Is There IndyCar Life A.D. (After Danica)
Danica Patrick’s announcement about jilting the IndyCar Series for NASCAR started tongues wagging and keyboards clicking last week as pundits pondered the impact Ms. Patrick will have on stock car racing.
Frankly, nobody knows how she’ll do on the track. She’s reasonably talented and will have reasonably good equipment. Other than that all we know for certain know is that because of her good looks and spunky spirit she’s going to create a major buzz, at least for a while.
Meanwhile back in the IndyCar Series one thing IS certain: Danica’s departure will leave a void that is impossible to fill, and spells trouble for a league already gasping for attention.
After IndyCar’s brightest star blinks out, it’s going to be a dark universe. Racing historians may trace the trajectory of the series to 2012 A.D. – After Danica.
The media landscape is already bleak and barren. On Monday morning, The Tennessean, my hometown newspaper, carried ONE PARAGRAPH on Sunday’s IndyCar race in Sonoma. That single graph was buried inside, among a “Sports Digest” wrap-up of weekend odd and ends.
That’s the hometown paper of Dario Franchitti. The three-time IndyCar champ and current
points leader rated a grand total of two lines.
The race wasn’t mentioned on Nashville’s four TV stations. I couldn’t watch it because my cable server doesn’t carry the Versus Channel. I don’t know anyone else’s who does.
Aside from the Indy 500, about the only time the IndyCar Series gets a mention in the media is when Patrick does something. Her press conference last week to announce her impending move to full-time NASCAR generated more coverage than the IndyCar Series has received in years.
When Patrick exploded onto the scene seven years ago, open-wheel racing was wobbling and wheezing. Patrick’s presence infused fresh interest and attention into the series. Some felt that she single-handedly dragged it to shore and pumped life back into it.
So what happens after Danica departs?
I imagine the answer keeps folks in the IndyCar Series awake at night. If they’re not worried, they ought to be.
The IndyCar Series has been a one-trick pony for years. Other than the Indy 500 I doubt that Joe Sixpack could name another race on the circuit. (It doesn’t help that 12 of the league’s 17 races are carried on a cable channel that many fans can’t get.)
Likewise, for seven years the series has been a one-star show in terms of mainstream following. Now that lone star is twinkling out.
What will Danica’s long-term impact be on NASCAR? Nobody knows. But we know what the impact will be on the IndyCar Series, and the future is glum for life A.D.
– Larry Woody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments