Thursday, May 22, 2008

The inevitable "Is Indy back?" articles

Ahhhhh, it's Indy 500 week again (Yeah! BTW), and the media is doing what it has done since 1996: Speculate on when (if?) Indy will be back. This MSNBC article is a nice summary of what we see, with some differences (The Danica vid references how this comes up everytime this yr.). To be sure, mergification, Rahal's emergence, and Danica's win are important new stories that might move the sport forward, but this is not a new question.

It's odd. NASCAR is obviously the media giant in this country, and with good reason. Still, I have always sensed a desire in the national sporting media to see the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar make a comeback. Some seem to root for it.

Is it nostalgia for a race long gone? NASCAR fatigue? Hard to say for sure, though NASCAR ratings have been UP all year, so the public sure isn't sick of it.

If I had to say, I DO think there is a sense of nostalgia involved and a desire, conscious or otherwise, to broaden the American motorsport landscape.

Regardless, the question is whether this time is different or not? Ultimately, that's a long-term answer. Sure, a win by Graham, Marco, or Danica would be huge, but what if DE Jr. wins Charlotte? No one will care about them 'furrin IndyCars. And perhaps the point of no return already happened.

Unlike some bitter CC loyalists (more on this later), I sure as hell hope not. I enjoy NASCAR, but I love IndyCar even more. For US motorsports to be permanently reduced to one acronym (NASCAR) would be tragic and an insult to the legends of the past.

That said, people should NOT root for someone ONLY b/c it might help the sport. I admit, sadly, that it is A factor, but, for example, I'm becoming a huge Rahal fan not only b/c his emergence could be vital, but also because I love his aggressiveness (combined with smarts) on track and a great maturity off-track. That's what the sport MUST be about again.

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