• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

THINGS I'VE NOTICED

* Whatever happens in IndyCar from now on -- good or bad -- it's ALL on Tony George. He apparently didn't want to include Kevin Kalkhoven or Gerry Forsythe as partners, so it's Tony's deal 100 percent. That means 100 percent of the credit -- or 100 percent of the responsibility. I hope the Indianapolis news media will keep that in mind.

* I'm not interested in hearing about HD or rotating cameras. Homestead proved the low business priority ABC/ESPN REALLY places on the IndyCar Series. Brienne Pedigo, who still struggles to speak a clear sentence or ask a meaningful question, has been brought back for a second year. Her tenure in the pits should have been briefer than Lisa Guerrero's on the Monday Night Football sidelines. After the pre-produced opening, it was only seconds before Marty Reid got into Danica Patrick/Sports Illustrated and Helio Castroneves/Dancing With the Stars. TV's Danica Obsession is as absurb as ever (never has a sixth-place finisher received so much attention: Dan Wheldon's pass of Scott Dixon for second place was missed as the director focused his cameras on her running around alone in eighth). D.O. reached a new low when viewers were shown a silhouette and Reid said it was Danica's father. Are you sure? For all we could tell, that could have been Barack Obama! And, once again, the network used its own race title, creating a conflict with the "official" sponsor name publicized to the media by the series and track. Like ALMS, which apparently lets GT2-class owners dictate how its races are produced and so the viewer usually doesn't know the overall leader, ICS on TV no longer merits any serious discussion here. Case Closed.

* Equipment is at a premium, and they are trying to make the case that Indy-again-is-Indy (Paul Newman/Roger Penske letter to former 500 ticket-buyers), so what does the ICS do? Force drivers/teams into a four-lap qualifying format. Thereby, among other things, making Indy that-much-less unique. It doesn't make sense!

* THE most tiresome announcer phrase: "It will be interesting to see if . . ."

* It's no secret the public school system doesn't produce students well educated about the facts of history (let alone history's lessons). So, I guess, why should racing be any different? Both the ICS and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing issued news releases last week that were historically inaccurate. I know, because in both cases, I was a small part of the actual history. I provided those involved with the correct facts. As far as I can determine, no correction was issued to the media. (You're welcome!)

* Why is it so hard for publicists to understand that journalists need to receive media guides BEFORE the season starts? (I'm giving ICS a pass this time due to the late reunification timetable.) PR 101, ladies and gentlemen.

* Here's ANOTHER lost art among contemporary PRers: Saying a simple "thank you" to a reporter for a nice story. I'm aware of a few recent articles that made their way into print ONLY because the writer cared enough to make it happen. Some of us used to write a formal thank you note in return. How old-fashioned.

* Not that you'd know it listening to the Fox announcers, but the most important story at Martinsville was the poor attendance. Yes, I know, it was cold -- but there were major sections of empty grandstands.

* For years, it's been an automatic for MRN announcers to say pit crews were adding "two cans of Union 76/Unocal/Sunoco" gasoline. We never heard that much on TV, though. Well, somebody-has-gotten-to-somebody, because the Sunoco reference is now regular on Fox. We hear it almost as often as plugs for T-shirts on Darrell Waltrip's website.
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Judging by my E-mail, last week's blog apparently made the rounds of the Champ Car staff and officials. Common comment: "Don't hold your breath." It turns out several officials care enough to have volunteered their services, and pay their own way, to Long Beach -- just to be a part of Champ Car's "grand finale."

As I wrote, I don't expect the organization to do the right thing at Long Beach. That doesn't mean it wasn't the right thing for somebody -- me -- to say it. (A reminder for those who need it: I was CART's first full-time communications director, from November 1980 through December 1983.)
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Here's a link to my notebook in last Friday's Arizona Republic, featuring Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Arie Luyendyk Jr. By the way, I'll have a major feature on Dale Jr. in the Republic's NASCAR special section, Thursday, April 10:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/0327racingnb0328.html


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