• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

$20 MILLION ISN'T ENOUGH

Sorry, Bruton, but the cold-hard business facts are $20 million isn't enough.

Smith, the Charlotte Motor Speedway and Speedway Motorsports Inc. boss, let it out a few days ago there's a plan to offer $20 mil to any driver who can win both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600. The key word is WIN.

As no-less authorities than Jeff Gordon and Dario Franchitti have pointed out, the first element at play here is for a driver to have teams strong enough to actually WIN. For the NASCAR drivers, that would be expensive. It would require an unprecedented amount of scheduling cooperation between Indy and NASCAR, not just an early I500 starting time, but allowances for practice and qualifying days. In truth, Cup drivers would need budget for plenty of testing -- and if they were REALLY SERIOUS -- an open date to compete on an Indy Car oval pre-May.

Please don't tell me existing sponsors would cover those costs -- not at a time when Gordon has admitted DuPont isn't locked-in to continue the No. 24 team relationship in 2011. Anyone signing-up to try this double would need guaranteed multi-million dollar deals, not just "win" money.

Bottom line: It would take closer to $50 million to make this happen.


Yes, I DO read those news releases. And I couldn't help but note this from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the other day.

"Snake Pit returns. The Snake Pit is returning to the Indianapolis 500 in 2010 as the premier party spot for the race. The Snake Pit was an unofficial, unorganized and usually unruly area for partying in the infield adjacent to Turn 1 during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. This year, it returns in Turn 3 as an officially sanctioned spot with live music, tailgating and partying on Race Day, May 30."

An Indy "tradition" renewed!


Oh, the twists-and-turns of sponsorship: Last year, Graham's Rahal was McDonald's. This year, it's Quick Trim diet systems. (!!!)


AP did a disservice to Denny Hamlin after Aric Almirola won last Friday's Camping World Truck race at Dover. In its results story, AP referred to the infamous Nationwide race at Milwaukee in 2007 when Almirola, under contract to Joe Gibbs Racing, started Hamlin's car because Hamlin had not yet arrived from Sprint Cup practice in Sears Point. AP reported that "Hamlin ordered Almirola out of the car and took over, driving the car to victory lane." That wasn't Hamlin's decision to make -- it was the call of Gibbs management.


GREAT line by Dave Rieff on Saturday's ESPN2 NHRA Atlanta qualifying show. Remembering that Ashley Force Hood became the first female to win a Funny Car race at the same track in 2008, Rieff said: "Two years ago, she was Ashley Force Good."


How did it come to be that Jewel will sing the national anthem before the Indy 500? Try this: She's married to nine-time world champion pro rodeo cowboy Ty Murray. New Izod IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard ran the Professional Bull Riders group before taking over the series. Reminder: I'll have a one-on-one interview with Bernard on the May 26 The Race Reporters.


Here's a link to my story in last Friday's Arizona Republic about the track repairs happening at Firebird International Raceway:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2010/05/13/20100513firebird-international-raceway-repairs.html


Last week I noted CNN's to-the-depths-of-the-deepest-ocean plunge. Another terribly sad example is John King. Once a legitimate and serious journalist, King now hosts his own show, and even though he still poses as legit, has flushed his credibility with his audience-intelligence-insulting "Pete on the Street" segment. John King: Yet the latest to fall victim to the egoism of journalist-turned-entertainer.

On the June 9 one-year anniversary The Race Reporters show, I'll have a very special and deeply personal opening commentary on the subject of journalists/celebrities.


Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

May 19 -- Newsmaker: Paul Tracy. Panelists: Mike Mulhern, Kenny Bruce. Plus: Gordon Kirby.

May 26 -- Newsmaker: Randy Bernard. Panelists: Mike Harris, John Oreovicz. Plus: Robin Miller.

June 2 -- Journalists Roundtable on Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600. Panelists: Holly Cain, Tim May, Al Pearce, Ron Lemasters Jr., Larry Henry.

June 9 -- One Year Anniversary Show featuring original Newsmaker John Force and first panelists Paul Page and Jon Asher. Plus: Special surprise guests from around the racing world.

[ Paul Tracy news note Thursday . . . ]