The Brickyard Hasn’t Changed; Racing Culture Has
The Brickyard 400 no longer packs 'em in. Not enough 'action'. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
It was 1972 and my college roommate Frank and I were at Road America for a Can-Am race. We were walking the paddocks when he stopped and took a deep breath. Man, he said, love the smell of that Castrol. Frank was/is a road racing purist and what he did was what racing purists do: The cumulative jolt they get from their sport is comprised of a thousands of small pixels.
It’s the week after the Brickyard 400 and once again it’s angst time as media and competitors attempt to explain what Sprint Cup driver Jeff Gordon called last week, “the flattening” of fan interest in a race that at one time, packed the excited owners of 250,000 butts on Indianapolis Motor Speedway bleachers.
And it’s true. The Brickyard is no longer the world-stopping, cross-over, must-see event that it was in its first decade. It no longer causes massive traffic jams on Georgetown Road. It no longer demands that television viewers take the phone off the hook for three hours on race day.
But it’s not the event that has changed. It’s the racing culture that has changed.
See, the Brickyard 400 is a race for purists. It does not cater to walk-ins. Because the racing itself in the Brickyard is what the constant-action crowd would call droning, it is the kind of event that appeals only to those who love Read the full story »