• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM: If Bernie Ecclestone is to be believed, Formula One is the only major sporting series in the world not concerned with attracting new and younger fans. Ecclestone's financial success of F1's commercial activities is unquestionable, but his age, legal problems, the series' out-of-control costs and now his latest pronouncement has only increased concerns about his capability to lead going forward.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

RAHAL SEES INDY as 'PATRIOTIC'; SAYS NASCAR HAS 'PEAKED'

Graham Rahal, driver of the McDonald's Honda for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing in the IRL, was my Newsmaker guest on last night's The Race Reporters radio show on PowerUpChannel. Joining me in the questioning were journalists Holly Cain (AOL Sports), Mark Armijo (Arizona Republic) and Tim May (Columbus Dispatch).

Graham, 20, had what to me were some surprising comments on his career possibilities and the state of the IRL. Here are some quotes from the interview:

"Formula One absolutely is of interest. And frankly, not many people know this, I have looked at NASCAR. Are those places I'd ultimately like to be? No, because, to be honest, a unified open-wheel series in North America was what I've always wanted to see. Everybody can appreciate that, growing up with my father (Bobby), that's the way it was. I felt very fortunate that, unlike some of these other guys . . . I was lucky unification happened so early in my career. I want to see this open-wheel series succeed. Being an America, that's what means the most to me. The second-best thing would be to be the only American in Formula One. That would be quite an honor. NASCAR would be in there. I'm not as outspoken about those things as some people. I just try to focus on my job rather than get the media all hyped-up. Before I move on to another series, I've got to be successful in one."

"People can say what you want, but Formula One isn't exactly stable right now. NASCAR, let's look at what Chevy just did, if Chevy is going to continue to cut, Dodge is going to cut. NASCAR is no more stable. I've got to be honest: I think IndyCar is the most stable of all of them . . . NASCAR has peaked, plain and simple. IndyCar racing, the quality of racing is second to none. The quality of drivers is second to none . . . I still think IndyCar racing is where it's at. I'm American, I'm biased to that, I feel that the Indy 500 is the most patriotic thing to compete in and that's where I'm focused."

Listen to the entire show by using this link:
http://va.radiopilot.net/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=39301

The Race Reporters podcast is now available on iTunes (!)
http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=319558548

Upcoming guests:

June 24 -- Newsmaker: Chris Economaki. Panelists: Corinne Economaki, Dave Argabright, Susan Wade.

July 1 -- Newsmaker: Richard Petty. Panelists: Mike Harris, Lewis Franck.

July 8 -- Newsmaker: Ron Capps. Panelists: TBA.

July 15 -- Newsmaker: Scott Atherton. Panelists: Larry Edsall, Greg Creamer, Jonathan Ingram.

[ more next Tuesday . . . ]