IndyCar’s credibility with sponsors, television, and the media is not, as most would agree, at an all time high. Ovals are an endangered species; potential title sponsors for races are keeping their checkbooks in their pockets; television ratings are in need of resuscitation; and, if some people are to be believed, the mainstream sports media are cackling as they complete their nefarious conspiracy to relegate the IndyCar Series to the margins of sports entertainment. What does IndyCar need to do right now? It is obvious that the series needs some street cred. It’s time for IndyCar to throw down.
Mark Miles started the IndyCar response by announcing that IMS would be hosting a road course race, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. He had on his Breaking Bad Heisenberg pork pie hat throwing up IMS and IndyCar gang signs to the audience saying, "If you ain’t down with a road course at Indy, then you ain’t down with IndyCar, yo." Sorry. I said I wasn’t going to that again. That’s wack. Anyway, Miles is doing what he can with what he has. He HAS the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. To have an opportunity to use the facility, make a profit, and be on network television is money in the bank. Hopefully that interest can be parlayed into more sponsorships and more races. To many fans of the series, the down side to more races is that it may include more street courses.
IndyCar really is the most diverse series in the world with its ovals, street courses, and road courses. This IS the point that IndyCar needs to hang its pork pie hat on. The series will never again be an all oval or mostly oval series. That ship has sailed, and the taste of the fans has changed. IndyCar has a great product for which it needs to find an audience. An engaged title sponsor for the series, relentless selling by the yet-to-be-hired commercial director for IndyCar, and creative marketing by the series and race promoters are first steps to show television and sponsors that the series is a viable platform for investment. If more street cred means more street races, I say bring on Providence, Rhode Island in two years. As Andy Dufresne says in The Shawshank Redemption, "I guess it comes down to a simple choice really. Get busy living or get busy dying." It seems IndyCar has started to make its choice. And I’m down with that.