• 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.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

A LITTLE HONEST REPORTING REVEALS THE FACTS

Over the last year, a lot has been written and said about the possibility of the IndyCar series returning to Phoenix International Raceway. The overwhelming majority of it inaccurate because it was not properly "reported" from the standpoint of real journalism.

Last year, in the midst of this fog, I was the only reporter to actually interview the three key players: PIR President Bryan Sperber, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard, and ISC President John Saunders. When I wrote here and said elsewhere there would be no 2012 race, it was because I had bothered to go out and actually gather the FACTS. (How basic is that?) To this day, a few of the most serious offenders, co-opted by Bernard, still have not even tried to interview Sperber. Another one did FINALLY outreach to Sperber -- basically because he was embarrassed into it.

OK, what's new on this front? Here's the latest, as of last Friday, as reported by me in the Arizona Republic:
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/speed/articles/2012/03/30/20120330could-indycar-make-return-pir.html

I'd say it's about time for a bunch of media people (Kevin Lee, you're on the pole) -- and a bunch of chatroomers -- apologize to Sperber after bashing him last year for supposedly refusing to talk to Bernard. I say that because their man Randy is now "on the record" as having apologized to the PIR prez.

It's a sad commentary on the state of fandom that a story like this is twisted into a chance to criticize NASCAR, PIR, ISC, safety, Las Vegas, each other and, yes, me. Fans are entitled to their own enthusiasm, but not their own "facts." The most laughable from the chatrooms was the one that former PIR owner Buddy Jobe kicked-out CART because he didn't like Carl Haas controlling the catering. I worked for Carl at that time -- he had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY CATERING BUSINESS. So-called "fans" who anonymously push out this kind of junk only hurt the sport they claim to love.


The headline in last Friday's USA Today sports section -- Fox considers converting Speed to general sports network -- might finally shed some useful light on the big management changes at the motorsports channel late last year.

"That Fox might convert its Speed channel, now . . . in 82 million households, to a general sports network would simply create another Lilluptian to tie down Gulliver-like ESPN . . .," read the story. Which went on to suggest they go after Major League Baseball's cable rights after the 2013 season.

Whatever one thinks of Speed's collection of automotive "lifestyle" programming -- I don't watch a second of it -- one also has to wonder: What would happen to the auto racing event and news coverage? I'm sure NASCAR, and probably Formula One and Grand-Am would continue. As for all the others . . . ???

FAST LINES: I recently had the pleasure of meeting writer Steven Cole Smith. If you aren't reading his excellent stories in AutoWeek and elsewhere, you should be. His April 2 AW piece on the mess that was trying to understand Sebring proves my point . . . It's a pleasure to say Tommy Kendall is a friend of mine. But here's a memo to the Twitter crowd offering the "idea" of TK in the IndyCar announce booth. It's been tried -- TWICE. Which is not to say he shouldn't be there. It's just to say this isn't new . . . Since nothing seems too outrageous to be true in today's "real" news world, it's hard to imagine some PR people still think it's OK to put out fake April's Fool "news" stories figuring people will get that it's a joke. This is stupid and should end . . . Speaking of stupid, how many references were made to Martinsville hot dogs last week? Enough of that, too . . . So now Keith Olbermann has been fired by Al Gore! What's next for The Mad Hater? An anchor gig on Al Jazeera would seem perfect. Or, if he wants back into "sports," play-by-play of pro wrestling. Best move for Olbermann: Partner with a fellow Worst Person in the World, Andrew Craig. They deserve each other.

[ more next Monday . . . ]