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Russell Sheldon
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The Indianapolis 500 is being held today. According to reports, a call to the ticket office provides plenty of options. "We have tickets in the North Vista, South Vista and along the backstretch in the Northeast Vista,'' a cheery voice replies. "We also have a few scattered along the main straightaway.''

Quite a change from the glory days in the 1970s, '80s and early '90s. Back then, some fans would head to the ticket windows as soon as the race was over, plopping down money right away to ensure they got the same seats the following year.

Tickets were passed down in wills. Divorces got especially ugly when it came time to decide who got the Indy 500 seats. Touts made more money in the month of May than they did the rest of the year.

Now, after nearly a decade of changes, Indy faces the very real possibility that today the cars will be racing in front of empty grandstands.

"It's obvious that we're not what we were in the '70s,'' said Tony George, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and founder of the Indy Racing League. "Why aren't we? I don't think anyone has the answer to that. I don't.''

What a dumb question, from the man who single-handedly killed "The Greatest Spectacle in Motor Racing''!
 

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Scott Brownlee
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I know Mr George divides opinion. but is he alone to blame? Few Grand prix are sell outs and I think places at next month's Le Mans are still available.

I think the truth is that motor racing has more competition for people's "disposable income" and "leisure time" than ever before and is just found wanting compared to many other attractions.

Also, consider that people used to watch ocean liners and airships leave, that churches were full and village fetes well supported, or even that more than half the population used to turn out for elections and you can see that, as a species, we are just plain lazy these days.

Yet, just as I think it is all part of an inevitable decline I think of NASCAR. Races every other day (it seems) in front of packed grandstands. Why? I don't know, but maybe unpredictability of the result, well known, well established charters involved and high probability of spectacular crashes. Quite a contrast to IRL or F1.

For my own part, I'll be hoping for a British win, preferably a Scots one and if not then a Toyota-powered one. Looking at qualifying, that last one is a long shot!

Scott
 

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perhaps an even dumber question - what did george do exactly? Haven't been following the Indie 500 history.

I think Scott makes some good points. I haven't been to many motor sporting events, one of the few being Goodwood Festival Of Speed last year. It was a thrilling day, but for the event and seeing cars, not for watching a race. Television is 1000 better way to watch an actual race. Watching motorsports is also very expensive compared with seeing a band play music or a play or other live events (although I guess some operas and some concerts get to the heady heights price-wise as well)
 

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Gary Skipp
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There's no question in my opinion - Single seaters are getting boring.

Monaco was an exeption, but I'd much rather watch NASCAR as Scott said, or some DTM. Even Le Mans, which really doesn't provide much overtaking due to the feild spreading out so much during the race, still to me is the most exciting event of all.
 

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As a youngster it was always my ambition to visit the Indy 500. Where else could you see the top F1 drivers of the day: Jim Clark, Graham Hill et al mixing it with America's best? OK, perhaps Can-Am and Le Mans to name but two(!) but technicalities aside, these days it just doesn't hold the same appeal for me.

The cars were more varied and interesting back then too - not just a couple of customer chassis types.

So, unless something changes I won't be making the trip now. Having said that, I will be checking in to Sky Sports 3 this afternoon at 4.30
 

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QUOTE There's no question in my opinion - Single seaters are getting boring.

I'm sure that if you were in a car no heavier than a fat person doing 200mph towards a 40mph corner, you'd have time to juggle or weave as you go down the straight, just to keep the crowd amused.

I agree, I mean, why don't they just try an overtake at Monaco, it's not like they are going THAT fast, only 180mph at some points. And there is at least 300, maybe 400 meters of track where two cars can get abreast.

What are the drivers playing at?

Lotus

PS. For the dunces among you, that was sarcasm...
 

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Brian Ferguson
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I used to watch the Indy 500 with the same conviction that inherently drives me to watch all F1 races and all LMP-type races and all Trans-Am type races.... get the picture? Right, I'm basically a race-aholic! But when Tony George forced the split of CART into two unrelated factions by devising his own lame interpretation of what "Indy cars" should be.... I have not watched Indy since. Indy is supposed to be North America's ultimate open-wheel challenge. What is it now? Basically a second-tier league that should appear only in a support role to the "true" Indy cars that no longer run there (and are also suffering thanks to his foresight). And his dream that the IRL would be North America's most popular televised racing series?


Empty seats at Indy? That's nothing more than the fulfillment of the prophecy that all true motor racing fans voiced when the IRL was announced.

And frankly, thanks to Mr. George, I no longer even care. Thanks, Tony - you killed an institution.
 

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I just had a talk with Phil Hill. He just returned from the Rock where he drove an Alfa Romeo 2900MM at the Monaco Historique GP a couple of weeks ago. This was the car with which Fangio finished in second place at the 1952 Mille Miglia, with only one wheel steering. He told me that the biggest job was to keep the large car from hitting the walls, as he put it "a full-time employment". He reckons that passing is virtually impossible, that there is only one "dry" line and if you get off it, the ARMCO is there for you.
So the F1 GP there has now turned into a fast procession where the poleman has most chances to win unless someone commits a better start, and passing is only possible of backmarkers and under blue-flag orders.
Fascinating indeed. Fortunately Monaco is not so much a bunch of winged rockets hesitantly tip-toeing their way around but the scenery of yachts, brick and flesh, so who cares.

Indy under King Tony is a bore, and today's race was only moderately interesting because of the unusually high number of incidents: as predicted, most of the last-minute field-fillers hit the wall, and a few of the top runners in the process. Tony got his 33 starters, just. Congratulations but no surprise of the outcome.

