Real IndyCar Fans Actually Pay Attention

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From time to time, I have mentioned some of the Facebook groups I belong to that are devoted to the NTT IndyCar Series and/or the Indianapolis 500. For the most part, I enjoy all of them. I have learned a lot from them and many of the groups offer rare photographs I have never seen before.

The administrators do a good job of policing the group pages. There is a difference between censoring and policing. Censoring is removing something you don’t agree with. Policing is either keeping the group on-topic or keeping the discussions civil.

I am very opposed to censorship, when a group member says something that the administrator doesn’t agree with. For instance, if a group administrator grew up a Mario Andretti fan, and a member posted that AJ Foyt was the greatest driver ever – censorship would be the administrator removing that post because they were a Mario fan and didn’t like the post.

Policing is when a member tries to post about a product they are selling, as in commenting on the AJ Foyt post and commenting about the diet plan that they sell, along with a link. None of us want to see that, while we are discussing the AJ/Mario comparison – so they are rightfully removed. The same goes with unruly members. If a member starts name-calling or threatening as many keyboard warriors do in the comment section – they are also removed, either from the discussion or from the group altogether.

In the almost twelve-year history of this site, I have blocked only one person from commenting, and that was in the first year of the site. Some of you that have been here since the beginning may remember this. I was informed by a reader who knew this person, that the person in question was deranged due to suffering a personal tragedy. I put up with it for a while, but the comments were so off-topic and consisted mostly of rambling nonsense – I finally had to block the person. For another year, the person continued to comment but they never showed up on the site. The comments just went directly to the spam filter and the commenter never even realized they weren’t showing up, but I digress…

It’s a shame some of the administrators of these Facebook groups, don’t police stupid and idiotic comments, like they do offensive ones. I’m not talking about someone who misidentifies a 1993 Lola as a 1994 model; or that they were a year off on one of Al Unser’s four Indianapolis 500 wins. No, I’m talking about those that are still carrying a torch from the seventies or eighties and acting as if it is what is ailing IndyCar today.

Case in point: about a week ago, someone posted something lamenting the fact that there were only three oval tracks on this year’s IndyCar schedule. I don’t necessarily care for that fact either, but this is old news. We’ve known this since last August. With the season on the verge of kicking off in about a month, why whine about a topic that was prevalent eight months ago, but is a dead issue today?

That was bad enough, but then someone else had to chime in with this comment (paraphrasing): “Who can enjoy IndyCar anymore, when nobody has heard of any of the drivers?”

I normally stay silent regarding most Facebook comments. Our friend and former IndyCar blogger Pressdog always had a good rule – Never Engage the Crazies! I try my best to stay silent, but when I read that ancient gripe form an entire generation ago, I couldn’t restrain myself. I fired back with “If you know nothing about these current IndyCar drivers, that’s on you. Three-fourths of the full-time drivers in the 2021 paddock have been in the series for more than five years”. I almost resorted to name-calling, but I was able to control myself enough to not take that bait.

I am assuming the commenter was referring to foreign drivers, but that’s only a guess. Many people “liked” that comment, but I never heard a word from the person who made the comment or the one that made the original post about oval tracks. If either of you read this site, I still stand by my statement.

Aren’t we beyond that? Not only have many foreign drivers been in the IndyCar paddock regularly since the eighties; they have been a fabric of IndyCar racing since the very beginning. There were four foreign drivers in the starting grid of the 1911 Indianapolis 500. When Jules Goux won in 1913, that started a streak of foreign winners that wasn’t ended until Howdy Wilcox won in 1919.

I might get it if a casual fan isn’t familiar with Alex Palou or even Marcus Ericsson. I am assuming if the person belongs to a group devoted exclusively to the NTT IndyCar Series, that they might be more than a very casual fan. But if you’ve never heard of Scott Dixon, Josef Newgarden, Will Power, James Hinchcliffe, Graham Rahal, Ed Carpenter, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi or Sébastien Bourdais – then you haven’t been paying attention for years. Each of those drivers have been around for at least five seasons and won multiple IndyCar races. Many have won championships and/or the Indianapolis 500.

Perhaps he has never heard of Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward or Felix Rosenqvist. While they haven’t been around as long as the others, he’d better learn those names quickly, because each of them is expected to contend for the 2021 championship. If you haven’t heard of any of these drivers; I suspect you aren’t much of an IndyCar fan at all –you just like to complain.

