Sunday, June 13, 2010


Could the Delta Wing vs. a more traditional Indy Car be the 21st century version of the rear-engine cars vs. the roadsters?

Bruce Ashmore thinks so.

Bruce is a friend of mine from back in the day when he designed the Lola and thus worked closely with Newman/Haas Racing when I was the PR director there. I had two conversations with Bruce over in Indianapolis the other week. He's part of one group (another friend of mine, Tim Wardorp, is part of Bruce's BAT group) which has proposed a design for the next generation of I500 car, supposedly coming in 2012.

In brief, Bruce says his thought is to have the BAT car (of course) be approved for all Izod IndyCar Series races. But, his twist, is to make the radical Delta Wing eligible for Indy only -- at least at the start of the new formula. Bruce told me he thinks that would generate a lot of media and fan interest, stir passions as people take for-and-against sides, because the two designs are visually so different. Thus, memories of the early-mid 1960s, with rear engine machines vs. the venerable roadsters.

Interesting idea. But, as I said to Bruce, the first -- and huge -- obstacle to me is cost. How many team owners could afford to do it? Two? Three? Maybe that's enough to create the buzz Bruce has in mind.

Do I think it will happen? Honestly, no.

Common sense and professionalism tell me "make-goods" -- long a part of broadcast advertising -- should have a place in PR.

A "mg" is a commercial spot given by the network to the advertiser when the guaranteed audience number isn't reached.

A "mg" in PR should come when a journalist doesn't get the interview he/she is promised.

In the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's media center the other week, I very purposely went over to speak to a certain publicist. I kept the conversation general and friendly, very intentionally setting-up a situation to see if the light-bulb would go on and the subject of a past offense, indirectly involving this rep, would be mentioned. It wasn't. I also very intentionally set-up a situation to see if the light-bulb would go on with the offer of, "We owe you one. So, if X happens, can I call you to schedule an interview?"

The test was given and the result was not a "passing" grade, pardon the racing pun.

Make-goods should apply to PR as well as advertising. Think about it.

FAST LINES: The IRL did the right thing in quickly issuing a statement regarding the unsatisfactory safety team response to Simona De Silvestro's fire at Texas. However, specific findings of the investigation should be made public . . . Congratulations to Al Pearce -- we became friends back in the 1970s while waiting-out many rain delays at Pocono -- on having the Langley Speedway media center dedicated in his name . . . Memo to Fox News (and other networks) -- When you "tease" a story and say "coming up next," and it's 35 minutes later and that's when you finally get around to presenting the report, well, 35 minutes later is not "next." That actually happened last Friday morning . . . Les Richter, 79, football star and racing industry executive, died Saturday. I worked with "Coach" for many years in IROC and it was an educational experience. Les also was a NASCAR vice president, president of Riverside International Raceway, and a key player in building California Speedway. He also was the motorsports' industry point-man in Washington during the late 1970s "energy shortage" and considered running for congress from California.

Max Papis in Top Fuel? Here's a link to my June "Drags, Dollars & Sense" column in

Marty Snyder, Bob Dillner and others who conduct interviews as if they are as important as the driver need to listen to the opening commentary on my one-year anniversary The Race Reporters:

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.)

June 16 -- Re-Air of One-Year Anniversary Show, with John Force, Paul Page, Jon Asher and special guests.

June 23 -- Newsmaker: Robin Braig (Daytona International Speedway president). Panelists: Dave Rodman, Larry Woody.

June 30 -- Newsmaker: Jamie Allison (Ford North America Motorsports director). Panelists: Larry Edsall, Lewis Franck.

July 7 -- Newsmaker: Jack Beckman. Panelists: Alan Reinhart, Stan Creekmore.

[ more next Monday . . . ]