Indy Rant

With a few weeks before the Indianapolis 500, it's about time I wrote a little bit about the CART/IRL split.

Tony George has the right to start any type of racing league he wants. He can have any type of rule structure, race any type of car, hold as many races as he likes. I don't believe he has the right, just because he owns the race track, to dictate how the Indianapolis 500 is to be run.

The Indianapolis 500 is an American institution. It's like the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby, or the Daytona 500. The owner of the stadium where the Super Bowl is played cannot say that this year we will compete with players from the Canadian football league. That would be absurd. No offense intended, but Canadian players aren't up to the same level as NFL players.

Bill France, the owner of Daytona International Speedway, would be lynched if he said that next year the Daytona 500 will be run with cars from Europe. You know: Fiats, Renaults, and Peugeots.  What would happen if the owner of Churchill Downs said that next May the Kentucky Derby will not be a horse race but a camel race?

I just saw a New York Times article on how less sponsorship money means fewer cars for this year's 500. Traditionally, the 500 has had a field of 33 cars but may not this year. Here's a quote from the article:
But money often trumps tradition. The Indianapolis Star reported yesterday that teams that already have cars in the field have shown little interest in adding cars. Teams have so much cash from their sponsors, and sponsors are not interested in spending more.
 One of the reasons there is less sponsorship money is because of the bad economy. That's clear. But I can't help thinking that part of the reason is because the The Indianapolis 500 just isn't the same caliber race it used to be.

Tony George has the right to form and promote his Indy Racing League. He has the right to race his league at tracks all around the country. But George has taken an American institution, the Indianapolis 500, and made it less than it was; less than it could be. In my opinion, he's ruined it.