This Won’t Happen Again

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Over the years, I’ve written about how much stock I put into listening to the fans. Once unification took place in 2008, I felt that the IndyCar administration at the time was guilty of not listening to the fans. From that point and until Randy Bernard came on board as CEO in 2010 – IndyCar seemed to ignore what the fans wanted and only did what they saw fit.

With Randy Bernard at the helm, IndyCar took a different direction. He listened to the fans. Some will argue that he listened too closely to the fans and went too far in the other direction (i.e. double-file restarts).

In the early years of the Mark Miles administration, I criticized Miles for ignoring what fans were asking for. The bunker-mentality seemed to be the norm. Since Jay Frye joined IndyCar in November of 2013, things have improved. Right now, I feel like the series has struck that perfect balance between being aware of what fans want and trying to accommodate them, while also doing what they feel is best for the series – regardless of what fans are clamoring for. If being a fan was all that was required to run a sanctioning body, any of us could do it.

The point of this is that fans should have a say…but not the final say.

Bringing this a little closer to home, I’ve always tried to listen to readers of this site. After all, without you coming to read my ramblings three times a week – there would be no point in doing this for almost eleven years and counting. Many of you have been here since the beginning in May of 2009; and many others for most of the past decade. Many of you give me feedback; either in the comments section, through social media or old-school e-mail.

I learned early in my life that you’ll drive yourself nuts if you try to please everyone all the time. But I’ve tweaked a few things over the years, based on reader’s suggestions or complaints. That meant taking on a few topics that I normally would have left alone; or avoiding topics that I felt the need to write about, just because a few readers complained that I spent too much time on it.

Such was the case a couple of weeks ago.

A select few of you have complained that I write about Fernando Alonso way too much. It was because of this that I purposely wrote nothing about Alonso’s decision to drive for Arrow McLaren SP in this year’s Indianapolis 500. Lo and behold, I got a couple of e-mails asking why I would choose to write a couple of puff-pieces about Citrone/Buhl Autosport, while ignoring the sport’s biggest star announcing he would return for another crack at the Indianapolis 500.

When I saw these, I immediately started second-guessing my decision to let readers dictate what I write about. The more I thought about it, the madder I got at myself for allowing a select few get to me for writing (what they thought was) too much about Fernando Alonso. Yes, I want to listen to readers – but I also need to write about what I feel are the pertinent topics of the day.

If I wasn’t already mad at myself for trying to make my site free of Alonso-mania, my irritation hit a new high when I saw this article from Robin Miller last Monday. It hit on every point I had wanted to make about the significance of Fernando Alonso being in the Indianapolis 500. It underscores why I shouldn’t allow readers to completely run this site.

Without repeating everything that Robin Miller wrote, like it or not – Fernando Alonso is a big deal. When someone of his stature chooses to race in the Indianapolis 500, it needs to be discussed.

With the news that Jimmie Johnson will be testing at Barber Motorsports Park for Arrow McLaren SP in the near future; a reader told me that this was bigger news than Alonso in the Indianapolis 500. I disagree. While NASCAR TV ratings still dwarf IndyCar ratings, neither come close to the worldwide appeal of Fernando Alonso and Formula One. Jimmie Johnson in an IndyCar may move the needle in the US, but Fernando Alonso IS the needle.

As Robin Miller said; Juncos Racing bouncing Alonso and McLaren out of last year’s race was a great story among IndyCar fans, but it diminished global interest in the Indianapolis 500. If you don’t think the Indianapolis 500 is an international event, you’re kidding yourself. While Roger Penske thinks that more focus needs to be given to developing the NTT IndyCar Series in North America before expanding abroad, he certainly knows that having Fernando Alonso in the Indianapolis 500 is good for business around the world.

So, I would like to apologize to those that wanted to know my thoughts on Fernando Alonso being confirmed at Arrow McLaren SP for the Indianapolis 500. I have learned my lesson about letting readers dictate what I write about and don’t write about. I still want people to e-mail me with ideas for topics and I’ll listen to people that think I’m devoting too much time and effort on a meaningless topic. But when readers tell me to stop writing about Fernando Alonso simply because they have no interest in him – I’m sorry, he’s too big of a story to pass up.

George Phillips

12 Responses to “This Won’t Happen Again”

  1. People who say he won’t move the needle must not be aware there’s a world outside of America. He very much moved the international needle from virtually no interest to millions of curious eyes tuning in. Increased international attention is a good thing.

