• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

WHY INDY ISN'T ON GRAND-AM's SCHEDULE

Grand-Am -- remember, now owned by the same holding company that owns NASCAR -- released a 12-race 2011 schedule last week. It was most noteable for what was NOT on the calendar.

Remember the buzz when G-A tested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in fall 2009? Word was the series would give it a go at the Brickyard. But it didn't happen in 2010 and IMS isn't on the '11 sked.

I say because of the business split between International Speedway Corp. (let's just say ISC is closely aligned with NASCAR) and the IndyCar organization.

All ISC-owned tracks are gone from the '11 IndyCar schedule.

Back on Feb. 6, 2007, after Indy drivers and machines tested on the Daytona road course, I wrote here it "was at least as much about business and politics as it was competition." I said then what was in it for the France family was a G-A race at IMS. I noted such an event "would strike a piercing blow to the rival American Le Mans Series."

But with issues over promotion and sanctioning fee increases, ISC and what is no longer to be called IRL went in different directions. How deep the emotional divide? Watch to see if IMS entertains a new approach from ALMS . . .

It also needs to be observed that Utah's Miller Motorsports Park has no G-A or ALMS dates next year. When I visited MMP last year, shortly after owner Larry Miller's death, I was told by track officials all appropriate arrangements had been made for the track's future. Now, I have to wonder . . .

This also means G-A is ending its season at Mid-Ohio. I say, "Ouch!" Not exactly the big media/marketing area one might wish for to determine champions. I'm going to figure the awards banquet won't be at the Holiday Inn in Mansfield, Ohio.


Tony George, in one of his rare public comments about his ouster from IMS and the Hulman family businesses, admitted he didn't react quickly enough to the economy by cutting expenses. The same can't be said of ISC. Last week, it closed the Daytona 500 Experience and largely completed a corporate reorganization that basically eliminated one whole layer of bureauracy.


FAST LINES: I think I figured out why Al-Anabi is shutting down its Funny Car program and shifting Del Worsham to Top Fuel with Larry Dixon: Toyota must have recalled Worsham's Funny Car, probably something about unintended de-acceleration . . . As if ESPN didn't have enough issues relating to its ratings-challenged NASCAR productions: Two NASCAR know-nothings were assigned to guest host NASCAR Now last week. Fans were left with a former pro wresting mouth to lead a big breaking news story of Kasey Kahne's departure from Richard Petty Motorsports. Following, I suppose, in that proud tradition of racing experts Whit Watson, Kenny Mayne and Rece Davis as rpm2night anchors. Yet, it's been reported that network execs are perplexed why fans aren't watching . . . Shamefully, Speed has been promoting that its announcers will again be in Halloween costumes for the Truck race at Talladega. Too bad no one in executive authority considers this: It's TALLADEGA. How would anyone think Speed microphone holders would have the CREDIBILITY to SERIOUSLY report on the CONSEQUENCES of a Big One wreck that resulted in injury or death? That would be impossible. Fortunately, I'll be at the NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas and won't be watching . . . It's only six points between Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin with four races to go. Will THAT boost the TV ratings?
Last week I noted that MSNBC has a new slogan: "Lean Forward." I suggested "Bend Over" would be more appropriate. Wishing to be of further help, I have some additional suggestions:

* MSNBC: Our Hosts Are Off Their Meds!

* MSNBC: Where America Is Always Wrong

* MSNBC: Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Favorite Network

* MSNBC: All Together Now -- Tax and Spend! Tax and Spend!! Tax and Spend!!!

* MSNBC: When We're Not Watching Ourselves, We're Listening to NPR

* MSNBC: Coming Soon -- Woody Paige on Sports!

* MSNBC: If you liked 'Network,' You'll Love Us!

Or, my No. 1 pick:

* MSNBC: We're Obama's Monica!

P.S. -- The back-and-forth in the cable news wars took another twist with Fox News Channel debuting its new promo spots. The tagline? "Move Forward." While MSNBC's feature images of Jimmy Carter, the Clintons and Barack Obama, Fox's showcase Ronald Reagan.

[ more next Monday . . . ]