As we put Texas Motor Speedway behind us, there is a topic of discussion about the product on the track that makes for good debate. What exactly makes a good race? We can even put the IZOD IndyCar series action from Sunday into this discussion as well.
The reason I ask what makes a good race is based on some of the discussion I have read after the races last weekend. All three races had periods over the weekend we saw long periods of green flag racing with little to no passing. We saw numerous green flag stops that put the race in the drivers’ hands to avoid speeding into the pits, and for the pit crews to pull off flawless stops.
Did lap after lap of green flag racing mean that we had good races? I do not have an answer for this question one way or the other. Is good racing only when cars are running side by side? Is it good racing when there is fifty lead changes at the start finish line and numerous other lead changes not counted that occur in different sections of the track? Is a good race when the caution comes out at just the right moment allowing for cars to stay on the lead lap? Is it only a good race when the driver, or drivers, you cheer for has a good run?
I have come to the conclusion that each fan has to decide for himself/herself what constitutes a good race. I will readily admit that it is generally not my cup of tea to watch road course racing. I admit that I struggled to keep full attention to the race on Sunday at Barber. There were times on Saturday night that my mind wandered during the Texas race as well.
For me, I enjoy competition. I have my favorite drivers that I want to see do well, but it does not make or break a race for me if they do not do well. I want to see competition all over the track. I do not mind watching the racing for 23rd and 24th position. I realize there are going to be races where we get Kevin Harvick making a last lap pass to win the race. I also realize that we are going to have races where Matt Kenseth nails the setup that eluded the other teams and he wins by over eight seconds. Decide for yourself if you enjoyed the race. Keep in mind also, racing is entertainment for us. The question is probably better asked if you were entertained.
The Indianapolis 500 is known as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” and it lives up to hype year after year. This May will be the fifth consecutive Indy 500 that I will get to see in person. Each year I am amazed at the pageantry and honor that the event brings to first Memorial Day, and the sport of motor racing as well. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway ensures that the traditions that have made this event the grandest in racing continue from year to year.
This year there are two decisions that puzzle me for the 500. The first decision is the selection of who will drive the pace car for the start of the race. The speedway has selected Donald Trump for this honor. Let me state that this is puzzling to me, but not from a political standpoint. I know there is a lot media coverage on the political side for Mr. Trump at this particular time. The selection of Mr. Trump does not puzzle me from the political side of things. I could care less that this year politics and who drives the pace car are going to be mixed.
The race this year will the 100th anniversary of the first running of the Indy 500. My question of Mr. Trump’s pick to drive the race car is “why not a person who has been directly involved in the race in the past?” To highlight such an event as the 100th anniversary, if I were making the decision, I would have gone with a descendent of the first winner of the 500 Ray Harroun. If not a descendent of Harroun, another instrumental figure from the speedway’s past. Perhaps A.J. Foyt and Chip Gannassi in the front seat of the car.
The next stunt that has been announced for the 500 is a record breaking car jump to occur in the infield prior to the beginning of the race. The jump is in conjunction with Hot Wheels and some new promotion they have going on. The yellow racer is going to jump off a track and fly through the air and go through some door or something. The track the car is going to launch from will resemble a Hot Wheels toy track this available for purchase. The driver’s identity is being withheld at this time except for the fact that this person is the Yellow Driver. Hot Wheels has a group of four drivers in their promotion. The driver will then unmask at the completion of the stunt. My prediction on the identity of the driver is Travis Pastrana.
My question on this is why does the Indy 500 even need something like this? The race is on the upswing and has seen bigger crowds over the last two years than the previous years. There were very few empty seats in the grandstand around the track last year. This stunt just does not seem to fit with the traditions that make this event grand.
My opinion is to keep the format that has worked year over year. We will see if these events have any impact on the event itself, but when I am on the grounds the Sunday before Memorial Day; I will not be heading over to see the car jump. I will not boo Mr. Trump when he drives the pace car before the green flag. I just hope these events do not take away the goose bumps I get when seeing our soldiers walk on the track, when Back Home Again in Indiana is sung, when God Bless America is sung, and when the million balloons rise up and begin their journey out of town.