Pull The Plug On Pulling The Plug At Indy Talk
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
It’s becoming an annual rite of mid-summer: Cruise the Internet and read columns and blogs and Tweets about how the Brickyard 400 has become dung and that it’s time to shut it down. One of those babies popped up at the top of the Google search just this morning.
They’ll continue to pop up for, oh, another five days or so, I suspect.
They’ll all contain a paragraph or two which lay out the declining attendance figures. They’ll weave in words like “dwindling” and “waning” and point out the boring nature of the racing on the flat 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway track.
And none will be complete without bringing up the “tire fiasco” of 2008.
The authors started out a few years back using the, “Is it time to…?” template. They have moved to the, “It has become apparent…” template.
And the nut graph: Pull the plug. Uproot the Brickyard abomination and move it some place else.
My, how shocking. How bold. How edgy. Dump the Brickyard.
The guess here is that that’s not going to happen any time soon, however. Just can’t see it.
Just can’t see NASCAR dumping an event that still attracts 138,000 paying fans.
Can’t see NASCAR giving the heave-ho to one of the two races which attracts continent-wide crossover interest and can’t see NASCAR euthanizing an event that even the most-pure of stock car fans consider one of the sport’s crown jewels.
Can’t see NASCAR getting rid of the race which gets the major media boost that comes with kicking off ESPN’s portion of the broadcast schedule and can’t see ESPN saying, yes, good idea, scrap that darn money-maker.
Can’t see NASCAR contracting its schedule and, hence, can’t see moving the Brickyard date to Iowa Speedway or Gateway.
See, the Brickyard is not a freak show, a “novelty item”. It’s been around since 1994. Next year, it will be run for the 20th time.
It’s become part of the NASCAR fabric. A big part.
It’s produced some wonderful, classic races and moments: Indiana boy Jeff Gordon winning the inaugural and Earnhardt Sr. winning the next year. Indy 500-winner John Pablo Montoya heading for the IMS sweep but denied by a penalty. Dale Jarrett and wonderful old Robert Yates kissing the yard of bricks. Ricky Rudd holding off Bobby Labonte in 1997.
The best: Tony Stewart getting the victory he wanted more than getting his next breath. Then, heading to the Turn 2 suites to salute his father and Indiana extended family.
Name a place on the schedule that has not seen precipitous drops in attendance. If you apply the slowing-turnstile logic across the board, NASCAR will have a zero-race schedule next year.
Approval of competitors should never be the major reason for granting, keeping or subtracting a race or a race track. But, driver and team perspectives about a track should always, to some degree, be considered. Chemistry between performers and the venue they perform at is reflected in everything for the quality of the performance to the aura around the event.
When it comes to team and driver approval of the Brickyard, it is about as unanimous as it gets. They are thrilled to be racing at the place – which most, yes, most, still consider a shrine to American racing, and you bet that contributes to the weekend.
OK, the racing at Indy is not door-to-door but where, exactly, is it still that way? Sorry, just not into a series that features 14 races at Richmond every year.
And, oh, the tire fiasco? Daytona has had a fiasco or two – remember the pothole? – but I stand firm in my belief that Speedweeks should not be abandoned.
It’s still a thrill to see 43 cars coming out of Turn 4 on the green-flag lap. Still cool to see the big old taxicabs being pushed out to the track through Gasoline Alley. Still worth taking a stroll down Georgetown Road on the night before the race. A deep-fried porkloin sandwich still tastes terrific amid the din of pushrod V-8s.
Scuttle the Brickyard 400?
– Jim Pedley can be reached at email@example.com Comments