Tuesday, July 10, 2018


40th INDY 500: Making remarks about the current state of motorsports PR not being in the tradition of Jim Chapman, Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center, May 25, 2018. (Dan R. Boyd photo.) 

When I first posted here in 2006,12 years ago this week, I wrote that I hoped this would be a "Great Adventure" (which is what Paul Newman called Nigel Mansell's 1993 arrival in CART as world Formula One champion) and that we'd learn together. I also said my goal was to combine the knowledge and experience gained from journalism and various roles (mainly media/public relations) at the highest levels of motorsports to offer insights and perspectives not found elsewhere. I thought that could be useful to those who worked within the industry (which has been my primary audience) and to open-minded fans who wanted to better understand their favorite sport. As I have said countless times, you can't be a fan in-the-know without understanding the Business and Politics of Racing.

That is still my wish.

However, personal issues and higher priorities have forced me to write only occasionally these past couple of years. I apologize to those who regularly took the time to come here. Everyone's time is valuable so I considered it a compliment from those who weekly read what I offered, agree or disagree.

Since Twitter has made everyone an opinionist -- please note I didn't say "journalist" -- there is a ton more out there in the cyberworld for those who wish to digest it. Going back to my Philadelphia Daily News days I have never had a desire to write just for the sake of writing. I want to write when I think I have something important or useful to communicate. Honestly, I have had a few blog posts semi-ready to publish in 2018, but as I had to admit to myself they didn't fit my standard, I deleted them. These included two from the Indianapolis 500, which was my 40th time at the "Greatest Spectacle," and as I told friends privately and said publicly in accepting the Angelo Angelopolous Award for sportsmanship (photo below) and presenting the Jim Chapman Award for excellence in motorsports PR (to USAC's Dick Jordan), I expect it was the concluding chapter in my own I500 story.

That last sentence deserves an explanation. My intent is to do so here in the upcoming weeks. But, as I'm on a countdown to another Great Adventure of the life kind, I don't expect to write much more than that. I do want to do my traditional end-of-year column, although it will have to happen sooner than usual.

I've been called many things over the decades (!) and I'll save some of you the trouble and call myself out here and now as something of a hypocrite. I was an early critic, and late adopter, of Twitter. My casual surveys of the T scene led me to think it was unserious and, thus, a waste of my time. A big problem I had with it, based on my formal journalism education and professional experience, had to do with context: How can you possibly put any meaningful information into proper context in 180 characters? Near impossible, I felt.

Eventually, I was guided by some people I respect, and shown how Twitter can be a communications tool. Not a full tool box, but a tool. And that's the mindset I try to lock-into. Given my inability to write blogs to whatever length I feel necessary, I use Twitter as a way to express a basic point. I'm not much into breaking news these days, but I was able to use Twitter to get out there first the true news that ISM Raceway in Phoenix would not host IndyCar in 2019. I'm able to use it to share quick thoughts and viewpoints, photos, and to provide links to my Arizona Republic stories and articles written by others that I believe are worth your attention.

In short (pun intended), Twitter has become the best way I have to contribute to the much-more-vast conversation in the areas in which I am engaged the most: Motorsports, sports-in-general, politics, Wall St./business, media, and medicine/science. I have been doing that on a regular basis this year and intend to continue to do so in the months ahead. If you are interested, I'm @SpinDoctor500

As far as the 2018 racing scene is concerned, the only things that have energized my interest are: Courtney Force winning races and leading the NHRA Funny Car points; Ferrari and S. Vettel taking the fight to Mercedes-Benz and L.  Hamilton in Formula One; IMSA seemingly on the right course with its DPi class, which now includes Acura Team Penske, J.P. Montoya and H. Castroneves; and the Grand Reopening of ISM Raceway in November after a $178 million transformation that will make it second only to Daytona as the USA track with the best/nicest spectator, corporate hospitality and competitor facilities.

NASCAR has deeper problems than most of those not directly involved realize. With Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch it's only true national stars as the series awaits breakthroughs from Elliott, Bowman, Suarez, Wallace, Byron, etc., the sanction's strength comes from its multi-billion dollar TV contracts. The lack of household and media-known starpower is at the core of IndyCar's failures at Phoenix and Watkins Glen. And, for those of you believing NBC taking over the full TV package next year will be IC's savior, you might look at how the network dumbed-down the Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby and Olympics with its choice of so-called "talent." Watch out for the new "shoulder" programming on cable at the Indy 500. I laid down a marker on this with Mark Miles in May. He admitted to not having approval rights on announcers but can "consult" so we'll see what he allows to happen.

My overall interest in NHRA has faded significantly. Believe it or not -- and believe it because I couldn't possibly dream of making this up -- the new PR rep for one of its major multi-car teams took me off her news release distribution list because of criticism from me and offered to reinstate me only if I promised no more criticism. Yes, you read that right, a media relations director specifically demanded a journalist give up his First Amendment rights. The World of Outlaws has had tragedy, rain, and no one who knows how to professional beat the publicity drum.

Thanks for hanging in there with me. Hopefully, we'll "talk" again soon.

THANK YOU: With my individual and the permanent Angelo Angelopolous Award, which is displayed in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway media center. The Angelo dates back to 1963 -- so I guess you can consider it an Indy "tradition" -- and is "Presented to the 500 Mile Race Participant Who Best Exemplifies the Creed of Sportsmanship." Angelopolous was an Indianapolis News writer who loved sportsmanship in sports. As I joked (?) in accepting, there must be at least 500 IMS Yellow Shirts (past and present) who went into shock at the news of me receiving an award for "sportsmanship." Regardless, having my name added to some truly great ones on the permanent award was a humbling and nice way to exit the Speedway. (Dan R. Boyd photo.)