Sunday, January 24, 2010


REMINDER: The Race Reporters resumes with original and live shows Wednesday (January 27) at 7 p.m. Eastern. Retiring sports car legend Hurley Haywood will be Newsmaker of the Week ahead of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Larry Edsall, Jonathan Ingram and Bobby Bennett will be media panelists. Please listen at .

I well remember how hot the passions were when Tony George launched the Titanic-disaster Indy Racing League in 1996. Not only among fans and competitors, but also within the media.

Many in the print and broadcast community staked claim to their pro-or-con Tony George positions; objective reporting be damned. Of course, I wasn't surprised. For one thing, I remember I WAS surprised back in 1979, when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's press room was occupied by quite a few journalists wearing "I Support Dick King" buttons when a legal issue involving the USAC president was leaked a few days before the Indy 500 during the first USAC-CART power struggle.

A lot of self-interest was involved in picking sides back in '96. Mostly money, as in books, employment as the "IRL correspondent" vs. "CART correspondent," and side-deals with teams, tracks or sponsors. Which is not to say some didn't truly believe in, or disagree with, George's "vision."

Last week, however, officially brought this sad saga to a close. After open-wheel unification two years ago, followed by the Hulman-George family forcing Tony out as IMS CEO last year primarily over financial issues, Tony formally resigned all of his director positions with all of the Hulman family business ventures. Bottom line: He's now another team owner without a sponsor; prospects uncertain.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Now, finally, it's time for media accountability. It's time for those who were solidly in Tony's camp to come clean and acknowledge they were wrong. They supported what history will now undoubtedly record as one of the worst business decisions ever in the sports arena. Among other things, an American sporting tradition and institution was driven from a month-long celebration of speed worthy of mainstream importance to a greatly diminished one-day event.

The most important thing in journalism is CREDIBILITY. Now that Tony George has completely wiped his hands of the mess he created, some journalists better come clean, too. If they don't have the understanding it's necessary, their editors has best insist.

Here's a link to my NHRA testing notebook in last Sunday's Arizona Republic:

The American Media, January 2010: Liberal radio talk-show (and The Hate Network) host Ed Schultz told radio listeners that if he lived in Massachusetts he’d try to vote 10 times, claiming that he’d “cheat to keep these bastards (new senator Scott Brown) out.” Isn't voter fraud a crime?

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

January 27 (first original show of the year) -- Newsmaker: Hurley Haywood. Panelists: Larry Edsall, Jonathan Ingram. Plus, Bobby Bennett.

February 3 -- Newsmaker: Bob Tasca III. Panelists: Jim Pedley, Jeff Burk. Plus, Dave Rodman.

February 10 -- Newsmaker: Jamie McMurray. Panelists: Lee Spencer, Reid Spencer. Plus, Phil Burgess.

[ more next week . . . ]