racing since the late-1970's when I raced karts as a kid, then FF's at Hallet. In 1983 I crewed as go-fer for a team at Indy. In 1984 I did a full-seson with a team before calling it quits to go to college and just be a fan. I attended the very first IRL race at Disney and 45 others since then, including the inaugural Texas, Chicagoland, and Fontana races and every race they ran at those facilites since. Every Indy 500 since 1980 as well. I even was a small, associate sponsor on a Infiniti ProSeries car in 2003 and spent two races with them as a go-fer and wrote their PR releases all year.

      So, the point is, I am not some casual, neophyte fan. I have never seen the sport in such a dismal, desperate, disorganized, depressing state on all levels. Only the seemingly aloof drivers seem to be oblivious to the steep descent the sport is in, although I know they are not. Not the ones who truly care. They know the races are held in front of mostly empty grandstands and small TV audiences. They know their sport is in decline.

      The atmosphere is depressing. At Kentucky there surely could not have been more than 15,000 in attendance. I was there. It was so odd the stands seemed quiet during the race, like we were watching a practice session. I even saw a person sleeping.

      It is just not a good sport any longer. The only people who hang on are the extreme hardcores and their numbers are fewer and fewer. These are the folks who could tell you Pancho Carter won Michigan in 1981, who Lloyd Ruby was, and the difference between a McLaren Mc-16 and a knockoff. They can name every Indy 500 winner and tell you who Tom Sneva drove for when he won in 1983. And the chassis. The sponsor. The car number. And the margin of victory.

      There are maybe 100,000 of these people in
      the USA, and maybe 150,000 more who are big fans but maybe not as hardcore on stats and memories. The rest are casual fans and I exclude the street races because they could run top-fuel dragters on those downtown streets and they would still get a big, party crowd.

      The Indy 500 remains a significant sporting event on the annual American sports calendar. But not one nearly as big as everyone who is a hardcore fan suggests. Big to them. An annual, casual curiosity to most others who like auto racing. The rest of the nation doesn't even know the race was held and if you watch local TV evening newscasts after the race it gets a one to two minute mention during sports, sometimes it is not even the top story. In L.A. it was the Dodgers first, Angels second, Indy third. Two minutes tops. Never to be mentioned again.

      It is a dying sport with one big event to keep it going. That event is diminished.


      The best thing that can happen is for this sport to stop. Stop now. Fold it up and call it quits.

      I agree with the poster who suggests a run-watcha-brung Indy 500, within reason, as a possible one-off event. Maybe, maybe, three or four other races during the year at places that offer some sort of decent crowd and potential for return. Randy's track rental/sponsor-spend idea might work at these. Phoenix is an ideal place. So is Iowa. And the league has a friend in Texas. A friend, by the way, they have not been all too nice to. They are lucky. So, Phoenix in late March, Indy in May, Texas in early June, Iowa in late June, and maybe Mid-Ohio in July, and a race sometime toward the end of Summer or early Fall, ideally, a Fontana race no matter how few attend. It gives the sport exposure. If that doesn't work, drop it. This sport is headed for Indy and maybe four other races tops.

      Indy Cars as a part-time endeavor with a big annual race. That is the last and best hope. Otherwise, it all goes away. All of it. For good.
    • WE was RIGHT
      As a long standing opponent to use of champions trophy that had that guy balanced on the wheel....it was ugly, stupid and an absolute FAILURE by IRL/Speedway management to even let that see the light of day.

      Now the IRL agrees and have apparently 86'd it for a new one. Took the series 1 year to figure it that out....

      How much you want to bet we've been right just about everything we've been discussing all these years on this blog? Bwahhahahhaha!
    • Gloatin' in the Wind
      Come now, Chief, no one likes a know-it-all. ;) I'm sure Dario will be glad he won't be getting another Unicyclist of the Year trophy next week.
    • New trophies?
      In 2012, there will only be 4 oval races and 1 rectangle.
      Why bother with the AJ Foyt trophy? Who will care?
    • Hey Randy
      It's difficult to have a successful series when your entire, miniscule fanbase only care about one race. You should have paid Chief $100,000 three years ago and he could have saved you two years of grief, disappointment and failure. Just saying
    • Hey Randy
      I suppose someone in your microscule fanbase should have informed you that the IRl season ends with the last race in May.
    • The Netflix Experiment
      The Hulman family could learn something from the Netflix business...

      DON'T MESS WITH A GOOD THING. I see where Netflix has reversed all their unpopular business decisions. THEY listened to their membership. So did Domino's Pizza, who admitted their mistakes too in the national spotlight.

      Too bad the Speedway is so arrogant and couldn't have realized this in 1996. The AOW was very healthy then. Some business are destined to fail...all $700 million dollars worth of it.
    • Hey Randy
      Your only job is to promote Indy because that is all your nanoscule fanbase cares about. Quit wasting your time talking about something outside of Marion county.
    • It's over
      No question in my mind, having bore witness to this once great sport for over thirty years, the end days are soon and the Indy 500 may be the only survivor/remnant/relic of what was once.

      So little interest anymore. I cannot think of one person I know who follows sports who is even aware there are other races beside Indy. Seriously. You tell them about NASCAR, you get all manner of comment about the sport. Beside the Indy 500, they do not even know there are races at places like Kentucky, Texas, what have you.

      People don't care. They don't care at all.
    • They don't know, Pierce. They do not know.
      What Pierce is saying is they do not care because they do not care. But if they knew, they would still not care.

      188,000 viewers of the TV version and 15,000 attending, this Kentucky race. Not so good.
    • RANDY MUST GO
      Now we all realize that the girls made a mistake bringing in Ropin Randy. He is a BUST. And letting him be guided by Robin Boy Wonder Miller was worse. It is all over at track. Turn out the lights. Say good night Gracie. NO ONE CARES!!!
    • :rollseyes:
      it's not like anyone cared before Randy was hired
    • Fire Bernard?
      And what would you have his replacement do differently?
    • Poor ol' IRl
      even your title sponsor was missing, again

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