• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM: The first look at how John Force is trying to patch together enough sponsorship to keep his four-car NHRA team going comes Saturday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Force has a media event scheduled to announce a primary sponsor for some races next year. He's trying to do what so many NASCAR teams do, combine several different companies for a limited number of primary ID races and, if successful, John won't have to spend his own money to compete the full season.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2013

Let's hope '13 won't be unlucky. How good it will be, I don't know. At least the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Board of Directors didn't send out Mayan calendars as holidays gifts.

 
Jeff Gordon has said it to me several times. He's said it to many other people in countless interviews. He said it again regarding the Fiasco in Phoenix with Clint Bowyer:

"I race guys the way they race me."

Anytime and everytime I hear Gordon say that, my thought is always the same:

Fair enough!

That's the way it's going to be here this year.

More than ever, I'm determined to tell it the way I believe it to be, especially as it pertains to the quality and professionalism (or lack thereof) of racing PR. The anti-Jim Chapman types like Merrill Cain, Tiffany Zielke, Goodyear and the rest will be cited in this cyberspace.

And that's the way it's going to be.


Arizona racing fans are happy with the news that Art Bisch Sr. is among those elected to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame's 2013 class. (Full disclosure: I'm a Hall voter.) Bisch won five championships in the 1950s and qualified for the 1958 Indy 500 before a fatal accident in Atlanta at age 31. Others in the class include Charles (Dutch) Baumann, Andy Linden, Brad Noffsinger, Lou Blaney, Jeff Bloom, C.W. Van Ranst, Harold (Red) Lempelius, Richard Hoffman, E.A. (Ernie) Moross, Edd Sheppard and Jean Lynch. Induction will be June 1 in Knoxville, Ia.


The off-season wailing among some in the IndyCar media community (as small as it is) tells us a lot about the problems that extend beyond the historical record of that series' management. 

1. Rubens Barrichello couldn't find sponsorship so is going to race stock cars in Brazil. Remember all that nonsense before last season that Rubens (a nice guy) might do for IndyCar what Nigel Mansell did for CART in 1993? I called that out right from the start. Yes, Rubens has a lot of Twitter followers but the only question that mattered was: How many of them are in IndyCar markets and thus potential ticket buyers? Cheerleading from the Randy Bernard crowd is all that was. 2. Ryan Briscoe doesn't (at least yet) have a ride. Penske Racing says it doesn't have sponsorship for his car -- what does THAT tell you when Penske is hurting for funding? But, as I also pointed out last year, Briscoe's fate is about more than sponsorship. It's about lack of mental toughness. I called this after his last pit stop in last May's Indy 500. It was obvious Briscoe didn't have enough outright speed to win so Penske, his radio contact, asked if he wanted to take downforce out of the car (try to go for it.) Briscoe said no, which I bet said a lot to Roger about how much his driver was willing to gamble to win the race that means more to the owner than any other. 3. Changes were made in the PR department. Here's a secret from deep within the PR world: Yes, it is a little about BS. But not phony, back-slapping BS. Just because someone decides to start wearing a sports coat doesn't transform them from long-time industry joker to serious professional.


As I've written here before, I like Fox News Channel's Martha MacCallum. It was announced late last year she had signed a new contract with FNC, which included this quote from CEO Roger Ailes: "Martha brings unique enthusiasm and talent to delivering the news and connects incredibly well with our viewers.”  Raise your hand if you get what's missing. Says a ton about the media these days.


NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman issued a formal, public apology to fans last week for hockey's latest labor dispute and lost games. I hope it was sincere and I know it was good PR. I said about five years ago IndyCar's leaders should have apologized to fans, sponsors, manufacturers, promoters and everyone in the industry for the massive mistake of split series. They never did. But, you know, it's never too late to do the right thing. 


Looking forward to seeing the great cars and interesting people this week at the Barrett-Jackson collector car auction, less than a half-hour from my home here in Scottsdale. You can see 39 hours of the happenings on Speed Channel.

[ more next Monday . . .