There is a lot to like about the NTT IndyCar Series heading into the 2021 season. It would have been easy to condense the season this year and blame it on the pandemic. But car count has actually increased slightly, there are new drivers in the lineup that is sure to generate new interest in the sport and sponsorship does not appear to have taken to much of a hit from COVID. Roger Penske’s stewardship of The Speedway and the series has provided stability, while bringing renewed excitement for the future.

There are also a lot of things still wrong with IndyCar that will probably linger for years to come. I won’t get into those here, but most of you know what those things are. I can assure you, however, that anonymous drivers is no one of them. That claim may have had some validity in the mid-eighties, and most definitely in the early days of The Split on the IRL side – but not in 2021. Anyone making that statement in 2021 is not paying attention and needs to forfeit their “fan card”.

George Phillips

10 Responses to “Real IndyCar Fans Actually Pay Attention”

  1. Oliver W Says:

    Well said.

    As I’ve written before I see the depth of field this coming season as the best for many years. I see one pay driver who should not in my view be participating although I wish him well and hope to be proved wrong. Otherwise I see an amazing mix of ages, Champions and experience from a wide variety of Championships.

  2. billytheskink Says:

    Grumblers like to grumble, I’ll bet a lot of Indycar’s more incessant detractors are also flies in other ointments too. That said, I get that it is disappointing to long time fans that Indycar drivers are not as “famous” as they once were. We don’t see drivers appearing in advertising and in major non-racing media like some of them once did. Even so, to complain that you don’t know anything about the drivers in a day and age in which you can access a driver’s life story in text and often in audio and video in mere seconds on a wireless telephone is a complaint that really does ring hollow.

  3. This narrative always rears its ugly head in May. I hear people lament how they don’t know who drives in the Indianapolis 500 anymore and that’s why don’t really care to watch it like they once did. I’ve often wondered, other than AJ, Mario, JR, Mears, the Unsers, and Johncock, how many of the names did they even know back then? Back in the 70s and 80s IndyCar was a much bigger sport that received much more local and national press. I’m certain if the sport received that much press these past 20 years, people would know more names than just Helio and Kanaan.

  4. SkipinSC Says:

    If you think IndyCar has a driver recognition problem, where were you 10-15 years ago? Not to say marketing of drivers is outstanding, but compared to where it was back in the 2000-2008 period its light years better..

    Those of us who were fans back in the 60’s,70’s and 80’s are always going to bemoan the lack of oval races primarily because that is the series that we grew up following . Several of us have varying opinions as to why ovals don’t draw fans (except for Indy, Texas, and Gateway,)

    Fact is, there are a lot more choices for the entertainment dollar, and IndyCar than there were even back in the “good old days’ of the 90’s. IndyCar (and you can be sure Roger Penske,) is well aware of this.

  5. James T Suel Says:

    I think your assessment is right on the money. Some will always bitch regardless of what’s going on. We have some great drivers and teams right now. Unlike Mario and AJ and others we did not grow up with the current group of drivers, and they came from other form of racing and this era is a lot different and much safer, so today’s drivers are not the heroes we grew up with who drove everything.

  6. Meanwhile just waiting for the IndyCar season to start. Still another month away. It’s just way too long. I know this does not relate to the topic but man-what is IndyCar going to do about this? When are they going to stop being afraid of the NFL and schedule a race past Labor Day? The NFL along with all pro sports are going to continue to decline (and they all deserve to). Maybe IndyCar is such a niche sport that it doesn’t matter anymore but I continue to be disappointed by the schedule.

  7. maybe in the aforementioned poster’s
    real life, there actually is nobody anymore.
    nobody at all. Indycar is just a psychological
    projection of the poster’s position on everything.

  8. Even some in the media have no clue who some of the rookies are (among those who didn’t graduate from Lights). A lot of fans are not well-rounded; I know because I used to be a NASCAR fan exclusively. Since the end of the split, there are only 5 incoming drivers I’d never heard of before: Enrique Bernoldi, Mario Morales, Juho Annala (all in 2008), Francesco Dracone (2010), and Carlos Huertas (2014), but with the exception of this year’s primary rookies, it would really behoove IndyCar to limit who they choose to “import” to the series from another racing category. Kamui Kobayashi or Felipe Nasr? Yes. So-so drivers like Rene Binder or Jordan King? No.

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