Mark Wilkinson breaks down the introduction of aero kits to IndyCar and the three different attitudes towards them.
For such a small fan base, the Verizon IndyCar Series certainly has its share of pulpit-pounding proselytizers. The problem is that for such a tiny number of acolytes, there are far too many congregations. The responses to the aero kits of both Chevy and Honda are prime examples of these particular worshipers.
The IndyCar faithful
The first worshipers at the altar of IndyCar are the ones who take everything on faith. They accept that the series pontiffs are, if not infallible, at least to be given the benefit of the doubt. They believe the variations of the aero kits for both Chevy and Honda will not only differentiate a chassis that is otherwise identical, but it will also pique the interest of the fans to see which is faster. If there is a difference in the two, then the slower manufacturer should go back to the shop and develop theirs.
The fans want development and competition, right? They know that the millions spent by both engine manufacturers will push the series to new heights. These fans not only believe, they want to believe, they need to believe. These trusting souls happily tithe their hard-earned dollars over to the series in the absolute faith that their spiritual need for racing is in good hands. Just imagine IndyCar high priest Mark Miles holding a staff with a miter sitting on top of his head, blessing this congregation. If these fans’ faith wavers, they can always silently repeat “Hail Hulman, full of speed.”
The agnostic fans
In another house of worship, we have the the agnostic IndyCar fans. Not burdened by the absolutism of the faithful, these fans look at the aero kits of Chevy and Honda, shrug their shoulders, roll their eyes, and smile. They know deep down that a difference in how the cars look is important, but they really cannot give themselves over to the fact that the new aero kits will make a difference. They hope they will, but they have taken things on faith before this and been disillusioned. If they can see the difference in the cars and the racing then they might be inclined to come over to the faithful, but they need proof. These folks need to see a miracle, not just hear about one.
The third type of IndyCar fan really doesn’t have a church because they no longer believe that the organized religion of IndyCar is deserving of their faith. These are the IndyCar heretics. They may come to the cathedral to worship speed, but they refuse to go to the rail for the body and blood. The aero kits to them are evil incarnate, a false idol for the easily fooled. Their apostasy demands that all development of cars be completely open with teams spending each other into receivership as we have seen in F1. Even if the aero kits are successful, they will still be evil because they do conform to their own heretical orthodoxy. To them, the only way to racing heaven is through a reformation of the series itself. And if a little burning at the stake of series leaders is needed, they are down with that, too. The heretics spend time damning the series, its leaders, and its followers on Twitter and in internet forums, the modern equivalent of a jackleg preacher standing atop a soapbox on the street corner.
IndyCar’s small holy war among its flock is cause for both celebration and concern. On one hand, the fact that some people still care enough to have opinions is a reason for hosannas to be heard at the corner of 16th and Georgetown. The downside is that the series needs converts to the faith and some cash in the collection plate to continue to spread the faith. If this does not happen, then everyone will be in need of a mea culpa.