• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Monday, June 02, 2008

IRL POLICY NOT 'FINE' BY ME

Let me see if I've got this straight:

The Indy Racing League thinks it's news when the Indy 500 features a record winner's purse and total payout. And it is!

But when the IRL fines a competitor, we are told those amounts are not made public.

Hey, guys, news is news. (!)

IF the League has somehow conjured up a truly LEGITIMATE reason for this policy, come out and spell that out for us. Now!

Otherwise, it's a matter of credibility. A fine of $100 tells us one thing about how "serious" the League takes the offense. $10,000 tells us a completely different story. NASCAR certainly wasn't shy about announcing a pair of $100,000 penalties last week. Now, THAT'S serious!

Which leads me to this: Danica Patrick should have been fined -- I'll put it at $2,500 -- for walking down a "hot" pit lane during the Indianapolis 500. That was a safety violation. I guess Danica "forgot" about the pit incident she was involved in the day before pole qualifying. (!)
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I was in the media center for the Indy 500. During the race's first 100 laps, journalists watching monitors showing the ABC network telecast laughed at the booth announcers at least three times, one reason being they missed passes for the lead.

PR hint: It would serve Marty Reid and company well to get out of their interminable (and ego-driven) production meetings and engage in some actual relationship-building with print reporters. I'm not talking about formal press conferences or conference calls. I'm talking about one-on-one interaction. It would do the ABC/ESPN boys some good. Hell, they might actually learn something. (!)

Dick Berggren finds time to do it at NASCAR races.
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* Dave Argabright proved -- again -- in last week's National Speed Sport News why he's one of America's best racing writers. Dave has an elegant way of making the reader understand what should be common sense. I don't have a link, but do what you must to read it. Hint: Dave correctly points out that in a physical confrontation with a male driver, Danica is in a win-win situation, while the poor fellow is in lose-lose mode. Great writing -- and thinking. I would subscribe to NSSN just for Dave's column.

* Robin Miller, in his SpeedTV.com mailbag, picked up on a couple of points I made last week about Patrick's temper tantrum at Indy. Quoting partially from two of his answers: " . . . let’s be honest, Danica is very savvy when it comes to the media and she knows a good photo op." And: "As far as Danica’s attitude, it’s starting to wear thin on a lot of people."

* The "expectations game" is part of determining "winners" and "losers" during presidential primaries. For example, Hillary Clinton was expected to take the Indiana primary by 5-6 points. When she won narrowly, the pundits proclaimed her a "loser." Given all the hype and "momentum" going into the first unified Indy 500 since 1995, a ratings gain of seven percent (household impressions up nine percent over last year) on ABC means the race came in under expectations. And, as I've said many times, the hard work started with unification, shown by this post-race headline in USA Today: "How to make the Indy 500 great again".

* Sometimes, it's fun to remember old times. Thanks to Bob Markus for his May 27 blog:
http://bobmarkus.blogspot.com/.

* Last week I noted the PR no-shows at Indy. Credit-where-credit-is-due: Thanks to the following for their help to me -- Kelby Krauss (who brought poleman Scott Dixon to the AARWBA breakfast -- that's AP's Mike Harris interviewing Scott at the podium), T.E. McHale, Dan Layton, Mark Robinson, John Griffin, Ron Green, Bill York, Anne Fornoro and Jan Thomas.

* Sign-of-Unprofessional-Times: The PR director of a track about to host the IRL, while visiting a hospitality area in Indy, had his shirt hanging out and he was wearing shorts. Nothing like looking the part of a professional! Which brings me straight to Scott Speed. I've written many times about how unprofessional it is for a driver to walk around with his (and, yes, her) uniform pulled down. Speed took it to a whole new level when he won last Friday's Truck race at Dover. Scott started peeling off his uniform while doing the winner's TV interview! Then, he posed for the usual victory lane photos that way! What a disgrace. If the sponsor and team aren't on-the-ball enough to have someone deal with this, then NASCAR should correct the situation when it's in a winner's circle setting. That's not the image NASCAR wants for one of its winners. And it's shortchanging the series sponsor. At Indy, I suggested to the parent of a winning IRL driver that he'd look more like a pro -- and be more attractive to potential sponsors -- if he'd stop doing this. I'll be watching to see if there's any change.

* Thanks to my friend, long-time Detroit radioman Larry Henry, for sending along this link to a very interesting article on how the media has changed.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24757552/

And check out Larry's innovative production services at: http://twofloorsdownproductions.com/


IndyCar racing on a Thursday night? Sound strange? Check out my notebook in last Friday's Arizona Republic:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2008/05/29/20080529racingnb.html

[ more next Tuesday . . . ]