  2. Say it ain’t so, George!

    I can only speak for myself but I am sick to death of hearing about Alonso. And Jimmy Johnson testing an Indycar is a bigger deal to me than Alonso. If a Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart or Kyle Bush ever decided to run the 500, the interest in the 500 would increase that much more. Honestly, if Alonso caused one more guy in Brussels, Belgium to check the internet to see who wins the 500, I really couldn’t care less. This only excites those that want Indycar to become F1 Lite.

    Alonso is one of many stories that make the Indy 500 the event it is. But its no bigger than any other story. Perspective!

  3. I try to remind fans that IndyCar is a business, “no bucks no Buck Rogers”. Alonso being involved with IndyCar is good for business, good for TV ratings ,good for current sponsors and better for the hunt for new sponsors, sponsors bring bucks. Same goes for Johnson and Smoke and any other driver or owner who wants to get involved. No press is bad press.

    I don’t follow many bloggers but follow yours for your musings about a subject I enjoy. I assume you make a little income from writing the blog but the cost,of time and travel don’t provide a great deal of ROI. I assume you write this blog inorder to qualify for a hard card and be involved in a sport you enjoy to follow and get access where most of us do not. Having lunch with PJ comes to mind.

    I doubt Andy Rooney ever gave a rats ass about what his viewers wanted to hear so you should not either. I am not a writer so I assume some weeks mailing in a puff piece is necessary. So write about what you want to write about and don’t worry what the readers want to hear this is a blog not the NY Times or Wasington Post.

    • You are correct in most of your assumptions, except one. I get no income from this. Zero. I do it for all the other reasons you mentioned and for my pure enjoyment, which are things you cannot put a price on. – GP

      • I am sorry to hear you don’t make a little off the blog. If all the travel ,meals and lodging is all out of pocket that’s a lot of money every year. Your wife is a saint, mine would not tolerate the expense. I don’t know how it’s done however you need to try to monetize this blog to help,defray some of these expenses, we enjoy your thoughts ,opinions and observation. Kind of the everyman of the IndyCar fans.

  4. Another Old Guy Says:

    It’s a personal Blog.. Your thoughts and ideas..

  5. billytheskink Says:

    I’m going to assume that the folks who wrote in thinking that you write too much about Alonso don’t read… well… ANY other website that covers Indycar. It is a bit comical how many Alonso (and, to a lesser extent, Zak Brown/McLaren) pieces get published based on limited, if any, new insight and information. Of course, they wouldn’t get published so often if RACER, Motorsport, etc. didn’t see them racking up page views. Generating clicks is their business.

    This is your site, George, which we get read at absolutely no cost. I have no complaints.

  6. James T Suel Says:

    I agree that Alonso is good for the Indianapolis 500. Any of the other top drivers from other top series will help the 500. TV numbers ,attendance will also help. Indianapolis 500 is one of the few races that has a impact around the world. The interest only grows with drivers from other forms of the sport enter. I also think that what you write in your blog is entirely up to you. I find this blog to be the best around. Sure some topics are more interesting than others, that’s up to the individual reading.

  7. Mark Wick Says:

    Not that many years ago die hard IndyCar fans were worried that there might be only 18-20 cars at some races. Alonso, a current F1 driver with multiple F1 championships in his resume, decided to skip the biggest, most historic F1 race to compete in the 500. Last year he tried the 500 again and missed the show. This year he is back, with a full-time team, Jimmy Johnson, and other big name drivers are looking at driving in IndyCar races and series officials are working with various circuits on the schedule to make sure they can have enough pit stalls to accommodate the anticipated number of entries.
    Is that a cause and effect relationship? We will never know for certain, but interest from big name drivers from other series in running in IndyCar is news worthy of discussion.

  8. Not you George, but others, nauseating yes, too much mention of him. I also think the fanbase talks about Spencer Pigot and Tony Kanaan too much so what’s my opinion haha.

    • You do a good job here though George, I think people mentioning him in October for a race in May was silly, him being confirmed in a ride though, yeah, it’s time to talk about him and it is a big deal. Another article I wouldn’t mind reading from you is how you think the SPAM drivers will do.

      I personally feel that SPAM is Ganassi 2001, and thinking one of the drivers could excel while the other struggles. I am interested to see which direction that goes.

      The sport is in an interesting position this season, I am looking forward to your coverage!

  9. George…This is you blog. You write whatever you like. Agree or disagree I will keep on reading. Thanks for keeping IndyCar what it is. Special.

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