The last great Indy 500 was run exactly 10 (long) years ago.



Dr. Pea
 

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it is interesting to see that quite a few people suggest that it is impossible to overtake in Monaco... - as opposed to other circuits? - at the same time seems to me that this year there was more overtaking in Monaco than at other gp circuits?


maybe the difference is not as much that it is impossible to overtake - but rather that the difficulties are of different character - because there really is not much overtaking on other circuits to talk about either - so where is all the - not mentioned? - overtaking happening? - I have not seen it anyway... except in the touring car series where there is quite a lot of it

//peter
 

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THREAD HI-JACK ALERT


I gave up waiting until the wee small hours to view open wheelers (Indy/CART/F1) being transmitted from half a world away. Except when I've got insomnia and need to be bored into sleep mode................

IMHO the only four wheel "racing" that happens now (as opposed to processions) happens in tin tops. Aussie V8 supercars, DTM, BTCC. LMP type racing is close, but not as thrilling as the aforementioned.

Just personal, but NASCAR and speedway don't do it for me either.

Rallying doesn't have that immediate impact as it races against the clock. I caught some Rallycross on the telly yesterday which looked fun but I know little of it.

Being a big bike fan, I can unfortunately see that World Superbikes (aka the Ducati Cup) is going the way of open wheelers thanks to the organising body being at odds with the manufacturers over the tyre rule (amongst other things)

MotoGP is still a spectacle to behold but for how long?

So, if there was only one race to watch, what would it be?

Cheers

Steve
 

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Moto GP is by far the biggest spectacle in motor sport but unfortunatly it has attracted the attention of Mr Ecclestone , he is already wooing Val Rossi with a test drive of the F1 Ferrari .
Indy racing was doomed the day Nigel Mansell step into the Newman/Haas Lola , suddenly europe was made aware of this spectacular high speed series .
Consequently something had to be done to dilute the package so F1 could again reign supreme , and it is my opinion that a deal was drawn up between Bernie and Tony to start a rival series under the "all american" banner .
What was the pay back for Tony George ? The US GP !

Richard
 

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QUOTE Indy racing was doomed the day Nigel Mansell step into the Newman/Haas Lola , suddenly europe was made aware of this spectacular high speed series .



Fancy theory but go tell it to Graham Hill and Jimmy Clark, good British blokes, winners in 1966 and 1965, to twice ex-F1 champ Emerson Fittipaldi and many other Brits who tried their hand there and to about 1/2 of the IRL crews, most ex-F1 tech have-beens originally from UK, Australia, Germany, France...
Europe has been aware a LONG time ago that if you want to race for money or make money in racing (not always the same thing), you got to go to the USA. Did you know that by 1964, the L.A. Times Grand Prix at Riverside was paying more money in that ONE race than an entire season of winning every Formula One grand prix? Where do you think the top Euros were in October 1964, on the Riviera?

1/ Indy was VERY successful before Mr. George, even with the uneasy CART/USAC relationship. Mr. George royally screwed up this uneasy truce by being a complete idiot.
2/ Nige did not need Bernie's permission to go race in the USA and did not ask for it either. It's Bernie who went there to try to lure him back to Yurrup to help Damon Hill in F1.
3/ Bernie could not care less about what is going in the USA after the failure of no less than 3 venues there, the latest being...Indy. He's done with the USA and is looking to where REAL money is: in Asian and Arabic dictatorships.
4/ The current venue for the USGP (Indy) is failing with lesser and lesser attendence after an encouraging first year, and is presently a money pit for Mr. George. The cirscuit is absolutely boring for both drivers AND spectators. There is no reason why this year will be any different. You can get tickets for the June race, and they are CHEAP.
5/ There is no conspiracy theory there: just that Tony is a typical egotistic narrow-minded moron with a fat checkbook but is wasting the money earned by the speedway from the ONLY money-making races they currently have: the "Brickhead 400" and to a lesser extent, the Indy 500. The rest of the IRL races are financial failure after financial failure, and so is the USGP. The Hulman-George family and the private stockholders are none too please at this time with over half a BILLION invested in this IRL thing and no return in nearly 10 years, and now this F1 thing that won't take off.
Regards,

Dr. Pea
 

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Unfortunately in the 60,s when I was a youngster in England there was virtually no motor sport coverage on TV , the onlyGP,s we got to see where the British and Monaco
and if we were really lucky 20min,s of LeMans . The only time we got to see anything American were the films at the racing car show .
My point concerning Nigel was that the media crossed the pond with him , I believe there was a weekly hour show covering the races and his lifestyle on network TV.
Following this eurosport satellite TV channel covered all the races and still does as far as a know . After the death of Senna the only "character" to capture the media's imagination apart from Damian Hill briefly was Alex Zanardi .
I think Dr. Pea that you are looking at this from a dyed in the wool enthusiasts view point the likes of which Bernie doesn't give a toss about , he is after the casual couch potato that brings in the ratings for the sponsors . The purse of individual races was a concern that disappeared when FOCA was created .
My "Fancy theory" about indy car also goes for Grp B rally cars , Grp C sports cars and the 500cc 2 stroke GP bikes !
Us anoraks where fully aware of the American scene also the Tasman races , we picked up our copy of Motoring news or Autosport every thursday and went straight to the Can Am report !. We should find out the circulation figures for those magazines because that would give you an idea how many people were " aware ".

Richard
 

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Sidecar Stephen:

"If there was only one race to watch, what would it be?" The race within a race, of course. I find there is nothing more entertaining than watching the support trucks thrashing about in the Paris-Dakar Rally!

Bob S.
 
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